The Bacchae

by

Euripides

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Semele Character Analysis

Semele is Dionysus’ mortal mother, the daughter of Cadmus, and the sister of Agave, Ino, and Autonoe. Semele was killed accidentally by her lover, the supreme god Zeus, when he took on the form of a lightning storm. Though she never appears on the stage, she is a major reason for Dionysus’ presence in Thebes. Since her death, rumors spread that her lover was a mortal, and that she had invented the Zeus to protect her dignity. Dionysus has come to prove his godliness and thereby restore honor to his mother’s name.
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Semele Character Timeline in The Bacchae

The timeline below shows where the character Semele 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
...Thebes, the town of his birth, to avenge the dishonorable treatment of his deceased mother, Semele. (full context)
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... (full context)
Disguise, Deception, and Identity Theme Icon
Gods and Mortals Theme Icon
Order vs. Irrationality Theme Icon
...clothed in fawn-skin, holding the thyrsus.” He explains that he’s targeted Thebes because his mother Semele’s sisters, Agave, Ino, and Autonoe, deny that he is the son of Zeus and dishonor... (full context)
Disguise, Deception, and Identity Theme Icon
Gods and Mortals Theme Icon
Order vs. Irrationality Theme Icon
...are his Bacchae. He says that when the Thebans realize his godliness they will see Semele’s innocence. (full context)
Lines 169 - 519
Disguise, Deception, and Identity Theme Icon
Gods and Mortals Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
...behead him. Pentheus scorns the idea that Dionysus is a god, and says Dionysus and Semele were killed for the latter’s lie that she had slept with Zeus. (full context)