The Bacchae by Euripides

The Bacchae by Euripides is the play I have studied more than any other play. I like this play because it expresses the triumph of the irrational over the rational. We need to respect our irrational side because human beings did not evolve to have perfect apprehension of reality. Trying to be too strictly rational is unwise since we need the benefits of being irrational. I won’t get into the benefits of being irrational but it seems to be part of our evolved motivational system which keeps us striving in the face of obstacles and entices us to venture out into a dangerous world. Strict rationalists are always in danger of becoming nihilists.

I have bought several translations of this play which was written in ancient Greek.

  1. The Bacchae of Euripides: A Communion Rite by Wole Soyinka
  2. Bacchae by Euripides, Robin Robertson
  3. Bacchae by Euripides, Paul Woodruff
  4. Euripides: Bacchae (Cambridge Translations from Greek Drama) by Euripides, David Franklin
  5. The Bacchae by Euripides, Michael Cacoyannis
  6. The Bacchae of Euripides by Charles Kenneth Williams
  7. Looking at Bacchae by David Stuttard
  8. Bakkhai by Euripides, Anne Carson

In addition to those books I have the following books which I have yet to read:

  1. Euripides Bacchae by Stephen Esposito
  2. Bakkai Euripides translated by Reginald Gibbons
  3. The Bacchae Euripides and The Frogs Aristophanes by Francis Blessington
  4. Bacchae translated by David Kovacs (Loeb Classical Library)
  5. Bacchae translated by Richard Seaford
  6. Bacchae translated by William Arrowsmith

The Bacchae by Euripides is an ancient play which serves the earliest known example of shamanism in drama as speculated by E. R. Dodds in his influential book The Greeks and the Irrational. Dionysus was the god of wine and theater and his cult is clearly an example of ecstatic religion usually associated with shamanism. The dismemberment of Pentheus is shamanic although he is not put back together.

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