Drink and drama: top 10 quotes

10. Euripides, The Bacchae

Followers of Dionysos celebrate his gift of wine to mankind

Followers of Dionysos celebrate his gift of wine to mankind

For two things, young man, are first among men: the goddess Demeter – she is the earth, but call her whatever name you wish; she nourishes mortals with dry food; but he who came afterwards, the offspring of Semele, discovered a match to it, the liquid drink of the grape, and introduced it to mortals. It releases wretched mortals from grief, whenever they are filled with the stream of the vine, and gives them sleep, a means of forgetting their daily troubles, nor is there another cure for hardships.”

Even two and a half thousand years ago the alcohol debate was running strong. Euripides’ 5th century BC tragedy The Bacchae shows the outlandish god of wine Dionysos coming to Greece, where King Pentheus seeks to repress his corrupting influence on the people of Thebes.

Here the prophet Teiresias warns against Pentheus’ puritanical approach with this eulogy to wine that positions it as a vital component of human happiness.



 9. “Without wine there is no longer love nor any other pleasant thing for men.”

A Greek vase depicts the gruesome downfall of Pentheus

A Greek vase depicts the gruesome downfall of Pentheus

Among the many other wine-related references that permeate The Bacchae comes this further warning for Pentheus from a shepherd, who has narrowly escaped with his life from the eponymous Bacchae, the women of Thebes whom Dionysos has sent mad into the mountains as punishment for the city’s rejection of his religion.

The play ends in tragedy as Pentheus, driven mad by the god and his own prurient desire to spy on the immoral activities he imagines these women are getting up to in the wild, disguises himself in drag but is hunted down by the furious Bacchae and torn apart by his own mother.

One Response to “Drink and drama: top 10 quotes”

  1. What, nothing from Jeffery Bernard is Unwell?

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