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The Bacchantes   


up her life beneath the lightning stroke of Zeus' winged bolt; but
forthwith Zeus, the son of Cronos, found for him another womb wherein
to rest, for he hid him in his thigh and fastened it with golden pins
to conceal him from Hera. And when the Fates had fully formed the
horned god, he brought him forth and crowned him with a coronal of
snakes, whence it is the thyrsus-bearing Maenads hunt the snake to
twine about their hair. O Thebes, nurse of Semele! crown thyself with
ivy; burst forth, burst forth with blossoms fair of green convolvulus,
and with the boughs of oak and pine join in the Bacchic revelry; dor;-thy
coat of dappled fawn-skin, decking it with tufts of silvered hair;
with reverent hand the sportive wand now wield. Anon shall the whole
land be dancing, when Bromius leads his revellers to the hills, to
the hills away! where wait him groups of maidens from loom and shuttle
roused in frantic haste by Dionysus. O hidden cave of the Curetes!
O hallowed haunts in Crete, that saw Zeus born, where Corybantes with
crested helms devised for me in their grotto the rounded timbrel of
ox-hide, mingling Bacchic minstrelsy with the shrill sweet accents
of the Phrygian flute, a gift bestowed by them on mother Rhea, to
add its crash of music to the Bacchantes' shouts of joy; but frantic
satyrs won it from the mother-goddess for their own, and added it
to their dances in festivals, which gladden the heart of Dionysus,
each third recurrent year. Oh! happy that votary, when from the hurrying
revel-rout he sinks to earth, in his holy robe of fawnskin, chasing
the goat to drink its blood, a banquet sweet of flesh uncooked, as
he hastes to Phrygia's or to Libya's hills; while in the van the Bromian
god exults with cries of Evoe. With milk and wine and streams of luscious
honey flows the earth, and Syrian incense smokes. While the Bacchante
holding in his hand a blazing torch of pine uplifted on his wand waves
it, as he speeds along, rousing wandering votaries, and as he waves
it cries aloud with wanton tresses tossing in the breeze; and thus
to crown the revelry, he raises loud his voice, "On, on, ye Bacchanals,
pride of Tmolus with its rills of gold I to the sound of the booming
drum, chanting in joyous strains the praises of your joyous god with
Phrygian accents lifted high, what time the holy lute with sweet complaining
note invites you to your hallowed sport, according well with feet
that hurry wildly to the hills; like a colt that gambols at its mother's
side in the pasture, with gladsome heart each Bacchante bounds along."
(Enter TEIRESIAS.)
TEIRESIAS What loiterer at the gates will call Cadmus from the house,
Agenor's son, who left the city of Sidon and founded here the town
of Thebes? Go one of you, announce to him that Teiresias is seeking
him; he knows himself the reason of my coming and the compact I and
he have made in our old age to bind the thyrsus with leaves and don
the fawnskin, crowning our heads the while with ivy-sprays. (Enter
CADMUS.)

CADMUS Best of friends! I was in the house when I heard thy voice,
wise as its owner. I come prepared, dressed in the livery of the god.
For 'tis but right I should magnify with all my might my own daughter's
son, Dionysus, who hath shown his godhead unto men. Where are we to
join the dance? where plant the foot and shake the hoary head? Do
thou, Teiresias, be my guide, age leading age, for thou art wise.
Never shall I weary, night or day, of beating the earth with my thyrsus.
What joy to forget our years?
TEIRESIAS Why, then thou art as I am. For I too am young again, and
will essay the dance.
CADMUS We will drive then in our chariot to the hill.
TEIRESIAS Nay, thus would the god not have an equal honour paid.
CADMUS Well, I will lead thee, age leading age.
TEIRESIAS The god will guide us both thither without toil.
CADMUS Shall we alone of all the city dance in Bacchus' honour?
TEIRESIAS Yea, for we alone are wise, the rest are mad.
CADMUS We stay too long; come, take my hand.
TEIRESIAS There link thy hand in my firm grip.
CADMUS Mortal that I am, I scorn not the gods.

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