The Bacchae of Euripides, Euripides
The Bacchae of Euripides
1:51 h Verse Lvl 11.04
The Bacchae is an ancient Greek tragedy, written by the Athenian playwright Euripides during his final years in Macedonia, at the court of Archelaus I of Macedon. It premiered posthumously at the Theatre of Dionysus in 405 BC as part of a tetralogy that also included Iphigeneia at Aulis and Alcmaeon in Corinth, and which Euripides' son or nephew is assumed to have directed. The Bacchae is considered to be not only one of Euripides's greatest tragedies, but also one of the greatest ever written, modern or ancient. The Bacchae is distinctive in that the chorus is integrated into the plot and the god is not a distant presence, but a character in the play, indeed, the protagonist. The tragedy is based on the Greek myth of King Pentheus of Thebes and his mother Agave, and their punishment by the god Dionysus (who is Pentheus's cousin). The god Dionysus appears at the beginning of the play and proclaims that he has arrived in Thebes to avenge the slander, which has been repeated by his aunts, that he is not the son of Zeus. In response, he intends to introduce Dionysian rites into the city, and he intends to demonstrate to the king, Pentheus, and to Thebes that he was indeed born a god.

The Bacchaeof Euripides

Translated into English Rhyming Verse,
with Explanatory Notes by
Gilbert Murray M.A. LL.D

Characters in the Play

Dionysus, the God; son of Zeus and of the Theban princess Semelê.

Cadmus, formerly King of Thebes, father of Semelê.

Pentheus, King of Thebes, grandson of Cadmus.

Agâvê, daughter of Cadmus, mother of Pentheus.

Teiresias, an aged Theban prophet.

A Soldier of Pentheus’ Guard.

Two Messengers.

A Chorus of Inspired Damsels, following Dionysus from the East.

“The play was first produced after the death of Euripides by his son,who bore the same name, together with the ‘Iphigenia in Aulis’ and the‘Alcmaeon,’ probably in the year 405 B.C.”

The Bacchae

The background represents the front of the Castle of Pentheus, Kingof Thebes. At one side is visible the sacred Tomb of Semele, alittle enclosure overgrown with wild vines, with a cleft in therocky floor of it from which there issues at times steam or smoke.The God Dionysus is discovered alone.


Behold, God’s Son is come unto this land
Of Thebes, even I, Dionysus, whom the brand
Of heaven’s hot splendour lit to life, when she
Who bore me, Cadmus’ daughter Semelê,
Died here. So, changed in shape from God to man,
I walk again by Dirce’s streams and scan
Ismenus’ shore. There by the castle side
I see her place, the Tomb of the Lightning’s Bride,
The wreck of smouldering chambers, and the great
Faint wreaths of fire undying — as the hate
Dies not, that Hera held for Semelê.

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