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Title: Æschylos Tragedies and Fragments
Author: Aeschylus
Language: English
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                        _Translated by the late_

                          E. H. PLUMPTRE D.D.

                            _Dean of Wells_


                                                            IN TWO PARTS

                             BOSTON U.S.A.

                      D. C. HEATH & CO. PUBLISHERS


                            PUBLISHER'S NOTE

_The reception accorded to the pocket edition of Dean Plumptre's “Dante”
has encouraged the publishers to issue in the same_ format _the Dean's
masterly translation of the Tragedies of Æschylos._

_In preparing the present issue they have followed the carefully revised
text of the second edition, and have included the scholarly and
suggestive annotations with which the Dean invariably delighted to
enrich his work as a translator._

_The seven Plays, which are all that remain of the seventy or eighty
with which Æschylos is credited, are presented in their chronological
order. Passages in which the reading or the rendering is more or less
conjectural, and in which, accordingly, the aid of the commentator is
advisable, are marked by an asterisk; and passages which are regarded as
spurious by editors of authority have been placed in brackets._

_In translating the Choral Odes the Dean used such unrhymed
metres—observing the strophic and antistrophic arrangement—as seemed to
him most analogous in their general rhythmical effect to those of the
original. He added in an appendix, however, for the sake of those who
preferred the rhymed form with which they were familiar, a rhymed
version of the chief Odes of the Oresteian trilogy. Those in the other
dramas did not appear to him to be of equal interest, or to lend
themselves with equal facility to a like attempt. The Greek text on
which the translation is based is, for the most part, that of Mr.
Paley's edition of 1861._

_A translation was also given of the Fragments which have survived the
wreck of the lost plays, so that the work contains all that has been
left to us associated with the name of Æschylos._

_In the present edition a chronological outline has been substituted for
the biographical sketch of the poet, who from his daring enlargement of
the scope of the drama, the magnificence of his spectacular effects and
the splendour of his genius, was rightly honoured as “the Father of

                                 PART I



 THE PERSIANS                                                         17

 THE SEVEN WHO FOUGHT AGAINST THEBES                                  65

 PROMETHEUS BOUND                                                    113

 THE SUPPLIANTS                                                      161

                                PART II


 AGAMEMNON                                                             9

 THE LIBATION-POURERS                                                 87

 EUMENIDES                                                           137

 FRAGMENTS                                                           185


   _From_ Agamemnon                                                  191

   _From_ The Libation-Pourers                                       210

   _From_ Eumenides                                                  219



    527 Peisistratos died.

    525 Birth at Eleusis, in Attica, of Æschylos, son of Euphorion.

    510 Expulsion of the Peisistratidæ. Democratic constitution of

        Approximate date of incident in the legend that Æschylos was set
        to watch grapes as they were ripening for the vintage, and fell
        asleep; and lo! as he slept Dionysos appeared to him and bade
        him give himself to write tragedies for the great festival of
        the god. And when he awoke, he found himself invested with new
        powers of thought and utterance, and the work was as easy to him
        as if he had been trained to it for many years (Pausan, _Att._
        i. 21, § 3).[1]

    500 Birth of Anaxagoras.

    499 Æschylos exhibited his first tragedy, in unsuccessful
        competition with Pratinas and Chœrilos.

        The wooden scaffolding broke beneath the crowd of spectators,
        and the accident led the Athenians to build their first stone
        theatre for the Dionysiac festivals.

        Partly out of annoyance at his defeat, it is said, and partly in
        a spirit of adventure, Æschylos sailed for Sicily.

    497 Death of Pythagoras (?).

    495 Birth of Sophocles at Colonos.

    491 Æschylos at Athens.

    490 The Battle of Marathon. Æschylos and his brothers, Kynægeiros
        and Ameinias, so distinguished themselves, that the Athenians
        ordered their heroic deeds to be commemorated in a picture.

        Death of Theognis (?).

    488 Prize awarded to Simonides for an elegy on Marathon. Æschylos,
        piqued, it is said, at his failure in the competition, again
        departed to Sicily.

    485 Xerxes succeeded Dareios.

    484 Æschylos won, in a dramatic contest with Pratinas, Chœrilos, and
        Phrynichos, the first of a series of thirteen successes.

        Birth of Herodotos.

    480 Athens burnt by Xerxes.

        Æschylos fought at Artemisium and Salamis. At Salamis his
        brother Ameinias lost his hand, and was awarded the prize of

        Sophocles led the Chorus of Victory.

        Birth of Euripides.

    479 Æschylos at the Battle of Platæa.

    477 Commencement of Athenian supremacy.

    473 Æschylos carried off the first prize with _The Persians_ (the
        first of the extant plays), which belonged to a tetralogy that
        included two tragedies, _Phineus_ and _Glaucos_, and a satyric
        drama, _Prometheus the Fire-stealer_.

        _The Persians_ has the interest of being a contemporary record
        of the great sea-fight at Salamis by an eye-witness.

    471 Æschylos appears to have produced this year his next tetralogy,
        of which _The Seven against Thebes_ survives.

        The play was directed against the policy of aiming at the
        supremacy of Athens by attacking other Greek States, and, in
        brief, maintained the policy of Aristeides as against that of

        Birth of Thucydides.

    468 Sophocles gained his first victory in tragedy with his
        _Triptolemos_; Æschylos defeated.

        Æschylos charged with impiety, on the ground that he had
        profaned the Mysteries by introducing on the stage rites known
        only to the initiated; tried and acquitted; departure for

    467 Æschylos at the court of Hieron at Syracuse, where he is said to
        have composed dramas on local legends, such as _The Women of

        Death of Simonides.

    461 Ostracism of Kimon; ascendency of Pericles.

 460-59 Probable date of _The Suppliants_, if the play be connected with
        the alliance between Argos and Athens (B.C. 461), and the war
        with the Persian forces in Egypt, upon which the Athenians had
        entered as allies of the Libyan Prince Inaros. (B.C. 460.)

        The date of _Prometheus Bound_ has been referred to B.C. 470 on
        the strength of a description of Ætna (vv. 370-380), which is
        supposed to be a reference to the eruption of B.C. 477. Internal
        evidence, however, seems to warrant the view that _The
        Suppliants_ and the _Prometheus Bound_ were separated by only a
        brief interval of time.

    458 Æschylos in Athens. He found new men and new methods;
        institutions, held most sacred as the safeguard of Athenian
        religion, were being criticised and attacked; the Court of
        Areiopagos was threatened with abolition under pretence of

        Production of the Oresteian Trilogy (or, rather, tetralogy, as
        in addition to the _Agamemnon_, the _Libation-pourers_, and the
        _Eumenides_, there was a satyric drama, _Proteus_).

        This trilogy was a conservative protest, religious, social, and
        political, which culminated in the assertion of the divine
        authority of the Areiopagos.

        Popular feeling was once more excited against the poet, who left
        Athens never to return, and settled at Gela, in Sicily, under
        the patronage of Hieron.

    456 Death of Æschylos, aged 69.

        An oracle foretold that he was to die by a blow from heaven, and
        according to the legend, an eagle, mistaking the poet's head for
        a stone as he sat writing, dropped a tortoise on it to break the

        He was buried at Gela, and his epitaph, ascribed to himself,
        ran: “Beneath this stone lies Æschylos, son of Euphorion. At
        fertile Gela he died. Marathon can tell of his tested manhood,
        and the Persians who there felt his mettle.”

        He is said to have produced between seventy and eighty plays, of
        which only seven survive.


Footnote 1:

  _Cf._, the legend of Caedmon, “the Father of English Song.”

                            THE PERSIANS[2]

                            DRAMATIS PERSONÆ


                       _Ghost of_ DAREIOS



                       _Chorus of Persian Elders_

_ARGUMENT.—When Xerxes came to the throne of Persia, remembering how his
father Dareios had sought to subdue the land of the Hellenes, and
seeking to avenge the defeat of Datis and Artaphernes on the field of
Marathon, he gathered together a mighty host of all nations under his
dominion, and led them against Hellas. And at first he prospered and
prevailed, crossed the Hellespont, and defeated the Spartans at
Thermopylæ, and took the city of Athens, from which the greater part of
its citizens had fled. But at last he and his armament met with utter
overthrow at Salamis. Meanwhile Atossa, the mother of Xerxes, with her
handmaids and the elders of the Persians, waited anxiously at Susa,
where was the palace of the great king, for tidings of her son._


Footnote 2:

  _Note._—Within two years after the battle of Salamis, the feeling of
  natural exultation was met by Phrynichos in a tragedy bearing the
  title of _The Phœnikians_, and having for its subject the defeat of
  Xerxes. As he had come under the displeasure of the Athenian _demos_
  for having brought on the stage the sufferings of their Ionian kinsmen
  in his _Capture of Miletos_, he was apparently anxious to regain his
  popularity by a “sensation” drama of another kind; and his success
  seems to have prompted Æschylos to a like attempt five years later,
  B.C. 473. The Tetralogy to which the play belonged, and which gained
  the first prize on its representation, included the two tragedies
  (unconnected in subject) of _Phineus_ and _Glaucos_, and the satyric
  drama of _Prometheus the Fire-stealer_.

  The play has, therefore, the interest of being strictly a contemporary
  narrative of the battle of Salamis and its immediate consequences, by
  one who may himself have been present at it, and whose brother
  Ameinias (Herod, viii. 93) distinguished himself in it by a special
  act of heroism. As such, making all allowance for the influence of
  dramatic exigencies, and the tendency to colour history so as to meet
  the tastes of patriotic Athenians, it may claim, where it differs from
  the story told by Herodotos, to be a more trustworthy record. And it
  has, we must remember, the interest of being the only extant drama of
  its class, the only tragedy the subject of which is not taken from the
  cycle of heroic myths, but from the national history of the time. Far
  below the Oresteian Trilogy as it may seem to us as a work of art,
  having more the character of a spectacle than a poem, it was, we may
  well believe, unusually successful at the time, and it is said to have
  been chosen by Hiero for reproduction in Syracuse after Æschylos had
  settled there under his patronage.

                              THE PERSIANS

       SCENE.—SUSA, _in front of the palace of_ XERXES, _the tomb
          of_ DAREIOS _occupying the position of the thymele_

                   _Enter Chorus of_ Persian Elders.

 We the title bear of Faithful,[3]
 Friends of Persians gone to Hellas,
 Watchers left of treasure city,[4]
 Gold-abounding, whom, as oldest,
 Xerxes hath himself appointed,
 He, the offspring of Dareios,
 As the warders of his country.
 And about our king's returning,
 And our army's, gold-abounding,
 Over-much, and boding evil,                                          10
 Does my mind within me shudder
 (For our whole force, Asia's offspring,
 Now is gone), and for our young chief
 Sorely frets: nor courier cometh,
 Nor any horseman, bringing tidings
 To the city of the Persians.
 From Ecbatana departing,
 Susa, or the Kissian fortress,[5]
 Forth they sped upon their journey,
 Some in ships, and some on horses,
 Some on foot, still onward marching,
 In their close array presenting
 Squadrons duly armed for battle:                                     20
 Then Armistres, Artaphernes,
 Megabazes, and Astaspes,
 Mighty leaders of the Persians,
 Kings, and of the great King servants,[6]
 March, the chiefs of mighty army.
 Archers they and mounted horsemen.
 Dread to look on, fierce in battle,
 Artembares proud, on horseback,
 And Masistres, and Imæos,                                            30
 Archer famed, and Pharandakes,
 And the charioteer Sosthanes.
 Neilos mighty and prolific
 Sent forth others, Susikanes,
 Pegastagon, Egypt's offspring,
 And the chief of sacred Memphis;
 Great Arsames, Ariomardos,
 Ruler of primeval Thebæ,
 And the marsh-men,[7] and the rowers,
 Dread, and in their number countless.                                40
 And there follow crowds of Lydians,
 Very delicate and stately,[8]
 Who the people of the mainland
 Rule throughout—whom Mitragathes
 And brave Arkteus, kingly chieftains,
 Led, from Sardis, gold-abounding,
 Riding on their many chariots,
 Three or four a-breast their horses,
 Sight to look upon all dreadful.
 And the men of sacred Tmôlos[9]
 Rush to place the yoke of bondage
 On the neck of conquered Hellas.                                     50
 Mardon, Tharabis, spear-anvils,[10]
 And the Mysians, javelin-darting;[11]
 Babylôn too, gold-abounding,
 Sends a mingled cloud, swept onward,
 Both the troops who man the vessels,
 And the skilled and trustful bowmen;
 And the race the sword that beareth,
 Follows from each clime of Asia,
 At the great King's dread commandment.
 These, the bloom of Persia's greatness,
 Now are gone forth to the battle;                                    60
 And for these, their mother country,
 Asia, mourns with mighty yearning;
 Wives and mothers faint with trembling
 Through the hours that slowly linger,
 Counting each day as it passes.

                               STROPHE I

 The king's great host, destroying cities mighty,
 Hath to the land beyond the sea passed over,
 Crossing the straits of Athamantid Helle,[12]                        70
     On raft by ropes secured,
 And thrown his path, compact of many a vessel,
 As yoke upon the neck of mighty ocean.

                             ANTISTROPHE I

 Of populous Asia thus the mighty ruler
 'Gainst all the land his God-sent host directeth
 In two divisions, both by land and water,
     Trusting the chieftains stern,
 The men who drive the host to fight, relentless—
 He, sprung from gold-born race, a hero godlike.[13]                  80

                               STROPHE II

 Glancing with darkling look, and eyes as of ravening dragon,
 With many a hand, and many a ship, and Syrian chariot driving,[14]
 He upon spearmen renowned brings battle of conquering arrows.[15]

                             ANTISTROPHE II

 Yea, there is none so tried as, withstanding the flood of the mighty,90
 To keep within steadfast bounds that wave of ocean resistless;
 Hard to fight is the host of the Persians, the people stout-hearted.


 Yet ah! what mortal can ward the craft of the God all-deceiving?
 *Who, with a nimble foot, of one leap is easily sovereign?
 For Atè, fawning and kind, at first a mortal betraying,             100
 Then in snares and meshes decoys him,
 Whence one who is but man in vain doth struggle to 'scape from.

                              STROPHE III

 For Fate of old, by the high Gods' decree,
 Prevailed, and on the Persians laid this task,
     Wars with the crash of towers,
 And set the surge of horsemen in array,
 And the fierce sack that lays a city low.                           110

                            ANTISTROPHE III

 But now they learnt to look on ocean plains,[16]
 The wide sea hoary with the violent blast,
     Waxing o'er confident
 In cables formed of many a slender strand,
 And rare device of transport for the host.

                               STROPHE IV

     So now my soul is torn,
 As clad in mourning, in its sore affright,
 Ah me! ah me! for all the Persian host!                             120
     Lest soon our country learn
 That Susa's mighty fort is void of men.

                             ANTISTROPHE IV

     And through the Kissians' town
 Shall echo heavy thud of hands on breast.
 Woe! woe! when all the crowd of women speak
     This utterance of great grief,
 And byssine robes are rent in agony.

                               STROPHE V

     For all the horses strong,
     And host that march on foot,
 Like swarm of bees, have gone with him who led                      130
   The vanguard of the host.
 Crossing the sea-washed, bridge-built promontory
 That joins the shores of either continent.[17]

                             ANTISTROPHE V

   And beds with tears are wet
   In grief for husbands gone,
 And Persian wives are delicate in grief,
   Each yearning for her lord;
 And each who sent her warrior-spouse to battle                      140
 Now mourns at home in dreary solitude.
   But come, ye Persians now,
 And sitting in this ancient hall of ours,
 Let us take thought deep-counselling and wise,
   (Sore need is there of that,)
 How fareth now the great king Xerxes, he
   Who calls Dareios sire,
 Bearing the name our father bore of old?
 Is it the archers' bow that wins the day?
   Or does the strength prevail                                      150
 Of iron point that heads the spear's strong shaft?
 But lo! in glory like the face of gods,
 The mother of my king, my queen, appears:
 Let us do reverent homage at her feet;
   Yea, it is meet that all
 Should speak to her with words of greeting kind.

                 _Enter_ ATOSSA _in a chariot of state_

 _Chor._ O sovereign queen of Persian wives deep-zoned,
 Mother of Xerxes, reverend in thine age,
   Wife of Dareios! hail!
 'Twas thine to join in wedlock with a spouse
   Whom Persians owned as God,[18]
 And of a God thou art the mother too,
 Unless its ancient Fortune fails our host.                          160

 _Atoss._ Yes, thus I come, our gold-decked palace leaving,
 The bridal bower Dareios with me slept in.
 Care gnaws my heart, but now I tell you plainly
 A tale, my friends, which may not leave me fearless,
 Lest boastful wealth should stumble at the threshold,
 And with his foot o'erturn the prosperous fortune
 That great Dareios raised with Heaven's high blessing.
 And twofold care untold my bosom haunteth:
 We may not honour wealth that has no warriors,
 Nor on the poor shines light to strength proportioned;
 Wealth without stint we have, yet for our eye we tremble;           170
 For as the eye of home I deem a master's presence.
 Wherefore, ye Persians, aid me now in counsel;
 Trusty and old, in you lies hope of wisdom.

 _Chor._ Queen of our land! be sure thou need'st not utter
 Or thing or word twice o'er, which power may point to;
 Thou bid'st us counsel give who fain would serve thee.

 _Atoss._ Ever with many visions of the night[19]
 Am I encompassed, since my son went forth,
 Leading a mighty host, with aim to sack
 The land of the Ionians. But ne'er yet                              180
 Have I beheld a dream so manifest
 As in the night just past. And this I'll tell thee:
 There stood by me two women in fair robes;
 And this in Persian garments was arrayed,
 And that in Dorian came before mine eyes;
 In stature both of tallest, comeliest size;
 And both of faultless beauty, sisters twain
 Of the same stock.[20] And they twain had their homes,
 One in the Hellenic, one in alien land.
 And these two, as I dreamt I saw, were set                          190
 At variance with each other. And my son
 Learnt it, and checked and mollified their wrath,
 And yokes them to his chariot, and his collar
 He places on their necks. And one was proud
 Of that equipment,[21] and in harness gave
 Her mouth obedient; but the other kicked,
 And tears the chariot's trappings with her hands,
 And rushes off uncurbed, and breaks its yoke
 Asunder. And my son falls low, and then
 His father comes, Dareios, pitying him.
 And lo! when Xerxes sees him, he his clothes                        200
 Rends round his limbs. These things I say I saw
 In visions of the night; and when I rose,
 And dipped my hands in fountain flowing clear,[22]
 I at the altar stood with hand that bore
 Sweet incense, wishing holy chrism to pour
 To the averting Gods whom thus men worship.
 And I beheld an eagle in full flight
 To Phœbos' altar-hearth; and then, my friends,                      210
 I stood, struck dumb with fear; and next I saw
 A kite pursuing, in her wingèd course,
 And with his claws tearing the eagle's head,
 Which did nought else but crouch and yield itself.
 Such terrors it has been my lot to see,
 And yours to hear: For be ye sure, my son,
 If he succeed, will wonder-worthy prove;
 But if he fail, still irresponsible
 He to the people, and in either case,
 He, should he but return, is sovereign still.[23]

 _Chor._ We neither wish, O Lady, thee to frighten
 O'ermuch with what we say, nor yet encourage:
 But thou, the Gods adoring with entreaties,
 If thou hast seen aught ill, bid them avert it,
 And that all good things may receive fulfilment
 For thee, thy children, and thy friends and country.                220
 And next 'tis meet libations due to offer
 To Earth and to the dead. And ask thy husband,
 Dareios, whom thou say'st by night thou sawest,
 With kindly mood from 'neath the Earth to send thee
 Good things to light for thee and for thine offspring,
 While adverse things shall fade away in darkness.
 Such things do I, a self-taught seer, advise thee
 In kindly mood, and any way we reckon
 That good will come to thee from out these omens.

 _Atoss._ Well, with kind heart, hast thou, as first expounder,
 Out of my dreams brought out a welcome meaning
 For me, and for my sons; and thy good wishes,
 May they receive fulfilment! And this also,
 As thou dost bid, we to the Gods will offer                         230
 And to our friends below, when we go homeward.
 But first, my friends, I wish to hear of Athens,
 Where in the world do men report it standeth?[24]

 _Chor._ Far to the West, where sets our king the Sun-God.

 _Atoss._ Was it this city my son wished to capture?

 _Chor._ Aye, then would Hellas to our king be subject.

 _Atoss._ And have they any multitude of soldiers?

 _Chor._ A mighty host, that wrought the Medes much mischief.

 _Atoss._ And what besides? Have they too wealth sufficing?

 _Chor._ A fount of silver have they, their land's treasure.[25]240

 _Atoss._ Have they a host in archers' skill excelling?

 _Chor._ Not so, they wield the spear and shield and bucklers.[26]

 _Atoss._ What shepherd rules and lords it o'er their people?

 _Chor._ Of no man are they called the slaves or subjects.

 _Atoss._ How then can they sustain a foe invading?

 _Chor._ So that they spoiled Dareios' goodly army.

 _Atoss._ Dread news is thine for sires of those who're marching.

 _Chor._ Nay, but I think thou soon wilt know the whole truth;
 This running one may know is that of Persian:[27]
 For good or evil some clear news he bringeth.                       250

                           _Enter_ Messenger

 _Mess._ O cities of the whole wide land of Asia!
 O soil of Persia, haven of great wealth!
 How at one stroke is brought to nothingness
 Our great prosperity, and all the flower
 Of Persia's strength is fallen! Woe is me!
 'Tis ill to be the first to bring ill news;
 Yet needs must I the whole woe tell, ye Persians:
 All our barbaric mighty host is lost.[28]

                               STROPHE I

 _Chor._ O piteous, piteous woe!                              260
       O strange and dread event!
 Weep, O ye Persians, hearing this great grief!

 _Mess._ Yea, all things there are ruined utterly;
 And I myself beyond all hopes behold
       The light of day at home.

                             ANTISTROPHE I

 _Chor._ O'er-long doth life appear
       To me, bowed down with years,
 On hearing this unlooked-for misery.

 _Mess._ And I, indeed, being present and not hearing
 The tales of others, can report, ye Persians,
       What ills were brought to pass.

                               STROPHE II

 _Chor._ Alas, alas! in vain
 The many-weaponed and commingled host                               270
 Went from the land of Asia to invade
       The soil divine of Hellas.

 _Mess._ Full of the dead, slain foully, are the coasts
 Of Salamis, and all the neighbouring shore.

                             ANTISTROPHE II

 _Chor._ Alas, alas! sea-tossed
 The bodies of our friends, and much disstained:
 Thou say'st that they are drifted to and fro
       *In far out-floating garments.[29]

 _Mess._ E'en so; our bows availed not, but the host
 Has perished, conquered by the clash of ships.

                              STROPHE III

 _Chor._ Wail, raise a bitter cry                             280
 And full of woe, for those who died in fight.
 How every way the Gods have wrought out ill,
 Ah me! ah me, our army all destroyed.

 _Mess._ O name of Salamis that most I loathe!
 Ah, how I groan, remembering Athens too!

                            ANTISTROPHE III

 _Chor._ Yea, to her enemies
 Athens may well be hateful, and our minds
 Remember how full many a Persian wife                               290
 She, for no cause, made widows and bereaved.

 _Atoss._ Long time I have been silent in my woe,
 Crushed down with grief; for this calamity
 Exceeds all power to tell the woe, or ask.
 Yet still we mortals needs must bear the griefs
 The Gods send on us. Clearly tell thy tale,
 Unfolding the whole mischief, even though
 Thou groan'st at evils, who there is not dead,
 And which of our chief captains we must mourn,
 And who, being set in office o'er the host,
 Left by their death their office desolate.                          300

 _Mess._ Xerxes still lives and sees the light of day.

 _Atoss._ To my house, then, great light thy words have brought,
 Bright dawn of morning after murky night.

 _Mess._ Artembares, the lord of myriad horse,
 On the hard flinty coasts of the Sileni
 Is now being dashed; and valiant Dadakes,
 Captain of thousands, smitten with the spear,
 Leapt wildly from his ship. And Tenagon,
 Best of the true old Bactrians, haunts the soil
 Of Aias' isle; Lilaios, Arsames,                                    310
 And with them too Argestes, there defeated,
 Hard by the island where the doves abound,[30]
 Beat here and there upon the rocky shore.
 [And from the springs of Neilos, Ægypt's stream,
 Arkteus, Adeues, Pheresseues too,
 These with Pharnuchos in one ship were lost;]
 Matallos, Chrysa-born, the captain bold
 Of myriads, leader he of swarthy horse
 Some thrice ten thousand strong, has fallen low,
 His red beard, hanging all its shaggy length,
 Deep dyed with blood, and purpled all his skin.
 Arabian Magos, Bactrian Artames,                                    320
 They perished, settlers in a land full rough.
 [Amistris and Amphistreus, guiding well
 The spear of many a conflict, and the noble
 Ariomardos, leaving bitter grief
 For Sardis; and the Mysian Seisames.]
 With twelve score ships and ten came Tharybis;
 Lyrnæan he in birth, once fair in form,
 He lies, poor wretch, a death inglorious dying:
 And, first in valour proved, Syennesis,
 Kilikian satrap, who, for one man, gave
 Most trouble to his foes, and nobly died.                           330
 Of leaders such as these I mention make,
 And out of many evils tell but few.

 _Atoss._ Woe, woe! I hear the very worst of ills,
 Shame to the Persians, cause of bitter wail;
 But tell me, going o'er the ground again,
 How great the number of the Hellenes' navy,
 That they presumed with Persia's armament
 To wage their warfare in the clash of ships.

 _Mess._ As far as numbers went, be sure the ships
 Of Persia had the better, for the Hellenes                          340
 Had, as their total, ships but fifteen score,
 And other ten selected as reserve.[31]
 And Xerxes (well I know it) had a thousand
 Which he commanded—those that most excelled[32]
 In speed were twice five score and seven in number;
 So stands the account. Deem'st thou our forces less
 In that encounter? Nay, some Power above
 Destroyed our host, and pressed the balance down
 With most unequal fortune, and the Gods
 Preserve the city of the Goddess Pallas.

 _Atoss._ Is the Athenians' city then unsacked?               350

 _Mess._ Their men are left, and that is bulwark strong.[33]

 _Atoss._ Next tell me how the fight of ships began.
 Who led the attack? Were those Hellenes the first,
 Or was't my son, exulting in his strength?

 _Mess._ The author of the mischief, O my mistress,
 Was some foul fiend or Power on evil bent;
 For lo! a Hellene from the Athenian host[34]
 Came to thy son, to Xerxes, and spake thus,
 That should the shadow of the dark night come,
 The Hellenes would not wait him, but would leap                     360
 Into their rowers' benches, here and there,
 And save their lives in secret, hasty flight.
 And he forthwith, this hearing, knowing not
 The Hellene's guile, nor yet the Gods' great wrath,
 Gives this command to all his admirals,
 Soon as the sun should cease to burn the earth
 With his bright rays, and darkness thick invade
 The firmament of heaven, to set their ships
 In threefold lines, to hinder all escape,
 And guard the billowy straits, and others place                     370
 In circuit round about the isle of Aias:
 For if the Hellenes 'scaped an evil doom,
 And found a way of secret, hasty flight,
 It was ordained that all should lose their heads.[35]
 Such things he spake from soul o'erwrought with pride,
 For he knew not what fate the Gods would send;
 And they, not mutinous, but prompt to serve,
 Then made their supper ready, and each sailor
 Fastened his oar around true-fitting thole;
 And when the sunlight vanished, and the night
 Had come, then each man, master of an oar,                          380
 Went to his ship, and all men bearing arms,
 And through the long ships rank cheered loud to rank;
 And so they sail, as 'twas appointed each,
 And all night long the captains of the fleet
 Kept their men working, rowing to and fro;
 Night then came on, and the Hellenic host
 In no wise sought to take to secret flight.
 And when day, bright to look on with white steeds,
 O'erspread the earth, then rose from the Hellenes                   390
 Loud chant of cry of battle, and forthwith
 Echo gave answer from each island rock;
 And terror then on all the Persians fell,
 Of fond hopes disappointed. Not in flight
 The Hellenes then their solemn pæans sang:
 But with brave spirit hasting on to battle.
 With martial sound the trumpet fired those ranks;
 And straight with sweep of oars that flew through foam,
 They smote the loud waves at the boatswain's call;
 And swiftly all were manifest to sight.                             400
 Then first their right wing moved in order meet;[36]
 Next the whole line its forward course began,
 And all at once we heard a mighty shout,—
 “O sons of Hellenes, forward, free your country;
 Free too your wives, your children, and the shrines
 Built to your fathers' Gods, and holy tombs
 Your ancestors now rest in. Now the fight
 Is for our all.” And on our side indeed
 Arose in answer din of Persian speech,
 And time to wait was over; ship on ship                             410
 Dashed its bronze-pointed beak, and first a barque
 Of Hellas did the encounter fierce begin,[37]
 And from Phœnikian vessel crashes off
 Her carved prow. And each against his neighbour
 Steers his own ship: and first the mighty flood
 Of Persian host held out. But when the ships
 Were crowded in the straits,[38] nor could they give
 Help to each other, they with mutual shocks,
 With beaks of bronze went crushing each the other,
 Shivering their rowers' benches. And the ships
 Of Hellas, with manœuvring not unskilful,
 Charged circling round them. And the hulls of ships                 420
 Floated capsized, nor could the sea be seen,
 Strown, as it was, with wrecks and carcases;
 And all the shores and rocks were full of corpses.
 And every ship was wildly rowed in fight,
 All that composed the Persian armament.
 And they, as men spear tunnies,[39] or a haul
 Of other fishes, with the shafts of oars,
 Or spars of wrecks went smiting, cleaving down;
 And bitter groans and wailings overspread
 The wide sea-waves, till eye of swarthy night                       430
 Bade it all cease: and for the mass of ills,
 Not, though my tale should run for ten full days,
 Could I in full recount them. Be assured
 That never yet so great a multitude
 Died in a single day as died in this.

 _Atoss._ Ah, me! Great then the sea of ills that breaks
 On Persia and the whole barbaric host.

 _Mess._ Be sure our evil fate is but half o'er:
 On this has supervened such bulk of woe,
 As more than twice to outweigh what I've told.                      440

 _Atoss._ And yet what fortune could be worse than this?
 Say, what is this disaster which thou tell'st,
 That turns the scale to greater evils still?

 _Mess._ Those Persians that were in the bloom of life,
 Bravest in heart and noblest in their blood,
 And by the king himself deemed worthiest trust,
 Basely and by most shameful death have died.

 _Atoss._ Ah! woe is me, my friends, for our ill fate!
 What was the death by which thou say'st they perished?

 _Mess._ There is an isle that lies off Salamis,[40]
 Small, with bad anchorage for ships, where Pan,                     450
 Pan the dance-loving, haunts the sea-washed coast.
 There Xerxes sends these men, that when their foes,
 Being wrecked, should to the islands safely swim,
 They might with ease destroy th' Hellenic host,
 And save their friends from out the deep sea's paths;
 But ill the future guessing: for when God
 Gave the Hellenes the glory of the battle,
 In that same hour, with arms well wrought in bronze
 Shielding their bodies, from their ships they leapt,
 And the whole isle encircled, so that we                            460
 Were sore distressed,[41] and knew not where to turn;
 For here men's hands hurled many a stone at them;
 And there the arrows from the archer's bow
 Smote and destroyed them; and with one great rush,
 At last advancing, they upon them dash
 And smite, and hew the limbs of these poor wretches,
 Till they each foe had utterly destroyed.
 [And Xerxes when he saw how deep the ill,[42]
 Groaned out aloud, for he had ta'en his seat,
 With clear, wide view of all the army round,
 On a high cliff hard by the open sea;
 And tearing then his robes with bitter cry,                         470
 And giving orders to his troops on shore,
 He sends them off in foul retreat. This grief
 'Tis thine to mourn besides the former ills.]

 _Atoss._ O hateful Power, how thou of all their hopes
 Hast robbed the Persians! Bitter doom my son
 Devised for glorious Athens, nor did they,
 The invading host who fell at Marathon,
 Suffice; but my son, counting it his task
 To exact requital for it, brought on him
 So great a crowd of sorrows. But I pray,
 As to those ships that have this fate escaped,                      480
 Where did'st thou leave them? Can'st thou clearly tell?

 _Mess._ The captains of the vessels that were left,
 With a fair wind, but not in meet array,
 Took flight: and all the remnant of the army
 Fell in Bœotia—some for stress of thirst
 About the fountain clear, and some of us,
 Panting for breath, cross to the Phokians' land,
 The soil of Doris, and the Melian gulf,
 Where fair Spercheios waters all the plains
 With kindly flood, and then the Achæan fields                       490
 And city of the Thessali received us,
 Famished for lack of food;[43] and many died
 Of thirst and hunger, for both ills we bore;
 And then to the Magnetian land we came,
 And that of Macedonians, to the stream
 Of Axios, and Bolbe's reed-grown marsh,
 And Mount Pangaios and the Edonian land.
 And on that night God sent a mighty frost,
 Unwonted at that season, sealing up
 The whole course of the Strymon's pure, clear flood;[44]
 And they who erst had deemed the Gods as nought,                    500
 Then prayed with hot entreaties, worshipping
 Both earth and heaven. And after that the host
 Ceased from its instant calling on the Gods,
 It crosses o'er the glassy, frozen stream;
 And whosoe'er set forth before the rays
 Of the bright God were shed abroad, was saved;
 For soon the glorious sun with burning blaze
 Reached the mid-stream and warmed it with its flame,
 And they, confused, each on the other fell.
 Blest then was he whose soul most speedily
 Breathed out its life. And those who yet survived
 And gained deliverance, crossing with great toil                    510
 And many a pang through Thrakè, now are come,
 Escaped from perils, no great number they,
 To this our sacred land, and so it groans,
 This city of the Persians, missing much
 Our country's dear-loved youth. Too true my tale,
 And many things I from my speech omit,
 Ills which the Persians suffer at God's hand.

 _Chor._ O Power resistless, with what weight of woe
 On all the Persian race have thy feet leapt!

 _Atoss._ Ah! woe is me for that our army lost!
 O vision of the night that cam'st in dreams,                        520
 Too clearly did'st thou show me of these ills!
 But ye (_to Chorus_) did judge them far too carelessly;
 Yet since your counsel pointed to that course,
 I to the Gods will first my prayer address.
 And then with gifts to Earth and to the Dead,
 Bringing the chrism from my store, I'll come.
 For our past ills, I know, 'tis all too late,
 But for the future, I may hope, will dawn
 A better fortune! But 'tis now your part
 In these our present ills, in counsel faithful
 To commune with the Faithful; and my son,                           530
 Should he come here before me, comfort him,
 And home escort him, lest he add fresh ill
 To all these evils that we suffer now. [_Exit_

 _Chor._ Zeus our king, who now to nothing
 Bring'st the army of the Persians,
 Multitudinous, much boasting;
 And with gloomy woe hast shrouded
 Both Ecbatana and Susa;
 Many maidens now are tearing
 With their tender hands their mantles,                              540
 And with tear-floods wet their bosoms,
 In the common grief partaking;
 And the brides of Persian warriors,
 Dainty even in their wailing,
 Longing for their new-wed husbands,
 Reft of bridal couch luxurious,
 With its coverlet so dainty,
 Losing joy of wanton youth-time,
 Mourn in never-sated wailings.
 And I too in fullest measure
 Raise again meet cry of sorrow,
 Weeping for the loved and lost ones.

                               STROPHE I

 For now the land of Asia mourneth sore,                             550
           Left desolate of men,
       'Twas Xerxes led them forth, woe! woe!
       'Twas Xerxes lost them all, woe! woe!
 'Twas Xerxes who with evil counsels sped
       Their course in sea-borne barques.
 Why was Dareios erst so free from harm,
       First bowman of the state,
 The leader whom the men of Susa loved,

                             ANTISTROPHE I

 While those who fought as soldiers or at sea,                       560
         These ships, dark-hulled, well-rowed,
     Their own ships bore them on, woe! woe!
     Their own ships lost them all, woe! woe!
 Their own ships, in the crash of ruin urged,
         And by Ionian hands?[45]
 The king himself, we hear, but hardly 'scapes,
       Through Thrakè's widespread steppes,
 And paths o'er which the tempests wildly sweep.

                               STROPHE II

         And they who perished first, ah me!                         570
         Perforce unburied left, alas!
 Are scattered round Kychreia's shore,[46] woe! woe!
 Lament, mourn sore, and raise a bitter cry,
         Grievous, the sky to pierce, woe! woe!
 And let thy mourning voice uplift its strain
         Of loud and full lament.

                             ANTISTROPHE II

         Torn by the whirling flood, ah me!
         Their carcases are gnawed, alas!
 By the dumb brood of stainless sea, woe! woe!                       580
 And each house mourneth for its vanished lord;
         And childless sires, woe! woe!
 Mourning in age o'er griefs the Gods have sent,
         Now hear their utter loss.

                              STROPHE III

         And throughout all Asia's borders
         None now own the sway of Persia,
         Nor bring any more their tribute,
         Owning sway of sovereign master.
         Low upon the Earth, laid prostrate,                         590
         Is the strength of our great monarch

                            ANTISTROPHE III

         No more need men keep in silence
         Tongues fast bound: for now the people
         May with freedom speak at pleasure;
         For the yoke of power is broken;
         And blood-stained in all its meadows
         Holds the sea-washed isle of Aias
         What was once the host of Persia.

                           _Re-enter_ ATOSSA

 _Atoss._ Whoe'er, my friends, is vexed in troublous times,   600
 Knows that when once a tide of woe sets in,
 A man is wont to fear in everything;
 But when Fate flows on smoothly, then to trust
 That the same Fate will ever send fair gales.
 So now all these disasters from the Gods
 Seem in mine eyes filled full of fear and dread,
 And in mine ears rings cry unpæanlike,
 So great a dread of all has seized my soul:
 And therefore now, without or chariot's state
 Or wonted pomp, have I thus issued forth                            610
 From out my palace, to my son's sire bringing
 Libations loving, gifts propitiatory,
 Meet for the dead; milk pure and white from cow
 Unblemished, and bright honey that distils
 From the flower-working bee, and water drawn
 From virgin fountain, and the draught unmarred
 From mother wild, bright child of ancient vine;
 And here too of the tree that evermore
 Keeps its fresh life in foliage, the pale olive,
 Is the sweet-smelling fruit, and twinèd wreaths
 Of flowers, the children of all-bearing earth.[47]                  620
 But ye, my friends, o'er these libations poured
 In honour of the dead, chant forth your hymns,
 And call upon Dareios as a God:
 While I will send unto the Gods below
 These votive offerings which the earth shall drink.

                           [_Goes to the tomb of_ DAREIOS _in the centre
                               of the stage_

 _Chor._ O royal lady, honoured of the Persians,
         Do thou libations pour
 To the dark chambers of the dead below;
         And we with hymns will pray
 The Powers that act as escorts of the dead
 To give us kindly help beneath the earth.
 But oh, ye holy Ones in darkness dwelling,                          630
 Hermes and Earth, and thou, the Lord of Hell,
         Send from beneath a soul
         Up to the light of earth;
 For should he know a cure for these our ills,
 He, he alone of men, their end may tell.

                               STROPHE I

         Doth he, the blest one hear,
         The king, like Gods in power,
         Hear me, as I send forth
         My cries in barbarous speech,
         Yet very clear to him,—
         Sad, varied, broken cries
         So as to tell aloud
         Our troubles terrible?                                      640
         Ah, doth he hear below?

                             ANTISTROPHE I

         But thou, O Earth, and ye,
         The other Lords of those
         Beneath the grave that dwell;
         Grant that the godlike one
         May come from out your home,
         The Persians' mighty God,
         In Susa's palace born;
         Send him, I pray you, up,
         The like of whom the soil
         Of Persia never hid.

                               STROPHE II

 Dear was our chief, and dear to us his tomb,
         For dear the life it hides;                                 650
 Aidoneus, O Aidoneus, send him forth,
 Thou who dost lead the dead to Earth again,
 *Yea, send Dareios.... What a king was he!

                             ANTISTROPHE II

 For never did he in war's bloody woe
         Lose all his warrior-host,
 But Heaven-taught Counsellor the Persians called him,
 And Heaven-taught Counsellor in truth he proved,
 Since he still ruled his hosts of subjects well.

                              STROPHE III

 Monarch, O ancient monarch, come, oh, come,
 Come to the summit of sepulchral mound,                             660
         Lifting thy foot encased
         In slipper saffron-dyed,
         And giving to our view
         Thy royal tiara's crest:[48]
 Speak, O Dareios, faultless father, speak.

                            ANTISTROPHE III

 Yea, come, that thou, O Lord, may'st hear the woes,
 Woes new and strange, our lord has now endured;
         For on us now has fallen
         A dark and Stygian mist,
         Since all the armed youth
         Has perished utterly;
 Speak, O Dareios, faultless father, speak.


         O thou, whose death thy friends
         Bewail with many tears,                                     670
         *Why thus, O Lord of lords,
 *In double error of wild frenzy born,
         Have all our triremes good
         Been lost to this our land,
 Ships that are ships no more, yea, ships no more?

         _The_ Ghost _of_ DAREIOS _appears on the summit of the

 _Dar._ O faithful of the Faithful, ye who were
 Companions of my youth, ye Persian elders,

 What troubles is't my country toils beneath?
 The whole plain groans, cut up and furrowed o'er,[49]
 And I, beholding now my queen beloved
 Standing hard by my sepulchre, feared much,                         680
 And her libations graciously received;
 But ye wail loud near this my sepulchre,
 And shouting shrill with cries that raise the dead,
 Ye call me with your plaints. No easy task
 Is it to come, for this cause above all,
 That the great Gods who reign below are apter
 To seize men than release: yet natheless I,
 Being great in power among them, now am come.
 Be quick then, that none blame me as too late;[50]
 What new dire evils on the Persians weigh?

 _Chor._ I fear to look on thee,                              690
   Fear before thee to speak,
 With all the awe of thee I felt of old.

 _Dar._ But since I came by thy complaints persuaded,
 From below rising, spin no lengthened tale;
 But shortly, clearly speak, and tell thy story,
 And leave awhile thine awe and fear of me.

 _Chor._ I dread thy wish to grant,
   *I dread to say thee nay,[51]
 Saying things that it is hard for friends to speak.

 _Dar._ Nay, then, since that old dread of thine prevents thee,
 Do thou [_to_ ATOSSA], the ancient partner of my bed,700
 My noble queen, from these thy plaints and moanings
 Cease, and say something clearly. Human sorrows
 May well on mortals fall; for many evils,
 Some on the sea, and some on dry land also,
 Happen to men if life be far prolongèd.

 _Atoss._ O thou, who in the fate of fair good fortune
 Excelled'st all men, who, while yet thou sawest
 The sun's bright rays, did'st lead a life all blessed,
 Admired, yea, worshipped as a God by Persians,
 Now, too, I count thee blest in that thou died'st
 Before thou saw'st the depth of these our evils.
 For now, Dareios, thou shalt hear a story
 Full, yet in briefest moment. Utter ruin,
 To sum up all, is come upon the Persians.                           710

 _Dar._ How so? Hath plague or discord seized my country?

 _Atoss._ Not so, but all the host is lost near Athens.

 _Dar._ What son of mine led that host hither, tell me?[52]

 _Atoss._ Xerxes o'er-hasty, emptying all the mainland.

 _Dar._ Made he this mad attempt by land or water?

 _Atoss._ By both; two lines there were of two great armies.

 _Dar._ How did so great a host effect its passage?

 _Atoss._ He bridged the straits of Helle, and found transit.

 _Dar._ Did he prevail to close the mighty Bosporos?

 _Atoss._ So was it; yet some God, it may be, helped him.     720

 _Dar._ Alas! some great God came and stole his wisdom.

 _Atoss._ Yea, the end shows what evil he accomplished.

 _Dar._ And how have they fared, that ye thus bewail them?

 _Atoss._ The naval host, o'ercome, wrecked all the land-force.

 _Dar._ What! Is the whole host by the spear laid prostrate?

 _Atoss._ For this doth Susa's city mourn her losses.

 _Dar._ Alas, for that brave force and mighty army!

 _Atoss._ The Bactrians all are lost, not old men merely.

 _Dar._ Poor fool! how he hath lost his host's fresh vigour!

 _Atoss._ Xerxes, they say, alone, with but few others....    730

 _Dar._ What is his end, and where? Is there no safety?

 _Atoss._ Was glad to gain the bridge that joins two mainlands.

 _Dar._ And has he reached this mainland? Is that certain?

 _Atoss._ Yea, the report holds good. Here is no discord.[53]

 _Dar._ Ah me! Full swift the oracles' fulfilment!
 And on my son hath Zeus their end directed.
 I hoped the Gods would work them out more slowly;
 But when man hastens, God too with him worketh.
 And now for all my friends a fount of evils
 Seems to be found. And this my son, not knowing,                    740
 In youth's rash mood, hath wrought; for he did purpose
 To curb the sacred Hellespont with fetters,
 As though it were his slave, and sought to alter
 The stream of God, the Bosporos, full-flowing,
 And his well-hammered chains around it casting,
 Prevailed to make his mighty host a highway;
 And though a mortal, thought, with no good counsel,
 To master all the Gods, yea, e'en Poseidon.
 Nay, was not my poor son oppressed with madness?
 And much I fear lest all my heaped-up treasure
 Become the spoil and prey of the first comer.

 _Atoss._ Such things the o'er-hasty Xerxes learns from others,750
 By intercourse with men of evil counsel;[54]
 Who say that thou great wealth for thy son gained'st
 By thy spear's might, while he with coward spirit
 Does his spear-work indoors, and nothing addeth
 Unto his father's glory. Such reproaches
 Hearing full oft from men of evil counsel,
 He planned this expedition against Hellas.

 _Dar._ Thus then a deed portentous hath been wrought,
 Ever to be remembered, such as ne'er
 Falling on Susa made it desolate,
 Since Zeus our king ordained this dignity,
 That one man should be lord of Asia's plains.
 Where feed her thousand flocks, and hold the rod                    760
 Of sovran guidance: for the Median first[55]
 Ruled o'er the host, and then his son in turn
 Finished the work, for reason steered his soul;
 And Kyros came as third, full richly blest,
 And ruled, and gained great peace for all his friends;
 And he won o'er the Lydians and the Phrygians,
 And conquered all the wide Ionian land;[56]
 For such his wisdom, he provoked not God.
 And Kyros' son came fourth, and ruled the host;
 And Mardos fifth held sway, his country's shame,[57]                770
 Shame to the ancient throne; and him with guile
 Artaphrenes[58] the brave smote down, close leagued
 With men, his friends, to whom the work was given.
 [Sixth, Maraphis and seventh Artaphrenes,]
 And I obtained this post that I desired,
 And with a mighty host great victories won.
 Yet no such evil brought I on the state;
 But my son Xerxes, young, thinks like a youth,
 And all my solemn charge remembers not;
 For know this well, my old companions true,                         780
 That none of us who swayed the realm of old,
 Did e'er appear as working ills like these.

 _Chor._ What then, O King Dareios? To what end
 Lead'st thou thy speech? And how, in this our plight,
 Could we, the Persian people, prosper best?

 _Dar._ If ye no more attack the Hellenes' land,
 E'en though the Median host outnumbers theirs.
 To them the very land is true ally.

 _Chor._ What meanest thou? How fights the land for them?

 _Dar._ *It slays with famine those vast multitudes.790

 _Chor._ We then a host, select, compact, will raise.

 _Dar._ Nay, e'en the host which now in Hellas stays[59]
 Will ne'er return in peace and safety home.

 _Chor._ How say'st thou? Does not all the barbarous host
 Cross from Europa o'er the straits of Hellè?

 _Dar._ But few of many; if 'tis meet for one
 Who looks upon the things already done
 To trust the oracles of Gods; for they,
 Not these or those, but all, are brought to pass:
 If this be so, then, resting on vain hopes,[60]                     800
 He leaves a chosen portion of his host:
 And they abide where, watering all the plain,
 Asôpos pours his fertilising stream
 Dear to Bœotian land; and there of ills
 The topmost crown awaits them, penalty
 Of wanton outrage and of godless thoughts;
 For they to Hellas coming, held not back
 In awe from plundering sculptured forms of Gods[61]
 And burning down their temples; and laid low
 Are altars, and the shrines of Gods o'erthrown,
 E'en from their base. They therefore having wrought
 Deeds evil, now are suffering, and will suffer
 Evil not less, and not as yet is seen                               810
 *E'en the bare groundwork of the ills, but still
 They grow up to completeness. Such a stream
 Of blood and slaughter soon shall flow from them
 By Dorian spear upon Platæan ground,[62]
 And heaps of corpses shall to children's children,
 Though speechless, witness to the eyes of men
 That mortal man should not wax overproud;
 For wanton pride from blossom grows to fruit,
 The full corn in the ear, of utter woe,
 And reaps a tear-fraught harvest. Seeing then,
 Such recompense of these things, cherish well
 The memory of Athens and of Hellas;                                 820
 Let no man in his scorn of present fortune,
 And thirst for other, mar his good estate;
 Zeus is the avenger of o'er-lofty thoughts,
 A terrible controller. Therefore now,
 Since voice of God bids him be wise of heart,
 Admonish him with counsel true and good
 To cease his daring sacrilegious pride;
 And thou, O Xerxes' mother, old and dear,
 Go to thy home, and taking what apparel
 Is fitting, go to meet thy son; for all                             830
 The costly robes around his limbs are torn
 To rags and shreds in grief's wild agony.
 But do thou gently soothe his soul with words;
 For he to thee alone will deign to hearken;
 But I must leave the earth for darkness deep:
 And ye, old men, farewell, although in woe,
 And give your soul its daily bread of joy;
 For to the dead no profit bringeth wealth.

                                     [_Exit, disappearing in the earth._

 _Chor._ I shudder as I hear the many woes
 Both past and present that on Persians fall.                        840

 _Atoss._ [O God, how many evils fall on me![63]
 And yet this one woe biteth more than all,
 Hearing my son's shame in the rags of robes
 That clothe his limbs. But I will go and take
 A fit adornment from my house, and try
 To meet my son. We will not in his troubles
 Basely abandon him whom most we love.]

                               STROPHE I

 _Chor._ Ah me! a glorious and a blessed life
   Had we as subjects once,
 When our old king, Dareios, ruled the land,                         850
 Meeting all wants, dispassionate, supreme,
   A monarch like a God.

                             ANTISTROPHE I

 For first we showed the world our noble hosts;
   And laws of tower-like strength
 Directed all things; and our backward march
 After our wars unhurt, unsuffering led
   Our prospering armies home.

                               STROPHE II

 How many towns he took,
 Not crossing Halys' stream[64]                                      860
 Nor issuing from his home,
         There where in Strymon's sea,
         The Acheloian Isles[65]
 Lie near the coasts of Thrakian colonies.

                             ANTISTROPHE II

 And those that lie outside the Ægæan main,
         The cities girt with towers,
         They hearkened to our king;
         And those who boast their site
         By Hellè's full, wide stream,
 Propontis with its bays, and mouth of Pontos broad.                 870

                              STROPHE III

         And all the isles that lie
 Facing the headland jutting in the sea,[66]
         Close bound to this our coast;
 Lesbos, and Samos with its olive groves;
         Chios and Paros too;
 Naxos and Myconos, and Andros too
         On Tenos bordering.

                            ANTISTROPHE III

         And so he ruled the isles
 That lie midway between the continents,
         Lemnos, and Icaros,
 Rhodes and Cnidos and the Kyprian towns,                            880
   Paphos and Soli famed,
   And with them Salamis,
 Whose parent city now our groans doth cause;[67]


 And many a wealthy town and populous,
 Of Hellenes in the Ionian region dwelling,
   He by his counsel ruled;
 His was the unconquered strength of warrior host,
   Allies of mingled race.
   And now, beyond all doubt,
 In strife of war defeated utterly,
   We find this high estate
   Through wrath of God o'erturned,                                  890
   And we are smitten low,
   By bitter loss at sea.

