The Bacchae

by

Euripides

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Bacchae can help.

The Chorus Character Analysis

The chorus is a group of Bacchae that Dionysus accumulated during his journeying through Asia. They don’t get involved in the action, but serve as a way of heightening the drama. For example, they invoke the “hounds of madness” in anticipation of Pentheus’ murder. In general, the chorus acts as a kind of commentary in the action—but in this case, they’re undoubtedly biased towards Dionysus.

The Chorus Quotes in The Bacchae

The The Bacchae quotes below are all either spoken by The Chorus or refer to The Chorus. 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 1 - 168 Quotes

Blessèd are those who know the mysteries of the god.
Blessèd are those who consecrate their lives to worship.
Blessèd are those who give themselves up to the dance,
to the mysteries, to purification on the holy mountain
where the dance and the mysteries take place.

Related Characters: The Chorus (speaker), Dionysus
Page Number: Lines 72-76
Explanation and Analysis:
Lines 520 - 866 Quotes

CHORUS
Look: the stone lintels gape from their columns!
The Roaring One is pulling down the palace from inside!

DIONYSUS
Spark the lightning bolt!
Let the flames feed on the house of Pentheus!

Related Characters: Dionysus (speaker), The Chorus (speaker), Pentheus
Related Symbols: The Palace
Page Number: Lines 591-594
Explanation and Analysis:
Lines 1023 - 1392 Quotes

The gods take many shapes,
accomplish many things beyond our expectations.
What we look for does not happen;
what we least expect is fashioned by the gods.
And that is what has happened here today.

Related Characters: The Chorus (speaker), Dionysus
Page Number: Lines 1388-1392
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Bacchae LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Bacchae PDF

The Chorus Character Timeline in The Bacchae

The timeline below shows where the character The Chorus 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
Order vs. Irrationality Theme Icon
The chorus sings Dionysus’ praises, charting their journey from Asia to Greece. They say those who give... (full context)
Lines 169 - 519
Gods and Mortals Theme Icon
...Dionysus so he can make money on the side from burnt offerings and prophecies. The chorus accuses Pentheus of “blasphemy.” (full context)
Gods and Mortals Theme Icon
...respects to the god, and Tiresias predicts that Pentheus’ actions will “end in folly.” The chorus sings further praises of Dionysus, warning that “over-reaching mortals simply shorten their lives.” (full context)
Lines 520 - 866
Gods and Mortals Theme Icon
The chorus sings about Dionysus’ birth and Pentheus’ betrayal of his origins. The singers call on Dionysus... (full context)
Disguise, Deception, and Identity Theme Icon
Gods and Mortals Theme Icon
Order vs. Irrationality Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
Dionysus calls to the chorus and his other followers from within the palace. He brings about a great earthquake to... (full context)
Disguise, Deception, and Identity Theme Icon
Gods and Mortals Theme Icon
Order vs. Irrationality Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
Dionysus explains to the chorus how he escaped from the palace. Apparently, he had deceived Pentheus throughout their interaction. Pentheus... (full context)
Gods and Mortals Theme Icon
Order vs. Irrationality Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
The leader of the chorus tells Pentheus that there is no god greater than Dionysus. Pentheus tells his servant to... (full context)
Disguise, Deception, and Identity Theme Icon
Gods and Mortals Theme Icon
Order vs. Irrationality Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
...the palace to think about what he should do. Dionysus makes it clear to the chorus that he intends to drive Pentheus mad and embarrass him. Then, Pentheus will “finally know... (full context)
Lines 867 - 1022
Gods and Mortals Theme Icon
Order vs. Irrationality Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
The chorus sings about gods and honor: “the greatest gift of the gods is honor: to reach... (full context)
Disguise, Deception, and Identity Theme Icon
Gods and Mortals Theme Icon
Order vs. Irrationality Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
The chorus invokes the “hounds of madness” to run to the mountains and send the Bacchae into... (full context)
Lines 1023 - 1392
Gods and Mortals Theme Icon
Order vs. Irrationality Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
The second messenger arrives, bearing “mournful” news—Pentheus is dead. The leader of the chorus celebrates. When chastised by the messenger, the chorus leader says: “I am no Greek, and... (full context)
Disguise, Deception, and Identity Theme Icon
Gods and Mortals Theme Icon
Order vs. Irrationality Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
The chorus celebrates what’s happened to Pentheus. Agave enters, carrying her thyrsus with the head of Pentheus... (full context)
Gods and Mortals Theme Icon
Order vs. Irrationality Theme Icon
...dishonoring the god. They bid farewell to each other and leave in different directions. The chorus closes the play: “what we look for does not come to pass; what we least... (full context)