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THE BACCHANTES by Euripides, Part 14

CADMUS
First let thine eye look up to heaven.
AGAVE
See! I do so. Why dost thou suggest my looking thereupon?
CADMUS
Is it still the same, or dost think there's any change?
AGAVE
'Tis brighter than it was, and dearer too.
CADMUS
Is there still that wild unrest within thy soul?
AGAVE
I know not what thou sayest now; yet methinks my brain is
clearing, and my former frenzy passed away.
CADMUS
Canst understand, and give distinct replies?
AGAVE
Father, how completely I forget all we said before!
CADMUS
To what house wert thou brought with marriage-hymns?
AGAVE
Thou didst give me to earthborn Echion, as men call him.
CADMUS
What child was born thy husband in his halls?
AGAVE
Pentheus, of my union with his father.
CADMUS
What head is that thou barest in thy arms?
AGAVE
A lion's; at least they said so, who hunted it.
CADMUS
Consider it aright; 'tis no great task to look at it.
AGAVE
Ah! what do I see? what is this I am carrying in my hands?
CADMUS
Look closely at it; make thy knowledge more certain.
AGAVE
Ah, 'woe is me! O sight of awful sorrow!
CADMUS
Dost think it like a lion's head?
AGAVE
Ah no! 'tis Pentheus' head which I his unhappy mother hold.
CADMUS
Bemoaned by me, or ever thou didst recognize him.
AGAVE
Who slew him? How came he into my hands?
CADMUS
O piteous truth! how ill-timed thy presence here!
AGAVE
Speak; my bosom throbs at this suspense.
CADMUS
'Twas thou didst slay him, thou and thy sisters.
AGAVE
Where died he? in the house or where?
CADMUS
On the very spot where hounds of yore rent Actaeon in pieces.
AGAVE
Why went he, wretched youth! to Cithaeron?
CADMUS
He would go and mock the god and thy Bacchic rites.
AGAVE
But how was it we had journeyed thither?
CADMUS
Ye were distraught; the whole city had the Bacchic frenzy.
AGAVE
'Twas Dionysus proved our ruin; now I see it all.
CADMUS
Yes, for the slight he suffered; ye would not believe in his
godhead.
AGAVE
Father, where is my dear child's corpse?
CADMUS
With toil I searched it out and am bringing it myself.
AGAVE
Is it all fitted limb to limb in seemly wise?
CADMUS [*]

[* One line, or maybe more, is missing]

AGAVE
But what had Pentheus to do with folly of mine?
CADMUS
He was like you in refusing homage to the god, who, therefore,
hath involved you all in one common ruin, you and him alike, to
destroy this house and me, forasmuch as I, that had no sons, behold
this youth, the fruit of thy womb, unhappy mother! foully and most
shamefully slain. To thee, my child, our house looked up, to thee my
daughter's son, the stay of my palace, inspiring the city with awe;
none caring to flout the old king when he saw thee by, for he would
get his deserts. But now shall I be cast out dishonoured from my
halls, Cadmus the great, who sowed the crop of Theban seed and
reaped that goodly harvest. O beloved child! dead though thou art,
thou still shalt be counted by me amongst my own dear children; no
more wilt thou lay thy hand upon my chin in fond embrace, my child,
and calling on thy mother's 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, father mine!"
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 them.

 

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