The Bacchae of Euripides was widely popular throughout antiquity. Its narrative stages the arrival of Dionysus in Thebes and the conflict arising from the opposition of the tyrant Pentheus. This dissertation is a study of the reception of this tragedy in antiquity from the third century BCE to the third century CE. As a drama exploring the contestation of political and religious power, readers and audiences in the Hellenistic and Roman periods found new relevancies in the Bacchae for voicing contemporary experiences. Dionysus' role as a symbol of imperial conquest in the Ptolemiac and Roman Empires stood in tension with Euripides' narrative in which he destroyed the Theban tyrant. Jewish and Christian writers also evoked the Bacchae as a means of negotiating their own religious and political identities in the Greco-Roman world. The conflict staged in the tragedy proves to be an enduring expression of problems confronting ancient society. It represents the perennial tension between religion and absolute power, poetic freedom and imperial patronage, and ethnic diversity and social cohesion.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. August 2013. Major: Classical and Near Eastern Studies. Advisor: Philip Sellew. 1 computer file (PDF) iv, 371 pages.
Friesen, Courtney Jade.
Reading Dionysus: Euripides' Bacchae among Jews and Christians in the Greco-Roman World.
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