Unto this land I come, Zeus’ son,
Dionysus, he whom Semele of yore,
‘Mid the dread midwifery of lightning fire, bore.
My followers, my Bacchae, gathered on the sacred hill. They gave praise to Gaia, the Earth Mother herself. They called my son, Orpheus, to aid them in the bardic arts. They called on Hermes to help them open the gate to the other worlds and bring their praise to me.
Who am I? I am the god of wine, the god of ecstasy, the god of madness. I escort you to “the other,” be it through the magic of the theater or passage to the Underworld. They also called Aphrodite, goddess of passion, my one-time lover, who brings another form of madness.
My bakchoi and bakchai danced wildly to raise the snake energy, the energy that rises up their spines as the snake rises and wraps around my thrysus. Then they tore apart (cornbread) animals in their ecstasy.
My rites have been completed. My devotees’ duty has been fulfilled. They are the few that understand. It was said best many of your generations ago by one who honored me in my theater, in a play named after my followers.
CADMUS Of all the land, join we alone the dance?
TERESIAS All else misjudge; we alone are the wise.
Quotes from Euripides. Bacchae. Trans. Henry Hart Millman. 1865.