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Respondent each to each the sprightly song
To Bacchus rais'd. Th’ unhappy Pentheus here,
The female band not seeing, thus bespoke
The stranger, Where I stand my searching eye
Descries not their employ; let me ascend
Some pine that waves his tall top o'er yon mound,
Thence might I view distinct their shameful deeds.
There with amaze a wond'rous act I saw,
A pine's aerial branch the stranger took,
And downward drew it, drew it to the ground,
Till, as one bends a bow, or curves the line
That marks the rolling wheel's circumference,
The stranger with his hands the mountain pine
Drew down, and bent it to the earth, a deed
Exceeding mortal strength: amidst the boughs
He seated Pentheus, to its upright state
Then let the branch with gentle motion rise,
Lest the too quick and violent recoil
Should toss him from his hold : and now the tree
Stood firm its upright height, and bore my lord,
Seen by the Bacchæ, more than seeing them,
As more conspicuous in his lofty seat.
And now the stranger was no more beheld;
But from th' ethereal height a voice was heard,
Of Bacchus, it should seem, calling aloud,
Ye blooming females, him I bring, who held
Your train, and me, and my mysterious rites
In proud derision: pour your vengeance on him.
He spoke, and to the sky, and to the earth
Display'd a steady blaze of sacred light.
The air was hush'd, through all the pastur'd grove
And all its leaves a solemn silence reign'd, -
Nor sound of beast was heard: the Theban dames,
The voice not heard distinct, start from their seats,
And roll their eyes around: again he gave
The dread command: but when they clearly knew
The bidding of the god, with rapid speed,
Swift as the flight of doves, they forward rush'd,
Agave, and the dames of royal blood,
And all the Bacche: with the god inspir'd
They bounded o'er the torrent of the grove,
L' And up the crags; but when my lord they saw
High-seated on the pine, they mount a cliff
Full opposite, and at his head first hurl
What of the rock their hands could grasp: and some
The broken branches of a pine tree dart:
Others aloft at his uneasy seat
The thyrsus cast, but reach'd him not, the height
Beyond their aim, where my unhappy lord
Astonied sate, nor had what to devise.
And now the boughs of oaks, and their tough roots
Rent from the ground, nor wanted they for this
Poles arm’d with iron, in a vollied storm
They hurld: but when Agave saw their toils
Wasted in vain, she cried, Haste, form a ring,
And grasp the stem around, that we may seize
This mounted savage; let him not divulge
The secret orgies of the god: at once
A thousand hands were to the pine applied,
And instant from the ground uprooted it;
Pentheus, high-seated, with it from his height
Came headlong to the earth, with many a groan,
For mischief now he saw was nigh at hand.
Agave, as the priestess of the rites,
Began the murd'rous work, and rushes on him;
The mitre from his hair he rent, that known
His mother might not kill him; on her cheek
He plac'd his soothing hand, and suppliant said,
'Tis Pentheus, O my mother, 'tis thy son,
Thine and Echion's son, who sues to thee;
Have pity on me, mother, do not kill
Thy son for his offence. She foam'd with rage,
Rolling her eyes askance, nor harbour'd thoughts
She ought to harbour, frentic with the god,
Nor listen’d to his pray'rs; but his left hand
She seiz’d, and pressing on his side tore off
his pray'rs: "ic with the thoughts
His shoulder, with a force not hers, the deed
Made easy by the god. On th’ other side
Ino assisted in the dreadful work,
Rending his flesh: Autonoe hung upon him,
And all the Bacchæ: every voice was rais'd
At once; his dying breath was spent in groans;
They shouted wild: one snatch'd an arm, and one
A sandal'd foot, dismember'd by their force
Lay the bare trunk; in their ensanguin'd hands
Each hurld the flesh of Pentheus to and fro;
His limbs were scatter'd; on the craggy rocks
Some, on the close-entwined thickets some,
No easy search; the miserable head
His mother, as she caught it in her hands,
Fix'd on her thyrsus, o'er Cithæron bears
High-lifted, as some mountain lion's spoils :
Leaving her sisters with the Mænades,
And proud of her ill-fated prize, her steps
She this way bends, on Bacchus calling loud,
The partner of the chace and of the prize,
The glorious conqueror, who this conquest gain'd
Of tears to her. This horrid scene I fled,
E'er to this house Agave should return.
