at the stall, to which he brought me for a gaol, he found a bull,
whose legs and hoofs he straightly tied, breathing out fury the while,
the sweat trickling from his body, and he biting his lips; but I from
near at hand sat calmly looking on. Meantime came the Bacchic god
and made the house quake, and at his mother's tomb relit the fire;
but Pentheus, seeing this, thought his palace was ablaze, and hither
and thither he rushed, bidding his servants bring water; but all in
vain was every servant's busy toil. Thereon he let this labour be
awhile, and, thinking maybe that I had escaped, rushed into the palace
with his murderous sword unsheathed. Then did Bromius-so at least
it seemed to me; I only tell you what I thought-made a phantom in
the hall, and he rushed after it in headlong haste, and stabbed the
lustrous air, thinking he wounded me. Further the Bacchic god did
other outrage to him; he dashed the building to the ground, and there
it lies a mass of ruin, a sight to make him rue most bitterly my bonds.
At last from sheer fatigue he dropped his sword and fell fainting;
for he a mortal frail, dared to wage war upon a god; but I meantime
quietly left the house and am come to you, with never a thought of
Pentheus. But methinks he will soon appear before the house; at least
there is a sound of steps within. What will he say, I wonder, after
this? Well, be his fury never so great, I will lightly bear it; for
'tis a wise man's way to school his temper into due control. (Enter
PENTHEUS Shamefully have I been treated; that stranger, whom but
now I made so fast in prison, hath escaped me. Ha! there is the man!
What means this? How didst thou come forth, to appear thus in front
of my palace?
DIONYSUS Stay where thou art; and moderate thy fury.
PENTHEUS How is it thou hast escaped thy fetters and art at large?
DIONYSUS Did I not say, or didst thou not hear me, "There is one
will loose me."
PENTHEUS Who was it? there is always something strange in what thou
DIONYSUS He who makes the clustering vine to grow for man.
PENTHEUS (I scorn him and his vines!)
DIONYSUS A fine taunt indeed thou hurlest here at Dionysus!
PENTHEUS (To his servants) Bar every tower that hems us in, I order
DIONYSUS What use? Cannot gods pass even over walls?
PENTHEUS How wise thou art, except where thy wisdom is needed!
DIONYSUS Where most 'tis needed, there am I most wise. But first
listen to yonder messenger and hear what he says; he comes from the
hills with tidings for thee; and I will await thy pleasure, nor seek
to fly. (Enter MESSENGER.) Messenger.
Pentheus, ruler of this realm of Thebes! I am come from Cithaeron,
where the dazzling flakes of pure white snow ne'er cease to fall.
PENTHEUS What urgent news dost bring me?
MESSENGER I have seen, O king, those frantic Bacchanals, who darted
in frenzy from this land with bare white feet, and I am come to tell
thee and the city the wondrous deeds they do, deeds passing strange.
But I fain would hear, whether I am freely to tell all I saw there,
or shorten my story; for I fear thy hasty temper, sire, thy sudden
bursts of wrath and more than princely rage.
PENTHEUS Say on, for thou shalt go unpunished by me in all respects;
for to be angered with the upright is wrong. The direr thy tale about
the Bacchantes, the heavier punishment will I inflict on this fellow
who brought his secret arts amongst our women.
MESSENGER I was just driving the herds of kine to a ridge of the
hill as I fed them, as the sun shot forth his rays and made the earth
grow warm; when lo! I see three revel-bands of women; Autonoe was
chief of one, thy mother Agave of the second, while Ino's was the
third. There they lay asleep, all tired out; some were resting on
branches of the pine, others had laid their heads in careless ease
on oak-leaves piled upon the ground, observing all modesty; not, as