The Bacchae Themes

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Rational vs. Instinctual

The Greeks of the 5th century B.C. prized balance and order in their lives. Their art and architecture, laws, politics, and social structure suggest a culture that sought equilibrium in all things, including human behavior. Even their gods aligned themselves with opposing aspects of human essence. Apollo was the Greeks' god of prophecy, music, and knowledge. He represented the rational, intellectual capacity of the human mind and its ability to create order out of chaos. As the god of wine and revelry, Dionysus represented the opposite but equally important feature of human instinct: the emotional, creative, uninhibited side of people that balances their daily rational, structured, law-abiding behavior. The main conflict in The Bacchae is between these two conflicting behavioral patterns, the rational and the instinctual, disciplines often referred to as the Apollonian and the Dionysian.

The fruits of Dionysus's worship are extolled by Cadmus...

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This section contains 1,273 words
(approx. 4 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Bacchae Study Guide
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Drama for Students
The Bacchae from Drama for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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