A modest awe and reverence of the gods
I deem the most distinguish'd ornament,
And wisdom's noblest height in mortal man.
CHOR. To Bacchus raise the choral strain,
And celebrate the god for Pentheus slain.
This tyrant of the dragon race,
Our hallow'd haunts to trace,
Conceal'd a female stole beneath,
The thyrsus shook with impious pride,
The faithful wand of death,
And on his ruin rush'd, a bull his guide.
Ye Theban dames, to Bacchus dear,
Your god hath led the vaunting foe,
His hopes of conquest vanish'd into air,
To groans, to tears, to woe.
A glorious conquest, when her hand
With her son's gushing blood distain'd
The mother rais’d. –
No more: I see her; to this royal house
Agave speeds, rolling her furious eyes
Askance. Receive th' associate of the god.
- AGAVE, CHORUS.
Agav. Ye Asiatic Bacchæ
Why that call ?
Agav. We from the mountains bring a new-slain prize,
A glorious capture, to this royal house.
CHOR. I see it, and receive thee to our band.
AGAV. I caught him without toils, without a troop
Of hunters, this young lion : thou may'st see him.
CHOR. In what lone wild ?
But whose hand first wounded him? AGAV. 'Tis mine, it is my prize. CHOR.
Happy Agave! AGAV. My name amidst the bacchic train is fam'd :
What other dame from Cadmus CHOR.
What of Cadmus? agav. Who, sprung from Cadmus, save myself, myself,
Once touch'd this savage ?
Happy in thy prize!
AGAY. Share then the feast.
Alas, what should I share ?
AGAV. 'Tis but a whelp: beneath his shaggy head :
The hair yet soft begins to clothe his cheeks:
This brinded mane is the rough grace, that marks
The mountain savage. Bacchus to this chace,
The hunter Bacchus, rous'd the Mænades,
Shewing his skill.
The chace delights our king.
AGAV. Thou dost commend him..
What do I commend ?
AGAV. The Thebans soon, and Pentheus too, my son,
Shall praise his mother, who this glorious prize
Took gloriously, this lion-gender'd prize. CHOR. Dost thou exult!
. I joy, I joy in deeds So great, so glorious, by my hand perform’d. CHOR. Shew then, unhappy, lo thy citizens
Shew the proud conquest thou hast brought with thee. AGAV. You, who the beauteous-structurd tow'rs of Thebes
Inhabit, cone, daughters of Cadmus, come,
And see this prize, this savage, which I caught
Not grasping the Thessalian spear, nor round
Spreading the toils; but with these vig'rous arms
Of snowy whiteness; this I make my boast,
And the fine artist forms the spear in vain;
For with these hands I caught him, with these hands
I rent the bleeding savage limb from limb.
Where is my aged father? let him come:
Where is my son, my Pentheus ? He will fix
High on the sculptur'd pillar, that supports
The fretted roof, this head, the lion's spoils
Which in the chace I caught, and bring with me.
CADMUS, AGAVE, CHORUS.
CADM. Follow me, you that bear the wretched load
Of Pentheus; my attendants, follow me;
For to the house I bear his body, found
With toilsome search along Cithæron's heights
Rent piecemeal, and the members scatter'd wide,
With pain collected in the mazy wood.
For as the gates I enter'd with the seer,
Hoary Tiresias, of the daring deeds
Wrought by my daughters in their bacchic rage
I heard; and back returning to the heights
I bring my son, slain by the Mænades.
The mother of Actæon there I saw,
For as the gate of the daring their bacch