The Bacchae

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Scene I & Choral Interlude I

Summary Scene I & Choral Interlude I

One crucial and accurate part of Tiresias's speech concerns his calling Pentheus mad. This is one of many inversions of sanity and madness in the play. The nature of madness itself one of the major themes. Tiresias here says that extreme rigidity, even though in the service of sanity, is a dangerous form of madness. Moreover to stick to what one thinks, to the point of waging a war against the gods is surely the greatest folly. The chorus parallels the tone and mood of the play at each stage, like a cardiograph. The first ode is a balanced song, extolling the joys of a healthy, restrained life and gentle pleasures but it contains many veiled references to the more violent aspects of Dionysian worship and pleasure.