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Peace and Violence in Religon

  1. Apr 11, 2006 #1
    This forum seems to be getting kind of stale...and this is my idea of sprucing it up.:biggrin: Hopefully this will get at least a few responses. I ask, what is the relation between peace and violence in religion? Specifically, in The Bacchae. I'm interested in examing this story, so please refrain from bringing in other examples unless they support something you've pulled out of The Bacchae.

    Throughout the play, we confront visions of peace, Messenger: "Breasts swollen with milk, new mothers who had left their babies at home nestled gazelles and young wolves in their arms, suckling them. They then crowned their hair with leaves, ivy and oak and flowering bryony." (Lines 698-702)
    Which inevitably transition into scenes of violence, "It happened, however, that Agave ran near the ambush where I lay concealed. Leaping up, I tried to seize her, but she gave a cry: "Hounds who run with me, me are hunting us down! Follow, follow me! Use your wands for weapons." (Lines 729-733)"

    Chorus: "The deity, the son of Zeus, in feast, in festival delights. He loves the goddess Peace, generous of good, prserver of the young. To rich and poor he gives the simple gift of wine, the gladness of the grape. But him who scoffs he hates, and him who mocks his life..." (Lines 416-25)

    Another recurring theme is that of the equating of frenzy with godliness. Some lines imply that frenzy and drunkeness is a gift of the gods that relieves suffering, "Whoever this god may be, sire, welcome him to Thebes. For he is great in many other ways as well. It was he, or so they say, who gave to mortal men the gift of lovely wine by which our suffering is stopped." (Lines 769-773)

    Cadmus: "Where shall we go, where shall we tread the dance, tossing our white heads in the dances of gods?" (Lines 183-184)

    Teiresias: "For filled with that good gift, suffering mankind forgets its grief; from it comes sleep; with it oblivion of the troubles of the day. There is no other medicine for misery. And when we pour libations to the gods, we pour the god of wine himself through his intercession man may win the favor of heaven." (Lines 279-285)
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 11, 2006 #2


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    One thing about the greeks; they never asserted the big poicture was nicer than the little picture we observe. And they cut their mythology to fit their experience. You have given us one example and I will mention another; the gods fighting in the human war in Book 10 of the Iliad. The gods are just as blindly, stupidly, impassioned in battle as the humans. Compare to the prettied up war in Heaven in Paradise Lost.
  4. Apr 11, 2006 #3
    Yeah, I was really just talking about in this story, not about Greek plays/epic poems in general. I'm only interested in the question in order to explore this particular play. Examing Pentheus in particular is important. He's one of the only (or the only, can't remember) characters in the play that doesn't let loose, and who seems threatened by the frenzied dancy and drunken revelling of the Dionysus and his followers. The role of women is another angle we could come at it. Or the setting of the revellers (the countryside/mountains) vs the setting of the resistor(s) (the city). The intro addresses the two kinds of sophia (which has multiple meanings and connotations including wisdom, cleverness) displayed, and how Pentheus' sophia turns into its opposite amathia (ignorance which leads to brutality and violence). I linked the play in my first post for anyone who doesn't have it on hand.
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2006
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