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,
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
Wise when you were unwilling, you
Would have acquired the blessing
Of Zeus’ son as an ally.
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
ΑG: I feel so bad for you father Κ: And I for you, dear.
And I weep for you & your sisters.
Punishment upon our royal house.
ΑG: Yes, because we wronged him terribly, not
Holding his name in honor in Thebes.
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
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.