The Significance Of Animal Symbolism And Its — страница 2

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halls, watching for the master’s return…this detestable bitch licks him with lengthy praise and whines her welcome, only to work her evil like a treacherous spirit of ruin (lines 1224-1230). Hidden beneath her mask of love and care was a devil who plans an evil death to her mate so that she may rule with his cousin, Aegisthus. In lines 1258-1259, the audience learns that “Clytemnestra is a two-footed lioness consorting with the wolf, Aegisthus, in the absence of the lion, Agamemnon” (Keith 124). Clytemnestra also portrays the characteristics of a natural mother lion. In nature, female lions help other females to protect their cubs from a new male lion, for he will kill the young ones of former ruling males to assure his status as the dominant male. Before leaving for

Troy, Agamemnon had sacrificed his daughter, Iphigenia, to guarantee the safety of his soldiers from hardships sent by the gods. This mimics the killing of the young to assure the adult male’s own protection. The irony in this sacrifice is that in order to obey divine laws, he must commit a crime against divine law. It is a crime to kill a member of one’s own kin, but Agamemnon is faced with the need to protect his men. Iphigenia is an understandable choice of sacrifice because she supplicates the god of hospitality—Zeus—and therefore pleases him. During the war, Clytemnestra sends her son, Orestes, away in order that he would be protected from the dangers brought on by the war. When observing lions in the wild, this choice of Clytemnestra is parallel to the lionesses

hiding their cubs from a possible early death. The action Clytemnestra plans and carries out changes her gender role, as murder and killing is typically a man’s occupation. Women in ancient times most often played subordinate roles, tending the house and meals, etc. According to Thomas Martin, a woman’s “excellence consists of preserving her household and its property by relying on her intelligence, beauty, social status, and intense fidelity to her husband.” Clytemnestra boasts that Agamemnon will return home to a chaste wife: Let him find a faithful wife in his house, just as he left her, the watchdog of his house, loyal only to him, an enemy to his enemies. I have not changed. In all this time I have not broken our seal. There has been no scandal, I know as much about

the pleasures of another man as I do of steeping metal. This is my boast and it is true… (lines 606-613). Though she swears this, the audience gathers an early clue that Agamemnon’s queen is not exactly what she claims to be. The men in ancient Greece were more focused on fulfilling their heroic deeds to gain the respect of their peers, as well as providing food in the form of freshly-hunted meat for their families, than being concerned with the happenings of the household. When analyzing the actions of the characters in the Bacchae, gender role is more clearly noted. Pentheus, being the young ruler of Thebes, was faced with a dilemma as he had to choose between dressing up as a woman in order to retrieve his mother from the group of frenzied female worshippers of Dionysus,

or be killed before he has a chance to act out his purpose for going to the hill. The idea that ‘if one represses something, it will most likely come back to haunt them’ proved to be true for Pentheus. He represses both the male and female sides of himself. This is made evident after the Stranger tells him to dress in a costume before approaching the mountain on which the women chant, to which Pentheus replies, “In what kind of costume? A woman’s? But I would be ashamed… I couldn’t bear to put on female costume” (line 828, 836). Naturally, when he first began to clothe himself, he did not feel comfortable with his apparel. Once Pentheus was fully dressed in Bacchant gear, the transformation was made complete. “Euripides creates a Pentheus who is transformed

visually into a symbol of Dionysus” (Kalke 410). His acceptance of the change is made known when he asked the Stranger to lead him to the mount. Christine Kalke agrees: “No longer ashamed of being dressed as a woman, he asks the Stranger to guide him through the center of the city” (414). He feels courageous and unique among his fellow Thebans, for he claims he is “the only man of all the Thebans to dare this” (Esposito 71). The humor in this situation is identified: “Ironically, it is in female dress that Pentheus boasts of his male bravery” (Seaford 226). When Pentheus is discovered by the Bacchae, a call from Dionysus to kill him is heard by the female worshippers of the god. Agave, Pentheus’ mother and leader of the women, organizes the rest of the group to