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The Bacchantes   


of my king, still must I utter this; Dionysus yields to no deity in
might.
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
of that.
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
to thee?
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

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