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Prologue and Parodos

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But the chorus is not the only group of women worshippers of the god. The mad maenads on Mt. Cithairon embody Dionysus's other side. The deity has driven these women mad against their will, and they represent a violent rupture from the social order. The maenads, in counterpoint to the chorus, are never shown openly on stage, nor are they given a voice. Only the mad, solitary and tragic Agaue is brought on stage. On top of the mountain, those women embody the darker, wilder and destructive aspect of Dionysus. The tension between these two oppositional, but complementary, groups of women echoes the main tension in the play, namely the tension between Pentheus, as the champion of order, and Dionysus, as the harbinger of disordered abandon.

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