Structure of Euripides' Bacchae (based on chart from S. Esposito)


Act I

Act II


Act IV

Act V


Dionysus in disguise

Conversion of Cadmus & Tiresias

Agon #1 Pentheus-Dionysus

Agon #2 Pentheus-Dionysus

Agon #3 Pentheus-Dionysus

Climax #1 Pentheus' death

Climax #2 Agave's madness

a) who he is
b) why he has come c) what he intends to do

a) Tiresias andCadmus vow to dance for Dionysus
b) Pentheusvs. Tiresias
c) Cadmus, Tiresias, Pentheus have a communication breakdown

a) Dionysus chained
b) Dionysus unchained
c) Dionysus rechained

a) three "Miracles":
1) earthquake
2) D' snarrative
3)Pentheus' second mtg with D
b) Messenger#1 describes "rending" (sparagmos #1) of beasts by Theban maenads in mountains
c) tempting of Pentheus to dress as female


Pentheus sees "double"
b) transvestite scene: Pentheus as maenad: sex role reversal
c) Pentheus' madness


Messenger#2 a)announces death of Pentheus, to chorus' joy
b)describes Pentheus' rending (sparagmos #2) by Theban maenads & Agave who impales his head on Thyrsus

a)A'smadness: dances with P's head
b)C. returns with P's corpse
c)A.'s psychotherapy by C.
d)family laments for P.
e) D., out of disguise, announces survivors' exiles
f)farewells and embraces

Apparent defeat of Dionysus

Decisive victory of Dionysus

Song #1 (parodos) Hymn to Dionysus: celebration of his devotees and invitation to Thebes to join in worship; story of god's birth

Song #2 Praise of Dionysus and his mysteries; denunciation of Pentheus' hybris

Song #3 Agonistic hymn contrasting the births of Dionysus and Pentheus and calling on Dionysus to save the Bacchae

Song #4 Anticipation of Dionysus' victory over Pentheus whose impious wisdom will surely be punished by divine revenge

Song #5 Song of vengeance; vision of justice slaying Pentheus; urging Dionysus to reveal himself as beast to kill Pentheus

Song #6 Victory hymn celebrating Pentheus' death with a brief but vigorous dance



Parts played by first actor:
Parts played by second actor:
Parts played by third actor
Important stage directions?