The Significance Of Animal Symbolism And Its — страница 3

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tear the tree from the earth upon which Pentheus sits. The seating Pentheus had taken is representative of a grand thyrsus of Dionysus, with the young king as the crown. “He has been totally transformed, not just into a Bacchant but into a symbol of the god’s power; no longer an individual, he is now merely the crown on an enlarged thyrsus” (Kalke 417). They all attacked him, while Agave took the leading role in the killing, seeing him as a lion through the delusions of their vision. The Bacchae proceed to carry out the process of sparagmos, or the ripping apart of an animal. In this, Agave transforms herself to a male role, as she is hunting the prey. This is ironic when taking note that Pentheus is currently acting in a female role; they have switched gender roles. Agave

tears the head from the body of her son and, and while thinking it is the head of a lion, places it upon her thyrsus. Here, Pentheus becomes the thyrsus of the god: first he is crowned with long hair and a mitra, then he himself crowns the tip of a fir tree raised by the maenads on the mountain, and finally be becomes the literal crown of the thyrsus carried by his mother” (Kalke 410). Clytemnestra and Agamemnon also switch roles when examining the human sides of their characters. Typically, the woman would not be carrying out the hunting role. She does, however, when planning the death of her husband. The mighty king Agamemnon becomes the hunted beast. Conversely, in nature, a the female lions are mainly responsible for the gathering of food for the pride. When noting this

aspect, Clytemnestra is indeed fulfilling her gender role. During the bloody killing of the son of Agave, a transformation took place where Pentheus was changed into a lion through the point of view of the delusional Bacchae. This directly corresponds to the lion imagery in the Oresteia. He was hunted by his mother, just as Agamemnon was hunted by his wife. Both men are characterized as lions—proud, courageous, kings—their final undoing was performed by a loved one for the purpose of revenge. Agave and her sisters were revenging the mockery of the holy rites of Dionysus, and Clytemnestra was taking revenge for the sacrificial killing of her daughter. Throughout Euripides’ work, the audience is able to notice changes taking place on many levels. The motif of transformation

is important in the Bacchae and has been viewed variously as transformation from man to beast, from hunter to hunted, from powerful pursuer to powerless victim, from repressed to expressed sexuality, from reality to illusion or illusion to reality, and from spectator to spectacle (Kalke 410). In both works, a deceitful character plans the evil end to a victim’s life. They both present themselves as loyal and trustworthy allies, but over time come to show their true nature. Clytemnestra not only fools her husband, but also the rest of the cast, and resultantly, the audience as well. Though Dionysus presents his true intentions early, he acts as a friend above all others to Pentheus, and eventually conducts his followers to kill the fooled king in pure vengeance. When noting the

importance of nature in ancient Greek literature, it is also crucial to gain a knowledge of the overall meaning the author is attempting to convey. By making use of lions throughout his work, Aeschylus means to draw out the significance of the hunt and hunted. “Aeschylus’ imagery impresses a quality upon his style that marks it as distinctive” (Keith 104). His unique usage of metaphors does not resemble the writers before him. Both he and Euripides exemplify the usage of imagery through gender role reversal and the meaning of various characteristics of animals. Esposito, Stephen. Euripides: Bacchae. Newburyport: Focus Publishing, 1998. Kalke, Christine M. “The Making of a Thyrsus: the Transformation of Pentheus in Euripides’ Bacchae.” American Journal of Philology.

(106), 409-26. Keith, Arthur Leslie. Simile and Metaphor in Greek Poetry from Homer to Aeschylus. Pub Menasha: George Banta Publishing, 1994. Martin, Thomas. Overview of Archaic and Classical Greek History. Accessed on 19 December, 1999. URL: http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi- bin/text?lookup=trm+ov+4.8&vers=english Meineck, Peter. Aeschylus: Oresteia. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 1998. Seaford, R. Euripides’ Bacchae with an Introduction, Translation, Commentary, 1996.