      _Enter_ XERXES _in kingly apparel, but with his robes rent,
                           with_ Attendants.

 _Xer._ Oh, miserable me!
 Who this dark hateful doom
 That I expected least
 Have met with as my lot,
 With what stern mood and fierce
 Towards the Persian race
 Is God's hand laid on us!
 What woe will come on me?
 Gone is my strength of limb,
 As I these elders see.
 Ah, would to Heaven, O Zeus,
 That with the men who fell
 Death's doom had covered me!                                        900

   _Chor._ Ah, woe, O King, woe! woe!
   For the army brave in fight,
   And our goodly Persian name,
   And the fair array of men,
   Whom God hath now cut off!
   And the land bewails its youth
   Who for our Xerxes fell,
   For him whose deeds have filled
   *Hades with Persian souls;
   For many heroes now
   *Are Hades-travellers,
   Our country's chosen flower,
   Mighty with darts and bow;
   *For lo! the myriad mass                               910
   Of men has perished quite.
   Woe, woe for our fair fame!
   And Asia's land, O King,
 Is terribly, most terribly, o'erthrown.

   _Xer._ I then, oh misery!
   Have to my curse been proved
 Sore evil to my country and my race.

 _Chor._ Yea, and on thy return
 I will lift up my voice in wailing loud,
   Cry of sore-troubled thought,
   As of a mourner born
   In Mariandynian land,[68]                                         920
   Lament of many tears.

                             ANTISTROPHE I

 _Xer._ Yea, utter ye a wail
   Dreary and full of grief;
 For lo! the face of Fate
 Against me now is turned.

 _Chor._ Yea, I will raise a cry
 Dreary and full of grief,
 Giving this tribute due
 To all the people's woes,
 And all our loss at sea,
 Troubles of this our State
 That mourneth for her sons;
 Yea, I will wail full sore,
 With flood of bitter tears.

                               STROPHE II

 _Xer._ For Ares, he whose might
 Was in our ships' array,
 Giving victory to our foes,
 Has in Ionians, yea,
 Ionians, found his match,
 And from the dark sea's plain,
 And that ill-omened shore,
 Has a fell harvest reaped.

 _Chor._ Yea, wail, search out the whole;
 Where are our other friends?
 Where thy companions true,
 Such as Pharandakes,
 Susas, Pelagon, Psammis, Dotamas,
 Agdabatas, Susiskanes,
 From Ecbatana who started?

                             ANTISTROPHE II

 _Xer._ I left them low in death,
 Falling from Tyrian ship,
 On Salaminian shores,
 Beating now here, now there,
 On the hard rock-girt coast.

 _Chor._ Ah, where Pharnuchos then,
       And Ariomardos brave?
       And where Sevalkes king,
       Lilæos proud of race,
       Memphis and Tharybis,
       Masistras, and Artembares,                                    950
       Hystæchmas? This I ask.

                              STROPHE III

 _Xer._ Woe! woe is me!
 They have looked on at Athens' ancient towers,
       Her hated towers, ah me!
       All, as by one fell stroke,
       Unhappy in their fate
       Lie gasping on the shore.

 _Chor._ And he, thy faithful Eye,[69]                        960
       Who told the Persian host,
       Myriads on myriads o'er,[70]
       Alpistos, son and heir
       Of Batanôchos old
        ·       ·       ·       ·       ·
       And the son of brave Sesames,
       Son himself of Megabates?
       Parthos, and the great Œbares,
 Did'st thou leave them, did'st thou leave them?
       Ah, woe! ah, woe is me,
       For those unhappy ones!
       Thou to the Persians brave
       Tellest of ills on ills.

                            ANTISTROPHE III

 _Xer._ Ah, thou dost wake in me
 The memory of the spell of yearning love
       For comrades brave and true,
     Telling of cursed ills,
     Yea, cursed, hateful doom;                                      970
     And lo, within my frame
     My heart cries out, cries out.

 _Chor._ Yea, another too we long for,
     Xanthes, captain of ten thousand
     Mardian warriors, and Anchares
     Arian born, and great Arsakes
     And Diæxis, lords of horsemen,
     Kigdagatas and Lythimnas,
     Tolmos, longing for the battle:                                 980
     *Much I marvel, much I marvel,[71]
     For they come not, as the rear-guard
     Of thy tent on chariot mounted.[72]

                               STROPHE IV

 _Xer._ Gone those rulers of the army.

 _Chor._ Gone are they in death inglorious.

 _Xer._ Ah woe! ah woe! Alas! alas!

 _Chor._ Ah! the Gods have sent upon us
     Ill we never thought to look on,
     Eminent above all others;
     Ne'er hath Atè seen its equal.

                             ANTISTROPHE IV

 Smitten we by many sorrows,                                         990
 Such as come on men but seldom.

 _Chor._ Smitten we, 'tis all too certain....

 _Xer._ Fresh woes! fresh woes! ah me!

 _Chor._ Now with adverse turn of fortune,
 With Ionian seamen meeting,
 Fails in war the race of Persians.

                               STROPHE V

 _Xer._ Too true. Yea I and that vast host of mine
 Are smitten down.

 _Chor._ Too true—the Persians' majesty and might
 Have perished utterly.

 _Xer._ See'st thou this remnant of my armament?

 _Chor._ I see it, yea, I see.                               1000

 _Xer._ (_pointing to his quiver._) Dost see thou that
 which arrows wont to hold?...

 _Chor._ What speak'st thou of as saved?

 _Xer._ This treasure-store for darts.

 _Chor._ Few, few of many left!

 _Xer._ Thus we all helpers lack.

 _Chor._ Ionian soldiers flee not from the spear.

                             ANTISTROPHE V

 _Xer._ Yea, very brave are they, and I have seen
 Unlooked-for woe.

 _Chor._ Wilt tell of squadron of our sea-borne ships
 Defeated utterly?

 _Xer._ I tore my robes at this calamity.

 _Chor._ Ah me, ah me, ah me.                                1010

 _Xer._ Ay, more than all 'ah me's'!

 _Chor._ Twofold and threefold ills!

 _Xer._ Grievous to us—but joy,
 Great joy, to all our foes!

 _Chor._ Lopped off is all our strength.

 _Xer._ Stripped bare of escort I!

 _Chor._ Yea, by sore loss at sea
     Disastrous to thy friends.

                               STROPHE VI

 _Xer._ Weep for our sorrow, weep,
     Yea, go ye to the house.

 _Chor._ Woe for our griefs, woe, woe!

 _Xer._ Cry out an echoing cry.

 _Chor._ Ill gift of ills on ills.                           1020

 _Xer._ Weep on in wailing chant.

 _Chor._ Oh! ah! Oh! ah!

 _Xer._ Grievous our bitter woes.

 _Chor._ Ah me, I mourn them sore.

                             ANTISTROPHE VI

 _Xer._ Ply, ply your hands and groan;
     Yea, for my sake bewail.

 _Chor._ I weep in bitter grief.

 _Xer._ Cry out an echoing cry.

 _Chor._ Yea, we may raise our voice,
     O Lord and King, in wail.

 _Xer._ Raise now shrill cry of woe.

 _Chor._ Ah me! Ah! Woe is me!                               1030

 _Xer._ Yea, with it mingle dark....

 _Chor._ And bitter, grievous blows.

                              STROPHE VII

 _Xer._ Yea, beat thy breast, and cry
     After the Mysian type.

 _Chor._ Oh, misery! oh, misery!

 _Xer._ Yea, tear the white hair off thy flowing beard.

 _Chor._ Yea; with clenched hands, with clenchèd hands, I say,
     In very piteous guise.

 _Xer._ Cry out, cry out aloud.

 _Chor._ That also will I do.

                            ANTISTROPHE VII

 _Xer._ And with thy fingers tear
     Thy bosom's folded robe.

 _Chor._ Oh, misery! oh, misery!                             1040

 _Xer._ Yea, tear thy hair in wailing for our host.

 _Chor._ Yea, with clenched hands, I say, with clenchèd hands,
     In very piteous guise.

 _Xer._ Be thine eyes wet with tears.

 _Chor._ Behold the tears stream down.


 _Xer._ Raise a re-echoing cry.

 _Chor._ Ah woe! ah woe!

 _Xer._ Go to thy home with wailing loud and long.

 _Chor._ O land of Persia, full of lamentations!

 _Xer._ Through the town raise your cries.

 _Chor._ We raise them, yea, we raise.                       1050

 _Xer._ Wail, wail, ye men that walked so daintily.

 _Chor._ O land of Persia, full of lamentations!
     Woe; woe!

 _Xer._ Alas for those who in the triremes perished!

 _Chor._ With broken cries of woe will I escort thee.

                                    [_Exeunt in procession, wailing, and
                                        rending their robes._


Footnote 3:

  “The Faithful,” or “trusty,” seems to have been a special title of
  honour given to the veteran councillors of the king (Xenoph. _Anab._
  i. 15), just as that of the “Immortals” was chosen for his body-guard
  (Herod, vii. 83).

Footnote 4:

  Susa was pre-eminently the treasury of the Persian kings (Herod, v.
  49; Strabo, xv. p. 731), their favourite residence in spring, as
  Ecbatana in Media was in summer and Babylon in winter.

Footnote 5:

  Kissia was properly the name of the district in which Susa stood; but
  here, and in v. 123, it is treated as if it belonged to a separate
  city. Throughout the play there is, indeed, a lavish use of Persian
  barbaric names of persons and places, without a very minute regard to
  historical accuracy.

Footnote 6:

  Here, as in Herodotos and Greek writers generally, the title, “the
  King,” or “the great King,” was enough. It could be understood only of
  the Persian. The latter name had been borne by the kings of Assyria (2
  Kings xviii. 28). A little later it passed into the fuller, more
  boastful form of “The King of kings.”

Footnote 7:

  The inhabitants of the Delta of the Nile, especially those of the
  marshy districts near the Heracleotic mouth, were famed as supplying
  the best and bravest soldiers of any part of Egypt.—Comp. Thucyd. i.

Footnote 8:

  The epithet was applied probably by Æschylos to the Lydians properly
  so called, the barbaric race with whom the Hellenes had little or
  nothing in common. They, in dress, diet, mode of life, their distaste
  for the contests of the arena, seemed to the Greeks the very type of
  effeminacy. The Ionian Greeks, however, were brought under the same
  influence, and gradually acquired the same character. The suppression
  of the name of the Ionians in the list of the Persian forces may be
  noticed as characteristic. The Athenian poet would not bring before an
  Athenian audience the shame of their Asiatic kinsmen.

Footnote 9:

  Tmôlos, sacred as being the mythical birth-place of Dionysos.

Footnote 10:

  “Spear-anvils,” _sc._, meeting the spear of their foes as the anvils
  would meet it, turning its point, themselves steadfast and immovable.

Footnote 11:

  So Herodotos (vii. 74) in his account of the army of Xerxes describes
  the Mysians as using for their weapons those darts or “javelins” made
  by hardening the ends in the fire.

Footnote 12:

  Helle the daughter of Athamas, from whom the Hellespont took its name.
  For the description of the pontoons formed by boats, which were moored
  together with cables and finally covered with faggots, comp. Herod,
  vii. 36.

Footnote 13:

  “Gold-born,” _sc._, descended from Perseus, the child of Danaë.

Footnote 14:

  Syrian, either in the vague sense in which it became almost synonymous
  with Assyrian, or else showing that Syria, properly so called,
  retained the fame for chariots which it had had at a period as early
  as the time of the Hebrew Judges (Judg. v. 3). Herodotos (vii. 140)
  gives an Oracle of Delphi in which the same epithet appears.

Footnote 15:

  The description, though put into the mouth of Persians, is meant to
  flatter Hellenic pride. The Persians and their army were for the most
  part light-armed troops only, barbarians equipped with javelins or
  bows. In the sculptures of Persepolis, as in those of Nineveh and
  Khorsabad, this mode of warfare is throughout the most conspicuous.
  They, the Hellenes, were the _hoplites_, warriors of the spear and the
  shield, the cuirass and the greaves.

Footnote 16:

  A touch of Athenian exultation in their life as seamen. To them the
  sea was almost a home. They were familiar with it from childhood. To
  the Persians it was new and untried. They had a new lesson to learn,
  late in the history of the nation, late in the lives of individual

Footnote 17:

  The bridge of boats, with the embankment raised upon it, is thought of
  as a new headland putting out from the one shore and reaching to the

Footnote 18:

  Stress is laid by the Hellenic poet, as in the _Agamemnon_ (v. 895),
  and in v. 707 of this play, on the tendency of the East to give to its
  kings the names and the signs of homage which were due only to the
  Gods. The Hellenes might deify a dead hero, but not a living
  sovereign. On different grounds the Jews shrank, as in the stories of
  Nebuchadnezzar and Dareios (Dan. iii. 6), from all such acts.

Footnote 19:

  In the Greek, as in the translation, there is a change of metre,
  intended apparently to represent the transition from the tone of eager
  excitement to the ordinary level of discourse.

Footnote 20:

  With reference either to the _mythos_ that Asia and Europa were both
  daughters of Okeanos, or to the historical fact that the Asiatic
  Ionians and the Dorians of Europe were both of the same Hellenic
  stock. The contrast between the long flowing robes of the Asiatic
  women, and the short, scanty kilt-like dress of those of Sparta must
  be borne in mind if we would see the picture in its completeness.

Footnote 21:

  Athenian pride is flattered with the thought that they had resisted
  while the Ionian Greeks had submitted all too willingly to the yoke of
  the Barbarian.

Footnote 22:

  Lustrations of this kind, besides their general significance in
  cleansing from defilement, had a special force as charms to turn aside
  dangers threatened by foreboding dreams. Comp. Aristoph. _Frogs_, v.
  1264; Persius, _Sat._ ii. 16.

Footnote 23:

  The political bearing of the passage as contrasting this
  characteristic of the despotism of Persia with the strict account to
  which all Athenian generals were subject, is, of course, unmistakable.

Footnote 24:

  The question, which seems to have rankled in the minds of the
  Athenians, is recorded as an historical fact, and put into the mouth
  of Dareios by Herodotos (v. 101). He had asked it on hearing that
  Sardis had been attacked and burnt by them.

Footnote 25:

  The words point to the silver mines of Laureion, which had been worked
  under Peisistratos, and of which this is the first mention in Greek

Footnote 26:

  Once more the contrast between the Greek _hoplite_ and the light-armed
  archers of the invaders is dwelt upon. The next answer of the Chorus
  dwells upon the deeper contrast, then prominent in the minds of all
  Athenians, between their democratic freedom and the despotism of
  Persia. Comp. Herod. v. 78.

Footnote 27:

  The system of postal communications by means of couriers which Dareios
  had organised had made their speed in running proverbial (Herod. vii.

Footnote 28:

  With the characteristic contempt of a Greek for other races, Æschylos
  makes the Persians speak of themselves throughout as 'barbarians,'

Footnote 29:

                Perhaps— “On planks that floated onward,”
                  or—    “On land and sea far spreading.”

Footnote 30:

  Possibly Salamis itself, as famed for the doves which were reared
  there as sacred to Aphrodite, but possibly also one of the smaller
  islands in the Saronic gulf, which the epithet would be enough to
  designate for an Athenian audience. The “coasts of the Sileni” in v.
  305 are identified by scholiasts with Salamis.

Footnote 31:

  Perhaps—“And ten of these selected as reserve.”

Footnote 32:

  As regards the number of the Persian ships, 1000 of average, and 207
  of special swiftness. Æschylos agrees with Herodotos, who gives the
  total of 1207. The latter, however, reckons the Greek ships not at
  310, but 378 (vii. 89, viii. 48).

Footnote 33:

  The fact that Athens had actually been taken, and its chief buildings
  plundered and laid waste, was, of course, not a pleasant one for the
  poet to dwell on. It could hardly, however, be entirely passed over,
  and this is the one allusion to it. In the truest sense it was still
  “unsacked:” it had not lost its most effective defence, its most
  precious treasure.

Footnote 34:

  As the story is told by Herodotos (vii. 75), this was Sikinnos, the
  slave of Themistocles, and the stratagem was the device of that
  commander to save the Greeks from the disgrace and ruin of a _sauve
  qui peut_ flight in all directions.

Footnote 35:

  The Greeks never beheaded their criminals, and the punishment is
  mentioned as being specially characteristic of the barbaric Persians.

Footnote 36:

  The Æginetans and Megarians, according to the account preserved by
  Diodoros (xi. 18), or the Lacedæmonians, according to Herodotos (viii.

Footnote 37:

  This may be meant to refer to the achievements of Ameinias of Pallene,
  who appears in the traditional life of Œschylos as his youngest

Footnote 38:

  _Sc._, in Herod. viii. 60, the strait between Salamis and the

Footnote 39:

  Tunny-fishing has always been prominent in the occupations on the
  Mediterranean coasts, and the sailors who formed so large a part of
  every Athenian audience would be familiar with the process here
  described, of striking or harpooning them. Aristophanes (_Wasps_,
  1087) coins (or uses) the word “to tunny” (θυννάζω) to express the
  act. Comp. Herod. i. 62.

Footnote 40:

  _Sc._, Psyttaleia, lying between Salamis and the mainland. Pausanias
  (i. 36-82) describes it in his time as having no artistic shrine or
  statue, but full everywhere of roughly carved images of Pan, to whom
  the island was sacred. It lay just opposite the entrance to the
  Peiræos. The connexion of Pan with Salamis and its adjacent islands
  seems implied in Sophocles, _Aias_, 695.

Footnote 41:

  The manœuvre was, we learn from Herodotos (viii. 95), the work of
  Aristeides, the personal friend of Æschylos, and the statesman with
  whose policy he had most sympathy.

Footnote 42:

  The lines are noted as probably a spurious addition, by a weaker hand,
  to the text, as introducing surplusage, as inconsistent with
  Herodotos, and as faulty in their metrical structure.

Footnote 43:

  So Herodotos (viii. 115) describes them as driven by hunger to eat
  even grass and leaves.

Footnote 44:

  No trace of this passage over the frozen Strymon appears in Herodotos,
  who leaves the reader to imagine that it was crossed, as before, by a
  bridge. It is hardly, indeed, consistent with dramatic probability
  that the courier should have remained to watch the whole retreat of
  the defeated army; and on this and other grounds, the latter part of
  the speech has been rejected by some critics as a later addition.

Footnote 45:

  The Ionians, not of the Asiatic Ionia, but of Attica.

Footnote 46:

  Kychreia, the archaic name of Salamis.

Footnote 47:

  The ritual described is Hellenic rather than Persian, and takes its
  place (Soph. _Electr._ 836; Eurip. _Iphig. Taur._ 583; Homer, _Il._
  xxiii. 219) as showing what offerings were employed to soothe or call
  up the spirits of the dead. Comp. Pliny, _Hist. Nat._ xxx.

Footnote 48:

  The description obviously gives the state dress of the Persian kings.
  They alone wore the tiara erect. Xen. _Kyrop._ viii. 3, 13.

Footnote 49:

  Either that he has felt the measured tread of the mourners round his
  tomb, as they went wailing round and round, or that he has heard the
  rush of armies, and seen the plain tracked by chariot-wheels, and
  comes, not knowing all these things, to learn what it means.

Footnote 50:

  The words point to the widespread belief that when the souls of the
  dead were permitted to return to the earth, it was with strict
  limitations as to the time of their leave of absence.

Footnote 51:

  Perhaps—“I dread to speak the truth.”

Footnote 52:

  According to Herodotos (vii. 225) two brothers of Xerxes fell at

Footnote 53:

  As Herodotos (viii. 117) tells the story, the bridge had been broken
  by the tempest before Xerxes reached it.

Footnote 54:

  Probably Mardonios and Onomacritos the Athenian soothsayer are
  referred to, who, according to Herodotos (vii. 6, viii. 99) were the
  chief instigators of the expedition.

Footnote 55:

  Astyages, the father-in-law of Kyaxares and grandfather of Kyros. In
  this case Æschylos must be supposed to accept Xenophon's statement
  that Kyaxares succeeded to Astyages. Possibly, however, the Median may
  be Kyaxares I., the father of Astyages, and so the succession here
  would harmonise with that of Herodotos. The whole succession must be
  looked on as embodying the loose, floating notions of the Athenians as
  to the history of their great enemy, rather than as the result of

Footnote 56:

  Stress is laid on the violence to which the Asiatic Ionians had
  succumbed, and their resistance to which distinguished them from the
  Lydians or Phrygians, whose submission had been voluntary.

Footnote 57:

  Mardos. Under this name we recognise the Pseudo-Smerdis of Herodotos
  (iii. 67), who, by restoring the dominion of the Median Magi, the
  caste to which he himself belonged, brought shame upon the Persians.

Footnote 58:

  Possibly another form of Intaphernes, who appears in Herodotos (iii.
  70) as one of the seven conspirators against the Magian

Footnote 59:

  The force of 300,000 men left in Greece under Mardonios (Herod. viii.
  113), afterwards defeated at Platæa.

Footnote 60:

  Comp. the speech of Mardonios urging his plan on Xerxes (Herod. viii.

Footnote 61:

  This was of course a popular topic with the Athenians, whose own
  temples had been outraged. But other sanctuaries also, the temples at
  Delphi and Abæ, had shared the same fate, and these sins against the
  Gods of Hellas were naturally connected in the thoughts of the Greeks
  with the subsequent disasters of the Persians. In Egypt these outrages
  had an iconoclastic character. In Athens they were a retaliation for
  the destruction of the temple at Sardis (Herod. v. 102).

Footnote 62:

  The reference to the prominent part taken by the Peloponnesian forces
  in the battle of Platæa is probably due to the political sympathies of
  the dramatist.

Footnote 63:

  The speech of Atossa is rejected by Paley, on internal grounds, as

Footnote 64:

  Apparently an allusion to the oracle given to Crœsos, that he, if he
  crossed the Halys, should destroy a great kingdom.

Footnote 65:

  The name originally given to the Echinades, a group of islands at the
  mouth of the Acheloös, was applied generically to all islands lying
  near the mouth of all great rivers, and here, probably, includes
  Imbros, Thasos, and Samothrakè.

Footnote 66:

  The geography is somewhat obscure, but the words seem to refer to the
  portion of the islands that are named as opposite (in a southerly
  direction) to the promontory of the Troad.

Footnote 67:

  Salamis in Kypros had been colonised by Teukros, the son of Aias, and
  had received its name in remembrance of the island in the Saronic

Footnote 68:

  The Mariandynoi, a Paphlagonian tribe, conspicuous for their orgiastic
  worship of Adonis, had become proverbial for the wildness of their
  plaintive dirges.

Footnote 69:

  The name seems to have been an official title for some
  Inspector-General of the Army. Comp. Aristoph. _Acharn._ v. 92.

Footnote 70:

  As in the account which Herodotos gives (vii. 60) of the way in which
  the army of Xerxes was numbered, _sc._, by enclosing 10,000 men in a
  given space, and then filling it again and again till the whole army
  had passed through.

Footnote 71:

  Another reading gives—

                   “They are buried, they are buried.”

Footnote 72:

  Perhaps referring to the waggon-chariots in which the rider reclines
  at ease, either protected by a canopy, or, as in the Assyrian
  sculptures and perhaps in the East generally, overshadowed by a large
  umbrella which an eunuch holds over him.


                            DRAMATIS PERSONÆ

                       _Chorus of Theban Maidens_

ARGUMENT.—_When Œdipus king of Thebes discovered that he had unknowingly
been the murderer of his father, and had lived in incest with his
mother, he blinded himself. And his two sons, Eteocles and Polyneikes,
wishing to banish the remembrance of these horrors from the eyes of men,
at first kept him in confinement. And he, being wroth with them, prayed
that they might divide their inheritance with the sword. And they, in
fear lest the prayer should be accomplished, agreed to reign in turn,
each for a year, and Eteocles, as the elder of the two, took the first
turn. But when at the end of the year Polyneikes came to ask for the
kingdom, Eteocles refused to give way, and sent him away empty. So
Polyneikes went to Argos and married the daughter of Adrastos the king
of that country, and gathered together a great army under six great
captains, himself going as the seventh, and led it against Thebes. And
so they compassed it about, and at each of the seven gates of the city
was stationed one of the divisions of the army._

_Note._—_The Seven against Thebes_ appears to have been produced B.C.
472, the year after _The Persians_.

                        THE SEVEN AGAINST THEBES

               SCENE.—THEBES _in front of the Acropolis_

           _Enter_ ETEOCLES, _and crowd of_ Theban Citizens.

 _Eteoc._ Ye citizens of Cadmos, it behoves
 That one who standeth at the stern of State
 Guiding the helm, with eyes unclosed in sleep,
 Should speak the things that meet occasion's need.
 For should we prosper, God gets all the praise:
 But if (which God forbid!) disaster falls,
 Eteocles, much blame on one head falling,
 Would find his name the by-word of the State,[73]
 Sung in the slanderous ballads of the town;
 Yes, and with groanings, which may Zeus the Averter,
 True to his name, from us Cadmeians turn!
 But now 'tis meet for all, both him who fails                        10
 Of full-grown age, and him advanced in years,
 Yet boasting still a stalwart strength of frame,
 And each in life's full prime, as it is fit,
 The State to succour and the altars here
 Of these our country's Gods, that never more
 Their votive honours cease,—to help our sons,
 And Earth, our dearest mother and kind nurse;
 For she, when young ye crept her kindly plain,
 Bearing the whole charge of your nourishment,
 Reared you as denizens that bear the shield,
 That ye should trusty prove in this her need.                        20
 And now thus far God turns the scale for us;
 For unto us, beleaguered these long days,
 War doth in most things with God's help speed well,
 But now, as saith the seer, the augur skilled,[74]
 Watching with ear and mind, apart from fire,
 The birds oracular with mind unerring,
 He, lord and master of these prophet-arts,
 Says that the great attack of the Achæans
 This very night is talked of, and their plots
 Devised against the town. But ye, haste all
 Unto the walls and gateways of the forts;                            30
 Rush ye full-armed, and fill the outer space,
 And stand upon the platforms of the towers,
 And at the entrance of the gates abiding
 Be of good cheer, nor fear ye overmuch
 The host of aliens. Well will God work all.
 And I have sent my scouts and watchers forth,
 And trust their errand is no fruitless one.
 I shall not, hearing them, be caught with guile.

                                                     [_Exeunt_ Citizens.

                       _Enter one of the_ Scouts.

 _Mess._ King of Cadmeians, great Eteocles,
 I from the army come with tidings clear,                             40
 And am myself eye-witness of its acts;
 For seven brave warriors, leading armèd bands,
 Cutting a bull's throat o'er a black-rimmed shield,
 And dipping in the bull's blood with their hands,
 Swore before Ares, Enyo,[75] murderous Fear,
 That they would bring destruction on our town,
 And trample under foot the tower of Cadmos,
 Or dying, with their own blood stain our soil;
 And they memorials for their sires at home
 Placed with their hands upon Adrastos' car,[76]                      50
 Weeping, but no wail uttering with their lips,
 For courage iron-hearted breathed out fire
 In manliness unconquered, as when lions
 Flash battle from their eyeballs. And report
 Of these things does not linger on the way.
 I left them casting lots, that each might take,
 As the lot fell, his station at the gate.
 Wherefore do thou our city's chosen ones
 Array with speed at entrance of the gates;
 For near already is the Argive host,
 Marching through clouds of dust, and whitening foam                  60
 Spots all the plain with drops from horses' mouths.
 And thou, as prudent helmsman of the ship,
 Guard thou our fortress ere the blasts of Ares
 Swoop on it wildly; for there comes the roar
 Of the land-wave of armies. And do thou
 Seize for these things the swiftest tide and time;
 And I, in all that comes, will keep my eye
 As faithful sentry; so through speech full clear,
 Thou, knowing all things yonder, shalt be safe.


 _Eteoc._ O Zeus and Earth, and all ye guardian Gods!
 Thou Curse and strong Erinnys of my sire!                            70
 Destroy ye not my city root and branch,
 With sore destruction smitten, one whose voice
 Is that of Hellas, nor our hearths and homes;[77]
 Grant that they never hold in yoke of bondage
 Our country free, and town of Cadmos named;
 But be ye our defence. I deem I speak
 Of what concerns us both; for still 'tis true,
 A prosperous city honours well the Gods.      [_Exit._

         _Enter Chorus of_ Theban Maidens _in solemn procession
                             as suppliants_

 _Chor._ I in wild terror utter cries of woe;
 An army leaves its camp and is let loose:
 Hither the vanguard of the horsemen flows,                           80
       And the thick cloud of dust,
       That suddenly is seen,
       Dumb herald, yet full clear,
       Constrains me to believe;
 And smitten with the horses' hoofs, the plain
 Of this my country rings with noise of war;
       It floats and echoes round,
 Like voice of mountain torrent dashing down
       Resistless in its might.
       Ah Gods! Ah Goddesses!
       Ward off the coming woe.
 With battle-shout that rises o'er the walls,
       The host whose shields are white[78]                           90
 Marches in full array against our city.
       Who then, of all the Gods
 Or Goddesses, will come to help and save?
 Say, shall I fall before the shrines of Gods?
       O blessed Ones firm fixed!
 'Tis time to clasp your sacred images.
 Why linger we in wailing overmuch?
 Hear ye, or hear ye not, the din of shields?
       When, if not now, shall we
 Engage in prayer with peplos and with boughs?[79]
 I hear a mighty sound; it is the din                                100
       Not of a single spear.
 O Ares! ancient guardian of our land!
 What wilt thou do? Wilt thou betray thy land?
       O God of golden casque,
 Look on our city, yea, with favour look,
       The city thou did'st love.
 And ye, ye Gods who o'er the city rule,
       Come all of you, come all.
 Behold the band of maidens suppliant,
       In fear of bondage foul;
       For now around the town
 The wave of warriors bearing slopèd crests,
 With blasts of Ares rushing, hoarsely sounds:                       110
 But thou, O Zeus! true father of us all,
 Ward off, ward off our capture by the foe.

                               STROPHE I

 For Argives now surround the town of Cadmos,
 And dread of Ares' weapons falls on us;
       And, bound to horses' mouths,
 The bits and curbs ring music as of death;
 And seven chief rulers of the mighty host,
 With warriors' arms, at each of seven tall gates,
       Spear-armed and harnessed all,
       Stand, having cast their lots.
        ·       ·       ·       ·       ·


 And thou, O Zeus-born power in war delighting,                      120
 O Pallas! be our city's saviour now;
       And Thou who curb'st the steed,
       Great King of Ocean's waves,
 Poseidon, with thy trident fish-spear armed,[80]
 Give respite from our troubles, respite give!
 And Thou, O Ares, guard the town that takes
       Its name from Cadmos old,[81]
       Watch o'er it visibly.

                             ANTISTROPHE I

 And thou, O Kypris, of our race the mother,
 Ward off these ills, for we are thine by blood:
       To thee in many a prayer,                                     130
 With voice that calls upon the Gods we cry,
 And unto thee draw near as suppliants:
 And Thou, Lykeian king, Lykeian be,[82]
       Foe of our hated foes,
       For this our wailing cry;
 And Thou, O child of Leto, Artemis,
       Make ready now thy bow.

                               STROPHE II

 Ah! ah! I hear a din of chariot wheels
       Around the city walls;
       O Hera great and dread!
 The heavy axles of the chariots groan,                              140
       O Artemis beloved!
 And the air maddens with the clash of spears;
       What must our city bear?
       What now shall come on us?
       When will God give the end?

                             ANTISTROPHE II

 Ah! ah! a voice of stones is falling fast
       On battlements attacked;[83]
       O Lord, Apollo loved,
 A din of bronze-bound shields is in the gates;
       And oh! that Zeus may give                                    150
 A faultless issue of this war we wage!
       And Thou, O blessed queen,
       As Guardian Onca known,[84]
       Save thy seven-gated seat.

                              STROPHE III

 And ye, all-working Gods,
 Of either sex divine,
 Protectors of our towers,
 Give not our city, captured by the spear,
 To host of alien speech.[85]
 Hear ye our maidens; hear,                                          160
 As is most meet, our prayers with outstretched hands.

                            ANTISTROPHE III

 O all ye loving Powers,
 Compass our State to save;
 Show how that State ye love;
 Think on our public votive offerings,
 And as ye think, oh, help:
 Be mindful ye, I pray,
 Of all our city's rites of sacrifice.

                          _Re-enter_ ETEOCLES

 _Eteoc._ (_to the Chorus_) I ask you, O ye brood intolerable,
 Is this course best and safest for our city?                        170
 Will it give heart to our beleaguered host,
 That ye before the forms of guardian Gods
 Should wail and howl, ye loathèd of the wise;[86]
 Ne'er be it mine, in ill estate or good,
 To dwell together with the race of women;
 For when they rule, their daring bars approach,
 And when they fear, alike to house and State
 Comes greater ill; and now with these your rushings
 Hither and thither, ye have troubled sore
 Our subjects with a coward want of heart;
 And do your best for those our foes without;                        180
 And we are harassed by ourselves within.
 This comes to one who dwells with womankind.
 And if there be that will not own my sway,
 Or man or woman in their prime, or those
 Who can be classed with neither, they shall take
 Their trial for their life, nor shall they 'scape
 The fate of stoning. Things outdoors are still
 The man's to look to: let not woman counsel.
 Stay thou within, and do no mischief more.
 Hear'st thou, or no? or speak I to the deaf?

                               STROPHE I

 _Chor._ Dear son of Œdipus,                                  190
 I shuddered as I heard the din, the din
         Of many a chariot's noise,
 When on the axles creaked the whirling wheels,
         *And when I heard the sound
 *Of fire-wrought curbs within the horses' mouths.

 _Eteoc._ What then? Did ever yet the sailor flee
 From stern to stem, and find deliverance so,
 While his ship laboured in the ocean's wave?[87]

                             ANTISTROPHE I

 _Chor._ Nay, to the ancient forms
 Of mighty Powers I rushed, as trusting Gods;
         And when behind the gates
 Was heard the crash of fierce and pelting storm,                    200
         Then was it, in my fear,
 I prayed the Blessed Ones to guard our city.

 _Eteoc._ Pray that our towns hold out 'gainst spear of foes.[88]

 _Chor._ Do not the Gods grant these things?

 _Eteoc._                         Nay the Gods,
 So say they, leave the captured city's walls.[89]

                               STROPHE II

 _Chor._ Ah! never in my life
 May all this goodly company of Gods
         Depart; nor may I see
 This city scene of rushings to and fro,                             210
 *And hostile army burning it with fire!

 _Eteoc._ Nay, call not on the Gods with counsel base;
 Obedience is the mother of success,
 Child strong to save. 'Tis thus the saying runs.

                             ANTISTROPHE II

 _Chor._ True is it; but the Gods
 Have yet a mightier power, and oftentimes,
 In pressure of sore ill,
 It raises one perplexed from direst woe,
 When dark clouds gather thickly o'er his eyes.

 _Eteoc._ 'Tis work of men to offer sacrifice
 And victims to the Gods, when foes press hard;                      220
 Thine to be dumb and keep within the house.

                              STROPHE III

 _Chor._ 'Tis through the Gods we live
 In city unsubdued, and that our towers
 Ward off the multitude of jealous foes.
 What Power will grudge us this?

 _Eteoc._ I grudge not your devotion to the Gods;
 But lest you make my citizens faint-hearted
 Be tranquil, nor to fear's excess give way.

                            ANTISTROPHE III

 _Chor._ Hearing but now a din
 Strange, wildly mingled, I with shrinking fear
 Here to our city's high Acropolis,
 Time-hallowed spot, have come.                                      230

 _Eteoc._ Nay, if ye hear of wounded men or dying,
 Bear them not swiftly off with wailing loud;
 *For blood of men is Ares' chosen food.[90]

 _Chor._ Hark! now I hear the panting of the steeds.

 _Eteoc._ Clear though thou hear, yet hear not overmuch.

 _Chor._ Lo! from its depths the fortress groans, beleaguered.

 _Eteoc._ It is enough that I provide for this.

 _Chor._ I fear: the din increases at the gates.

 _Eteoc._ Be still, say nought of these things in the city.

 _Chor._ O holy Band![91] desert ye not our towers.           240

 _Eteoc._ A curse fall on thee! wilt thou not be still?

 _Chor._ Gods of my city, from the slave's lot save me!

 _Eteoc._ 'Tis thou enslav'st thyself and all thy city.

 _Chor._ Oh, turn thy darts, great Zeus, against our foes!

 _Eteoc._ Oh, Zeus, what race of women thou hast given us!

 _Chor._ A sorry race, like men whose city falls.

 _Eteoc._ What? Cling to these statues, yet speak words of ill?

 _Chor._ Fear hurries on my tongue in want of courage.

 _Eteoc._ Could'st thou but grant one small boon at my prayer!250

 _Chor._ Speak it out quickly, and I soon shall know.

 _Eteoc._ Be still, poor fool, and frighten not thy friends.

 _Chor._ Still am I, and with others bear our fate.

 _Eteoc._ These words of thine I much prefer to those:
 And further, though no longer at the shrines,
 Pray thou for victory, that the Gods fight with us.
 And when my prayers thou hearest, then do thou
 Raise a loud, welcome, holy pæan-shout,
 The Hellenes' wonted cry at sacrifice;
 So cheer thy friends, and check their fear of foes;
 And I unto our country's guardian Gods,                             260
 Who hold the plain or watch the agora,
 The springs of Dirkè, and Ismenos' stream;—
 If things go well, and this our city's saved,—
 I vow that staining with the blood of sheep
 The altar-hearths of Gods, or slaying bulls,
 We'll fix our trophies, and our foemen's robes
 On the spear's point on consecrated walls,
 Before the shrines I'll hang.[92] Pray thou this prayer,
 Not weakly wailing, nor with vain wild sobs,
 For no whit more thou'lt 'scape thy destined lot:                   270
 And I six warriors, with myself as seventh,
 Against our foes in full state like their own,
 Will station at the seven gates' entrances,
 Ere hurrying heralds and swift-rushing words
 Come and inflame them in the stress of need.      [_Exit_

                               STROPHE I

 _Chor._ My heart is full of care and knows not sleep,
       By panic fear o'ercome;
       And troubles throng my soul,
       And set a-glow my dread
 Of the great host encamped around our walls,
       As when a trembling dove
       Fears, for her callow brood,                                  280
 The snakes that come, ill mates for her soft nest;
       For some upon our towers
 March in full strength of mingled multitude;
       And what will me befall?
 And others on our men on either hand
       Hurl rugged blocks of stone.
 In every way, ye Zeus-born Gods, defend                             290
       The city and the host
       That Cadmos claim as sire.

                             ANTISTROPHE I

 What better land will ye receive for this,
         If ye to foes resign
         This rich and fertile clime,
         And that Dirkæan stream,
 Goodliest of founts by great Poseidon sent,
         Who circleth earth, or those
         Who Tethys parent call?[93]                                 300
 And therefore, O ye Gods that guard our city,
         Sending on those without
 Our towers a woe that robs men of their life,
         And makes them lose their shield,
 Gain glory for these countrymen of mine;
         And take your standing-ground,
 As saviours of the city, firm and true,
         In answer to our cry
         Of wailing and of prayer.

                               STROPHE II

 For sad it were to hurl to Hades dark
         A city of old fame,                                         310
         The spoil and prey of war,
 With foulest shame in dust and ashes laid,
 By an Achæan foe at God's decree;
 And that our women, old and young alike,
         Be dragged away, ah me!
         Like horses, by their hair
         Their robes torn off from them.
 And lo, the city wails, made desolate,
         While with confusèd cry                                     320
 The wretched prisoners meet doom worse than death.
         Ah, at this grievous fate
         I shudder ere it comes.

                             ANTISTROPHE II

 And piteous 'tis for those whose youth is fresh
         Before the rites that cull
         Their fair and first-ripe fruit,
 To take a hateful journey from their homes.
 Nay, but I say the dead far better fare
 Than these, for when a city is subdued
         It bears full many an ill.
         This man takes prisoner that,                               330
         Or slays, or burns with fire;
 And all the city is defiled with smoke,
         And Ares fans the flame
 In wildest rage, and laying many low,
         Tramples with foot unclean
         On all men sacred hold.

                              STROPHE III

 And hollow din is heard throughout the town,
         Hemmed in by net of towers;
 And man by man is slaughtered with the spear,
         And cries of bleeding babes,
         Of children at the breast,                                  340
         Are heard in piteous wail,
 And rapine, sister of the plunderer's rush,
         Spoiler with spoiler meets,
 And empty-handed empty-handed calls,
         Wishing for share of gain,
 Both eager for a portion no whit less,
         For more than equal lot
 With what they deem the others' hands have found.

                            ANTISTROPHE III

 And all earth's fruits cast wildly on the ground,                   350
         Meeting the cheerless eye
 Of frugal housewives, give them pain of heart;
         And many a gift of earth
         In formless heaps is whirled
         In waves of nothingness;
 And the young maidens know a sorrow new;
         For now the foe prevails,
 And gains rich prize of wretched captive's bed;                     360
         And now their only hope
 Is that the night of death will come at last,
         Their truest, best ally,
 To rescue them from sorrow fraught with tears.

          _Enter_ ETEOCLES, _followed by his_ Chief Captains,
                           _and by the_ Scout

 _Semi-Chor. A._ The army scout, so deem I, brings to us,
 Dear friends, some tidings new, with quickest speed
 Plying the nimble axles of his feet.

 _Semi-Chor. B._ Yea, the king's self, the son of Œdipus,
 Is nigh to hear the scout's exact report;
 And haste denies him too an even step.

 _Mess._ I knowing well, will our foes' state report,         370
 How each his lot hath stationed at the gates.
 At those of Prœtos, Tydeus thunders loud,
 And him the prophet suffers not to cross
 Ismenos' fords, the victims boding ill.[94]
 And Tydeus, raging eager for the fight,
 Shouts like a serpent in its noontide scream,
 And on the prophet, Œcleus' son, heaps shame,
 That he, in coward fear, doth crouch and fawn
 Before the doom and peril of the fight.
 And with such speech he shakes his triple crest,
 O'ershadowing all his helm, and 'neath his shield                   380
 Bells wrought in bronze ring out their chimes of fear;
 And on his shield he bears this proud device,—
 A firmament enchased, all bright with stars;[95]
 And in the midst the full moon's glittering orb,
 Sovran of stars and eye of Night, shines forth.
 And thus exulting in o'er boastful arms,
 By the stream's bank he shouts in lust of war,
 [E'en as a war-horse panting in his strength
 Against the curb that galls him, who at sound
 Of trumpet's clang chafes hotly.] Whom wilt thou
 Set against him? Who is there strong enough
 When the bolts yield, to guard the Prœtan gates?                    390

 _Eteoc._ No fear have I of any man's array;
 Devices have no power to pierce or wound,
 And crest and bells bite not without a spear;
 And for this picture of the heavens at night,
 Of which thou tellest, glittering on his shield,
 *Perchance his madness may a prophet prove;
 For if night fall upon his dying eyes,
 Then for the man who bears that boastful sign
 It may right well be all too truly named,                           400
 And his own pride shall prophet be of ill.
 And against Tydeus, to defend the gates,
 I'll set this valiant son of Astacos;
 Noble is he, and honouring well the throne
 Of Reverence, and hating vaunting speech,
 Slow to all baseness, unattuned to ill:
 And of the dragon-race that Ares spared[96]
 He as a scion grows, a native true,
 E'en Melanippos; Ares soon will test
 His valour in the hazard of the die:
 And kindred Justice sends him forth to war,
 For her that bore him foeman's spear to check.                      410

                               STROPHE I

 _Chor._ May the Gods grant my champion good success!
         For justly he goes forth
         For this our State to fight;
         But yet I quake with fear
 To see the deaths of those who die for friends.

 _Mess._ Yea, may the Gods give good success to him!
 The Electran gates have fallen to Capaneus,
 A second giant, taller far than he
 Just named, with boast above a mortal's bounds;
 And dread his threats against our towers (O Fortune,                420
 Turn them aside!)—for whether God doth will,
 Or willeth not, he says that he will sack[97]
 The city, nor shall e'en the wrath of Zeus,
 On the plain swooping, turn him from his will;
 And the dread lightnings and hot thunderbolts
 He likens to the heat of noon-day sun.
 And his device, the naked form of one
 Who bears a torch; and bright the blaze shines forth
 And in gold characters he speaks the words,
 “THE CITY I WILL BURN.” Against this man
 Send forth ... but who will meet him in the fight?                  430
 Who, without fear, await this warrior proud?

 _Eteoc._ Herein, too, profit upon profit comes;
 And 'gainst the vain and boastful thoughts of men,
 Their tongue itself is found accuser true.
 Threatening, equipped for work is Capaneus,
 Scorning the Gods: and giving speech full play,
 And in wild joy, though mortal, vents at Zeus,
 High in the heavens, loud-spoken foaming words.
 And well I trust on him shall rightly come
 Fire-bearing thunder, nothing likened then
 To heat of noon-day sun. And so 'gainst him,                        440
 Though very bold of speech, a man is set
 Of fiery temper, Polyphontes strong,
 A trusty bulwark, by the loving grace
 Of guardian Artemis[98] and other Gods.
 Describe another, placed at other gates.

                             ANTISTROPHE I

 _Chor._ A curse on him who 'gainst our city boasts!
         May thunder smite him down                                  450
         Before he force his way
         Into my home, and drive
 Me from my maiden bower with haughty spear?

 _Mess._ And now I'll tell of him who by the gates
 Stands next; for to Eteocles, as third,
 To march his cohort to Neïstian gates,
 Leaped the third lot from upturned brazen helm:
 And he his mares, in head-gear snorting, whirls,
 Full eager at the gates to fall and die;
 Their whistling nozzles of barbaric mode,
 Are filled with loud blast of the panting nostrils.[99]
 In no poor fashion is his shield devised;                           460
 A full-armed warrior climbs a ladder's rungs,
 And mounts his foeman's towers as bent to sack;
 And he too cries, in words of written speech,
 Send thou against him some defender true,
 To ward the yoke of bondage from our State.

 _Eteoc._ Such would I send now; by good luck indeed
 He has been sent, his vaunting in his deeds,
 Megareus, Creon's son, who claims descent
 From those as Sparti known, and not by noise
 Of neighings loud of warlike steeds dismayed,                       470
 Will he the gates abandon, but in death
 Will pay our land his nurture's debt in full,[100]
 Or taking two men, and a town to boot,
 (That on the shield,) will deck his father's house
 With those his trophies. Of another tell
 The bragging tale, nor grudge thy words to me.

                               STROPHE II

 _Chor._ Him I wish good success,
 O guardian of my home, and for his foes
         All ill success I pray;
 And since against our land their haughty words
 With maddened soul they speak,
 May Zeus, the sovran judge,
 With fiery, hot displeasure look on them!                           480

 _Mess._ Another stands as fourth at gates hard by,
 Onca-Athenà's, with a shout of war,
 Hippomedon's great form and massive limbs;
 And as he whirled his orb, his vast shield's disk,
 I shuddered; yea, no idle words I speak.
 No cheap and common draughtsman sure was he
 Who wrought this cunning ensign on his shield:
 Typhon emitting from his lips hot blast
 Of darkling smoke, the flickering twin of fire:
 And round the belly of the hollow shield
 A rim was made with wreaths of twisted snakes.                      490
 And he too shouts his war-cry, and in frenzy,
 As man possessed by Ares, hastes to battle,
 Like Thyiad, darting terror from his eyes.[101]
 'Gainst such a hero's might we well may guard;
 Already at the gates men brag of rout.

 _Eteoc._ First, the great Onca-Pallas, dwelling nigh
 Our city's gates, and hating man's bold pride,
 Shall ward him from her nestlings like a snake
 Of venom dread; and next Hyperbios,
 The stalwart son of Œnops, has been chosen,                         500
 A hero 'gainst this hero, willing found
 To try his destiny at Fortune's hest.
 No fault has he in form, or heart, or arms;
 And Hermes with good reason pairs them off;
 For man with man will fight as enemy,
 And on their shields they'll bring opposing Gods;
 For this man beareth Typhon, breathing fire,
 And on Hyperbios' shield sits father Zeus,
 Full firm, with burning thunderbolt in hand;
 And never yet has man seen Zeus, I trow,
 O'ercome. Such then the favour of the Gods,                         510
 We with the winners, they with losers are:[102]
 Good reason then the rivals so should fare,
 If Zeus than Typhon stronger be in fight,
 And to Hyperbios Zeus will saviour prove,
 As that device upon his shield presents him.

                             ANTISTROPHE II

 _Chor._ Now do I trust that he
 Who bears upon his shield the hated form
         Of Power whom Earth doth shroud,
 Antagonist to Zeus, unloved by men
         And by the ageless Gods,
         Before those gates of ours
 To his own hurt may dash his haughty head.                          520

 _Mess._ So may it be! And now the fifth I tell,
 Who the fifth gates, the Northern, occupies,
 Hard by Amphion's tomb, the son of Zeus;
 And by his spear he swears, (which he is bold
 To honour more than God or his own eyes,)
 That he will sack the fort of the Cadmeians
 With that spear's might. So speaks the offspring fair
 Of mother mountain-bred, a stripling hero;
 And the soft down is creeping o'er his cheeks,                      530
 Youth's growth, and hair that floweth full and thick;
 And he with soul, not maiden's like his name,[103]
 But stern, with flashing eye, is standing there.
 Nor stands he at the gate without a vaunt;
 For on his brass-wrought buckler, strong defence,
 Full-orbed, his body guarding, he the shame
 Of this our city bears, the ravenous Sphinx,
 With rivets fixed, all burnished and embossed;[104]
 And under her she holdeth a Cadmeian,
 That so on him most arrows might be shot.
 No chance that he will fight a peddling fight,                      540
 Nor shame the long, long journey he hath come,
 Parthenopæos, in Arcadia born:
 This man did Argos welcome as a guest,
 And now he pays her for her goodly rearing,
 And threatens these our towers with ... God avert it!

 _Eteoc._ Should the Gods give them what they plan 'gainst us,
 Then they, with those their godless boastings high,
 Would perish shamefully and utterly.
 And for this man of Arcady thou tell'st of,
 We have a man who boasts not, but his hand
 Sees the right thing to do;—Actôr, of him                           550
 I named but now the brother,—who no tongue
 Divorced from deeds will ever let within
 Our gates, to spread and multiply our ills,
 Nor him who bears upon his foeman's shield
 The image of the hateful venomed beast;
 But she without shall blame him as he tries
 To take her in, when she beneath our walls
 Gets sorely bruised and battered.[105] And herein,
 If the Gods will, I prophet true shall prove.

                              STROPHE III

 _Chor._ Thy words thrill through my breast;
         My hair stands all on end,
         To hear the boastings great
         Of those who speak great things                             560
         Unholy. May the Gods
         Destroy them in our land!

 _Mess._ A sixth I tell of, one of noblest mood,
 Amphiaraos, seer and warrior famed;
 He, stationed at the Homolôian gates,
 Reproves the mighty Tydeus with sharp words
 As 'murderer,' and 'troubler of the State,'[106]
 'To Argos teacher of all direst ills,
 Erinnys' sumpnour,'[107] 'murder's minister,'                       570
 Whose counsels led Adrastos to these ills.
 *And at thy brother Polyneikes glancing
 With eyes uplifted for his father's fate,
 And ending, twice he syllabled his name,[108]
 And called him, and thus speaketh with his lips:—
 “A goodly deed, and pleasant to the Gods,
 Noble for after age to hear and tell,
 Thy father's city and thy country's Gods
 To waste through might of mercenary host!
 And how shall Justice stay thy mother's tears?[109]                 580
 And how, when conquered, shall thy fatherland,
 Laid waste, become a true ally to thee?
 As for myself, I shall that land make rich,[110]
 A prophet buried in a foeman's soil:
 To arms! I look for no inglorious death.”
 So spake the prophet, bearing full-orbed shield
 Wrought all of bronze, no ensign on that orb.
 He wishes to be just, and not to seem,[111]
 Reaping full harvest from his soul's deep furrows,
 Whence ever new and noble counsels spring.                          590
 I bid thee send defenders wise and brave
 Against him. Dread is he who fears the Gods.

