How far does Pentheus from Euripides' The Bacchae deserve his punishment?

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How far does Pentheus from Euripides’ The Bacchae deserve his punishment?

At the beginning of the play I think I would be inclined to agree that Pentheus deserves his punishment but by the end after we are shown the way that Dionysus reacts to him and how his punishment is completed, I would probably say he does not deserve the punishment he was given. In my opinion it was vile and unnecessary but the ancient Greeks took the Gods will very seriously and the fact that a King was not welcoming to a new god, seemingly insulted them and thus forced Dionysus to exact revenge upon him.

At the start when Pentheus enters he declares that he has heard rumours that this ‘new god’ is driving the women to leave their homes and have criminal actions. He says his worshippers are ‘frolicking’ and satisfying the lusts of men. He is basing these blames purely on rumour and even calls Dionysus a ‘parvenu god’. He is not respecting the new god and even though he knows the gods can punish humans, he still refuses to worship him; he even states that he will leave him out of his worship when he goes to sleep. He calls him ‘some foreigner’ and disrespects him by saying he is a wizard conjuror and had fragrant golden curls, not meaning to compliment him but insult him. Here perhaps he does deserve his punishment because he is disrespectful and unkind to the new god because he is a cynical ruler.

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Cadmus and Tiresias encourage Pentheus to allow Dionysus’s worship into the city but here will listen to none of it and he is rude to both of them (which again, is not expected of a king but his pride and arrogance overpowers his respect for his elders). He has absolutely no piety towards Dionysus and insults him once he is brought (in disguise) to Pentheus. He is given many warnings by Dionysus but Pentheus ‘chooses’ not to hear then and ignores him, he is spoken to in riddles but Pentheus once again shows no understanding and Pentheus even goes as ...

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