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The Bacchantes   


CHORUS From what desert lair?
AGAVE Cithaeron-
CHORUS Yes, Cithaeron?
AGAVE Was his death.
CHORUS Who was it gave the first blow?
AGAVE Mine that privilege; "Happy Agave!" they call me 'mid our revellers.
CHORUS Who did the rest?
AGAVE Cadmus-
CHORUS What of him?
AGAVE His daughters struck the monster after me; yes, after me.
CHORUS Fortune smiled upon thy hunting here.
AGAVE Come, share the banquet.
CHORUS Share? ah I what?
AGAVE 'Tis but a tender whelp, the down just sprouting on its cheek
beneath a crest of failing hair.
CHORUS The hair is like some wild creature's.
AGAVE The Bacchic god, a hunter skilled, roused his Maenads to pursue
this quarry skilfully.
CHORUS Yea, our king is a hunter indeed.
AGAVE Dost approve?
CHORUS Of course I do.
AGAVE Soon shall the race of Cadmus-
CHORUS And Pentheus, her own son, shall to his mother-
AGAVE Offer praise for this her quarry of the lion's brood.
CHORUS Quarry strange!
AGAVE And strangely caught.
CHORUS Dost thou exult?
AGAVE Right glad am I to have achieved a great and glorious triumph
for my land that all can see.
CHORUS Alas for thee! show to the folk the booty thou hast won and
art bringing hither.
AGAVE All ye who dwell in fair fenced Thebes, draw near that ye may
see the fierce wild beast that we daughters of Cadmus made our prey,
not with the thong-thrown darts of Thessaly, nor yet with snares,
but with our fingers fair. Ought men idly to boast and get them armourers'
weapons? when we with these our hands have caught this prey and torn
the monster limb from limb? Where is my aged sire? let him approach.
And where is Pentheus, my son? Let him bring a ladder and raise it
against the house to nail up on the gables this lion's head, my booty
from the chase. (Enter CADMUS.)
CADMUS Follow me, servants to the palace-front, with your sad burden
in your arms, ay, follow, with the corpse of Pentheus, which after
long weary search I found, as ye see it, torn to pieces amid Cithaeron's
glens, and am bringing hither; no two pieces did I find together,
as they lay scattered through the trackless wood. For I heard what
awful deeds one of my daughters had done, just as I entered the city-walls
with old Teiresias returning from the Bacchanals; so I turned again
unto the and bring from thence my son who was slain by Maenads. There
I saw Autonoe, that bare Actaeon on a day to Aristaeus, and Ino with
her, still ranging the oak-groves in their unhappy frenzy; but one
told me that that Agave, was rushing wildly hither, nor was it idly
said, for there I see her, sight of woe!
AGAVE Father, loudly mayst thou boast, that the daughters thou hast
begotten are far the best of mortal race; of one and all I speak,
though chiefly of myself, who left my shuttle at the loom for nobler
enterprise, even to hunt savage beasts with my hands; and in my arms
I bring my prize, as thou seest, that it may be nailed up on thy palace-wall;
take it, father, in thy had and proud of my hunting, call thy friends
to a banquet; for blest art thou, ah! doubly blest in these our gallant
exploits.
CADMUS O grief that has no bounds, too cruel for mortal eye! 'tis
murder ye have done with your hapless hands. Fair is the victim thou
hast offered to the gods, inviting me and my Thebans to the feast
Ah, woe is me first for thy sorrows, then for mine. What ruin the

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