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Dionysus

Dionysus
I, the son of Zeus, have come to this land of the Thebans—Dionysus, whom once Semele, Kadmos' daughter, bore, delivered by a lightning-bearing flame. And having taken a mortal form instead of a god's, [5] I am here at the fountains of Dirke and the water of Ismenus. And I see the tomb of my thunder-stricken mother here near the palace, and the remnants of her house, smouldering with the still living flame of Zeus' fire, the everlasting insult of Hera against my mother. [10] I praise Kadmos, who has made this place hallowed, the shrine of his daughter; and I have covered it all around with the cluster-bearing leaf of the vine.

I have left the wealthy lands of the Lydians and Phrygians, the sun-parched plains of the Persians, [15] and the Bactrian walls, and have passed over the wintry land of the Medes, and blessed Arabia, and all of Asia which lies along the coast of the salt sea with its beautifully-towered cities full of Hellenes and barbarians mingled together; [20] and I have come to this Hellene city first, having already set those other lands to dance and established my mysteries there, so that I might be a deity manifest among men. In this land of Hellas, I have first excited Thebes to my cry, fitting a fawn-skin to my body and [25] taking a thyrsos in my hand, a weapon of ivy. For my mother's sisters, the ones who least should, claimed that I, Dionysus, was not the child of Zeus, but that Semele had conceived a child from a mortal father and then ascribed the sin of her bed to Zeus, [30] a trick of Kadmos', for which they boasted that Zeus killed her, because she had told a false tale about her marriage. Therefore I have goaded them from the house in frenzy, and they dwell in the mountains, out of their wits; and I have compelled them to wear the outfit of my mysteries. [35] And all the female offspring of Thebes, as many as are women, I have driven maddened from the house, and they, mingled with the daughters of Kadmos, sit on roofless rocks beneath green pines. For this city must learn, even if it is unwilling, [40] that it is not initiated into my Bacchic rites, and that I plead the case of my mother, Semele, in appearing manifest to mortals as a divinity whom she bore to Zeus.

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    • E.C. Marchant, Commentary on Thucydides: Book 2, 2.7
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