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EPODB. ,Where, Bacchus, dost thou now delight
To lead thy hallow'd band ?. Crime
On Nysa's savage-nursing height
, Shak'st thou thine ivy wand? ... )
Dost thou, god, thy orgies keep.!
On Çorycus' craggy steep; ... the
Or the darksome lairs among ,
On high Olympus forest-waving head,
Where Orpheus tuned his sounding shell,
And, as th' harmonious measures swell,
The trees, the savage beasts he led
Attentive to thé rapture-breathing song ?
Blest Pieria, through thy groves ,
Now the god delighted roves,
Soon to bring his dancing train,;
With his mystic revelry:
Soon to Lydia's favour'd plain
As their nimble feet they ply,
O'er Axius' stream his Mænades to guide : ,
Dispensing wealth and happiness around
Prolific Axius rolls his lucid tide; ·
Sees his soft vales with verdant plenty crown'd,
And, as his current wins its mazy way,
Joys in the sprightly steeds that on its margent play.
BACCHUS, CHORUS. Bacc. Evoe, my Bacchæ, ho! Hear ye my voice? [within.
My Bacchæ, ho! my Bacchæ ! CHOR.
Who is this? Who calls me? Whence this voice, this bacchic shout? BACC. Evoe! Again I call, the son of Jove
It is his voice, our lord;
Evoe, come quickly to thy hallow'd band !
the lightnina round the book, look the
O Bacchus, Bacchus ! dreadfully the earth
Beneath us rocks : the house of Pentheus soon
Shall sink in the convulsion: in the house
Is Bacchus: bow with reverence to the god.
SEMIC. We bow with reverence: see the marble frieze
Shakes on those pillars: Bacchus is within,
Soon will he raise his cheerful-sounding cry. SEMIC. Kindle th' ætherial lightning's blazing flame,
Burn, burn the house of Pentheus. fr
Look, look there;
Seest thou that fire ? Around the sacred tomb
Of Semele the lightning-flames of Jove,
In which she perish’d, unextinguish'd blaze.
Fall prostrate on the earth, ye trembling dames,
Fall prostrate, for our king is in the house,
The son of Jove, and shakes it to and fro.
BACC. Barbaric dames, astonied with your fears, [com. forward.
Lie you thus prostrate? You perceive, I ween,
That Bacchus from its firm foundations shakes
The house of Pentheus: but arise, revive
Your drooping spirits, banish all your fears.
CHOR. Thou brightest glory of our bacchic rites,
With transport I behold thee ʼmidst this gloom
Which closes round my cheerless solitude. BACC. What, sunk you in despair when I was sent
As doom'd to lie in darkness and in chains ? CHOR. What could I but despair ? For who should be
My guardian, if on thee misfortune fell ?
How art thou free from his unhallow'd hands?
BACC. With ease I freed myself; no work of toil.
CHOR. Did not the tyrant bind thy hands in chains?
In that I sported with him: when he thought
His chains to fasten on me, he' nor bound
Nor touch'd me, but was fed with empty hope.
When he had dragg’d us to the stalls, to lie
Imprison'd there, he found a bull, around
His knees he fixed the bonds, and his cleft hoofs,
Breathless through rage, tillstreams ofsweat flow'd down VOL. I.
His limbs, and in despite he gnaw'd his lip:
Near him I sate, and quietly look'd on.
But Bacchus meanwhile coming shook the house,
And in his mother's tomb awoke the fire:
Soon as he saw it, thinking that his house
Was all in flames, his hurrying step he bent
Now this way, that way now, and call'd aloud
For water; every slave was occupied
In the vain toil. Quitting his own attempt,
For me he thought escaped, he drew his sword,
And rush'd into the house; but Bacchus there,
I speak what I surmisc, framed in the court
A form of lucid air; on this he flew, .
And smote the phantom, me as he would kill.
Nor ended here the vengeance ; for the god
Rent from its solid base the shatter'd house,
And all was crush'd in ruin whilst he view'd
My cruel chains. Now wearied with his toil
He sheath'd his sword, vain mortal, 'gainst the god
That dared to fight. I from their prison freed
The Bacchæ, and of Pentheus reckless come
To you. But to this portal will he haste:
Methinks I hear the trampling of his feet:
What will he say to this? But I will bear
His pride with mildness, though he threaten high;
For temperate anger well becomes the wise.
