Thursday, January 24, 2008

Scene 6

Ch: Now show to the Thebans, 'u suffering woman, your victory
Prize, the wild hunt you killed and brought here before us.
ΑG: You dwellers of the Thebans’ high-tower’d
Land, it is come that you may witness this kill
Which we daughters of Kadmos have hunted,
Not with snares or the Thessalonians’ streaking
Missiles, but with fairwhite hands outstretching fingers.
And so what need there be for hurling javelins
Or acquiring in vain the spear maker’s art?
We just now took this thing in our hands
And tore the wild beast limb from limb!
But where is my aged father, tell him to come outside;
And my son, Pentheus, have him take the tallest
Ladder and raise it to the top of the house, so he can nail
The head of this lion I caught to the roof on the triglyphs.


Follow me inside the house servants, follow carrying
The mangled corpse of Pentheus;
Searching everywhere for his body, I brought
All that I could find here in this heap, dis-
Covered lying in the valley ill-
Found, splatter’d across the folds of Kithairon.
I heard about th’abominous acts of my daughters from someone
As soon as I ‘d stepped back inside the city’s walls
Coming home from the revels with the old man Teiresias;
So I turned right back to the mountain to go
And get the child who’d been slaughtered by the Maenads;
And I saw Actaeon’s mother, Autonoe, Aristaios’
Wife and Ino in the bushes still raging
In a terrible frenzy.
And somebody said that Agauve was coming
With Bacchus’ step, and they told me no lie;
For I saw right there the most horrible sight…
ΑG: Father! You in particular have so much to boast over,
You, the one who raised the greatest crop of daughters
A person ever had; I mean all of them, but especially me because
Today have I given up weaving on looms and come
To something greater: hunting wild beasts with my hands.
And I’m carrying it in my arms so you can see this
Prize for my prowess and so it can be
Hung to the wall; here father, you hold it, re-
Joicing in my slaughter, call
Your friends up for a feast; you’re rich,
Lucky, BLESSED for what I have accomplished.
Κ: Oh grief too monstrous to be seen!
You’ve accomplished murder with your wretched hands,
A fine sacrifice you’ve brought down for the gods,
To invite me and all of Thebes to dinner?!
Poor child, you’re even worse off than I.
We deserved to be punished, but this, this is too much;
Lord Bromios has ruined us! A member of our own family…
ΑG: How ill-tempered and squinty-eyed does old
Age make a man! I hope my son grows up to be a strong
Hunter like his mother, so he can chase after wild
Animals with the other young men of Thebes.
But all he wants to do
Is fight against the god.
You really must have a talk with him, father;
Someone call him here so he can see me in my good fortune.
Κ: Oh! Oh god! Whether you realize what it is you have done
Or if you stay in this state straight thru to the end,
Either way you’ll be sorely grieved.
ΑG: You mean people won’t think I’m blessed with good fortune?
Κ: What’s not right that is wrong with this!
Look first up at the sky.
ΑG: Ok, why do you want me to look up at this?
Κ: Does it still look the same or is it different now?
ΑG: Brighter than before; and even more shining and brilliant.
Κ: Are you still all a-flutter inside?
ΑG: I don’t know what you mean, but I think I’m coming to…think I’m
Starting to come to my senses; I remember…
Κ: Then would you listen and answer me clearly?
ΑG: I forgot what we were just saying, daddy.
Κ: Whose house did you enter in marriage?
ΑG: You gave me away to Echion, the Sown One he’s call’d.
Κ: And who was the boy you bore to your husband?
ΑG: Pentheus, by my union with his father.
Κ: Then whose face is it you nurse in your arms?
ΑG: The huntresses told me it was a lion’s
Κ: Look now at it rightly, I swear it won’t take long
ΑG: O Aah! What do I see? What do I hold in my hands?
Κ: Look at it closely and know for yourself.
ΑG: I see greatest grief for me suffering!
Κ: So it no longer looks to you like a lion?
ΑG: No, but the sever’d head of my poor Penthe-us
Κ: You were bereaved before you realized it.
ΑG: Who was it killed him? How did it get in my hands?
Κ: Gruesome recognition, how late your arrival…
ΑG: Say it; my heart is pounding at what is to come.
Κ: You cut him down and murder’d him yourself.
ΑG: Where did he die? Was it in the house or somewhere else?
Κ: The very same spot where the dogs mauled Actaeon.
ΑG: Why did my poor, cursed son come to Kithairon?
Κ: He went there to mock the god and your festivals.
ΑG: How did we get to Kithairon?
Κ: You were out of your minds! The whole city, gripped by Bacchos.
ΑG: Now I see clearly: Dionysus has utterly ruined us!
Κ: Yes, insult for insult, because you didn’t believe him a god.
ΑG: And the body of my beloved son? Father?
Κ: I gathered what I could and brought it here in this.

(hands her remains)
ΑG: Have his limbs yet been fit back together?
[Κ: Not yet my child, I brought him here torn to pieces.]
ΑG: How much of my madness rubbed off on Pentheus?
Κ: He refused like you to revere Bromios.
But he join’d us together in des-
truction; to the ruin of our houses . . .

Am I to be then a man deprived of male heir?
Am I then to see the fruit of your womb
So foul and unnaturally murdered?
Oh, look at the house which you held together, my
Son, my palace, born of my own child;
A terror to your country.
And no one would dare dis-
Respect an old man, looking upon your royal crown, for
Always would you make them pay the proper penalty;
But now I am depriv’d of my home,
Kadmos the Great, who sowed the Theban
Race and reaped the most gorgeous of harvests,
An exile.

Oh beloved grandson, for though you’re no longer a-
Live, I still count you as one of my own dearest children;
Never again will you reach out your hand to this cheek,
Flitting about calling for your mother’s
Father, asking me: "Has anyone hurt you grandad? Has somebody
Wronged you? Is there anyone ails your heart by being a pain?
Tell me so I can punish whoever hurt you, father."
But now am I wracked with suffering, and you, poor you, and
Your pitiful mother and her suffering sisters…
If there is anyone here who casts a disparaging eye
Upon the Divine, look now on this and know the Gods exist.
Ch: I feel your pain Kadmos. Though your grand-
Child got what he deserved, it is still painful for you.
ΑG: Oh father, for you see how my fortunes have changed…



You will turn into a
Snake and your wife, the War-
God’s daughter Harmonia, change her

For that of a savage serpent.
And as the oracle of Zeus proclaims,

You and your wife will ride an ox
Cart heading a
Barbarian horde, you will

Pillage countless cities with an in-
Numerable host, but when you’ve sacked

Apollo‘s oracle, it will mean
A difficult voyage home.
But Ares will rescue you and Har-
Monia, and set you both down

In The Isles of the Blessed.
I, Dionysus, foretell these things
Born of no mortal
Man, but of Father Zeus.
And if you had learned to be
Wise when you were unwilling, you
Would have acquired the blessing
Of Zeus’ son as an ally.

