Oedipus the King and The Bacchae

Oedipus the King and The Bacchae

Both Sophocles’ “Oedipus the King” and Euripides’, “The Bacchae,” present the tragic results of deities challenging the lives of 2 Kings. While Oedipus’s logical God, Apollo is a more indirect and latent predetermined force, the fickle, unpredictable deity Dionysus holds a lot more dominant and continuous role in “The Bacchae.” The tale of “Oedipus the King,” by Sophocles is more about the strength and catastrophe of fate than anything else. The oracle, which is the oracle of Apollo, figures out Oedipus’s destiny of committing patricide and incest.

The power that Apollo has is revealed only through the words of the mortal characters; the reader never can be found in contact with the God himself. In fact, the occupants of Thebes want to Oedipus as nearly the sole rescuer of the city. They acknowledge that he is not a god, but they do describe him as the “first of men” (40) and plead with him to “raise up [the city] (57) as though he would be. Creon, sent by Oedipus to find the fact from Apollo, duplicates the orders from the god by stating “Apollo commands us– he was quite clear-/ ‘Drive the corruption from the land,'” (109 ).

These words are right away considered and developed into action– Oedipus exclaims that he will “bring it all to light” (150) since Apollo’s prophecies are unquestionably right. No matter the wit or strength Oedipus has over other men, he is still not as powerful as the god Apollo, and acknowledges that in his preliminary look for the truth. From then on the focus of the king is not just to avenge Laius, but to protect himself from the truth of the prophecy. Apollo’s influence is limited to the determination of Oedipus’s fate at the start of the play. For the rest of his journey, the gods are just mentioned indirectly.

Oedipus does sob at the end of the play that Apollo “ordained [his] miseries” (1468) however the person that triggered his misery was Oedipus alone. Dionysus in the Bacchae makes sure to establish his status as a “god icongnito” (Euripides 4) from the first stanza of the play. Unlike Apollo’s absence of imperious presence in Sophocles’ work, Dionysus is the lead character of the play as both a divine being and a complete stranger in camouflage. His journey is that of vengeance; he actively looks for penalty for the city of Thebes– a plain contrast to Apollo’s role in ridding the city of its sickness.

The king Pentheus, who declines to acknowledge Bacchus as a divine being and scorns those who do– “Go worship your Bacchus, -/ however do not wipe your madness off on me” (345)– is the predominant target of Dionysus’ wrath. The Bacchants, or maenads, are the females who have been possessed by Bacchus. They had actually gone to the mountains, where they danced, chanted, and happily “wound the stalks of their scruffy wands with tendrils of fresh ivy” (1056 ), a seemingly innocent and wonderful image. Nevertheless, Dionysus had actually bewitched them into insanity, leading them to violence and ultimately to the murder of Pentheus.

An inverted matricide of sorts, it was Pentheus’s own mother whom Dionysus bewitched into eliminating her boy, a curse he created that was similar to Oedipus’s in its twisted familial context. Dionysus, like most of the gods, has no grace for those who mistreated him; as Cadmus, the grandpa of Pentheus pleads for mercy, the deity just replies “Too late. You did not understand me when you should have” (1345 ). The last stanza of Euripides’ play is a precise summation of the differing functions the magnificent powers had in each story.

The chorus chants “The gods have numerous shapes -/ The gods bring numerous things” (1388 ), and evaluating by Oedipus the King and the Bacchae, this is undoubtedly real. The role of Apollo as a shadowing, easy premonition, handles a totally different “shape” than that of Dionysus, the aggressive and cruel god that haunts the city of Thebes. In the last analysis of these 2 tragic plays of two Kings, Oedipus is sacrificed in a preordained pact with Apollo, while the city, Thebes is saved. The second King, Pentheus is sacrificed to avenge the capricious devastating forces of Dionysus, and the city is not spared the god’s wrath either.

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