PENTHEUS, BACCHUS, CHORUS.
PENT. And must I brook these insults? From the chains
In which I bound him is the stranger fled.
Ha! there he stands: what may this mean? and how
Dar’st thou appear abroad before my house?
BACC. Stop thy foot there, stand there, and curb thy rage..
PENT. How hast thou fled thy bonds ? how art thou here?
BACC. Did I not tell thee one would quickly free me?
PENT. Who? for thy tongue still frames some new discourse.
BACC. He, who to mortals rear'd the clust'ring vine.
PENT. This grace to Bacchus falsely hast thou charg'd.
BACC. Bar every gate of every tow'r around.
PENT. What, cannot then the gods o'erpass the walls?
BACC. O, thou art wise, save where it most behoves thee.
PENT. Where it behoves me most, I there am wise.
BACC. First listen to his words, and weigh them well,
Who from the mountains comes with tidings to thee.
We, be thou sure, will stay; we will not fly.
MESSENGER, PENTHEUS, BACCHUS,
NESS. Pentheus, high sovereign of the Theban state,
Leaving Cithæron, on whose sacred head
The snow, that thaws not, whitens, I am come.
PENT. What are thy tidings? Aught of high import?
MESS. I saw the madding dames that from this land,
To frenzy fir’d, rove with unsandald foot ;
And I am come to tell thee, and the state,
What wond'rous deeds, and more than marvellous,
They do. But I would know if I may speak
Of these with freedom, or with softer phrase
Must clothe th’unwelcome tidings; for I fear
Thy hasty spirit, king, thy rig'rous anger,
And all the monarch swelling in thy soul.
Speak freely, thou from me hast nought to fear;
Nor on the good shall my displeasure fall.
But the more dreadful are the deeds by thee
Related of these Bacchæ, with more weight
Shall my severest vengeance light on him,
Who to these arts allur'd our frentic dames.
MEAS. Now to the mountain summits had I led
My herds, as on the earth the orient sun
Shot his refreshing beams; when I beheld
Three bands of females, to Autonoe one
Obedient, to Agave one, thy mother,
The third to Ino: all were laid asleep;
Beneath them some had spread the boughs of pines,
Some with the leaves of oaks form’d on the ground
Their casual bed, all decently compos’d.
Thou wou'dst not say that goblets full of wine
Inflam'd their sense, or that the wanton pipe
Had led them to the lonely shades to court
The rites of Venus with their paramours.
Thy mother, when the lowings of the herds
Had reach'd her ears, arose, and 'midst her band
Shouted aloud to rouse them from their sleep:
They from their balmy slumbers op'd their eyes,
And started up, but with that modesty
'Twas wonderful to see, the young, the old,
And the unmarried virgins. O'er their necks
Their loose-devolving hair they spread, refix
Their vestments, such whose cinctures were unloos’d,
And o'er them bind the spotted skins of fawns,
With serpents wreathing round their shaded cheeks.
Some holding in their arms a kid, and some
The wolves’wild whelps, taught them to drain their breasts
Swelling with milk, their new-born infants left
At home; then on their heads their garlands place
Of oak, of ivy, and the silvery bloom
Of smilax : one her thyrsus took, and smote.
The rock, out gush'd the pure translucent stream;
Another cast her light wand on the ground,
Instant, so willid the god, a fount of wine
Sprung forth; if any wish'd a softer draught,
These with their fingers op'd the ground, and milk .
Issued in copious streams: and from their spears
With ivy wreath'd the dulcet honey flow'd.
Hadst thou been present, thou wou’dst not, as now,
Revile the god, but, seeing this, with vows
Address him. All the herdsmen gather'd round,
And all the shepherds, with dissentient voice
To descant on these deeds, that struck their sense
With dread and wonder. 'Midst us came a man
Practis’d in city wiles, and train’d to gloze
His hackney'd tongue, who thus bespoke us all:
You, who the hallow'd mountain's pastoral tracts
Inhabit, from her orgies shall we chase