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The Bacchantes   


god, the Bromian king, hath brought on us, just maybe, but too severe,
seeing he is our kinsman!
AGAVE How peevish old age makes men! what sullen looks! Oh, may my
son follow in his mother's footsteps and be as lucky in his hunting,
when he goes quest of game in company with Theban youthsl But he can
do naught but wage war with gods. Father, 'tis thy duty to warn him.
Who will summon him hither to my sight to witness my happiness?
CADMUS Alas for you! alas! Terrible will be your grief when ye are
conscious of your deeds; could ye re. for ever till life's close in
your present state, ye would not, spite of ruined bliss, appear so
cursed with woe.
AGAVE Why? what is faulty bere? what here for sorrow?
CADMUS First let thine eye look up to heaven.
AGAVE See! I do so. Why dost thou suggest my looking thereupon?
CADMUS Is it still the same, or dost think there's any change?
AGAVE 'Tis brighter than it was, and dearer too.
CADMUS Is there still that wild unrest within thy soul?
AGAVE I know not what thou sayest now; yet methinks my brain is clearing,
and my former frenzy passed away.
CADMUS Canst understand, and give distinct replies?
AGAVE Father, how completely I forget all we said before!
CADMUS To what house wert thou brought with marriage-hymns?
AGAVE Thou didst give me to earthborn Echion, as men call him.
CADMUS What child was born thy husband in his halls?
AGAVE Pentheus, of my union with his father.
CADMUS What head is that thou barest in thy arms?
AGAVE A lion's; at least they said so, who hunted it.
CADMUS Consider it aright; 'tis no great task to look at it.
AGAVE Ah! what do I see? what is this I am carrying in my hands?
CADMUS Look closely at it; make thy knowledge more certain.
AGAVE Ah, 'woe is me! O sight of awful sorrow!
CADMUS Dost think it like a lion's head?
AGAVE Ah no! 'tis Pentheus' head which I his unhappy mother hold.
CADMUS Bemoaned by me, or ever thou didst recognize him.
AGAVE Who slew him? How came he into my hands?
CADMUS O piteous truth! how ill-timed thy presence here!
AGAVE Speak; my bosom throbs at this suspense.
CADMUS 'Twas thou didst slay him, thou and thy sisters.
AGAVE Where died he? in the house or where?
CADMUS On the very spot where hounds of yore rent Actaeon in pieces.
AGAVE Why went he, wretched youth! to Cithaeron?
CADMUS He would go and mock the god and thy Bacchic rites.
AGAVE But how was it we had journeyed thither?
CADMUS Ye were distraught; the whole city had the Bacchic frenzy.
AGAVE 'Twas Dionysus proved our ruin; now I see it all.
CADMUS Yes, for the slight he suffered; ye would not believe in his
godhead.
AGAVE Father, where is my dear child's corpse?
CADMUS With toil I searched it out and am bringing it myself.
AGAVE Is it all fitted limb to limb in seemly wise?
CADMUS (*, * One line, or maybe more, is missing)
AGAVE But what had Pentheus to do with folly of mine?
CADMUS He was like you in refusing homage to the god, who, therefore,
hath involved you all in one common ruin, you and him alike, to destroy
this house and me, forasmuch as I, that had no sons, behold this youth,
the fruit of thy womb, unhappy mother! foully and most shamefully
slain. To thee, my child, our house looked up, to thee my daughter's
son, the stay of my palace, inspiring the city with awe; none caring
to flout the old king when he saw thee by, for he would get his deserts.
But now shall I be cast out dishonoured from my halls, Cadmus the
great, who sowed the crop of Theban seed and reaped that goodly harvest.
O beloved child! dead though thou art, thou still shalt be counted
by me amongst my own dear children; no more wilt thou lay thy hand
upon my chin in fond embrace, my child, and calling on thy mother's

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