Friday, 5 August 2016

Pentheus

                                          In Greek mythology, Pentheus was described as the king of Thebes. He was the son of Echion (one of the five Spartoi) and Agave (daughter of  Cadmus and Harmonia). In some version, Pentheus had a son named Menoeceus, who became the father of Creon and Jocasta. When Cadmus decided to step off the throne of the Thebes due to old age, he gave the reign to his grandson Pentheus.

                     Dionysus came to Thebes after a long journey in Asian countries in the form of a mortal man, wishing to introduce his rites in the city where his mother Semele had died stricken by thunder because of Hera's wrath. And he also chose Thebes, as the first city in Hellas to know the vine and its rites because Semele's sisters, out of jealousy, denied that he was the son of Zeus. For they declared that Semele had sexual relation with a mortal man, and that Cadmus, in order to save his daughter's reputation, invented the story of Zeus' love for her, adding that because of that unholy lie Zeus had killed her. So, in order to punish the intriguers and show them what it meant not to be initiated in the Bacchic rites, Dionysus came to the city, and made the Theban women leave their houses in frenzy, having them dwell in the Mount Cithaeron , out of their wits, and wearing the outfits of his mysteries. And he decided that this mad state of affairs should proceed until they acknowledged that Semele had borne a son to Zeus.

                Pentheus banned the worship of the god Dionysus, driving him away from all sacrifices, and making no mention of him in his prayers. Pentheus captured Dionysus, and thinking he was simply a follower of the cult, imprisoned him; however, the chains would not bind the god and the cell gate would not close. Even the seer Tiresias had warned Pentheus long before.....
"Unless you worship Dionysus as is his due, you will be torn into a thousand pieces and scattered everywhere …"

                             Dionysus managed to convince Pentheus to dress as a woman and go to Cithaeron, in order to see the frenzied women engage in sexual activities. He climbed on a tree to see better, but in their madness, the women thought he was a wild animal. They pulled him off the tree and tore him apart limb from limb. The first to actually attack Pentheus was his mother, who only realised what had happened once she had returned to the city.

                                                 After Pentheus's death, Cadmus, along with his wife Harmonia and their daughter Agave, left Thebes, and having come to Illyria, he took the throne from King Lycotherses, whom Agave killed, and reigned there until the end of his life.

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