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Themes

There are all kinds of transformations in The Bacchae. People go in and out of sanity, mild-mannered women become warrior priestesses, and stiff-necked kings become cross-dressers. And, of course, a god transforms himself into a man so as to better punish the mortals who've wronged him. All these transformations help create a series of dualities throughout the play, which perhaps connect to inherent dualities within all human beings.

Questions About Transformation

  1. How does the element of disguise serve to transform characters within this piece? How do these transformations affect the play's plot?
  2. Which transformations within the play are a result of personal freewill? Which are the result of a god-assigned fate? Why does the difference matter, or does it?
  3. What transformations do the women in this play undergo? Agave specifically?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Dionysus never transforms in the play, because, as a god, he exists in all forms at once.

One's transformation is inauthentic if one lacks freewill.

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