THE BACCHANTES by Euripides, Part 06
Hail to thee, Dirce, happy maid, daughter revered of Achelous!
within thy founts thou didst receive in days gone by the babe of Zeus,
what time his father caught him up into his thigh from out the
deathless flame, while thus he cried: "Go rest, my Dithyrambus,
there within thy father's womb; by this name, O Bacchic god, I now
proclaim thee to Thebes." But thou, blest Dirce, thrustest me aside,
when in thy midst I strive to hold my revels graced with crowns. Why
dost thou scorn me? Why avoid me? By the clustered charm that Dionysus
sheds o'er the vintage I vow there yet shall come a time when thou
wilt turn thy thoughts to Bromius. What furious rage the earth-born
race displays, even Pentheus sprung of a dragon of old, himself the
son of earth-born Echion, a savage monster in his very mien, not
made in human mould, but like some murderous giant pitted against
heaven; for he means to bind me, the handmaid of Bromius, in cords
forthwith, and e'en now he keeps my fellow-reveller pent within his
palace, plunged in a gloomy dungeon. Dost thou mark this, O
Dionysus, son of Zeus, thy prophets struggling 'gainst resistless
might? Come, O king, brandishing thy golden thyrsus along the slopes
of Olympus; restrain the pride of this bloodthirsty wretch! Oh!
where in Nysa, haunt of beasts, or on the peaks of Corycus art thou,
Dionysus, marshalling with thy wand the revellers? or haply in the
thick forest depths of Olympus, where erst Orpheus with his lute
gathered trees to his minstrelsy, and beasts that range the fields. Ah
blest Pieria! Evius honours thee, to thee will he come with his
Bacchic rites to lead the dance, and thither will he lead the circling
Maenads, crossing the swift current of Axius and the Lydias, that
giveth wealth and happiness to man, yea, and the father of rivers,
which, as I have heard, enriches with his waters fair a land of
What ho! my Bacchantes, ho! hear my call, oh! hear.
Who art thou? what Evian cry is this that calls me? whence comes
What ho! once more I call, I the son of Semele, the child of Zeus.
My master, O my master, hail!
Come to our revel-band, O Bromian god.
Thou solid earth!
Most awful shock!
O horror! soon will the palace of Pentheus totter and fall.
Dionysus is within this house.
Do homage to him.
We do! I do!
Did ye mark yon architrave of stone upon the columns start
Within these walls the triumph-shout of Bromius himself will rise.
Kindle the blazing torch with lightning's fire, abandon to the
flames the halls of Pentheus.
Ha! dost not see the flame, dost not clearly mark it at the sacred
tomb of Semele, the lightning flame which long ago the hurler of the
bolt left there?
Your trembling limbs prostrate, ye Maenads, low upon the ground.
Yea, for our king, the son of Zeus, is assailing and utterly
confounding this house.
Are ye so stricken with terror that ye have fallen to the earth, O
foreign dames? Ye saw then, it would seem, how the Bacchic god made
Pentheus' halls to quake; but arise, be of good heart, compose your
O chiefest splendour of our gladsome Bacchic sport, with what
joy I see thee in my loneliness!
Were ye cast down when I was led into the house, to be plunged
into the gloomy dungeons of Pentheus?
Indeed I was. Who was to protect me, if thou shouldst meet with
mishap? But how wert thou set free from the clutches of this godless
My own hands worked out my own salvation, easily and without
But did he not lash fast thy hands with cords?
There too I mocked him; he thinks he bound me, whereas he never
touched or caught hold of me, but fed himself on fancy. For at the
stall, to which he brought me for a gaol, he found a bull, whose
legs and hoofs he straightly tied, breathing out fury the while, the
sweat trickling from his body, and he biting his lips; but I from near
at hand sat calmly looking on. Meantime came the Bacchic god and
made the house quake, and at his mother's tomb relit the fire; but
Pentheus, seeing this, thought his palace was ablaze, and hither and
thither he rushed, bidding his servants bring water; but all in vain
was every servant's busy toil. Thereon he let this labour be awhile,
and, thinking maybe that I had escaped, rushed into the palace with
his murderous sword unsheathed. Then did Bromius-so at least it seemed
to me; I only tell you what I thought-made a phantom in the hall,
and he rushed after it in headlong haste, and stabbed the lustrous
air, thinking he wounded me. Further the Bacchic god did other outrage
to him; he dashed the building to the ground, and there it lies a mass
of ruin, a sight to make him rue most bitterly my bonds. At last
from sheer fatigue he dropped his sword and fell fainting; for he a
mortal frail, dared to wage war upon a god; but I meantime quietly
left the house and am come to you, with never a thought of Pentheus.
But methinks he will soon appear before the house; at least there is a
sound of steps within. What will he say, I wonder, after this? Well,
be his fury never so great, I will lightly bear it; for 'tis a wise
man's way to school his temper into due control.