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The Bacchantes   


PENTHEUS Pray, what special feature stamps thy rites?
DIONYSUS That is a secret to be hidden from the uninitiated.
PENTHEUS What profit bring they to their votaries?
DIONYSUS Thou must not be told, though 'tis well worth knowing.
PENTHEUS A pretty piece of trickery, to excite my curiosity!
DIONYSUS A man of godless life is an abomination to the rites of
the god.
PENTHEUS Thou sayest thou didst see the god clearly; what was he
like?
DIONYSUS What his fancy chose; I was not there to order this.
PENTHEUS Another clever twist and turn of thine, without a word of
answer.
DIONYSUS He were a fool, methinks, who would utter wisdom to a fool.
PENTHEUS Hast thou come hither first with this deity?
DIONYSUS All foreigners already celebrate these mysteries with dances.
PENTHEUS The reason being, they are far behind Hellenes in wisdom.
DIONYSUS In this at least far in advance, though their customs differ.
PENTHEUS Is it by night or day thou performest these devotions?
DIONYSUS By night mostly; darkness lends solemnity.
PENTHEUS Calculated to entrap and corrupt women.
DIONYSUS Day too for that matter may discover shame.
PENTHEUS This vile quibbling settles thy punishment.
DIONYSUS Brutish ignorance and godlessness will settle thine.
PENTHEUS How bold our Bacchanal is growing! a very master in this
wordy strife!
DIONYSUS Tell me what I am to suffer; what is the grievous doom thou
wilt inflict upon me?
PENTHEUS First will I shear off thy dainty tresses.
DIONYSUS My locks are sacred; for the god I let them grow.
PENTHEUS Next surrender that thyrsus.
DIONYSUS Take it from me thyself; 'tis the wand of Dionysus I am
bearing.
PENTHEUS In dungeon deep thy body will I guard.
DIONYSUS The god himself will set me free, whene'er I list.
PENTHEUS Perhaps he may, when thou standest amid thy Bacchanals and
callest on his name.
DIONYSUS Even now he is near me and witnesses my treatment.
PENTHEUS Why, where is he? To my eyes he is invisible.
DIONYSUS He is by my side; thou art a godless man and therefore dost
not see him.
PENTHEUS Seize him! the fellow scorns me and Thebes too.
DIONYSUS I bid you bind me not, reason addressing madness.
PENTHEUS But I say "bind!" with better right than thou.
DIONYSUS Thou hast no knowledge of the life thou art leading; thy
very existence is now a mystery to thee.
PENTHEUS I am Pentheus, son of Agave and Echion.
DIONYSUS Well-named to be misfortune's mate!
PENTHEUS Avaunt! Ho! shut him up within the horses' stalls hard by,
that for light he may have pitchy gloom. Do thy dancing there, and
these women whom thou bringest with thee to share thy villainies I
will either sell as slaves or make their hands cease from this noisy
beating of drums, and set them to work at the loom as servants of
my own.
DIONYSUS I will go; for that which fate forbids, can never befall
me. For this thy mockery be sure Dionysus will exact a recompense
of thee-even the god whose existence thou deniest; for thou art injuring
him by haling me to prison. (Exit DIONYSUS, guarded, and PENTHEUS.)
CHORUS Hail to thee, Dirce, happy maid, daughter revered of Achelous!
within thy founts thou didst receive in days gone by the babe of Zeus,
what time his father caught him up into his thigh from out the deathless
flame, while thus he cried: "Go rest, my Dithyrambus, there within
thy father's womb; by this name, O Bacchic god, I now proclaim thee
to Thebes." But thou, blest Dirce, thrustest me aside, when in thy
midst I strive to hold my revels graced with crowns. Why dost thou

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