of my king, still must I utter this; Dionysus yields to no deity in
PENTHEUS Already, look you! the presumption of these Bacchantes is
upon us, swift as fire, a sad disgrace in the eyes of all Hellas.
No time for hesitation now! away to the Electra gate! order a muster
of all my men-at-arms, of those that mount fleet steeds, of all who
brandish light bucklers, of archers too that make the bowstring twang;
for I will march against the Bacchanals. By Heaven I this passes all,
if we are to be thus treated by women. (Exit MESSENGER.)
DIONYSUS Still obdurate, O Pentheus, after hearing my words! In spite
of all the evil treatment I am enduring from thee, still I warn thee
of the sin of bearing arms against a god, and bid thee cease; for
Bromius will not endure thy driving his votaries from the mountains
where they revel.
PENTHEUS A truce to thy preaching to me! thou hast escaped thy bonds,
preserve thy liberty; else will I renew thy punishment.
DIONYSUS I would rather do him sacrifice than in a fury kick against
the pricks; thou a mortal, he a god.
PENTHEUS Sacrifice! that will I, by setting afoot a wholesale slaughter
of women 'mid Cithaeron's glens, as they deserve.
DIONYSUS Ye will all be put to flight-a shameful thing that they
with the Bacchic thyrsus should rout your mail-clad warriors.
PENTHEUS I find this stranger a troublesome foe to encounter; doing
or suffering he is alike irrepressible.
DIONYSUS Friend, there is still a way to compose this bitterness.
PENTHEUS Say how; am I to serve my own servants?
DIONYSUS I will bring the women hither without weapons.
PENTHEUS Ha! ha! this is some crafty scheme of thine against me.
DIONYSUS What kind of scheme, if by my craft I purpose to save thee?
PENTHEUS You have combined with them to form this plot, that your
revels may on for ever.
DIONYSUS Nay, but this is the compact I made with the god; be sure
PENTHEUS (Preparing to start forth) Bring forth my arms. Not another
word from thee!
DIONYSUS Ha! wouldst thou see them seated on the hills?
PENTHEUS Of all things, yes! I would give untold sums for that.
DIONYSUS Why this sudden, strong desire?
PENTHEUS 'Twill be a bitter sight, if I find them drunk with wine.
DIONYSUS And would that be a pleasant sight which will prove bitter
PENTHEUS Believe me, yes! beneath the fir-trees as I sit in silence.
DIONYSUS Nay, they will track thee, though thou come secretly.
PENTHEUS Well, I will go openly; thou wert right to say so.
DIONYSUS Am I to be thy guide? wilt thou essay the road?
PENTHEUS Lead on with all speed, I grudge thee all delay.
DIONYSUS Array thee then in robes of fine linen.
PENTHEUS Why so? Am I to enlist among women after being a man?
DIONYSUS They may kill thee, if thou show thy manhood there.
PENTHEUS Well said! Thou hast given me a taste of thy wit already.
DIONYSUS Dionysus schooled me in this lore.
PENTHEUS How am I to carry out thy wholesome advice?
DIONYSUS Myself will enter thy palace and robe thee.
PENTHEUS What is the robe to be? a woman's? Nay, I am ashamed.
DIONYSUS Thy eagerness to see the Maenads goes no further.
PENTHEUS But what dress dost say thou wilt robe me in?
DIONYSUS Upon thy head will I make thy hair grow long.
PENTHEUS Describe my costume further.
DIONYSUS Thou wilt wear a robe reaching to thy feet; and on thy head
shall be a snood.
PENTHEUS Wilt add aught else to my attire?
DIONYSUS A thyrsus in thy hand, and a dappled fawnskin.
PENTHEUS I can never put on woman's dress.
DIONYSUS Then wilt thou cause bloodshed by coming to blows with the