You have a glib tongue, as though in your right mind, Yet in your words there is no real sense Wretched man, how ignorant you are of what you are saying! Before you were out of your mind-but now you are raving mad.

In the first of the many inversions of sanity and madness in the play, Tiresias tries in scene one to make Pentheus see the irrationality of his reasoning and the rational basis for Dionysus's madness. Inversions of the meanings and fluidity of 'madness' comprise a major theme in the play. Some of the questions raised by these inversions, and not necessarily answered by the play, are: What constitutes Pentheus's madness? What does it imply about the state of madness when its god is so controlled? Is religious ecstasy madness, or is rationalism madness? Can one induce madness or do the gods impose it? Must a society make room for a little collective madness or disintegration as in wine drinking and theater? Can a society indulge the benign forms of madness and exclude the more horrific forms?