K: Dionysus we beg you, we have wronged you, but
Δ: Too late you understand, you would not see when you should.
Κ: We understand now, but your punishment is too harsh.
Δ: And I was insulted by you, though born a god.
ΑG: It’s not right for the gods to resemble us in their anger!
Δ: Long ago my father Zeus these things decreed.
ΑG: Alas, it’s decided then: old man, we’re suffering exiles.
Δ: Why then delay things that are unavoidable?
Κ: Oh child, what a horrible fate we’ve arrived at
All! You and your poor sisters and I all
Suffering; I will go, an old man, exiled among
Strangers; and yet it is foretold that I must lead
An army allied of barbarians into Greece with my
Wife, the wargod’s daughter turned into a snake,
And I a snake too, will come with spears against
Greek altars and tombs, never will I stop suffering
Evil, nor will I find peace sailing down
Acheron‘s flowing streams.
ΑG: Oh father, I’ll be robbed of you in exile!
Κ: Why do you embrace me, child
Like a swan its milk-white parent?
ΑG: But where will I go, thrown out of my land?
Κ: I don’t know baby; your dad’s of little help.
ΑG: Goodbye palace, good bye my father’s
City, I must leave you for misfortune,
Flying from my home.
Κ: Go now child, Aristaeos’ [dear sister, sad aunt to

Actaeon; oh how it pains me to see you grieving so!]

ΑG: I feel so bad for you father Κ: And I for you, dear.
And I weep for you & your sisters.
For lord Dionysus has
This terrible
Punishment upon our royal house.
ΑG: Yes, because we wronged him terribly, not
Holding his name in honor in Thebes.
Goodbye father!
Κ: Goodbye my poor girl,
For it is with difficulty you come to this.
ΑG: Take me escorts to where we will
Take my sisters into wretched exile;
Let me not set eyes upon
Kithairon‘s pollution
Nor where the thyrsus is
Dedicated a reminder;
Let other Bacchants care for these!

X: Many are the forms of the Divine
And the gods brought to pass much unexpected,
And what was expected, not brought to pass;
And they did make possible th’impossible:
Thus did the affair turn out.

Chorus - An Hymn to Dionysus


Let us dance now for Bakkhios
Let us now cry aloud
The disaster that's befall'n
Pentheus the serpent's son

Who in a flowing lady's
Dress with a trusted fennel-rod
Skips flow’ry off to Hades . . .

Oh daughters of Kadmos,
You've built up your far-flung
Fame and turned it into
Grief, into tears

But blessed is the sport, to throw
A child’s hand dripping in blood.

But I see Pentheus' mother Agauve rushing
to the house, her eyes rolling wild.
(enter Agauve)
Accept this revelband of the joyful crying god.
(hands her headband)


Bacchants of Asia!
Ch: Why do you call on me, woman?
ΑG: We come bearing in from the

mountains a newly-cut tendril
and a victorious hunt!
Ch: I see & welcome you, fellow Bacchant.

ΑG: I caught this young lion without any
meshes, as you can see.
Ch: Where, in the forest?

ΑG: On Kithairon
Ch: Kithairon?
ΑG: And killed him.

Ch: Who hit him first?
ΑG: The honor was mine;
Ma-care Agauve, am I call'd in thiasoi.

Ch: Anyone else?
ΑG: Kadmos'...
Ch: Kadmos?

ΑG: daughters,
his daughters killed it with me! And it was a
glorious hunt;

have now your share of the feast.
Ch: What shall I take, suffering?
ΑG: Young, the bull's cheek has just

started to sprout a new growth
of hair along its chin. (strokes head-pike)
Ch: Yes, and its hair makes it look even more fearsome.

ΑG: Oh, Bacchios was the hunter, wise
one who wisely turned the tide
of Maenads on the beast.

Ch: The lord is a hunter?
ΑG: Do you praise him?
Ch: Yes I do.

ΑG: Soon the Kadmeians...
Ch: Even your son Pentheus?
ΑG: He's going to be so impressed, that his Mot-

her caught & kill'd this lion-hearted
prey. Ch: Amazing
ΑG: Incredibly.

Ch: Are you pleased?
ΑΓ: I'm ecstatic.

Χ & Α: Fantastical, shining a-
chievements have been
accomplished by this kill.

Scene 5


Oh house once considered
the most fortunate thru'out Hellas, home of the old
Sidonian who sowed the earth-born fruit of the serpent Ophis,
how I weep for you!
Though I'm just a slave, still
a master's misfortunes are those of his servants.
Ch: What is it? What news do you bring from the Bacchants?
MS: Pentheus is dead, the child of father Echion.
Ch: Lord Bromios, you are the great god you appear.
MS: What did you, how can you say this? You rejoice at the mis-
fortunes of my master, woman?
Ch: I sing foreign songs amidst the barbarians;
I no longer must cower in fear of your chains.
MS: Do you think there’re no men here in Thebes?
Ch: Dionysus, oh Dionysus, you are my strength, not
MS: Then I am sorry; but still, it's not right to delight in

misfortunes once they have happened.
Ch: Tell me, please tell me: how did he die,
the wicked man hatching his wicked schemes?
MS: When we had left the abodes of this land of Thebes
we crossed over the streams of the river Asopus.
We approached the summit of Kithairon's mount,
Pentheus & I (for I followed my master) with
the Stranger who was our guide to the spectacle.
So we first settled in the green grass's thicket
keeping our footsteps quiet, our voices silent
so that we could see without being seen.
And there was a valley with cliffs all around, and streams running
thru' it, shaded by pine trees; and this is where the Maenads were
sitting, their hands busied with their pleas'rable labor.
Some of them were crowning their worn-out
thyrses, making them once again bushy with ivy;
and others, like mares freed from the yoke,
sang to each other a Bacchic tune.
And poor Pentheus, who couldn't see the feminine
mob, said: "Oh, Stranger--where we're standing I
can't get a good look at the counterfeit Maenads;
but if I go over those hills and climb up that tree,
I think I'll be better able to see them ob-scene."
And right then and there I watch't the Stranger do something amazing:
He took the tallest branch from the top of the pine
and pulled it all the way down to the sorrel earth;
and the tree was bent like a bow, or a circle whose
curve is inscribed by the wheel of a compass;
and taken the leafy branch in hand, the Stranger
held it to the earth: something no mere man could ever do.
He helped Pentheus get up on the tree
and fixed him there steady, his hands clinging to the
branches, being careful to watch he didn't shake right off.
And the pine stood upright in the bright air
with my master seated up on its back.
But he was more seen by than seeing the Maenads, for
being up there so high, he was all but invisible
and the Stranger was nowhere to be seen.
But a voice, the voice of Dionysus I guess,
came screaming out the sky: "My young maidens,
I bring you as offering the man who laughs
at you and I and our Worship: Punish like he deserves."
And as he said this, a light of sacred fire stood poised b'tween
heav'n 'n' earth;
the sky then grew quiet, and the wooded valley kept its
leaves silent, you couldn’t even hear an animal stirring.
But the Maenads, not sure if they'd heard his voice clearly,
stood up and looked searchingly at one another.
He restated his order, and this time the daughters of Kadmos
recognized the resounding command of Bakchios.
And with no less speed than a woodcock, they're
stomping their feet a full raging gallop,
his mother Agauve and her sisters together
through the rainswollen valley and up the
sides of the cliff, en-raged by the god's thund'rous strokes
and they see my master seated on top of the
pine. First they hurl'd stones at him with incredible
force, and climbing the rock facing, threw
firtree branches like javelins, while others
launched their thyrsus through the air, and
tried to hit their wretched target Pentheus; but they could not get him;
holding his spot
higher than their fervor could reach, the poor man
clung to the tree, paralyz'd with fear.
Finally they set about tearing the tree's
roots out with oak'n beams, not one piece of iron;
but when they were getting no results from their labor
Agauve said: "Stand around in a circle
& grab on to the trunk so we can seize the wild beast,
in order he not spread rumors over God's sacred dances."
And I saw countless hands gripping at the tree as they
yanked it out the ground.
Seated up high, from high up he fell down to the
earth whimpering and
groans, for Pentheus now undertood how near the threat was.
His own mother presided as priestess of the
slaughter and started first by falling upon him; and he threw his
sash from off of his hair so that poor, wretched Agauve might
recognize, instead of kill, him.
And he says to her, reaching out for her cheek, "It's me mother, your son
Pentheus, who you bore to Echion.
Have mercy on me mother please: don't kill your own son
because of his mistakes." But her
mouth was frothing foam, and rolling her
eyes twisted, unable to see what she should, for
she was held in Bacchios' clutches; and he did not persuade her.

