The Bacchae

by

Euripides

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The Second Messenger Character Analysis

The second messenger arrives near the end of the play to bring news of Pentheus’ grisly death at the hands of his mother, Agave, who is one of the Bacchae. The second messenger delivers his “lesson” before departing, declaring that “moderation and reverence for the gods are a mortal’s best possession.”

The Second Messenger Quotes in The Bacchae

The The Bacchae quotes below are all either spoken by The Second Messenger or refer to The Second Messenger. 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 1023 - 1392 Quotes

His own mother,
like a priestess with her sacrifice, fell on him first.
But he snatched off his headdress and wig
so she could see who he was.
He reached out his hand to touch her cheek
and cried out: "Mother! Mother! Look!
It's me, Pentheus, Your own son!
The son you bore to Echion!
Spare me, Mother, I beg You!
I have done wrong, Perhaps,
but you cannot kill your own son!"
But Agave's eyes were rolling,
and her mouth filling with foam.
In the grip of the god and the god's frenzy,
it was as if she couldn't see him, couldn't hear.
Grabbing his left hand at the wrist,
she planted her foot against his flank and wrenched,
pulling his arm straight out of his shoulder—
not with her own strength but the strength of the god.

Related Characters: The Second Messenger (speaker), Pentheus, Agave, The Bacchae
Page Number: Lines 1115-1128
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Second Messenger Character Timeline in The Bacchae

The timeline below shows where the character The Second Messenger appears in The Bacchae. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
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... (full context)
Gods and Mortals Theme Icon
Order vs. Irrationality Theme Icon
The second messenger recounts what happened to Pentheus. He went with Pentheus and Dionysus to Mt. Cithaeron. They... (full context)
Gods and Mortals Theme Icon
Pentheus wanted to get a closer look, continues the second messenger , and asked Dionysus if it would be a good idea to climb up a... (full context)
Gods and Mortals Theme Icon
Order vs. Irrationality Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
The Bacchae then spotted Pentheus at the top of the tree. The second messenger relates how the voice of Dionysus came from the sky and told the “Bacchae” that... (full context)
Disguise, Deception, and Identity Theme Icon
Gods and Mortals Theme Icon
Order vs. Irrationality Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
...of the ground, sending Pentheus crashing to the floor. Agave pounced on him, continues the second messenger . Pentheus took off his wig and headdress and cried out, “Mother! Mother! It’s Me,... (full context)
Disguise, Deception, and Identity Theme Icon
Gods and Mortals Theme Icon
Order vs. Irrationality Theme Icon
Violence Theme Icon
Agave picked up Pentheus’ head and mounted it on the top of her thyrsus. The second messenger says he heard her calling out to Dionysus, her “fellow huntsman” and “companion in the... (full context)