|Dance of the Maenards. A Fresco by Pippi de' Giamuzzi, Italy|
In the centre, sat the wine God Dionysus seemingly enthralled at the merrymaking that went around him. He was happy for he did not know any other way of life. He loved casting his spells on these wretched women who left their fathers, husbands, sons just to follow him – just to be happy. Intoxicated not only with the wine but also with a feeling of liberation these women who called themselves M followaenads would do anything that Dionysus commanded. And as was with all the gods, Dionysus took full advantage of it.
Today, in the garden of Thebes, many of the Theben women had joined his band of followers and this merriment was kept in their honour. Dionysus slyly watched the beautiful Agave watching him lustily from far. He had always wanted her but she had chosen another. Well…
"How dare you!" Shouted a young man walking towards him. "How dare you turned my haven into one of your pleasure houses?"
Dionysus laughed contemptuously, "do I need your permission now to go anywhere I want?"
The young man, the King of Thebes- Pentheus was the cousin of Dionysus and there was no love lost between the two.
"I don't want your sinful presence in my land."
"And how do you plan to throw me out?" Dionysus asked cheekily, enjoying the young lad's discomfort.
"I want her back." Pentheus voice was steady.
"Such bravado," said Dionysus. "But why? Your father is dead and I never interfered till he was alive. But now that he has...."
"Are you insane? You cannot turn her into one of your Maenads! These beautiful maidens who can shred a beast to pieces at your call." Pentheus was begging now. "She needs a proper life. You can't turn her into a somnambulist, who roams along with you, without knowing where their destination is."
Dionysus was surprised that anyone could question his way of life. His thoughts had reached his Maenads by now and they were swarming towards him, still dancing and laughing led by the beautiful Agave.
Pentheus looked at Agave and pleaded with her, "let's go home. This life is not for you."
Agave laughed, her beautiful eyes blazing like fire. "What is there not to love about this kind of life? All my sorrow is gone and there is only happiness around me."
"But this is a mirage!" shouted Pentheus. "Soon Dionysus will be tired of you and he'll destroy you as he has done to so many in the past."
"Enough!" Dionysus's voice boomed out and with his anger all the flowers withered around him. A stench of burning flesh replaced the soft floral scent and amidst that stood a quivering Pentheus.
The beautiful maidens started gathering around him but now their beauty was cloaked with their savage intend. And in no time they shred Pentheus to pieces imagining him to be a beast.
Soon it was all over and as the carcass remain of Pentheus lay on the ground Agave kneeled before him and gently placed a kiss on his forehead and whispered, "Now you too will be happy, Son."
Note : In ancient Greece, Maenads were female worshippers of Dionysus, god of wine, whose behaviour was often regarded as an acceptable by conventional society. Maenads also played a role in myth, notably the murder of King Pentheus.