 _Eteoc._ Fie on the chance that brings the righteous man
 Close-mated with the ungodly! In all deeds
 Nought is there worse than evil fellowship,
 A crop men should not reap. Death still is found
 The harvest of the field of frenzied pride;
 For either hath the godly man embarked
 With sailors hot in insolence and guile,[112]
 And perished with the race the Gods did loathe;                     600
 Or just himself, with citizens who wrong
 The stranger and are heedless of the Gods,
 Falling most justly in the self-same snare,
 By God's scourge smitten, shares the common doom.
 And thus this seer I speak of, Œcleus' son,
 Righteous, and wise, and good, and reverent,
 A mighty prophet, mingling with the godless
 *And men full bold of speech in reason's spite,
 Who take long march to reach a far-off city,[113]
 If Zeus so will, shall be hurled down with them.                    610
 And he, I trow, shall not draw nigh the gates,
 Not through faint-heart or any vice of mood,
 But well he knows this war shall bring his death,
 If any fruit is found in Loxias' words;
 And He or holds his speech or speaks in season.
 Yet against him the hero Lasthenes,
 A foe of strangers, at the gates we'll set;
 Old in his mind, his body in its prime,
 His eye swift-footed, and his hand not slow
 To grasp the spear from 'neath the shield laid bare:[114]           620
 Yet 'tis by God's gift men must win success.

                            ANTISTROPHE III

 _Chor._ Hear, O ye Gods! our prayers,
         Our just entreaties grant,
         That so our State be blest.
         Turn ye the toils of war
         Upon the invading host.
         Outside the walls may Zeus
         With thunder smite them low!

 _Mess._ The seventh chief then who at the seventh gate stands,
 Thine own, own brother, I will speak of now,
 What curses on our State he pours, and prays                        630
 That he the towers ascending, and proclaimed
 By herald's voice to all the territory,
 And shouting out the captor's pæan-cry,
 May so fight with thee, slay, and with thee die;
 Or driving thee alive, who did'st him wrong,
 May on thee a vengeance wreak like in kind.
 So clamours he, and bids his father's Gods,
 His country's guardians, look upon his prayers,
 [And grant them all. So Polyneikes prays.]
 And he a new and well-wrought shield doth bear,
 And twofold sign upon it riveted;                                   640
 For there a woman with a stately tread
 Leads one who seems a warrior wrought in gold:
 Justice she calls herself, and thus she speaks:
 Such are the signs and mottoes of those men;
 And thou, know well whom thou dost mean to send:
 So thou shalt never blame my heraldings;
 And thou thyself know how to steer the State.

 _Eteoc._ O frenzy-stricken, hated sore of Gods!              650
 O woe-fraught race (my race!) of Œdipus!
 Ah me! my father's curse is now fulfilled;
 But neither is it meet to weep or wail,
 Lest cry more grievous on the issue come.
 Of Polyneikes, name and omen true,
 We soon shall know what way his badge shall end,
 Whether his gold-wrought letters shall restore him,
 His shield's great swelling words with frenzied soul.
 An if great Justice, Zeus's virgin child,
 Ruled o'er his words and acts, this might have been;                660
 But neither when he left his mother's womb,
 Nor in his youth, nor yet in ripening age,
 Nor when his beard was gathered on his chin,
 Did Justice count him meet for fellowship;
 Nor do I think that she befriends him now
 In this great outrage on his father's land.
 Yea, justly Justice would as falsely named
 Be known, if she with one all-daring joined.
 In this I trust, and I myself will face him:
 Who else could claim a greater right than I?                        670
 Brother with brother fighting, king with king,
 And foe with foe, I'll stand. Come, quickly fetch
 My greaves that guard against the spear and stones.

 _Chor._ Nay, dearest friend, thou son of Œdipus,
 Be ye not like to him with that ill name.
 It is enough Cadmeian men should fight
 Against the Argives. That blood may be cleansed;
 But death so murderous of two brothers born,
 This is pollution that will ne'er wax old.

 _Eteoc._ If a man must bear evil, let him still              680
 Be without shame—sole profit that in death.
 [No glory comes of base and evil deeds].

 _Chor._ What dost thou crave, my son? Let no ill fate,
         Frenzied and hot for war,
         Carry thee headlong on;
 Check the first onset of an evil lust.

 _Eteoc._ Since God so hotly urges on the matter,
 Let all of Laios' race whom Phœbos hates,
 Drift with the breeze upon Cokytos' wave.

 _Chor._ An over-fierce and passionate desire
         Stirs thee and pricks thee on
         To work an evil deed
 Of guilt of blood thy hand should never shed.                       690

 _Eteoc._ Nay, my dear father's curse, in full-grown hate,
 Dwells on dry eyes that cannot shed a tear,
 And speaks of gain before the after-doom.

 _Chor._ But be not thou urged on. The coward's name
         Shall not be thine, for thou
         Hast ordered well thy life.
 Dark-robed Erinnys enters not the house,
         When at men's hands the Gods
         Accept their sacrifice.

 _Eteoc._ As for the Gods, they scorned us long ago,
 And smile but on the offering of our deaths;                        700
 What boots it then on death's doom still to fawn?

 _Chor._ Nay do it now, while yet 'tis in thy power;[115]
         Perchance may fortune shift
         With tardy change of mood,
 And come with spirit less implacable:
         At present fierce and hot
         She waxeth in her rage.

 _Eteoc._ Yea, fierce and hot the Curse of Œdipus;
 And all too true the visions of the night,
 My father's treasured store distributing.

 _Chor._ Yield to us women, though thou lov'st us not.

 _Eteoc._ Speak then what may be done, and be not long.       710

 _Chor._ Tread not the path that to the seventh gate leads.

 _Eteoc._ Thou shall not blunt my sharpened edge with words.

 _Chor._ And yet God loves the victory that submits.[116]

 _Eteoc._ That word a warrior must not tolerate.

 _Chor._ Dost thou then haste thy brother's blood to shed?

 _Eteoc._ If the Gods grant it, he shall not 'scape harm.

                               [_Exeunt_ ETEOCLES, Scout, _and_ Captains

                               STROPHE I

 _Chor._ I fear her might who doth this whole house wreck,
         The Goddess unlike Gods,
 The prophetess of evil all too true,
 The Erinnys of thy father's imprecations,                           720
         Lest she fulfil the curse,
         O'er-wrathful, frenzy-fraught,
         The curse of Œdipus,
         Laying his children low.
         This Strife doth urge them on.

                             ANTISTROPHE I

 And now a stranger doth divide the lots,
 The Chalyb,[117] from the Skythians emigrant,
 The stern distributor of heaped-up wealth,
 The iron that hath assigned them just so much
         Of land as theirs, no more,
         As may suffice for them
         As grave when they shall fall,
         Without or part or lot
         In the broad-spreading plains.                              730

                               STROPHE II

         And when the hands of each
         The other's blood have shed,
         And the earth's dust shall drink
         The black and clotted gore,
         Who then can purify?
         Who cleanse thee from the guilt?
         Ah me! O sorrows new,
 That mingle with the old woes of our house!

                             ANTISTROPHE II

         I tell the ancient tale
         Of sin that brought swift doom;                             740
         Till the third age it waits,
         Since Laios, heeding not
         Apollo's oracle,
         (Though spoken thrice to him
     In Pythia's central shrine,)
 That dying childless, he should save the State.

                              STROPHE III

 But he by those he loved full rashly swayed,
         Doom for himself begat,
         His murderer Œdipus,                                        750
         Who dared to sow in field
         Unholy, whence he sprang,
         A root of blood-flecked woe.
         Madness together brought
         Bridegroom and bride accursed.

                            ANTISTROPHE III

 And now the sea of evil pours its flood:
         This falling, others rise,
         As with a triple crest,
         Which round the State's stern roars:
         And but a bulwark slight,
         A tower's poor breadth, defends:                            760
         And lest the city fall
         With its two kings I fear.

                               STROPHE IV

 *And that atonement of the ancient curse
         Receives fulfilment now;[118]
 *And when they come, the evils pass not by.
 E'en so the wealth of sea-adventurers,
         When heaped up in excess,
         Leads but to cargo from the stern thrown out.[119]

                             ANTISTROPHE IV

 For whom of mortals did the Gods so praise,
         And fellow-worshippers,                                     770
 *And race of those who feed their flocks and herds[120]
 As much as then they honoured Œdipus,
         Who from our country's bounds
 Had driven the monster, murderess of men?

                               STROPHE V

         And when too late he knew,
 Ah, miserable man! his wedlock dire,
         Vexed sore with that dread shame,
         With heart to madness driven,
         He wrought a twofold ill,
 And with the hand that smote his father's life                      780
 *Blinded the eyes that might his sons have seen.

                             ANTISTROPHE V

         And with a mind provoked
 By nurture scant, he at his sons did hurl[121]
         His curses dire and dark,
         (Ah, bitter curses those!)
         That they with spear in hand
 Should one day share their father's wealth; and I
 Fear now lest swift Erinnys should fulfil them.

                           _Enter_ Messenger

 _Mess._ Be of good cheer, ye maidens, mother-reared;
 Our city has escaped the yoke of bondage,                           790
 The boasts of mighty men are fallen low,
 And this our city in calm waters floats,
 And, though by waves lashed, springs not any leak.
 Our fortress still holds out, and we did guard
 The gates with champions who redeemed their pledge.
 In the six gateways almost all goes well;
 But the seventh gate did King Apollo choose,[122]
 Seventh mighty chief, avenging Laios' want
 Of counsel on the sons of Œdipus.

 _Chor._ What new disaster happens to our city?[123]          800

 _Mess._ The city's saved, but both the royal brothers,...

 _Chor._ Who? and what of them? I'm distraught with fear.

 _Mess._ Be calm, and hear: the sons of Œdipus,...

 _Chor._ Oh wretched me! a prophet I of ill!

 _Mess._ Slain by each other, earth has drunk their blood.

 _Chor._ Came they to that? 'Tis dire; yet tell it me.

 _Mess._ Too true, by brother's hand our chiefs are slain.

 _Chor._ What, did the brother's hands the brother lay?

 _Mess._ No doubt is there that they are laid in dust.

 _Chor._ Thus was there then a common fate for both?

 _Mess._ *Yea, it lays low the whole ill-fated race.

 _Chor._ These things give cause for gladness and for tears,  810
 Seeing that our city prospers, and our lords,
 The generals twain, with well-wrought Skythian steel,
 Have shared between them all their store of goods,
 And now shall have their portion in a grave,
 Borne on, as spake their father's grievous curse.[124]

 _Mess._ [The city's saved, but of the brother-kings
 The earth has drunk the blood, each slain by each.]

 _Chor._ Great Zeus! and ye, O Gods!
 Guardians of this our town,
 Who save in very deed
 The towers of Cadmos old,                                           820
         Shall I rejoice and shout
         Over the happy chance
         That frees our State from harm;
         Or weep that ill-starred pair,
 The war-chiefs, childless and most miserable,
         Who, true to that ill name
 Of Polyneikes, died in impious mood,
         Contending overmuch?


         Oh dark, and all too true
 That curse of Œdipus and all his race,[125]
 An evil chill is falling on my heart,                               830
         And, like a Thyiad wild,
 Over his grave I sing a dirge of grief,
 Hearing the dead have died by evil fate,
         Each in foul bloodshed steeped;
 Ah me! Ill-omened is the spear's accord.[126]


         It hath wrought out its end,
 And hath not failed, that prayer the father poured;
 And Laios' reckless counsels work till now:
         I fear me for the State;
 The oracles have not yet lost their edge;                           840
 O men of many sorrows, ye have wrought
 This deed incredible;
 Not now in word come woes most lamentable.

                  [_As the Chorus are speaking, the bodies of_ ETEOCLES
                      _and_ POLYNEIKES _are brought in solemn procession
                      by_ Theban Citizens


         Yea, it is all too clear,
 The herald's tale of woe comes full in sight;
 Twofold our cares, twin evils born of pride,
         Murderous, with double doom,
 Wrought unto full completeness all these ills.
         What shall I say? What else
 Are they than woes that make this house their home?
 But oh! my friends, ply, ply with swift, strong gale,
 That even stroke of hands upon your head,[127]                      850
 In funeral order, such as evermore
         O'er Acheron sends on
 *That bark of State, dark-rigged, accursed its voyage,
 Which nor Apollo visits nor the sun,[128]
         On to the shore unseen,
         The resting-place of all.

                      [ISMENE _and_ ANTIGONE _are seen approaching in
                          mourning garments, followed by a procession of
                          women wailing and lamenting_

 For see, they come to bitter deed called forth,
 Ismene and the maid Antigone,
         To wail their brothers' fall;
         With little doubt I deem,
 That they will pour from fond, deep-bosomed breasts
         A worthy strain of grief:
         But it is meet that we,
         Before we hear their cry,                                   860
 Should utter the harsh hymn Erinnys loves,
         And sing to Hades dark
         The Pæan of distress.
 O ye, most evil-fated in your kin,
 Of all who guard their robes with maiden's band,
 I weep and wail, and feigning know I none,
         That I should fail to speak
         My sorrow from my heart.

                               STROPHE I

 _Semi-Chor. A._ Alas! alas!
 Men of stern mood, who would not list to friends,
         Unwearied in all ills,                                      870
 Seizing your father's house, O wretched ones
         With the spear's murderous point.

 _Semi-Chor. B._ Yea, wretched they who found a wretched doom,
         With havoc of the house.

                             ANTISTROPHE I

 _Semi-Chor. A._ Alas! alas!
 Ye who laid low the ancient walls of home,
         On sovereignty, ill won,
 Your eyes have looked, and ye at last are brought
         To concord by the sword.

 _Semi-Chor. B._ Yea, of a truth, the curse of Œdipus         880
         Erinnys dread fulfils.

                               STROPHE II

 _Semi-Chor. A._ Yea, smitten through the heart,
 Smitten through sides where flowed the blood of brothers.
         Ah me! ye doomed of God!
         Ah me! the curses dire
 Of deaths ye met with each at other's hands!

 _Semi-Chor. B._ Thou tell'st of men death-smitten through and through,
         Both in their homes and lives,
         With wrath beyond all speech,                               890
         And doom of discord fell,
 That sprang from out the curse their father spake.

                             ANTISTROPHE II

 _Semi-Chor. A._ Yea, through the city runs
 A wailing cry. The high towers wail aloud;
 Wails all the plain that loves her heroes well;
         And to their children's sons
         The wealth will go for which
 The strife of those ill-starred ones brought forth death.

 _Semi-Chor. B._ Quick to resent, they shared their fortune so,
         That each like portion won;
         *Nor can their friends regard
         Their umpire without blame;                                 900
 Nor is our voice in thanks to Ares raised.

                              STROPHE III

 _Semi-Chor. A._ By the sword smitten low,
         Thus are they now;
         By the sword smitten low,
         There wait them ... Nay,
         Doth one perchance ask what?
 Shares in their old ancestral sepulchres.

 _Semi-Chor. B._ *The sorrow of the house is borne to them
         By my heart-rending wail.
         Mine own the cries I pour;
         Mine own the woes I weep,
 Bitter and joyless, shedding truest tears                           910
 From heart that faileth, even as they fall,
 For these two kingly chiefs.

                            ANTISTROPHE III

 _Semi-Chor. A._ Yes; one may say of them,
         That wretched pair,
         That they much ill have wrought
         To their own host;
         Yea, and to alien ranks
 Of many nations fallen in the fray.

 _Semi-Chor._ B. Ah! miserable she who bare those twain,
         'Bove all of women born
         Who boast a mother's name!                                  920
         Taking her son, her own,
         As spouse, she bare these children, and they both,
 By mutual slaughter and by brothers' hands,
         Have found their end in death.

                               STROPHE IV

 _Semi-Chor. A._ Yes; of the same womb born, and doomèd both,
         *Not as friends part, they fell,
         In strife to madness pushed
         In this their quarrel's end.

 _Semi-Chor. B._ The quarrel now is hushed,
 And in the ensanguined earth their lives are blent;                 930
         Full near in blood are they.
         Stern umpire of their strifes
 Has been the stranger from beyond the sea,[129]
 Fresh from the furnace, keen and sharpened steel.
         Stern, too, is Ares found,
         Distributing their goods,
 Making their father's curses all too true.

                             ANTISTROPHE IV

 _Semi-Chor. A._ At last they have their share, ah, wretched ones!
         Of burdens sent from God.                                   940
         And now beneath them lies
         A boundless wealth of——earth.

 _Semi-Chor. B._ O ye who your own race
 Have made to burgeon out with many woes!
         Over the end at last
         The brood of Curses raise
 Their shrill, sharp cry of lamentation loud,
 The race being put to flight of utmost rout,
         And Atè's trophy stands,
         Where in the gates they fell;
 And Fate, now both are conquered, rests at last.                    950

          _Enter_ ANTIGONE _and_ ISMENE, _followed by mourning

 _Ant._ Thou wast smitten, and thou smotest.

 _Ism._ Thou did'st slaughter, and wast slaughtered.

 _Ant._ Thou with spear to death did'st smite him.

 _Ism._ Thou with spear to death wast smitten.

 _Ant._ Oh, the woe of all your labours!

 _Ism._ Oh, the woe of all ye suffered!

 _Ant._ Pour the cry of lamentation.

 _Ism._ Pour the tears of bitter weeping.

 _Ant._ There in death thou liest prostrate.

 _Ism._ Having wrought a great destruction.


 _Ant._ Ah! my mind is crazed with wailing.                   960

 _Ism._ Yea, my heart within me groaneth.

 _Ant._ Thou for whom the city weepeth!

 _Ism._ Thou too, doomed to all ill-fortune!

 _Ant._ By a loved hand thou hast perished.

 _Ism._ And a loved form thou hast slaughtered.

 _Ant._ Double woes are ours to tell of.

 _Ism._ Double woes too ours to look on.

 _Ant._ *Twofold sorrows from near kindred.

 _Ism._ *Sisters we by brothers standing.

 _Ant._ Terrible are they to tell of.                         970

 _Ism._ Terrible are they to look on.

 _Chor._ Ah me, thou Destiny,
 Giver of evil gifts, and working woe,
 And thou dread spectral form of Œdipus,
         And swarth Erinnys too,
         A mighty one art thou.


 _Ant._ Ah me! ah me! woes dread to look on....

 _Ism._ Ye showed to me, returned from exile.

 _Ant._ Not, when he had slain, returned he.

 _Ism._ Nay, he, saved from exile, perished.                  980

 _Ant._ Yea, I trow too well, he perished.

 _Ism._ And his brother, too, he murdered.

 _Ant._ Woeful, piteous, are those brothers!

 _Ism._ Woeful, piteous, all they suffered!

 _Ant._ Woes of kindred wrath enkindling!

 _Ism._ Saturate with threefold horrors!

 _Ant._ Terrible are they to tell of.

 _Ism._ Terrible are they to look on.

 _Chor._ Ah me, thou Destiny,
 Giver of evil gifts, and stern of soul,
 And thou dread spectral form of Œdipus,                             990
         And swarth Erinnys too,
         A mighty one art thou.


 _Ant._ Thou, then, by full trial knowest....

 _Ism._ Thou, too, no whit later learning....

 _Ant._ When thou cam'st back to this city[131]....

 _Ism._ Rival to our chief in warfare.

 _Ant._ Woe, alas! for all our troubles!

 _Ism._ Woe, alas! for all our evils!

 _Ant._ Evils fallen on our houses!

 _Ism._ Evils fallen on our country!

 _Ant._ And on me before all others....

 _Ism._ And to me the future waiting....                     1000

 _Ant._ Woe for those two brothers luckless!

 _Ism._ King Eteocles, our leader!

 _Ant._ Oh, before all others wretched!

 _Ism._ .      .      .      .      .

 _Ant._ Ah, by Atè frenzy-stricken!

 _Ism._ Ah, where now shall they be buried?

 _Ant._ There where grave is highest honour.

 _Ism._ Ah, the woe my father wedded!

                            _Enter a_ Herald

 _Her._ 'Tis mine the judgment and decrees to publish
 Of this Cadmeian city's counsellors:
 It is decreed Eteocles to honour,
 For his good-will towards this land of ours,                       1010
 With seemly burial, such as friend may claim;
 For warding off our foes he courted death;
 Pure as regards his country's holy things,
 Blameless he died where death the young beseems;
 This then I'm ordered to proclaim of him.
 But for his brother's, Polyneikes' corpse,
 To cast it out unburied, prey for dogs,
 As working havoc on Cadmeian land,
 Unless some God had hindered by the spear
 Of this our prince;[132] and he, though, dead, shall gain          1020
 The curse of all his father's Gods, whom he

                                               [_Pointing to_ POLYNEIKES

 With alien host dishonouring, sought to take
 Our city. Him by ravenous birds interred
 Ingloriously, they sentence to receive
 His full deserts; and none may take in hand
 To heap up there a tomb, nor honour him
 With shrill-voiced wailings; but he still must lie,
 Without the meed of burial by his friends.
 So do the high Cadmeian powers decree.

 _Ant._ And I those rulers of Cadmeians tell,[133]           1030
 That if no other care to bury him,
 I will inter him, facing all the risk,
 Burying my brother: nor am I ashamed
 To thwart the State in rank disloyalty;
 Strange power there is in ties of blood, that we,
 Born of woe-laden mother, sire ill-starred,
 Are bound by: therefore of thy full free-will,
 Share thou, my soul, in woes he did not will,
 Thou living, he being dead, with sister's heart.
 And this I say, no wolves with ravening maw,
 Shall tear his flesh—No! no! let none think that!
 For tomb and burial I will scheme for him,                         1040
 Though I be but weak woman, bringing earth
 Within my byssine raiment's fold, and so
 Myself will bury him; let no man think
 (I say't again) aught else. Take heart, my soul!
 There shall not fail the means effectual.

 _Her._ I bid thee not defy the State in this.

 _Ant._ I bid thee not proclaim vain words to me.

 _Her._ Stern is the people now, with victory flushed.

 _Ant._ Stern let them be, he shall not tombless lie.

 _Her._ And wilt thou honour whom the State doth loathe?

 _Ant._ *Yea, from the Gods he gets an honour due.[134]1050

 _Her._ It was not so till he this land attacked.

 _Ant._ He, suffering evil, evil would repay.

 _Her._ Not against one his arms were turned, but all.

 _Ant._ Strife is the last of Gods to end disputes:
 Him I will bury; talk no more of it.

 _Her._ Choose for thyself then, I forbid the deed.

 _Chor._ Alas! alas! alas!
         Ye haughty boasters, race-destroying,
         Now Fates and now Erinnyes, smiting
         The sons of Œdipus, ye slew them,
         With a root-and-branch destruction.                        1060
         What shall I then do, what suffer?
         What shall I devise in counsel?
         How should I dare nor to weep thee,
         Nor escort thee to the burial?
         But I tremble and I shrink from
         All the terrors which they threatened,
         They who are my fellow-townsmen.
         Many mourners thou (_looking to the bier of_ ETEOCLES) shalt
            meet with;
         But he, lost one, unlamented,
         With his sister's wailing only
         Passeth. Who with this complieth?

 _Semi-Chor. A_. Let the city doom or not doom
         Those who weep for Polyneikes;
         We will go, and we will bury,                              1070
         Maidens we in sad procession;
         For the woe to all is common,
         And our State with voice uncertain,
         Of the claims of Right and Justice;
         Hither, thither, shifts its praises.

 _Semi-Chor. B._ We will thus, our chief attending,
         Speak, as speaks the State, our praises:
         Of the claims of Right and Justice;[135]
         For next those the Blessed Rulers,
         And the strength of Zeus, he chiefly
         Saved the city of Cadmeians
         From the doom of fell destruction,
         From the doom of whelming utter,
         In the flood of alien warriors.

                       [_Exeunt_ ANTIGONE _and Semi-Chorus A., following
                           the corpse of_ POLYNEIKES; ISMENE
                           _and Semi-Chorus B. that of_ ETEOCLES.


Footnote 73:

  Probably directed against the tendency of the Athenians, as shown in
  their treatment of Miltiades, and later in that of Thukydides, to
  punish their unsuccessful generals, “_pour encourager les autres_.”

Footnote 74:

  Teiresias, as in Sophocles (_Antig._ v. 1005), sitting, though blind,
  and listening, as the birds flit by him, and the flames burn steadily
  or fitfully; a various reading gives “apart from sight.”

Footnote 75:

  Enyo, the goddess of war, and companion of Ares.

Footnote 76:

  Amphiaraos the seer had prophesied that Adrastos alone should return
  home in safety. On his car, therefore, the other chieftains hung the
  clasps, or locks of hair, or other memorials which in the event of
  their death were to be taken to their parents.

Footnote 77:

  The Hellenic feeling, such as the Platæans appealed to in the
  Peloponnesian war (Thuc. iii. 58, 59), that it was noble and right for
  Hellenes to destroy a city of the barbarians, but that they should
  spare one belonging to a people of their own stock.

Footnote 78:

  The characteristic feature of the Argive soldiers was, that they bore
  a shield painted white (comp. Sophocles, _Antig._ v. 114). The leaders
  alone appear to have embellished this with devices and mottoes.

Footnote 79:

  In solemn supplications, the litanies of the ancient world, especially
  in those to Pallas, the suppliants carried with them in procession the
  shawl or _peplos_ of the Goddess, and with it enwrapt her statue. To
  carry boughs of trees in the hands was one of the uniform, probably
  indispensable, accompaniments of such processions.

Footnote 80:

  The words recall our thoughts to the original use of the trident,
  which became afterwards a symbol of Poseidon, as employed by the
  sailors of Hellas to spear or harpoon the larger fish of the
  Archipelago. Comp. _Pers._ v. 426, where the slaughter of a defeated
  army is compared to tunny-fishing.

Footnote 81:

  Cadmos, probably “the man from the East,” the Phœnikian who had
  founded Thebes, and sown the dragon's seed, and taught men a Semitic
  alphabet for the non-Semitic speech of Hellas.

Footnote 82:

  Worthy of his name as the Wolf-destroyer, mighty to destroy his foes.

Footnote 83:

  Possibly “_from_ battlements attacked.” In the primitive sieges of
  Greek warfare stones were used as missiles alike by besieged and

Footnote 84:

  The name of Onca belonged especially to the Theban worship of Pallas,
  and was said to have been of Phœnikian origin, introduced by Cadmos.
  There seems, however, to have been a town Onkæ in Bœotia, with which
  the name was doubtless connected.

Footnote 85:

  “Alien,” on account of the difference of dialect between the speech of
  Argos and that of Bœotia, though both were Hellenic.

Footnote 86:

  The vehemence with which Eteocles reproves the wild frenzied wailing
  of the Chorus may be taken as an element of the higher culture showing
  itself in Athenian life, which led Solon to restrain such lamentations
  by special laws (Plutarch, _Solon_, c. 20). Here, too, we note in
  Æschylos an echo of the teaching of Epimenides.

Footnote 87:

  As now the sailor of the Mediterranean turns to the image of his
  patron saint, so of old he ran in his distress to the figure of his
  God upon the prow of his ship (often, as in Acts xxviii. II, that of
  the _Dioscuri_), and called to it for deliverance (comp. Jonah i. 8).

Footnote 88:

  Eteocles seems to wish for a short, plain prayer for deliverance,
  instead of the cries and supplications and vain repetitions of the

Footnote 89:

  The thought thus expressed was, that the Gods, yielding to the
  mightier law of destiny, or in their wrath at the guilt of men, left
  the city before its capture. The feeling was all but universal. Its
  two representative instances are found in Virgil, _Æn._ 351—

                  “Excessere omnes adytis arisque relictis
                  Di quibus imperium hoc steterat;”

  and the narrative given alike by Tacitus (_Hist._ v. 13), and Josephus
  (_Bell. Jud._ vi. 5, 3), that the cry “Let us depart hence,” was heard
  at midnight through the courts of the Temple, before the destruction
  of Jerusalem.

Footnote 90:

  _Sc._ Blood must be shed in war. Ares would not be Ares without it. It
  is better to take it as it comes.

Footnote 91:

  _Sc._, the company of Gods, Pallas, Hera and the others whom the
  Chorus had invoked.

Footnote 92:

  Reference to this custom, which has passed from Pagan temples into
  Christian churches, is found in the _Agamemnon_, v. 562. It was
  connected, of course, with the general practice of offering as _ex
  votos_ any personal ornaments or clothing as a token of thanksgiving
  for special mercies.

Footnote 93:

  Rivers and streams as the children of Tethys and Okeanos.

Footnote 94:

  Here, as in v. 571, Tydeus appears as the real leader of the
  expedition, who had persuaded Adrastos and the other chiefs to join in
  it, and Amphiaraos, the prophet, the son of Œcleus, as having all
  along foreseen its disastrous issue. The account of the expedition in
  the _Œdipus at Colonos_ (1300-1330) may be compared with this.

Footnote 95:

  The legend of the Medusa's head on the shield of Athena shows the
  practice of thus decorating shields to have been of remote date. In
  Homer it does not appear as common, and the account given of the
  shield of Achilles lays stress upon the work of the artist (Hephæstos)
  who wrought the shield in relief, not, as here, upon painted insignia.
  They were obviously common in the time of Æschylos.

Footnote 96:

  The older families of Thebes boasted that they sprang from the
  survivors of the Sparti, who, sprung from the Dragon's teeth, waged
  deadly war against each other, till all but five were slain. The later
  settlers, who were said to have come with Cadmos, stood to these as
  the “greater” to the “lesser _gentes_” at Rome.

Footnote 97:

  So in the _Antigone_ of Sophocles (v. 134), Capaneus appears as the
  special representative of boastful, reckless impiety.

Footnote 98:

  Artemis, as one of the special Deities to whom Thebes was consecrated.

Footnote 99:

  Apparently an Asiatic invention, to increase the terror of an attack
  of war-chariots.

Footnote 100:

  The phrase and thought were almost proverbial in Athens. Men, as
  citizens, were thought of as fed at a common table, bound to
  contribute their gifts to the common stock. When they offered up their
  lives in battle, they were giving, as Pericles says (Thucyd. ii. 43),
  their noblest “contribution,” paying in full their subscription to the
  society of which they were members.

Footnote 101:

  Thyiad, another name for the Mænads, the frenzied attendants on

Footnote 102:

  _Sc._, in the legends of Typhon, not he, but Zeus, had proved the
  conqueror. The warrior, therefore, who chose Typhon for his badge was
  identifying himself with the losing, not the winning side.

Footnote 103:

  The name, as we are told in v. 542, is Parthenopæos, the maiden-faced.

Footnote 104:

  The Sphinx, besides its general character as an emblem of terror, had,
  of course, a special meaning as directed to the Thebans. The warrior
  who bore it threatened to renew the old days when the monster whom
  Œdipus had overcome had laid waste their city.

Footnote 105:

  _Sc._, the Sphinx on his shield will not be allowed to enter the city.
  It will only serve as a mark, attracting men to attack both it and the
  warrior who bears it.

Footnote 106:

  The quarrel between Tydeus and the seer Amphiaraos had been already
  touched upon.

Footnote 107:

  I have used the old English word to express a term of like technical
  use in Athenian law processes. As the “sumpnour” called witnesses or
  parties to a suit into court, so Tydeus had summoned the Erinnys to do
  her work of destruction.

Footnote 108:

  _Sc._, so pronounced his name as to emphasise the significance of its
  two component parts, as indicating that he who bore it was a man of
  much contention.

Footnote 109:

  The words are obscure, but seem to refer to the badge of Polyneikes,
  the figure of Justice described in v. 643 as on his shield. How shall
  that Justice, the seer asks, console Jocasta for her son's death?
  Another rendering gives,

             “And how shall Justice quench a mother's life?”

  the “mother” being the country against which Polyneikes wars.

Footnote 110:

  The words had a twofold fulfilment (1) in the burial of Amphiaraos, in
  the Theban soil; and (2) in the honour which accrued to Thebes after
  his death, through the fame of the oracle at his shrine.

Footnote 111:

  The passage cannot be passed over without noticing the old tradition
  (Plutarch, _Aristeid._ c. 3), that when the actor uttered these words,
  he and the whole audience looked to Aristeides, surnamed the Just, as
  recognising that the words were true of him as they were of no one
  else. “Best,” instead of “just,” is, however, a very old various

Footnote 112:

  If the former reference to Aristeides be admitted, we can scarcely
  avoid seeing in this passage an allusion to Themistocles, as one with
  whose reckless and democratic policy it was dangerous for the more
  conservative leader to associate himself.

Footnote 113:

  The far-off city, not of Thebes, but of Hades. In the legend of
  Thebes, the earth opened and swallowed up Amphiaraos, as in 583.

Footnote 114:

  The short spear was usually carried under the shelter of the shield;
  when brought into action it was, of course, laid bare.

Footnote 115:

  Perhaps “since death is at nigh hand.”

Footnote 116:

  The Chorus means that if Eteocles would allow himself to be overcome
  in this contest of his wishes with their prayers the Gods would honour
  that defeat as if it were indeed a victory. He makes answer that the
  very thought of being overcome implied in the word “defeat” in
  anything is one which the true warrior cannot bear.

Footnote 117:

  The “Chalyb stranger” is the sword, thought of as taking its name from
  the Skythian tribe of the Chalybes, between Colchis and Armenia, and
  passing through the Thrakians into Greece.

Footnote 118:

  The two brothers, _i.e._, are set at one again, but it is not in the
  bonds of friendship, but in those of death.

Footnote 119:

  The image meets us again in _Agam._ 980. Here the thought is, that a
  man too prosperous is like a ship too heavily freighted. He must part
  with a portion of his possession in order to save the rest. Not to
  part with them leads, when the storm rages, to an enforced abandonment
  and utter loss.

Footnote 120:

  Another reading gives—

                     “And race of those who crowd the Agora.”

Footnote 121:

  This seems to have been one form of the legends as to the cause of the
  curse which Œdipus had launched upon his sons, An alternative
  rendering is—

                     And with a mind enraged
             At thought of what they were whom he had reared,
                     He at his sons did hurl
                     His curses dire and dark.

Footnote 122:

  _Sc._, when Eteocles fell, Apollo took his place at the seventh gate,
  and turned the tide of war in favour of the Thebans.

Footnote 123:

  I follow in this dialogue the arrangement which Paley adopts from

Footnote 124:

  There seems an intentional ambiguity. They are “borne on,” but it is
  as the corpses of the dead are borne to the sepulchre.

Footnote 125:

  Not here the curse uttered by Œdipus, but that which rested on him and
  all his kin. There is possibly an allusion to the curse which Pelops
  is said to have uttered against Laios when he stole his son
  Chrysippos. Comp. v. 837.

Footnote 126:

  As in v. 763 we read of the brothers as made one in death, so now of
  the concord which is wrought out by conflict, the concord, _i.e._, of
  the grave.

Footnote 127:

  The Chorus are called on to change their character, and to pass from
  the attitude of suppliants, with outstretched arms, to that of
  mourners at a funeral, beating on their breasts. But, perhaps, the
  call is addressed to the mourners who are seen approaching with Ismene
  and Antigone.

Footnote 128:

  The thought is drawn from the _theoris_ or pilgrim-ship, which went
  with snow-white sails, and accompanied by joyful pæans, on a solemn
  mission from Athens to Delos. In contrast with this type of joy,
  Æschylos draws the picture of the boat of Charon, which passes over
  the gloomy pool accompanied by the sighs and gestures of bitter
  lamentation. So, in the old Attic legend, the ship that annually
  carried seven youths and maidens to the Minotaur of Crete was
  conspicuous for its black sails.

Footnote 129:

  The “Chalyb,” or iron sword, which the Hellenes had imported from the
  Skythians. Comp. vv. 70. 86.

Footnote 130:

  The lyrical, operative character of Greek tragedies has to be borne in
  mind as we read passages like that which follows. They were not meant
  to be _read_. Uttered in a passionate recitative, accompanied by
  expressive action, they probably formed a very effective element in
  the actual representation of the tragedy. We may look on it as the
  only extant specimen of the kind of wailing which was characteristic
  of Eastern burials, and which was slowly passing away in Greece under
  the influence of a higher culture. The early fondness of Æschylos for
  a _finale_ of this nature is seen also in _The Persians_, and in a
  more solemn and subdued form, in the _Eumenides_. The feeling that
  there was something barbaric in these untoward displays of grief,
  showed itself alike in the legislation of Solon, and the eloquence of

Footnote 131:

  Here, and perhaps throughout, we must think of Antigone as addressing
  and looking on the corpse of Polyneikes, Ismene on that of Eteocles.

Footnote 132:


                “Unless some God had stood against the spear
                This chief did wield.”

Footnote 133:

  The speech of the Antigone becomes the starting-point, in the hands of
  Sophocles, of the noblest of his tragedies. The denial of burial, it
  will be remembered, was looked on as not merely an indignity and
  outrage against the feelings of the living, but as depriving the souls
  of the dead of all rest and peace. As such it was the punishment of
  parricides and traitors.

Footnote 134:

  The words are obscure enough, the point lying, it may be, in their
  ambiguity. Antigone here, as in the tragedy of Sophocles, pleads that
  the Gods have pardoned; they still command and love the reverence for
  the dead, which she is about to show. The herald catches up her words
  and takes them in another sense, as though all the honour he had met
  with from the Gods had been defeat, and death, and shame, as the
  reward of his sacrilege. Another rendering, however, gives—

             “Yes, so the Gods have done with honouring him.”

Footnote 135:

  The words are probably a protest against the changeableness of the
  Athenian _demos_, as seen especially in their treatment of Aristeides.

                            PROMETHEUS BOUND

                            DRAMATIS PERSONÆ

                        _Chorus of Ocean Nymphs_

_ARGUMENT.—In the old time, when Cronos was sovereign of the Gods, Zeus,
whom he had begotten, rose up against him, and the Gods were divided in
their counsels, some, the Titans chiefly, siding with the father, and
some with the son. And Prometheus, the son of Earth or Themis, though
one of the Titans, supported Zeus, as did also Okeanos, and by his
counsels Zeus obtained the victory, and Cronos was chained in Tartaros,
and the Titans buried under mountains, or kept in bonds in Hades. And
then Prometheus, seeing the miseries of the race of men, of whom Zeus
took little heed, stole the fire which till then had belonged to none
but Hephæstos and was used only for the Gods, and gave it to mankind,
and taught them many arts whereby their wretchedness was lessened. But
Zeus being wroth with Prometheus for this deed, sent Hephæstos, with his
two helpers, Strength and Force, to fetter him to a rock on Caucasos._

_And in yet another story was the cruelty of the Gods made known. For
Zeus loved Io, the daughter of Inachos, king of Argos, and she was
haunted by visions of the night, telling her of his passion, and she
told her father thereof. And Inachos, sending to the God at Delphi, was
told to drive Io forth from her home. And Zeus gave her the horns of a
cow, and Hera, who hated her because she was dear to Zeus, sent with her
a gadfly that stung her, and gave her no rest, and drove her over many

_Note._—The play is believed to have been the second of a Trilogy, of
which the first was _Prometheus the Fire-giver_, and the third
_Prometheus Unbound_.

                            PROMETHEUS BOUND

        SCENE.—SKYTHIA, _on the heights of Caucasos. The Euxine
                         seen in the distance_

          _Enter_ HEPHÆSTOS, STRENGTH, _and_ FORCE, _leading_
                      PROMETHEUS _in chains_[136]

 _Strength._ Lo! to a plain, earth's boundary remote,
 We now are come,—the tract as Skythian known,
 A desert inaccessible: and now,
 Hephæstos, it is thine to do the hests
 The Father gave thee, to these lofty crags
 To bind this crafty trickster fast in chains
 Of adamantine bonds that none can break;
 For he thy choice flower stealing, the bright glory
 Of fire that all arts spring from, hath bestowed it
 On mortal men. And so for fault like this
 He now must pay the Gods due penalty,
 That he may learn to bear the sovereign rule                         10
 Of Zeus, and cease from his philanthropy.

 _Heph._ O Strength, and thou, O Force, the hest of Zeus,
 As far as touches you, attains its end,
 And nothing hinders. Yet my courage fails
 To bind a God of mine own kin by force
 To this bare rock where tempests wildly sweep;
 And yet I needs must muster courage for it:
 'Tis no slight thing the Father's words to scorn.
 O thou of Themis [_to_ PROMETHEUS] wise in counsel son,
 Full deep of purpose, lo! against my will,[137]
 I fetter thee against thy will with bonds
 Of bronze that none can loose, to this lone height,                  20
 Where thou shalt know nor voice nor face of man,
 But scorching in the hot blaze of the sun,
 Shalt lose thy skin's fair beauty. Thou shalt long
 For starry-mantled night to hide day's sheen,
 For sun to melt the rime of early dawn;
 And evermore the weight of present ill
 Shall wear thee down. Unborn as yet is he
 Who shall release thee: this the fate thou gain'st
 As due reward for thy philanthropy.
 For thou, a God not fearing wrath of Gods,
 In thy transgression gav'st their power to men;                      30
 And therefore on this rock of little ease
 Thou still shalt keep thy watch, nor lying down,
 Nor knowing sleep, nor ever bending knee;
 And many groans and wailings profitless
 Thy lips shall utter; for the mind of Zeus
 Remains inexorable. Who holds a power
 But newly gained[138] is ever stern of mood.

 _Strength._ Let be! Why linger in this idle pity?
 Why dost not hate a God to Gods a foe,
 Who gave thy choicest prize to mortal men?

 _Heph._ Strange is the power of kin and intercourse.[139]

 _Strength._ I own it; yet to slight the Father's words,       40
 How may that be? Is not that fear the worse?

 _Heph._ Still art thou ruthless, full of savagery.

 _Strength._ There is no help in weeping over him:
 Spend not thy toil on things that profit not.

 _Heph._ O handicraft to me intolerable!

 _Strength._ Why loath'st thou it? Of these thy present griefs
 That craft of thine is not one whit the cause.

 _Heph._ And yet I would some other had that skill.

 _Strength._ *All things bring toil except for Gods to reign;[140]
 For none but Zeus can boast of freedom true.                         50

 _Heph._ Too well I see the proof, and gainsay not.

 _Strength._ Wilt thou not speed to fix the chains on him,
 Lest He, the Father, see thee loitering here?

 _Heph._ Well, here the handcuffs thou may'st see prepared.

 _Strength._ In thine hands take him. Then with all thy might
 Strike with thine hammer; nail him to the rocks.

 _Heph._ The work goes on, I ween, and not in vain.

 _Strength._ Strike harder, rivet, give no whit of ease:
 A wondrous knack has he to find resource,
 Even where all might seem to baffle him.

 _Heph._ Lo! this his arm is fixed inextricably.               60

 _Strength._ Now rivet thou this other fast, that he
 May learn, though sharp, that he than Zeus is duller.

 _Heph._ No one but he could justly blame my work.

 _Strength._ Now drive the stern jaw of the adamant wedge
 Right through his chest with all the strength thou hast.

 _Heph._ Ah me! Prometheus, for thy woes I groan.

 _Strength._ Again, thou'rt loth, and for the foes of Zeus
 Thou groanest: take good heed to it lest thou
 Ere long with cause thyself commiserate.

 _Heph._ Thou see'st a sight unsightly to our eyes.

 _Strength._ I see this man obtaining his deserts:             70
 Nay, cast thy breast-chains round about his ribs.

 _Heph._ I must needs do it. Spare thine o'er much bidding;
 Go thou below and rivet both his legs.[141]

 _Strength._ Nay, I will bid thee, urge thee to thy work.

 _Heph._ There, it is done, and that with no long toil.

 _Strength._ Now with thy full power fix the galling fetters:
 Thou hast a stern o'erlooker of thy work.

 _Heph._ Thy tongue but utters words that match thy form.[142]

 _Strength._ Choose thou the melting mood; but chide not me
 For my self-will and wrath and ruthlessness.                         80

 _Heph._ Now let us go, his limbs are bound in chains.

 _Strength._ Here then wax proud, and stealing what belongs
 To the Gods, to mortals give it. What can they
 Avail to rescue thee from these thy woes?
 Falsely the Gods have given thee thy name,
 Prometheus, Forethought; forethought thou dost need
 To free thyself from this rare handiwork.

                             [_Exeunt_ HEPHÆSTOS, STRENGTH, _and_ FORCE,
                                 _leaving_ PROMETHEUS _on the rock_

 _Prom._[143] Thou firmament of God, and swift-winged winds,
 Ye springs of rivers, and of ocean waves
 That smile innumerous! Mother of us all,                             90
 O Earth, and Sun's all-seeing eye, behold,
 I pray, what I a God from Gods endure.
         Behold in what foul case
         I for ten thousand years
         Shall struggle in my woe,
         In these unseemly chains.
 Such doom the new-made Monarch of the Blest
         Hath now devised for me.
 Woe, woe! The present and the oncoming pang
         I wail, as I search out
 The place and hour when end of all these ills
         Shall dawn on me at last.                                   100
 What say I? All too clearly I foresee
 The things that come, and nought of pain shall be
 By me unlooked-for; but I needs must bear
 My destiny as best I may, knowing well
 The might resistless of Necessity.
 And neither may I speak of this my fate,
 Nor hold my peace. For I, poor I, through giving
 Great gifts to mortal men, am prisoner made
 In these fast fetters; yea, in fennel stalk[144]
 I snatched the hidden spring of stolen fire,
 Which is to men a teacher of all arts,                              110
 Their chief resource. And now this penalty
 Of that offence I pay, fast riveted
 In chains beneath the open firmament.
         Ha! ha! What now?
 What sound, what odour floats invisibly?[145]
 Is it of God or man, or blending both?
 And has one come to the remotest rock
 To look upon my woes? Or what wills he?
 Behold me bound, a God to evil doomed,
         The foe of Zeus, and held
         In hatred by all Gods                                       120
         Who tread the courts of Zeus:
         And this for my great love,
         Too great, for mortal men.
         Ah me! what rustling sounds
         Hear I of birds not far?
         With the light whirr of wings
         The air re-echoeth:
 All that draws nigh to me is cause of fear.[146]

              _Enter Chorus of_ Ocean Nymphs, _with wings,
                       floating in the air_[147]

 _Chor._ Nay, fear thou nought: in love
         All our array of wings
         In eager race hath come                                     130
 To this high peak, full hardly gaining o'er
         Our Father's mind and will;
 And the swift-rushing breezes bore me on:
 For lo! the echoing sound of blows on iron
 Pierced to our cave's recess, and put to flight
         My shamefast modesty,
 And I in unshod haste, on winged car,
         To thee rushed hitherward.

 _Prom._ Ah me! ah me!
 Offspring of Tethys blest with many a child,                        140
 Daughters of Old Okeanos that rolls
 Round all the earth with never-sleeping stream,
         Behold ye me, and see
         With what chains fettered fast,
 I on the topmost crags of this ravine
 Shall keep my sentry-post unenviable.

 _Chor._ I see it, O Prometheus, and a mist
 Of fear and full of tears comes o'er mine eyes,
         Thy frame beholding thus,
         Writhing on these high rocks                                150
         In adamantine ills.
 New pilots now o'er high Olympos rule,
         And with new-fashioned laws
         Zeus reigns, down-trampling right,
 And all the ancient powers He sweeps away.

 _Prom._ Ah! would that 'neath the Earth, 'neath Hades too,
 Home of the dead, far down to Tartaros                              160
 Unfathomable He in fetters fast
         In wrath had hurled me down:
         So neither had a God
 Nor any other mocked at these my woes;
 But now, the wretched plaything of the winds,
 I suffer ills at which my foes rejoice.

 _Chor._ Nay, which of all the Gods
 Is so hard-hearted as to joy in this?
 Who, Zeus excepted, doth not pity thee
         In these thine ills? But He,
         Ruthless, with soul unbent,
 Subdues the heavenly host, nor will He cease[148]                   170
 Until his heart be satiate with power,
 Or some one seize with subtle stratagem
 The sovran might that so resistless seemed.

 _Prom._ Nay, of a truth, though put to evil shame,
         In massive fetters bound,
         The Ruler of the Gods
 Shall yet have need of me, yes, e'en of me,
         To tell the counsel new
         That seeks to strip from him
 His sceptre and his might of sovereignty.
         In vain will He with words
         Or suasion's honeyed charms                                 180
         Soothe me, nor will I tell
         Through fear of his stern threats,
         Ere He shall set me free
         From these my bonds, and make,
         Of his own choice, amends
         For all these outrages.

 _Chor._ Full rash art thou, and yield'st
 In not a jot to bitterest form of woe;
 Thou art o'er-free and reckless in thy speech:
         But piercing fear hath stirred
         My inmost soul to strife;
 For I fear greatly touching thy distress,
 As to what haven of these woes of thine                             190
 Thou now must steer: the son of Cronos hath
         A stubborn mood and heart inexorable.

 _Prom._ I know that Zeus is hard,
 And keeps the Right supremely to himself;
         But then, I trow, He'll be
         Full pliant in his will,
         When He is thus crushed down.
         Then, calming down his mood
         Of hard and bitter wrath,
         He'll hasten unto me,
         As I to him shall haste,                                    200
         For friendship and for peace.

 _Chor._ Hide it not from us, tell us all the tale:
 For what offence Zeus, having seized thee thus,
 So wantonly and bitterly insults thee:
 If the tale hurt thee not, inform thou us.

 _Prom._ Painful are these things to me e'en to speak:
 Painful is silence; everywhere is woe.
 For when the high Gods fell on mood of wrath,
 And hot debate of mutual strife was stirred,
 Some wishing to hurl Cronos from his throne,
 That Zeus, forsooth, might reign; while others strove,
 Eager that Zeus might never rule the Gods:                          210
 Then I, full strongly seeking to persuade
 The Titans, yea, the sons of Heaven and Earth,
 Failed of my purpose. Scorning subtle arts,
 With counsels violent, they thought that they
 By force would gain full easy mastery.
 But then not once or twice my mother Themis
 And Earth, one form though bearing many names,[149]
 Had prophesied the future, how 'twould run,
 That not by strength nor yet by violence,                           220
 But guile, should those who prospered gain the day.
 And when in my words I this counsel gave,
 They deigned not e'en to glance at it at all.
 And then of all that offered, it seemed best
 To join my mother, and of mine own will,
 Not against his will, take my side with Zeus,
 And by my counsels, mine, the dark deep pit
 Of Tartaros the ancient Cronos holds,
 Himself and his allies. Thus profiting
 By me, the mighty ruler of the Gods                                 230
 Repays me with these evil penalties:
 For somehow this disease in sovereignty
 Inheres, of never trusting to one's friends.[150]
 And since ye ask me under what pretence
 He thus maltreats me, I will show it you:
 For soon as He upon his father's throne
 Had sat secure, forthwith to divers Gods
 He divers gifts distributed, and his realm
 Began to order. But of mortal men
 He took no heed, but purposed utterly                               240
 To crush their race and plant another new;
 And, I excepted, none dared cross his will;
 But I did dare, and mortal men I freed
 From passing on to Hades thunder-stricken;
 And therefore am I bound beneath these woes,
 Dreadful to suffer, pitiable to see:
 And I, who in my pity thought of men
 More than myself, have not been worthy deemed
 To gain like favour, but all ruthlessly
 I thus am chained, foul shame this sight to Zeus.

 _Chor._ Iron-hearted must he be and made of rock             250
 Who is not moved, Prometheus, by thy woes:
 Fain could I wish I ne'er had seen such things,
 And, seeing them, am wounded to the heart.

 _Prom._ Yea, I am piteous for my friends to see.

 _Chor._ Did'st thou not go to farther lengths than this?

 _Prom._ I made men cease from contemplating death.[151]

 _Chor._ What medicine did'st thou find for that disease?

