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,
tearing his flesh, while Autonoe and the whole crowd of the Bacchae pressed on. All were making noise together, he groaning as much as he had life left in him, while they shouted in victory. One of them bore his arm, another a foot, boot and all. His ribs were stripped bare
from their tearings. The whole band, hands bloodied, were playing a game of catch with Pentheus' flesh.
His body lies in different places, part under the rugged rocks, part in the deep foliage of the woods, not easy to be sought. His miserable head,
which his mother happened to take in her hands, she fixed on the end of a thyrsos and carries through the midst of Kithairon like that of a savage lion, leaving her sisters among the Maenads' dances. She is coming inside these walls, preening herself
on the ill-fated prey, calling Bacchus her fellow hunter, her accomplice in the chase, the glorious victor—in whose service she wins a triumph of tears.
And as for me, I will depart out of the way of this calamity before Agave reaches the house.
Soundness of mind and reverence for the affairs of the gods is best; and this, I think, is the wisest possession for those mortals who adopt it.