The Story of Pentheus

This sad Event gave blind Tiresias Fame,
Through Greece establish'd in a Prophet's Name
Th' un-hallow'd Pentheus only durst deride
The cheated People, and their Eyeless Guide.
To whom the Prophet in his Fury said,
Shaking the hoary Honours of his Head;
" 'Twere well, presumptuous Man, 'twere well for thee
" If thou wert Eyeless too, and blind, like me:
" For the Time comes, nay, 'tis already here,
" When the young God's Solemnities appear;
" Which, if thou dost not with just Rites adorn,
" Thy impious Carcass, into Pieces torn,
" Shall strew the Woods, and hang on ev'ry Thorn.
" Then, then, remember what I now foretel,
" And own the blind Tiresias saw too well.
Still Pentheus scorns him, and derides his Skill,
But Time did all the Prophet's Threats fulfil.
For now thro' prostrate Greece young Bacchus rode,
Whilst howling Matrons celebrate the God.
All Ranks and Sexes to his Orgies ran,
To mingle in the Pomps, and fill the Train.
When Pentheus thus his wicked Rage express'd;
" What Madness, Thebans , has your Souls possess'd?
" Can hollow Timbrels, can a drunken Shout,
" And the lewd Clamours of a beastly Rout,
" Thus quell your Courage? Can the weak Alarm
" Of Womens Yells those stubborn Souls disarm,
" Whom nor the Sword nor Trumpet e'er could fright,
" Nor the loud Din and Horror of a Fight?
" And you, our Sires, who left your old Abodes,
" And fix'd in foreign Earth your Country Gods;
" Will you without a Stroak your City yield,
" And poorly quit an undisputed Field?
" But you, whose Youth and Vigour should inspire
" Heroick Warmth, and kindle Martial Fire,
" Whom burnish'd Arms and crested Helmets grace,
" Not flow'ry Garlands and a painted Face;
" Remember him to whom you stand ally'd:
" The Serpent for his Well of Waters dy'd
" He fought the Strong; do you his Courage show,
" And gain a Conquest o'er a Feeble Foe.
" If Thebes must fall, oh might the Fates afford
" A nobler Doom from Famine, Fire, or Sword!
" Then might the Thebans perish with Renown:
" But now a beardless Victor sacks the Town;
" Whom nor the prancing Steed, nor pond'rous Shield,
" Nor the hack'd Helmet, nor the dusty Field,
" But the soft Joys of Luxury and Ease,
" The purple Vests, and flow'ry Garlands please.
" Stand then aside, I'll make the Counterfeit
" Renounce his God-head, and confess the Cheat.
" Acrisius from the Grecian Walls repell'd
" This boasted Pow'r; why then should Pentheus yield?
" Go quickly, drag th' audacious Boy to Me;
" I'll try the Force of his Divinity.
Thus did th' audacious Wretch those Rites profane;
His Friends dissuade th' audacious Wretch in vain;
In vain his Grandfire urg'd him to give o'er
His impious Threats; the Wretch but raves the more.
So have I seen a River gently glide,
In a smooth Course, and inoffensive Tide;
But if with Dams its Current we restrain,
It bears down all, and Foams along the Plain.
But now his Servants came besmear'd with Blood,
Sent by their haughty Prince to seize the God:
The God they found not in the frantick Throng,
But dragg'd a zealous Votary along.
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