 _Prom._ Blind hopes I gave to live and dwell with them.

 _Chor._ Great service that thou did'st for mortal men!

 _Prom._ And more than that, I gave them fire, yes I.         260

 _Chor._ Do short-lived men the flaming fire possess?

 _Prom._ Yea, and full many an art they'll learn from it.

 _Chor._ And is it then on charges such as these
 That Zeus maltreats thee, and no respite gives
 Of many woes? And has thy pain no end?

 _Prom._ End there is none, except as pleases Him.

 _Chor._ How shall it please? What hope hast thou? See'st not
 That thou hast sinned? Yet to say how thou sinned'st
 Gives me no pleasure, and is pain to thee.
 Well! let us leave these things, and, if we may,
 Seek out some means to 'scape from this thy woe.                    270

 _Prom._ 'Tis a light thing for one who has his foot
 Beyond the reach of evil to exhort
 And counsel him who suffers. This to me
 Was all well known. Yea, willing, willingly
 I sinned, nor will deny it. Helping men,
 I for myself found trouble: yet I thought not
 That I with such dread penalties as these
 Should wither here on these high-towering crags,
 Lighting on this lone hill and neighbourless.
 Wherefore wail not for these my present woes,
 But, drawing nigh, my coming fortunes hear,                         280
 That ye may learn the whole tale to the end.
 Nay, hearken, hearken; show your sympathy
 With him who suffers now. 'Tis thus that woe,
 Wandering, now falls on this one, now on that.

 _Chor._ Not to unwilling hearers hast thou uttered,
         Prometheus, thy request,
 And now with nimble foot abounding
         My swiftly rushing car,
 And the pure æther, path of birds of heaven,                        290
 I will draw near this rough and rocky land,
         For much do I desire
 To hear this tale, full measure, of thy woes.

         _Enter_ OKEANOS, _on a car drawn by a winged gryphon_

 _Okean._ Lo, I come to thee, Prometheus,
         Reaching goal of distant journey,[152]
         Guiding this my winged courser
         By my will, without a bridle;
         And thy sorrows move my pity.
         Force, in part, I deem, of kindred
         Leads me on, nor know I any,
         Whom, apart from kin, I honour                              300
         More than thee, in fuller measure.
         This thou shall own true and earnest:
         I deal not in glozing speeches.
         Come then, tell me how to help thee;
         Ne'er shalt thou say that one more friendly
         Is found than unto thee is Okean.

 _Prom._ Let be. What boots it? Thou then too art come
 To gaze upon my sufferings. How did'st dare
 Leaving the stream that bears thy name, and caves
 Hewn in the living rock, this land to visit,
 Mother of iron? What then, art thou come
 To gaze upon my fall and offer pity?                                310
 Behold this sight: see here the friend of Zeus,
 Who helped to seat him in his sovereignty,
 With what foul outrage I am crushed by him!

 _Okean._ I see, Prometheus, and I wish to give thee
 My best advice, all subtle though thou be.
 Know thou thyself,[153] and fit thy soul to moods
 To thee full new. New king the Gods have now;
 But if thou utter words thus rough and sharp,
 Perchance, though sitting far away on high,                         320
 Zeus yet may hear thee, and his present wrath
 Seem to thee but as child's play of distress.
 Nay, thou poor sufferer, quit the rage thou hast,
 And seek a remedy for these thine ills.
 A tale thrice-told, perchance I seem to speak:
 Lo! this, Prometheus, is the punishment
 Of thine o'er lofty speech, nor art thou yet
 Humbled, nor yieldest to thy miseries,
 And fain would'st add fresh evils unto these.
 But thou, if thou wilt take me as thy teacher,                      330
 Wilt not kick out against the pricks;[154] seeing well
 A monarch reigns who gives account to none.
 And now I go, and will an effort make,
 If I, perchance, may free thee from thy woes;
 Be still then, hush thy petulance of speech,
 Or knowest thou not, o'er-clever as thou art,
 That idle tongues must still their forfeit pay?

 _Prom._ I envy thee, seeing thou art free from blame
 Though thou shared'st all, and in my cause wast bold;[155]
 Nay, let me be, nor trouble thou thyself;                           340
 Thou wilt not, canst not soothe Him; very hard
 Is He of soothing. Look to it thyself,
 Lest thou some mischief meet with in the way.

 _Okean._ It is thy wont thy neighbours' minds to school
 Far better than thine own. From deeds, not words,
 I draw my proof. But do not draw me back
 When I am hasting on, for lo, I deem,
 I deem that Zeus will grant this boon to me,
 That I should free thee from these woes of thine.

 _Prom._ I thank thee much, yea, ne'er will cease to thank;
 For thou no whit of zeal dost lack; yet take,
 I pray, no trouble for me; all in vain
 Thy trouble, nothing helping, e'en if thou                          350
 Should'st care to take the trouble. Nay, be still;
 Keep out of harm's way; sufferer though I be,
 I would not therefore wish to give my woes
 A wider range o'er others. No, not so:
 For lo! my mind is wearied with the grief
 Of that my kinsman Atlas,[156] who doth stand
 In the far West, supporting on his shoulders
 The pillars of the earth and heaven, a burden
 His arms can ill but hold: I pity too
 The giant dweller of Kilikian caves,                                360
 Dread portent, with his hundred hands, subdued
 By force, the mighty Typhon,[157] who arose
 'Gainst all the Gods, with sharp and dreadful jaws
 Hissing out slaughter, and from out his eyes
 There flashed the terrible brightness as of one
 Who would lay low the sovereignty of Zeus.
 But the unsleeping dart of Zeus came on him,
 Down-swooping thunderbolt that breathes out flame,
 Which from his lofty boastings startled him,
 For he i' the heart was struck, to ashes burnt,                     370
 His strength all thunder-shattered; and he lies
 A helpless, powerless carcase, near the strait
 Of the great sea, fast pressed beneath the roots
 Of ancient Ætna, where on highest peak
 Hephæstos sits and smites his iron red-hot,
 From whence hereafter streams of fire shall burst,[158]
 Devouring with fierce jaws the golden plains
 Of fruitful, fair Sikelia. Such the wrath
 That Typhon shall belch forth with bursts of storm,
 Hot, breathing fire, and unapproachable,
 Though burnt and charred by thunderbolts of Zeus.                   380
 Not inexperienced art thou, nor dost need
 My teaching: save thyself, as thou know'st how;
 And I will drink my fortune to the dregs,
 Till from his wrath the mind of Zeus shall rest.[159]

 _Okean._ Know'st thou not this, Prometheus, even this,
 Of wrath's disease wise words the healers are?

 _Prom._ Yea, could one soothe the troubled heart in time,
 Nor seek by force to tame the soul's proud flesh.

 _Okean._ But in due forethought with bold daring blent,
 What mischief see'st thou lurking? Tell me this.                    390

 _Prom._ Toil bootless, and simplicity full fond.

 _Okean._ Let me, I pray, that sickness suffer, since
 'Tis best being wise to have not wisdom's show.

 _Prom._ Nay, but this error shall be deemed as mine.

 _Okean._ Thy word then clearly sends me home at once.

 _Prom._ Yea, lest thy pity for me make a foe....

 _Okean._ What! of that new king on his mighty throne?

 _Prom._ Look to it, lest his heart be vexed with thee.

 _Okean._ Thy fate, Prometheus, teaches me that lesson.

 _Prom._ Away, withdraw! keep thou the mind thou hast.        400

 _Okean._ Thou urgest me who am in act to haste;
 For this my bird four-footed flaps with wings
 The clear path of the æther; and full fain
 Would he bend knee in his own stall at home. [_Exit_.

                               STROPHE I

 _Chor._ I grieve, Prometheus, for thy dreary fate,
         Shedding from tender eyes
         The dew of plenteous tears;
 With streams, as when the watery south wind blows,
         My cheek is wet;                                            410
 For lo! these things are all unenviable,
 And Zeus, by his own laws his sway maintaining,
         Shows to the elder Gods
         A mood of haughtiness.

                             ANTISTROPHE I

 And all the country echoeth with the moan,
         And poureth many a tear
         For that magnific power
 Of ancient days far-seen that thou did'st share
         With those of one blood sprung;
 And all the mortal men who hold the plain                           420
 Of holy Asia as their land of sojourn,
         They grieve in sympathy
         For thy woes lamentable.

                               STROPHE II

 And they, the maiden band who find their home
         On distant Colchian coasts,
         Fearless of fight,[160]
 Or Skythian horde in earth's remotest clime,
         By far Mæotic lake;[161]

                             ANTISTROPHE II

 *And warlike glory of Arabia's tribes,[162]
         Who nigh to Caucasos                                        430
         In rock-fort dwell,
 An army fearful, with sharp-pointed spear
         Raging in war's array.

                              STROPHE III

 One other Titan only have I seen,
         One other of the Gods,
 Thus bound in woes of adamantine strength—
         Atlas, who ever groans
 Beneath the burden of a crushing might,
         The out-spread vault of heaven.

                            ANTISTROPHE III

 And lo! the ocean billows murmur loud                               440
         In one accord with him;[163]
 The sea-depths groan, and Hades' swarthy pit
         Re-echoeth the sound,
 And fountains of clear rivers, as they flow,
         Bewail his bitter griefs.

 _Prom._ Think not it is through pride or stiff self-will
 That I am silent. But my heart is worn,
 Self-contemplating, as I see myself
 Thus outraged. Yet what other hand than mine
 Gave these young Gods in fulness all their gifts?
 But these I speak not of; for I should tell
 To you that know them. But those woes of men,[164]                  450
 List ye to them,—how they, before as babes,
 By me were roused to reason, taught to think;
 And this I say, not finding fault with men,
 But showing my good-will in all I gave.
 For first, though seeing, all in vain they saw,
 And hearing, heard not rightly. But, like forms
 Of phantom-dreams, throughout their life's whole length
 They muddled all at random; did not know
 Houses of brick that catch the sunlight's warmth,
 Nor yet the work of carpentry. They dwelt
 In hollowed holes, like swarms of tiny ants,                        460
 In sunless depths of caverns; and they had
 No certain signs of winter, nor of spring
 Flower-laden, nor of summer with her fruits;
 But without counsel fared their whole life long,
 Until I showed the risings of the stars,
 And settings hard to recognise.[165] And I
 Found Number for them, chief device of all,
 *Groupings of letters, Memory's handmaid that,
 And mother of the Muses.[166] And I first
 Bound in the yoke wild steeds, submissive made                      470
 Or to the collar or men's limbs, that so
 They might in man's place bear his greatest toils;
 And horses trained to love the rein I yoked
 To chariots, glory of wealth's pride of state;[167]
 Nor was it any one but I that found
 Sea-crossing, canvas-wingèd cars of ships:
 Such rare designs inventing (wretched me!)
 For mortal men, I yet have no device
 By which to free myself from this my woe.[168]

 _Chor._ Foul shame thou sufferest: of thy sense bereaved,    480
 Thou errest greatly: and, like leech unskilled,
 Thou losest heart when smitten with disease,
 And know'st not how to find the remedies
 Wherewith to heal thine own soul's sicknesses.

 _Prom._ Hearing what yet remains thou'lt wonder more,
 What arts and what resources I devised:
 And this the chief: if any one fell ill,
 There was no help for him, nor healing food,
 Nor unguent, nor yet potion; but for want
 Of drugs they wasted, till I showed to them
 The blendings of all mild medicaments,[169]                         490
 Wherewith they ward the attacks of sickness sore.
 I gave them many modes of prophecy;[170]
 And I first taught them what dreams needs must prove
 True visions, and made known the ominous sounds
 Full hard to know; and tokens by the way,
 And flights of taloned birds I clearly marked,—
 Those on the right propitious to mankind,
 And those sinister,—and what form of life
 They each maintain, and what their enmities
 Each with the other, and their loves and friendships;               500
 And of the inward parts the plumpness smooth.
 And with what colour they the Gods would please,
 And the streaked comeliness of gall and liver:
 And with burnt limbs enwrapt in fat, and chine,
 I led men on to art full difficult:
 And I gave eyes to omens drawn from fire,
 Till then dim-visioned. So far then for this.
 And 'neath the earth the hidden boons for men,
 Bronze, iron, silver, gold, who else could say                      510
 That he, ere I did, found them? None, I know,
 Unless he fain would babble idle words.
 In one short word, then, learn the truth condensed,—
 Allarts of mortals from Prometheus spring.

 _Chor._ Nay, be not thou to men so over-kind,
 While thou thyself art in sore evil case;
 For I am sanguine that thou too, released
 From bonds, shall be as strong as Zeus himself.

 _Prom._ It is not thus that Fate's decree is fixed;
 But I, long crushed with twice ten thousand woes                    520
 And bitter pains, shall then escape my bonds;
 Art is far weaker than Necessity.

 _Chor._ Who guides the helm, then, of Necessity?

 _Prom._ Fates triple-formed, Errinyes unforgetting.

 _Chor._ Is Zeus, then, weaker in his might than these?

 _Prom._ Not even He can 'scape the thing decreed.

 _Chor._ What is decreed for Zeus but still to reign?

 _Prom._ Thou may'st no further learn, ask thou no more.

 _Chor._ 'Tis doubtless some dread secret which thou hidest.

 _Prom._ Of other theme make mention, for the time            530
 Is not yet come to utter this, but still
 It must be hidden to the uttermost;
 For by thus keeping it it is that I
 Escape my bondage foul, and these my pains.

                               STROPHE I

 _Chor._ Ah! ne'er may Zeus the Lord,
         Whose sovran sway rules all,
         His strength in conflict set
         Against my feeble will!
         Nor may I fail to serve
         The Gods with holy feast
         Of whole burnt-offerings,
         Where the stream ever flows
         That bears my father's name,
         The great Okeanos!
         Nor may I sin in speech!                                    540
         May this grace more and more
         Sink deep into my soul
         And never fade away!

                             ANTISTROPHE I

         Sweet is it in strong hope
         To spend long years of life,
         With bright and cheering joy
         Our heart's thoughts nourishing.
         I shudder, seeing thee
         Thus vexed and harassed sore.
         By twice ten thousand woes;
         For thou in pride of heart,
         Having no fear of Zeus,                                     550
         In thine own obstinacy,
         Dost show for mortal men,
         Prometheus, love o'ermuch.

                               STROPHE II

         See how that boon, dear friends,
         For thee is bootless found.
         Say, where is any help?
         What aid from mortals comes?
 Hast thou not seen this brief and powerless life,
 Fleeting as dreams, with which man's purblind race
         Is fast in fetters bound?                                   560
         Never shall counsels vain
         Of mortal men break through
         The harmony of Zeus.

                             ANTISTROPHE II

         This lesson have I learnt
         Beholding thy sad fate,
         Prometheus! Other strains
         Come back upon my mind,
 When I sang wedding hymns around thy bath,
 And at thy bridal bed, when thou did'st take
         In wedlock's holy bands
         One of the same sire born,
         Our own Hesione,                                            570
         Persuading her with gifts
         As wife to share thy couch.

         _Enter_ IO _in form like a fair woman with a heifer's
            horns_,[171] _followed by the Spectre of_ ARGOS

 _Io._ What land is this? What people? Whom shall I
         Say that I see thus vexed
         With bit and curb of rock?
         For what offence dost thou
         Bear fatal punishment?
         Tell me to what far land
         I've wandered here in woe.
           Ah me! ah me!
 Again the gadfly stings me miserable.
         Spectre of Argos, thou, the earth-born one—
         Ah, keep him off, O Earth!
 I fear to look upon that herdsman dread,                            580
         Him with ten thousand eyes:
 Ah lo! he cometh with his crafty look,
 Whom Earth refuses even dead to hold;[172]
         But coming from beneath
         He hunts me miserable,
 And drives me famished o'er the sea-beach sand.


 And still his waxened reed-pipe soundeth clear
         A soft and slumberous strain;
         O heavens! O ye Gods!                                       590
 Whither do these long wanderings lead me on?
 For what offence, O son of Cronos, what,
         Hast thou thus bound me fast
         In these great miseries?
           Ah me! ah me!
 And why with terror of the gadfly's sting
 Dost thou thus vex me, frenzied in my soul?
 Burn me with fire, or bury me in earth,
 Or to wild sea-beasts give me as a prey:
         Nay, grudge me not, O King,
         An answer to my prayers:                                    600
 Enough my many-wandered wanderings
         Have exercised my soul,
         Nor have I power to learn
         How to avert the woe.

 (_To Prometheus_.) Hear'st thou the voice of maiden crowned with horns?

 _Prom._ Surely I heard the maid by gadfly driven,
 Daughter of Inachos, who warmed the heart
 Of Zeus with love, and now through Hera's hate
 Is tried, perforce, with wanderings over-long?


 _Io._ How is it that thou speak'st my father's name?
         Tell me, the suffering one,                                 610
         Who art thou, who, poor wretch,
 Who thus so truly nam'st me miserable,
         And tell'st the plague from Heaven,
         Which with its haunting stings
         Wears me to death? Ah woe!
 And I with famished and unseemly bounds
 Rush madly, driven by Hera's jealous craft.
 Ah, who of all that suffer, born to woe,                            620
 Have trouble like the pain that I endure?
         But thou, make clear to me,
         What yet for me remains,
 What remedy, what healing for my pangs.
         Show me, if thou dost know:
         Speak out and tell to me,
         The maid by wanderings vexed.

 _Prom._ I will say plainly all thou seek'st to know;
 Not in dark tangled riddles, but plain speech,
 As it is meet that friends to friends should speak;
 Thou see'st Prometheus who gave fire to men.                        630

 _Io._ O thou to men as benefactor known,
 Why, poor Prometheus, sufferest thou this pain?

 _Prom._ I have but now mine own woes ceased to wail.

 _Io._ Wilt thou not then bestow this boon on me?

 _Prom._ Say what thou seek'st, for I will tell thee all.

 _Io._ Tell me, who fettered thee in this ravine?

 _Prom._ The counsel was of Zeus, the hand Hephæstos'.

 _Io._ Of what offence dost thou the forfeit pay?

 _Prom._ Thus much alone am I content to tell.

 _Io._ Tell me, at least, besides, what end shall come        640
 To my drear wanderings; when the time shall be.

 _Prom._ Not to know this is better than to know.

 _Io._ Nay, hide not from me what I have to bear.

 _Prom._ It is not that I grudge the boon to thee.

 _Io._ Why then delayest thou to tell the whole?

 _Prom._ Not from ill will, but loth to vex thy soul.

 _Io._ Nay, care thou not beyond what pleases me.

 _Prom._ If thou desire it I must speak. Hear then.

 _Chor._ Not yet though; grant me share of pleasure too.
 Let us first ask the tale of her great woe,                         650
 While she unfolds her life's consuming chances;
 Her future sufferings let her learn from thee.

 _Prom._ 'Tis thy work, Io, to grant these their wish,
 On other grounds and as thy father's kin:[173]
 For to bewail and moan one's evil chance,
 Here where one trusts to gain a pitying tear
 From those who hear,—this is not labour lost.

 _Io._ I know not how to disobey your wish;
 So ye shall learn the whole that ye desire
 In speech full clear. And yet I blush to tell                       660
 The storm that came from God, and brought the loss
 Of maiden face, what way it seized on me.
 For nightly visions coming evermore
 Into my virgin bower, sought to woo me
 With glozing words. “O virgin greatly blest,
 Why art thou still a virgin when thou might'st
 Attain to highest wedlock? For with dart
 Of passion for thee Zeus doth glow, and fain
 Would make thee his. And thou, O child, spurn not
 The bed of Zeus, but go to Lerna's field,                           670
 Where feed thy father's flocks and herds,
 That so the eye of Zeus may find repose
 From this his craving.” With such visions I
 Was haunted every evening, till I dared
 To tell my father all these dreams of night,
 And he to Pytho and Dodona sent
 Full many to consult the Gods, that he,
 Might learn what deeds and words would please Heaven's lords.
 And they came bringing speech of oracles
 Shot with dark sayings, dim and hard to know.                       680
 At last a clear word came to Inachos
 Charging him plainly, and commanding him
 To thrust me from my country and my home,
 To stray at large[174] to utmost bounds of earth;
 And, should he gainsay, that the fiery bolt
 Of Zeus should come and sweep away his race.
 And he, by Loxias' oracles induced,
 Thrust me, against his will, against mine too,
 And drove me from my home; but spite of all,
 The curb of Zeus constrained him this to do.                        690
 And then forthwith my face and mind were changed;
 And hornèd, as ye see me, stung to the quick
 By biting gadfly, I with maddened leap
 Rushed to Kerchneia's fair and limpid stream,
 And fount of Lerna.[175] And a giant herdsman,
 Argos, full rough of temper, followed me,
 With many an eye beholding, on my track:
 And him a sudden and unlooked-for doom
 Deprived of life. And I, by gadfly stung,
 By scourge from Heaven am driven from land to land.                 700
 What has been done thou hearest. And if thou
 Can'st tell what yet remains of woe, declare it;
 Nor in thy pity soothe me with false words;
 For hollow words, I deem, are worst of ills.

 _Chor._ Away, away, let be:
         Ne'er thought I that such tales
 Would ever, ever come unto mine ears;
 Nor that such terrors, woes and outrages,
         Hard to look on, hard to bear,                              710
 Would chill my soul with sharp goad, double-edged.
         Ah fate! Ah fate!
 I shudder, seeing Io's fortune strange.

 _Prom._ Thou art too quick in groaning, full of fear:
 Wait thou a while until thou hear the rest.

 _Chor._ Speak thou and tell. Unto the sick 'tis sweet
 Clearly to know what yet remains of pain.

 _Prom._ Your former wish ye gained full easily.
 Your first desire was to learn of her                               720
 The tale she tells of her own sufferings;
 Now therefore hear the woes that yet remain
 For this poor maid to bear at Hera's hands.
 And thou, O child of Inachos! take heed
 To these my words, that thou may'st hear the goal
 Of all thy wanderings. First then, turning hence
 Towards the sunrise, tread the untilled plains,
 And thou shalt reach the Skythian nomads, those[176]
 Who on smooth-rolling waggons dwell aloft
 In wicker houses, with far-darting bows                             730
 Duly equipped. Approach thou not to these,
 But trending round the coasts on which the surf
 Beats with loud murmurs,[177] traverse thou that clime.
 On the left hand there dwell the Chalybes,[178]
 Who work in iron. Of these do thou beware,
 For fierce are they and most inhospitable;
 And thou wilt reach the river fierce and strong,
 True to its name.[179] This seek not thou to cross,
 For it is hard to ford, until thou come
 To Caucasos itself, of all high hills
 The highest, where a river pours its strength
 From the high peaks themselves. And thou must cross                 740
 Those summits near the stars, must onward go
 Towards the south, where thou shalt find the host
 Of the Amâzons, hating men, whose home
 Shall one day be around Thermôdon's bank,
 By Themiskyra,[180] where the ravenous jaws
 Of Salmydessos ope upon the sea,
 Treacherous to sailors, stepdame stern to ships.[181]
 And they with right good-will shall be thy guides;
 And thou, hard by a broad pool's narrow gates,
 Wilt pass to the Kimmerian isthmus. Leaving
 This boldly, thou must cross Mæotic channel;[182]                   750
 And there shall be great fame 'mong mortal men
 Of this thy journey, and the Bosporos[183]
 Shall take its name from thee. And Europe's plain
 Then quitting, thou shalt gain the Asian coast.
 Doth not the all-ruling monarch of the Gods
 Seem all ways cruel? For, although a God,
 He, seeking to embrace this mortal maid,
 Imposed these wanderings on her. Thou hast found,
 O maiden! bitter suitor for thy hand;
 For great as are the ills thou now hast heard,
 Know that as yet not e'en the prelude's known.                      760

 _Io._ Ah woe! woe! woe!

 _Prom._ Again thou groan'st and criest. What wilt do
 When thou shall learn the evils yet to come?

 _Chor._ What! are there troubles still to come for her?

 _Prom._ Yea, stormy sea of woe most lamentable.

 _Io._ What gain is it to live? Why cast I not
 Myself at once from this high precipice,
 And, dashed to earth, be free from all my woes?
 Far better were it once for all to die
 Than all one's days to suffer pain and grief.                       770

 _Prom._ My struggles then full hardly thou would'st bear,
 For whom there is no destiny of death;
 For that might bring a respite from my woes:
 But now there is no limit to my pangs
 Till Zeus be hurled out from his sovereignty.

 _Io._ What! shall Zeus e'er be hurled from his high state?

 _Prom._ Thou would'st rejoice, I trow, to see that fall.

 _Io._ How should I not, when Zeus so foully wrongs me?

 _Prom._ That this is so thou now may'st hear from me.

 _Io._ Who then shall rob him of his sceptred sway?           780

 _Prom._ Himself shall do it by his own rash plans.

 _Io._ But how? Tell this, unless it bringeth harm.

 _Prom._ He shall wed one for whom one day he'll grieve.

 _Io._ Heaven-born or mortal? Tell, if tell thou may'st.

 _Prom._ Why ask'st thou who? I may not tell thee that.

 _Io._ Shall his bride hurl him from his throne of might?

 _Prom._ Yea; she shall bear child mightier than his sire.

 _Io._ Has he no way to turn aside that doom?

 _Prom._ No, none; unless I from my bonds be loosed.[184]

 _Io._ Who then shall loose thee 'gainst the will of Zeus?    790

 _Prom._ It must be one of thy posterity.

 _Io._ What, shall a child of mine free thee from ills?

 _Prom._ Yea, the third generation after ten.[185]

 _Io._ No more thine oracles are clear to me.

 *_Prom._ Nay, seek not thou thine own drear fate to know.

 _Io._ Do not, a boon presenting, then withdraw it.

 _Prom._ Of two alternatives, I'll give thee choice.

 _Io._ Tell me of what, then give me leave to choose.

 _Prom._ I give it then. Choose, or that I should tell
 Thy woes to come, or who shall set me free.                         800

 _Chor._ Of these be willing one request to grant
 To her, and one to me; nor scorn my words:
 Tell her what yet of wanderings she must bear,
 And me who shall release thee. This I crave.

 _Prom._ Since ye are eager, I will not refuse
 To utter fully all that ye desire.
 Thee, Io, first I'll tell thy wanderings wild,
 Thou, write it in the tablets of thy mind.
 When thou shalt cross the straits, of continents
 The boundary,[186] take thou the onward path
 On to the fiery-hued and sun-tracked East.                          810
 [And first of all, to frozen Northern blasts
 Thou'lt come, and there beware the rushing whirl,
 Lest it should come upon thee suddenly,
 And sweep thee onward with the cloud-rack wild;][187]
 Crossing the sea-surf till thou come at last
 Unto Kisthene's Gorgoneian plains,
 Where dwell the grey-haired virgin Phorkides,[188]
 Three, swan-shaped, with one eye between them all
 And but one tooth; whom nor the sun beholds
 With radiant beams, nor yet the moon by night:
 And near them are their wingèd sisters three,
 The Gorgons, serpent-tressed, and hating men,
 Whom mortal wight may not behold and live.                          820
 *Such is one ill I bid thee guard against;
 Now hear another monstrous sight: Beware
 The sharp-beaked hounds of Zeus that never bark,[189]
 The Gryphons, and the one-eyed, mounted host
 Of Arimaspians, who around the stream
 That flows o'er gold, the ford of Pluto, dwell:[190]
 Draw not thou nigh to them. But distant land
 Thou shalt approach, the swarthy tribes who dwell
 By the sun's fountain,[191] Æthiopia's stream:
 By its banks wend thy way until thou come
 To that great fall where from the Bybline hills                     830
 The Neilos pours its pure and holy flood;
 And it shall guide thee to Neilotic land,
 Three-angled, where, O Io, 'tis decreed
 For thee and for thy progeny to found
 A far-off colony. And if of this
 Aught seem to thee as stammering speech obscure,
 Ask yet again and learn it thoroughly:
 Far more of leisure have I than I like.

 _Chor._ If thou hast aught to add, aught left untold
 Of her sore-wasting wanderings, speak it out;                       840
 But if thou hast said all, then grant to us
 The boon we asked. Thou dost not, sure, forget it.

 _Prom._ The whole course of her journeying she hath heard,
 And that she know she hath not heard in vain
 I will tell out what troubles she hath borne
 Before she came here, giving her sure proof
 Of these my words. The greater bulk of things
 I will pass o'er, and to the very goal
 Of all thy wanderings go. For when thou cam'st
 To the Molossian plains, and by the grove[192]
 Of lofty-ridged Dodona, and the shrine
 Oracular of Zeus Thesprotian,                                       850
 And the strange portent of the talking oaks,
 By which full clearly, not in riddle dark,
 Thou wast addressed as noble spouse of Zeus,—
 If aught of pleasure such things give to thee,—
 Thence strung to frenzy, thou did'st rush along
 The sea-coast's path to Rhea's mighty gulf,[193]
 In backward way from whence thou now art vexed,
 And for all time to come that reach of sea,
 Know well, from thee Ionian shall be called,
 To all men record of thy journeyings.                               860
 These then are tokens to thee that my mind
 Sees somewhat more than that is manifest.

 What follows (_to the Chorus_) I will speak to you and her
 In common, on the track of former words
 Returning once again. A city stands,
 Canôbos, at its country's furthest bound,
 Hard by the mouth and silt-bank of the Nile;
 There Zeus shall give thee back thy mind again,[194]
 With hand that works no terror touching thee,—
 Touch only—and thou then shalt bear a child
 Of Zeus begotten, Epaphos, “Touch-born,”                            870
 Swarthy of hue, whose lot shall be to reap
 The whole plain watered by the broad-streamed Neilos:
 And in the generation fifth from him
 A household numbering fifty shall return
 Against their will to Argos, in their flight
 From wedlock with their cousins.[195] And they too,
 (Kites but a little space behind the doves)
 With eager hopes pursuing marriage rites
 Beyond pursuit shall come; and God shall grudge
 To give up their sweet bodies. And the land
 Pelasgian[196] shall receive them, when by stroke
 Of woman's murderous hand these men shall lie
 Smitten to death by daring deed of night:                           880
 For every bride shall take her husband's life,
 And dip in blood the sharp two-edgèd sword
 (So to my foes may Kypris show herself!)[197]
 Yet one of that fair band shall love persuade
 Her husband not to slaughter, and her will
 Shall lose its edge; and she shall make her choice
 Rather as weak than murderous to be known.
 And she at Argos shall a royal seed
 Bring forth (long speech 'twould take to tell this clear)           890
 Famed for his arrows, who shall set me free[198]
 From these my woes. Such was the oracle
 Mine ancient mother Themis, Titan-born,
 Gave to me; but the manner and the means,—
 That needs a lengthy tale to tell the whole,
 And thou can'st nothing gain by learning it.

 _Io._ Eleleu! Oh, Eleleu![199]
 The throbbing pain inflames me, and the mood
         Of frenzy-smitten rage;
         The gadfly's pointed sting,
         Not forged with fire, attacks,
 And my heart beats against my breast with fear.                     900
         Mine eyes whirl round and round:
         Out of my course I'm borne
 By the wild spirit of fierce agony,
         And cannot curb my lips,
 And turbid speech at random dashes on
 Upon the waves of dread calamity.

                               STROPHE I

 _Chor._ Wise, very wise was he
 Who first in thought conceived this maxim sage,
         And spread it with his speech,[200]—
 That the best wedlock is with equals found,
 And that a craftsman, born to work with hands,
         Should not desire to wed
 Or with the soft luxurious heirs of wealth,                         910
 Or with the race that boast their lineage high.

                             ANTISTROPHE I

         Oh ne'er, oh ne'er, dread Fates,
 May ye behold me as the bride of Zeus,
         The partner of his couch,
 Nor may I wed with any heaven-born spouse!
 For I shrink back, beholding Io's lot
         Of loveless maidenhood,
 Consumed and smitten low exceedingly
 By the wild wanderings from great Hera sent!

                               STROPHE II

 To me, when wedlock is on equal terms,                              920
         It gives no cause to fear:
 Ne'er may the love of any of the Gods,
         The strong Gods, look on me
         With glance I cannot 'scape!

                             ANTISTROPHE II

 That fate is war that none can war against,
         Source of resourceless ill;
 Nor know I what might then become of me:
         I see not how to 'scape
         The counsel deep of Zeus.

 _Prom._ Yea, of a truth shall Zeus, though stiff of will,
 Be brought full low. Such bed of wedlock now
 Is he preparing, one to cast him forth                              930
 In darkness from his sovereignty and throne.
 And then the curse his father Cronos spake
 Shall have its dread completion, even that
 He uttered when he left his ancient throne;
 And from these troubles no one of the Gods
 But me can clearly show the way to 'scape.
 I know the time and manner: therefore now
 Let him sit fearless, in his peals on high
 Putting his trust, and shaking in his hands
 His darts fire-breathing. Nought shall they avail
 To hinder him from falling shamefully                               940
 A fall intolerable. Such a combatant
 He arms against himself, a marvel dread,
 Who shall a fire discover mightier far
 Than the red levin, and a sound more dread
 Than roaring of the thunder, and shall shiver
 That plague sea-born that causeth earth to quake,
 The trident, weapon of Poseidon's strength:
 And stumbling on this evil, he shall learn
 How far apart a king's lot from a slave's.

 _Chor._ What thou dost wish thou mutterest against Zeus.

 _Prom._ Things that shall be, and things I wish, I speak.    950

 _Chor._ And must we look for one to master Zeus?

 _Prom._ Yea, troubles harder far than these are his.

 _Chor._ Art not afraid to vent such words as these?

 _Prom._ What can I fear whose fate is not to die?

 _Chor._ But He may send on thee worse pain than this.

 _Prom._ So let Him do: nought finds me unprepared.

 _Chor._ Wisdom is theirs who Adrasteia worship.[201]

 _Prom._ Worship then, praise and flatter him that rules;
 My care for Zeus is nought, and less than nought:
 Let Him act, let Him rule this little while,                        960
 E'en as He will; for long He shall not rule
 Over the Gods. But lo! I see at hand
 The courier of the Gods, the minister
 Of our new sovereign. Doubtless he has come
 To bring me tidings of some new device.

                             _Enter_ HERMES

 _Herm._ Thee do I speak to,—thee, the teacher wise,
 The bitterly o'er-bitter, who 'gainst Gods
 Hast sinned in giving gifts to short-lived men—
 I speak to thee, the filcher of bright fire.
 The Father bids thee say what marriage thou
 Dost vaunt, and who shall hurl Him from his might;
 And this too not in dark mysterious speech,                         970
 But tell each point out clearly. Give me not,
 Prometheus, task of double journey. Zeus
 Thou see'st, is not with such words appeased.

 _Prom._ Stately of utterance, full of haughtiness
 Thy speech, as fits a messenger of Gods.
 Ye yet are young in your new rule, and think
 To dwell in painless towers. Have I not
 Seen two great rulers driven forth from thence?[202]
 And now the third, who reigneth, I shall see
 In basest, quickest fall. Seem I to thee                            980
 To shrink and quail before these new-made Gods?
 Far, very far from that am I. But thou,
 Track once again the path by which thou camest;
 Thou shalt learn nought of what thou askest me.

 _Herm._ It was by such self-will as this before
 That thou did'st bring these sufferings on thyself.

 _Prom._ I for my part, be sure, would never change
 My evil state for that thy bondslave's lot.

 _Herm._ To be the bondslave of this rock, I trow,
 Is better than to be Zeus' trusty herald!                           990

 _Prom._ So it is meet the insulter to insult.

 _Herm._ Thou waxest proud, 'twould seem, of this thy doom.

 _Prom._ Wax proud! God grant that I may see my foes
 Thus waxing proud, and thee among the rest!

 _Herm._ Dost blame me then for thy calamities?

 _Prom._ In one short sentence—all the Gods I hate,
 Who my good turns with evil turns repay.

 _Herm._ Thy words prove thee with no slight madness plagued.

 _Prom._ If to hate foes be madness, mad I am.

 _Herm._ Not one could bear thee wert thou prosperous.       1000

 _Prom._ Ah me!

 _Herm._ That word is all unknown to Zeus.

 _Prom._ Time waxing old can many a lesson teach.

 _Herm._ Yet thou at least hast not true wisdom learnt.

 _Prom._ I had not else addressed a slave like thee.

 _Herm._ Thou wilt say nought the Father asks, 'twould seem.

 _Prom._ Fine debt I owe him, favour to repay.

 _Herm._ Me as a boy thou scornest then, forsooth.

 _Prom._ And art thou not a boy, and sillier far,
 If that thou thinkest to learn aught from me?
 There is no torture nor device by which                            1010
 Zeus can impel me to disclose these things
 Before these bonds that outrage me be loosed.
 Let then the blazing levin-flash be hurled;
 With white-winged snow-storm and with earth-born thunders
 Let Him disturb and trouble all that is;
 Nought of these things shall force me to declare
 Whose hand shall drive him from his sovereignty.

 _Herm._ See if thou findest any help in this.

 _Prom._ Long since all this I've seen, and formed my plans. 1020

 _Herm._ O fool, take heart, take heart at last in time,
 To form right thoughts for these thy present woes.

 _Prom._ Like one who soothes a wave, thy speech in vain
 Vexes my soul. But deem not thou that I,
 Fearing the will of Zeus, shall e'er become
 As womanised in mind, or shall entreat
 Him whom I greatly loathe, with upturned hand,
 In woman's fashion, from these bonds of mine
 To set me free. Far, far am I from that.

 _Herm._ It seems that I, saying much, shall speak in vain;
 For thou in nought by prayers art pacified,
 Or softened in thy heart, but like a colt                          1030
 Fresh harnessed, thou dost champ thy bit, and strive,
 And fight against the reins. Yet thou art stiff
 In weak device; for self-will, by itself,
 In one who is not wise, is less than nought.
 Look to it, if thou disobey my words,
 How great a storm and triple wave of ills,[203]
 Not to be 'scaped, shall come on thee; for first,
 With thunder and the levin's blazing flash
 The Father this ravine of rock shall crush,
 And shall thy carcase hide, and stern embrace
 Of stony arms shall keep thee in thy place.                        1040
 And having traversed space of time full long,
 Thou shalt come back to light, and then his hound,
 The wingèd hound of Zeus, the ravening eagle,
 Shall greedily make banquet of thy flesh,
 Coming all day an uninvited guest,
 And glut himself upon thy liver dark.
 And of that anguish look not for the end,
 Before some God shall come to bear thy woes,
 And will to pass to Hades' sunless realm,
 And the dark cloudy depths of Tartaros.[204]                       1050
 Wherefore take heed. No feigned boast is this,
 But spoken all too truly; for the lips
 Of Zeus know not to speak a lying speech,
 But will perform each single word. And thou,
 Search well, be wise, nor think that self-willed pride
 Shall ever better prove than counsel good.

 _Chor._ To us doth Hermes seem to utter words
 Not out of season; for he bids thee quit
 Thy self-willed pride and seek for counsel good.
 Hearken thou to him. To the wise of soul
 It is foul shame to sin persistently.                              1060

         _Prom._ To me who knew it all
         He hath this message borne;
         And that a foe from foes
         Should suffer is not strange.
         Therefore on me be hurled
         The sharp-edged wreath of fire;
         And let heaven's vault be stirred
         With thunder and the blasts
         Of fiercest winds; and Earth
         From its foundations strong,
         E'en to its deepest roots,
         Let storm-wind make to rock;
         And let the Ocean wave,
         With wild and foaming surge,
         Be heaped up to the paths                                  1070
         Where move the stars of heaven;
         And to dark Tartaros
         Let Him my carcase hurl,
 With mighty blasts of force:
 Yet me He shall not slay.

 _Herm._ Such words and thoughts from one
 Brain-stricken one may hear.
 What space divides his state
 From frenzy? What repose
 Hath he from maddened rage?
 But ye who pitying stand
 And share his bitter griefs,                                       1080
 Quickly from hence depart,
 Lest the relentless roar
 Of thunder stun your soul.

 _Chor._ With other words attempt
 To counsel and persuade,
 And I will hear: for now
 Thou hast this word thrust in
 That we may never bear.
 How dost thou bid me train
 My soul to baseness vile?
 With him I will endure
 Whatever is decreed.
 Traitors I've learnt to hate,
 Nor is there any plague                                            1090
 That more than this I loathe.

 _Herm._ Nay then, remember ye
 What now I say, nor blame
 Your fortune: never say
 That Zeus hath cast you down
 To evil not foreseen.
 Not so; ye cast yourselves:
 For now with open eyes,
 Not taken unawares,
 In Atè's endless net
 Ye shall entangled be
 By folly of your own.

                            [_A pause, and then flashes of lightning and
                                peals of thunder_[205]

 _Prom._ Yea, now in very deed,
 No more in word alone,
 The earth shakes to and fro,
 And the loud thunder's voice
 Bellows hard by, and blaze
 The flashing levin-fires;
 And tempests whirl the dust,
 And gusts of all wild winds
 On one another leap,
 In wild conflicting blasts,
 And sky with sea is blent:
 Such is the storm from Zeus                                        1110
 That comes as working fear,
 In terrors manifest.
 O Mother venerable!
 O Æther! rolling round
 The common light of all,
 See'st thou what wrongs I bear?


Footnote 136:

  The scene seems at first an exception to the early conventional rule,
  which forbade the introduction of a third actor on the Greek stage.
  But it has been noticed that (1) Force does not speak, and (2)
  Prometheus does not speak till Strength and Force have retired, and
  that it is therefore probable that the whole work of nailing is done
  on a lay figure or effigy of some kind, and that one of the two who
  had before taken part in the dialogue then speaks behind it in the
  character of Prometheus. So the same actor must have appeared in
  succession as Okeanos, Io, and Hermes.

Footnote 137:

  Prometheus (_Forethought_) is the son of Themis (_Right_) the second
  occupant of the Pythian Oracle (_Eumen_. v. 2). His sympathy with man
  leads him to impart the gift which raised them out of savage animal
  life, and for this Zeus, who appears throughout the play as a hard
  taskmaster, sentences him to fetters. Hephæstos, from whom this fire
  had been stolen, has a touch of pity for him. Strength, who comes as
  the servant, not of Hephæstos, but of Zeus himself, acts, as such,
  with merciless cruelty.

Footnote 138:

  The generalised statement refers to Zeus, as having but recently
  expelled Cronos from his throne in Heaven.

Footnote 139:

  Hephæstos, as the great fire-worker, had taught Prometheus to use the
  fire which he afterwards bestowed on men.

Footnote 140:

  Perhaps, “All might is ours except o'er Gods to rule.”

Footnote 141:

  The words indicate that the effigy of Prometheus, now nailed to the
  rock, was, as being that of a Titan, of colossal size.

Footnote 142:

  The touch is characteristic as showing that here, as in the
  _Eumenides_, Æschylos relied on the horribleness of the masks, as part
  of the machinery of his plays.

Footnote 143:

  The silence of Prometheus up to this point was partly, as has been
  said, consequent on the conventional laws of the Greek drama, but it
  is also a touch of supreme insight into the heroic temper. In the
  presence of his torturers, the Titan will not utter even a groan. When
  they are gone, he appeals to the sympathy of Nature.

Footnote 144:

  The legend is from Hesiod (_Theogon._, v. 567). The fennel, or
  _narthex_, seems to have been a large umbelliferous plant, with a
  large stem filled with a sort of pith, which was used when dry as
  tinder. Stalks were carried as wands (the _thyrsi_) by the men and
  women who joined in Bacchanalian processions. In modern botany, the
  name is given to the plant which produces Asafœtida, and the stem of
  which, from its resinous character, would burn freely, and so connect
  itself with the Promethean myth. On the other hand, the Narthex
  Asafœtida is found at present only in Persia, Afghanistan, and the

Footnote 145:

  The ocean nymphs, like other divine ones, would be anointed with
  ambrosial unguents, and the odour would be wafted before them by the
  rustling of their wings. This too we may think of as part of the
  “stage effects” of the play.

Footnote 146:

  The words are not those of a vague terror only. The sufferer knows
  that his tormentor is to come to him before long on wings, and
  therefore the sound as of the flight of birds is full of terrors.

Footnote 147:

  By the same stage mechanism the Chorus remains in the air till verse
  280, when, at the request of Prometheus, they alight.

Footnote 148:

  Here, as throughout the play, the poet puts into the mouth of his
  _dramatis personæ_ words which must have seemed to the devouter
  Athenians sacrilegious enough to call for an indictment before the
  Areiopagos. But the final play of the Trilogy came, we may believe, as
  the _Eumenides_ did in its turn, as a reconciliation of the
  conflicting thoughts that rise in men's minds out of the seeming
  anomalies of the world.

Footnote 149:

  The words leave it uncertain whether Themis is identified with Earth,
  or, as in the _Eumenides_ (v. 2) distinguished from her. The Titans as
  a class, then, children of Okeanos and Chthôn (another name for _Land_
  or _Earth_), are the kindred rather than the brothers of Prometheus.

Footnote 150:

  The generalising words here, as in v. 35, appeal to the Athenian
  hatred of all that was represented by the words _tyrant_ and

Footnote 151:

  The state described is that of men who “through fear of death are all
  their lifetime subject to bondage.” That state, the parent of all
  superstition, fostered the slavish awe in which Zeus delighted.
  Prometheus, representing the active intellect of man, bestows new
  powers, new interests, new hopes, which at last divert them from that

Footnote 152:

  The home of Okeanos was in the far west, at the boundary of the great
  stream surrounding the whole world, from which he took his name.

Footnote 153:

  One of the sayings of the Seven Sages, already recognised and quoted
  as a familiar proverb.

Footnote 154:

  See note on _Agam._ 1602.

Footnote 155:

  In the mythos, Okeanos had given his daughter Hesione in marriage to
  Prometheus after the theft of fire, and thus had identified himself
  with his transgression.

Footnote 156:

  In the _Theogony_ of Hesiod (v. 509), Prometheus and Atlas appear as
  the sons of two sisters. As other Titans were thought of as buried
  under volcanoes, so this one was identified with the mountain which
  had been seen by travellers to Western Africa, or in the seas beyond
  it, rising like a column to support the vault of heaven. In Herodotos
  (iv. 174) and all later writers, the name is given to the chain of
  mountains in Lybia, as being the “pillar of the firmament;” but
  Humboldt and others identify it with the lonely peak of Teneriffe, as
  seen by Phœnikian or Hellenic voyagers. Teneriffe, too, like most of
  the other Titan mountains, was at one time volcanic. Homer (_Odyss._
  i. 53) represents him as holding the pillars which separate heaven
  from earth; Hesiod (_Theogon._ v. 517) as himself standing near the
  Hesperides (this too points to Teneriffe), sustaining the heavens with
  his head and shoulders.

Footnote 157:

  The volcanic character of the whole of Asia Minor, and the liability
  to earthquakes which has marked nearly every period of its history,
  led men to connect it also with the traditions of the Titans, some
  accordingly placing the home of Typhon in Phrygia, some near Sardis,
  some, as here, in Kilikia. Hesiod (_Theogon._ v. 820) describes Typhon
  (or Typhoeus) as a serpent-monster hissing out fire; Pindar (_Pyth._
  i. 30, viii. 21) as lying with his head and breast crushed beneath the
  weight of Ætna, and his feet extending to Cumæ.

Footnote 158:

  The words point probably to an eruption, then fresh in men's memories,
  which had happened B.C. 476.

Footnote 159:

  By some editors this speech from “No, not so,” to “thou know'st how,”
  is assigned to Okeanos.

Footnote 160:

  These are, of course, the Amazons, who were believed to have come
  through Thrakè from the Tauric Chersonesos, and had left traces of
  their name and habits in the Attic traditions of Theseus.

Footnote 161:

  Beyond the plains of Skythia, and the lake Mæotis (the sea of Azov)
  there would be the great river Okeanos, which was believed to flow
  round the earth.

Footnote 162:

  Sarmatia has been conjectured instead of Arabia. No Greek author
  sanctions the extension of the latter name to so remote a region as
  that north of the Caspian.

Footnote 163:

  The Greek leaves the object of the sympathy undefined, but it seems
  better to refer it to that which Atlas receives from the waste of
  waters around, and the dark world beneath, than to the pity shown to
  Prometheus. This has already been dwelt on in line 421.

Footnote 164:

  The passage that follows has for modern palæontologists the interest
  of coinciding with their views as to the progress of human society,
  and the condition of mankind during what has been called the “Stone”
  period. Comp. Lucretius, v. 955-984.

Footnote 165:

  Comp. Mr. Blakesley's note on Herod. ii. 4, as showing that here there
  was the greater risk of faulty observation.

Footnote 166:

  Another reading gives perhaps a better sense—

                                  “Memory, handmaid true
                  And mother of the Muses.”

Footnote 167:

  In Greece, as throughout the East, the ox was used for all
  agricultural labours, the horse by the noble and the rich, either in
  war chariots, or stately processions, or in chariot races in the great

Footnote 168:

  Compare with this the account of the inventions of Palamedes in
  Sophocles, _Fragm._ 379.

Footnote 169:

  Here we can recognise the knowledge of one who had studied in the
  schools of Pythagoras, or had at any rate picked up their terminology.
  A more immediate connexion may perhaps be traced with the influence of
  Epimenides, who was said to have spent many years in searching out the
  healing virtues of plants, and to have written books about them.

Footnote 170:

  The lines that follow form almost a manual of the art of divination as
  then practised. The “ominous sounds” include chance words, strange
  cries, any unexpected utterance that connected itself with men's fears
  for the future. The flights of birds were watched by the diviner as he
  faced the north, and so the region on the right hand was that of the
  sunrise, light, blessedness; on the left there were darkness and gloom
  and death.

Footnote 171:

  So Io was represented, we are told, by Greek sculptors (Herod. ii.
  41), as Isis was by those of Egypt. The points of contact between the
  myth of Io and that of Prometheus, as adopted, or perhaps developed,
  by Æschylos are—(1) that from her the destined deliverer of the
  chained Titan is to come; (2) that both were suffering from the
  cruelty of Zeus; (3) that the wanderings of Io gave scope for the wild
  tales of far countries on which the imagination of the Athenians fed
  greedily. But, as the _Suppliants_ may serve to show, the story itself
  had a strange fascination for him. In the birth of Epaphos, and Io's
  release from her frenzy, he saw, it may be, a reconciliation of what
  had seemed hard to reconcile, a solution of the problems of the world,
  like in kind to that which was shadowed forth in the lost _Prometheus

Footnote 172:

  Argos had been slain by Hermes, and his eyes transferred by Hera to
  the tail of the peacock, and that bird was henceforth sacred to her.

Footnote 173:

  Inachos the father of Io (identified with the Argive river of the same
  name), was, like all rivers, a son of Okeanos, and therefore brother
  to the nymphs who had come to see Prometheus.

Footnote 174:

  The words used have an almost technical meaning as applied to animals
  that were consecrated to the service of a God, and set free to wander
  where they liked. The fate of Io, as at once devoted to Zeus and
  animalised in form, was thus shadowed forth in the very language of
  the Oracle.

Footnote 175:

  Lerna was the lake near the mouth of the Inachos, close to the sea.
  Kerchneia may perhaps be identified with the Kenchreæ, the haven of
  Korinth in later geographies.

Footnote 176:

  The wicker huts used by Skythian or Thrakian nomads (the Calmucks of
  modern geographers) are described by Herodotos (iv. 46) and are still
  in use.

Footnote 177:

  _Sc._, the N.E. boundary of the Euxine, where spurs of the Caucasos
  ridge approach the sea.

Footnote 178:

  The Chalybes are placed by geographers to the south of Colchis. The
  description of the text indicates a locality farther to the north.

Footnote 179:

  Probably the Araxes, which the Greeks would connect with a word
  conveying the idea of a torrent dashing on the rocks. The description
  seems to imply a river flowing into the Euxine from the Caucasos, and
  the condition is fulfilled by the Hypanis or _Kouban_.

