PENTHEUS: Do you hold your rites
during the day or night?
DIONYSUS: Mostly by night.
The darkness is well suited to devotion.
PENTHEUS: Better suited to lechery and seducing women.
DIONYSUS: You can find debauchery by daylight too.

[Πενθεύς: τὰ δ᾽ ἱερὰ νύκτωρ ἢ μεθ᾽ ἡμέραν τελεῖς;
Διόνυσος: νύκτωρ τὰ πολλά: σεμνότητ᾽ ἔχει σκότος.
Πενθεύς: τοῦτ᾽ ἐς γυναῖκας δόλιόν ἐστι καὶ σαθρόν.
Διόνυσος: κἀν ἡμέρᾳ τό γ᾽ αἰσχρὸν ἐξεύροι τις ἄν.]

Euripides (485?-406? BC) Greek tragic dramatist
Bacchæ [Βάκχαι], l. 485ff (405 BC) [tr. Arrowsmith (1960)]

(Source (Greek)). Alternate translations:

PENTHEUS: By night or day these sacred rites perform'st thou ?
BACCHUS: Mostly by nighty for venerable is darkness.
PENTHEUS: To women this is treacherous and unsafe.
BACCHUS: E'en in the broadest day may shame be found.
[tr. Wodhull (1809)]

PENTHEUS: Do you perform the rites by night or by day?
DIONYSUS: Mostly by night; darkness conveys awe.
PENTHEUS: This is treacherous towards women, and unsound.
DIONYSUS: Even during the day someone may devise what is shameful.
[tr. Buckley (1850)]

PENTHEUS: Performest thou these rites by night or day?
DIONYSUS: Most part by night -- night hath more solemn awe.
PENTHEUS: A crafty rotten plot to catch our women.
DIONYSUS: Even in the day bad men can do bad deeds.
[tr. Milman (1865)]

PENTHEUS: Dost thou perform thy rites by day; or night?
DIONYSUS: Chiefly by night; darkness gives dignity.
PENTHEUS: Craft rather and seduction it denotes.
DIONYSUS: Base acts are oft made manifest by day.
[tr. Rogers (1872), l. 462ff]

PENTHEUS: Is it by night or day thou performest these devotions?
DIONYSUS: By night mostly; darkness lends solemnity.
PENTHEUS: Calculated to entrap and corrupt women.
DIONYSUS: Day too for that matter may discover shame.
[tr. Coleridge (1891)]

PENTHEUS: By night or day dost thou perform his rites? ⁠
DIONYSUS: Chiefly by night: gloom lends solemnity.
PENTHEUS: Ay -- and for women snares of lewdness too.
DIONYSUS: In the day too may lewdness be devised.
[tr. Way (1898)]

PENTHEUS: How is thy worship held, by night or day?
DIONYSUS: Most oft by night; 'tis a majestic thing,
The darkness.
PENTHEUS: Ha! with women worshipping?
'Tis craft and rottenness!
DIONYSUS: By day no less,
Whoso will seek may find unholiness.
[tr. Murray (1902)]

PENTHEUS: Do you celebrate your sacred acts at night or by day?
DIONYSUS: At night for the most party. Darkness possesses solemnity.
PENTHEUS: Darkness for women is deceitful and corrupt!
DIONYSUS: Even in daytime one could discover disgraceful behavior.
[tr. Kirk (1970)]

PENTHEUS: Do you celebrate your mysteries by night or by day?
DIONYSUS: Chiefly by night. Darkness induces religious awe.
PENTHEUS: For women darkness is treacherous and impure.
DIONYSUS: Impurity can be practiced by daylight too.
[tr. Vellacott (1973)]

PENTHEUS: These sacred practices of your god, the worship,
The rites of great devotion, do they
Hold at night, or in the day.
DIONYSUS: [...] We hold our rites mostly at night
Because it is cooler. And the lamps
Lend atmosphere and feeling to the heart in worship.
PENTHEUS: And I say night hours are dangerous
Lascivious hours, lechery ....
DIONYSUS: You'll find debauchery in daylight, too.
[tr. Soyinka (1973)]

PENTHEUS: The rites -- at night or by day you perform them?
DIONYSUS: At night, mostly; there’s majesty in darkness.
PENTHEUS: And for women there’s trickery and smut.
DIONYSUS: Even by day one may discover shame.
[tr. Neuburg (1988)]

