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The Bacchae: Stasimon 4, Lines 977-1032

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Stasimon 4, Lines 977-1032

The Chorus sings, the Maenads (another name for the Bacchae) to attack “the man in woman’s clothes.” They anticipate the scenario that is about to unfold. Agave, they say, will be the first to see Pentheus spying on them, and will declare him not even human, but a creature that was born from a lioness.
 
They then invoke justice, the principle of order and tradition, to come and kill the godless one who mocks the gods. They describe how the “unbeliever” rushes around in a rage, assailing the rites of the gods. But, the Chorus sings, he runs only to his own death.
 
The Chorus then reflects on the best way for a man to live, counseling acceptance, humility, and purity of soul, honoring tradition and the gods.
 
After another appeal for justice to come, the Chorus asks Dionysus to reveal  himself as a bull, or a snake, or a lion and bring down the man who is hunting the Maenads.
 
Analysis
As in the previous stasimon, this ode combines a call for revenge, for the death of the one who mocks the gods, with some serene reflections on the nature of the good life. The Chorus is offended that this one man stands against those who participate in the flow of life, honoring the aspect of life that they call Dionysus. The contrast is between the rage of the one who opposes these vital energies of life and the calmness of those who accept it. The error is to resist; wisdom lies in acknowledging that man must live his life in accordance with the parameters established by the gods; death comes to all as a reminder that they are men, not gods.  
 




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