The Bacchae (405 BCE)
by Euripides (480-406 BCE)
Wisdom, alas, seems to come late in life and results from the “school” that is life’s experience. “Moderation in all things” is one such hard-earned understanding and is also found in the teachings of Buddha. Euripides the Greek dramatist used his play The Bacchae as a vehicle to teach this important principle of how to negotiate the treacherous trajectory of life: avoid the extremes.
Dramatists have much to teach about the nature of reality as they fulfill their roles as prophets of the consequences of living life unconsciously. Pentheus, the young king of Thebes, is filled with the youthful hubris of his false self and is over-reliant on his intellect. Agave, his mother, is self-indulgent of her libidinous impulses. This play eloquently reveals the tragic consequences of the human failure to awaken to the nature of reality and to respond to the inner wisdom that would guide us around life’s inevitable pitfalls.
Euripides seems to advocate a middle path between the intellect and the libido or sensation center of the false self. “Thus it would seem that in the Bacchae, as elsewhere, Euripides is arguing for moderation in all things.”[i]
[i] Magill, Frank N. [ed.]. Masterpieces of World Literature. New York: Harper, 1989, page 80.
Find a much more in-depth discussion in printed books by Roy Charles Henry.