God living among mortals,
God roaming over this beloved land,
Preferring the roughness of the ground beneath my bare feet to the softness of the golden floors of Olympus,
Benevolent to the good,
Teaching the wicked and ignorant with severity and justice,
I accuse man of impiety!
I gave wine to the friend so that he could tell his friend what was deepest in his soul.
I gave wine to the lover so that he could speak to his beloved of the anxieties tormenting him.
I gave wine to the soldier so that he would not flee before the enemy and would defend his country.
But the friend drank the wine and fought with the friend, and the friendship was broken.
And the lover drank the wine and lost patience, and love was lost.
And the soldier drank the wine and persecuted the enemy and killed his wife and children, and humanity wept.
I gave Man drunkenness.
I gave him the ability to hold a mirror up to his darkest thoughts, so that once the madness had passed, he could refine his intellect and better himself.
Man took drunkenness like a child accepts a dangerous toy and ended up hurting himself.
He did not fight his own violence, but justified it to coerce his brothers.
He did not master his desire, but put it at the service of his greed.
He did not grow ashamed of his cowardice, but forgot it by befuddling his memory.
But the Gods are tired of giving advice that no man heeds.
Man will be his own executioner.
When I was still striding freely over the world,
The people would run up when they heard the singing of my Bacchantes and would leave everything to follow me.
Naked and sleeping under the stars, man would pay homage to our universal mother.
Now, Demeter weeps as the land is sterile and our Mother Earth weeps as the air is poisoned.
But, man, beware!
For soon the vine will produce no more grapes and the wheat will no longer send up any ears.
When that day comes, don’t run to me,
Because I will be as deaf to your lamentations as you were to my advice.
I, Dionysus, son of Zeus and Semele,
I abandon Man to the sad destiny he has chosen for himself.
Translated by Wendy Cross