Taking his left arm in her hands, and
wrenching her foot to the poor man's
ribcage, she ripped it right off his shoulder; not by her own
strength, but because the God made it come off in her hands.
And Ino was tearing into his other side as Autonoe and the entire
crowd of Bacchae had at him, and they shouted as one, he
holding himself up by the hand with his last few gasps of breath as they
started their call: "a-lululu..." One of them carried his forearm, an-
other, a foot still in its sandal, as his body's ripped
open and bare ribs uncovered; and each one, with blood dripping
hands, plays catch with Pentheus' flesh;
His body lies scattered in pieces across the jagged
rocks, and the remotest parts of the deep forest's foliage.

His poor head, which his mother
happened to take by the hands and fix to the
top of her thyrsus, which she carries with her through
the mi'st of Kithairon as if it were a mountainlion's
after leaving her sisters to the companies of Maenads;
she wanders with it thruout the city, exalting in her
ill-fated prize, calling on her fellow hunter
Bak-khos her partner in the chase, the
Victorious One, who rewards her with
tears. But I must go now
away from this tragic scene, before Agauve comes to the palace.
For having a mind that respects the affairs of divine ones
is the most beautiful thing on earth, and I think
it is the wisest thing someone could do.

Chorus - Denouement


Come, running hounds of Lyssa, come
To Kithairon where Kadmos' daughters
Hold their thiasoi!

Now drive them insane

against the wolf in sheep's clothing,

slinking away to spy on the maidens.

mother will spot him first lying
in wait, & she'll call to the Maenads

Who is this who’s searching
Out the daughters of Kadmos as they
Rush over hills?
He's going
to the mountain, going to the mountain oh Bacchae!

Who was it that bore him?
He was certainly born of no
Woman‘s womb, but from a
Or was he the son of Libyan Gorgons?

Who wicked intentions and furious rages
at Bacchus' services and at your mother,
raging in spirit,
Frenzied in purpose,
tries overcoming by violence
what is un-conquerable;
P(r)udentopinion is death-
(less) by nature, un-
hesitating towards the divine,
and thinking mortal thoughts, painfree existence;

I do not envy cleverness, but hunt
wisdom joyful and the fan-
tastical shining resplendence of th'eternal ones;
Instead of the finer things, to be
Holy day & night, to toss aside acts
Outside of the law and honor the Divin'ties.

Let Justice shine forth against him
Justice, sword in hand, cut through the
Throat of this unrighteous, lawless,
Godless man;
Born of the land.

Come as a bull or a 5-headed dragon, like a flaming lion, appear--
Come O Bacchus, a wild beast is hunting your Bacchants
Cast the knot tight 'round his neck as he laughs
Crushed to death under
A pile of Maenads.

Scene 4

D: You who are burning to see what you should not behold
and who long to grab hold of what musn't be touched
I call you, Penthe-us: come on out outside of the palace,
let me've a look at you, dressed up like a Bacchic Maenad
so you can go spy on your mother.
(Pentheus enters)
But you look more like one of Kadmos' daughters!
P: Oh my! I think I see two suns and two
cities, two seven-gaited Thebes;
and you look like an animal leading us, for two
horns have sprung up from your forehead. Have you ever been
such a beast before? You were as fierce as fierce as a bull.
D: The god’s acts in you: before you did not accept him;
ally'ing with us now you see what it is you should see.
P: Well how do I look? Standing here don't I appear
exactly like Ino or my mother Agauve?
D: Looking at you I'd swear you were they.
But this lock of hair has fallen out-of-place: that's not
where I tucked it underneath your headband.
P: I messed it up when I was inside, tossing my
head up and down, practicing being a Bacchant.
D: Well since you're so concern'd about it, then
let me brush it back for you: lift up your head.
P: Here, you do it for me: I'm entirely yours.
D: Your girdle's come undone; and the edge of your skirt doesn't
stretch far enough past your ankles.
P: Well it seems OK to me on this side, but
on the other one it fits my leg perfectly.
D: You'll think I'm your best friend when you see that you're
wrong and the Bacchae act modestly.
P: Do I look more like a Bacchant holding the thyrsus in my
right hand...or this one?
D: Always in your right hand, now
on your right foot...I admire you your change of o-pinion.
P: Then I could even bear Kithairon's valleys, Bacchants and all, on
top of my shoulders?
D: You could if you wanted; earlier your heart was impure,
but now you have the proper mind set.
P: Should we bring crow-bars? Or shall I pull the mountain's
peaks up by hand and hoist them up over my shoulders?
D: Just don't destroy the Nymphs' sacred seats,
or the temple where Pan plays his magic'l flute.
P: You talk so pretty...but one mustn't over-
come women by force: I'll hide under leaves.
D: You'll hide yourself as you ought to be
hidden, coming to spy on the Maenads.
P: I think they go like birds in the hedges to en-
joy the most loving acts of the bedroom in bushes.
D: Isn't that the very thing you're here to guard against?
Maybe you'll catch them at it; if they don't get you first.
P: Take me through the countryside of Thebes, for I
am the only man among them that dares undertake this.
D: You're the only man who suffers for city, alone--
In fact, the trials you must undergo are now waiting
for you even as we speak; so follow me, I am your guid'n'
savior; but from here another will have to take you.
P: Oh yes, my mother...
D: You're going stand out from them all
P: That's what I'm going for.
D: You'll have to be carried back...
P: To me that sounds luxury--
D: in your mother's arms.
P: You're going to spoil me!...
Δ: With such spoils as
D: & Π: I deserve.

D: You clever, awful man, you have come here for such horrible
Reasons that your name will reach forever to heav’n.
Give me your hands, Agauve, you and your sisters,
the Daughters of Kadmos, I've brought a young man
for a great contest; the victor will be Bromios
and I, as the rest the matter will signify.

Chorus - Wisdom's Happiness

Shall I ever in nightlong dances
Shake my fairwhite foot
in Bacchus' madness, tossing my
Hair to the nightwind of heav'n?
Like a fawn frolicking races
through green meadow pastures
When it flies fearful the
Hunt, away from the watchers
and their well-woven schemes.

As the hunter's cry quickens the
Hounds raging gallop, it takes off like a
shot with fleet-footed efforts,

Along th'edge of the river, en-
joying the lonely wilderness
and forest's shade of leaves.

What is it to be wise? And what gift of the
Immortals is more gracious in humans?
Is it holding your hand over
Your enemies’ head?
What's right is always welcome.

Th'heavens might is scarcely set in
Motion, but it is not to be
doubted, a beacon to humans;
And those who honour reckless-
ness practice, not the teachings of
God, but the reasonings of madmen.
And they, hidden in chains of
Darkness by time's echoing footstep,
hunt their own wickedness, for you must never

Never place yourself above or b'yond the law.
Less than nothing, then, to believe
that having strength is this.
But that which is divine & holy,
the weight of established tradition,
this is in nature grounded.
What is being wise? And what gift of the
Gods is more gracious in mortals?
Is it to hold your hand over
Your enemy’s head?
What's right is always welcome.