Footnote 180:

  When the Amazons appear in contact with Greek history, they are found
  in Thrace. But they had come from the coast of Pontos, and near the
  mouth of the Thermodon (_Thermeh_). The words of Prometheus point to
  yet earlier migrations from the East.

Footnote 181:

  Here, as in Soph. _Antig._ (970) the name Salmydessos represents the
  rockbound, havenless coast from the promontory of Thynias to the
  entrance of the Bosporos, which had given to the Black Sea its earlier
  name of Axenos, the “inhospitable.”

Footnote 182:

  The track is here in some confusion. From the Amazons south of the
  Caucasos, Io is to find her way to the Tauric Chersonese (the Crimea)
  and the Kimmerian Bosporos, which flows into the Sea of Azov, and so
  to return to Asia.

Footnote 183:

  Here, as in a hundred other instances, a false etymology has become
  the parent of a myth. The name Bosporos is probably Asiatic not Greek,
  and has an entirely different signification.

Footnote 184:

  The lines refer to the story that Zeus loved Thetis the daughter of
  Nereus, and followed her to Caucasos, but abstained from marriage with
  her because Prometheus warned him that the child born of that union
  should overthrow his father. Here the future is used of what was still
  contingent only. In the lost play of the Trilogy the myth was possibly
  brought to its conclusion and connected with the release of

Footnote 185:

  Heracles, whose genealogy was traced through Alcmena, Perseus, Danae,
  Danaos and seven other names, to Epaphos and Io.

Footnote 186:

  Probably the Kimmerian Bosporos. The Tanais or Phasis has, however,
  been conjectured.

Footnote 187:

  The history of the passage in brackets is curious enough to call for a
  note. They are not in any extant MS., but they are found in a passage
  quoted by Galen (v. p. 454), as from the _Prometheus Bound_, and are
  inserted here by Mr. Paley.

Footnote 188:

  Kisthene belongs to the geography of legend, lying somewhere on the
  shore of the great ocean-river in Lybia or Æthiopia, at the end of the
  world, a great mountain in the far West, beyond the Hesperides, the
  dwelling-place, as here, of the Gorgons, the daughters of Phorkys.
  Those first-named are the Graiæ.

Footnote 189:

  Here, like the “wingèd hound” of v. 1043, for the eagles that are the
  messengers of Zeus.

Footnote 190:

  We are carried back again from the fabled West to the fabled East. The
  Arimaspians, with one eye, and the Grypes or Gryphons (the griffins of
  mediæval heraldry), quadrupeds with the wings and beaks of eagles,
  were placed by most writers (Herod. iv. 13, 27) in the north of
  Europe, in or beyond the _terra incognita_ of Skythia. The mention of
  the “ford of Pluto” and Æthiopia, however, may possibly imply (if we
  identify it, as Mr. Paley does, with the Tartessos of Spain, or
  Bœtis—_Guadalquivir_) that Æschylos followed another legend which
  placed them in the West. There is possibly a _paronomasia_ between
  Pluto, the God of Hades, and Plutos, the ideal God of riches.

Footnote 191:

  The name was applied by later writers (Quintus Curtius, iv. 7, 22;
  Lucretius, vi. 848) to the fountain in the temple of Jupiter Ammon in
  the great Oasis. The “river Æthiops” may be purely imaginary, but it
  may also suggest the possibility of some vague knowledge of the Niger,
  or more probably of the Nile itself in the upper regions of its
  course. The “Bybline hills” carry the name Byblos, which we only read
  of as belonging to a town in the Delta, to the Second Cataract.

Footnote 192:

  Comp. Sophocles, _Trachin._, v. 1168.

Footnote 193:

  The Adriatic or Ionian Gulf.

Footnote 194:

  In the _Suppliants_, Zeus is said to have soothed her, and restored
  her to her human consciousness by his “divine breathings.” The thought
  underlying the legend may be taken either as a distortion of some
  primitive tradition, or as one of the “unconscious prophecies” of
  heathenism. The deliverer is not to be born after the common manner of
  men, and is to have a divine as well as a human parentage.

Footnote 195:

  See the argument of the _Suppliants_, who, as the daughters of Danaos,
  descended from Epaphos, are here referred to. The passage is
  noticeable as showing that the theme of that tragedy was already
  present to the poet's thoughts.

Footnote 196:

  Argos. So in the _Suppliants_, Pelasgos is the mythical king of the
  Apian land who receives them.

Footnote 197:

  Hypermnæstra, who spared Lynceus, and by him became the mother of Abas
  and a line of Argive kings.

Footnote 198:

  Heracles, who came to Caucasos, and with his arrows slew the eagle
  that devoured Prometheus.

Footnote 199:

  The word is simply an interjection of pain, but one so characteristic
  that I have thought it better to reproduce it than to give any English

Footnote 200:

  The maxim, “Marry with a woman thine equal,” was ascribed to Pittacos.

Footnote 201:

  The Euhemerism of later scholiasts derived the name from a king
  Adrastos, who was said to have been the first to build a temple to
  Nemesis, and so the power thus worshipped was called after his name. A
  better etymology leads us to see in it the idea of the “inevitable”
  law of retribution working unseen by men, and independently even of
  the arbitrary will of the Gods, and bringing destruction upon the
  proud and haughty.

Footnote 202:

  Comp. _Agam._ 162-6.

Footnote 203:

  Either a mere epithet of intensity, as in our “thrice blest,” or
  rising from the supposed fact that every third wave was larger and
  more impetuous than the others, like _fluctus decumanus_ of the
  Latins, or from the sequence of three great waves which some have
  noted as a common phenomenon in storms.

Footnote 204:

  Here again we have a strange shadowing forth of the mystery of
  Atonement, and what we have learnt to call “vicarious” satisfaction.
  In the later legend, Cheiron, suffering from the agony of his wounds,
  resigns his immortality, and submits to die in place of the
  ever-living death to which Prometheus was doomed.

Footnote 205:

  It is noticeable that both Æschylos and Sophocles have left us
  tragedies which end in a thunderstorm as an element of effect. But the
  contrast between the _Prometheus_ and the _Œdipus at Colonos_ as to
  the impression left in the one case of serene reconciliation, and in
  the other of violent antagonism, is hardly less striking than the
  resemblance in the outward phenomena which are common to the two.

                             THE SUPPLIANTS

                            DRAMATIS PERSONÆ

                  PELASGOS, _king of_ Argos
                  _Chorus of the daughters of_ DANAOS

_ARGUMENT.—When Io, after many wanderings, had found refuge in Egypt,
and having been touched by Zeus, had given birth to Epaphos, it came to
pass that he and his descendants ruled over the region of Canôpos, near
one of the seven mouths of Neilos. And in the fifth generation there
were two brothers, Danaos and Ægyptos, the sons of Belos, and the former
had fifty daughters and the latter fifty sons, and Ægyptos sought the
daughters of Danaos in marriage for his sons. And they, looking on the
marriage as unholy, and hating those who wooed them, took flight and
came to Argos, where Pelasgos then ruled as king, as to the land whence
Io, from whom they sprang, had come. And thither the sons of Ægyptos
followed them in hot pursuit._

      SCENE.—Argos, _the entrance of the gates. Statues of_ ZEUS,

          ARTEMIS, _and other Gods, placed against the walls_

  _Enter Chorus of the_ Daughters of DANAOS,[206] _in the dress of
        Egyptian women, with the boughs of suppliants in their hands,
        and fillets of white wool twisted round them, chanting as they
        move in procession to take up their position round the thymele_

 Zeus, the God of Suppliants, kindly
 Look on this our band of wanderers,
 That from banks at mouths of Neilos,
 Banks of finest sand, departed![207]
 Yea, we left the region sacred,
 Grassy plain on Syria's borders,[208]
 Not for guilt of blood to exile
 By our country's edict sentenced,
 But with free choice, loathing wedlock,
 Fleeing marriage-rites unholy
 With the children of Ægyptos.                                        10
 And our father Danaos, ruler,
 Chief of council, chief of squadrons,
 Playing moves on fortune's draught-board,[209]
 Chose what seemed the best of evils,
 Through the salt sea-waves to hasten,
 Steering to the land of Argos,
 Whence our race has risen to greatness;
 Sprung, so boasts it, from the heifer
 Whom the stinging gadfly harassed,
 By the touch of Zeus love-breathing:[210]
 And to what land more propitious
 Could we come than this before us,                                   20
 Holding in our hand the branches
 Suppliant, wreathed with white wool fillets?
 O State! O land! O water gleaming!
 Ye the high Gods, ye the awful,
 In the dark the graves still guarding;
 Thou too with them, Zeus Preserver,[211]
 Guardian of the just man's dwelling,
 Welcome with the breath of pity,
 Pity as from these shores wafted,
 Us poor women who are suppliants.
 And that swarm of men that follow,
 Haughty offspring of Ægyptos,                                        30
 Ere they set their foot among you
 On this silt-strown shore,[212]—oh, send them
         Seaward in their ship swift-rowing;
         There, with whirlwind tempest-driven,
         There, with lightning and with thunder,
         There, with blasts that bring the storm-rain,
         May they in the fierce sea perish,
         Ere they, cousin-brides possessing,
         Rest on marriage-beds reluctant,
         Which the voice of right denies them!

                               STROPHE I

 And now I call on him, the Zeus-sprung steer,[213]                   40
 Our true protector, far beyond the sea,
 Child of the heifer-foundress of our line,
         Who cropped the flowery mead,
 Born of the breath, and named from touch of Zeus.
         *And lo! the destined time
         *Wrought fully with the name,
 And she brought forth the “Touch-born,” Epaphos.

                             ANTISTROPHE I

 And now invoking him in grassy fields,                               50
 Where erst his mother strayed, to dwellers here
 Telling the tale of all her woes of old,
         I surest pledge shall give;
 And others, strange beyond all fancy's dream,
         Shall yet perchance be found;
         And in due course of time
 Shall men know clearly all our history.

                               STROPHE II

 And if some augur of the land be near,
         Hearing our piteous cry,
         Sure he will deem he hears
         The voice of Tereus' bride,[214]
         Piteous and sad of soul,
 The nightingale sore harassed by the kite.                           60

                             ANTISTROPHE II

 *For she, driven back from wonted haunts and streams,[215]
         Mourns with a strange new plaint
         The home that she has lost,
         And wails her son's sad doom,
         How he at her hand died,
 Meeting with evil wrath unmotherly;

                              STROPHE III

 E'en so do I, to wailing all o'er-given,
 In plaintive music of Ionian mood,[216]
 *Vex the soft cheek on Neilos' banks that bloomed,
         And heart that bursts in tears,
 And pluck the flowers of lamentations loud,
         Not without fear of friends,                                 70
         *Lest none should care to help
 This flight of mine from that mist-shrouded shore.

                            ANTISTROPHE III

 But, O ye Gods ancestral! hear my prayer,
 Look well upon the justice of our cause,
 Nor grant to youth to gain its full desire
         Against the laws of right,
 But with prompt hate of lust, our marriage bless.
         *Even for those who come
         As fugitives in war
 The altar serves as shield that Gods regard.

                               STROPHE IV

         May God good issue give![217]                                80
 And yet the will of Zeus is hard to scan:
         Through all it brightly gleams,
 E'en though in darkness and the gloom of chance
         For us poor mortals wrapt.

                             ANTISTROPHE IV

         Safe, by no fall tripped up,
 The full-wrought deed decreed by brow of Zeus;
         For dark with shadows stretch
 The pathways of the counsels of his heart,
         And difficult to see.

                               STROPHE V

 And from high-towering hopes He hurleth down                         90
 To utter doom the heir of mortal birth;
         Yet sets He in array
         No forces violent;
 All that Gods work is effortless and calm:
         Seated on holiest throne,
         Thence, though we know not how,
         He works His perfect will.

                             ANTISTROPHE V

 Ah, let him look on frail man's wanton pride,
 With which the old stock burgeons out anew,
         By love for me constrained,
         In counsels ill and rash,                                   100
 And in its frenzied, passionate resolve
         Finds goad it cannot shun;
         But in deceivèd hopes,
         Shall know, too late, its woe.

                               STROPHE VI

 Such bitter griefs, lamenting, I recount,
         With cries shrill, tearful, deep,
           (Ah woe! ah woe!)
 That strike the ear with mourner's woe-fraught cry.
 Though yet alive, I wail mine obsequies;
         Thee, Apian sea-girt bluff,[218]
         I greet (our alien speech
         Thou knowest well, O land,)                                 110
 And ofttimes fall, with rendings passionate,
 On robe of linen and Sidonian veil.

                             ANTISTROPHE VI

 But to the Gods, for all things prospering well,
         When death is kept aloof,
         Gifts votive come of right.
         Ah woe! Ah woe!
 Oh, troubles dark, and hard to understand!
 Ah, whither will these waters carry me?
         Thee, Apian sea-girt bluff,                                 120
         I greet (our alien speech
         Thou knowest well, O land,)
 And ofttimes fall, with rendings passionate,
 On robe of linen and Sidonian veil.

                              STROPHE VII

 The oar indeed and dwelling, timber-wrought,
 With sails of canvas, 'gainst the salt sea proof
         Brought me with favouring gales,
         By stormy wind unvexed;
 Nor have I cause for murmur. Issues good
 May He, the all-seeing Father, grant, that I,                       130
         Great seed of Mother dread,
 In time may 'scape, still maiden undefiled,
         My suitor's marriage-bed.

                            ANTISTROPHE VII

 And with a will that meets my will may She,
 The unstained child of Zeus, on me look down,
         *Our Artemis, who guards
         The consecrated walls;
 And with all strength, though hunted down, uncaught,
 May She, the Virgin, me a virgin free,                              140
         Great seed of Mother dread,
 That I may 'scape, still maiden undefiled,
         My suitor's marriage-bed.

                              STROPHE VIII

         But if this may not be,
         We, of swarth sun-burnt race,
 Will with our suppliant branches go to him,
         Zeus, sovereign of the dead,[219]
 The Lord that welcomes all that come to him,
         Dying by twisted noose                                      150
 If we the grace of Gods Olympian miss.
 By thine ire, Zeus, 'gainst Io virulent,
         The Gods' wrath seeks us out,
         And I know well the woe
 Comes from thy queen who reigns in heaven victorious;
         For after stormy wind
         The tempest needs must rage.

                            ANTISTROPHE VIII

         And then shall Zeus to words
         Unseemly be exposed,
 Having the heifer's offspring put to shame,                         160
         Whom he himself begat,
 And now his face averting from our prayers:
         Ah, may he hear on high,
 Yea, pitying look and hear propitiously!
 By thine ire, Zeus, 'gainst Io virulent,
         The Gods' wrath seeks us out,
         And I know well the woe
 Comes from thy queen, who reigns in heaven victorious;
         For after stormy wind                                       170
         The tempest needs must rage.

 _Danaos._ My children, we need wisdom; lo! ye came
 With me, your father wise and old and true,
 As guardian of your voyage. Now ashore,
 With forethought true I bid you keep my words,
 As in a tablet-book recording them:
 I see a dust, an army's voiceless herald,
 Nor are the axles silent as they turn;
 And I descry a host that bear the shield,
 And those that hurl the javelin, marching on
 With horses and with curvèd battle-cars.
 Perchance they are the princes of this land,                        180
 Come on the watch, as having news of us;
 But whether one in kindly mood, or hot
 With anger fierce, leads on this great array,
 It is, my children, best on all accounts
 To take your stand hard by this hill of Gods
 Who rule o'er conflicts.[220] Better far than towers
 Are altars, yea, a shield impenetrable.
 But with all speed approach the shrine of Zeus,
 The God of mercy, in your left hand holding
 The suppliants' boughs wool-wreathed, in solemn guise,[221]
 And greet our hosts as it is meet for us,                           190
 Coming as strangers, with all duteous words
 Kindly and holy, telling them your tale
 Of this your flight, unstained by guilt of blood;
 And with your speech, let mood not overbold,
 Nor vain nor wanton, shine from modest brow
 And calm, clear eye. And be not prompt to speak,
 Nor full of words; the race that dwelleth here
 Of this is very jealous:[222] and be mindful
 Much to concede; a fugitive thou art,
 A stranger and in want, and 'tis not meet
 That those in low estate high words should speak.

 _Chor._ My father, to the prudent prudently                  200
 Thou speakest, and my task shall be to keep
 Thy goodly precepts. Zeus, our sire, look on us!

 _Dan._ Yea, may He look with favourable eye!

 _Chor._ I fain would take my seat not far from thee.

                               [_Chorus moves to the altar not far from_

 _Dan._ Delay not then; success go with your plan.

 _Chor._ Zeus, pity us with sorrow all but crushed!

 _Dan._ If He be willing, all shall turn out well.

 _Chor._ .      .      .      .      .

 _Dan._ Invoke ye now the mighty bird of Zeus.[223]

 _Chor._ We call the sun's bright rays to succour us.

 _Dan._ Apollo too, the holy, in that He,                     210
 A God, has tasted exile from high heaven.[224]

 _Chor._ Knowing that fate, He well may feel for men.

 _Dan._ So may He feel, and look on us benignly!

 _Chor._ Whom of the Gods shall I besides invoke?

 _Dan._ I see this trident here, a God's great symbol.[225]

 _Chor._ Well hath He brought us, well may He receive!

 _Dan._ Here too is Hermes,[226] as the Hellenes know him.

 _Chor._ To us, as free, let Him good herald prove.

 _Dan._ Yea, and the common shrine of all these Gods
 Adore ye, and in holy precincts sit,
 Like swarms of doves in fear of kites your kinsmen,                 220
 Foes of our blood, polluters of our race.
 How can bird prey on bird and yet be pure?
 And how can he be pure who seeks in marriage
 Unwilling bride from father too unwilling?
 Nay, not in Hades' self, shall he, vain fool,
 Though dead, 'scape sentence, doing deeds like this;
 For there, as men relate, a second Zeus[227]
 Judges men's evil deeds, and to the dead
 Assigns their last great penalties. Look up,
 And take your station here, that this your cause
 May win its way to a victorious end.

       _Enter the_ KING _on his chariot, followed by_ Attendants

 _King._ Whence comes this crowd, this non-Hellenic band,     230
 In robes and raiment of barbaric fashion
 So gorgeously attired, whom now we speak to?
 This woman's dress is not of Argive mode,
 Nor from the climes of Hellas. How ye dared,
 Without a herald even or protector,
 Yea, and devoid of guides too, to come hither
 Thus boldly, is to me most wonderful.
 And yet these boughs, as is the suppliant's wont,
 Are set by you before the Gods of conflicts:
 By this alone will Hellas guess aright.
 Much more indeed we might have else conjectured,                    240
 Were there no voice to tell me on the spot.

 _Chor._ Not false this speech of thine about our garb;
 But shall I greet thee as a citizen,
 Or bearing Hermes' rod, or city ruling?[228]

 _King._ Nay, for that matter, answer thou and speak
 Without alarm. Palæchthon's son am I,
 Earth-born, the king of this Pelasgic land;
 And named from me, their king,[229] as well might be,
 The race Pelasgic reaps our country's fruits;
 *And all the land through which the Strymon pours        250
 Its pure, clear waters to the West I rule;
 And as the limits of my realm I mark
 The land of the Perrhæbi, and the climes
 Near the Pæonians, on the farther side
 Of Pindos, and the Dodonæan heights;[230]
 And the sea's waters form its bounds. O'er all
 Within these coasts I govern; and this plain,
 The Apian land, itself has gained its name
 Long since from one who as a healer lived;[231]
 For Apis, coming from Naupactian land
 That lies beyond the straits, Apollo's son,
 Prophet and healer, frees this land of ours                         260
 From man-destroying monsters, which the soil,
 Polluted with the guilt of blood of old,
 By anger of the Gods, brought forth,—fierce plagues,
 The dragon-brood's dread, unblest company;
 And Apis, having for this Argive land
 Duly wrought out his saving surgery,
 Gained his reward, remembered in our prayers;
 And thou, this witness having at my hands,
 May'st tell thy race at once, and further speak;
 Yet lengthened speech our city loveth not.

 _Chor._ Full short and clear our tale. We boast that we
 Are Argives in descent, the children true                           270
 Of the fair, fruitful heifer. And all this
 Will I by what I speak show firm and true.

 _King._ Nay, strangers, what ye tell is past belief
 For me to hear, that ye from Argos spring;
 For ye to Libyan women are most like,[232]
 And nowise to our native maidens here.
 Such race might Neilos breed, and Kyprian mould,
 Like yours, is stamped by skilled artificers
 On women's features; and I hear that those
 Of India travel upon camels borne,                                  280
 Swift as the horse, yet trained as sumpter-mules,
 E'en those who as the Æthiops' neighbours dwell.
 And had ye borne the bow, I should have guessed,
 Undoubting, ye were of th' Amâzon's tribe,
 Man-hating, flesh-devouring. Taught by you,
 I might the better know how this can be,
 That your descent and birth from Argos come.

 _Chor._ They tell of one who bore the temple-keys
 Of Hera, Io, in this Argive land.

 _King._ So was't indeed, and wide the fame prevails:
 And was it said that Zeus a mortal loved?                           290

 _Chor._ And that embrace was not from Hera hid.

 _King._ What end had then these strifes of sovereign Ones?

 _Chor._ The Argive goddess made the maid a heifer.

 _King._ Did Zeus that fair-horned heifer still approach?

 _Chor._ So say they, fashioned like a wooing steer.

 _King._ How acted then the mighty spouse of Zeus?

 _Chor._ She o'er the heifer set a guard all-seeing.

 _King._ What herdsman strange, all-seeing, speak'st thou of?

 _Chor._ Argos, the earth-born, him whom Hermes slew.         300

 _King._ What else then wrought she on the ill-starred heifer?

 _Chor._ She sent a stinging gadfly to torment her.
 [Those who near Neilos dwell an _æstros_ call it.]

 _King._ Did she then drive her from her country far?

 _Chor._ All that thou say'st agrees well with our tale.

 _King._ And did she to Canôbos go, and Memphis?

 _Chor._ Zeus with his touch, an offspring then begets.

 _King._ What Zeus-born calf that heifer claims as mother?

 _Chor._ *He from that touch which freed named Epaphos.310

 _King._ [_What offspring then did Epaphos beget?_][233]

 _Chor._ Libya, that gains her fame from greatest land.

 _King._ What other offspring, born of her, dost tell of?

 _Chor._ Sire of my sire here, Belos, with two sons.

 _King._ Tell me then now the name of yonder sage.

 _Chor._ Danaos, whose brother boasts of fifty sons.

 _King._ Tell me his name, too, with ungrudging speech.

 _Chor._ Ægyptos: knowing now our ancient stock,
 Take heed thou bid thine Argive suppliants rise.

 _King._ Ye seem, indeed, to make your ancient claim
 To this our country good: but how came ye                           320
 To leave your father's house? What chance constrained you?

 _Chor._ O king of the Pelasgi, manifold
 Are ills of mortals, and thou could'st not find
 The self-same form of evil anywhere.
 Who would have said that this unlooked-for flight
 Would bring to Argos race once native here,
 Driving them forth in hate of wedlock's couch?

 _King._ What seek'st thou then of these the Gods of conflicts,
 Holding your wool-wreathed branches newly-plucked?

 _Chor._ That I serve not Ægyptos' sons as slave.

 _King._ Speak'st thou of some old feud, or breach of right?  330

 _Chor._ Nay, who'd find fault with master that one loved?

 _King._ Yet thus it is that mortals grow in strength.[234]

 _Chor._ True; when men fail, 'tis easy to desert them.

 _King._ How then to you may I act reverently?

 _Chor._ Yield us not up unto Ægyptos' sons.

 _King._ Hard boon thou ask'st, to wage so strange a war.

 _Chor._ Nay, Justice champions those who fight with her.

 _King._ Yes, if her hand was in it from the first.

 _Chor._ Yet reverence thou the state-ship's stern thus wreathed.[235]

 _King._ I tremble as I see these seats thus shadowed.        340

                               STROPHE I

 _Chor._ Dread is the wrath of Zeus, the God of suppliants:
         Son of Palæchthon, hear;
 Hear, O Pelasgic king, with kindly heart.
 Behold me suppliant, exile, wanderer,
         *Like heifer chased by wolves
         Upon the lofty crags,
         Where, trusting in her strength,
         She lifteth up her voice
 And to the shepherd tells her tale of grief.

 _King._ I see, o'ershadowed with the new-plucked boughs,
 *Bent low, a band these Gods of conflict own;
 And may our dealings with these home-sprung strangers               350
 Be without peril, nor let strife arise
 To this our country for unlooked-for chance
 And unprovided! This our State wants not.

                             ANTISTROPHE I

 _Chor._ Yea, may that Law that guards the suppliant's right
         Free this our flight from harm,
 Law, sprung from Zeus, supreme Apportioner,
 But thou, [_to the King_,] though old, from me, though younger, learn:
         If thou a suppliant pity
         Thou ne'er shall penury know,
         So long as Gods receive
         Within their sacred shrines
 Gifts at the hands of worshipper unstained.

 _King._ It is not at my hearth ye suppliant sit;
 But if the State be as a whole defiled,                             360
 Be it the people's task to work the cure.
 I cannot pledge my promise to you first
 Ere I have counselled with my citizens.[236]

                               STROPHE II

 _Chor._ Thou art the State—yea, thou the commonwealth,
         Chief lord whom none may judge;
 'Tis thine to rule the country's altar-hearth,
 With the sole vote of thy prevailing nod;
         And thou on throne of state,
         Sole-sceptred in thy sway,
 Bringest each matter to its destined end;
         Shun thou the curse of guilt.

 _King._ Upon my foes rest that dread curse of guilt!         370
 Yet without harm I cannot succour you,
 Nor gives it pleasure to reject your prayers.
 In a sore strait am I; fear fills my soul
 To take the chance, to do or not to do.

                             ANTISTROPHE II

 _Chor._ Look thou on Him who looks on all from heaven,
         Guardian of suffering men
 Who, worn with toil, unto their neighbours come
 As suppliants, and receive not justice due:
         For these the wrath of Zeus,
         Zeus, the true suppliant's God,
 Abides, by wail of sufferer unappeased.                             380

 _King._ Yet if Ægyptos' sons have claim on thee
 By their State's law, asserting that they come
 As next of kin, who dare oppose their right?
 Thou must needs plead that by thy laws at home
 They over thee have no authority.[237]

                              STROPHE III

 _Chor._ Ah! may I ne'er be captive to the might
         Of males! Where'er the stars
 Are seen in heaven, I track my way in flight,
 As refuge from a marriage that I hate.
         But thou, make Right thy friend,
 And honour what the Gods count pure and true.                       390

 _King._ Hard is the judgment: choose not me as judge.
 But, as I said before, I may not act
 Without the people, sovereign though I be,
 Lest the crowd say, should aught fall out amiss,
 “In honouring strangers, thou the State did'st ruin.”

                            ANTISTROPHE III

 _Chor._ Zeus, the great God of kindred, in these things
         Watches o'er both of us,
 Holding an equal scale, and fitly giving
 To the base evil, to the righteous blessing.
         Why, when these things are set
 In even balance, fear'st thou to do right?                          400

 _King._ Deep thought we need that brings deliverance,
 That, like a diver, mine eye too may plunge
 Clear-seeing to the depths, not wine-bedrenched,
 That these things may be harmless to the State,
 And to ourselves may issue favourably:
 That neither may the strife make you its prey,
 Nor that we give you up, who thus are set
 Near holy seat of Gods, and so bring in
 To dwell with us the Avenger terrible,
 God that destroyeth, who not e'en in Hades                          410
 Gives freedom to the dead. Say, think ye not
 That there is need of counsel strong to save?

                               STROPHE I

 _Chor._ Take heed to it, and be
 Friend to the stranger wholly faithful found;
         Desert not thou the poor,
 Driven from afar by godless violence.

                             ANTISTROPHE I

         See me not dragged away,
 O thou that rul'st the land! from seat of Gods:
         Know thou men's wanton pride,                               420
 And guard thyself against the wrath of Zeus.

                               STROPHE II

 Endure not thou to see thy suppliant,
         Despite of law, torn off,
 As horses by their frontlets, from the forms
         Of sculptured deities,
 Nor yet the outrage of their wanton hands,
         Seizing these broidered robes.

                             ANTISTROPHE II

 For know thou well, whichever course thou take,
         Thy sons and all thy house
 *Must pay in war the debt that Justice claims,
         Proportionate in kind.                                      430
 Lay well to heart these edicts, wise and true,
         Given by great Zeus himself.

 _King._ Well then have I thought o'er it. To this point
 Our ship's course drives. Fierce war we needs must risk
 Either with these (_pointing to the Gods_) or those. Set fast and firm
 Is this as is the ship tight wedged in stocks;
 And without trouble there's no issue out.
 For wealth indeed, were our homes spoiled of that,
 There might come other, thanks to Zeus the Giver,
 More than the loss, and filling up the freight;                     440
 And if the tongue should aim its adverse darts,
 Baleful and over-stimulant of wrath,
 There might be words those words to heal and soothe.
 But how to blot the guilt of kindred blood,
 This needs a great atonement—many victims
 Falling to many Gods—to heal the woe.
 *I take my part, and turn aside from strife;
 And I far rather would be ignorant
 Than wise, forecasting evil. May the end,
 Against my judgment, show itself as good!

 _Chor._ Hear, then, the last of all our pleas for pity.

 _King._ I hear; speak on. It shall not 'scape my heed.       450

 _Chor._ Girdles I have, and zones that bind my robes.

 _King._ Such things are fitting for a woman's state.

 _Chor._ With these then, know, as good and rare device....

 _King._ Nay, speak. What word is this thou'lt utter now?

 _Chor._ Unless thou giv'st our band thy plighted word....

 _King._ What wilt thou do with this device of girdles?

 _Chor._ With tablets new these sculptures we'll adorn.

 _King._ Thou speak'st a riddle. Make thy meaning plain.

 _Chor._ Upon these Gods we'll hang ourselves at once.

 _King._ I hear a word which pierces to the heart.            460

 _Chor._ Thou see'st our meaning. Eyes full clear I've given.

 _King._ Lo then! in many ways sore troubles come.
 A host of evils rushes like a flood;
 A sea of woe none traverse, fathomless,
 This have I entered; haven there is none.
 For if I fail to do this work for you,
 Thou tellest of defilement unsurpassed;[238]
 And if for thee against Ægyptos' sons,
 Thy kindred, I before my city's walls
 In conflict stand, how can there fail to be
 A bitter loss, to stain the earth with blood                        470
 Of man for woman's sake? And yet I needs
 Must fear the wrath of Zeus, the suppliant's God;
 That dread is mightiest with the sons of men.
 Thou, then, O aged father of these maidens!
 Taking forthwith these branches in thine arms,
 Lay them on other altars of the Gods
 Our country worships, that the citizens
 May all behold this token of thy coming,
 And about me let no rash speech be dropped;
 For 'tis a people prompt to blame their rulers.
 And then perchance some one beholding them,                         480
 And pitying, may wax wrathful 'gainst the outrage
 Of that male troop, and with more kindly will
 The people look on you; for evermore
 Men all wish well unto the weaker side.

 _Dan._ This boon is counted by us of great price,
 To find a patron proved so merciful.
 And thou, send with us guides to lead us on,
 And tell us how before their shrines to find
 The altars of the Gods that guard the State,
 *And holy places columned round about;
 And safety for us, as the town we traverse.
 Not of like fashion is our features' stamp;                         490
 For Neilos rears not race like Inachos.[239]
 Take heed lest rashness lead to bloodshed here;
 Ere now, unknowing, men have slain their friends.

 _King_ (_to Attendants_). Go then, my men; full well the stranger
 And lead him where the city's altars stand,
 The seats of Gods; and see ye talk not much
 To passers-by as ye this traveller lead,
 A suppliant at the altar-hearth of Gods.

                                       [_Exeunt_ DANAOS _and Attendants_

 _Chor._ Thou speak'st to him; and may he go as bidden!
 But what shall I do? What hope giv'st thou me?

 _King._ Leave here those boughs, the token of your grief.    500

 _Chor._ Lo! here I leave them at thy beck and word.

 _King._ Now turn thy steps towards this open lawn.

 _Chor._ What shelter gives a lawn unconsecrate?[240]

 _King._ We will not yield thee up to birds of prey.

 _Chor._ Nay, but to foes far worse than fiercest dragons.

 _King._ Good words should come from those who good have heard.

 _Chor._ No wonder they wax hot whom fear enthrals.

 _King._ But dread is still for rulers all unmeet.

 _Chor._ Do thou then cheer our soul by words and deeds.

 _King._ Nay, no long time thy sire will leave thee lorn;     510
 And I, all people of the land convening,
 Will the great mass persuade to kindly words;
 And I will teach thy father what to say.
 Wherefore remain and ask our country's Gods,
 With suppliant prayers, to grant thy soul's desire,
 And I will go in furtherance of thy wish:
 Sweet Suasion follow us, and Fortune good! [_Exit_

                               STROPHE I

       _Chor._ O King of kings! and blest
       Above all blessed ones,
 And Power most mighty of the mightiest!
       O Zeus, of high estate!                                       520
       Hear thou and grant our prayer!
 Drive thou far off the wantonness of men,
       The pride thou hatest sore,
 And in the pool of darkling purple hue
 Plunge thou the woe that comes in swarthy barque.

                             ANTISTROPHE I

         Look on the women's cause;
         Recall the ancient tale,
 Of one whom Thou did'st love in time of old,
         The mother of our race:
         Remember it, O Thou
 Who did'st on Io lay thy mystic touch.
         We boast that we are come
 Of consecrated land the habitants,                                  530
 And from this land by lineage high descended.

                               STROPHE II

         Now to the ancient track,
         Our mother's, I have passed,
 The flowery meadow-land where she was watched,—
         The pastures of the herd,
 Whence Io, by the stinging gadfly driven,
         Flees, of her sense bereft,
 Passing through many tribes of mortal men;
         And then by Fate's decree
         Crossing the billowy straits,
 On either side she leaves a continent.[241]                         540

                             ANTISTROPHE II

         Now through the Asian land
         She hastens o'er and o'er,
 Right through the Phrygian fields where feed the flocks;
         And passes Teuthras' fort,
 Owned by the Mysians,[242] and the Lydian plains;
         And o'er Kilikian hills,
 And those of far Pamphylia rushing on,
         By ever-flowing streams,
         On to the deep, rich lands,
 And Aphrodite's home in wheat o'erflowing.[243]

                              STROPHE III

 And so she cometh, as that herdsman winged                          550
         Pierces with sharpest sting,
 To holy plain all forms of life sustaining,
         Fields that are fed from snows,[244]
 Which Typhon's monstrous strength has traversed,[245]
         And unto Neilos' streams,
         By sickly taint untouched,[246]
 Still maddened with her toil of ignominy,
 By torturing stings driven on, great Hera's frenzied slave.

                            ANTISTROPHE III

 And those who then the lands inhabited,
         Quivered with pallid fear,                                  560
 That filled their soul at that unwonted marvel,
         Seeing that monstrous shape,
         The human joined with brute,
 Half heifer, and half form of woman fair:[247]
         And sore amazed were they.
         Who was it then that soothed
 Poor Io, wandering in her sore affright,
 Driven on, and ever on, by gadfly's maddening sting?

                               STROPHE IV

         Zeus, Lord of endless time
         [Was seen All-working then;]
 He, even He, for by his sovereign might
 That works no ill, was she from evil freed;                         570
         And by his breath divine
 She findeth rest, and weeps in floods of tears
         Her sorrowing shame away;
         And with new burden big,
         Not falsely 'Zeus-born' named,
 She bare a son that grew in faultless growth,

                             ANTISTROPHE IV

         Prosperous through long, long years;
 And so the whole land shouts with one accord,
 “Lo, a race sprung from him, the Lord of life,
         In very deed, Zeus-born!                                    580
 Who else had checked the plagues that Hera sent?”
         This is the work of Zeus:
         And speaking of our race
         That sprang from Epaphos
 As such, thou would'st not fail to hit the mark.

                               STROPHE V

 Which of the Gods could I with right invoke
         As doing juster deeds?
 He is our Father, author of our life,
 The King whose right hand worketh all his will,
 Our line's great author, in his counsels deep
         Recording things of old,
 Directing all his plans, the great work-master, Zeus.

                             ANTISTROPHE V

 For not as subject hastening at the beck
         Of strength above his own,[248]
 Reigns He subordinate to mightier powers;                           590
 Nor does He pay his homage from below,
 While One sits throned in majesty above;[249]
         Act is for him as speech,
 To hasten what his teeming mind resolves.

                           _Re-enter_ DANAOS

 _Dan._ Be of good cheer, my children. All goes well
 With those who dwell here, and the people's voice
 Hath passed decrees full, firm, irrevocable.

 _Chor._ Hail, aged sire, that tell'st me right good news!
 But say with what intent the vote hath passed,
 And on which side the people's hands prevail.

 _Dan._ The Argives have decreed without division,
 So that my aged mind grew young again;                              600
 For in full congress, with their right hands raised
 Rustled the air as they decreed their vote
 That we should sojourn in their land as free,
 Free from arrest, and with asylum rights;
 And that no native here nor foreigner
 Should lead us off; and, should he venture force,
 That every citizen who gave not help
 Dishonoured should be driven to exile forth.
 Such counsel giving, the Pelasgian King                             610
 Gained their consent, proclaiming that great wrath
 Of Zeus the God of suppliants ne'er would let
 The city wax in fatness,—warning them
 That double guilt[250] upon the State would come,
 Touching at once both guests and citizens,
 The food and sustenance of sore disease
 That none could heal. And then the Argive host,
 Hearing these things, decreed by show of hands,
 Not waiting for the herald's proclamation,
 So it should be. They heard, indeed, the crowd
 Of those Pelasgi, all the winning speech,
 The well-turned phrases cunning to persuade;
 But it was Zeus that brought the end to pass.

 _Chor._ Come then, come, let us speak for Argives
         Prayers that are good for good deeds done;                  620
         Zeus, who o'er all strangers watches,
         May He regard with his praise and favour
 The praise that comes from the lips of strangers,
 *And guide in all to a faultless issue.

                               STROPHE I

 _Half-Chor. A._ Now, now, at last, ye Gods of Zeus begotten,[251]
 Hear, as I pour my prayers upon their race,
 That ne'er may this Pelasgic city raise
 From out its flames the joyless cry of War,
         War, that in other fields
         Reapeth his human crop:
         For they have mercy shown,
         And passed their kind decree,                               630
 Pitying this piteous flock, the suppliants of great Zeus.

                             ANTISTROPHE I

 They did not take their stand with men 'gainst women
 Casting dishonour on their plea for help,
 *But looked to Him who sees and works from heaven,
 *Full hard to war with. Yea, what house could bear
         To see Him on its roof
         Casting pollution there?[252]
         Sore vexing there he sits.
         Yes, they their kin revere,
         Suppliants of holiest Zeus;                                 640
 Therefore with altars pure shall they the Gods delight.

                               STROPHE II

 Therefore from faces by our boughs o'ershadowed[253]
 Let prayers ascend in emulous eagerness:
         Ne'er may dark pestilence
         This State of men bereave;
         May no fierce party strife
 Pollute these plains with native carcases;
         And may the bloom of youth
         Be with them still uncropt;
 And ne'er may Aphrodite's paramour,                                 650
         Ares the scourge of men,
         Mow down their blossoms fair!

                             ANTISTROPHE II

 And let the altars tended by the old
 *Blaze with the gifts of men with hoary hairs;
         So may the State live on
         In full prosperity!
         Let them great Zeus adore,
 The strangers' God, the one Supreme on high,
         By venerable law
         Ordering the course of fate.
 And next we pray that ever more and more
         Earth may her tribute bear,
 And Artemis as Hecate preside[254]
         O'er woman's travail-pangs.                                 660

                              STROPHE III

 Let no destroying strife come on, invading
         This city to lay waste,
         Setting in fierce array
         War, with its fruit of tears,
         Lyreless and danceless all,
         And cry of people's wrath;
         And may the swarm of plagues,
         Loathly and foul to see,
 Abide far off from these our citizens,
 And that Lykeian king, may He be found
         Benignant to our youth![255]

                            ANTISTROPHE III

 And Zeus, may He, by his supreme decree,                            670
         Make the earth yield her fruits
         Through all the seasons round,
         And grant a plenteous brood
         Of herds that roam the fields!
         May Heaven all good gifts pour,
         And may the voice of song
         Ascend o'er altar shrines,
         Unmarred by sounds of ill!
 And let the voice that loves with lyre to blend
 Go forth from lips of blameless holiness,
         In accents of great joy!

                               STROPHE IV

 *And may the rule in which the people share
 Keep the State's functions as in perfect peace,
         E'en that which sways the crowd,
         *Which sways the commonwealth,                   680
         By counsels wise and good;
 And to the strangers and the sojourners
 May they grant rights that rest on compacts sure,
         Ere War is roused to arms,
         So that no trouble come!

                             ANTISTROPHE IV

 And the great Gods who o'er this country watch,
 May they adore them in the land They guard,
         With rites of sacrifice,
         And troops with laurel boughs,
         As did our sires of old!
 For thus to honour those who gave us life,
 This stands as one of three great laws on high,[256]
         Written as fixed and firm,
         The laws of Right revered.

 _Dan._ I praise these seemly prayers, dear children mine.    690
 But fear ye not, if I your father speak
 Words that are new, and all unlooked-for by you;
 For from this station to the suppliant given
 I see the ship; too clear to be mistaken
 The swelling sails, the bulwark's coverings,
 And prow with eyes that scan the onward way,[257]
 But too obedient to the steerman's helm,
 Being, as it is, unfriendly. And the men
 Who sail in her with swarthy limbs are seen,
 In raiment white conspicuous. And I see                             700
 Full clear the other ships that come to help;
 And this as leader, putting in to shore,
 Furling its sails, is rowed with equal stroke.
 'Tis yours, with mood of calm and steadfast soul,
 To face the fact, and not to slight the Gods.
 And I will come with friends and advocates;
 For herald, it may be, or embassy,
 May come, and wish to seize and bear you off,
 Grasping their prey. But nought of this shall be;
 Fear ye not them. It were well done, however,
 If we should linger in our help, this succour                       710
 In no wise to forget. Take courage then;
 In their own time and at the appointed day,
 Whoever slights the Gods shall pay for it.

                               STROPHE I

 _Chor._ I fear, my father, since the swift-winged ships
 Are come, and very short the time that's left.
 A shuddering anguish makes me sore afraid,
 Lest small the profit of my wandering flight.
         I faint, my sire, for fear.

 _Dan._ My children, since the Argives' vote is passed,
 Take courage: they will fight for thee, I know.                     720

                             ANTISTROPHE I

 _Chor._ Hateful and wanton are Ægyptos' sons,
 Insatiable of conflict, and I speak
 To one who knows them. They in timbered ships,
 Dark-eyed, have sailed in wrath that hits its mark,
         With great and swarthy host.

 _Dan._ Yet many they shall find whose arms are tanned
 In the full scorching of the noontide heat.[258]

                               STROPHE II

 _Chor._ Leave me not here alone, I pray thee, father!
 Alone, a woman is as nought, and war
 Is not for her. Of over-subtle mind,
 And subtle counsel in their souls impure,                           730
 Like ravens, e'en for altars caring not,—
         Such, such in soul are they.

 _Dan._ That would work well indeed for us, my children,
 Should they be foes to Gods as unto thee.

                             ANTISTROPHE II

 _Chor._ No reverence for these tridents or the shrines
 Of Gods, my father, will restrain their hands:
 Full stout of heart, of godless mood unblest,
 Fed to the full, and petulant as dogs,
 And for the voice of high Gods caring not,—
         Such, such in soul are they.

 _Dan._ Nay, the tale runs that wolves prevail o'er dogs;     740
 And byblos fruit excels not ear of corn.[259]

 _Chor._ But since their minds are as the minds of brutes,
 Restless and vain, we must beware of force.

 _Dan._ Not rapid is the getting under weigh
 Of naval squadron, nor their anchoring,
 Nor the safe putting into shore with cables.
 Nor have the shepherds of swift ships quick trust
 In anchor-fastenings, most of all, as now,
 When coming to a country havenless;
 And when the sun has yielded to the night,
 That night brings travail to a pilot wise,                          750
 [Though it be calm and all the waves sleep still;]
 So neither can this army disembark
 Before the ship is safe in anchorage.
 And thou beware lest in thy panic fear
 Thou slight the Gods whom thou hast called to help.
 The city will not blame your messenger,
 Old though he be, being young in clear-voiced thought.      _Exit_

                               STROPHE I

 _Chor._ Ah, me! thou land of jutting promontory
           Which justly all revere,
 What lies before us? Where in Apian land
           Shall we a refuge find,
 If still there be dark hiding anywhere?
           Ah! that I were as smoke
           That riseth full and black
           Nigh to the clouds of Zeus,                               760
 Or soaring up on high invisible,
           Like dust that vanishes,
 Pass out of being with no help from wings!

                             ANTISTROPHE I

 *E'en so the ill admits not now of flight;
           My heart in dark gloom throbs;
 My father's work as watcher brings me low;
           I faint for very fear,
 And I would fain find noose that bringeth death,
           In twisted cordage hung,
           Before the man I loathe
           Draws near this flesh of mine:                            770
 Sooner than that may Hades rule o'er me
           Sleeping the sleep of death!

                               STROPHE II

 Ah, might I find a place in yon high vault,
 Where the rain-clouds are passing into snow,
           Or lonely precipice
           Whose summit none can see,
           Rock where the vulture haunts,
 Witness for me of my abysmal fall,
 Before the marriage that will pierce my heart
           Becomes my dreaded doom!

                             ANTISTROPHE II

 I shrink not from the thought of being the prey                     780
 Of dogs and birds that haunt the country round;
           For death shall make me free
           From ills all lamentable:
           Yea, let death rather come
 Than the worse doom of hated marriage-bed!
 What other refuge now remains for me
           That marriage to avert?

                              STROPHE III

           Yea, to the Gods raise thou
           Cloud-piercing, wailing cry
           Of songs and litanies,
 Prevailing, working freedom out for me:                             790
           And thou, O Father, look,
           Look down upon the strife,
 With glance of wrath against our enemies
         From eyes that see the right;
 With pity look on us thy suppliants,
 O Lord of Earth, O Zeus omnipotent!

                            ANTISTROPHE III

         For lo! Ægyptos' house,
         In pride intolerable,
         O'er-masculine in mood,
 Pursuing me in many a winding course,
         Poor wandering fugitive,
         With loud and wild desires,
 Seek in their frenzied violence to seize:                           800
         But thine is evermore
 The force that turns the balance of the scale:
 What comes to mortal men apart from Thee?

         Ah! ah! ah! ah!
 *Here on the land behold the ravisher
         Who comes on us by sea!
 *Ah, may'st thou perish, ravisher, ere thou
         Hast stopped or landed here!
 *I utter cry of wailing loud and long,
 *I see them work the prelude of their crimes,
         Their crimes of violence.
           Ah! ah! Ah me!                                            810
 Haste in your flight for help!
 The mighty ones are waxing fat and proud,
 By sea and land alike intolerable.
 Be thou, O King, our bulwark and defence!

         _Enter_ Herald _of the sons of_ ÆGYPTOS, _advancing to
                        the daughters of_ DANAOS

 _Her._ Haste, haste with all your speed unto the barque.

 _Chor._ Tearing of hair, yea, tearing now will come,
         And print of nails in flesh,
         And smiting off of heads,
         With murderous stream of blood.

 _Her._ Haste, haste ye, to that barque that yonder lies,     820
 Ye wretches, curse on you.

                               STROPHE I

         _Chor._ Would thou had'st met thy death
         Where the salt waves wildly surge,
         Thou with thy lordly pride,
         In nail-compacted ship:
 *Lo! they will smite thee, weltering in thy blood,
         *And drive thee to thy barque.

 _Her._ I bid you cease perforce, the cravings wild
         Of mind to madness given.
         Ho there! what ho! I say;                                   830
 Give up those seats, and hasten to the ship:
 I reverence not what this State honoureth.

                             ANTISTROPHE I

       _Chor._ Ah, I may ne'er again
 Behold the stream where graze the goodly kine,
       Nourished and fed by which[260]
 The blood of cattle waxes strong and full!
       *As with a native's right,
       *And one of old descent,
 I keep, old man, my seat, my seat, I say.

 _Her._ Nay, in a ship, a ship them shalt soon go,            840
         With or without thy will,
         By force, I say, by force:
 Come, come, provoke not evils terrible,
         Falling by these my hands.

                               STROPHE II

 _Chor._ Ah me! ah me!
 Would thou may'st perish with no hand to help,
         Crossing the sea's wide plain,
         In wanderings far and wide,
 Where Sarpedonian sand-bank[261] spreads its length,
         Driven by the sweeping blasts!

 _Her._ Sob thou, and howl, and call upon the Gods:           850
 Thou shalt not 'scape that barque from Ægypt come,
 Though thou should'st pour a bitterer strain of grief.

                             ANTISTROPHE II

 _Chor._ Woe! woe! Ah woe! ah woe,
 For this foul wrong! Thou utterest fearful things;
 *Thou art too bold and insolent of speech.
 *May mighty Nile that reared thee turn away
         Thy wanton pride and lust
         That we behold it not!

 _Her._ I bid you go to yon ship double-prowed,[262]
 With all your speed. Let no one lag behind;
 But little shall my grasp your ringlets spare.                      860

                               [_Seizes on the leader of the Suppliants_

                              STROPHE III

 _Chor._ Ah me! my father, ah!
 The help of holiest statues turns to woe;
         He leads me to the sea,
         With motion spider-like,
 Or like a dream, a dark and dismal dream,
         Ah woe! ah woe! ah woe!
 O mother Earth! O Earth! O mother mine!
         Avert that cry of fear,
 O Zeus, thou king! O son of mother Earth!

 _Her._ Nay, I fear not the Gods they worship here;
 They did not rear nor lead me up to age.                            870

                            ANTISTROPHE III

 _Chor._ Near me he rages now,
        ·       ·       ·       ·       ·
         That biped snake,
 And like a viper bites me by the foot.
         Oh, woe is me! woe! woe!
 O mother Earth! O Earth! O mother mine!
         Avert that cry of fear,
 O Zeus, thou king! O son of mother Earth!

 _Her._ If some one yield not, and to yon ship go,
 The hand that tears her tunic will not pity.

                               STROPHE IV

 _Chor._ Ho! rulers of the State!                             880
         Ye princes! I am seized.

 _Her._ It seems, since ye are slow to hear my words,
 That I shall have to drag you by the hair.

                             ANTISTROPHE IV

 _Chor._ We are undone, undone!
 We suffer, prince, unlooked-for outrages,

 _Her._ Full many princes, heirs of great Ægyptos,
 Ye soon shall see. Take courage; ye shall have
 No cause to speak of anarchy as there.

                _Enter_ KING _followed by his_ Bodyguard

 _King._ Ho there! What dost thou? and with what intent
 Dost thou so outrage this Pelasgic land?
 Dost think thou comest to a town of women?                          890
 Too haughty thou, a stranger 'gainst Hellenes,
 And, sinning much, hast nothing done aright.

 _Her._ What sin against the right have I then done?

 _King._ First, thou know'st not how stranger-guest should act.

 _Her._ How so? When I, but finding what I lost....

 _King._ Whom among us dost thou then patrons call?

 _Her._ Hermes the Searcher, chiefest patron mine.[263]

 _King._ Thou, Gods invoking, honourest not the Gods.

 _Her._ The Gods of Neilos are the Gods I worship.

 _King._ Ours then are nought, if I thy meaning catch.        900

 _Her._ These girls I'll lead, if no one rescues them.

 _King._ Lay hand on them, and soon thou'lt pay the cost.

 _Her._ I hear a word in no wise hospitable.

 _King._ Who rob the Gods I welcome not as guests.

 _Her._ I then will tell Ægyptos' children this.

 _King._ This threat is all unheeded in my mind.

