‘I Propose to argue first’, writes M. R. Glover1 of the Bacchae, ‘that Euripides is here, as elsewhere, a realist, giving us a picture of Dionysus’ worship as it really was; and that the miracles are meant as evidence of some supernatural power; and secondly that, if we want to know his judgment on that religion, we shall come nearest to his thought, if not his vocabulary, in saying that it seemed to him devilish.’ The point of view expressed in the opening words reduces the ‘riddle’ of the Bacchae to manageable proportions. As a piece of life, a study of religious psychology, to be set beside the Hippolytus and the Ion, the play becomes comprehensible. It reveals the poet in his old familiar role, watching men and women with his own rare insight and truthfulness, and noting with fidelity their tragic conflicts of the spirit and their bewildering catastrophes. Miss Glover's first proposition, therefore, is undoubtedly correct. Whether Euripides was as emotionally involved in his subject as the second proposition suggests might be much more open to doubt. H. J. Rose,2 on the first point, takes substantially the same position. He writes:
‘To call the play an attack on or a defence of religion in general or any form of it in particular is quite to miss the meaning. It is a study, by a poet who was deeply interested in all religious phenomena, of one of the most notable of them… As he neither attacks nor defends sexual passion in the Hippolytus, but studies it sympathetically and with profound pity for its victims, so here he deals with an equally potent force, which he shows exalting some of those affected by it to the raptures of the chorus, and ruining others like Pentheus and Agave.