Euripides‘  “Bacchae”
and Its Profound Relevance
for the World of Today

An Illustrated Presentation
by Dr. Lena Hatzichronoglou

The Bacchae is one of Euripides’ most profound plays, and it was presented for the first time
in ancient Athens in 406 B.C. However, its meaning and ideas remain most relevant today, particularly
in front of the troublesome issues that challenge our humanity in the present
globally and personally.

The god Dionysus, the most ambiguous and mysterious Greek god, is the main character of this
play; and through the way the human characters interact with him, Euripides explores and
illuminates many eternal themes of our humanity like race, gender, power, intelligence,
military superiority, religion, cultural understanding, ignorance, and above all the meaning
of wisdom in the face of all these.

Throughout the play, Pentheus, the king of Thebes, threatened by the power of the God whom
he does not understand, is trying to reduce him through weapons, the army, and imprisonment,
fact which eventually leads to his own destruction and to that of the people he is trying to protect.

At the end of the play, Dionysus, who is the dramatic expression of the indestructible Natural
Law, remains intact and most powerful than ever.  The metaphor, of course, was intended for
the ancient Athenians, whose hubristic imperialism was threatening to destroy the Greek
World; but, we too can learn from it the meaning of true wisdom as we are faced with the
threat of global destruction in our effort to reduce a world of ideas and natural law with our
own power and weapons, and with our own perception of what constitutes racial, religious
and cultural superiority
.

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