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When we left the dwellings of the Theban land and crossed the streams of Asopus, [1045] 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, [1050] 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 [1055] 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, [1060] 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, [1065] 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 1: in this way the stranger drew the mountain bough with his hands and bent it to the earth, doing no mortal's deed. [1070] 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. [1075] 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, [1080] 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.

1 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.

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