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With ivy rattling, no more shake his locks,
His head lopt off. This Bacchus he reports
To be a god, whom Jove, he says, of old
Sew'd in his thigh: but in the lightning's flames
He perish'd with his mother, vengeance due
For her false tale of Jove's connubial bed. .
Doth not this call aloud for punishment,
This stranger's insolence, whoe'er he be,
Affronting us with such rude outrages?
And here's another wonder; I behold
The seer Tiresias habited alike
With the fawn's dappled skin; and Cadmius too,
My mother's father, shake his bacchic wand,
Sight ludicrous; nor, sire, can I approve
· To see your age of reason so devoid.
Wilt thou not shake the ivy from thy head ?
Wilt thou not throw the thyrsus from thy hand ?
Thy counsel this, Tiresias; this new god
To mortals introducing, wou'dst thou make him
Observe the flight of birds, and from the flames
Receive the bire: but that thy hoary hairs
Protect thee, thou shou’dst sit in chains amidst
These madding dames, for such pernicious rites
Induced. To females when the joy of wine
Flows round the festive table, I pronounce
That in such orgies there is nothing good.
CHOR. O Piety ! Reverest thou not the gods,
Nor Cadmus, who the earth-born harvest sow'd ?
Son of Echion, why defame thy race !
s. A wise man, when he takes occasions fair
To hold discourse, finds words that promptly flow
To grace his argument. Thou hast a tongue
As voluble as Wisdom, but thy words
Have not her pow'r. A dangerous citizen
Is that audacious pealing orator,
Who lacks discretion. This new god, whom thou
So in derision callest, shall be grea,
How great, I have not words t'express, through Greece.
There are two pow'rs, young man, to mortal life
Of chief account; the goddess Ceres one,
She is the Earth, call her by either name;
With dry and solid aliment by her ;''
Is man sustain'd: of different nature comes
This son of Semele the grape's moist juicer
His own invention he on man beslow'd:
This to unhappy mortals from their griefs
Gives respite, with the flowing vine when fillid,
Gives sleep, and sweet oblivion of the cares
Each day brings with it; a more healing pow'r
No medicine boasts. He to the gods, himself
Sprung from a god, is in libation pour’d,
That mortals might through him enjoy the sweets
Of life; yet thy rude tongue insultingly
Derides him, in the thigh of Jove as sew'd.
I will inform thee what this means: When Joye
The new-born babe snatch'd from the lightning flames,
And bore him to Olympus, Juno sought
To cast him from the skies; t' elude her aims
Jove, as a god, this artful plan devised :
Part of the air, which round enrings the earth,
He burst, and lodged the child an hostage there
From Juno's angry efforts : but in time
Men fabled that Jove lodged him in his thigh,
Th'ambiguous phrase mistaking. But this god
Hath a prophetic pow'r; his mystic rites
Breathe much of inspiration; when he flows
Abundant on the soul, his frantic train
He forms to tell events of times to come.
Nor shrinks he from the toils of Mars; in arms
The close-rang'd squadrons he with wild dismay
Confounds and scatters, ere the lifted spear'.
Flashes with spear: from Bacchus springs this terror.
And thou shalt see him bounding o'er the rocks
Of Delphi, striking with his blazing torch
Its double-pointed cliffs, his bacchic wand
Shaking, and great through Greece. Believe my words,
And be persuaded, Pentheus:(pride thee not
In thy imperial pow'r, thy rule o'er men,
Nor glory in thy wisdom, that vain thought
Is but the feverish sickness of the soul)
But in thy realms receive the god, and pour
The rich libations, join the bacchic train,
And crown thy head. No female he perforce
Hurries to wanton love; for to his nature
In all things decent modesty is dear:
Reflect on this: no woman in his rites,
Come she with chaste and sober mind, shall know
The soil of violation. Seest thou this?
When at the gates the thronging multitude
Stands round thee, and with high applause the name
Of Pentheus through the state is sounded wide,
It gives thee joy; and he, I ween, is touch'd,
When honour'd, with delight. With reverence then
Myself and Cadmus, whom thy taunts deride,
Will be with ivy crown'd, and join the dance,
An hoary pair; yet must we join the dance,
Nor war against the god, urged by thy words.
For thou art mad, and thy deep malady
No medicines, save these, have pow'r to heal.
CHOR. Thy words, old man, disgrace not Phæbus: wise
Art thou thus honouring Bacchus, the great god. CADM. Well hath Tiresias counsell’d thee, my son; Abide with us, no outrage to the laws,
wat la For now thou fliest from us, ʼmidst thy boast.
toos iro, Of wisdom most unwise. Were he no god, rii :: As thy bold words aver, let him from thee
Receive that title, and the glorious falsehood
Avow, as he was born of Semele;
So shall she seem the mother of a god,',
On us devolving honour, and our race.
Seest thou Actæon's miserable fate,
Rent piecemeal by the ravenous dogs bis hand
Had cherish’d? For his skill he'proudly vaunted
More than Diana's in the woodland chace."
Be warn’d, come hither: Lwith ivy wreaths
Will crown thy brows: 'with us revere the god.
Thou shalt not touch me, going as thousart
To this wild riot, nor on me wipe off .
Thy folly: but this master of thy madness
Shall feel my vengeance. Go, this instant go
One of you, batter down, o'erturn the seat
Where he observes the flight of birds; rend, crush,
And make a general havoc; to the winds,
The tempests, toss his crowns; so shall I gall him
Most feelingly. Go you, retrace the haunts ...!
Of this lascivious, female-figur'd stranger,
That ʼmongst our women spreads a new disease,
And with pollution stains the nuptial bed.
If you can take him, bring him hither bound,
That he may die, crush'd with o’erwhelming stones,
And solemnize unpleasant rites at Thebes. i . TIRES. Wretch as thou art, thou know'st not what thou say'st,
Thy reason fail'd before, but this is now
Outrageous madness. Cadmus, let us go,
And deprecate from him, harsh though he be,
And from the state the vengeance of the god.
Come thou with me, but take thine ivy wand,
Try to be my support, I will be thine;''
Unseemly would it be for two old men:
To fall : thus let us go; the son of Jove
Must be obey'd. O Cadmus, to thy house ... !! ... His rage bodes rage: this with a prophet's skill !! ' : I speak not, but from circumstance; such meedhe".
Hath a fool's tongue, which vents his foolish thought.
CHORUS. stro. 1. Holy, by the gods rever'd,
Holy queen, who joy'st to wave
O'er the earth thy golden wing,
Goddess, hear'st thou Pentheus rave
. With unhallow'd menacing ?
Are his launts 'gainst Bacchus heard ?
'Midst Pleasure'strain with beauteous garlands crown'd
The Son of Semele delights t' advance,
· Delights to lead the festive dance,
Pleas'd with the soft flute's dulcet sound;
First of the gods he charms to rest
The anguish of th' afflicted breast,
When amidst the feast divine
Sparkling flow the joys of wine,
And o'er the ivy-shaded heads
The balmy dews of sleep the goblet sheds. ANTIS. 1. When the rude unbridled tongue
Vents the mad and wayward thought,
✓ Vengeance is its destin'd end;
But the soul with wisdom fraught
Calms the life, and, Peace its friend,
Holds its state securely strong.'
For, distant as they are, on mortal man
The gods from their ætherial seals look down;
And sober wisdom scorns to own
The wily and presumptuous plan.
Pride, that extends her aims too high,
Soon sees her short-lived glories die;
Nor the present blessings tastes,
Whilst to great designs she hastes :
Such to me man's state appears,