The Bacchae

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The Bacchae (Ancient Greek: Βάκχαι, Bakchai) is tragedy by the Athenian playwright Euripides.

Also known as The Bacchantes in English.

The original text

Written during his final years in Macedonia, while at the court of Archelaus I of Macedon, it premièred posthumously at the Theatre of Dionysus in 405 BC as part of a tetralogy that also included Iphigeneia at Aulis and Alcmaeon in Corinth, and which Euripides's son or nephew probably directed. It won first prize in the City Dionysia festival competition.

The tragedy is based on the mythological story of King Pentheus of Thebes and his mother Agauë, and their punishment by the god Dionysus (who is Pentheus's cousin) because he refuses to worship him. It shows the city caught up in hysterical orgies in honour of Dionysus, and the god himself not only speaks the prologue, but plays an important role in the action.

Translations and adaptations

Translated into English by **

Translated from the original Greek into Dutch by Balthazar Verhagen as De Bacchanten. Published by S.L. van Looij, 1924

Translated into Afrikaans by Herman Pretorius as Die Bacchae. Presented by the Stellenbosch University Drama Department as its entry for Student Drama at the National Arts Festival in 1988.

See also Wole Soyinka’s play The Bacchae of Euripides; Bacchus in die Boland by Bartho Smit; Ritual 2378 by Ian Ferguson ; Malcolm Purkey's adaptation,

Performance history in South Africa

1971: Performed by the Serpent Players directed by John Kani on Monday 5 July 1971 starring Kani, Winston Ntshona, Daniso Mankazana, Mangaliso Grootboom, George Luse, Nomhle Nkonyeni, Vuyelwa Cola, Grace Mnci, Joyce Faku (TECON).

1981: Directed by John Burch for the Rhodes University Drama Department, March 1981, with the cast including John Burch, Karin Jerg, Chris Goetsch, Carol-Ann Kelleher, Julie Coghlan, Bruce Young and Martin le Maitre amongst others.

Jeremy Crutchley as Pentheus in Euripides's The Bacchae for the Junction Avenue Theatre Company.

Aug 1983 - An adaptation directed by Malcolm Purkey with the cast: Jeremy Crutchley, Fats Dibeco, Kurt Egelhof, Popi Havakis, Carol Kaplan, Siphiwe Khumalo, Jeni-Lyn McLaren, Arthur Molepo, Gladys Mothlale, Jonathan Paton, Sarah Roberts, Caryn Solomon, Minky Schlesinger at the Market Theatre.

2002: Kirstenbosch Gardens Dionysos Festival, The Bacchae 2002, directed by Roy Sergeant starring Matthew Wild as Dionysos, Tauriq Jenkins, Willem Breedt. Andrew Michau wrote the music.

The Tyrant 2003, The Birds 2004 S


Wikipedia [1].

World Drama by Allardyce Nicoll. Harrap, 1949.

Ruphin Coudyzer. 2023. Annotated list of his photographs of Market Theatre productions. (Provided by Coudyzer)

Photographs and contact sheets for photographs of the cast for The Bacchae by Euripides, NELM

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