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Heroism is always an important part of classical literature. It could not be denied that this particular aspect of focus among the said types of stories has been recognized as one among the most priced approaches to narration that classical authors used to send their messages to their readers. Euripides is one of the most well-known playwrights in the history of Greek literature.
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Having a collection of works that are basically dedicated towards the identification of the Greek society drawn through the existence of beliefs that define godly allegiance of the people, Euripides tries to outline the most controversial issues present in the society before and colorfully place them into a series of stories that better establish their placing in the society. In his story of the Bacchae, he mentions on how the idea of revenge is actually used to manifest self identity and how it could both redeem what was lost and at the same time loose more than what has already been redeemed.
In this story, he further focuses on a single character whose life has affected many individuals simply because of the plot-revenge that he has prepared to redeem the name of his mother. With the utilization of extra ordinary position of the main character, Euripides tries to outline the thought with regards the need of one to feel the satisfaction over a plan no matter how small or grand the accomplishments might seem. In this story, heroism may be considered as the basis of the unordinary power of the main character but it was also deemed as confusing state of the personal desire of one being completed to his heart’s satisfaction.
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Within the discussion that follows, understanding the story’s main feature in connection with the ideal utilization of heroism as the main theme shall be better given attention to. Through examining the plots, the lines and the settings presented in the story, identifying who the real hero in the story is shall be better presented. With evidences from the story itself, the hero identified herein shall be better given proper introduction while presenting the reasoning to which the identification has been based upon.
Background of the Story
Based on the Greek mythology as the underlying background of the story, Euripides tries to instantiate a more definite understanding among the readers as he presents them with the beliefs of the Greek society with regards the being of their gods and their deities. Presenting Zeus as a God who sins [which is basically noted in this story as something that could be considered as a god’s right to do what he wants to], he was subjected to lying with another woman apart from his wife Hera. Semele was an ordinary woman who Zeus had a relationship with who later on bore him a son. This news angered Hera and had her killed by her own husband Zeus as he presented himself to the woman as a lightning bolt.
In the process of rearing the child in her womb, she was not believed by her family that she had a relationship with a God. To them, she seemed like as if she is lying for such a matter is impossible to happen. Up until her death, her family thought that she was killed because of lying. Dionysus was then born after his father Zeus took the responsibility of keeping him until he could be given birth to. As a demi-god, Dionysus knew he had to do something to redeem the reputation of his mother. Here is where the conflict begins and the revenge of Dionysus began.
Bacchae or the Bacchans were believed to be a community of people who serve the Greek gods according to who they simply choose to worship. Pentheus was among the most well-known rulers of this community [as per noted in the story]. His grandfather Cadmus was the king of the Bacchans who also happens to be the father of Semele, Dionysus mother. Before the family of Pentheus was put into the pedestal, a lot of events happened in between which involves the in considerate treatment that Semele received from her family and the incidents that almost killed Dionysus if not for the mercy of his father Zeus. For all the family of Cadmus knows, Dionysus has already died along with his mother. This is the reason why it was not easy for anyone to believe that there exists to be a demi-god among them.
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When Dionysus visited the Bacchan, he was less regarded by the people. The community there pledged their loyalty to his cousin instead in the personification of Pentheus. This makes Dionysus even angrier with the people and the family that he was supposed to have. In this regard, Dionysus positions himself to proceed with the planned revenge he has had even in the beginning of his visitation to the community. He directed his anger to Pentheus as he basically neglected the realization that he is currently in the presence of a demi-god. This pushed him into his limits and had Pentheus dress as a woman and was placed upon the highest place in the Bacchan region. He was then killed by his own mother Agave and was presented to the king as hunting trophy. Upon the occurrence of this tragedy, the family of Pentheus was then exiled along with the sisters of Dionysus mother Semele. On the other end, Semele’s father and supposedly Dionysus’ grandfather along with his wife Harmonia were turned into snakes which Dionysus thinks best fits their personality. Upon accomplishing all these, the story ends in a presentation of satisfaction on the part of Dionysus as he becomes successful in redeeming the name of his mother and giving himself a sense of recognition among the people who used to not accept him and his reputation as demi-god.
If analyzed properly, it could be seen how the story presents Dionysus to be subjected into two subjects of revenge against the people that he thinks should give him resepect and recognition that they never give attention to. First is that of his mother’s reputation being redeemed through letting her family know that she was indeed telling the truth about being impregnated by a God and that she died out o being victimized as a powerless one who simply wanted to save her son from being perished. He basically wanted to clean his mother’s name and return to her the glory that belongs to her as she accepted the supposed “fate” that was placed upon her when she was given the chance to carry the son of a god.
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Later on during the process of taking revenge though, it could be noticed how he became involved in making his cousin Pentheus recognize him and his position as a demi-god. Likely, this part of the revenge was simply brought up during the meet-up of the two individuals mentioned. Not knowing what he is supposed to believe, Pentheus fell victim to the revengeful idealisms of his cousin whom he did not recognize as a demi-god who had a specific purpose of coming down to see the Bacchans.
Sadly, the proper redemption of his mother’s name was not served as it specifically brought tragedy upon those whom he wants the realization to come to. Basically, his anger against the people not accepting the facts he carries pushed him into the limits making it easier for him to take on the chance of bringing them into their death than simply letting them realize about the wrong matters that they may have incurred in the past. Understandably, this way, he does not take only one position of the story but two. His character was pushed by his personal motives to turn from being a hero towards being the antagonist in the story. The turn of situations pushed him into becoming the source of the tragic end of the people whom he was supposed to simply appeal to.
The turn of events were among the most important elements that brought up anger in the heart of Dionysus. This is the reason why it is important to note the fact that Euripides notes the idea how a person could actually change his attitude based on the situations that approaches him and how plans change because of the turn of events. In the pace that Dionysus took from being a hero towards becoming the main reason for the tragedies that occurred at the end of the story. The decisions of Dionysus and how it actually turned out to be motivated by his emotional dispositions about his role and his wills in life naturally caused the results that turned out to be the end of every single individual he wanted to create connections with as part of that family. His reasonable want of bringing in the realization of the family with regards the reputation of Semele, his mother, brought him into a definite purpose of being a hero. However, upon the turn of events that basically made his focus into a more self-defining purpose, that heroism somewhat faded bringing birth to a more aggressive approach of imposing recognition on the people he wanted to present himself to.
Truthfully, in this story, heroism has been defined along with the purpose of being one. It could be realized that somehow, the purpose of one being in a position that he deems to take as part of his being could also be influenced by the occurrence of different things that manage to motivate the willingness of the individual to pursue his planned role. The responsibilities placed upon and individual’s recognition of his role in the society basically motivates him to act upon the expectations that are upon his head. The manner by which he purposely drives himself into responding to such calls makes him a hero in his own way. On the other hand, being less able to handle the pressures of facing such responsibilities, one could be subjected into losing control of the aggression that he may have upon the said role that he ought to play. In the part of Dionysus, heroism on his part is actually turned out to be fine at first, however, it could be noted that such matter turned around and brought out a different side of the man. He has become less focused of his primary purpose and went on with the new desire he has been pressured to accept which is to establish a self-recognition that would give him the glory he desires to receive. Obviously, the story of Euripides in consideration with the heroism of Dionysus was defined along with the desires he has placed upon himself. It could be considered that somehow the provisions of thematic identification of heroism in the plot of the story shows how motivational influences actually establishes a personality in an individual that could either place them in the pedestal of recognition or in the doom of being twisted into a reputation that is less able to redeem one’s self of being in a righteous role.
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