Bacchae is one of the most troubling yet intriguing of Greek tragedies. Written during Euripides’ self-imposed exile in Macedonia, it tells of the brutal murder and dismemberment of Pentheus by his mother and aunts who, driven temporarily insane, have joined the Bacchae (devotees of the god Dionysus, or Bacchus). The startling plot, driven by Dionysus’ desire to punish his family for refusing to accept his divinity, and culminating in the excruciating pathos of a mother’s realization that she has killed her son, has held audiences transfixed since its original performance (when it won first prize). It is one of the most performed and studied plays in the Greek tragic corpus, with a strong history of reception down to the present day.
This collection of essays by eminent academics gathered from across the globe explores the themes, staging and reception of the play, with essays on the characters Dionysus and Pentheus, the role of the chorus of Bacchae, key themes such as revenge, women and religion, and the historical and literary contexts of the play. The essays are accompanied by David Stuttard's English translation which is performer-friendly, accessible and closely accurate to the original.
ISBN 978-1-4742-2148-1 First published 2016
Just like the poor character of Pentheus, this volume really tears Euripides’ Bacchae apart and offers up a series of fascinating angles, ideas and themes for inspection from some of the finest scholars currently working on Greek tragedy, ably ring-mastered by Stuttard, who tops the volume with his own lively and pulsating translation of one of Euripides’ most disturbing plays. Michael Scott, University of Warwick, UK
The volume is a welcome contribution, bringing the highest level of academic scholarship to bear on this important tragedy in the interest of a broader audiencefor whom it may continue to hold salience. For this, Stuttard and the contributors should be applauded. I expect that this volume will add to an ever growing renaissance of Greek tragedy, moving it beyond the walls of the academy and into the wider public theater. Bryn Mawr Classical Review
The work fills several niches rather well. Accessible to the interested layman, it would also support either a college course on tragedy on one on the play in Greek. I plan to require it for my own Bacchae class next year. Classical Journal
With contributions from leading scholars across the globe, and a lively, well-paced and clear translation of the tragedy by Stuttard, this book is essential reading for all students of Euripides’ Bacchae, Greek-readers or not. The play itself remains a key text for anyone studying the god Dionysus, and Looking at Bacchae would serve these readers well, too. Minerva Magazine