 _Her._ But that I, knowing all, may speak it plain,
 (For it is meet a herald should declare
 Each matter clearly,) what am I to say?
 By whom have I been robbed of that fair band
 Of women whom I claim as kindred? Nay,                              910
 But it is Ares that shall try this cause,
 And not with witnesses, nor money down,
 Settling the matter, but there first must fall
 Full many a soldier, and of many a life
 The rending in convulsive agony.

 _King._ Why should I tell my name? In time thou'lt know it,
 Thou and thy fellow-travellers. But these maidens,
 With their consent and free choice of their wills,
 Thou may'st lead off, if godly speech persuade them:
 But this decree our city's men have made
 With one consent, that we to force yield not
 This company of women. Here the nail                                920
 Is driven tight home to keep its place full firm;[264]
 These things are written not on tablets only,
 [Nor signed and sealed in folds of byblos-rolls;]
 Thou hear'st them clearly from a tongue that speaks
 With full, free speech. Away, away, I say:
 And with all speed from out my presence haste.

 _Her._ It is thy will then a rash war to wage:
 May strength and victory on our males attend!


 _King._ Nay, thou shall find the dwellers of this land
 Are also males, and drink not draughts of ale                       930
 From barley brewed.[265] [_To the Suppliants._] But ye, and your
 Take courage, go within the fencèd city,
 Shut in behind its bulwark deep of towers;
 Yea, many houses to the State belong,
 And I a palace own not meanly built,
 If ye prefer to live with many others
 In ease and plenty: or if that suits better,
 Ye may inhabit separate abodes.
 Of these two offers that which pleases best
 Choose for yourselves, and I as your protector,                     940
 And all our townsmen, will defend the pledge
 Which our decree has given you. Why wait'st thou
 For any better authorised than these?

 _Chor._ For these thy good deeds done may'st thou in good,
 All good, abound, great chief of the Pelasgi!
         But kindly send to us
 Our father Danaos, brave and true of heart,
         To counsel and direct.
 His must the first decision be where we
         Should dwell, and where to find
 A kindly home; for ready is each one
 To speak his word of blame 'gainst foreigners.                      950
         But may all good be ours!
 And so with fair repute and speech of men,
         Free from all taint of wrath,
 So place yourselves, dear handmaids, in the land,
 As Danaos hath for each of us assigned
         Dowry of handmaid slaves.

                 _Enter_ DANAOS _followed by_ Soldiers

 _Dan._ My children, to the Argives ye should pray,
 And sacrifice, and full libations pour,
 As to Olympian Gods, for they have proved,
 With one consent, deliverers: and they heard
 *All that I did towards those cousins there,             960
 *Those lovers hot and bitter. And they gave
 To me as followers these that bear the spear,
 That I might have my meed of honour due,
 And might not die by an assassin's hand
 A death unlooked-for, and thus leave the land
 A weight of guilt perpetual: and 'tis fit
 That one who meets such kindness should return,
 *From his heart's depths, a nobler gratitude;
 And add ye this to all already written,
 Your father's many maxims of true wisdom,
 That we, though strangers, may in time be known;                    970
 For as to aliens each man's tongue is apt
 For evil, and spreads slander thoughtlessly;
 But ye, I charge you, see ye shame me not,
 With this your life's bloom drawing all men's eyes.
 The goodly vintage is full hard to watch,
 All men and beasts make fearful havoc of it,
 Nay, birds that fly, and creeping things of earth;
 And Kypris offers fruitage, dropping ripe,
 *As prey to wandering lust, nor lets it stay;[266]
 And on the goodly comeliness of maidens                             980
 Each passer-by, o'ercome with hot desire,
 Darts forth the amorous arrows of the eye.
 And therefore let us suffer nought of this,
 Through which our ship has ploughed such width of sea,
 Such width of trouble; neither let us work
 Shame to ourselves, and pleasure to our foes.
 This twofold choice of home is open to you:
 [Pelasgos offers his, the city theirs,]
 To dwell rent-free. Full easy terms are these:
 Only, I charge you, keep your father's precepts,
 Prizing as more than life your chastity.                            990

 _Chor._ May the high Gods that on Olympos dwell
 Bless us in all things; but for this our vintage
 Be of good cheer, my father; for unless
 The counsels of the Gods work strange device,
 I will not leave my spirit's former path.

                               STROPHE I

 _Semi-Chor. A_. Go then and make ye glad the high Gods, blessed for
 Those who rule our towns, and those who watch over our city,
 And they who dwell by the stream of Erasinos ancient.[267]

 _Semi-Chor. B_. And ye, companions true,
         Take up your strain of song.                               1000
 Let praise attend this city of Pelasgos;
 Let us no more, no more adore the mouths of Neilos
         With these our hymns of praise;

                             ANTISTROPHE I

 _Semi-Chor. A_. Nay, but the rivers here that pour calm streams through
    our country,[268]
 Parents of many a son, making glad the soil of our meadows,
 With wide flood rolling on, in full and abounding richness.

 _Semi-Chor. B_. And Artemis the chaste,
         May she behold our band                                    1010
 With pity; ne'er be marriage rites enforcèd
 On us by Kythereia: those who hate us,
         Let that ill prize be theirs.

                               STROPHE II

 _Semi-Chor. A_. Not that our kindly strain does slight to Kypris
 For she, together with Hera, as nearest to Zeus is mighty,
 A goddess of subtle thoughts, she is honoured in mysteries solemn.

 _Semi-Chor. B_. Yea, as associates too with that their mother
 Are fair Desire and Suasion,[269] whose pleading no man can gainsay,
 Yea, to sweet Concord too Aphrodite's power is entrusted,
 *And the whispering paths of the Loves.

                             ANTISTROPHE II

 _Semi-Chor. A_. Yet am I sore afraid of the ship that chases us
 Of terrible sorrows, and wars that are bloody and hateful;
 *Why else have they had fair gale for this their eager pursuing?1030

 _Semi-Chor. B_. Whate'er is decreed of us, I know that it needs must
 The mighty purpose of Zeus, unfailing, admits no transgression:
 *May this fate come to us, as to many women before us,
         *Fate of marriage and spouse!

                              STROPHE III

 _Semi-Chor. A_. Ah, may great Zeus avert
 From me all marriage with Ægyptos' sons!

 _Semi-Chor. B_. Nay, all will work for good.

 _Semi-Chor. A_. Thou glozest that which will no glozing bear.1040

 _Semi-Chor. B_. And thou know'st not what future comes to us.

                            ANTISTROPHE III

 _Semi-Chor. A_. How can I read the mind
 Of mightiest Zeus, to sight all fathomless?

 _Semi-Chor. B_. Well-tempered be thy speech!

 _Semi-Chor. A_. What mood of calmnesss wilt thou school me in?

 _Semi-Chor. B_. Be not o'er-rash in what concerns the Gods.

                               STROPHE IV

 _Semi-Chor. A_. Nay, may our great king Zeus avert that marriage
         With husbands whom we hate,
 E'en He who, touching her with healing hand,
         Freed Io from her pain,
 Putting an end from all her wanderings,
         Working with kindly force!                                 1050

                             ANTISTROPHE IV

 _Semi-Chor. B_. And may He give the victory to women!
         I choose the better part,
 Though mixed with ill; and that the trial end
         Justly, as I have prayed,
 By means of subtle counsels which God gives
         To liberate from ills.[270]



Footnote 206:

  The daughters of Danaos are always represented as fifty in number. It
  seems probable, however, that the vocal chorus was limited to twelve,
  the others appearing as mutes.

Footnote 207:

  The alluvial deposit of the Delta.

Footnote 208:

  Syria is used obviously with a certain geographical vagueness, as
  including all that we know as Palestine, and the wilderness to the
  south of it, and so as conterminous with Egypt.

Footnote 209:

  Elsewhere in Æschylos (_Agam._ 33, _Fr._ 132) we trace allusion to
  games played with dice. Here we have a reference to one, the details
  of which are not accurately known to us, but which seems to have been
  analogous to draughts or chess.

Footnote 210:

  See the whole story, given as in prophecy, in the _Prometheus_, v.

Footnote 211:

  The invocation is addressed—(1) to the Olympian Gods in the brightness
  of heaven; (2) to the Chthonian deities in the darkness below the
  earth; (3) to Zeus, the preserver, as the supreme Lord of both.

Footnote 212:

  An Athenian audience would probably recognise in this a description of
  the swampy meadows near the coast of Lerna. The descendants of Io had
  come to the very spot where the tragic history of their ancestors had
  had its origin.

Footnote 213:

  The invocation passes on to Epaphos, as a guardian deity able and
  willing to succour his afflicted children.

Footnote 214:

  Philomela. See the tale as given in the notes to _Agam._ 1113.

Footnote 215:

  “Streams,” as flowing through the shady solitude of the groves which
  the nightingale frequented.

Footnote 216:

  “Ionian,” as soft and elegiac, in contrast with the more military
  character of Dorian music.

Footnote 217:

  In the Greek the _paronomasia_ turns upon the supposed etymological
  connection between θεὸς and τιθήμι. I have here, as elsewhere,
  attempted an analogous rather than identical _jeu de mot_.

Footnote 218:

  The Greek word which I have translated “bluff” was one not familiar to
  Attic ears, and was believed to be of Kyrenean origin. Æschylos
  accordingly puts it into the lips of the daughters of Danaos, as
  characteristic more or less of the “alien speech” of the land from
  which they came.

Footnote 219:

  So in v. 235 Danaos speaks of the “second Zeus” who sits as Judge in
  Hades. The feeling to which the Chorus gives utterance is that of—

              “Flectere si nequeo superos, Acheronta movebo.”

Footnote 220:

  Some mound dedicated to the Gods, with one or more altars and statues
  of the Gods on it, is on the stage, and the suppliants are told to
  take up their places there. The Gods of conflict who are named below,
  Zeus, Apollo, Poseidon, presided generally over the three great games
  of Greece. Hermes is added to the list.

Footnote 221:

  Comp. _Libation-Pourers_, 1024, _Eumen._ 44.

Footnote 222:

  The Argives are supposed to share the love of brevity which we
  commonly connect with their neighbours the Laconians.

Footnote 223:

  The “mighty bird of Zeus” seems here, from the answer of the Chorus,
  to mean not the “eagle” but the “sun,” which roused men from their
  sleep as the cock did, so that “cockcrow” and “sunrise” were
  synonymous. It is, in any case, striking that Zeus, rather than
  Apollo, appears as the Sun-God.

Footnote 224:

  The words refer to the myth of Apollo's banishment from heaven and
  servitude under Admetos.

Footnote 225:

  In the Acropolis at Athens the impress of a trident was seen on the
  rock, and was believed to commemorate the time when Poseidon had
  claimed it as his own by setting up his weapon there. Something of the
  same kind seems here to be supposed to exist at Argos, where a like
  legend prevailed.

Footnote 226:

  The Hellenic Hermes is distinguished from his Egyptian counterpart,
  Thoth, as being different in form and accessories.

Footnote 227:

  A possible reference to the Egyptian Osiris, as lord or judge of
  Hades. Comp. v. 145.

Footnote 228:

  “Shall I,” the Chorus asks, “speak to you as a private citizen, or as
  a herald, or as a king?”

Footnote 229:

  It would appear from this that the king himself bore the name
  Pelasgos. In some versions of the story he is so designated.

Footnote 230:

  The lines contain a tradition of the wide extent of the old Pelasgic
  rule, including Thessalia, or the Pelasgic Argos, between the mouths
  of Peneus and Pindos, Perrhæbia, Dodona, and finally the Apian land or

Footnote 231:

  The true meaning of the word “Apian,” as applied to the Peloponnesos,
  seems to have been “distant.” Here the myth is followed which
  represented it as connected with Apis the son of Telchin (son of
  Apollo, in the sense of being a physician-prophet), who had freed the
  land from monsters.

Footnote 232:

  The description would seem to indicate—(1) that the daughter of Danaos
  appeared on the stage as of swarthy complexion; and (2) that Indians,
  Æthiopians, Kyprians, and Amazons, were all thought of as in this
  respect alike.

Footnote 233:

  The line is conjectural, but some question of this kind is implied in
  the answer of the Chorus.

Footnote 234:

  By sacrificing personal likings to schemes of ambition, men and women
  contract marriages which increase their power.

Footnote 235:

  The Gods of conflict are the pilots of the ship of the State. The
  altar dedicated to them is as its stern: the garlands and wands of
  suppliants which adorn it are as the decorations of the vessels.

Footnote 236:

  Some editors have seen in this an attempt to enlist the constitutional
  sympathies of an Athenian audience in favour of the Argive king, who
  will not act without consulting his assembly. There seems more reason
  to think that the aim of the dramatist was in precisely the opposite
  direction, and that the words which follow set forth his admiration
  for the king who can act, as compared with one who is tied and
  hampered by restrictions.

Footnote 237:

  By an Attic law, analogous in principle to that of the Jews, (Num.
  xxxvi. 8; 1 Chron. xxiii. 22), heiresses were absolutely bound to
  marry their next of kin, if he claimed his right. The king at once
  asserts this as the law which was _primâ facie_ applicable to the
  case, and declares himself ready to surrender it if the petitioners
  can show that their own municipal law is on the other side. He will
  not thrust his country's customs upon foreigners, who can prove that
  they live under a different rule, but in the absence of evidence must
  act on the law which he is bound officially to recognise.

Footnote 238:

  _Sc._, the pollution which the statues of the Gods would contract if
  they carried into execution their threat of suicide.

Footnote 239:

  Inachos, the river-God of Argos, and as such contrasted with Neilos.

Footnote 240:

  _i.e._, “Unconsecrate,” marked out by no barriers, accessible to all,
  and therefore seeming to offer but little prospect of a safe asylum.
  The place described seems to have been an open piece of turf rather
  than a grove of trees.

Footnote 241:

  Comp. the narrative as given in _Prometheus Bound_, vv. 660, _et seq._

Footnote 242:

  Teuthras' fort, or Teuthrania, is described by Strabo (xii. p. 571) as
  lying between the Hellespont and Mount Sipylos, in Magnesia.

Footnote 243:

  Kypros, as dedicated to the worship of Aphrodite, and famous for its
  wine, and oil, and corn.

Footnote 244:

  The question, what caused the mysterious exceptional inundations of
  the Nile, occupied, as we see from Herodotos (ii. c. 19-27), the minds
  of the Greeks. Of the four theories which the historian discusses,
  Æschylos adopts that which referred it to the melting of the snows on
  the mountains of central Africa.

Footnote 245:

  Typhon, the mythical embodiment of the power of evil, was fabled to
  have wandered over Egypt, seeking the body of Osiris. Isis, to baffle
  him, placed coffins in all parts of Egypt, all empty but the one which
  contained the body.

Footnote 246:

  The fame of the Nile for the purity of its water, after the earthy
  matter held in solution had been deposited, seems to have been as
  great in the earliest periods of its history as it is now.

Footnote 247:

  Io was represented as a woman with a heifer's head, and was probably a
  symbolic representation of the moon, with her crescent horns.
  Sometimes the transformation is described (as in v. 294) in words
  which imply a more thorough change.

Footnote 248:


               “For not as subject sitting 'neath the sway
               Of strength above his own.”

Footnote 249:

  The passage takes its place among the noblest utterances of a faith
  passing above the popular polytheism to the thought of one sovereign
  Will ruling and guiding all things, as Will—without effort, in the
  calmness of a power irresistible.

Footnote 250:

  Double, as involving a sin against the laws of hospitality, so far as
  the suppliants were strangers—a sin against the laws of kindred, so
  far as they might claim by descent the rights of citizenship.

Footnote 251:

  If, as has been conjectured, the tragedy was written with a view to
  the alliance between Argos and Athens, made in B.C. 461, this choral
  ode must have been the centre, if not of the dramatic, at all events
  of the political interest of the play.

Footnote 252:

  The image is that of a bird of evil omen, perched upon the roof, and
  defiling the house, while it uttered its boding cries.

Footnote 253:

  The suppliants' boughs, so held as to shade the face from view.

Footnote 254:

  The name of Hecate connected Artemis as, on the one side, with the
  unseen world of Hades, so, on the other, with childbirth, and the
  purifications that followed on it.

Footnote 255:

  The name of Lykeian, originally, perhaps, simply representing Apollo
  as the God of Light, came afterwards to be associated with the might
  of destruction (the Wolf-destroyer) and the darts of pestilence and
  sudden death. The prayer is therefore that he, the Destroyer, may
  hearken to the suppliants, and spare the people for whom they pray.

Footnote 256:

  The “three great laws” were those ascribed to Triptolemos, “to honour
  parents, to worship the Gods with the fruits of the earth, to hurt
  neither man nor beast.”

Footnote 257:

  The Egyptian ships, like those of many other Eastern countries, had
  eyes (the eyes of Osiris, as they were called) painted on their bows.

Footnote 258:

  A side-thrust, directed by the poet, who had fought at Marathon,
  against the growing effeminacy of the Athenian youth, many of whom
  were learning to shrink from all activity and exposure that might
  spoil their complexions. Comp. Plato, _Phædros_, p. 239.

Footnote 259:

  The saying is somewhat dark, but the meaning seems to be that if the
  “dogs” of Egypt are strong, the “wolves” of Argos are stronger; that
  the wheat on which the Hellenes lived gave greater strength to limbs
  and sinew than the “byblos fruit” on which the Egyptian soldiers and
  sailors habitually lived. Some writers, however, have seen in the last
  line, rendered—

              “The byblos fruit not always bears full ear,”

  a proverb like the English,

                       “There's many a slip
                       'Twixt the cup and the lip.”

Footnote 260:

  The words recall the vision of the “seven well-favoured kine and
  fat-fleshed,” which “came out of the river,” as Pharaoh dreamed (Gen.
  xli. 1, 2), and which were associated so closely with the fertility
  which it ordinarily produced through the whole extent of the valley of
  the Nile.

Footnote 261:

  Two dangerous low headlands seem to have been known by this name, one
  on the coast of Kilikia, the other on that of the Thrakian Chersonese.

Footnote 262:

  No traces of ships of this structure are found in Egyptian art; but,
  if the reading be right, it implies the existence of boats of some
  kind, so built that they could be steered from either end.

Footnote 263:

  Hermes, the guardian deity of heralds, is here described by the
  epithet which marked him out as being also the patron of detectives.
  Every stranger arriving in a Greek port had to place himself under a
  _proxenos_ or patron of some kind. The herald, having no _proxenos_
  among the citizens, appeals to his patron deity.

Footnote 264:

  The words refer to the custom of nailing decrees, proclamations,
  treaties, and the like, engraved on metal or marble, upon the walls of
  temples or public buildings. Traces of the same idea may possibly be
  found in the promise to Eliakim that he shall be “as a nail in a sure
  place” (Isa. xxii. 23), in the thanksgiving of Ezra that God had given
  His people “a nail in his holy place” (Ezra ix. 8).

Footnote 265:

  As before, the bread of the Hellenes was praised to the disparagement
  of the “byblos fruit” of Egypt, so here their wine to that of the
  Egyptian beer, which was the ordinary drink of the lower classes.

Footnote 266:

  The words present a striking parallelism to the erotic imagery of the
  _Song of Solomon_: “Take us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil our
  vines, for our vines have tender grapes.” (ii. 15).

Footnote 267:

  The Erasinos was supposed to rise in Arcadia, in Mount Stymphalos, to
  disappear below the earth, and to come to sight again in Argolis.

Footnote 268:

  In this final choral ode of the _Suppliants_, as in that of the _Seven
  against Thebes_, we have the phenomenon of the division of the Chorus,
  hitherto united, into two sections of divergent thought and purpose.
  Semi-Chorus A. remains steadfast in its purpose of perpetual
  virginity; Semi-Chorus B. relents, and is ready to accept wedlock.

Footnote 269:

  The two names were closely connected in the local worship of Athens,
  the temples of Aphrodite and Peitho (Suasion) standing at the
  south-west angle of the Acropolis. If any special purpose is to be
  traced in the invocation, we may see it in the poet's desire to bring
  out the nobler, more ethical side of Aphrodite's attributes, in
  contrast with the growing tendency to look on her as simply the
  patroness of brutal lust.

Footnote 270:

  The play, as acted, formed part of a trilogy, and the next play, the
  _Danaids_, probably contained the sequel of the story, the acceptance
  by the Suppliants of the sons of Ægyptos in marriage, the plot of
  Danaos for the destruction of the bridegrooms on the wedding-night,
  and the execution of the deed of blood by all but Hypermnestra.


                            DRAMATIS PERSONÆ

                       _Chorus of Argive Elders_
                       _Herald_ (TALTHYBIOS)

_ARGUMENT.—Ten years had passed since Agamemnon, son of Atreus, king of
Mykenæ, had led the Hellenes to Troïa to take vengeance on Alexandros
(also known as Paris), son of Priam. For Paris had basely wronged
Menelaos, king of Sparta, Agamemnon's brother, in that, being received
by him as a guest, he enticed his wife Helena to leave her lord and go
with him to Troïa. And now the tenth year had come, and Paris was slain,
and the city of the Troïans was taken and destroyed, and Agamemnon and
the Hellenes were on their way homeward with the spoil and prisoners
they had taken. But meanwhile Clytæmnestra too, Agamemnon's queen, had
been unfaithful, and had taken as her paramour Ægisthos, son of that
Thyestes whom Atreus, his brother, had made to eat, unknowing, of the
flesh of his own children. And now, partly led by her adulterer, and
partly seeking to avenge the death of her daughter Iphigeneia, whom
Agamemnon had sacrificed to appease the wrath of Artemis, and partly
also jealous because he was bringing back Cassandra, the daughter of
Priam, as his concubine, she plotted with Ægisthos against her husband's
life. But this was done secretly, and she stationed a guard on the roof
of the royal palace to give notice when he saw the beacon-fires, by
which Agamemnon had promised that he would send tidings that Troïa was

_Note._—The unfaithfulness of Clytæmnestra and the murder of Agamemnon
had entered into the Homeric cycle of the legends of the house of
Atreus. In the _Odyssey_, however, Ægisthos is the chief agent in this
crime (_Odyss._ iii. 264, iv. 91, 532, xi. 409); and the manner of it
differs from that which Æschylos has adopted. Clytæmnestra first appears
as slaying both her husband and Cassandra in Pindar (_Pyth._ xi. 26).

     SCENE.—Argos. _The Palace of_ AGAMEMNON; _statues of the Gods
             in front. Watchman on the roof. Time, night._

 _Watchman._ I ask the Gods a respite from these toils,
 This keeping at my post the whole year round,
 Wherein, upon the Atreidæ's roof reclined,
 Like dog, upon my elbow, I have learnt
 To know night's goodly company of stars,
 And those bright lords that deck the firmament,
 And winter bring to men, and harvest-tide;
 [The rising and the setting of the stars.]
 And now I watch for sign of beacon-torch,
 The flash of fire that bringeth news from Troïa,
 And tidings of its capture. So prevails
 *A woman's manly-purposed, hoping heart;                  10
 And when I keep my bed of little ease,
 Drenched with the dew, unvisited by dreams,
 (For fear, instead of sleep, my comrade is,
 So that in sound sleep ne'er I close mine eyes,)
 And when I think to sing a tune, or hum,
 (My medicine of song to ward off sleep,)
 Then weep I, wailing for this house's chance,
 No more, as erst, right well administered.
 Well! may I now find blest release from toils,                       20
 When fire from out the dark brings tidings good.

                            [_Pauses, then springs up suddenly, seeing a
                                light in the distance_

 Hail! thou torch-bearer of the night, that shedd'st
 Light as of morn, and bringest full array
 Of many choral bands in Argos met,
 Because of this success. Hurrah! hurrah!
 So clearly tell I Agamemnon's queen,
 With all speed rising from her couch to raise
 Shrill cry of triumph o'er this beacon-fire
 Throughout the house, since Ilion's citadel
 Is taken, as full well that bright blaze shows.                      30
 I, for my part, will dance my prelude now;

                                                     [_Leaps and dances_

 For I shall score my lord's new turn of luck,
 This beacon-blaze may throw of triple six.[271]
 Well, would that I with this mine hand may touch
 The dear hand of our king when he comes home!
 As to all else, the word is “Hush!” An ox[272]
 Rests on my tongue; had the house a voice
 'Twould tell too clear a tale. I'm fain to speak
 To those who know, forget with those who know not.


  _Enter Chorus of twelve Argive elders, chanting as they march to take
        up their position in the centre of the stage. A procession of
        women bearing torches is seen in the distance_

 Lo! the tenth year now is passing                                    40
 Since, of Priam great avengers,
 Menelaos, Agamemnon,
 Double-throned and doubled-sceptred,
 Power from sovran Zeus deriving—
 Mighty pair of the Atreidæ—
 Raised a fleet of thousand vessels
 Of the Argives from our country,
 Potent helpers in their warfare,
 Shouting cry of Ares fiercely;
 E'en as vultures shriek who hover,
 Wheeling, whirling o'er their eyrie,                                 50
 In wild sorrow for their nestlings,
 With their oars of stout wings rowing,
 Having lost the toil that bound them
 To their callow fledglings' couches.
 But on high One,—or Apollo,
 Zeus, or Pan,—the shrill cry hearing,
 Cry of birds that are his clients,[273]
 Sendeth forth on men transgressing,
 Erinnys, slow but sure avenger;
 So against young Alexandros[274]
 Atreus' sons the great King sendeth,
 Zeus, of host and guest protector:                                   60
 He, for bride with many a lover,
 Will to Danai give and Troïans
 Many conflicts, men's limbs straining,
 When the knee in dust is crouching,
 And the spear-shaft in the onset
 Of the battle snaps asunder.
 But as things are now, so are they,
 So, as destined, shall the end be.
 Nor by tears, nor yet libations
 Shall he soothe the wrath unbending
 Caused by sacred rites left fireless.[275]                           70
 We, with old frame little honoured,
 Left behind that host are staying,
 Resting strength that equals childhood's
 On our staff: for in the bosom
 *Of the boy, life's young sap rushing,
 Is of old age but the equal;
 Ares not as yet is found there:
 And the man in age exceeding,
 When the leaf is sere and withered,
 Goes with three feet on his journey;[276]                            80
 Not more Ares-like than boyhood,
 Like a day-seen dream he wanders.

                      [_Enter_ CLYTÆMNESTRA, _followed by the procession
                          of torch-bearers_

 Thou, of Tyndareus the daughter,
 Queen of Argos, Clytæmnestra,
 What has happened? what news cometh?
 What perceiving, on what tidings
 Leaning, dost thou put in motion
 All this solemn, great procession?
 Of the Gods who guard the city,
 Those above and those beneath us,
 Of the heaven, and of the market,                                    90
 Lo! with thy gifts blaze the altars;
 And through all the expanse of Heaven,
 Here and there, the torch-fire rises,
 With the flowing, pure persuasion
 Of the holy unguent nourished,
 *And the chrism rich and kingly
 From the treasure-store's recesses.
 Telling what of this thou canst tell,
 What is right for thee to utter,
 Be a healer of my trouble,
 Trouble now my soul disturbing,                                     100
 *While anon fond hope displaying
 Sacrificial signs propitious,
 Wards off care that no rest knoweth,
 Sorrow mind and heart corroding.

                     [_The Chorus, taking their places round the central
                         thymele, begin their song_[277]


 Able am I to utter, setting forth
         The might from omens sprung
 *What met the heroes as they journeyed on,
         (For still, by God's great gift,
         My age, yet linked with strength,
         *Breathes suasive power of song,)
 How the Achæans' twin-throned majesty,
 Accordant rulers of the youth of Hellas,                            110
         With spear and vengeful hand,
 Were sent by fierce, strong bird 'gainst Teucrian shore,
 Kings of the birds to kings of ships appearing,
         One black, with white tail one,
 Near to the palace, on the spear-hand side,
         On station seen of all,
 A pregnant hare devouring with her young,
         Robbed of all runs to come:
 Wail as for Linos, wail, wail bitterly,
         And yet may good prevail![278]                              120


 And the wise prophet of the army seeing
         The brave Atreidæ twain
 Of diverse mood, knew those that tore the hare,
         And those that led the host;
         And thus divining spake:
         “One day this armament
 Shall Priam's city sack, and all the herds
 Owned by the people, countless, by the towers,
         Fate shall with force lay low.
 Only take heed lest any wrath of Gods                               130
 Blunt the great curb of Troïa yet encamped,
         Struck down before its time;
 For Artemis the chaste that house doth hate,
         Her father's wingèd hounds,
 Who slay the mother with her unborn young,
         And loathes the eagles' feast.
 Wail as for Linos, wail, wail bitterly;
         And yet may good prevail!


 “*For she, the fair One, though so kind of heart
 *To fresh-dropt dew from mighty lion's womb,[279]
         And young that suck the teats
         Of all that roam the fields,                                140
         *Yet prays Him bring to pass
        The portents of those birds,
 The omens good yet also full of dread.
         And Pæan I invoke
 As Healer, lest she on the Danai send
         Delays that keep the ships
         Long time with hostile blasts,
 So urging on a new, strange sacrifice,
         Unblest, unfestivalled,[280]
 By natural growth artificer of strife,
 Bearing far other fruit than wife's true fear,
         For there abideth yet,
         Fearful, recurring still,
 Ruling the house, full subtle, unforgetting,
         Vengeance for children slain.”[281]                         150
 Such things, with great good mingled, Calchas spake,
         In voice that pierced the air,
 As destined by the birds that crossed our path
         To this our kingly house:
         And in accord with them,
 Wail as for Linos, wail, wail bitterly;
         And yet may good prevail.

                               STROPHE I

         O Zeus—whate'er He be,[282]
         If that Name please Him well,
         By that on Him I call:
 Weighing all other names I fail to guess
 Aught else but Zeus, if I would cast aside,
         Clearly, in every deed,
 From off my soul this idle weight of care.                          160

                             ANTISTROPHE I

         Nor He who erst was great,[283]
         Full of the might to war,
         *Avails now; He is gone;
 And He who next came hath departed too,
 His victor meeting; but if one to Zeus,
          High triumph-praise should sing,
 His shall be all the wisdom of the wise;

                               STROPHE II

 Yea, Zeus, who leadeth men in wisdom's way,                         170
         And fixeth fast the law,
         That pain is gain;
 And slowly dropping on the heart in sleep
         Comes woe-recording care,
 And makes the unwilling yield to wiser thoughts:
 And doubtless this too comes from grace of Gods,
 *Seated in might upon their awful thrones.

                             ANTISTROPHE II

 And then of those Achæan ships the chief,[284]
         The elder, blaming not
         Or seer or priest;
 But tempered to the fate that on him smote....                      180
         When that Achæan host
 Were vexed with adverse winds and failing stores,
 Still kept where Chalkis in the distance lies,
 And the vexed waves in Aulis ebb and flow;

                              STROPHE III

 And breezes from the Strymon sweeping down,
 Breeding delays and hunger, driving forth
         Our men in wandering course,
         On seas without a port.
 Sparing nor ships, nor rope, nor sailing gear,
 With doubled months wore down the Argive host;                      190
         And when, for that wild storm,
 Of one more charm far harder for our chiefs
 The prophet told, and spake of Artemis,[285]
         In tone so piercing shrill,
 The Atreidæ smote their staves upon the ground,
 And could not stay their tears.

                            ANTISTROPHE III

 And then the old king lifted up his voice,
 And spake, “Great woe it is to disobey;
         Great too to slay my child,                                 200
         The pride and joy of home,
 Polluting with the streams of maiden's blood
 Her father's hands upon the altar steps.
         What course is free from ill?
 How lose my ships and fail of mine allies?
 'Tis meet that they with strong desire should seek
         A rite the winds to soothe,
 E'en though it be with blood of maiden pure;
         May all end well at last!”                                  210

                              STROPHE III

         So when he himself had harnessed
         To the yoke of Fate unbending,
         With a blast of strange, new feeling,
         Sweeping o'er his heart and spirit,
         Aweless, godless, and unholy,
         He his thoughts and purpose altered
         To full measure of all daring,
         (Still base counsel's fatal frenzy,
         Wretched primal source of evils,
         Gives to mortal hearts strange boldness,)
         And at last his heart he hardened
         His own child to slay as victim,
         Help in war that they were waging,
         To avenge a woman's frailty,
         Victim for the good ship's safety.

                            ANTISTROPHE III

         All her prayers and eager callings,                         220
         On the tender name of Father,
         All her young and maiden freshness,
         They but set at nought, those rulers,
         In their passion for the battle.
         And her father gave commandment
         To the servants of the Goddess,
         When the prayer was o'er, to lift her,
         Like a kid, above the altar,
         In her garments wrapt, face downwards,—[286]
         Yea, to seize with all their courage,
         And that o'er her lips of beauty
         Should be set a watch to hinder
         Words of curse against the houses,
         With the gag's strength silence-working.[287]

                               STROPHE IV

             And she upon the ground
         Pouring rich folds of veil in saffron dyed,                 230
         Cast at each one of those who sacrificed
             A piteous glance that pierced,
             Fair as a pictured form;[288]
             And wishing,—all in vain,—
             To speak; for oftentimes
         In those her father's hospitable halls
 She sang, a maiden pure with chastest song,
         *And her dear father's life
 That poured its threefold cup of praise to God,[289]
         Crowned with all choicest good,
         She with a daughter's love
         Was wont to celebrate.

                             ANTISTROPHE IV

         What then ensued mine eyes
 Saw not, nor may I tell, but Calchas' arts                          240
 Were found not fruitless. Justice turns the scale
         For those to whom through pain
         At last comes wisdom's gain.
         *But for our future fate,
         *Since help for it is none,
 *Good-bye to it before it comes, and this
 Has the same end as wailing premature;
        For with to-morrow's dawn
 It will come clear; may good luck crown our fate!
         So prays the one true guard,
         Nearest and dearest found,
         Of this our Apian land.[290]

                  [_The Chief of the Chorus turns to_ CLYTÆMNESTRA, _and
                      her train of handmaids, who are seen

 _Chor._ I come, O Clytæmnestra, honouring
 Thy majesty: 'tis meet to pay respect
 To a chief's wife, the man's throne empty left:                     250
 But whether thou hast heard good news, or else
 In hopes of tidings glad dost sacrifice,
 I fain would hear, yet will not silence blame.

 _Clytæm._ May Morning, as the proverb runs, appear
 Bearing glad tidings from his mother Night![291]
 Joy thou shalt learn beyond thy hope to hear;
 For Argives now have taken Priam's city.

 _Chor._ What? Thy words sound so strange they flit by me.

 _Clytæm._ The Achæans hold Troïa. Speak I clear enough?      260

 _Chor._ Joy creeps upon me, drawing forth my tears.

 _Clytæm._ Of loyal heart thine eyes give token true.

 _Chor._ What witness sure hast thou of these events?

 _Clytæm._ Full clear (how else?) unless the God deceive.[292]

 _Chor._ Reliest thou on dreams or visions seen?

 _Clytæm._ I place no trust in mind weighed down with sleep.[293]

 _Chor._ Hath then some wingless omen charmed thy soul?[294]

 _Clytæm._ My mind thou scorn'st, as though 'twere but a girl's.

 _Chor._ What time has passed since they the city sacked?

 _Clytæm._ This very night, the mother of this morn.          270

 _Chor._ What herald could arrive with speed like this?

 _Clytæm._ Hephæstos flashing forth bright flames from Ida:
 Beacon to beacon from that courier-fire
 Sent on its tidings; Ida to the rock[295]
 Hermæan named, in Lemnos: from the isle
 The height of Athos, dear to Zeus, received
 A third great torch of flame, and lifted up,
 So as on high to skim the broad sea's back,
 The stalwart fire rejoicing went its way;
 The pine-wood, like a sun, sent forth its light
 Of golden radiance to Makistos' watch;                              280
 And he, with no delay, nor unawares
 Conquered by sleep, performed his courier's part:
 Far off the torch-light, to Eurîpos' straits
 Advancing, tells it to Messapion's guards:
 They, in their turn, lit up and passed it on,
 Kindling a pile of dry and aged heath.
 Still strong and fresh the torch, not yet grown dim,
 Leaping across Asôpos' plain in guise
 Like a bright moon, towards Kithæron's rock,
 Roused the next station of the courier flame.                       290
 And that far-travelled light the sentries there
 Refused not, burning more than all yet named:
 And then the light swooped o'er Gorgôpis' lake,
 And passing on to Ægiplanctos' mount,
 Bade the bright fire's due order tarry not;
 And they, enkindling boundless store, send on
 A mighty beard of flame, and then it passed
 The headland e'en that looks on Saron's gulf,
 Still blazing. On it swept, until it came
 To Arachnæan heights, the watch-tower near;                         300
 Then here on the Atreidæ's roof it swoops,
 This light, of Ida's fire no doubtful heir.
 Such is the order of my torch-race games;
 One from another taking up the course,[296]
 But here the winner is both first and last;
 And this sure proof and token now I tell thee,
 Seeing that my lord hath sent it me from Troïa.

 _Chor._ I to the Gods, O Queen, will pray hereafter,
 But fain would I hear all thy tale again,
 E'en as thou tell'st, and satiate my wonder.                        310

 _Clytæm._ This very day the Achæans Troïa hold.
 I trow full diverse cry pervades the town:
 Pour in the same vase vinegar and oil,
 *And you would call them enemies, not friends;
 And so from conquerors and from captives now
 The cries of varied fortune one may hear.
 For these, low-fallen on the carcases
 Of husbands and of brothers, children too
 By aged fathers, mourn their dear ones' death,
 And that with throats that are no longer free.                      320
 And those the hungry toil of sleepless guard,
 After the battle, at their breakfast sets;
 Not billeted in order fixed and clear,
 But just as each his own chance fortune grasps,
 They in the captive houses of the Troïans
 Dwell, freed at last from all the night's chill frosts,
 And dews of heaven, for now, poor wretches, they
 Will sleep all night without the sentry's watch;
 And if they reverence well the guardian Gods
 Of that new-conquered country, and their shrines,                   330
 Then they, the captors, will not captured be.
 Ah! let no evil lust attack the host
 Conquered by greed, to plunder what they ought not:
 For yet they need return in safety home,
 Doubling the goal to run their backward race.[297]
 *But should the host come sinning 'gainst the Gods,
 Then would the curse of those that perishèd
 Be watchful, e'en though no quick ill might fall.
 Such thoughts are mine, mere woman though I be.
 May good prevail beyond all doubtful chance!                        340
 For I have got the blessing of great joy.

 _Chor._ Thou, lady, kindly, like a sage, dost speak,
 And I, on hearing thy sure evidence,
 Prepare myself to give the Gods due thanks;
 For they have wrought full meed for all our toil.

                                        [_Exit_ CLYTÆM. _with her train_

         O Zeus our King! O Night beloved,
         Mighty winner of great glories,
         Who upon the towers of Troïa
         Casted'st snare of closest meshes,
         So that none full-grown or youthful                         350
         Could o'erleap the net of bondage,
         Woe of universal capture;—
         Zeus, of host and guest protector,
         Who hath brought these things, I worship;
         He long since on Alexandros
         Stretched his bow that so his arrow
         Might not sweep at random, missing,
         Or beyond the stars shoot idly.

                               STROPHE I

 Yes, one may say, 'tis Zeus whose blow they feel;
        This one may clearly trace:
        They fared as He decreed:
        Yea, one there was who said,                                 360
 “The Gods deign not to care for mortal men[298]
 By whom the grace of things inviolable
        Is trampled under foot.”
        No fear of God had he:
 *Now is it to the children manifest[299]
         Of those who, overbold,
 Breathed rebel War beyond the bounds of Right,
 Their houses overfilled with precious store
         *Above the golden mean.
 *Ah! let our life be free from all that hurts,           370
         So that for one who gains
         Wisdom in heart and soul,
         That lot may be enough.
 Since still there is no bulwark strong in wealth
         Against destruction's doom,
 For one who in the pride of wantonness
 Spurns the great altar of the Right and Just.

                             ANTISTROPHE I

 Him woeful, subtle Impulse urges on,
         Resistless in her might,
         Atè's far-scheming child:
         All remedy is vain.
 It is not hidden, but is manifest,
 That mischief with its horrid gleaming light;                       380
         And, like to worthless bronze,[300]
         By friction tried and tests,
 It turns to tarnished blackness in its hue:
         Since, boy-like, he pursues
 A bird upon its flight, and so doth bring
 Upon his city shame intolerable:
         And no God hears his prayer,
         But bringeth low the unjust,
         Who deals with deeds like this.
         Thus Paris came to the Atreidæ's home,                      390
         And stole its queen away,
 And so left brand of shame indelible
 Upon the board where host and guest had sat.

                               STROPHE II

 She, leaving to her countrymen at home
 Wild din of spear and shield and ships of war,
         And bringing, as her dower,
         To Ilion doom of death,
 Passed very swiftly through the palace gates,
         Daring what none should dare;
         And many a wailing cry
 They raised, the minstrel prophets of the house,
         “Woe for that kingly home!
 Woe for that kingly home and for its chiefs!                        400
 Woe for the marriage-bed and traces left
         Of wife who loved her lord!”
 *There stands he silent; foully wronged and yet
         *Uttering no word of scorn,[301]
 *In deepest woe perceiving she is gone;
         And in his yearning love
         For one beyond the sea,
 A ghost shall seem to queen it o'er the house;
         The grace of sculptured forms[302]
         Is loathèd by her lord,
 And in the penury of life's bright eyes
         All Aphroditè's charm
         To utter wreck has gone.

                             ANTISTROPHE II

 And phantom shades that hover round in dreams                       410
 Come full of sorrow, bringing vain delight;
         For vain it is, when one
         Sees seeming shows of good,
 And gliding through his hands the dream is gone,
         After a moment's space,
         On wings that follow still
 Upon the path where sleep goes to and fro.
         Such are the woes at home
 Upon the altar hearth, and worse than these.
 But on a wider scale for those who went
         From Hellas' ancient shore,
 A sore distress that causeth pain of heart                          420
         Is seen in every house.
 Yea, many things there are that touch the quick:
         For those whom each did send
         He knoweth; but, instead
 Of living men, there come to each man's home
         Funeral urns alone,
         And ashes of the dead.

                              STROPHE III

 For Ares, trafficking for golden coin
         The lifeless shapes of men,
 And in the rush of battle holding scales,
         Sends now from Ilion
         Dust from the funeral pyre,
 A burden sore to loving friends at home,
         And bitterly bewailed,
         Filling the brazen urn
 With well-smoothed ashes in the place of men;                       430
         And with high praise they mourn
 This hero skilled and valiant in the fight,
 And that who in the battle nobly fell,
         All for another's wife:
 And other words some murmur secretly;
         And jealous discontent
 Against the Atreidæ, champions in the suit,
         Creeps on all stealthily;
         And some around the wall,
 In full and goodly form have sepulture
         There upon Ilion's soil,                                    440
 And their foes' land inters its conquerors.

                            ANTISTROPHE III

 And so the murmurs of their subjects rise
         With sullen discontent,
 And do the dread work of a people's curse;
         And now my boding fear
         Awaits some news of ill,
 As yet enwrapt in blackness of the night.
         Not heedless are the Gods
         Of shedders of much blood,
 And the dark-robed Erinnyes in due time,
         By adverse chance of life,                                  450
 Place him who prospers in unrighteousness
 In gloom obscure; and once among the unseen,
         There is no help for him:
 Fame in excess is but a perilous thing;
         For on men's quivering eyes
 Is hurled by Zeus the blinding thunderbolt.
         I praise the good success
         That rouses not God's wrath;
 Ne'er be it mine a city to lay waste.[303]
         Nor, as a prisoner, see
 My life wear on beneath another's power!


 And now at bidding of the courier flame,
         The herald of good news,
 A rumour swift spreads through the city streets,                    460
 But who knows clearly whether it be true,
 Or whether God has mingled lies with it?
 Who is so childish or so reft of sense,
         As with his heart a-glow
 At that fresh uttered message of the flame,
 Then to wax sad at changing rumour's sound?
 It suits the mood that sways a woman's mind
 To pour thanksgiving ere the truth is seen:
 Quickly, with rapid steps, too credulous,
 The limit which a woman sets to trust
         Advances evermore;[304]
         And with swift doom of death                                470
 A rumour spread by woman perishes.

                     [_As the Chorus ends, a Herald is seen approaching,
                         his head wreathed with olive_[305]

 Soon we shall know the sequence of the torches
 Light-giving, and of all the beacon-fires,
 If they be true; or if, as 'twere a dream,
 This sweet light coming hath beguiled our minds.
 I see a herald coming from the shore,
 With olive boughs o'ershadowed, and the dust,[306]
 Dry sister-twin of mire,[307] announces this,
 That neither without voice, nor kindling blaze
 Of wood upon the mountains, he will signal                          480
 With smoke from fire, but either he will come,
 With clear speech bidding us rejoice, or else ... [_pauses_
 The word opposed to this I much mislike.
 Nay, may good issue good beginnings crown!
 Who for our city utters other prayers,
 May he himself his soul's great error reap!

 _Herald._ Hail, soil of this my Argive fatherland.
 Now in the light of the tenth year I reach thee,
 Though many hopes are shattered, gaining one.
 For never did I think in Argive land
 To die, and share the tomb that most I craved.                      490
 Now hail! thou land; and hail! thou light of day:
 Zeus our great ruler, and thou Pythian king,
 No longer darting arrows from thy bow.[308]
 Full hostile wast thou by Scamandros' banks,
 Now be thou Saviour, yea, and Healer found,
 O king Apollo! and the Gods of war,
 These I invoke; my patron Hermes too,
 Dear herald, whom all heralds reverence,—
 Those heroes, too, that sent us,[309]—graciously
 To welcome back the host that war has spared.                       500
 Hail, O ye royal dwellings, home beloved!
 Ye solemn thrones, and Gods who face the sun![310]
 If e'er of old, with cheerful glances now
 After long time receive our king's array.
 For he is come, in darkness bringing light
 To you and all, our monarch, Agamemnon.
 Salute him with all grace; for so 'tis meet,
 Since he hath dug up Troïa with the spade
 Of Zeus the Avenger, and the plain laid waste;
 Fallen their altars and the shrines of Gods;                        510
 The seed of all the land is rooted out,
 This yoke of bondage casting over Troïa,
 Our chief, the elder of the Atreidæ, comes,
 A man full blest, and worthiest of high honour
 Of all that are. For neither Paris' self,
 Nor his accomplice city now can boast
 Their deed exceeds its punishment. For he,
 Found guilty on the charge of rape and theft,[311]
 Hath lost his prize and brought his father's house,
 With lands and all, to waste and utter wreck;
 And Priam's sons have double forfeit paid.[312]                     520

 _Chor._ Joy, joy, thou herald of the Achæan host!

 _Her._ All joy is mine: I shrink from death no more.

 _Chor._ Did love for this thy fatherland so try thee?

 _Her._ So that mine eyes weep tears for very joy,*

 _Chor._ Disease full sweet then this ye suffered from ...

 _Her._ How so? When taught, I shall thy meaning master.

 _Chor._ Ye longed for us who yearned for you in turn.

 _Her._ Say'st thou this land its yearning host yearned o'er?

 _Chor._ Yea, so that oft I groaned in gloom of heart.

 _Her._ Whence came these bodings that an army hates?         530

 _Chor._ Silence I've held long since a charm for ill.

 _Her._ How, when your lords were absent, feared ye any?

 _Chor._ To use thy words, death now would welcome be.

 _Her._ Good is the issue; but in so long time
 Some things, one well might say, have prospered well,
 And some give cause for murmurs. Save the Gods,
 Who free from sorrow lives out all his life?
 For should I tell of toils, and how we lodged
 Full hardly, seldom putting in to shore,[313]
 And then with couch full hard.... What gave us not
 Good cause for mourning? What ill had we not                        540
 As daily portion? And what passed on land,
 That brought yet greater hardship: for our beds
 Were under our foes' walls, and meadow mists
 From heaven and earth still left us wringing wet,
 A constant mischief to our garments, making
 Our hair as shaggy as the beasts'.[314] And if
 One spoke of winter frosts that killed the birds,
 By Ida's snow-storms made intolerable,[315]
 Or heat, when Ocean in its noontide couch
 Windless reclined and slept without a wave....
 But why lament o'er this? Our toil is past;                         550
 Past too is theirs who in the warfare fell,
 So that no care have they to rise again.
 Why should I count the number of the dead,
 Or he that lives mourn o'er a past mischance?
 To change and chance I bid a long Farewell:
 With us, the remnant of the Argive host,
 Good fortune wins, no ills as counterpoise.
 So it is meet to this bright sun we boast,
 Who travel homeward over land and sea;
 “The Argive host who now have captured Troïa,                       560
 These spoils of battle[316] to the Gods of Hellas
 Hang on their pegs, enduring prize and joy.”[317]
 Hearing these things we ought to bless our country
 And our commanders; and the grace of Zeus
 That wrought this shall be honoured. My tale's told.

 _Chor._ Thy words o'ercome me, and I say not nay;
 To learn good keeps youth's freshness with the old.
 'Tis meet these things should be a special care
 To Clytæmnestra and the house, and yet
 That they should make me sharer in their joy.

                          _Enter_ CLYTÆMNESTRA

 _Clytæm._ I long ago for gladness raised my cry,             570
 When the first fiery courier came by night,
 Telling of Troïa taken and laid waste:
 And then one girding at me spake, “Dost think,
 Trusting in beacons, Troïa is laid waste?
 This heart elate is just a woman's way.”
 In words like these they made me out distraught;
 Yet still I sacrificed, and with a strain
 Shrill as a woman's, they, now here, now there,
 Throughout the city hymns of blessing raised
 In shrines of Gods, and lulled to gentle sleep
 The fragrant flame that on the incense fed.                         580
 And now why need'st thou lengthen out thy words?
 I from the king himself the tale shall learn;
 And that I show all zeal to welcome back
 My honoured lord on his return (for what
 Is brighter joy for wife to see than this,
 When God has brought her husband back from war,
 To open wide her gates?) tell my lord this,
 “To come with all his speed, the city's idol;”
 And “may he find a faithful wife at home,
 Such as he left her, noble watch-dog still                          590
 For him, and hostile to his enemies;
 And like in all things else, who has not broken
 One seal of his in all this length of time.”[318]
 No pleasure have I known, nor scandal ill
 With any other more than ... stains on bronze.[319]
 Such is my vaunt, and being full of truth,
 Not shameful for a noble wife to speak.[320] [_Exit_

 _Chor._ [_to Herald_.] She hath thus spoken in thy hearing now
 A goodly word for good interpreters.
 But tell me, herald, tell of Menelaos,                              600
 If, coming home again in safety he
 Is with you, the dear strength of this our land.

 _Her._ I cannot make report of false good news,
 So that my friends should long rejoice in it.

 _Chor._ Ah! could'st thou good news speak, and also true!
 These things asunder are not well concealed.

 _Her._ The chief has vanished from the Achæan host,
 He and his ship. I speak no falsehood here.

 _Chor._ In sight of all when he from Ilion sailed?
 Or did a storm's wide evil part him from you?                       610

 _Her._ Like skilful archer thou hast hit the mark,
 And in few words has told of evil long.

 _Chor._ And was it of him as alive or dead
 The whisper of the other sailors ran?

 _Her._ None to that question answer clear can give,
 Save the Sun-God who feeds the life of earth.

 _Chor._ How say'st thou? Did a storm come on our fleet,
 And do its work through anger of the Gods?

