In the ancient Greek city Thebes, Zeus has made his godly mark in the form of a pregnant woman, Semele, whose father is Cadmus, king of Thebes. Forced to prove the source of her unborn child, she calls on Zeus for proof, and gets zapped by a lightning bolt. Years later, Cadmus steps down from his throne so that his grandson Pentheus, may take his place as king. Word comes forth that Dionysus, the god of wine, has come to Thebes,in the company of the Bacchae, a group of female follwers who frolic and live in the woods. The more Pentheus denies the existence of Dionysus,the more the god's influence over Thebes grows, as hundreds of women leave the city to be with Dionysus, including Pentheus' mother Agave. Things begin to fall apart in Thebes, and yet Pentheus throws himself farther into a direct conflict with a god.