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generally tipsy, and would have broken his neck early in his career, had not the Satyrs held him on his ass's back as he reeled along in the train of his pupil. · After Bacchus was of age, he discovered the culture of the vine and the mode of extracting its precious juice ; but Juno struck him with madness, and drove him forth a wanderer through various parts of the earth. In Phrygia the goddess Rhea cured him and taught him her religious rites ; and then he set out on a progress through Asia, teaching the people the cultivation of the vine. The most famous part of his
wanderings is his expedition to India, which is said to have lasted several years. Returning in triumph, he undertook to introduce his worship into Greece, but was opposed by certain princes who dreaded the disorders and madness it brought with it. Finally he approached his native city Thebes, where his own cousin, Pentheus, son of Agave and grandson of Harmonia and Cadmus, was king. Pentheus, however, had no respect for the new worship, and forbade its rites to be performed. But when it was known that Bacchus was advancing, men and women, young and old, poured forth to meet him and to join his triumphal march.
1 Ovid, Metam. 3:511-733.
Fauns with youthful Bacchus follow; Round about him fair Bacchantes,
Ivy crowns that brow, supernal Bearing cymbals, Autes and thyrses, As the forehead of Apollo,
Wild from Naxian groves or Zante's And possessing youth eternal. Vineyards, sing delirious verses.
It was in vain Pentheus remonstrated, commanded, and threatened. His nearest friends and wisest counsellors begged him not to oppose the god. Their remonstrances only made him the more violent.
§ 103. The Story of Acetes. — Soon the attendants returned who had been despatched to seize Bacchus. They had succeeded in taking one of the Bacchanals prisoner, whom, with his hands tied behind him, they brought before the king. Pentheus, threatening him with death, commanded him to tell who he was and what these new rites were that he presumed to celebrate.
The prisoner, unterrified, replied that he was Acetes of Mæonia ; that his parents, being poor, had left him their fisherman's trade, which he had followed till he had acquired the pilot's art of steering his course by the stars. It once happened that he had touched at the island of Dia, and had sent his men ashore for fresh water. They returned, bringing with them a lad of delicate appearance whom they had found asleep. Judging him to be a noble youth, they thought to detain him in the hope of liberal ransom. But Acetes suspected that some god was concealed under the youth's exterior, and asked pardon for the violence done. Whereupon the sailors, enraged by their lust of gain, exclaimed, “Spare thy prayers for us !” and, in spite of the resistance offered by Acetes, thrust the captive youth on board and set sail.
Then Bacchus (for the youth was indeed he), as if shaking off his drowsiness, asked what the trouble was, and whither they were carrying him. One of the mariners replied, “ Fear nothing; tell us where thou wouldst go, and we will convey thee thither.” “Naxos is my home," said Bacchus; “take me there,
i Longfellow, Drinking Song.
and ye shall be well rewarded.” They promised so to do; but, preventing the pilot from steering toward Naxos, they bore away for Egypt, where they might sell the lad into slavery. Soon the god looked out over the sea, and said in a voice of weeping, “ Sailors, these are not the shores ye promised me; yonder island is not my home. It is small glory ye shall gain by cheating a poor boy.” Acetes wept to hear him; but the crew laughed at both of them, and sped the vessel fast over the sea. All at once it stopped, in mid sea, as fast as if it were fixed on the ground. The men, astonished, pulled at their oars, and spread more sail, but all in vain. Ivy twined round the oars and clung to the sails, with heavy clusters of berries. A vine, laden with grapes, ran up the mast and along the sides of the vessel. The sound of flutes was heard, and the odor of fragrant wine spread all around. The god himself had a chaplet of vine leaves, and bore in his hand a spear wreathed with ivy. Tigers crouched at his feet, and forms of lynxes and spotted panthers played around him. The whole crew became dolphins and swam about the ship. Of twenty men Acetes alone was left. “ Fear not," said the
o god; “steer towards Naxos.”
The pilot obeyed, and when
they arrived there, kindled the altars and celebrated the sacred rites of Bacchus.
So far had Acetes advanced in his narrative, when Pentheus, interrupting, ordered him off to his death. But from this fate the pilot, rendered invisible by his patron deity, was straightway rescued.
Meanwhile the mountain Cithæron seemed alive with worshippers, and the
cries of the Bacchanals resounded on every side. Pentheus, angered by the noise, penetrated through the wood, and reached an open space where the chief scene of the orgies met his eyes. At the same moment the women saw him, among them his mother, Agave, and Autonoë and Ino, her sisters. Taking him for a wild boar, they rushed upon him and tore him to pieces, — his mother shouting, “ Victory! Victory! the glory is ours ! ”
So the worship of Bacchus was established in Greece.
It was on the island of Naxos that Bacchus afterward found Ariadne, — the daughter of Minos, king of Crete, — who had been deserted by her lover, Theseus. How Bacchus comforted her is related in another section.'
Nearer they press, and nearer still in sight,
... But oh! within the heart of this great fight,
er he mard. RS
$ 104. The Choice of King Midas.” — Once Silenus, having wandered from the company of Bacchus in an intoxicated condition, was found by some peasants, who carried him to their king, Midas. Midas entertained him royally, and on the eleventh day restored him in safety to his divine pupil. Whereupon Bacchus offered Midas his choice of a reward. The king asked that whatever he might touch should be changed into gold. Bacchus consented. Midas hastened to put his new-acquired power to the test. A twig of an oak, which he plucked from the branch, became gold in his hand. He took up a stone ; it changed to gold. He touched a sod, with the same result. He took an apple from the tree ; you would have thought he had robbed the garden of the Hesperides. He ordered his servants, then, to set an excellent meal on the table. But, to his dismay, when he touched bread, it hardened in his hand; when he put a morsel to his lips, it defied his teeth. He took a glass of wine, but it flowed down his throat like melted gold.
He strove to divest himself of his power ; he hated the gift he had lately coveted. He raised his arms, all shining with gold, in prayer to Bacchus, begging to be delivered from this glittering destruction. The merciful deity heard, and sent him to wash
1 From The Praise of Dionysus, by Edmund Gosse. 2 Ovid, Metam. II: 85-145.