Blessed is the one who's fled the
Storm at sea and come to harbour;
And happy is he who rises above
Hardships; for one may sur-
Pass another in wealth or in power,
But these are a lot hopes to a lot of
Different people; and many end in
Happiness while others fail mis’rably
But the one who's happy day-to-day,
Is the one who's truly blessed.

Scene 3


Barbarian women, are you so o'ercome with fear that you
have fallen to the ground? So it seems that you have seen
Bacchos shaking to pieces Pentheus' palace; but lift up your-
selves and take heart, put aside your body's trembling.
Ch: Oh supremest light, the joyful cry of our Bacchic worship!
How gladly are you looked upon in lonely isolation.
D: Did you come to such despair as they hauled me into prison
in fear that I not come to harm in Pentheus' dark enclosures?
Ch: How could I not? Who would protect me if you met misfortune?
But how is it you were freed, after meeting with an impious man?
D: I saved myself, myself, easily, without any problem.
Ch: But didn't he tie your hands up in knots with binding cords?
D: Here's how I insulted him: thinking that he'd bind me,
he could not touch or hold me, but still he fed on hope;
and in the manger where he'd led and thrown me into jail
all he found was a bull! So around its feet and knees he cast
knots, panting, pouring out sweat like he was about to die,
gnawing his lips in rage; and though I was too near, I
sat quietly watching by; and this was when Bacchos came
and shook apart the house, and my mother's sacred tomb was
lighted in flame. And when he saw, he thought the house on
fire and ran all over screaming to "bring water to the palace!"
And the servants came to help him, everyone, for nothing; for
when he realized what happened, thinking I was gone, he
grabbed a sword inside the house, and rushed to go and find me,
when Bromios--as it seemed to me, I say only what I saw--
shone forth a light i' the courtyard; and he, charging after it,
ran and stabbed the light‘s shining, as if he might murder me.
And on top of it all, Bacchus caused him even more hu-
miliation: he razed his home to the ground, smashed it all together. So
now he's seen how bitter are my chains, and has put aside his
sword & collapsed from exhaustion! Cuz' although he's just a
man, he dared to come against a God. And so departing
from his home I came to you, not at all afraid of Pentheus.
And so it seems to me (I think I hear the tramp of feet inside)
that quickly he will be out front; what i'the world d'you think he'll say?
I'll handle him easily, even if he comes huffing and puffing, for
a wise man is able to hold his good-nature well tempered.

P: I can't believe it! The stranger, who was just now
held fast in chains, he's gotten away from me!
Oh, there he is! What is this? How can you possibly
be here outside my house? How did you get out?
D: Stop right there. Place your anger on a calmer footing.
P: How did you get free from your shackles and out here?
D: Didn't I say--or did you not hear--that someone would free me?
P: Who? Everything you say sounds the same to me.
D: Someone who grows for men the thick-cluster'd vine?
P: An indictment, no doubt, which Dionysus thinks good.
[D: It was Dionysus himself unlock'd my chains.]
P: I order that every tower in the circle be barred.
D: What for? Aren't gods able even to overstep walls?
P: You are smart; just not in what you need be smart about.
D: I was born wise enough, about the things I need most be.
But you should first hear and learn what that man, who has
come from the mountains with a message for you, has
to say; we'll wait for you and will not run away.


Pentheus, sovereign of this Theban land,
I come from Kithairon where the gleaming falls of
snow stay ceaselessly upon the mountain.
P: What is this news you bring with such eagerness?
Sh: I have seen the queenly Bacchae, who departed from
this land, flailing their fair limbs wildly in haste;
I've come to tell you and the town, my king, what horr-
ible things they are doing, and even greater marvels!
But I want to know whether I have the freedom to
tell you all that goes on there or shall I clip the
sail of my report? I am afraid of your quick tem-
per and your sharp intellect and royal bearing.
P: I promise you'll be wholly safe from harm: now speak.
For there's no need to be angry at proper men.
The more terrible the things you say about the bacchants,
the stiffer the penalty that we'll force the man
to pay who put the women beneath his spells.

Sh: The grazing cattle herds had just climbed up
the rocky highland's peak, when the bright rays of
the sun shone down, warming th'earth, and I saw
three groups of women in Bacchus' chorus.
Autonoe led the first one with your mother
Agauve next, and Ino led the third chorus.
They were lying en masse, together in sleep, some of
them resting, their back against the pines, some
with their head cast amidst the leaves of oak
upon the ground, quite properly; not, as you say,
drunken from the mixing bowl and music of
the lute, out hunting Aphrodite lonesome in the wild.
and as she heard the bellowing of our
cows, your mother stood up in the midst of the
Bacchants, and cried aloud to rouse their body's slumber.
And they threw deep sleep from off their eyes, leapt
right up as one, women young and old, girls still un-
married--a miracle to see them so ordered!
The first thing they did was drop their hair to shoulders, tie
their fawnskins up, those whose knots had come undone,
and tie the skins off, spotted white, with snakes that licked
their chin and cheeks; and some held in their nursing arms
wild wolfcubs, or fawns, to which they gave fresh milk;
women with swollen breast, who had but just given
birth to, and abandoned, their newborn babes.
And as they crown'd their heads with ivy garlands laced
with oak and flow'ring bryony, one of them took
the thyrsus up, struck it against a stone, and
a stream of shooting water leapt right out! Another
Bacchant lowered to earth her fennel-rod and for
this one the god brought forth a flowing spring of wine.
For those that had desire of other drink, all they
had to do was claw at the earth with fingertips
and streams of milk shot forth, sweet flows of honey drip-
ping from the thyrses, so that, had you yourself been there
as witness to these marvels, you would have offered
prayers to the god you now condemn.

And so we cowherds and sheperds came together
to have a competition sharing stories, since the things
they were doing were marvelous and strange,
and a wanderer in town, who spits sparks when he
speaks, came to us and said: "You men who live atop the
sacred mountain's peaks, don't you think that we
should chase Pentheus' mother Agauve from Bacchus'
revels & do a favor for the king?" It seemed to us he had
a pretty good idea, so we hid in am-
bush under a cover of foliage, and at the ap-
pointed time they started to shake the thyrses for
Bacchus' rites as one calling Bromios "Iacchos:
the son of Zeus." The whole mountain, every one
of the beasts join'd in, nothing was left undisturbed by
th'uproar. In a frenzy, Agauve chanced to jump
right next to me and I leapt out to try & grab her, de-
serting the spot where I had lain concealed.
And she shouted: "Oh my raging bitches, we are
being hunted by men, by these men; but follow
me, follow me armed in hand with thyrsi!"And
so we ran away in fear & avoided being torn to
bits and eaten like deer by the bacchants; but they
attacked our cattle, barehanded, as they grazed
in the field, and you could see one grab and stretch
the legs of a young, pink-uddered calf, bellowing, as other
Maenads pulled and tore a full-grown heifer apart.
And you'd have seen ribs or cloven hooves thrown
up & down as they dripped, hanging from
fir tree branches, cover'd in blood.
The proud bulls, which moments before had been fully
ready to charge, dropped their body down to earth,
brought down by countless maidens' hands as they
stripped the poor beast's flesh right off like clothes
in the time it'd take you to blink your highness' eye.
And they danced off in a whirl, flittering like birds a-
cross the plains beneath their feet which, by the river
Asopus' streams, puts forth the Thebans' fertile corn.

