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The Tangled Ways of ZeusAnd Other Studies In and Around Greek Tragedy$
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Alan H. Sommerstein

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199568314

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199568314.001.0001

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What ought the Thebans to have done?

What ought the Thebans to have done?

(p.277) 19 What ought the Thebans to have done?
The Tangled Ways of Zeus

Alan H. Sommerstein (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter asks why the Thebans, and especially their royal family, are made to suffer so terribly by Dionysus in Euripides' Bacchae. Pentheus' tyrannical behaviour and his evidence-proof hatred and contempt for Dionysus lead him to ruin; was there an alternative that could have avoided it? The approaches of Cadmus and Teiresias do not seem to provide one. The chorus, however, and the common people of Thebes, embrace Dionysus simply and unquestioningly as a bringer of pleasure; the elite might have done likewise. They still suffer more than they, or anyone, deserves; nor has Dionysus' wanton savagery done anyone any good.

Keywords:   Euripides, Bacchae, Dionysus, Pentheus, Thebes, tyrannical, pleasure

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