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Bacchae Women Vs. Salem Witches

             The Witches of Salem can easily be compared to the women in Euripides Bacchae, both “worshiping” a divine creature. The frantic women in the Bacchae praised Dionysus, when others like Pentheus did not believe in him. While these “witches” in Salem found another source of belief, a heavenly creature. These women represented strength not insanity.
             The Bacchic celebration was an overjoyed group experience featuring dancing, costumes, music, wine, and ecstatic release out in nature away from the city in the wild, potentially dangerous nature of the mountains. It is a female experience, one that takes women of all ages away from their homes and their responsibilities. They tend to have amazingly irrational powers, beyond the traditional controls exercised by the male rulers of the city, which brought them into harmony with wild nature. Euripides stresses the beauty, energy, creativity, and communal joy of this Bacchic ritual, while at the same time repeatedly informing us of the destructive potential in it. The Bacchae, of the god Dionysus fell under the spell of Dionysus and became frenzied and performed wild Bacchic rituals. They danced ecstatically around, dressed in fawn skins. The Bacchae reputedly frolicked with wild animals. They could strike a rock with a Thyrsus and make water spring from it, strike a fennel stick on the ground and have a fountain of wine shoot up, or scrape the earth with their fingers and get milk. When disturbed they could tear apart cattle limb from limb, and consume the raw meat. They carried fire and it did not burn them. When attacked by pointed spears, they were unhurt (Dionysus). .
             The Salem witches practiced their “witchcraft” also away from the public eye. They practiced in the woods, and in the darkness. They would too dance around franticly and worship the devil. “The devil came to me and bid me serve him. I speak of black dogs, red cats, yellow birds, and a white-haired man who bade me sign the devil’s book” (Hansen 23).