But they were also known for being most cruel against the enemies of the god they worshipped. For being possessed by the unusual strength that came from bacchic frenzy, they could tear apart whoever came in their way, as it happened to King Pentheus of Thebes, who was torn limb by limb by them. And they could rout armies, for they could not be wounded when touched by enemy weapons, but they inflicted casualties on their opponents by hurling the thyrsoi at them. It is also said that they could carry heavy objects on their shoulders without holding them with bounds, and that they carried fire on their locks without being burned. So, possessing such amazing qualities, they could fall upon towns, turning everything upside down, for no one could resist them. And yet it is told that the MAENADS were imprisoned by King Lycurgus 1 (known for being fond of cutting people to pieces, and for decorating his gates with their extremities), the first to oppose Dionysus, some say in Thrace.
Dionysus travelled through Lydia and Phrygia in Asia Minor, coming also to India. Assisted by the MAENADS and the SATYRS, he set to dance all those nations, establishing his mysteries, so that all would acknowledge him as a deity. This was no easy task because Dionysus was a late comer (he was the grandson of Cadmus, the founder of Thebes) and also because mortals are easily scared. But the MAENADS, with their many wonders, proved that they were possessed and inspired by a god. And those who were unwilling to accept Dionysus, the general of the MAENADS, were ruined, to let them understand what it meant no to be initiated in the Bacchic rites.
Many from abroad
Since Dionysus conquered the East before he came to Hellas, many forming his sacred band were recruited among those called barbarians, who came with the Phrygian drums which Dionysus invented, along with Rhea, the mother of the gods. The MAENADS celebrated this god of delight with hymns, and knowing his rites and having their souls initiated in the Bacchic revels, kept their lives pure, danced in inspired frenzy, and performed holy purifications, accompanying themselves with the heavy beat of drums.