Thursday, January 24, 2008

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.

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