 _Her._ It is not meet a day of tidings good
 To mar with evil news. Apart for each                               620
 Is special worship. But when courier brings
 With louring face the ills men pray against,
 And tells a city that its host has fallen,
 That for the State there is a general wound,
 That many a man from many a home is driven,
 As banned by double scourge that Ares loves,
 Woe doubly-barbed, Death's two-horsed chariot this....
 When with such griefs as freight a herald comes,
 'Tis meet to chant the Erinnyes' dolorous song;
 But for glad messenger of good deeds wrought
 That bring deliverance, coming to a town                            630
 Rejoicing in its triumph, ... how shall I
 Blend good with evil, telling of a storm
 That smote the Achæans, not without God's wrath?
 For they a compact swore who erst were foes,
 Ocean and Fire, and their pledges gave,
 Wrecking the ill-starred army of the Argives;
 And in the night rose ill of raging storm:
 For Thrakian tempests shattered all the ships,
 Each on the other. Some thus crashed and bruised,
 By the storm stricken and the surging foam
 Of wind-tost waves, soon vanished out of sight,                     640
 Whirled by an evil pilot. And when rose
 The sun's bright orb, behold, the Ægæan sea
 Blossomed with wrecks of ships and dead Achæans.
 And as for us and our uninjured ship,
 Surely 'twas some one stole or begged us off,
 Some God, not man, presiding at the helm;
 And on our ship with good will Fortune sat,
 Giver of safety, so that nor in haven
 Felt we the breakers, nor on rough rock-beach
 Ran we aground. But when we had escaped                             650
 The hell of waters, then in clear, bright day,
 Not trusting in our fortune, we in thought
 O'er new ills brooded of our host destroyed,
 And eke most roughly handled. And if still
 Breathe any of them they report of us
 As having perished. How else should they speak?
 And we in our turn deem that they are so.
 God send good ending! Look you, first and chief,
 For Menelaos' coming; and indeed,
 If any sunbeam know of him alive
 And well, by help of Zeus who has not willed                        660
 As yet to blot out all the regal race,
 Some hope there is that he'll come back again.
 Know, hearing this, that thou the truth hast heard.

                                                          [_Exit Herald_

                               STROPHE I

 _Chor._ Who was it named her with such wondrous truth?
         (Could it be One unseen,
 In strange prevision of her destined work,
         Guiding the tongue through chance?)
 Who gave that war-wed, strife-upstirring one
 The name of Helen, ominous of ill?[321]                             670
         For all too plainly she
         Hath been to men, and ships,
         And towers, as doom of Hell.
 From bower of gorgeous curtains forth she sailed
 With breeze of Zephyr Titan-born and strong;[322]
         And hosts of many men,
         Hunters that bore the shield,
 Went on the track of those who steered their boat
 Unseen to leafy banks of Simois,
         On her account who came,
 Dire cause of strife with bloodshed in her train.                   680

                             ANTISTROPHE I

 And so the wrath which works its vengeance out
         Dear bride to Ilion brought,
 (Ah, all too truly named!) exacting still[323]
         After long lapse of time
 The penalty of foul dishonour done
 To friendship's board and Zeus, of host and guest
         The God, from those who paid
         Their loud-voiced honour then
         Unto that bridal strain,
 That hymeneal chorus which to chant
 Fell to the lot of all the bridegroom's kin.[324]
         But learning other song,
         Priam's ancient city now                                    690
 Bewaileth sore, and calls on Paris' name,
 Wedded in fatal wedlock; all the time
         *Enduring tear-fraught life
 *For all the blood its citizens had lost.

                               STROPHE II

         So once a lion's cub,
         A mischief in his house,
         As foster child one reared,[325]
         While still it loved the teats;
         In life's preluding dawn
         Tame, by the children loved,                                700
         And fondled by the old,[326]
         Oft in his arms 'twas held,
         Like infant newly born,
 With eyes that brightened to the hand that stroked,
 And fawning at the hest of hunger keen.

                             ANTISTROPHE II

         But when full-grown, it showed
         The nature of its sires;
         For it unbidden made
         A feast in recompense
         Of all their fostering care,
         *By banquet of slain sheep;                      710
         With blood the house was stained,
         A curse no slaves could check,
         Great mischief murderous:
 By God's decree a priest of Atè thus
 Was reared, and grew within the man's own house.

                              STROPHE III

 So I would tell that thus to Ilion came
 Mood as of calm when all the air is still,
 The gentle pride and joy of kingly state,
         A tender glance of eye,
 The full-blown blossom of a passionate love,
         Thrilling the very soul;                                    720
         And yet she turned aside,
 And wrought a bitter end of marriage feast,
         Coming to Priam's race,
         Ill sojourner, ill friend,
 Sent by great Zeus, the God of host and guest—
 Erinnys, for whom wives weep many tears.

                            ANTISTROPHE III

 There lives an old saw, framed in ancient days,[327]
 In memories of men, that high estate
 Full-grown brings forth its young, nor childless dies,
         But that from good success
 Springs to the race a woe insatiable.                               730
         But I, apart from all,
         Hold this my creed alone:
 For impious act it is that offspring breeds,
         Like to their parent stock:
         For still in every house
 That loves the right their fate for evermore
 Rejoiceth in an issue fair and good.

                               STROPHE IV

         But Recklessness of old
 Is wont to breed another Recklessness,
         Sporting its youth in human miseries,
 Or now, or then, whene'er the fixed hour comes:                     740
         That in its youth, in turn,
         Doth full-flushed Lust beget,
 And that dread demon-power unconquerable,
         Daring that fears not God,—
 Two curses black within the homes of men,
         Like those that gendered them.

                             ANTISTROPHE IV

         But Justice shineth bright
 In dwellings that are dark and dim with smoke,
         And honours life law-ruled,
 While gold-decked homes conjoined with hands defiled                750
         She with averted eyes
         Hath left, and draweth near
 To holier things, nor worships might of wealth,
         If counterfeit its praise;
 But still directeth all the course of things
         Towards its destined goal.

                         [AGAMEMNON _is seen approaching in his
                             chariot, followed by another chariot, in
                             which_ CASSANDRA _is standing, carrying
                             her prophet's wand in her hand, and
                             wearing fillets round her temples, and by
                             a great train of soldiers bearing trophies.
                             As they come on the stage the Chorus
                             sings its welcome_

 Come then, king, thou son of Atreus,
 Waster of the towers of Troïa,
 What of greeting and of homage
 Shall I give, nor overshooting,
 Nor due need of honour missing?
 Men there are who, right transgressing,
 Honour semblance more than being.                                   760
   O'er the sufferer all are ready
 Wail of bitter grief to utter,
 Though the biting pang of sorrow
 Never to their heart approaches;
 So with counterfeit rejoicing
 Men strain faces that are smileless;
 But when one his own sheep knoweth,
 Then men's eyes cannot deceive him,
 When they deem with kindly purpose,                                 770
 And with fondness weak to flatter.
 Thou, when thou did'st lead thine army
 For Helen's sake—(I will not hide it)—
 Wast to me as one whose features
 Have been limned by unskilled artist,
 Guiding ill the helm of reason,
 Giving men to death's doom sentenced
 *Courage which their will rejected.[328]
         Now nor from the spirit's surface,
         Nor with touch of thought unfriendly,
         All the toil, I say, is welcome,
         If men bring it to good issue.
         And thou soon shalt know, enquiring                         780
         Him who rightly, him who wrongly
         Of thy citizens fulfilleth
         Task of office for the city.[329]

 _Agam._ First Argos, and the Gods who guard the land,
 'Tis right to greet; to them in part I owe
 This my return, and vengeance that I took
 On Priam's city. Not on hearsay proof
 Judging the cause, with one consent the Gods
 Cast in their votes into the urn of blood
 For Ilion's ruin and her people's death;
 *I' the other urn Hope touched the rim alone,            790
 Still far from being filled full.[330] And even yet
 The captured city by its smoke is seen,
 *The incense clouds of Atè live on still;
 And, in the act of dying with its prey,
 From richest store the dust sends savours sweet.
 For these things it is meet to give the Gods
 Thank-offerings long-enduring; for our nets
 Of vengeance we set close, and for a woman
 Our Argive monster laid the city low,[331]
 Foaled by the mare, a people bearing shield,
 Taking its leap when set the Pleiades;[332]
 And, bounding o'er the tower, that ravenous lion                    800
 Lapped up its fill of blood of kingly race.
 This prelude to the Gods I lengthen out;
 And as concerns thy feeling (this I well
 Remember hearing) I with thee agree,
 And thou in me may'st find an advocate.
 With but few men is it their natural bent
 To honour without grudging prosperous friend:
 For ill-souled envy that the heart besets,
 Doubles his woe who suffers that disease:
 He by his own griefs first is overwhelmed,
 And groans at sight of others' happier lot.                         810
 *And I with good cause say, (for well I know,)
 They are but friendship's mirror, phantom shade,
 Who seemed to be my most devoted friends.
 Odysseus only, who against his will[333]
 Sailed with us, still was found true trace-fellow:
 And this I say of him or dead or living.
 But as for all that touches on the State,
 Or on the Gods, in full assembly we,
 Calling our council, will deliberate:                               820
 For what goes well we should with care provide
 How longest it may last; and where there needs
 A healing charm, there we with all good-will,
 By surgery or cautery will try
 To turn away the mischief of disease.
 And now will I to home and household hearth
 Move on, and first give thanks unto the Gods
 Who led me forth, and brought me back again.
 Since Victory follows, long may she remain!

          _Enter_ CLYTÆMNESTRA, _followed by female attendants
                       carrying purple tapestry_

 _Clytæm._ Ye citizens, ye Argive senators,
 I will not shrink from telling you the tale
 Of wife's true love. As time wears on one drops                     830
 All over-shyness. Not learning it from others,
 I will narrate my own unhappy life,
 The whole long time my lord at Ilion stayed.
 For first, that wife should sit at home alone
 Without her husband is a monstrous grief,
 Hearing full many an ill report of him,
 Now one and now another coming still,
 Bringing news home, worse trouble upon bad.
 Yea, if my lord had met as many wounds
 As rumour told of, floating to our house,                           840
 He had been riddled more than any net;
 And had he died, as tidings still poured in,
 Then he, a second Geryon[334] with three lives,
 Had boasted of a threefold coverlet
 Of earth above, (I will not say below him,)[335]
 Dying one death for each of those his forms;
 And so, because of all these ill reports,
 Full many a noose around my neck have others
 Loosed by main force, when I had hung myself.
 And for this cause no son is with me now,                           850
 Holding in trust the pledges of our love,
 As he should be, Orestes. Wonder not;
 For now a kind ally doth nurture him,
 Strophios the Phokian, telling me of woes
 Of twofold aspect, danger on thy side
 At Ilion, and lest loud-voiced anarchy
 Should overthrow thy council, since 'tis still
 The wont of men to kick at those who fall.
 No trace of guile bears this excuse of mine;
 As for myself, the fountains of my tears
 Have flowed till they are dry, no drop remains,                     860
 And mine eyes suffer from o'er-late repose,
 Watching with tears the beacons set for thee,[336]
 Left still unheeded. And in dreams full oft
 I from my sleep was startled by the gnat
 With thin wings buzzing, seeing in the night
 Ills that stretched far beyond the time of sleep.[337]
 Now, having borne all this, with mind at ease,
 I hail my lord as watch-dog of the fold,
 The stay that saves the ship, of lofty roof                         870
 Main column-prop, a father's only child,
 Land that beyond all hope the sailor sees,
 Morn of great brightness following after storm,
 Clear-flowing fount to thirsty traveller.[338]
 Yes, it is pleasant to escape all straits:
 With words of welcome such as these I greet thee;
 May jealous Heaven forgive them! for we bore
 Full many an evil in the past; and now,
 Dear husband, leave thy car, nor on the ground,
 O King, set thou the foot that Ilion trampled.                      880
 Why linger ye, [_turning to her attendants_,] ye maids, whose task it
 To strew the pathway with your tapestries?
 Let the whole road be straightway purple-strown,
 That Justice lead to home he looked not for.
 All else my care, by slumber not subdued,
 Will with God's help work out what fate decrees.[339]

           (_The handmaids advance, and are about to lay the
                     purple carpets on the ground_)

 _Agam._ O child of Leda, guardian of my home,
 Thy speech hath with my absence well agreed—
 For long indeed thou mad'st it—but fit praise
 Is boon that I must seek at other hands.                            890
 I pray thee, do not in thy woman's fashion
 Pamper my pride, nor in barbaric guise
 Prostrate on earth raise full-mouthed cries to me;
 Make not my path offensive to the Gods
 By spreading it with carpets.[340] They alone
 May claim that honour; but for mortal men
 To walk on fair embroidery, to me
 Seems nowise without peril. So I bid you
 To honour me as man, and not as God.
 Apart from all foot-mats and tapestry
 My fame speaks loudly; and God's greatest gift                      900
 Is not to err from wisdom. We must bless
 Him only who ends life in fair estate.[341]
 Should I thus act throughout, good hope were mine.

 _Clytæm._ Nay, say not this my purposes to thwart.

 _Agam._ Know I change not for the worse my purpose.

 _Clytæm._ In fear, perchance, thou vowèd'st thus to act.

 _Agam._ If any, I, with good ground spoke my will.[342]

 _Clytæm._ What think'st thou Priam, had he wrought such deeds...?

 _Agam._ Full gladly he, I trow, had trod on carpets.

 _Clytæm._ Then shrink not thou through fear of men's dispraise.910

 _Agam._ And yet a people's whisper hath great might.[343]

 _Clytæm._ Who is not envied is not enviable.

 _Agam._ 'Tis not a woman's part to crave for strife.

 _Clytæm._ True, yet the prosperous e'en should sometimes yield.

 _Agam._ Dost thou then prize that victory in the strife?

 _Clytæm._ Nay, list; with all good-will yield me this boon.

 _Agam._ Well, then, if thou wilt have it so, with speed
 Let some one loose my buskins[344] (servants they
 Doing the foot's true work), and as I tread
 Upon these robes sea-purpled, may no wrath
 From glance of Gods smite on me from afar!                          920
 Great shame I feel to trample with my foot
 This wealth of carpets, costliest work of looms;
 So far for this. This stranger [_pointing to_ CASSANDRA] lead thou in
 With kindliness. On him who gently wields
 His power God's eye looks kindly from afar.
 None of their own will choose a bondslave's life;
 And she, the chosen flower of many spoils,
 Has followed with me as the army's gift.
 But since I turn, obeying thee in this,
 I'll to my palace go, on purple treading.                           930

 _Clytæm._ There is a sea,—and who shall drain it dry?
 Producing still new store of purple juice,
 Precious as silver, staining many a robe.
 And in our house, with God's help, O my king,
 'Tis ours to boast our palace knows no stint.
 Trampling of many robes would I have vowed,
 Had that been ordered me in oracles,
 When for my lord's return I then did plan
 My votive gifts. For while the root lives on,
 The foliage stretches even to the house,
 And spreads its shade against the dog-star's rage;                  940
 So when thou comest to thy hearth and home,
 Thou show'st that warmth hath come in winter time;
 And when from unripe clusters Zeus matures
 The wine,[345] then is there coolness in the house,
 If the true master dwelleth in his home.
 Ah, Zeus! the All-worker, Zeus, work out for me
 All that I pray for; let it be thy care
 To look to what Thou purposest to work.[346]

                         [_Exeunt_ AGAMEMNON, _walking on the tapestry_,
                             CLYTÆMNESTRA, _and her attendants_

                               STROPHE I

 _Chor._ Why thus continually
 Do haunting phantoms hover at the gate
         Of my foreboding heart?                                     950
 Why floats prophetic song, unbought, unbidden?
           Why doth no steadfast trust
         Sit on my mind's dear throne,
 To fling it from me as a vision dim?
 Long time hath passed since stern-ropes of our ships
 Were fastened on the sand, when our great host
             Of those that sailed in ships
             Had come to Ilion's towers:[347]

                             ANTISTROPHE I

         And now from these mine eyes                                960
 I learn, myself reporting to myself,
         Their safe return; and yet
 My mind within itself, taught by itself,
         Chanteth Erinnys' dirge,
         The lyreless melody,
 And hath no strength of wonted confidence.
 Not vain these inner pulses, as my heart
 Whirls eddying in breast oracular.
         I, against hope, will pray
         It prove false oracle.                                      970

                               STROPHE II

         Of high, o'erflowing health
 There is no bound that stays the wish for more,
 For evermore disease, as neighbour close
         Whom but a wall divides,
 Upon it presses; and man's prosperous state
         *Moves on its course, and strikes
         Upon an unseen rock;
 But if his fear for safety of his freight,
 A part, from well-poised sling, shall sacrifice,                    980
         Then the whole house sinks not,
         O'erfilled with wretchedness,
         Nor does he swamp his boat:
         So, too, abundant gift
 From Zeus in bounteous fulness, and the fruit
         Of glebe at harvest tide
 Have caused to cease sore hunger's pestilence;

                             ANTISTROPHE II

         But blood that once hath flowed
 In purple stains of death upon the ground
 At a man's feet, who then can bid it back
         By any charm of song?
 Else him who knew to call the dead to life[348]
         *Zeus had not sternly checked,                   990
         *As warning unto all;
 But unless Fate, firm-fixed, had barred our fate
 From any chance of succour from the Gods,
         Then had my heart poured forth
         Its thoughts, outstripping speech.[349]
         But now in gloom it wails
         Sore vexed, with little hope
 At any time hereafter fitting end                                  1000
         To find, unravelling,
 My soul within me burning with hot thoughts.

                        _Re-enter_ CLYTÆMNESTRA

 _Clytæm._ [_to_ CASSANDRA, _who has remained in the
 chariot during the choral ode_]
 Thou too—I mean Cassandra—go within;
 Since Zeus hath made it thine, and not in wrath,
 To share the lustral waters in our house,
 Standing with many a slave the altar nigh
 Of Zeus, who guards our goods.[350] Now get thee down
 From out this car, nor look so over proud.
 They say that e'en Alcmena's son endured[351]
 Being sold a slave, constrained to bear the yoke:
 And if the doom of this ill chance should come,
 Great boon it is to meet with lords who own
 Ancestral wealth. But whoso reap full crops                        1010
 They never dared to hope for, these in all,
 And beyond measure, to their slaves are harsh:[352]
 From us thou hast what usage doth prescribe.

 _Chor._ So ends she, speaking words full clear to thee:
 And seeing thou art in the toils of fate,
 If thou obey, thou wilt obey; and yet,
 Perchance, obey thou wilt not.

 _Clytæm._ Nay, but unless she, like a swallow, speaks
 A barbarous tongue unknown, I speaking now
 Within her apprehension, bid obey.                                 1020

 _Chor._ [_to_ CASSANDRA, _still standing motionless_] Go with her. What
    she bids is now the best;
 Obey her: leave thy seat upon this car.

 _Clytæm._ I have no leisure here to stay without:
 For as regards our central altar, there
 The sheep stand by as victims for the fire;
 For never had we hoped such thanks to give:
 If thou wilt do this, make no more delay;
 But if thou understandest not my words,
 Then wave thy foreign hand in lieu of speech.

                                  [CASSANDRA _shudders as in horror, but
                                      makes no sign_

 _Chor._ The stranger seems a clear interpreter
 To need. Her look is like a captured deer's.                       1030

 _Clytæm._ Nay, she is mad, and follows evil thoughts,
 Since, leaving now her city, newly-captured,
 She comes, and knows not how to take the curb,
 Ere she foam out her passion in her blood.
 I will not bear the shame of uttering more.        [_Exit_

 _Chor._ And I—I pity her, and will not rage:
 Come, thou poor sufferer, empty leave thy car;
 Yield to thy doom, and handsel now the yoke.

                              [CASSANDRA _leaves the chariot, and bursts
                                  into a cry of wailing_

                               STROPHE I

 _Cass._ Woe! woe, and well-a-day!
                 Apollo! O Apollo!                                  1040

 _Chor._ Why criest thou so loud on Loxias?
 The wailing cry of mourner suits not him.

                             ANTISTROPHE I

 _Cass._ Woe! woe, and well-a-day!
                 Apollo! O Apollo!

 _Chor._ Again with boding words she calls the God,
 Though all unmeet as helper to men's groans.

                               STROPHE II

 _Cass._ Apollo! O Apollo!
 God of all paths, Apollo true to me;
 For still thou dost appal me and destroy.[353]

 _Chor._ She seems her own ills like to prophesy:            1050
 The God's great gift is in the slave's mind yet.

                             ANTISTROPHE II

 _Cass._ Apollo! O Apollo!
 God of all paths, Apollo true to me;
 What path hast led me? To what roof hast brought?

 _Chor._ To that of the Atreidæ. This I tell,
 If thou know'st not. Thou wilt not find it false.

                              STROPHE III

 _Cass._      Ah! Ah! Ah me!
 Say rather to a house God hates—that knows
         Murder, self-slaughter, ropes,[354]
 *A human shamble, staining earth with blood.            1060

 _Chor._ Keen scented seems this stranger, like a hound,
 And sniffs to see whose murder she may find.

                            ANTISTROPHE III

 _Cass._        Ah! Ah! Ah me!
 Lo! [_looking wildly, and pointing to the house_,] there the witnesses
    whose word I trust,—
         Those babes who wail their death,
 The roasted flesh that made a father's meal.

 _Chor._ We of a truth had heard thy seeress fame,
 But prophets now are not the race we seek.[355]

                               STROPHE IV

 _Cass._ Ah me! O horror! What ill schemes she now?
         What is this new great woe?                                1070
 Great evil plots she in this very house,
 Hard for its friends to bear, immedicable;
         And help stands far aloof.

 _Chor._ These oracles of thine surpass my ken;
 Those I know well. The whole town rings with them.[356]

                             ANTISTROPHE IV

 _Cass._ Ah me! O daring one! what work'st thou here,
         Who having in his bath
 Tended thy spouse, thy lord, then ... How tell the rest?
 For quick it comes, and hand is following hand,
         Stretched out to strike the blow.                          1080

 _Chor._ Still I discern not; after words so dark
 I am perplexed with thy dim oracles.

                               STROPHE V

 _Cass._ Ah, horror, horror! What is this I see?
         Is it a snare of Hell?
 Nay, the true net is she who shares his bed,
         Who shares in working death.
 Ha! let the Band insatiable in hate[357]
 Howl for the race its wild exulting cry
         O'er sacrifice that calls
         For death by storm of stones.

                               STROPHE VI

 _Chor._ What dire Erinnys bidd'st thou o'er our house
 To raise shrill cry? Thy speech but little cheers;
         And to my heart there rush
         Blood-drops of saffron hue,[358]                           1090
         *Which, when from deadly wound
 They fall, together with life's setting rays
 End, as it fails, their own appointed course:
         And mischief comes apace.

                             ANTISTROPHE V

 _Cass._ See, see, I say, from that fell heifer there
         Keep thou the bull:[359] in robes
 Entangling him, she with her weapon gores
         Him with the swarthy horns;[360]
 Lo! in that bath with water filled he falls,
 Smitten to death, and I to thee set forth
         Crime of a bath of blood,
         By murderous guile devised.

                             ANTISTROPHE VI

 _Chor._ I may not boast that I keen insight have
 In words oracular; yet bode I ill.                                 1100
         What tidings good are brought
         By any oracles
         To mortal men? These arts,
         In days of evil sore, with many words,
 Do still but bring a vague, portentous fear
         For men to learn and know.

                              STROPHE VII

 _Cass._ Woe, woe! for all sore ills that fall on me!
 It is my grief thou speak'st of, blending it
         With his.[361] [_Pausing, and then crying out_.]
             Ah! wherefore then
         Hast thou[362] thus brought me here,
         Only to die with thee?
         What other doom is mine?

                              STROPHE VIII

 _Chor._ Frenzied art thou, and by some God's might swayed,  1110
         And utterest for thyself
 A melody which is no melody,
         Like to that tawny one,
         Insatiate in her wail,
 The nightingale, who still with sorrowing soul,
         And “Itys, Itys,” cry,[363]
 Bemoans a life o'erflourishing in ills.

                            ANTISTROPHE VII

 _Cass._ Ah, for the doom of clear-voiced nightingale!
 The Gods gave her a body bearing wings,
         And life of pleasant days
         With no fresh cause to weep:
         But for me waiteth still
         Stroke from the two-edged sword.

                            ANTISTROPHE VIII

 _Chor._ From what source hast thou these dread agonies
         Sent on thee by thy God,
 Yet vague and little meaning; and thy cries                        1120
         Dire with ill-omened shrieks
         Dost utter as a chant,
 And blendest with them strains of shrillest grief?
         Whence treadest thou this track
 Of evil-boding path of prophecy?

                               STROPHE IX

 _Cass._ Woe for the marriage-ties, the marriage-ties
 Of Paris that brought ruin on his friends!
         Woe for my native stream,
         Scamandros, that I loved!
 Once on thy banks my maiden youth was reared,
         (Ah, miserable me!)
 Now by Cokytos and by Acheron's shores
 I seem too likely soon to utter song
         Of wild, prophetic speech.

                               STROPHE X

 _Chor._ What hast thou spoken now
         With utterance all too clear?
 *Even a boy its gist might understand;
         I to the quick am pierced
         With throe of deadly pain,
 Whilst thou thy moaning cries art uttering
         Over thy sore mischance,
         Wondrous for me to hear.

                             ANTISTROPHE IX

 _Cass._ Woe for the toil and trouble, toil and trouble
 Of city that is utterly destroyed!
         Woe for the victims slain
         Of herds that roamed the fields,                           1140
 My father's sacrifice to save his towers!
         No healing charm they brought
 To save the city from its present doom:
 And I with hot thoughts wild myself shall cast
         Full soon upon the ground.

                             ANTISTROPHE X

 _Chor._ This that thou utterest now
         With all before agrees.
 Some Power above dooms thee with purpose ill,
         Down-swooping heavily,
         To utter with thy voice
 Sorrows of deepest woe, and bringing death.
         And what the end shall be
         Perplexes in the extreme.

 _Cass._ Nay, now no more from out of maiden veils
 My oracle shall glance, like bride fresh wed;[364]                 1150
 But seems as though 'twould rush with speedy gales
 In full, clear brightness to the morning dawn;
 So that a greater war than this shall surge
 Like wave against the sunlight.[365] Now I'll teach
 No more in parables. Bear witness ye,
 As running with me, that I scent the track
 Of evil deeds that long ago were wrought:
 For never are they absent from this house,
 That choral band which chants in full accord,
 Yet no good music; good is not their theme.
 And now, as having drunk men's blood,[366] and so
 Grown wilder, bolder, see, the revelling band,                     1160
 Erinnyes of the race, still haunt the halls,
 Not easy to dismiss. And so they sing,
 Close cleaving to the house, its primal woe,[367]
 And vent their loathing in alternate strains
 On marriage-bed of brother ruthless found
 To that defiler. *Miss I now, or hit,
 Like archer skilled? or am I seeress false,
 A babbler vain that knocks at every door?
 Yea, swear beforehand, ere I die, I know
 (And not by rumour only) all the sins
 Of ancient days that haunt and vex this house.

 _Chor._ How could an oath, how firm soe'er confirmed,
 Bring aught of healing? Lo, I marvel at thee,                      1170
 That thou, though born far off beyond the sea,
 Should'st tell an alien city's tale as clear
 As though thyself had stood by all the while.

 _Cass._ The seer Apollo set me to this task.

 _Chor._ Was he a God, so smitten with desire?

 _Cass._ There was a time when shame restrained my speech.

 _Chor._ True; they who prosper still are shy and coy.

 _Cass._ He wrestled hard, breathing hot love on me.

 _Chor._ And were ye one in act whence children spring?

 _Cass._ I promised Loxias, then I broke my vow.

 _Chor._ Wast thou e'en then possessed with arts divine?     1180

 _Cass._ E'en then my country's woes I prophesied.

 _Chor._ How wast thou then unscathed by Loxias' wrath?

 _Cass._ I for that fault with no man gained belief.

 _Chor._ To us, at least, thou seem'st to speak the truth.

 _Cass._ [_Again speaking wildly, as in an ecstasy._] Ah, woe is me!
    Woe's me! Oh, ills on ills!
 Again the dread pang of true prophet's gift
 With preludes of great evil dizzies me.
 See ye those children sitting on the house
 In fashion like to phantom forms of dreams?                        1190
 Infants who perished at their own kin's hands,
 Their palms filled full with meat of their own flesh,
 Loom on my sight, the heart and entrails bearing,
 (A sorry burden that!) on which of old
 Their father fed.[368] And in revenge for this,
 I say a lion, dwelling in his lair,
 With not a spark of courage, stay-at-home,
 Plots 'gainst my master, now he's home returned,
 (Yes mine—for still I must the slave's yoke bear;)
 And the ship's ruler, Ilion's conqueror,
 Knows not what things the tongue of that lewd bitch
 Has spoken and spun out in welcome smooth,                         1200
 And, like a secret Atè, will work out
 With dire success: thus 'tis she plans: the man
 Is murdered by the woman. By what name
 Shall I that loathèd monster rightly call?
 An Amphisbæna? or a Skylla dwelling[369]
 Among the rocks, the sailors' enemy?
 Hades' fierce raging mother, breathing out
 Against her friends a curse implacable?
 Ah, how she raised her cry, (oh, daring one!)
 As for the rout of battle, and she feigns
 To hail with joy her husband's safe return!
 And if thou dost not credit this, what then?
 What will be will. Soon, present, pitying me                       1210
 Thou'lt own I am too true a prophetess.

 _Chor._ Thyestes' banquet on his children's flesh
 I know and shudder at, and fear o'ercomes me,
 Hearing not counterfeits of fact, but truths;
 Yet in the rest I hear and miss my path.

 _Cass._ I say thou'lt witness Agamemnon's death.

 _Chor._ Hush, wretched woman, close those lips of thine!

 _Cass._ For this my speech no healing God's at hand.

 _Chor._ True, if it must be; but may God avert it!          1220

 _Cass._ Thou utterest prayers, but others murder plot.

 _Chor._ And by what man is this dire evil wrought?

 _Cass._ Sure, thou hast seen my bodings all amiss.

 _Chor._ I see not his device who works the deed.

 _Cass._ And yet I speak the Hellenic tongue right well.

 _Chor._ So does the Pythian, yet her words are hard.

 _Cass._ [_In another access of frenzy._] Ah me, this fire!
           It comes upon me now!
 Ah me, Apollo, wolf-slayer! woe is me!
 This biped lioness who takes to bed
 A wolf in absence of the noble lion,                               1230
 Will slay me, wretched me. And, as one
 Mixing a poisoned draught, she boasts that she
 Will put my price into her cup of wrath,
 Sharpening her sword to smite her spouse with death,
 So paying him for bringing me. Oh, why
 Do I still wear what all men flout and scorn,
 My wand and seeress wreaths around my neck?[370]
 Thee, ere myself I die I will destroy: [_breaks her wand_]
 Perish ye thus: [_casting off her wreaths_] I soon shall follow you:
 Make rich another Atè[371] in my place;
 Behold Apollo's self is stripping me                               1240
 Of my divining garments, and that too,
 When he has seen me even in this garb
 Scorned without cause among my friends and kin,
 *By foes, with no diversity of mood.
 Reviled as vagrant, wandering prophetess,
 Poor, wretched, famished, I endured to live:
 And now the Seer who me a seeress made
 Hath brought me to this lot of deadly doom.
 Now for my father's altar there awaits me
 A butcher's block, where I am smitten down
 By slaughtering stroke, and with hot gush of blood.
 But the Gods will not slight us when we're dead;                   1250
 Another yet shall come as champion for us,
 A son who slays his mother, to avenge
 His father; and the exiled wanderer
 Far from his home, shall one day come again,
 Upon these woes to set the coping-stone:
 For the high Gods have sworn a mighty oath,
 His father's fall, laid low, shall bring him back.
 Why then do I thus groan in this new home,[372]
 When, to begin with, Ilion's town I saw
 Faring as it did fare, and they who held
 That town are gone by judgment of the Gods?                        1260
 I too will fare as they, and venture death:
 So I these gates of Hades now address,
 And pray for blow that bringeth death at once,
 That so with no fierce spasm, while the blood
 Flows in calm death, I then may close mine eyes.

                                  [_Goes towards the door of the palace_

 _Chor._ O thou most wretched, yet again most wise:
 Long hast thou spoken, lady, but if well
 Thou know'st thy doom, why to the altar go'st thou,
 Like heifer driven of God, so confidently?[373]                    1270

 _Cass._ For me, my friends, there is no time to 'scape.[374]

 _Chor._ Yea; but he gains in time who comes the last.

 _Cass._ The day is come: small gain for me in flight.

 _Chor._ Know then thou sufferest with a heart full brave.

 _Cass._ Such words as these the happy never hear.

 _Chor._ Yet mortal man may welcome noble death.

 _Cass._ [_Shrinking back from opening the door._] Woe's me for thee and
    thy brave sons, my father![375]

 _Chor._ What cometh now? What fear oppresseth thee?

 _Cass._ [_Again going to the door and then shuddering in another burst
    of frenzy._] Fie on't, fie!

 _Chor._ Whence comes this “Fie?” unless from mind that loathes?

 _Cass._ The house is tainted with the scent of death.       1280

 _Chor._ How so? This smells of victims on the hearth.

 _Cass._ Nay, it is like the blast from out a grave.

 _Chor._ No Syrian ritual tell'st thou for our house.[376]

 _Cass._ Well then I go, and e'en within will wail
 My fate and Agamemnon's. And for me,
 Enough of life. Ah, friends! Ah! not for nought
 I shrink in fear, as bird shrinks from the brake.[377]
 When I am dead do ye this witness bear,
 When in revenge for me, a woman, Death
 A woman smites, and man shall fall for man                         1290
 In evil wedlock wed. This friendly office,
 As one about to die, I pray you do me.

 _Chor._ Thy doom foretold, poor sufferer, moves my pity.

 _Cass._ I fain would speak once more, yet not to wail
 Mine own death-song; but to the Sun I pray,
 To his last rays, that my avengers wreak
 Upon my hated murderers judgment due
 For me, who die a slave's death, easy prey.
 Ah, life of man! when most it prospereth,
 *It is but limned in outline;[378] and when brought
 To low estate, then doth the sponge, full soaked,                  1300
 Wipe out the picture with its frequent touch:
 And this I count more piteous e'en than that.[379]

                              [_Passes through the door into the palace_

 _Chor._ 'Tis true of all men that they never set
 A limit to good fortune; none doth say,
         As bidding it depart,
 *And warding it from palaces of pride,
         “Enter thou here no more.”
 To this our lord the Blest Ones gave to take
         Priam's city; and he comes
 Safe to his home and honoured by the Gods;
         But if he now shall pay
 The forfeit of blood-guiltiness of old,
 And, dying, so work out for those who died,
 By his own death another penalty,                                  1310
         Who then of mortal men,
         Hearing such things as this,
         Can boast that he was born
         With fate from evil free?

 _Agam._ [_from within._] Ah, me! I am struck down with deadly stroke.

 _Chor._ Hush! who cries out with deadly stroke sore smitten?

 _Agam._ Ah me, again! struck down a second time!


 _Chor._ By the king's groans I judge the deed is done;
 But let us now confer for counsels safe.[380]

 _Chor. a._ I give you my advice to summon here,
 Here to the palace, all the citizens.                              1320

 _Chor. b._ I think it best to rush at once on them,
 And take them in the act with sword yet wet.

 _Chor. c._ And I too give like counsel, and I vote
 For deed of some kind. 'Tis no time to pause.

 _Chor. d._ Who will see, may.—They but the prelude work
 Of tyranny usurped o'er all the State.

 _Chor. e._ Yes, we are slow, but they who trample down
 The thought of hesitation slumber not.

 _Chor. f._ I know not what advice to find or speak:
 He who can act knows how to counsel too.                           1330

 _Chor. g._ I too think with thee; for I have no hope
 With words to raise the dead again to life.

 _Chor. h._ What! Shall we drag our life on and submit
 To these usurpers that defile the house?

 _Chor. i._ Nay, that we cannot bear: To die were better;
 For death is gentler far than tyranny.

 _Chor. k._ Shall we upon this evidence of groans
 Guess, as divining that our lord is dead?

 _Chor. l._ When we know clearly, then should we discuss:
 To guess is one thing, and to know another.                        1340

 _Chor._[381] So vote I too, and on the winning side,
 Taking the votes all round that we should learn
 How he, the son of Atreus, fareth now.

  _Enter_ CLYTÆMNESTRA _from the palace, in robes with stains of blood,
        followed by soldiers and attendants. The open doors show the
        corpses of_ AGAMEMNON _and_ CASSANDRA, _the former lying in a
        silvered bath_

 _Clytæm._ Though many words before to suit the time
 Were spoken, now I shall not be ashamed
 The contrary to utter: How could one
 By open show of enmity to foes
 Who seemed as friends, fence in the snares of death
 Too high to be o'erleapt? But as for me,
 Not without forethought for this long time past,
 This conflict comes to me from triumph old[382]
 Of his, though slowly wrought. I stand where I                     1350
 Did smite him down, with all my task well done.
 So did I it, (the deed deny I not,)
 That he could nor avert his doom nor flee:
 I cast around him drag-net as for fish,
 With not one outlet, evil wealth of robe:
 And twice I smote him, and with two deep groans
 He dropped his limbs: And when he thus fell down
 I gave him yet a third, thank-offering true[383]
 To Hades of the dark, who guards the dead.
 So fallen, he gasps out his struggling soul,
 And breathing forth a sharp, quick gush of blood,
 He showers dark drops of gory rain on me,                          1360
 Who no less joy felt in them than the corn,
 When the blade bears, in glad shower given of God.
 Since this is so, ye Argive elders here,
 Ye, as ye will, may hail the deed, but I
 Boast of it. And were't fitting now to pour
 Libation o'er the dead,[384] 'twere justly done,
 Yea more than justly; such a goblet full,
 Of ills hath he filled up with curses dire
 At home, and now has come to drain it off.

 _Chor._ We marvel at the boldness of thy tongue             1370
 Who o'er thy husband's corpse speak'st vaunt like this.

 _Clytæm._ Ye test me as a woman weak of mind;
 But I with dauntless heart to you that know
 Say this, and whether thou dost praise or blame,
 Is all alike:—here Agamemnon lies,
 My husband, now a corpse, of this right hand,
 As artist just, the handiwork: so stands it.


 _Chor._ What evil thing, O Queen, or reared on earth,
         Or draught from salt sea-wave                              1380
         Hast thou fed on, to bring
         Such incense on thyself,[385]
         A people's loud-voiced curse?
         'Twas thou did'st sentence him,
         'Twas thou did'st strike him down;
         But thou shall exiled be,
     Hated with strong hate of the citizens.

 _Clytæm._ Ha! now on me thou lay'st the exile's doom,
 My subjects' hate, and people's loud-voiced curse,
 Though ne'er did'st thou oppose my husband there,
 Who, with no more regard than had been due
 To a brute's death, although he called his own
 Full many a fleecy sheep in pastures bred,
 Yet sacrificed his child, the dear-loved fruit                     1390
 Of all my travail-pangs, to be a charm
 Against the winds of Thrakia. Shouldst thou not
 Have banished him from out this land of ours,
 As meed for all his crimes? Yet hearing now
 My deeds, thou art a judge full stern. But I
 Tell thee to speak thy threats, as knowing well
 I am prepared that thou on equal terms
 Should'st rule, if thou dost conquer. But if God
 Should otherwise decree, then thou shall learn,
 Late though it be, the lesson to be wise.


 _Chor._ Yea, thou art stout of heart, and speak'st big words;1400
         And maddened is thy soul
         As by a murderous hate;
         And still upon thy brow
         Is seen, not yet avenged,
         The stain of blood-spot foul;
         And yet it needs must be,
         One day thou, reft of friends,
 Shall pay the penalty of blow for blow.

 _Clytæm._ Now hear thou too my oaths of solemn dread:
 By my accomplished vengeance for my child,
 By Atè and Erinnys, unto whom
 I slew him as a victim, I look not
 That fear should come beneath this roof of mine,
 So long as on my hearth Ægisthos kindles                           1410
 The flaming fire, as well disposed to me
 As he hath been aforetime. He to us
 Is no slight shield of stoutest confidence.
 There lies he, [_pointing to the corpse of_ AGAMEMNON,] one who foully
    wronged his wife,
 The darling of the Chryseïds at Troïa;
 And there [_pointing to_ CASSANDRA] this captive slave, this auguress,
 His concubine, this seeress trustworthy,
 *Who shared his bed, and yet was as well known
 To the sailors as their benches!... They have fared
 Not otherwise than they deserved: for he
 Lies as you see. And she who, like a swan,[386]
 Has chanted out her last and dying song,                           1420
 Lies close to him she loved, and so has brought
 The zest of a new pleasure to my bed.

                             STROPHE I[387]

 _Chor._ Ah me, would death might come
 Quickly, with no sharp throe of agony,
         Nor long bed-ridden pain,
         Bringing the endless sleep;
 Since he, the watchman most benign of all,
         Hath now been smitten low,
 And by a woman's means hath much endured,
 And at a woman's hand hath lost his life!

                               STROPHE II

 Alas! alas! O Helen, evil-souled,                                  1430
         Who, though but one, hast slain
 Many, yea, very many lives at Troïa.[388]
        ·      ·       ·       ·       ·

                              STROPHE III

 *But now for blood that may not be washed out
         *Thou hast to full bloom brought
 *A deed of guilt for ever memorable,
         For strife was in the house,
         Wrought out in fullest strength,
         Woe for a husband's life.

                               STROPHE IV

 _Clytæm._ Nay, pray not thou for destiny of death,
         Oppressed with what thou see'st;
 Nor turn thou against Helena thy wrath,                            1440
         As though she murderess were,
 And, though but one, had many Danaï's souls
 Brought low in death, and wrought o'erwhelming woe.

                             ANTISTROPHE I

 _Chor._ O Power that dost attack
 Our palace and the two Tantalidæ,[389]
         *And dost through women wield
         *A might that grieves my heart![390]
 And o'er the body, like a raven foul,
         Against all laws of right,
 *Standing, she boasteth in her pride of heart[391]
 That she can chant her pæan hymn of praise.                        1450

                             ANTISTROPHE IV

 _Clytæm._ Now thou dost guide aright thy speech and thought,
         Invoking that dread Power,
 *The thrice-gorged evil genius of this house;
         For he it is who feeds
 In the heart's depth the raging lust of blood:
 Ere the old wound is healed, new bloodshed comes.

                               STROPHE V

 _Chor._ Yes, of a Power thou tell'st
 *Mighty and very wrathful to this house;
 Ah me! ah me! an evil tale enough                                  1460
         Of baleful chance of doom,
         Insatiable of ill:
         Yet, ah! it is through Zeus,
 The all-appointing and all-working One;
         For what with mortal men
         Is wrought apart from Zeus?
 What of all this is not by God decreed?[392]

                               STROPHE VI

         Ah me! ah me!
 My king, my king, how shall I weep for thee?
 What shall I speak from heart that truly loves?
 And now thou liest there, breathing out thy life,                  1470
         In impious deed of death,
         In this fell spider's web,—

                              STROPHE VII

         (Yes, woe is me! woe, woe!
 Woe for this couch of thine dishonourable!)—
         Slain by a subtle death,[393]
 With sword two-edged which her right hand did wield.

                              STROPHE VIII

 _Clytæm._ Thou speak'st big words, as if the deed were mine;
         Yet think thou not of me,
         As Agamemnon's spouse;
 But in the semblance of this dead man's wife,
 The old and keen Avenger of the house
 Of Atreus, that cruel banqueter of old,
         Hath wrought out vengeance full
         On him who lieth here,                                     1480
         And full-grown victim slain
         Over the younger victims of the past.[394]

                             ANTISTROPHE V

 _Chor._ That thou art guiltless found
 Of this foul murder who will witness bear?
 How can it be so, how? And yet, perchance,
         As helper to the deed,
         Might come the avenging Fiend
         Of that ancestral time;
 And in this rush of murders of near kin
         Dark Ares presses on,
         Where he will vengeance work
 For clotted gore of children slain as food.                        1490

                             ANTISTROPHE VI

         Ah me! ah me!
 My king, my king, how shall I weep for thee?
 What shall I speak from heart that truly loves?
 And now thou liest there, breathing out thy life,
         In impious deed of death,
         In this fell spider's web,—

                            ANTISTROPHE VII

         (Yes, woe is me! woe, woe!
 Woe for this couch of thine dishonourable!)—
         Slain by a subtle death,
 With sword two-edged which her right hand did wield.

                            ANTISTROPHE VIII

 _Clytæm._ Nay, not dishonourable
         His death doth seem to me:
         Did he not work a doom,
         In this our house with guile?[395]                         1500
 Mine own dear child, begotten of this man,
 Iphigeneia, wept with many a tear,
 He slew; now slain himself in recompense,
         Let him not boast in Hell,
         Since he the forfeit pays,
         Pierced by the sword in death,
 For all the evil that his hand began.

                               STROPHE IX

 _Chor._ I stand perplexed in soul, deprived of power
         Of quick and ready thought,
         Where now to turn, since thus                              1510
         Our home is falling low.
 I shrink in fear from the fierce pelting storm
 Of blood that shakes the basement of the house:
         No more it rains in drops:
 And for another deed of mischief dire,
         Fate whets the righteous doom
         On other whetstones still.

                             ANTISTROPHE II

 O Earth! O Earth! Oh, would thou had'st received me,
         Ere I saw him on couch
 Of bath with silvered walls thus stretched in death!
 Who now will bury him, who wail? Wilt thou,
 When thou hast slain thy husband, have the heart                   1520
 To mourn his death, and for thy monstrous deeds
 Do graceless grace? And who will chant the dirge
         With tears in truth of heart,
         Over our godlike chief?

                               STROPHE X

 _Clytæm._ It is not thine to speak;
         'Twas at our hands he fell,
         Yea, he fell low in death,
         And we will bury him,                                      1530
 Not with the bitter tears of those who weep
         As inmates of the house;
 But she, his child, Iphigeneia, there
 Shall meet her father, and with greeting kind,
 E'en as is fit, by that swift-flowing ford,
         Dark stream of bitter woes,
         Shall clasp him in her arms,
         And give a daughter's kiss.

                             ANTISTROPHE IX

 _Chor._ Lo! still reproach upon reproach doth come;
         Hard are these things to judge:
         The spoiler still is spoiled,
         The slayer pays his debt;
 Yea, while Zeus liveth through the ages, this                      1540
 Lives also, that the doer dree his weird;
         For this is law fast fixed.
 Who now can drive from out the kingly house
         The brood of curses dark?
         The race to Atè cleaves.

                             ANTISTROPHE X

 _Clytæm._ Yes, thou hast touched with truth
         That word oracular;
         But I for my part wish,
         (Binding with strongest oath
 The evil dæmon of the Pleisthenids,)[396]
         Though hard it be to bear,
 To rest content with this our present lot;
 And, for the future, that he go to vex
 Another race with homicidal deaths.                                1550
         Lo! 'tis enough for me,
         Though small my share of wealth,
         At last to have freed my house
 From madness that sets each man's hand 'gainst each.

                            _Enter_ ÆGISTHOS

 _Ægis._ Hail, kindly light of day that vengeance brings!
 Now I can say the Gods on high look down,
 Avenging men, upon the woes of earth,
 Since lying in the robes the Erinnyes wove
 I see this man, right welcome sight to me,
 Paying for deeds his father's hand had wrought.                    1560
 Atreus, our country's ruler, this man's father,
 Drove out my sire Thyestes, his own brother,
 (To tell the whole truth,) quarrelling for rule,
 An exile from his country and his home.
 And coming back a suppliant on the hearth,
 The poor Thyestes found a lot secure,
 Nor did he, dying, stain the soil with blood,
 There in his home. But this man's godless sire,[397]
 Atreus, more prompt than kindly in his deeds,
 On plea of keeping festal day with cheer,
 To my sire banquet gave of children's flesh,                       1570
 His own. The feet and finger-tips of hands
 *He, sitting at the top, apart concealed;
 And straight the other, in his blindness taking
 The parts that could not be discerned, did eat
 A meal which, as thou see'st, perdition works
 For all his kin. And learning afterwards
 The deed of dread, he groaned and backward fell,
 Vomits the feast of blood, and imprecates
 On Pelops' sons a doom intolerable,
 And makes the o'erturning of the festive board,
 With fullest justice, as a general curse,
 That so might fall the race of Pleisthenes.                        1580
 And now thou see'st how here accordingly
 This man lies fallen; I, of fullest right,
 The weaver of the plot of murderous doom.
 For me, a babe in swaddling-clothes, he banished
 With my poor father, me, his thirteenth child;
 And Vengeance brought me back, of full age grown:
 And e'en far off I wrought against this man,
 And planned the whole scheme of this dark device.
 And so e'en death were now right good for me,
 Seeing him into the nets of Vengeance fallen.

 _Chor._ I honour not this arrogance in guilt,               1590
 Ægisthos. Thou confessest thou hast slain
 Of thy free will our chieftain here,—that thou
 Alone did'st plot this murder lamentable;
 Be sure, I say, thy head shall not escape
 The righteous curse a people hurls with stones.

 _Ægisth._ Dost thou say this, though seated on the bench
 Of lowest oarsmen, while the upper row
 Commands the ship?[398] But thou shalt find, though old,
 How hard it is at such an age to learn,
 When the word is, “keep temper.” But a prison
 And fasting pains are admirably apt,                               1600
 As prophet-healers even for old age.
 Dost see, and not see this? Against the pricks
 Kick not,[399] lest thou perchance should'st smart for it.

 _Chor._ Thou, thou, O Queen, when thy lord came from war,
 While keeping house, thy husband's bed defiling,
 Did'st scheme this death for this our hero-chief.

 _Ægisth._ These words of thine shall parents prove of tears:
 But this thy tongue is Orpheus' opposite;
 He with his voice led all things on for joy,
 But thou, provoking with thy childish cries,
 Shalt now be led; and then, being kept in check,
 Thou shall appear in somewhat gentler mood.                        1610

 _Chor._ As though thou should'st o'er Argives ruler be,
 Who even when thou plotted'st this man's death
 Did'st lack good heart to do the deed thyself?

 _Ægisth._ E'en so; to work this fraud was clearly part
 Fit for a woman. I was foe, of old
 Suspected. But now will I with his wealth
 See whether I his subjects may command,
 And him who will not hearken I will yoke
 In heavy harness as a full-fed colt,
 Nowise as trace-horse;[400] but sharp hunger joined
 With darksome dungeon shall behold him tamed.                      1620

 _Chor._ Why did'st not thou then, coward as thou art,
 Thyself destroy him? but a woman with thee,
 Pollution to our land and our land's Gods,
 She slew him. Does Orestes see the light,
 Perchance, that he, brought back by Fortune's grace,
 May for both these prove slayer strong to smite?

 _Ægisth._ Well, since thou think'st to act, not merely talk,
 Thou shall know clearly....

                                   [_Calling his Guards from the palace_

 On then, my troops, the time for deeds is come.

 _Chor._ On then, let each man grasp his sword in hand.

 _Ægisth._ With sword in hand, I too shrink not from death.  1630

 _Chor._ Thou talkest of thy death; we hail the word;
 And make our own the fortune it implies.

 _Clytæm._ Nay, let us not do other evil deeds,
 Thou dearest of all friends. An ill-starred harvest
 It is to have reaped so many. Enough of woe:
 Let no more blood be shed: Go thou—[_to the Chorus_]—go ye,
 Ye aged sires, to your allotted homes,
 Ere ye do aught amiss and dree your weird:
 *This that we have done ought to have sufficed;
 But should it prove we've had enough of ills,
 We will accept it gladly, stricken low
 In evil doom by heavy hand of God.
 This is a woman's counsel, if there be
 That deigns to hear it.

 _Ægisth._ But that these should fling
 The blossoms of their idle speech at me,                           1640
 And utter words like these, so tempting Fate,
 And fail of counsel wise, and flout their master...!

 _Chor._ It suits not Argives on the vile to fawn.

 _Ægisth._ Be sure, hereafter I will hunt thee down.

 _Chor._ Not so, if God should guide Orestes back.

 _Ægisth._ Right well I know how exiles feed on hopes.

 _Chor._ Prosper, wax fat, do foul wrong—'tis thy day.

 _Ægisth._ Know thou shalt pay full price for this thy folly.

 _Chor._ Be bold, and boast, like cock beside his mate.

