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The Bacchantes   


is straying from its place, no longer as I bound it 'neath the snood.
PENTHEUS I disarranged it from its place as I tossed it to and fro
within my chamber, in Bacchic ecstasy.
DIONYSUS Well, I will rearrange it, since to tend thee is my care;
hold up thy head.
PENTHEUS Come, put it straight; for on thee do I depend.
DIONYSUS Thy girdle is loose, and the folds of thy dress do not hang
evenly below thy ankles.
PENTHEUS I agree to that as regards the right side, but on the other
my dress hangs straight with my foot.
DIONYSUS Surely thou wilt rank me first among thy friends, when contrary
to thy expectation thou findest the Bacchantes virtuous.
PENTHEUS Shall I hold the thyrsus in the right or left hand to look
most like a Bacchanal?
DIONYSUS Hold it in thy right hand, and step out with thy right foot;
thy change of mind compels thy praise.
PENTHEUS Shall I be able to carry on my shoulders Cithaeron's glens,
the Bacchanals and all?
DIONYSUS Yes, if so thou wilt; for though thy mind was erst diseased,
'tis now just as it should be.
PENTHEUS Shall we take levers, or with my hands can I uproot it,
thrusting arm or shoulder 'neath its peaks?
DIONYSUS No, no! destroy not the seats of the Nymphs and the haunts
of Pan, the place of his piping.
PENTHEUS Well said! Women must not be mastered by brute force; amid
the pines will I conceal myself.
DIONYSUS Thou shalt hide thee in the place that fate appoints, coming
by stealth to spy upon the Bacchanals.
PENTHEUS Why, methinks they are already caught in the pleasant snares
of dalliance, like birds amid the brakes.
DIONYSUS Set out with watchful heed then for this very purpose; maybe
thou wilt catch them, if thou be not first caught thyself.
PENTHEUS Conduct me through the very heart of Thebes, for I am the
only man among them bold enough to do this deed.
DIONYSUS Thou alone bearest thy country's burden, thou and none other;
wherefore there await thee such struggles as needs must. Follow me,
for I will guide thee safely thither; another shall bring thee thence.
PENTHEUS My mother maybe.
DIONYSUS For every eye to see.
PENTHEUS My very purpose in going.
DIONYSUS Thou shalt be carried back,
PENTHEUS What luxury
DIONYSUS In thy mother's arms.
PENTHEUS Thou wilt e'en force me into luxury.
DIONYSUS Yes, to luxury such as this.
PENTHEUS Truly, the task I am undertaking deserves it. (Exit PENTHEUS.)
DIONYSUS Strange, ah! strange is thy career, leading to scenes of
woe so strange, that thou shalt achieve a fame that towers to heaven.
Stretch forth thy hands, Agave, and ye her sisters, daughters of Cadmus;
mighty is the strife to which I am bringing the youthful king, and
the victory shall rest with me and Bromius; all else the event will
show. (Exit DIONYSUS.)
CHORUS To the hills! to the hills! fleet hounds of madness, where
the daughters of Cadmus hold their revels, goad them into wild fury
against the man disguised in woman's dress, a frenzied spy upon the
Maenads. First shall his mother mark him as he peers from some smooth
rock or riven tree, and thus to the Maenads she will call, "Who is
this of Cadmus' sons comes hasting to the mount, to the mountain away,
to spy on us, my Bacchanals? Whose child can he be? For he was never
born of woman's blood; but from some lioness maybe or Libyan Gorgon
is he sprung." Let justice appear and show herself, sword in hand,
to plunge it through and through the throat of the godless, lawless,
impious son of Echion, earth's monstrous child! who with wicked heart
and lawless rage, with mad intent and frantic purpose, sets out to

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