Euripides. The Tragedies of Euripides. Vol. I. Buckley, Theodore Alois, translator. London: Henry G. Bohn, 1850.
to rejoice at troubles once they have actually taken place, women.
Tell me, speak, what kind of a death did he die, the unjust man who did unjust things?
When we left the dwellings of the Theban land and crossed the streams of Asopus,
we began to ascend the heights of Kithairon, Pentheus and I—for I was following my master—and the stranger who was our guide to the sight. First we sat in a grassy vale,
keeping our feet and voices quiet, so that we might see them without being seen. There was a little valley surounded by precipices, irrigated with streams, shaded by pine trees, where the Maenads were sitting, their hands busy with delightful labors. Some of them were crowning again
the worn thyrsos, making it leafy with ivy, while some, like colts freed from the painted yoke, were singing a Bacchic melody to one another. And the unhappy Pentheus said, not seeing the crowd of women: Stranger,
from where we are standing I cannot see these false Maenads. But on the hill, ascending a lofty pine, I might view properly the shameful acts of the Maenads. And then I saw the stranger perform a marvelous deed. For seizing hold of the lofty top-most branch of the pine tree,
he pulled it down, pulled it, pulled it to the dark earth. It was bent just as a bow or a curved wheel, when it is marked out by a compass, describes a circular course [*](The sense of the text here is not clear. The translation (which follows Dodds) assumes that the curved wheel is not a hollow circle connected to the hub by spokes, but a single piece of wood which has been cut into the shape of a circle. In the action described, a peg (τόρνος) is fixed into the center of the word-section. A string with a piece of chalk on one end is then attached to the peg, and the chalk, held tight against the string, is able to mark out an even circle. The bending of the tree thus resembles the circular path taken by the chalk.): in this way the stranger drew the mountain bough with his hands and bent it to the earth, doing no mortal’s deed.
He sat Pentheus down on the pine branch, and let it go upright through his hands steadily, taking care not to shake him off. The pine stood firmly upright into the sky, with my master seated on its back.
He was seen by the Maenads more than he saw them, for sitting on high he was all but apparent, and the stranger was no longer anywhere to be seen, when a voice, Dionysus as I guess, cried out from the air: Young women,
I bring the one who has made you and me and my rites a laughing-stock. Now punish him! And as he said this a light of holy fire was placed between heaven and earth. The air became quiet and the woody glen
kept its leaves silent, nor would you have heard the sounds of animals. But they, not having heard the sound clearly, stood upright and looked all around. He repeated his order, and when the daughters of Kadmos recognized the clear command of Bacchus,
they rushed forth, swift as a dove, running with eager speed of feet, his mother Agave, and her sisters, and all the Bacchae. They leapt through the torrent-streaming valley and mountain cliffs, frantic with the inspiration of the god.
When they saw my master sitting in the pine, first they climbed a rock towering opposite the tree and began to hurl at him boulders violently thrown. Some aimed with pine branches and other women hurled their thyrsoi through the air
at Pentheus, a sad target indeed. But they did not reach him, for the wretched man, caught with no way out, sat at a height too great for their eagerness. Finally like lightning they smashed oak branches and began to tear up the roots of the tree with ironless levers.
When they did not succeed in their toils, Agave said: Come, standing round in a circle, each seize a branch, Maenads, so that we may catch the beast who has climbed aloft, and so that he does not make public the secret dances of the god. They applied countless hands
to the pine and dragged it up from the earth. Pentheus fell crashing to the ground from his lofty seat, wailing greatly: for he knew he was in terrible trouble. His mother, as priestess, began the slaughter,
and fell upon him. He threw the headband from his head so that the wretched Agave might recognize and not kill him. Touching her cheek, he said: It is I, mother, your son, Pentheus, whom you bore in the house of Echion.
Pity me, mother, and do not kill me, your child, for my sins. But she, foaming at the mouth and twisting her eyes all about, not thinking as she ought, was possessed by Bacchus, and he did not persuade her.
Seizing his left arm at the elbow and propping her foot against the unfortunate man’s side, she tore out his shoulder, not by her own strength, but the god gave facility to her hands. Ino began to work on the other side,