And they fell upon Hysias, Erythrai, & the villages below
Kithairon's rocky peak like an invading army that
attacks everything before it, pillaging
high and low. They kidnapped children from their homes,
and whatever they placed upon their shoulders stayed
in place without bands or bonds to hold it there;
atop their curls were flames which did not burn. The men,
enraged at being plundered by the Bacchants, took to
arms, a terrible sight to see, my lord, as the
spears that they were throwing did not make the
women bleed, and neither did their implements of iron or
bronze pierce their fairwhite flesh. But
the thyrses that the women's hands hurl'd forth
injured the men so vi'lently, that they did turn their
backs in fear & flee: this could not be done without some god.
Then they returned from whence they came, to the springs the god
sent up for them and washed the blood off of them-
selves and the drops of blood still on their cheeks were licked
clean off their skin by serpents' darting tongues.
Whoever this divinity is, I beg you master, please
accept him into our city, for he is
powerful in many ways; and I also heard
that he is the one who gave us the vine that gives
pause from pain; and if there is no wine, there'll be no more
Aphrodite, & there is no other gift to give such pleasure to us mortals.

Ch: I'm terrified to speak my words freely before
the tyrant, but nevertheless it must be said:
Dionysus truly is no less than any other god.
P: The Bacchae's violent outrage already blazes closer,
approaching like wildfire, an outrage to the Greeks.
We must act quickly, go to the Elektran gate, order
every one of the heavy infantry and swift horse
riders to come together, as well as the light-armed
troops who pluck by hand the bowstring--have
them made ready in order that we go on campaign
against the bacchants, this really is too, too much:
to suffer what we suffer at the hands of women.

D: You've heard my words but understood nothing,
Pentheus. Even after you've treated me so evilly, still,
I'm telling you, do not take up arms against a god.
Calm yourself instead. Bromios won't put up with you chasing
his joyful crying Bacchants from the mountains.
P: Don't you instruct me. Rather, since you've escaped with your
freedom, hold on to it. Or shall I punish you again?
D: I would offer him sacrifice rather than kick against
the god's goads in anger, a piddly mortal man.
P: Oh, I'll sacrifice: with loads of feminine slaughter,
just like they deserve, in the valleys of Kithairon.
D: You will all flee in failure & shame when your bronze
shields are turned aside by Meanad thyrses.
P: This stranger we're mixed up with is impossible:
no matter what he suffers or does he won't shut up!
D: I can, sir, still put these things to right.
P: By doing what? Servicing my slave girls?
D: I'll bring back the women with no need of violence.
P: Oh god; this is a trick you’ve devised against me.
D: Is it a trick that I'm trying to save you by my own devices?
P: You're all in this together, so you can continue being bacchants.
D: Actually I did put this together; but it was with' god himself.
P: Bring me swords, shields, weapons, now! And you, BE QUIET.
D: Ah? . . .
Do you want to see them sitting, together in the wild?
P: Oh do I! I would give an untold weight in gold to.
D: Why has this desire suddenly comeover you?
P: But it would pain me so to see them very drunk . . .
D: You'd willingly look upon what's bitter to you?
P: Oh absolutely, taking my seat silently under firtrees.
D: But they'll hunt you down, even if you go in secret.
P: You make a good point: I'll go openly then.
D: Let me be your guide; you want to take a trip?
P: Let's go right now! I'll be angry if you make me wait.
D: Then cover your skin with fine linen robes. . .
P: What is this? I go from being a man to women?
D: So that they don't kill you if you're seen as a man there.
P: You know, that is another good point; have you been this smart all along?
D: Dionysus is going to teach us his myst'ries. (whispering)
P: So, that thing you were talking about…how c'we make that happen?
D: I'll give you the introduction--after I come inside the house.
P: What kind of dress is this? A woman's?! I'd be ashamed to. . .
D: So you no longer want to go look at the Maenads?
P: What did kind of clothes did you say I've to wear?
D: The hair on your head, let me lengthen it. (stretches hair)
P: Do you have any other fashion advice for me?
D: Robes down to your feet and on your head, a sash.
P: Anything else you’d like to add to that?
D: The thyrsus in your hand & a dappled skin of fawn
P: I could never dress up in women's clothing, I...
D: But you might draw blood doing battle with the Bacchae.
P: Oh riight; I should go take surveillance first.
D: That's so much wiser than hunting bad with evil.
P: How can I get out of town without the Thebans seeing?
D: We'll go by lonely roads; I'll be there to guide you.
P: I'd do anything to keep them from laughing at me--
D: So we'll go in the house and...P: I'll think about what I wanna do.
D: So it'll be; any way I'm ready at hand.
P: Then I'll go inside, andeither come back armed, or
be persuaded your suggestions.
(enters house)

D: Women, a man is being cast into the net.
He will come to the Bacchants and pay
The penalty of death. It's up to you, Dionysus,
For you are not far off: give us now our vengeance.
First drive him insane with a dizzying madness, since
In his right mind would he never put on women's
Dresses, but after he's driven out of his senses, he'll
Be begging me to wear one. And I want the lady to be
A laughing-stock to the Thebans, a s he's led through the
Town, far from his earlier threats, dressed
Up in th'adornments he'll take into Hell,
A f t e r he's been slaughtered by his mother,
He will recognize Zeus' son Dionysus, born in ritual,
The most terrible god--and kindest to humans.

Chorus - Prayer to the Thunder God


Daughter of Achelous, the
Blessed maiden, virgin Dirce,
you received once in your streams the
infant son of Thund'ring Zeus
when he snatched him from heavens' fire, father Zeus
took him in his holy thigh and shouted thundering:

"Come, Dithyrambos, enter in-
to this my masculine womb;
I will make Thebes call you by this name,
o Bacchic One shining forth!"

You always, oh blessed Dirce,
Hold me back when I try to touch
th'ivy-crown'd thyrsus to your stream.
Why refuse me? Why do you flee?
By the grace of Dionysus'
Gift of wine, the clust'ring grape, I
Swear that you will be in care of Bromios.

It appears now, born of the
native land, sprung from the serpent,
Pentheus who father Echion
bore from earth, a fearsome mon-
ster unnatural, not at all a mortal man, a
murderous giant--a tyrant who fights against the gods;
Who will soon tie me, Bromios'
servant, in binding knots and
Hold me in Pen-theus' palace
With my sisters, Bacchic Maenads
Hidden in the Prison's darkness.

Look upon these things, oh Zeus' son
Dionysus, your prophets lockèd
Up in mortal dangers of need.
Come to us now, shaking golden
Sacred staffs of Mount Olympus,
Put a stop to this man's mur'drous arrogance

Where on Nysa, mother of wild
Beasts, do you then lead with thyrsus
The thiasoi, Dionysus,
Or on Corcyrean peaks?
Maybe in the Wooded precints of Olympos,
Where Orpheus Once by playing Gorgeous music
With his guitar Brought together
Trees and woodland Beasts with his songs.

B l e s s e d P i e r i a,
Euios will Honor you and
Dancing sacred Bacchic service,
Overstepping The swiftflowing
Stream of Axios Will come leading

Twirling Maenads and Lydias, who I hear gives hap-
piness to mortals, and enriches horse-pastured
Land wi'th' most Beaut'ous waters.

D: Oh!
Hear my voice now hear me speaking:
I-o Bacchae! I-o Bacchae!
Ch: What is this, what, from where does this cry
of 'Euios' come upon me?
D: Oh, now again I call on you,
Semele's son, the son of Zeus.
Ch: Oh my mas-ter, oh my master--
Now come closer to the holy
thiasoi, O Bromios, Bromios!

