Dionysus, son of Zeus, king of the gods and Semele, a mortal, has come to Thebes with his retinue to establish the Dionysian cult which has been banned by Theseus, king of Thebes. First and foremost, Dionysus wants to revenge his mother who, spurred on by her sister Agave, Pentheseus´ mother, demanded Zeus to appear in his real form of a god, which lead to her death. – Pentheseus, returning home from a campaign, does not believe the seer Teiresias who reveals to him that the god is approaching, and orders the women who are already devotees and Bacchanalia celebrants to be locked up. Even when Dionysus appears in the king´s palace and gives proof of his power, Pentheus remains unimpressed. Believing that he can expose the stranger as a demagogue, he steals away at night to Mount Kitharon, where he is hunted to death by the frenzied women of Thebes and his own mother. When Agave comes to her senses and realises that the god has used her to take his revenge, she collapses on her son´s dead body.