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The Bacchantes   


scorn me? Why avoid me? By the clustered charm that Dionysus sheds
o'er the vintage I vow there yet shall come a time when thou wilt
turn thy thoughts to Bromius. What furious rage the earth-born race
displays, even Pentheus sprung of a dragon of old, himself the son
of earth-born Echion, a savage monster in his very mien, not made
in human mould, but like some murderous giant pitted against heaven;
for he means to bind me, the handmaid of Bromius, in cords forthwith,
and e'en now he keeps my fellow-reveller pent within his palace, plunged
in a gloomy dungeon. Dost thou mark this, O Dionysus, son of Zeus,
thy prophets struggling 'gainst resistless might? Come, O king, brandishing
thy golden thyrsus along the slopes of Olympus; restrain the pride
of this bloodthirsty wretch! Oh! where in Nysa, haunt of beasts, or
on the peaks of Corycus art thou, Dionysus, marshalling with thy wand
the revellers? or haply in the thick forest depths of Olympus, where
erst Orpheus with his lute gathered trees to his minstrelsy, and beasts
that range the fields. Ah blest Pieria! Evius honours thee, to thee
will he come with his Bacchic rites to lead the dance, and thither
will he lead the circling Maenads, crossing the swift current of Axius
and the Lydias, that giveth wealth and happiness to man, yea, and
the father of rivers, which, as I have heard, enriches with his waters
fair a land of steeds.
DIONYSUS (Within) What ho! my Bacchantes, ho! hear my call, oh!
hear.
CHORUS Who art thou? what Evian cry is this that calls me? whence
comes it?
DIONYSUS What ho! once more I call, I the son of Semele, the child
of Zeus.
CHORUS II My master, O my master, hail!
CHORUS III Come to our revel-band, O Bromian god.
CHORUS IV Thou solid earth!
CHORUS Most awful shock!
CHORUS VI O horror! soon will the palace of Pentheus totter and fall.
CHORUS VII Dionysus is within this house.
CHORUS VIII Do homage to him.
CHORUS IX We do! I do!
CHORUS Did ye mark yon architrave of stone upon the columns start
asunder?
CHORUS XI Within these walls the triumph-shout of Bromius himself
will rise.
DIONYSUS Kindle the blazing torch with lightning's fire, abandon
to the flames the halls of Pentheus.
CHORUS XII Ha! dost not see the flame, dost not clearly mark it at
the sacred tomb of Semele, the lightning flame which long ago the
hurler of the bolt left there?
CHORUS XIII Your trembling limbs prostrate, ye Maenads, low upon
the ground.
CHORUS XIV Yea, for our king, the son of Zeus, is assailing and utterly
confounding this house. (Enter DIONYSUS.)
DIONYSUS Are ye so stricken with terror that ye have fallen to the
earth, O foreign dames? Ye saw then, it would seem, how the Bacchic
god made Pentheus' halls to quake; but arise, be of good heart, compose
your trembling limbs.
CHORUS O chiefest splendour of our gladsome Bacchic sport, with what
joy I see thee in my loneliness!
DIONYSUS Were ye cast down when I was led into the house, to be plunged
into the gloomy dungeons of Pentheus?
CHORUS Indeed I was. Who was to protect me, if thou shouldst meet
with mishap? But how wert thou set free from the clutches of this
godless wretch?
DIONYSUS My own hands worked out my own salvation, easily and without
trouble.
CHORUS But did he not lash fast thy hands with cords?
DIONYSUS There too I mocked him; he thinks he bound me, whereas he
never touched or caught hold of me, but fed himself on fancy. For

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