D: Shake the ground's surfaces, Mistress of Earth, quake!
Ah, ah!
Ch: Quickly will Pentheus' royal halls be shaken
Down to their foundations and Dionysus
be all through the palace.
Honor him now
Oh now we do!
There, did you see how the beams of stone upon the
columns split, cracking? Bromios is stirring up
th'house's cry inside the walls!
D: Light it aflame, burning torch of the lightning and
Burn it with flame, burn it down to the ground, the house!

Ah, ah!
Ch: Do you see it?, behold how the
Flame all around Semele's sacred tomb crackles and
Burns, the fire lightning-struck left long ago by
Zeus' thund'ring.
Throw yourselves to
The ground, throw your bodies
Trembling to the Earth!

For your ruler will come upon these halls, turn them
Upsideown, your ruler Zeus' son.

Scene 2


Pentheus, we're here, after hunting down the prey
you sent us for, and we did not set out in vain.
This beast was tame to us and did not run away in
fear, but willingly he offered us up his hands, and
neither did he turn pale nor change his cheeks' wine-
tinted glow; & laughing even, he allowed himself to be
arrested and brought here, making my task an easy one.
And I said in gratitude: "This is not done of my own will,
Stranger, but by order of Pentheus, who sent me."
And the Bacchae whom you jailed, who you carried
off and shackled with chains in common cells,
are gone; they've been set free and rush to their
festivals, shouting out: 'Bromios, divine one.'
The leg-irons fell off their feet all by themselves,
and the doors came unlocked without anyone touching them!
This is a man of many marvels, who has come here to Thebes,
full of wonder; but that's really more of your concern.

Release his hands; since he's already caught in my nets,
there's no way he could be so quick as to escape me.
But your body isn't unattractive, Stranger;
to women, that is, which is why you are here.
And your hair, so long; not for wrestling, flowing
down past your cheek: fill'd with longing.
And you keep your skin white like this on purpose,
away from the sun's rays, hunting by dark-
ness Aphrodite in beauty.
So then, you will first tell me who you are, and of what family.


No, no boasting; this is easy to say;
you have of course heard of flowering Mt. Tmolus?
P: I have. It surrounds the town of Sardis.
D: That's where I'm from; Lydia, my native land.
P: Where do you get these 'mysteries' you bring to Greece?
D: Dionysus himself inducted me, the son of Zeus.
P: Is Zeus some fellow there who gives birth to new gods?
D: No, it was he who joined with Semele, here, in marriage.
P: Was it by night or at sight he forced you to this?
D: Seeing & seen; he even gave me sacred rites.
P: These rites of yours, what form do they take?
D: That is forbidden a mortal unbaptized a Bacchant to know.
P: To what advantage for those performing the sacrifice?
D: It is unlawful for you to hear, but very worth knowing.
P: You made it look like something, so I'd want to hear.
D: He hates practicing the god's rites in unholiness.
P: Since you claim you saw the god clearly--of what sort was he?
D: Whatever he wanted; it wasn't I who arranged it.
P: Again you've deflected this; speaking well, saying nothing.
D: Wise words will appear foolishness--to an idiot.
P: Is this the first place you have brought the god?
D: Everyone in foreign lands dances these sacred rites.
P: That's because the barbarians have far less sense than Greeks.
D: In this case I'd say they have a little more: cultural differences.
P: Do you conduct the mysteries in the night or by day?
D: Us'ally by night, for darkness holds reverence.
P: Is this thing deceitful or unwholesome towards women?
D: One might also uncover shameful things i' the day. (glare)
P: There's a heavy price to be paid for your twisting words evil.
D: And for your ignorance and disrespect to the god.
P: How arrogant the bacchant is, and slippery his replies!
D: Say what I must suffer. What terrible thing will you do?
P: Well, first I will cut your graceful locks...
D: Sacred is my hair; I grew it for the god. (cuts hair)
P: Next unhand this thyrsus here.
D: Take it from me yourself; I bear this for Dionysus.
P: We will watch over your body inside of the prison.
D: The god himself will release me whenever I want.
P: Yes, when you call on him, standing among the bacchants.
D: Even now he sees what I suffer, for he is too near.
P: And where is he? He's not very visible, to my eyes at least.
D: He is to me. But you, being wicked, cannot see...
P: Seize him. He scorns me and mocks Thebes, this one.
D: I tell you not to bind me, one sensible to the senseless.
P: And I tell you to do it; I'm more nobly born than you.
D: You know not why you live, what you see, who you are...
P: I am Pentheus, Agaue's son; Echion is my father.
D: You are well suited to a name bringing p a i n.
P: Go shut him up near the horses' troughs,
so he can look upon a night in darkness.
There you can dance, you and the women you lead, e-
vile companions--we'll auction them off to the highest bidder
or stop this incessant thudding and beating of hand and
drum, using them as slaves on weaving looms!
D: I'll go willingly; for I need not suffer what's
not needed to suffer; but Dionysus, whom you say
does not exist, will make you pay for your arrog/ignor-
ance: for doing us harm, you bring him into chains.

Chorus - Piety & Dionysus


Holiness, Mother of Gods
Holiness, you who are borne
over th'earth on golden wing,
Do you hear what Pentheus says?
Do you not hear the unholy
outrage to Bromios, the son of

Semele, the divinity who is
Crowned with ivy covered
Gladness first of immortals? Whose things are these:

Dancing in the choruses,
With pipe, to laugh, make
Stop all of our worries
Whenever the grape's pleasure
Shimmers at the feast of Immortals, and
in ivy-clad festivals the
winebowl covers men over with slumber.

The end result of unrestrain'd
Mouths and lawless folly is
always the gravest misfortune
And the good & peaceful life,
The life of understanding,
remains forever firm and un-

Shaken by storm: it holds up houses.
And though the Immortals dwell in th'
Etherial sky, still they watch over mortals.

Cleverness is not wisdom;
Thinking heavenly
Thoughts, short life; in that case,
Who, in hunting greater things,
Would not be content with present fortune?
These are ways of men insane, with-
out understanding, so it seems to me.

Would I could come to Cyprus,
Aphrodite's belov'd isle
where the spellbinding Loves minis-
ter, soothing mortal souls, to
The river Paphos, which an hun-
dred foreign flowing streams do feed
Fruitfully, without rain's drop;
And Pieria where the Muses hold
their holy seat, unrivall'd beauty,
Olympus' sacred slope, oh!
Take me there, Bromios, Bromios, leader
in Bacchus' piercing cry; there
the Graces, there Desire, there lawfully do the Bac-
chae celebrate their myst'ries.

The god who is Zeus' son,
Welcomes festivities and
loves Peace, who showers prosperous
on us, nourishing the young.
Equally to the blessed man
and to the poorer one he gives
Wine's gift of painless pleasure;
And hates who does not care for these:
living a life, day and kindly nights,
a life of happiness, and
to hold a heart and mind upright and wise
away from mens' excesses.
What most people consider lowly and take as their own,
this always I approve of.

Scene 1


Who's at the gates? Call Kadmos from his home.
Agenor's son, who when he'd left the Sidonian
city, fortified this, the Thebans' town.
Well come on! Go & tell him that Teiresias
is here: he knows what it is I've come for;
and what promises I've made--an old man to an elder:
we're to take up the thyrsus and don the sacred fawnskin,
wreathe around our head the leaves of shooting iv'ry.


