sire demand, "Who wrongs thee or dishonours thee, old sire? who vexes
thy heart, a thorn within thy side? Speak, that I may punish thy oppressor,
But now am I in sorrow plunged, and woe is thee, and woe thy mother
and her suffering sisters too! Ah! if there be any man that scorns
the gods, let him well mark this prince's death and then believe in
CHORUS Cadmus, I am sorry for thy fate; for though thy daughter's
child hath met but his deserts, 'tis bitter grief to thee.
AGAVE O father, thou seest how sadly my fortune is changed.(*, *
After this a very large lacuna occurs in the MS.)
DIONYSUS Thou shalt be changed into a serpent; and thy wife Harmonia,
Ares' child, whom thou in thy human life didst wed, shall change her
nature for a snake's, and take its form. With her shalt thou, as leader
of barbarian tribes, drive thy team of steers, so saith an oracle
of Zeus; and many a city shalt thou sack with an army numberless;
but in the day they plunder the oracle of Loxias, shall they rue their
homeward march; but thee and Harmonia will Ares rescue, and set thee
to live henceforth in the land of the blessed. This do I declare,
I Dionysus, son of no mortal father but of Zeus. Had ye learnt wisdom
when ye would not, ye would now be happy with the son of Zeus for
AGAVE O Dionysus! we have sinned; thy pardon we implore.
DIONYSUS Too late have ye learnt to know me; ye knew me not at the
AGAVE We recognize our error; but thou art too revengeful.
DIONYSUS Yea, for I, though a god, was slighted by you.
AGAVE Gods should not let their passion sink to man's level.
DIONYSUS Long ago my father Zeus ordained it thus.
AGAVE Alas! my aged sire, our doom is fixed; 'tis woful exile.
DIONYSUS Why then delay the inevitable? Exit.
CADMUS Daughter, to what an awful pass are we now come, thou too,
poor child, and thy sisters, while I alas! in my old age must seek
barbarian shores, to sojourn there; but the oracle declares that I
shall yet lead an army, half-barbarian, half-Hellene, to Hellas; and
in serpent's shape shall I carry my wife Harmonia, the daughter of
Ares, transformed like me to a savage snake, against the altars and
tombs of Hellas at the head of my troops; nor shall I ever cease from
my woes, ah me! nor ever cross the downward stream of Acheron and
be at rest.
AGAVE Father, I shall be parted from thee and exiled.
CADMUS Alas! my child, why fling thy arms around me, as a snowy cygnet
folds its wings about the frail old swan?
AGAVE Whither can I turn, an exile from my country?
CADMUS I know not, my daughter; small help is thy father now.
AGAVE Farewell, my home! farewell, my native city! with sorrow I
am leaving thee, an exile from my bridal bower.
CADMUS Go, daughter, to the house of Aristaeus,(*, * Another large
AGAVE Father, I mourn for thee.
CADMUS And I for thee, my child; for thy sisters too I shed a tear.
AGAVE Ah! terribly was king Dionysus bringing this outrage on thy
CADMUS Yea, for he suffered insults dire from you, his name receiving
no meed of honour in Thebes.
AGAVE Farewell, father mine!
CADMUS Farewell, my hapless daughter and yet thou scarce canst reach
AGAVE Oh! lead me, guide me to the place where I shall find my sisters,
sharers in my exile to their sorrow! Oh! to reach a spot where cursed
Cithaeron ne'er shall see me more nor I Cithaeron with mine eyes;
where no memorial of the thyrsus is set up! Be they to other Bacchantes
CHORUS Many are the forms the heavenly will assumes, and many a thing