The Bacchae- A Contemporary Adaptation

Hello hello and welcome to this week’s short story, which was written for The Writer’s Mess challenge of writing a Greek Myth adaptation. I decided to write about Dionysus, and do a contemporary take on The Bacchae. It’s a little odd, and in first person, which you will see again for my Norse Myth post in two weeks. Apparently Gods like saying “I”, who knew they had such ego…

I was born the son of Zeus, not that anyone believed my mother when she told them.  They couldn’t imagine Zeus, A-lister as he was, choosing to have an affair with my mother of all people, even after she died in childbirth.

My father’s wife was furious to hear of my conception, the one person who did believe it, and so I was raised sleeping beauty style, in a small town at the base of Mount Nysa, by some people my father trusted to keep me safe. 

I didn’t set out for the celebrity life, the spotlight of it all, I started out making wine, because, well, wine is awesome.  I love wine, and I was good at making it, good enough that I went from being someone no one had ever heard of, to becoming a renown vintner.  Next thing I knew, I was living with the other world-famous people, in Olympus Heights, the most exclusive suburb in LA, where my father lived, and I had like made it.

It’s where I was when I heard the rumours my late mother’s sisters were spreading. Apparently, they didn’t believe I was famous, that I had status, and they were telling people that my mother was a, well, I don’t event want to repeat it, but it was the kind of thing that made my blood boil.

I know that the revenge was petty, that I was above it, and that I should have just let it all go, and if it had just been about me, I probably would have.  I had gotten used to having people take issue with me, I mean, when you make the premier wine in the world, party like it’s 1999 every weekend, the tabloids are going to tell tall tails, but my dead mother, she was off limits.

So, I got a make-under, a baseball cap, rented a low-key car and headed out to Thebes. Thebes was a good size town, near mount Citherion, and it’s Mayor was, my cousin Pentheus. He apparently had taken over from his grandfather, isn’t nepotism grand, not too long ago, and my aunts still lived there, stirring the pot.

My revenge was actually pretty simple, shove my existence down those ignorant assholes’ throats.

The method was simple as well, hold the party to end all parties.  On paper it was a promotional event, trying to break into a local market and all that jazz.  A few dozen venues were rented, stocked, and samples of his wine would be served all afternoon free of charge, with full bottles available for purchase.  At night, the events would switch to more of the party atmosphere, with the alcohol flowing for a low price, my logo on every cup, every napkin, every wall.  Then there was the map, which showed all the venues, which was soon to turn the whole thing into a crawl, making the party spill onto the streets, with Dionysus on their tongues. It would last an entire week, and when it was over, not even my family would be able to deny my existence.

I will admit, they were far more resistant than I would have expected, and to my surprise it was my dear cousin who held fast in his belief, trying a curfew, a crusade for quiet aimed directly at me, at arresting those who danced in the street speaking my name, and we both knew it.

I tried to change his mind, in disguise, but he could not be persuaded.   Things escalated quickly, and I will admit, I did a few things that while I am not ashamed of, they aren’t exactly points of pride.

Tricking him into cross-dressing to get into a women’s only party, and then spreading the rumor that there was a man on the registry masquerading at the part was probably overdoing it.  Even I didn’t expect them to beat him to death with their bare hands.  That his own mother, my aunt, she who disparaged my mother, was among those casting the blows, I will admit, it felt a little like karma.

When she finally realized who the man on the floor was, who I really was, watching her weep was less satisfying that I would have expected it to be.  Far more satisfying was having grandfather acknowledge who I was, rightfully so, and when he slithered off for a fresh start with my bereaved aunt, I finally let it go. 

I was Dionysus, and never again would someone speak ill of me or mine, and it felt good.