The Bacchae

by

Euripides

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Cadmus Character Analysis

Cadmus is the father of Semele, Agave, Ino and Autonoe; the grandfather of Dionysus and Pentheus; and the former king of Thebes. Due to his old age, he gave his kingship to Pentheus. Cadmus differs from Pentheus in that he believes the Thebans ought to worship Dionysus just in case he is a god, not because he’s necessarily an especially devout believer. Furthermore, he thinks association with a god would bring prestige to the family name. At the end of the play, Cadmus heartbreakingly reveals to Agave that she has killed her own son, and tries to piece together Pentheus’ severed body parts. At Dionysus’ order, Cadmus is banished with his wife, Hermia. They are to be transformed into snakes, and must eventually return to Greece leading a horde of barbarians. Although they will attack the wrong shrine, the gods will deliver them from danger and bring them to the “Land of the Blessed.”

Cadmus Quotes in The Bacchae

The The Bacchae quotes below are all either spoken by Cadmus or refer to Cadmus. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Disguise, Deception, and Identity Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Ecco edition of The Bacchae published in 2015.
Lines 169 - 519 Quotes

CADMUS
Are we the only men who'll dance for Dionysus?

TIRESIAS
The rest are blind. Only we can see.

Related Characters: Cadmus (speaker), Tiresias (speaker), Dionysus
Page Number: Lines 195-196
Explanation and Analysis:

And here's another miracle! The prophet Tiresias
all got up in fawn skin, and my mother's father
dressed up as a Bacchant with a wand.
You look ridiculous, both of you: have you lost your wits?
I'm ashamed of you, Grandfather.
Shake off that ivy and drop that bloody stick!
This is your doing, Tiresias, I can tell:
another imported god, another chance
to make money on the side from burnt offerings
and reading auguries from the guts of birds.

Related Characters: Pentheus (speaker), Dionysus, Cadmus, Tiresias
Related Symbols: Thyrsus
Page Number: Lines 248-257
Explanation and Analysis:
Lines 1023 - 1392 Quotes

Father, you have the right to make the proudest boast,
for you have sired the bravest daughters in the world.
And of us all, I am the foremost:
leaving the shuttle and loom for bigger things –
hunting animals with my bare hands.
As you can see, I have a trophy for our house,
to hang here on the wall.

Related Characters: Agave (speaker), Pentheus, Cadmus
Page Number: Lines 1231-1240
Explanation and Analysis:

AGAVE
Cithaeron? But why was Pentheus there?

CADMUS
He went to mock the gods, and your rituals.

AGAVE
But we—why were we there?

CADMUS
You were out of your wits.
The whole city was possessed by Bacchus.

AGAVE
I see. Dionysus has destroyed us all.

Related Characters: Cadmus (speaker), Agave (speaker), Dionysus, Pentheus
Page Number: Lines 1292-1296
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Bacchae LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Bacchae PDF

Cadmus Character Timeline in The Bacchae

The timeline below shows where the character Cadmus appears in The Bacchae. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Lines 1 - 168
Disguise, Deception, and Identity Theme Icon
Gods and Mortals Theme Icon
Semele was the daughter of Cadmus, the elderly Theban who has given over the rule of the kingdom to his grandson,... (full context)
Disguise, Deception, and Identity Theme Icon
Gods and Mortals Theme Icon
Order vs. Irrationality Theme Icon
...dishonor his mother’s memory. They thought the story was just a ruse thought up by Cadmus because Semele had a scandalous affair with a mortal man. (full context)
Gods and Mortals Theme Icon
Order vs. Irrationality Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
Dionysus is angry with Pentheus, the king of Thebes and grandson of Cadmus, for disrespecting him by refusing to offer sacrifice or prayer in his honor. He says... (full context)
Lines 169 - 519
Disguise, Deception, and Identity Theme Icon
Gods and Mortals Theme Icon
Tiresias, the elderly blind prophet, enters dressed as a Dionysian follower. He calls to Cadmus to come out of the palace and join him. Cadmus arrives and greets him warmly,... (full context)
Gods and Mortals Theme Icon
Pentheus notices Cadmus and Tiresias and their Dionysian attire. He mocks them, and tells Cadmus he is ashamed... (full context)
Gods and Mortals Theme Icon
Cadmus tells Pentheus that he needs to follow “customs and traditions.” He reasons that, even if... (full context)
Gods and Mortals Theme Icon
Pentheus rejects Cadmus and Tiresias’ arguments, ordering his servants to capture the priest—actually Dionysus in disguise—who is leading... (full context)
Lines 1023 - 1392
Disguise, Deception, and Identity Theme Icon
Gods and Mortals Theme Icon
Order vs. Irrationality Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
Agave shows off the head before asking the whereabouts of Cadmus and Pentheus. Cadmus arrives with a servant carrying a “draped stretcher.” Cadmus has been searching... (full context)
Disguise, Deception, and Identity Theme Icon
Agave tells Cadmus that he should be proud of her and her sisters, given their skill at “hunting... (full context)
Gods and Mortals Theme Icon
Order vs. Irrationality Theme Icon
Cadmus tells Agave that her and her sisters aren’t hunters, but murderers. He says he pities... (full context)
Disguise, Deception, and Identity Theme Icon
Gods and Mortals Theme Icon
Order vs. Irrationality Theme Icon
Agave calls out for Pentheus, so he can witness “his mother’s good fortune.” Cadmus says that if she ever realizes what she’s done, then she will be driven mad.... (full context)
Disguise, Deception, and Identity Theme Icon
Gods and Mortals Theme Icon
Order vs. Irrationality Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
As Agave stares at the sky, she feels her “head is clearing.” She tells Cadmus she can’t remember what they were talking about. He asks her a series of questions... (full context)
Disguise, Deception, and Identity Theme Icon
Gods and Mortals Theme Icon
Order vs. Irrationality Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
Agave asks who killed Pentheus. Cadmus explains what happened—that Agave and her sisters are responsible. She doesn’t remember anything, not even... (full context)
Disguise, Deception, and Identity Theme Icon
Gods and Mortals Theme Icon
Cadmus explains to Agave that Pentheus was made to suffer because “he refused the god.” He... (full context)
Disguise, Deception, and Identity Theme Icon
Gods and Mortals Theme Icon
Order vs. Irrationality Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
Dionysus appears, “revealed as a god.” He tells Cadmus that he and his wife, Harmonia, will be turned into snakes, “drawn by oxen in... (full context)
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Cadmus pleads with Dionysus, asking “should not gods stand above all mortal passions, such as anger?”... (full context)
Order vs. Irrationality Theme Icon
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Agave embraces Cadmus, distraught that she must be exiled with him. Cadmus says he can’t help her. Agave... (full context)
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Agave says “terrible is the ruin Lord Dionysus has visited on this house”; Cadmus says it’s their fault for dishonoring the god. They bid farewell to each other and... (full context)