“Who Killed Him?” An Allegory from Euripides

Euripides, Bacchae 1259-1289

Kadmos
Oh, gods. Once you all understand what you have done,
You will feel a terrible pain. But if you stay permanently
forever as you are now
You will not be happy but you will not seem to be cursed.

Agave
What of this is not noble or is painful?

Kadmos
First move your gaze to the sky.

Agave
Look! What is this you are telling me to see?

Kadmos
Is this the same or does it seem to you to have changed?

Agave
It shines brighter than before and it is clearer

Kadmos
Is this high still there in your mind?

Agave
I don’t understand what you’re saying. But I think
I am somewhat aware, that I am coming down from my earlier thoughts.

Kadmos
Would you hear then and answer me clearly?

Agave
Father, I have forgotten what we said earlier.

Kadmos
To what home did you go after you were married?

Agave
You gave me to Ekhiôn, one of the sewn-men, people say.

Kadmos
Who is the child born to your husband at home?

Agave
Pentheus, the son shared by his father and me.

Kadmos
Whose face do you hold then in your hands?

Agave
A lion’s…that’s what my fellow hunters say…

Kadmos
Look again, carefully. It is a small labor to see.

Agave
Ah, what do I see? What is this I hold in my hands?

Kadmos
Examine it and learn it more clearly.

Agave
I see the greatest pain, what kind of wretch am I…

Kadmos
Does it seem to look like a lion to you?

Agave
No…but, oh wretched me I am holding Pentheus’ head…

Kadmos
This was mourned before you could see it, at least.

Agave
Who killed him? How did he end up in my hands?

Kadmos
How horrible a truth appears at the wrong time.

Agave
Tell me! How my heart jumps at the future….

Kadmos
You killed him. And your sisters too.

 ΚΑΔΜΟΣ
φεῦ φεῦ· φρονήσασαι μὲν οἷ᾿ ἐδράσατε
ἀλγήσετ᾿ ἄλγος δεινόν· εἰ δὲ διὰ τέλους
ἐν τῷδ᾿ ἀεὶ μενεῖτ᾿ ἐν ᾧ καθέστατε,
οὐκ εὐτυχοῦσαι δόξετ᾿ οὐχὶ δυστυχεῖν.

ΑΓΑΥΗ
τί δ᾿ οὐ καλῶς τῶνδ᾿ ἢ τί λυπηρῶς ἔχει;

ΚΑΔΜΟΣ
πρῶτον μὲν ἐς τόνδ᾿ αἰθέρ᾿ ὄμμα σὸν μέθες.

ΑΓΑΥΗ
ἰδού· τί μοι τόνδ᾿ ἐξυπεῖπας εἰσορᾶν;

ΚΑΔΜΟΣ
ἔθ᾿ αὑτὸς ἤ σοι μεταβολὰς ἔχειν δοκεῖ;

ΑΓΑΥΗ
λαμπρότερος ἢ πρὶν καὶ διειπετέστερος.

ΚΑΔΜΟΣ
τὸ δὲ πτοηθὲν τόδ᾿ ἔτι σῇ ψυχῇ πάρα;

ΑΓΑΥΗ
οὐκ οἶδα τοὔπος τοῦτο. γίγνομαι δέ πως
ἔννους, μετασταθεῖσα τῶν πάρος φρενῶν.

ΚΑΔΜΟΣ
κλύοις ἂν οὖν τι κἀποκρίναι᾿ ἂν σαφῶς;

ΑΓΑΥΗ
ὡς ἐκλέλησμαί γ᾿ ἃ πάρος εἴπομεν, πάτερ.

ΚΑΔΜΟΣ
ἐς ποῖον ἦλθες οἶκον ὑμεναίων μέτα;

ΑΓΑΥΗ
Σπαρτῷ μ᾿ ἔδωκας, ὡς λέγουσ᾿, Ἐχίονι.

ΚΑΔΜΟΣ
τίς οὖν ἐν οἴκοις παῖς ἐγένετο σῷ πόσει;

ΑΓΑΥΗ
Πενθεύς, ἐμῇ τε καὶ πατρὸς κοινωνίᾳ.

ΚΑΔΜΟΣ
τίνος πρόσωπον δῆτ᾿ ἐν ἀγκάλαις ἔχεις;

ΑΓΑΥΗ
λέοντος, ὥς γ᾿ ἔφασκον αἱ θηρώμεναι.

ΚΑΔΜΟΣ
σκέψαι νυν ὀρθῶς· βραχὺς ὁ μόχθος εἰσιδεῖν.

ΑΓΑΥΗ
ἔα, τί λεύσσω; τί φέρομαι τόδ᾿ ἐν χεροῖν;

ἄθρησον αὐτὸ καὶ σαφέστερον μάθε.

ΑΓΑΥΗ
ὁρῶ μέγιστον ἄλγος ἡ τάλαιν᾿ ἐγώ.

ΚΑΔΜΟΣ
μῶν σοι λέοντι φαίνεται προσεικέναι;

ΑΓΑΥΗ
οὔκ, ἀλλὰ Πενθέως ἡ τάλαιν᾿ ἔχω κάρα.

ΚΑΔΜΟΣ
ᾠμωγμένον γε πρόσθεν ἢ σὲ γνωρίσαι.

ΑΓΑΥΗ
τίς ἔκτανέν νιν; πῶς ἐμὰς ἦλθ᾿ ἐς χέρας;

ΚΑΔΜΟΣ
δύστην᾿ ἀλήθει᾿, ὡς ἐν οὐ καιρῷ πάρει.

ΑΓΑΥΗ
λέγ᾿, ὡς τὸ μέλλον καρδία πήδημ᾿ ἔχει.

ΚΑΔΜΟΣ
σύ νιν κατέκτας καὶ κασίγνηται σέθεν.

Homer, Odyssey 1.30-32

“Mortals! They are always blaming the gods
and saying that evil comes from us when they themselves
suffer pain beyond their lot because of their own recklessness.”

ὢ πόποι, οἷον δή νυ θεοὺς βροτοὶ αἰτιόωνται.
ἐξ ἡμέων γάρ φασι κάκ’ ἔμμεναι• οἱ δὲ καὶ αὐτοὶ
σφῇσιν ἀτασθαλίῃσιν ὑπὲρ μόρον ἄλγε’ ἔχουσιν

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