Oh, Teiresias! I thought it was you: wise words from a
wiseman; I could hear your voice from inside.
And I've come, ready for this "service" to the God;
he is my grandson, you know, Dio-
nysus, who appears a god to humans;
inasmuch as we can make him any greater.
Where should we go to dance? Where do we plant our
feet and shake our silvered heads? Show me the way, old
man to old man, Teiresias. You are the wise one.
I could never tire, all night and day, of beating the
Earth with thyrsi, how happily, to forget all the
troubles of old age! T: So it's happened to you also?!
'Cuz I too feel young again, and want to go...dancing!
K: Shall we take a chariot to the mountain?
T: What?! That would deprive the god of his due!
Must I take you by th'hand like a child, old man?
The god will convey us both there, without difficulty.
K: Are we the only ones in the city serving Bacchus?
T: We alone've got it right; the others, wrongly.
K: This is taking too long!, put your hand in mine.
T: Look, link and join our two hands to-gether.
K: But what if someone says I'm not acting my age, slinking
off to dance i'the chorus, my head wreath'd in garlands?
T: The god does not divide from the young,
who it is who should dance, from the old:
he wants to receive his honour due from all a-
like, making no distinction, exalted shall he be!
K: I'm a just mortal; I've no truck wi'th'affairs of the gods.
T: There're no tricks when it comes to the divin'ties.
The customs of our ancestors--that have been handed
down to us thru' time--no reasoning can overthrow them!
Not even if it be wisdom uncover'd of the highest intentions.
K: Since you don't see this clearly, Teiresias, I
will play the prophet to you in plainer words:
Pentheus is coming here, in haste to the palace, all a-
flutter; Echion's son, whom I have given dominion o-
ver the earth; so what's the news, Pentheus?


As I was abroad, away from this land, I chanced to hear
of some new evil come into the province;
that the women have left us, abandoning their homes in
phony Bacchic worship and that they gad about on
the bushy mountaintops; that this "new" god Dio-
nysus, whoever he really is, is honoured in their dances,
and that they set the sacred wine-bowls, fill'd, in the
midst of the thiasoi, each slinking off her sep'rate
way to serve males' hot lust in the woods, pre-
tending to be Maenads sacrificing; and so
they place Aphrodite on top of Bacchus.

Well all the ones I could catch now hold their hands
bound as prisoners in public gaols; and those who have run-off, I
will hunt myself from the mountain;
I mean Ino and Agaue, who bore me to Echion,
and Actaeon's mother, Autonoe.
I'll fit them with hunter's nets of iron and
quickly put an end to these sordid, Bacchic revels.
And they say that some 'stranger' has come, some
witch-doctor, enchaunter from Lydian land,
who perfumes his light-brown hair, red-
faced in wine, with Aphrodite's gleam i' his eyes,
who mixes days and nights together, off'ring
these rites of pleasure to young maidens;
but if I catch him within this land, I'll
stop him from beating his thyrsus and flinging back his
curls, by chopping his neck from his head!
He says that Dionysus is a god, he says
he was taken in the thigh of Zeus, when everyone knows
he was torched by the lightning's flames, along with his mother,
for her damn-ed lies of holy unions;
are these not terrible lies of someone worth strangling,
outrages outrageous, whoever the stranger be?!

But isn't this a sight to see . . . the diviner, cloth'd
in a dappled fawn's skin? If it isn't Teiresias;
and my own mother's father, what a laugh:
a bacchant complete with fennel rod! I'm dis-gusted, sire,
to see you, at your age, out of your senses.
Won't you shake the ivy off? Take your hand
free from the thyrsus, won't you grand-dad?
You put him to this, Teiresias; you introduced this
divinity, a new one to men, because you wanted
to get paid for watching the birds and offering sacrifice.
If your grey old age weren't here to save you, you
would be sitting there, a prisoner yourself, i'the midst of the bacchants,
leading their vile services; for whenever the pleasure of the grape's
cluster comes shimmering to women in feast, I say no-
thing is left wholesome in they're orgies!

What an impiety! Stranger, are you so shameless before the gods
and Kadmos, the sower of the earth-born seed? Aren't you
Echion's son, do you not respect his line?
T: When a man who's wise in words starts his speech
from a proper course, it is no great task to speak well;
and you, spinning a tricky tongue, seem to make sense,
but there is no sense in what you are saying;
and a man who is bold, powerful and a clever speaker
makes for a bad citizen, if he has not the proper mind.
This new deity, who you make fun of,
not even I can fully explain how great he'll be throughout Greece!
For there are two things, young one, two, that are
first among humans: One is the goddess Demeter--
and she is earth, call her whatever you will--
it is she who nourishes mortals in corn and grain;
but he who comes after, Semele's offspring, he invented them to match
the flowing drink of the grape and introduced it to mortals;
it gives wretched humans pause from pain when-
ever they are filled with the vine's stream,
and sleep, as aids to forget the troubles of the day:
there is no other drug that cures misery.
Born a god, he is poured out, an offering to gods,
so that through him, fine things do humans possess;
and you mock him, that he was sewn in Zeus'
thigh? I will teach you how very well this is.
When Zeus had snatched him from the lightning-fire,
and carried him up to Olympos, a newborn, holy,
Hera wanted to toss the child out of Heav'n;
but Zeus contrived the sort of trick that only a god could:
having broken off a piece of th'aether that encircles the earth, he
gave it to her, a pledge to keep peace between Dionysus and Hera;
and in time mortals came to say he was raised from holy thigh,
because they've stitched the story together; but Zeus
saved him from Hera's goddess eye, and they
have simply mixed the tale up.

And this divinity is a prophet, for the Bacchic and Maenadic
worships hold a prophetic power that is sacred, for
when the god has come into the body full-force he
causes those in his ecstatic frenzy to tell what is to come;
And he holds some share in the nature of Ares, for
an army at arms, when drawn up in formation, is often
put to flight in fear, even before brandishing their spears.
And this form of madness, too, comes from Dionysus.
You will also see him up on the rocks at Delphi,
stomping with torches across its two-pronged peak,
leaping and shaking the Bacchic branch all
over Greece; but hear me well, Pentheus:
Boast not that power holds strength over men
and do not, even if it seems so to you (for your wit's diseased),
think you have an understanding. Admit the god to earth and
pour offerings and be a Bacchant and wear the iv'ry garland!
Dionysus does not compel women to be unchaste in
matters of Love; but temperence is naturally
present in everything always.
This we must examine, for an upright
woman will not be corrupted, even in Bacchus' service.
Don't you see? Aren't you delighted when people crowd your
gates, and the city praises shouting the name of Pentheus?
This man also, I believe, enjoys being honored.
So therefore, Kadmos and I, who you laugh at,
will crown ourselves with ivy and dance, a
pair of greying oxen; but still it must be done:
I will not be a heretic fighting a god and believe your arguments, for
you are most grievously mad, and there's no drug to cure your
sickness, though drugs are obviously the cause of it.
Ch: Old man, Apollo himself approves of your words;
you're wise to honor as great a god as Bromios.
K: Dear child, Teiresias has advised you soundly.
Come, settle with us, live not outside the law.
For now you are a-flitter and are thinking thoughtlessly.
And even if the god is, as you claim, not this man, why not con-
sider him so, and pretend he's one for the good of the city?
And so that Semele be thought to have borne a god,
and that honor be attached to our whole family.
You saw the awful fate of Aktaeon, whom the
ravenous hounds, that he himself raised, de-
voured? Who boasted, in dewy meadows, that he
was stronger in the hunt than Artemis. May
you not suffer the same. But come, I will crown your
head with ivy: pay the god his honor, with me.
P: Don't you dare touch me! Go and honour your god, don't
stain me with your idiocy. I'll make the teacher of your
foolishness pay the penalty. Someone, quickly, go;
and when you've come to this man's seat where he watches
birds and prophecies, overturn it with crowbars, wrench it free;
up, down, throw it together, toss his sacred bands to the
wind and gales; I will pain him most by doing these
things, and whoever goes throughout the city, track down this
womanish stranger who brings sickness to
wives and violates marriage beds, and
if you do catch him, bring him here, bound, so that he
can be stoned to death as punishment and see
a bitter Bacchic revelry in Thebes.
T: O, wretched one, you do not know what on earth you are saying.
Now you are truly mad; before you were just out of your senses.
Let's go, Kadmos, and beg the god's for-
giveness of this man, the
little savage, and on behalf of the city, lest there be
Any unforeseen evil. But follow me with iv'y staff,
and try & prop my body up; I will do for you the same.
It would be shameful for a couple of old men to fall, but still
it must be done: for one must serve Zeus' son Bacchos, in order that Pen-
theus not bring pain upon the house: on your house, Kadmos.

