19 October 2008

Bacchus and Pentheus

Book III of the Metamorphoses concludes with the story of Pentheus, the king of Thebes who resisted the introduction of the worship of Bacchus and was torn to pieces by a group of Bacchic worshippers including his own mother. This is of course the plot of Euripides' "The Bacchae". Within this story is the story told by Acoetes of how Bacchus turned a shipload of sailors who wanted to kidnap him and sell him into slavery into dolphins. (public domain picture of dolphin from wikicommons)

The contemporary artist Paul Reid has a picture of Pentheus (scroll down -- middle picture in the third row). The story of Bacchus is one of those Benjamin Britten used for his Six Metamorphoses after Ovid. The Youtube video below shows a performance by Nicholas Daniel.

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