Agaue and Pentheus (page 483 upper, with art)

Chapter 14: Thebes

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Once Heidelberg, private collection: Attic red-figure pyxis with Pentheus as hunter with two spears, flanked by Mainades on right and Artemis and Apollo on left

H. Philippart, ‘Iconographie des “Bacchantes” d’Euripide,” Revue belge de Philologie et d’Histoire 9.1 (1930), pl. 7b

Beazley Archive Pottery Database

ApB 3.5.2 – Apollodorus, Bibliotheke (Library)

Having traversed Thrace and the whole of India and set up pillars there, he came to Thebes, and forced the women to abandon their houses and rave in Bacchic frenzy on Cithaeron. But Pentheus, whom Agave bore to Echion, had succeeded Cadmus in the kingdom, and he attempted to put a stop to these proceedings. And coming to Cithaeron to spy on the Bacchanals, he was torn limb from limb by his mother Agave in a fit of madness; for she thought he was a wild beast. Greek Text

Met 3.551-733 – Ovid, Metamorphoses

“But now an unarmed boy will conquer Thebes:
a lad whom neither weapons, wars nor steeds
delight; whose ringlets reek with myrrh; adorned
with chaplets, purple and embroidered robes
of interwoven gold. Make way for me!
And I will soon compel him to confess
his father is assumed and all his rites
are frauds.
“If in days gone Acrisius
so held this vain god in deserved contempt,
and shut the Argive gates against his face,
why, therefore, should not Pentheus close the gates
of Thebes, with equal courage—Hence! Away!
Fetch the vile leader of these rioters
in chains! Let not my mandate be delayed.”

Him to restrain his grandsire, Cadmus, strove;
and Athamas, and many of his trusted friends
united in vain efforts to rebuke
his reckless rage; but greater violence
was gained from every admonition.—
his rage increased the more it was restrained,
and injury resulted from his friends.
So have I seen a stream in open course,
run gently on its way with pleasant noise,
but whensoever logs and rocks detained,
it foamed, with violence increased, against

Presently returning came
his servants stained with blood, to whom he said,
“What have ye done with Bacchus?” And to him
they made reply; “Not Bacchus have we seen,
but we have taken his attendant lad,
the chosen servant of his sacred rites.”
And they delivered to the noble king,
a youth whose hands were lashed behind his back.

Then Pentheus, terrible in anger, turned
his awful gaze upon the lad, and though
he scarce deferred his doom, addressed him thus;
“Doomed to destruction, thou art soon to give
example to my people by thy death:
tell me thy name; what are thy parents called;
where is thy land; and wherefore art thou found
attendant on these Bacchanalian rites.”  Continue Reading  Latin Text

Fab 184 Hyginus, Fabulae

PENTHEUS AND AGAVE: Pentheus, son of Echion and Agave, denied that Liber was a god, and refused to introduce his Mysteries. Because of this, Agave his mother, along with her sisters Ino and Autonoe, in madness sent by Liber tore him limb from limb. When Agave came to her senses and saw that at Liber’s instigation she had committed such a crime, she fled from Thebes . In her wanderings she came to the territory of Illyria to King Lycotherses, who received her. Latin Text

Fab 240 – Hyginus, Fabulae

Agave killed Lycotherses in Illyria, in order to give the rule to Cadmus her father. Latin Text

Fab 254 Hyginus, Fabulae

Agave, daughter of Cadmus, in Illyrica killed King Lycotherses and gave the kingdom to her father. Latin Text

VM ΙΙ 83 – Second Vatican Mythographer II – Scriptores rerum mythicarum Latini tres Romae nuper reperti 1, p. 103, ed. G. H. Bode. Celle 1834.

Latin Text

Nonnos, Dionysiaka 46.81-127

Greek Text

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Artistic source edited by Frances Van Keuren, Prof. Emerita, Lamar Dodd School of Art, Univ. of Georgia, January 2019

Literary sources edited by Elena Bianchelli, Senior Lecturer of Classical Languages and Culture, Univ. of Georgia, March 2020

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