PENTHEUS: Do you perform your mysteries
during the day or by night?
DIONYSUS: Mostly at night.
The dark is more conducive to worship.
PENTHEUS: You mean to lechery and bringing out the filth in women.
DIONYSUS: Those who look for filth, can find it at the height of noon.
[tr. Cacoyannis (1982)]

PENTHEUS: Do you worship in daylight or at night?
DIONYSUS: Mostly at night. Darkness is most sacred.
PENTHEUS: That is treacherous and unwholesome for women.
DIONYSUS: Some find shame even in daylight.
[tr. Blessington (1993)]

PENTHEUS: Do you celebrate these sacred rites at night or in the day?
THE STRANGER: At night mostly, since darkness induces devotion.
PENTHEUS: No, darkness is devious and corrupts women.
THE STRANGER: Even in the day someone could devise shameful deeds.
[tr. Esposito (1998)]

PENTHEUS: You practice this cult by night or by day?
DIONYSUS: Mostly at night. Darkness lends solemnity.
PENTHEUS: Darkness is just a filthy trap for women.
DIONYSUS: Some people can dig up dirt in daytime, too.
[tr. Woodruff (1999)]

PENTHEUS: Do you perform the rites by day? -- or night?
DIONYSUS: Mostly at night -- because the darkness has its holiness.
PENTHEUS: It's treacherous, for women, and corrupts them.
DIONYSUS: What's shameful can be found even by light of day.
[tr. Gibbons/Segal (2000), l. 571ff]

PENTHEUS: Do you practice your rites at night or by day?
DIONYSUS: Mostly at night: darkness lends solemnity.
PENTHEUS: This is an immoral trick aimed at women.
DIONYSUS: Someone could engage in shameful deeds even by day.
[tr. Kovacs (2002)]

PENTHEUS: And you perform these practices at night?
DIONYSUS: Man's true nature's seen in darkness not in light.
PENTHEUS: While darkness shrouds a woman's true duplicity.
DIONYSUS: Duplicity's not found in night exclusively.
[tr. Teevan (2002)]

PENTHEUS: Tell me, when do you hold your worship? By clear day, or dark night?
DIONYSUS: Mostly by night -- it is a majestic time.
PENTHEUS: Indeed! A majestic time to take advantage of women. Shameful!
DIONYSUS: There are enough shameful things done by day. And enough shameful thoughts in your head, I am sure!
[tr. Rao/Wolf (2004)]

PENTHEUS: These ... holy orgies of yours… do you perform them during the day or in the night?
DIONYSUS: Most of them during the night. Darkness adds a certain modesty.
PENTHEUS: That’s quite a dubious thing for the women… and rather lecherous, I’d say.
DIONYSUS: Shame, of course can be seen during the day, too, if it exists and if one were to look for it.
[tr. Theodoridis (2005)]

PENTHEUS: Do you conduct the mysteries in the night or by day?
DIONYSUS: Us'ally by night, for darkness holds reverence.
PENTHEUS: Is this thing deceitful or unwholesome towards women?
DIONYSUS: One might also uncover shameful things i' the day.
[tr. Valerie (2005)]

PENTHEUS: When you dance these rites,
is it at night or during daylight hours?
DIONYSUS: Mainly at night. Shadows confer solemnity.
PENTHEUS: And deceive the women. It's all corrupt!
DIONYSUS: One can do shameful things in daylight, too.
[tr. Johnston (2008), l. 604ff]

PENTHEUS: These mysteries. Do you practise them by day, or night?
DIONYSUS: Mostly by night. Dark is better for devotion.
PENTHEUS: Better for lechery and the taking of women.
DIONYSUS: That happens in daylight too.
[tr. Robertson (2014)]

PENTHEUS: And are these rites conducted by day or by night?
DIONYSUS: Night, for the most part. It’s so much more ... spiritual. Good for devotion.
PENTHEUS: The night’s a trap for women’s virtue.
DIONYSUS: And the day isn’t? You don’t get out much, do you?
[tr. Pauly (2019)]

PENTHEUS: Do you perform your rituals by day or night?
DIONYSUS: By night. We believe that darkness is holy.
PENTHEUS: It's a cunning time to force filth upon women.
DIONYSUS: Vice thrives in daylight, too.
[tr. Behr/Foster (2019)]

PENTHEUS: Do you perform the sacred rites [hiera] by night or by day?
DIONYSUS: Mostly by night; darkness conveys awe.
PENTHEUS: This is treacherous towards women, and unsound.
DIONYSUS: Even during the day you can find what is shameful.
[tr. Buckley/Sens/Nagy (2020)]

Added on 28-Mar-23 | Last updated 28-Mar-23
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