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Euripides’s Revolution under CoverAn Essay$
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Pietro Pucci

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781501700613

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501700613.001.0001

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Initiation and Sacrifice

Initiation and Sacrifice

27. Initiation and Sacrifice
Euripides’s Revolution under Cover

Pietro Pucci

Cornell University Press

This chapter shows that Dionysus carries out his revenge against Pentheus by driving him mad so that he will consent to being initiated into the Bacchic rites. In Bacchae, Pentheus passes through a fictive, parodic initiation, and then, as a savage animal victim by the way of the sparagmos, is murdered/sacrificed by his mother. There is no spiritual elation in these acts, which are performed through fakery, mockery, and black comedy. This chapter examines how Dionysus's revenge turns into reverse retaliation and how Dionysus initiates Pentheus by turning him into a puppet. It suggests that the folly instilled by Dionysus in Pentheus is a mythical, tragic device used by the Greek gods to exact their revenge against mortals.

Keywords:   revenge, Pentheus, Bacchic rites, initiation, sacrifice, reverse retaliation, Greek gods, mortals

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