Euripides’ The Bacchae – GradSchoolPapers.com
Euripides’ The Bacchae
The requirement is
“Complete either option 1 or 2, not both:
Option 1: Ian Johnston (it is his translation of The Bacchae used in this lesson) offers a short interpretive summary of the play. Read this summary, here: An Introductory Note to Euripides Bacchae.
Johnston suggests two alternative interpretations:
“A more sophisticated (and certainly more interesting) version of … the play looks at Dionysus, not simply as a foreign god, but as the embodiment of certain aspects of human experience, as a symbol for the irrational, communal excitement, bonding, power, joy, intoxication, and excess which all too often get lost in the careful life of the city, governed by habit, rules, laws, and responsibilities. This approach to the play stresses the fact that Thebes has lost touch with those irrational energizing unconscious powers of life and, in Agave’s and Pentheus’ refusal to acknowledge the divinity of Dionysus, created a situation where these powers (which cannot be forever denied) simply break out with disastrous consequences. If that doesn’t carry an explicit moral, at least it serves as a cautionary tale.”
[on the other hand] ” … it is not difficult to see why some interpreters have viewed this play as an indictment of religion because of its hostility to the survival of the community, on the ground that religion (as depicted by Dionysus and his followers) is the basis for the irrational destructiveness which threatens and ultimately overthrows the well-ordered city in an orgy of cruel excess. On this view, the play is a cautionary tale about the dangers of religious superstitions.”
Question: With which of these interpretations do you tend to agree? Why? Need we choose between the two? Develop your answer in a crafted reply of around 500 words, and post to your group discussion page for this lesson. Be sure to draw on evidence in the text in developing your answer.
Option 2: A Dionysian spirit informs a variety of cultural movements. In particular, music seems to feed on the Dionysian. Punk rock, raves, or hip hop, for example, exhibit Dionysian characteristics. Here are two examples of scholarly work on this topic.
Example 1: The abstract to an article by Simon Reynolds, “Ecstasy is a Science: Techno-Romanticism,” published in RILM Abstracts of Music Literature (1999): “By exalting impulse, instinct, the free flow of energy, and desire, rock opposes bourgeois virtues—deferral of gratification, moderation in all things, restraint, prudence—which were all anathema to Romanticism. This utopian streak in the rock imagination has evolved over the decades to reach the point where it is increasingly expressed in the discourse of science and technology. Rather than drawing on the Romantic poets or renegade philosophers, as their precursors did in the 1960s, contemporary artists are more likely to employ ideas from genetics, cybernetics, chaos theory, or astrophysics. The supreme example of this is rave culture, where the combination of volume, syncopated rhythms, psychotropic lights, and illegal intoxicants interfaces with the nervous systems of the audience to form a sort of Dionysus-machine.”
Example 2: The abstract to an article by Michael Maffesoli, “The Return of the Tragic in Postmodern Societies,” New Literary History: A Journal of Theory and Interpretation, 35.1 (2004): “… Michel Maffesoli develops a diagnosis of the present that draws on the earlier arguments of The Shadow of Dionysus, The Time of the Tribes, and other works… he argues that we need to take seriously the current transvaluation of cultural values. An orientation to the future is giving way to an immersion in the present; individual existence is replaced by affiliation with the group (the postmodern tribe); there is a wide-spread fascination w with religiosity, mysticism, myth, the supernatural (the ‘New Age’) as well as with violence, excess, and the glamour of self-destruction, whether simulated or real. These cultural symptoms point to a wide-spread resurgence of the tragic in its Nietzschean sense; living for the moment, recognizing the precariousness and vulnerability of existence and the limits of human agency, and yet affirming life in the face of death with exuberance and passion. Maffesoli’s provocative recasting of the idea of the tragic invites us to look not to high art but rather to much-maligned aspects of popular culture — rock concerts, senseless violence, the worship of celebrities-for the true reincarnation of the spirit of Dionysus.”
Question: Do the ideas in either of these abstracts resonate with you? How so? The claim is being made that aspects of contemporary youth culture are Dionysian. Do you have experience or knowledge of a form of contemporary culture that draws on the Dionysian spirit? How does it relate to the qualities of the Dionysian, as developed in The Bacchae and the interpretation offered in the lesson notes? Develop your answer in a crafted reply of around 500 words.”
This course name is “Stories And The Sacred” and i will upload the lecture notes later in my account, you need to choose one of them to complete an essay around 500 words.