Not by prophetic power is this said by me,
but by the facts: often a fool speaks foolishly.

1st Chorus


From sacred Tmolus
I departed Asian earth and hurried to
Bromius' sweet labour, ex-
hausted, tireless, crying
out "euhoi!" to Bacchus.

Who's in the streets, who is there, who?
Let them enter sacred halls, all, keep your
mouths sanctified and pure, for
Ever do I offer the pro-
per songs to Dionysus.

blessed is he who's seen the
gods' sacred rites, who has
lived a life upright and brou-
ght his spirit clean in to the
mountains in the true puri-
fication of Bacchic ritual.

And as he observes the orgiastic
services of the Great Mother, Cybele,
brandishing in hand the thyrsus,
draped with ivy garlands, he
pays Dionysus honor.

Come Bacchae, Come Bacchae!
Bromios, a god, child of
God, Dionysus, whom you brought
Home from Phrygian peaks
To the wide-plained fields of
Greece, home, Bromios;

mother giving birth, of a
union rudely forced, bore
him shot from the womb
by Zeus' darting thunder;
and she stricken to cinders
with a bolt of lightning;

But thundering Zeus took him im-
mediately to child-birth chambers and
fastening him tight inside his
thigh wih golden bands, he
disguises it from Hera;

And bore him when the Fates
Gave to him as child the raging bull god,
And wreathed him 'round with serpents; and
So the beast-feeding Maenads wrap their wild
Prey up in bands of
Flow'ring garlands.

Ring yourselves in flowing
wreathes, O Theban mother of
Semele, covered rich with
fruit, teeming beautiful;

Rage like a Bacchant shaking frantic branches of
oak or fir-tree, clothed in sacred
garments of fawn skin,
spotted, hanging
white with locks all

B e p u r i f i e d & H o l y , c l e an s e d, b e f or e t h e G od's
s a c r e d th y r s e s.

Now the whole earth thunders in rhythm,
and the leader of your Bacchic choruses i s Bromius;
To the mountain, to the moun-
tain all;

There the whole feminine
mob awaits, driven
from their cleaning and weaving in-
sane by
D i o n y s u s

Oh secret caves of the
Kurates, sacred streams of
K r e te, where the K o r y -
bantes first dis-
covered how
To stretch hollow
drum with hide and
In ecstatic dances they mix with the sweet
breath of Phrygian flutes, as they
Place it hand for Mother
&n Rhea to beat in
Time to her worshippers' shrieking calls, t he wild
S a t y r s filled with the Goddess-
Mother, as they observe the bi-
-ennial processions which
D i o n y s o s
delights in.

When one in mountains sweet beats the
ground with frantic thyrsi, draped
in a fawn-skin garment, hunting a
stricken goat's blood, & eats of it still bleeding, as she
rushes over Lydian & Phrygian peaks, Lord
Br o m io s, (euhoi!)
As earth flows over with milk and wine, sweet rivulets of
Nectar; (O joy!)

As the one in Bacchus lifting high
the pine's blazing fire, sweet as
smoke of Syrian incense it runs
streaming from the torch, whir-
ling it races, dancing, rousing
the stragglers with his calls, his
curling locks rippling the wind as he
shouts back to the screaming:

"Come, O Bacchae,
O, come Bacchae!
With a sapling of golden-hilled Tmolus
Celebrate the God, Dionysus!"

From the thundering tympani--screams, the shouting
women exalt the god
throughout Phrygian hills and valleys,
when the melodius lute makes their holy
Revels echo with song as they wander to the
Mountain, to the mountain, raging, when suddenly
Joyous, the young sacrifice leaps willingly, as if to its feeding
Mother, it's offering, flinging tender young limb in
Bacchic Chorus.



I, Zeus' son, have come to the Thebans' land,
Dionysus, who Cadmus' daughter Semele once bore,
attended by lightning and fire. And after
changing from god's to mortal form, I am
here at Dirce's streams, Ismenos' water, to
see the tomb of my thunder-stricken mother;
here, near the homes and abodes, the smoldering
remains of holy fire, the still-living flame: Hera's un-
dying insult to my mother's memory. But I honor
Cadmus, who consecrated this ground, a sacred
monument to his daughter; which now I cover 'round
with a grapevine's leafy foliage.
And starting from the gold-studded fields of the Lydians
and Phrygians, the Persians' sun-burnt plains,
Baktrian walls and Medes' wintry land,
and crossing over opulent Arabia and all Asia, whose towering
cities and gorgeous towers lie upon brine haze,
teeming with Greeks and foreigners alike,
I came to this city first in Greece, only
after I had set all of Asia to dancing and
established there my mysteries, so I
could appear openly, a god to mortals.

And Thebes is the first city I make cry out in
Greece, after covering my own skin with a fawn's and
taking in hand the thyrsus, my ivied javelin;
for my mother's sisters, who ought've known better,
claimed that Dionysus was never born from Zeus,
and that Semele, knocked up by some mortal
man, blamed her bed's violation on the god himself (one of Kadmos'
tricks!); and they happily let everyone know that
that's why Zeus had killed her: she made the whole thing up.
So I drove them from their homes by stinging them in-
sane: they rage out of their minds on the mountain;
I even had them wear the livery of my rituals.
And Kadmos' female seed, every woman of Thebes, is driven
wild with them;
they've met up with Cadmus' daughters to sit
beneath the evergreens, up on the open rocks;
for Thebes must be taught its lesson, even if it's
unwilling, they have yet to be taught my Bacchic service;
and my mother's name, Semele, must be defended by me
appearing to mortals, the Divinity she
bore to God. So Cadmus has given the royal gift of
power to his grandson Pentheus; one who fights against
all that involves me, neglects me entirely from his
offerings and n prayer offers no remembrance;
That is why I will show myself, god that I am, to this man
and to the Thebans all. And, when everything here's been taken
care of, & myself revealed, I'll be off to the next land;
and if the city of the Thebans, roused to arms, seeks to drive my
Bacchae from the mountains, I'll lead the Maenads into battle my-
and that is why I have assumed a mortal guise
and altered to human shape my form.

But you who've left Mt. Tmolus, the Lydian gate, my
Bacchic chorus, women of barbarian lands--whom I
accepted kindly as my fellow travellers: take up the
drums from the Phrygians' land, my foundlings of mother
Rhea, gather 'round Pentheus' royal palace, make it resound with a
crashing thunder, so that all of Kadmos' city may see.

And I will go to my Maenads in Kithairon's glens
to take part with them in my sacred dances.