 _Clytæm._ Nay, care not thou for these vain howlings; I
 And thou together, ruling o'er the house,
 Will settle all things rightly.             [_Exeunt_


Footnote 271:

  The form of gambling from which the phrase is taken, had clearly
  become common in Attica among the class to which the watchman was
  supposed to belong, and had given rise to proverbial phrases like that
  in the text. The Greeks themselves supposed it to have been invented
  by the Lydians (Herod. i. 94), or Palamedes, one of the heroes of the
  tale of Troïa, but it enters also into Egyptian legends (Herod. ii.
  122), and its prevalence from remote antiquity in the farther East, as
  in the Indian story of Nala and Damayanti, makes it probable that it
  originated there. The game was commonly played, as the phrase shows,
  with three dice, the highest throw being that which gave three sixes.
  Æschylos, it may be noted, appears in a lost drama, which bore the
  title of _Palamedes_, to have brought the game itself into his plot.
  It is referred to, as invented by that hero, in a fragment of
  Sophocles (_Fr._ 380), and again in the proverb,—

         “The dice of Zeus have ever lucky throws.”—(_Fr._ 763.)

Footnote 272:

  Here, also, the watchman takes up another common proverbial phrase,
  belonging to the same group as that of “kicking against the pricks” in
  v. 1624. He has his reasons for silence, weighty as would be the tread
  of an ox to close his lips.

Footnote 273:

  The vultures stand, _i.e._, to the rulers of Heaven, in the same
  relation as the foreign sojourners in Athens, the _Metoics_, did to
  the citizens under whose protection they placed themselves.

Footnote 274:

  Alexandros, the other name of Paris, the seducer of Helen.

Footnote 275:

  The words, perhaps, refer to the grief of Menelaos, as leading him to
  neglect the wonted sacrifices to Zeus, but it seems better to see in
  them a reference to the sin of Paris. He, at least, who had carried
  off his host's wife, had not offered acceptable sacrifices, had
  neglected all sacrifices to Zeus Xenios, the God of host and guest.
  The allusion to the sacrifice of Iphigeneia, which some (Donaldson and
  Paley) have found here, and the wrath of Clytæmnestra, which Agamemnon
  will fail to soothe, seems more far-fetched.

Footnote 276:

  An allusion, such as the audience would catch and delight in, to the
  well-known enigma of the Sphinx. See Sophocles (_Trans._), p. 1.

Footnote 277:

  The Chorus, though too old to take part in the expedition, are yet
  able to tell both of what passed as the expedition started, and of the
  terrible fulfilment of the omens which they had seen. The two eagles
  are, of course, in the symbolism of prophecy, the two chieftains,
  Menelaos and Agamemnon. The “white feathers” of the one may point to
  the less heroic character of Menelaos: so in v. 123, they are of
  “diverse mood.” The hare whom they devour is, in the first instance,
  Troïa, and so far the omen is good, portending the success of the
  expedition; but, as Artemis hates the fierceness of the eagles, so
  there is, in the eyes of the seer, a dark token of danger from her
  wrath against the Atreidæ. Either their victory will be sullied by
  cruelty which will bring down vengeance, or else there is some secret
  sin in the past which must be atoned for by a terrible sacrifice. In
  the legend followed by Sophocles (_Electr._ 566), Agamemnon had
  offended Artemis by slaying a doe sacred to her, as he was hunting. In
  the manifold meanings of such omens there is, probably, a latent
  suggestion of the sacrifice of Iphigeneia by the two chieftains,
  though this was at the time hidden from the seer. The fact that they
  are seen on the right, not on the left hand, was itself ominous of

Footnote 278:

  The song of Linos, originally the dirge with which men mourned for the
  death of Linos, the minstrel-son of Apollo and Urania, brother of
  Orpheus, who was slain by Heracles—a type, like Thammuz and Adonis, of
  life prematurely closed and bright hopes never to be fulfilled,—had
  come to be the representative of all songs of mourning. So Hesiod (in
  Eustath. on Hom. _Il._, vii. 569) speaks of the name, as applied to
  all funeral dirges over poets and minstrels. So Herodotos (ii. 79)
  compares it, as the type of this kind of music among the Greeks, with
  what he found in Egypt connected with the name of Maneros, the only
  son of the first king of Egypt, who died in the bloom of youth. The
  name had, therefore, as definite a connotation for a Greek audience as
  the words _Miserere_ or _Jubilate_ would have for us, and ought not, I
  believe, to disappear from the translation.

Footnote 279:

  The comparison of a lion's whelps to dew-drops, bold as the figure is,
  has something in it analogous to that with which we are more familiar,
  describing the children, or the army of a king, as the “dew” from “the
  womb of the morning” (Ps. cx. 3).

Footnote 280:

  The sacrifice, _i.e._, was to be such as could not, according to the
  customary ritual, form a feast for the worshippers.

Footnote 281:

  The dark words look at once before and after, back to the murder of
  the sons of Thyestes, forward, though of this the seer knew not, to
  the sacrifice of Iphigeneia. Clytæmnestra is the embodiment of the
  Vengeance of which the Chorus speaks.

Footnote 282:

  As a part of the drama the whole passage that follows is an assertion
  by the Chorus that in this their trouble they will turn to no other
  God, invoke no other name, but that of the Supreme Zeus. But it can
  hardly be doubted that they have a meaning beyond this, and are the
  utterance by the poet of his own theology. In the second part of the
  Promethean trilogy (all that we now know of it) he had represented
  Zeus as ruling in the might of despotic sovereignty, the
  representative of a Power which men could not resist, but also could
  not love, inflicting needless sufferings on the sons of men. Now he
  has grown wiser. The sovereignty of Zeus is accepted as part of the
  present order of the world; trust in Him brings peace; the pain which
  He permits is the one only way to wisdom. The stress laid upon the
  name of Zeus implies a wish to cleave to the religion inherited from
  the older Hellenes, as contrasted with those with which their
  intercourse with the East had made the Athenians familiar. Like the
  voice which came to Epimenides, as he was building a sanctuary to the
  Muses, bidding him dedicate it not to them but to Zeus (Diog. Laert.
  i. 10), it represents a faint approximation to a truer, more
  monotheistic creed than that of the popular mythology.

Footnote 283:

  The two mighty ones who have passed away are Uranos and Cronos, the
  representatives in Greek mythology of the earlier stages of the
  world's history, (1) mere material creation, (2) an ideal period of
  harmony, a golden, Saturnian age, preceding the present order of
  divine government with its mingled good and evil. Comp. Hesiod.
  _Theogon._, 459.

Footnote 284:

  The Chorus returns, after its deeper speculative thoughts, to its
  interrupted narrative.

Footnote 285:

  The seer saw his augury fulfilled. When he uttered the name of Artemis
  it was pregnant with all the woe which he had foreboded at the outset.

Footnote 286:

  So that the blood may fall upon the altar, as the knife was drawn
  across the throat.

Footnote 287:

  The whole passage should be compared with the magnificent description
  in Lucretius i. 84-101.

Footnote 288:

  Beautiful as a picture, and as motionless and silent also. The art,
  young as it was, had already reached the stage when it supplied to the
  poet an ideal standard of perfection. Other allusions to it are found
  in vv. 774, 1300.

Footnote 289:

  The words point to the ritual of Greek feasts, which assigned the
  first libation to Zeus and the Olympian Gods, the second to the
  Heroes, the third to Zeus in his special character as Saviour and
  Preserver; the last was commonly accompanied by a pæan, hymn of
  praise. The life of Agamemnon is described as one which had good cause
  to offer many such libations. Iphigeneia had sung many such pæans.

Footnote 290:

  The mythical explanation of this title for the Argive territory is
  found in the _Suppl._ v. 256, and its real meaning is discussed in a
  note to that passage.

Footnote 291:

  To speak of Morning as the child of Night was, we may well believe,
  among the earliest parables of nature. In its mythical form it appears
  in Hesiod (_Theogon._ 123), but its traces are found wherever, as
  among Hebrews, Athenians, Germans, men reckoned by nights rather than
  by days, and spoke of “the evening and the morning” rather than of
  “day and night.”

Footnote 292:

  The God thought of is, as in v. 272, Hephæstos, as being Lord of the
  Fire, that had brought the tidings.

Footnote 293:

  It is not without significance that Clytæmnestra scorns the channel of
  divine instruction of which the Chorus had spoken with such reverence.
  The dramatist puts into her mouth the language of those who scoffed at
  the notion that truth might come to the soul in “visions of the
  night,” when “deep sleep falleth upon men.” So Sophocles puts like
  thoughts into the mouth of Jocasta (_Œd. King_, vv. 709, 858).

Footnote 294:

  Omens came from the flight of birds. An omen which was not
  trustworthy, or belonged to some lower form of divination, might
  therefore be spoken of as “wingless.” But the word may possibly be
  intensive, not negative, “swift-winged,” and then refer generically to
  that form of divination.

Footnote 295:

  The description that follows, over and above its general interest,
  had, probably, for an Athenian audience, that of representing the
  actual succession of beacon-stations, by which they, in the course of
  the wars, under Pericles, had actually received intelligence from the
  coasts of Asia. A glance at the map will show the fitness of the
  places named—Ida, Lemnos, Athos, Makistos (a mountain in Eubœa),
  Messapion (on the coast of Bœotia), over the plains of the Asôpos to
  Kithæron, in the south of the same province, then over Gorgopis, a bay
  of the Corinthian Gulf, to Ægiplanctos in Megaris, then across to a
  headland overlooking the Saronic Gulf, to the Arachnæan hill in
  Argolis. The word “_courier_-fire” connects itself also with the
  system of posts or messengers, which the Persian kings seem to have
  been the first to organise, and which impressed the minds both of
  Hebrews (Esth. viii. 14) and Greeks (Herod. viii. 98) by their regular
  transmission of the king's edicts, or of special news.

Footnote 296:

  Our ignorance of the details of the _Lampadephoria_, or “torch-race
  games,” in honour of the fire-God, Prometheus, makes the allusion to
  them somewhat obscure. As described by Pausanias (I. xxx. 2), the
  runners started with lighted torches from the altar of Prometheus in
  the Academeia and ran towards the city. The first who reached the goal
  with his torch still burning became the winner. If all the torches
  were extinguished, then all were losers. As so described, however,
  there is no succession, no taking the torch from one and passing it on
  to another, like that described here and in the well-known line of
  Lucretius (ii. 78),

             “Et quasi cursores vitaï lampada tradunt.”
             (And they, as runners, pass the torch of life.)

  On the other hand, there are descriptions which show that such a
  transfer was the chief element of the game. This is, indeed, implied
  both in this passage and in the comparison between the game and the
  Persian courier-system in Herod. viii. 98. The two views may be
  reconciled by supposing (1) that there were sets of runners, vying
  with each other as such, rather than individually, or (2) that a
  runner whose speed failed him though his torch kept burning, was
  allowed to hand it on to another who was more likely to win the race,
  but whose torch was out. The next line seems meant to indicate where
  the comparison failed. In the torch-race which Clytæmnestra describes
  there had been no contest. One and the self-same fire (the idea of
  succession passing into that of continuity) had started and had
  reached the goal, and so had won the prize. An alternative rendering
  would be,—

             “He wins who is first in, though starting last.”

Footnote 297:

  The complete foot-race was always to the column which marked the end
  of the course, round it, and back again. In getting to Troïa,
  therefore, but half the race was done.

Footnote 298:

  Dramatically the words refer to the practical impiety of evildoers
  like Paris, with, perhaps, a half-latent allusion to that of
  Clytæmnestra. But it can hardly be doubted that for the Athenian
  audience it would have a more special significance, as a protest
  against the growing scepticism, what in a later age would have been
  called the Epicureanism, of the age of Pericles. It is the assertion
  of the belief of Æschylos in the moral government of the world. The
  very vagueness of the singular, “One there was,” would lead the
  hearers to think of some teacher like Anaxagoras, whom they suspected
  of Atheism.

Footnote 299:

  The Chorus sees in the overthrow of Troïa, an instance of this
  righteous retribution. The audience were, perhaps, intended to think
  also of the punishment which had fallen on the Persians for the
  sacrilegious acts of their fathers. The “things inviolable” are the
  sanctities of the ties of marriage and hospitality, both of which
  Paris had set at nought.

Footnote 300:

  Here, and again in v. 612, we have a similitude drawn from the
  metallurgy of Greek artists. Good bronze, made of copper and tin,
  takes the green rust which collectors prize, but when rubbed, the
  brightness reappears. If zinc be substituted for tin, as in our brass,
  or mixed largely with it, the surface loses its polish, oxidizes and
  becomes black. It is, however, doubtful whether this combination of
  metals was at the time in use, and the words may simply refer to
  different degrees of excellence in bronze properly so called.

Footnote 301:

  In a corrupt passage like this, the text of which has been so
  variously restored and rendered, it may be well to give at least one
  alternative version:

              “There stands she silent, with no honour met,
                  Nor yet with words of scorn,
              Sweetest to see of all that he has lost.”

  The words, as so taken, refer to the vision of Helen, described in the
  lines that follow. Another, for the line “In deepest woe,” &c., ...
  would give,

               “Believing not he sees the lost one there.”

Footnote 302:

  The art of Pheidias had already made it natural at Athens to speak of
  kings as decorating their palaces with the life-size busts or statues
  of those they loved.

Footnote 303:

  Here again one may note a protest against the aggressive policy of
  Pericles, an assertion of the principle that a nation should be
  content with independence, without aiming at supremacy.

Footnote 304:

  Perhaps passively, “Soon suffers trespassers.”

Footnote 305:

  As the play opens on the morning of the day on which Troïa was taken,
  and now we have the arrivals, first, of the herald, and then of
  Agamemnon, after the capture has been completed, and the spoil
  divided, and the fleet escaped a storm, an interval of some days must
  be supposed between the two parts of the play, the imaginary law of
  the unities notwithstanding.

Footnote 306:

  The customary adornment of heralds who brought good news. Comp.
  Sophocles, _Œd. K._ v. 83. The custom prevailed for many centuries,
  and is recognised by Dante, _Purg._ ii. 70, as usual in his time in

Footnote 307:

  So in the _Seven against Thebes_ (v. 494), smoke is called “the sister
  of fire.”

Footnote 308:

  A probable reference, not only to the story, but to the actual words
  of Homer, _Il._ i. 45-52.

Footnote 309:

  Specially the Dioscuri, Castor and Polydeukes.

Footnote 310:

  Such a position (especially in the case of Zeus or Apollo) was common
  in the temples both of Greece and Rome, and had a very obvious
  signification. As the play was performed, the actual hour of the day
  probably coincided with that required by the dramatic sequence of
  events, and the statues of the Gods were so placed on the stage as to
  catch the rays of the morning sun when the herald entered. Hence the
  allusion to the bright “cheerful glances” would have a visible as well
  as ethical fitness.

Footnote 311:

  It formed part of the guilt of Paris, that, besides his seduction of
  Helena, he had carried off part of the treasures of Menelaos.

Footnote 312:

  The idea of a payment twofold the amount of the wrong done, as a
  complete satisfaction to the sufferer, was common in the early
  jurisprudence both of Greeks and Hebrews (Exod. xxii. 4-7). In some
  cases it was even more, as in the four or fivefold restitution of
  Exod. xxii. 1. In the grand opening of Isaiah's message of glad
  tidings the fact that Jerusalem has received “double for all her sins”
  is made the ground on the strength of which she may now hope for
  pardon. Comp. also Isa. lxi. 7; Zech. ix. 12.

Footnote 313:


             “Full hardly, and the close and crowded decks.”

Footnote 314:

  So stress is laid upon this form of hardship, as rising from the
  climate of Troïa, by Sophocles, _Aias_, 1206.

Footnote 315:

  One may conjecture that here also, as with the passage describing the
  succession of beacon fires (vv. 281-314), the description would have
  for an Athenian audience the interest of recalling personal
  reminiscences of some recent campaign in Thrakè, or on the coasts of

Footnote 316:

  We may, perhaps, think of the herald, as he speaks, placing some
  representative trophy upon the pegs on the pedestals of the statues of
  the great Gods of Hellas, whom he had invoked on his entrance.

Footnote 317:


             “So that to this bright morn our sons may boast,
             As they o'er land and ocean take their flight,
             'The Argive host of old, who captured Troïa,
             These spoils of battle to the Gods of Hellas,
             Hung on their pegs, a trophy of old days.'”

Footnote 318:

  The husband, on his departure, sealed up his special treasures. It was
  the glory of the faithful wife or the trusty steward to keep these
  seals unbroken.

Footnote 319:

  There is an ambiguity, possibly an intentional one, in the comparison
  which Clytæmnestra uses. If there was no such art as that of “staining
  bronze” (or copper) known at the time, the words would be a natural
  phrase enough to describe what was represented as an impossibility.
  Later on in the history of art, however, as in the time of Plutarch, a
  process so described (perhaps analogous to enamelling) is mentioned
  (_De Pyth. Orac_. § 2) as common. If we suppose the art to have been a
  mystery known to the few, but not to the many, in the time of
  Æschylos, then the words would have for the hearers the point of a
  _double entendre_. She seems to the mass to disclaim what yet, to
  those in the secret she acknowledges.

  Another rendering refers “bronze” to the “sword,” and makes the stains
  those of blood; as though she said, “I am as guiltless of adultery as
  of murder,” while yet she knew that she had committed the one, and
  meant to commit the other. The possibility of such a meaning is
  certainly in the words, and with a sharp-witted audience catching at
  ænigmas and dark sayings may have added to their suggestiveness. The
  ambiguous comment of the Chorus shows that they read, as between the
  lines, the shameful secret which they knew, but of which the Herald
  was ignorant.

Footnote 320:

  The last two lines are by some editors assigned to the Herald.

Footnote 321:

  It need hardly be said that it is as difficult to render a
  _paronomasia_ of this kind as it is to reproduce those, more or less
  analogous, which we find in the prophets of the Old Testament (comp.
  especially Micah i.); but it seems better to substitute something
  which approaches, however imperfectly, to an equivalent than to
  obscure the reference to the _nomen et omen_ by abandoning the attempt
  to translate it. “Hell of men, and hell of ships, and hell of towers,”
  has been the rendering adopted by many previous translators. The Greek
  fondness for this play on names is seen in Sophocles, _Aias_, v. 401.

Footnote 322:

  Zephyros, Boreas, and the other great winds were represented in the
  _Theogony_ of Hesiod (v. 134) as the offspring of Astræos and Eôs, and
  Astræos was a Titan. The west wind was, of course, favourable to Paris
  as he went with Helen from Greece to Troïa.

Footnote 323:

  Here again the translator has to meet the difficulty of a pun. As an
  alternative we might take—

                      “To Ilion brought, well-named,
                      A marriage marring all.”

Footnote 324:

  The sons of Priam are thought of as taking part in the celebration of
  Helen's marriage with Paris, and as, therefore, involving themselves
  in the guilt and the penalty of his crime.

Footnote 325:

  Here, too, it may be well to give an alternative rendering—

                       “A mischief in his house,
                       A man reared, not on milk.”

  Home-reared lions seem to have been common as pets, both among Greeks
  and Latins (Arist., _Hist. Anim._ ix. 31; Plutarch, _de Cohib. irâ_, §
  14, p. 822), sometimes, as in Martial's Epigram, ii. 25, with fatal
  consequences. The text shows the practice to have been common enough
  in the time of Pericles to supply a similitude.

Footnote 326:

  There may, possibly, be a half allusion here to the passage in the
  _Iliad_ (vv. 154-160), which describes the fascination which the
  beauty of Helen exercised on the Troïan elders.

Footnote 327:

  The poet becomes a prophet, and asserts what it has been given him to
  know of the righteous government of God. The dominant creed of Greece
  at the time was, that the Gods were envious of man's prosperity, that
  this alone, apart from moral evil, was enough to draw down their
  wrath, and bring a curse upon the prosperous house. So, _e.g._, Amasis
  tells Polycrates (Herod. iii. 40) that the unseen Divinity that rules
  the world is envious, that power and glory are inevitably the
  precursors of destruction. Comp. also the speech of Artabanos (Herod.
  vii. 10, 46). Against this, in the tone of one who speaks singlehanded
  for the truth, Æschylos, through the Chorus, enters his protest.

Footnote 328:

  _Sc._, Agamemnon, by the sacrifice of Iphigeneia, had induced his
  troops to persevere in an expedition from which, in their inmost
  hearts, they shrank back with strong dislike. A conjectural reading

                 “By the sacrifice he offered
                 Giving death-doomed men false boldness.”

Footnote 329:

  The tone of ambiguous irony mingles, it will be seen, even here, with
  the praises of the Chorus.

Footnote 330:

  Possibly an allusion to Pandora's box. Here, too, Hope alone was left,
  but it only came up to where the curve of the rim began, not to its
  top. The imagery is drawn from the older method of voting, in which
  (as in _Eumenides_, v. 678) the votes for condemnation and acquittal
  were cast into separate urns.

Footnote 331:

  The lion, as the symbol of the house of Atreus, still seen in the
  sculptures of Mykenæ; the horse, in allusion to the stratagem by which
  Troïa had been taken.

Footnote 332:

  At the end of autumn, and therefore at a season when a storm like that
  described by the herald would be a probable incident enough.

Footnote 333:

  So in Sophocles, Philoctetes (v. 1025) taunts Odysseus:—

             “And yet thou sailedst with them by constraint,
             By tricks fast bound.”

Footnote 334:

  Geryon appears in the myth of Hercules as a monster with three heads
  and three bodies, ruling over the island Erytheia, in the far West,
  beyond Hesperia. To destroy him and seize his cattle was one of the
  “twelve labours,” with which Hesiod (_Theogon._ vv. 287-294) had
  already made men familiar.

Footnote 335:

  When a man is buried, there is earth above and earth below him.
  Clytæmnestra having used the words “coverlet,” pauses to make her
  language accurate to the very letter. She is speaking only of the
  earth which would have been laid over her husband's corpse, had he
  died as often as he was reported to have done. She will not utter
  anything so ominous as an allusion to the depths below him stretching
  down to Hades.

Footnote 336:


               “Weeping because the torches in thy house
               No more were lighted as they were of yore.”

Footnote 337:

  The words touch upon the psychological fact that in dreams, as in
  other abnormal states of the mind, the usual measures of time
  disappear, and we seem to pass through the experiences of many years
  in the slumber of a few minutes.

Footnote 338:

  The rhetoric of the passage, with all its multiplied similitudes, fine
  as it is in itself, receives its dramatic significance by being put
  into the lips of Clytæmnestra. She “doth protest too much.” A true
  wife would have been content with fewer words.

Footnote 339:

  The last three lines of the speech are of course intentionally
  ambiguous, carrying one meaning to the ear of Agamemnon, and another
  to that of the audience.

Footnote 340:

  There is obviously a side-thrust, such as an Athenian audience would
  catch at, at the token of homage which the Persian kings required of
  their subjects, the prostration at their feet, the earth spread over
  with costly robes. Of the latter custom we have examples in the
  history of Jehu (2 Kings ix. 13), in our Lord's entry into Jerusalem
  (Mark xi. 8), in the usages of modern Persian kings (Malcolm's
  _Persia_, i. 580); perhaps also in the true rendering of Ps. xlv. 14.
  “She shall be brought unto the king _on_ raiment of needle-work.” In
  the march of Xerxes across the Hellespont myrtle-boughs strown on the
  bridge of boats took the place of robes (Herod. vii. 54). To the Greek
  character, with its strong love of independence, such customs were
  hateful. The case of Pausanias, who offended the national feeling by
  assuming the outward state of the Persian kings, must have been
  recalled to the minds of the Athenians, intentionally or otherwise, by
  such a passage as this.e bridge of boats took the place of robes
  (Herod. vii. 54). To

Footnote 341:

  The “old saying, famed of many men,” which we find in the _Trachiniæ_
  of Sophocles (v. 1), and in the counsel of Solon to Crœsos (Herod. i.

Footnote 342:

  He who had suffered so much from the wrath of Artemis at Aulis knew
  what it was to rouse the wrath and jealousy of the Gods.

Footnote 343:

  An echo of a line in Hesiod (_Works and Days_, 763)—

               “No whispered rumours which the many spread
               Can ever wholly perish.”

Footnote 344:

  Here, too, we may trace a reference to the Oriental custom of
  recognising the sanctity of a consecrated place by taking the shoes
  from off the feet, as in Exod. iii. 5, in the services of the
  Tabernacle and Temple, through all their history (Juven., _Sat._ vi.
  159), in all mosques to the present day. Agamemnon, yielding to the
  temptress, seeks to make a compromise with his conscience. He will
  walk upon the tapestry, but will treat it as if it, of right, belonged
  to the Gods, and were a consecrated thing. It is probably in
  connection with this incident that Æschylos was said to have been the
  first to bring actors on the stage in these boots or buskins (Suidas.
  s. v. άρβύλη).

Footnote 345:

  The words of Isaiah (xviii. 5), “when the sour grape is ripening in
  the flower,” present an almost verbal parallel.

Footnote 346:

  The ever-recurring ambiguity of Clytæmnestra's language is again
  traceable, as is also her fondness for rhetorical similitudes.

Footnote 347:

  The Chorus speaks in perplexity. In cannot get rid of its forebodings,
  and yet it would seem as if the time for the fulfilment of the dark
  words of Calchas must have passed long since. It actually sees the
  safe return of the leader of the host, yet still its fears haunt it.

Footnote 348:

  Asclepios, whom Zeus smote with his thunderbolt for having restored
  Hippolytos to life.

Footnote 349:

  The Chorus, in spite of their suspicions and forebodings, have given
  the king no warning. They excuse themselves by the plea of necessity,
  the sovereign decree of Zeus overruling all man's attempts to
  withstand it.

Footnote 350:

  Cassandra is summoned to an act of worship. The household is gathered,
  the altar to Zeus Ktesios (the God of the family property, slaves
  included), standing in the servants' hall, is ready. The new slave
  must come in and take her place with the others.

Footnote 351:

  As in the story which forms the groundwork of the _Trachiniæ_ of
  Sophocles, vv. 250-280, that Heracles had been sold to Omphale as a
  slave, in penalty for the murder of Iphitos.

Footnote 352:

  Political as well as dramatic. The Eupatrid poet appeals to public
  opinion against the _nouveaux riches_, the tanners and lamp-makers,
  who were already beginning to push themselves forward towards
  prominence and power. The way was thus prepared in the first play of
  the Trilogy for what is known to have been the main object of the
  last. Comp. Arist., _Rhet._ ii. 32.

Footnote 353:

  Here again the translator has the task of finding an English
  _paronomasia_ which approximates to that of the Greek, between Apollo
  and ἀπόλλων _the destroyer_. To Apollo, as the God of paths
  (_Aguieus_), an altar stood, column-fashion, before the street-door of
  every house, and to such an altar, placed by the door of Agamemnon's
  palace, Cassandra turns, with the twofold play upon the name.

Footnote 354:

  This refers, probably, to the death of Hippodameia, the wife of
  Pelops, who killed herself, in remorse for the death of Chrysippos, or
  fear of her husband's anger. The horrors of the royal house of Argos
  pass, one by one, before the vision of the prophetess, and this leads
  the procession, followed by the spectres of the murdered children of

Footnote 355:

  The Chorus, as in their last ode, had made up their minds, though
  foreboding ill, to let destiny take its course. They do not wish that
  policy of non-interference to be changed by any too clear vision of
  the future.

Footnote 356:

  The Chorus understands the vision of the _clairvoyante_ as regards the
  past tragedy of the house of Atreus, but not that which seems to
  portend another actually imminent.

Footnote 357:

  Fresh visions come before the eyes of the seeress. She beholds the
  company of Erinnyes hovering over the accursed house, and calls on
  them to continue their work till the new crime has met with its due
  punishment. The murder which she sees as if already wrought, demands
  death by stoning.

Footnote 358:

  The “yellow” look of fear is thought of as being caused by an actual
  change in the colour of the blood as it flows through the veins to the

Footnote 359:

  Here there is prevision as well as clairvoyance. The deed is not yet
  done. The sacrifice and the feast are still going on, yet she sees the
  crime in all its circumstances.

Footnote 360:

  As before (v. 115) the black eagle had been the symbol of the
  warrior-chief, so here the black-horned bull, that being one of the
  notes of the best breed of cattle. A various reading gives “with _her_
  swarthy horn.”

Footnote 361:

  What the Chorus had just said as to the fruitlessness of prophetic
  insight tallied all too well with her own bitter experience.

Footnote 362:

  The ecstasy of horror interrupts the tenor of her speech, and the
  second “thou” is addressed not to the Chorus, but to Agamemnon, whose
  death Cassandra has just witnessed in her vision.

Footnote 363:

  The song of the nightingale, represented by these sounds, was
  connected with a long legend, specially Attic in its origin.
  Philomela, daughter of Pandion, king of Attica, suffered outrage at
  the hands of Tereus, who was married to her sister Procne, and was
  then changed into a nightingale, destined ever to lament over the fate
  of Itys her sister's son. The earliest form of the story appears in
  the _Odyssey_ (xix. 518). Comp. Sophocles, _Electr._ v. 148.

Footnote 364:

  In the marriage-rites of the Greeks of the time of Æschylos, the bride
  for three days after the wedding wore her veil; then, as now no longer
  shrinking from her matron life, she laid it aside and looked on her
  husband with unveiled face.

Footnote 365:

  The picture might be drawn by any artist of power, but we may,
  perhaps, trace a reproduction of one of the grandest passages in the
  _Iliad_ (iv. 422-426).

Footnote 366:

  So in the _Eumenides_ (v. 293), the Erinnyes appear as vampires,
  drinking the blood of their victims.

Footnote 367:

  The death of Myrtilos as the first crime in the long history of the
  house of Pelops. Comp. Soth. _Electr._ v. 470. The “defiler” is
  Thyestes, who seduced Aerope, the wife of Atreus.

Footnote 368:

  The horror of the Thyestes banquet again haunts her as the source of
  all the evils that followed, of the deaths both of Iphigenia and
  Agamemnon. The “stay-at-home” is Ægisthos.

Footnote 369:

  Both words point to the Sindbad-like stories of distant marvels
  brought back by Greek sailors. The Amphisbæna (double-goer), wriggling
  itself backward and forward, believed to have a head at each
  extremity, was looked upon as at once the most subtle and the most
  venomous of serpents. Skylla, already famous in its mythical form from
  the story in the _Odyssey_ (xii. 85-100), was probably a “development”
  of the monstrous cuttle-fish of the straits of Messina.

Footnote 370:

  As in Homer (_Il._ i. 14) so here, the servant of Apollo bears the
  wand of augury, and fillets or wreaths round head and arms. The
  divining garments, in like manner, were of white linen.

Footnote 371:

  If we adopt this reading, we must think of Cassandra as identifying
  herself with the woe (Atè) which makes up her life, just as afterwards
  Clytæmnestra speaks of herself as one with the avenging Demon
  (Alastor) of the house of Atreus (1473). The alternative reading

                 “Make rich in woe another in my place.”

Footnote 372:

  Perhaps, “in home not mine.”

Footnote 373:

  When the victim, instead of shrinking and struggling, went, as with
  good courage, to the altar, it was noted as a sign of divine impulse.
  Such a strange, new courage the Chorus notices in Cassandra.

Footnote 374:


                “My one escape, my friends, is but delay.”

Footnote 375:

  The implied thoughts of the words is that Priam and his sons, though
  they had died nobly, were yet miserable, and not happy.

Footnote 376:

  The Syrian ritual had, it would seem, become proverbial for its lavish
  use of frankincense and other spices.

Footnote 377:

  The close parallel of Shakespeare's _Henry VI._, Act. v. sc. 6, is
  worth quoting—

               “The bird that hath been limed in a bush,
               With trembling eyes misdoubteth every bush”

Footnote 378:

  The older reading gives—

                      “A shadow might o'erturn it.”

Footnote 379:

  Her own doom, hard as it was, touches her less than the common lot of
  human suffering and mutability.

Footnote 380:

  So far the dialogue has been sustained by the Coryphæos, or leader of
  the Chorus. Now each member of it speaks and gives his counsel.

Footnote 381:

  The Coryphæos again takes up his part, sums up, and pronounces his

Footnote 382:

  _i.e._, He had had his triumph over her when, forgetful of her
  mother's feelings, he had sacrificed Iphigeneia. She has now repaid
  him to the full.

Footnote 383:

  The third libation at all feasts was to Zeus, as the Preserver or
  Guardian Deity. Clytæmnestra boasts that her third blow was as an
  offering to a God of other kind, to Him who had in his keeping not the
  living, but the dead.

Footnote 384:

  So in the _Choëphori_ (vv. 351, 476), the custom of pouring libations
  on the burial-place of the dead is recognised as an element of their
  blessedness or shame in Hades, and Agamemnon is represented as lacking
  the honour which comes from them till he receives it at the hand of

Footnote 385:

  Incense was placed on the head of the victim. The Chorus tell
  Clytæmnestra that she has brought upon her own head the incense, not
  of praise and admiration, but of hatred and wrath, as though some
  poison had driven her mad.

Footnote 386:

  The species of swan referred to is said to be the _Cygnus Musicus_.
  Aristotle (_Hist. Anim._ ix. 12) describes swans of some kind as
  having been heard by sailors near the coast of Libya, “singing with a
  lamentable cry.” Mrs. Somerville (_Phys. Geog._, c. xxxiii. 3)
  describes their note as “like that of a violin.” The same fact is
  reported of the swans of Iceland and other regions of the far North.
  The strange, tender beauty of the passage in the _Phædo_ of Plato (p.
  85, a), which speaks of them as singing when at the point of death,
  has done more than anything else to make the illustration one of the
  commonplaces of rhetoric and poetry.

Footnote 387:

  The structure of the lyrical dialogue that follows is rather
  complicated, and different editors have adopted different
  arrangements. I have followed Paley's.

Footnote 388:

  Several lines seem to have dropped out by some accident of

Footnote 389:

  Agamemnon and Menelaos, as descended from Tantalos, the father of

Footnote 390:

  In each case women, Helen and Clytæmnestra, had been the unconscious
  instruments of the divine Nemesis, to which the Chorus traces the ruin
  of the house of Atreus.

Footnote 391:

  Or, with another reading,—

     “He (_sc._ the avenging Demon) boasteth in his pride of heart.”

Footnote 392:

  It is characteristic of the teaching of Æschylos that the Chorus
  passes from the thought of the agency of any lower Power to the
  supreme will of Zeus.

Footnote 393:

  Or, “Dying, as dies a slave.”

Footnote 394:

  Clytæmnestra still harps (though in ambiguous words, which may refer
  also to the murder of the children of Thyestes) upon the death of
  Iphigeneia as the crime which it had been her work to avenge.

Footnote 395:

  Perhaps, “And that, too, not a slave's.”

Footnote 396:

  Here the genealogy is carried one step further to Pleisthenes, the
  father of Tantalos.

Footnote 397:

  Ægisthos, in his version of the story, suppresses the adultery of
  Thyestes with the wife of Atreus, which led the latter to his horrible

Footnote 398:

  The image is taken from the trireme with its three benches full of
  rowers. The Chorus is compared to the men on the lowest, Ægisthos and
  Clytæmnestra to those on the uppermost bench.

Footnote 399:

  The earliest occurrence of the proverb with which we are familiar
  through the history of St. Paul's conversion, Acts ix. 5, xxvi. 14.

Footnote 400:

  The trace-horse, as not under the pressure of the collar, was taken as
  the type of free, those that wore the yoke, of enforced submission.

                          THE LIBATION-POURERS

                            DRAMATIS PERSONÆ

                       _Chorus of Captive Women_

_ARGUMENT.—It came to pass, after Agamemnon had been slain, that
Clytæmnestra and Ægisthos ruled in Argos, and all things seemed to go
well with them. Orestes, who was heir to Agamemnon, they had sent away
to the care of Strophios of Phokis, and there he abode. Electra, his
sister, mourned in secret over her father's death, and prayed for
vengeance, but no avenger came. And when Orestes grew up to man's
estate, he went to ask counsel of the God at Delphi, and the Gods
straitly charged him to take vengeance on his father's murderers; and so
he started on his journey with his trusty friend Pylades, and arrived at
Argos. And it chanced that a little while before he came, the Gods sent
Clytæmnestra a fearful dream, that troubled her soul greatly; and in her
terror she bade Electra go with her handmaids to pour libations on the
tomb of Agamemnon, that so she might appease his soul, and propitiate
the Powers that rule over the dark world of the dead._

                          THE LIBATION-POURERS

   SCENE.—Argos, _in front of the palace of the Atreidæ. The tomb of_
    AGAMEMNON _(a raised mound of earth) is seen in the background._

  _Enter_ ORESTES _and_ PYLADES _from the left;_ ORESTES _advances to
        the mound, and, as he speaks, lays on it a lock of his hair._

 _Orest._ O Hermes of the darkness 'neath the earth,
 Who hast the charge of all thy Father's[401] sway,
 To me who pray deliverer, helper be;
 For I to this land come, from exile come,
 And on the raised mound of this monument
 I bid my father hear and list. One tress,
 Thank-offering for the gifts that fed my youth,
 To Inachos I consecrate, and this
 The second as the token of my grief;[402]
 For mine it was not, father, being by,
 Over thy death to groan, nor yet to stretch
 My hand forth for the burial of thy corpse.

                 [_As he speaks_, ELECTRA, _followed by a train of
                     captive women in black garments, bearing libations,
                     wailing and tearing their clothes, comes
                     forth from the palace_

 What see I now? What company of women
 Is this that comes in mourning garb attired?
 What chance shall I conjecture as its cause?                         10
 Does a new sorrow fall upon this house?
 Or am I right in guessing that they bring
 Libations to my father, soothing gifts
 To those beneath? It cannot but be so.
 I think Electra, mine own sister, comes,
 By wailing grief conspicuous. Thou, O Zeus,
 Grant me full vengeance for my father's death,
 And of thine own good will my helper be!
 Come, Pylades, and let us stand aside,
 That I may clearly learn what means this train
 Of women offering prayers.                                           20

                               STROPHE I

 _Chor._ Sent from the house I come,
 With quick, sharp beatings of the hands in grief,
         To pour libations here;
 *And see, my cheeks with bloody marks are tracked,[403]
 The new-cut furrows which my nails have made,
 And evermore my heart is fed with groans;
         And folds of mantles tied
         Across the breast are rent
         To shreds and rags in grief,
 *Marring the grace of linen vestments fair,
 *Since we by woes that shut out smiles are smitten.       30

                             ANTISTROPHE I

         *Full clear a spectre came
 That made each single hair to stand on end,
         Dream-prophet of this house,
 That e'en in sleep breathes out avenging wrath;
 And from the secret chamber cried in fear
 A cry that broke the silence of the night,
         There, where the women dwell,
         Falling with heaviest weight;
         And those who judge such dreams
 Told, calling God to witness, that the souls
 Below were wroth and vexed with those that slew them.                40

                               STROPHE II

 On such a graceless deed of grace, as charm
 To ward off ill, (O Earth! O mother kind!)
         A godless woman now
         Sends me with eager heart;
 And yet I dread to utter that same prayer;
         What ransom has been found
         For blood on earth once poured?
         Oh! hearth all miserable!
 Oh! utter overthrow of house and home!
 Yea, mists of darkness, sunless, loathed of men,                     50
         Cover both home and house
         With its lords' bloody deaths.

                             ANTISTROPHE II

 Yea, all the majesty that awed of old,
 Unchecked, unconquered, irresistible,
         Thrilling the people's heart
         As well as ears, is gone;
 There are, may be, that fear;[404] but now Success
         Is man's sole God and more;
         Yet stroke of Vengeance swift
         Smites some in life's clear day,
 For some who tarry long their sorrows wait
 In twilight dim, on darkness' borderland,
         *And some an endless night
         Of nothingness holds fast.

                              STROPHE III

 Because of blood that mother earth has drunk,
 The guilt of slaughter that will vengeance work
         Is fixed indelibly;
         And Atè, working grief,                                      60
 Permits awhile the guilty one to wait,
 That so he may be full and overflow
         *With all-devouring ill.

                            ANTISTROPHE III

 For him whose foul touch stains the marriage bed[405]
 No remedy avails; and water-streams,
         Though all as from one source
         Should pour to cleanse the guilt
 *Of murder that the sin-stained hand defiles,
         *Would yet flow all in vain
         *That guilt to purify.


 But now to me, since the high Gods have sent
 A doom of bondage round my city's walls,
         (For from my father's home
 They have brought on me fate of slavery,)
         Deeds right and wrong alike
 Have been as things 'twas meet I should accept,                      70
         Since this slave-life began,
 Where deeds are done by violence and force,—
 And I must needs suppress
 *The bitter loathing of my inmost heart,
 *And now beneath my cloak I weep and wail
 *For all the frustrate fortunes of my lords,[406]
         Chilled through with secret grief.

 _Elect._ Ye handmaids, ye who deftly tend this house,
 Since ye are here companions in my task
 As suppliants, give me your advice in this,
 What shall I say as these funereal gifts
 I pour? How shall I speak acceptably?                                80
 How to my father pray? What? Shall I say
 “I bring from loving wife to husband loved
 Gifts”—from my mother? No, I am not bold
 Enough for that, nor know I what to speak,
 Pouring this chrism on my father's tomb,[407]
 Or shall I say this prayer, as men are wont,
 “Good recompense make thou to those who bring
 These garlands,” yea, a gift full well deserved
 By deeds of ill? Or dumb, with ignominy
 Like that with which he perished, shall I pour
 Libations on the earth, and like a man
 That flings away the lustral filth, shall I
 Throw down the urn and walk with eyes not turned?[408]               90
 Be sharers in my counsels, O my friends;
 A common hate we cherish in the house;
 Hide nothing in your heart through fear of man.
 Fate's doom firm-fixed awaits alike the free,
 And those in bondage to another's hand.
 Speak, if thou can'st a better counsel give.                        100

 _Chor._ [_laying their hands on Agamemnon's tomb._] Thy father's tomb
    as altar honouring,
 I, as thou bidd'st, will speak my heart-thoughts out!

 _Elect._ Speak, then, as thou my father's tomb dost honour,

 _Chor._ Say, as thou pour'st, good words for those that love,

 _Elect._ Which of my friends shall I address as such!

 _Chor._ First then thyself, and whoso hates Ægisthos.

 _Elect._ Shall I for thee, as for myself, pray thus?

 _Chor._ Now that thou'rt learning, judge of that thyself.

 _Elect._ Whom shall I add then to this company?

 _Chor._ Far though Orestes be, forget him not.

 _Elect._ Right well is this: thou teachest admirably.

 _Chor._ Then, for the blood-stained ones remembering say....

 _Elect._ What then? Explain, and teach my ignorance.[409]    110

 _Chor._ That there may come to them some God or man....

 _Elect._ Shall I “as judge” or as “avenger” say?

 _Chor._ Say it out plain! “to give them death for death.”...

 _Elect._ May prayers like these consist with piety?

 _Chor._ Why not,—a foe with evils to requite?

 _Elect._ [_moving to the tomb, and pouring libations as she speaks._]
    *O mightiest herald of the Gods on high
 And those below, O Hermes of the dark,
 Call thou the Powers beneath, and bid them hear
 The prayers that look towards my father's house;
 And Earth herself, who all things bringeth forth,                   120
 And rears them and again receives their fruit.
 And I to human souls libations pouring,
 Say, calling on my father, “Pity me;
 How shall we bring our dear Orestes home?”
 For now as sold to ill by her who bore us,
 We poor ones wander. She as husband gained
 Ægisthos, who was partner in thy death;
 And I am as a slave, and from his wealth
 Orestes now is banished, and they wax
 Full haughty in the wealth thy toil had gained.                     130
 And that Orestes hither with good luck
 May come, I pray. Hear thou that prayer, my father!
 And to myself grant thou that I may be
 Than that my mother wiser far of heart,
 Holier in act. For us this prayer I pour;
 And for our foes, my father, this I pray,
 That Justice may as thine avenger come,
 And that thy murderers perish. Thus I place
 Midway in prayer for good that now I speak,
 My prayer 'gainst them for evil. Be thou then
 The escort[410] of these good things that I ask,                    140
 With help of Gods, and Earth, and conquering Justice.
 With prayers like these my votive gifts I pour;
 And as for you [_turning to the Chorus_] 'tis meet with cries to crown
 The pæan ye utter, wailing for the dead.


 _Chor._ *Pour ye the pattering tear,
         *Falling for fallen lord,
 *Here by the tomb that shuts out good and ill,—
 Here, where the full libations have been poured
 That turn aside the curse men deprecate,
         Hear me, O Thou my Dread,                                   150
 Hear thou, O Sire, the words my dark mind speaks!


         Oh, woe is me, woe, woe!
         Woe, woe, and woe is me!
         *What warrior strong of spear
         Shall come the house to free,
 Or Ares with his Skythian bow[411] in hand,
 Shaking its pliant strength in deeds of war,
 *Or guiding in encounter closer yet
         The weapons made with hilts?

                   [_During the choral ode_ ELECTRA, _after going to the
                       mound, and pouring the libations on it, returns
                       holding in her hands the lock of hair which_
                       ORESTES _had left there_

 _Elect._ The gifts the earth hath drunk, my father hath them:
 Now this new wonder come and share with me.

 _Chor._ Speak on, my heart goes pit-a-pat with fear.

 _Elect._ There on the tomb I see this lock cut off.          160

 _Chor._ What man or maid low-girdled can it claim?

 _Elect._ Full easy this for any one to guess.

 _Chor._ Old as I am, may I from younger learn?

 _Elect._ None but myself could cut off lock like this.

 _Chor._ Yea, foes are they that should with grief-locks mourn.

 _Elect._ Yes, surely, 'tis indeed the self-same hair....

 _Chor._ But as what tresses? This I seek to know.

 _Elect._ And of a truth 'tis very like to ours....

 _Chor._ Did then Orestes send this secret gift?[412]

 _Elect._ It is most like those flowing locks of his.         170

 _Chor._ Yet how had he adventured to come hither?

 _Elect._ He to his father sent the lock as gift.

 _Chor._ Not less regretful than before, thy words,
 If on this soil his foot shall never tread.

 _Elect._ Yea, on me too there rushed heart-surge of gall
 And I was smitten as with dart that pierced;
 And from mine eyes there fell the thirsty drops
 That pour unchecked, of this full bitter flood,
 As I this lock beheld. How can I think
 That any other townsman owns this hair?                             180
 Nay, she who slew ... she did not cut it off,
 My mother ... who towards her children shows
 A godless mood that little suits the name;
 And yet that I should this assert outright,
 The precious gift is his whom most of men
 I love, Orestes.... Nay, hope flatters me.
 Alas! alas!
 Would, herald-like, it had a kindly voice!
 So should I not turn to and fro in doubt;
 But either it had told me with all clearness
 To loathe this tress, if cut from hated head;                       190
 Or, being of kin, had sought to share my grief,
 To deck the tomb and do my father honour.

 _Chor._ Well, on the Gods we call, on those who know
 In what storms we, like sailors, now are tossed:
 But if deliverance may indeed be ours,
 From a small seed a mighty trunk may grow.[413]

 _Elect._ Here too are foot-prints as a second proof,
 Just like ... yea, close resembling those of mine.
 For here are outlines of two separate feet,
 His own and those of fellow-traveller,                              200
 And all the heels and impress of the feet,
 When measured, fit well with my footsteps here....
 Pangs come on me, and sore bewilderment.

                        [_As she ceases speaking_ ORESTES _comes forward
                            from his concealment_

 _Orest._ Pray, uttering to the Gods no fruitless prayer,
 For good success in what is yet to come.

 _Elect._ What profits now to me the Gods' good will?

 _Orest._ Thou see'st those here whom most thou did'st desire.

 _Elect._ Whom called I on, that thou hast knowledge of?

 _Orest._ Right well I know how thou dost prize Orestes.

 _Elect._ In what then find I now my prayers fulfilled?       210

 _Orest._ Behold me! Seek no dearer friend than I!

 _Elect._ Nay, stranger, dost thou weave a snare for me?

 _Orest._ Then do I plot my schemes against myself.

 _Elect._ Thou seekest to make merry with my grief.

 _Orest._ With mine then also, if at all with thine.

 _Elect._ Art thou indeed Orestes that I speak to?

 _Orest._ Though thou see'st him, thou'rt slow to learn 'tis I;
 Yet when thou saw'st this lock of mourner's hair,
 And did'st the foot-prints track my feet had made,
 Agreeing with thine own, as brother's true,
 Then did'st thou deem in hope thou looked'st on me.                 220
 Fit then this lock where it was cut, and see;
 See too this woven robe, thine own hands' work,
 The shuttle's stroke, and forms of beasts[414] of chase.

                     [ELECTRA _starts, as if about to cry aloud for joy_

 Restrain thyself, nor lose thy head for joy:
 Our nearest kin, I know, are foes to us.

 _Elect._ [_embracing_ ORESTES] Thou whom thy father's house most loves,
    most prays for,
 Our one sole hope, bewept with many a tear,
 Of issue that shall work deliverance!
 Thine own might trusting, thou thy father's house
 Shall soon win back. O pleasant fourfold name!                      230
 I needs must speak to thee as father dear;[415]
 The love I owe my mother turns to thee,
 (She with full right to me is hateful now,)
 My sister's too, who ruthlessly was slain;
 And thou wast ever faithful brother found,
 And one whom I revered. May Might and Right,
 And sovran Zeus as third, my helpers be!

 _Orest._ Zeus! Zeus! be Thou a witness of our troubles,
 See the lorn brood that calls an eagle sire,
 Eagle that perished in the coils and folds                          240
 Of a fell viper. Now on them bereaved
 Presses gaunt famine. Not as yet full-grown
 Are they to bring their father's booty home.
 Thus it is thine to see in me and her,
 (I mean Electra) children fatherless,
 Both suffering the same exile from our home.

 _Elect._ And should'st Thou havoc make of brood of sire
 Who at thine altar greatly honoured Thee,
 Whence wilt Thou get a festive offering
 From hand as free? Nor, should'st Thou bring to nought
 The eagle's nestlings, would'st thou have at hand                   250
 A messenger to bear thy will to man
 In signs persuasive; nor when withered up
 This royal stock shall be, will it again
 Wait on thine altars at high festivals:
 Oh, bring it back, and then Thou too wilt raise
 From low estate a lofty house, which now
 Seems to have fallen, fallen utterly.

 _Chor._ Ah, children! saviours of your father's house,
 Hush, hush, lest some one hear you, children dear,
 And for mere talking's sake report all this
 To those that rule. Ah, would I might behold them
 Lie dead 'midst oozing fir-pyre blazing high![416]                  260

 _Orest._ Nay, nay, I tell you, Loxias' oracle,
 In strength excelling, will not fail us now,
 That bade me on this enterprise to start,
 And with clear voice spake often, warning me
 Of chilling pain-throes at the fevered heart,
 Unless my father's murderers I should chase,
 Bidding me kill them in the self-same fashion,
 Stirred by the wrongs that pauperise my life,
 And said that I with many a mischief ill
 Should pay for that fault with mine own dear life.
 For making known to men the charms earth-born                       270
 *That soothe the wrathful powers,[417] he spake for us
 Of ills as follows, leprous sores that creep
 All o'er the flesh, and as with cruel jaws
 Eat out its ancient nature, and white hairs[418]
 On that foul ill to supervene: and still
 He spake of other onsets of the Erinnyes,
 As brought to issue from a father's blood;
 For the dark weapon of the Gods below
 Winged by our kindred that lie low in death,
 And beg for vengeance, yea, and madness too,
 And vague, dim fears at night disturb and haunt me,
 *Seeing full clearly, though I move my brow[419]         280
 In the thick darkness ... and that then my frame,
 Thus tortured, should be driven from the city
 With brass-knobbed scourge: and that for such as I
 It was not given to share the wine-cup's taste,
 Nor votive stream in pure libation poured;
 And that my father's wrath invisible
 Would drive me from all altars, and that none
 Should take me in, or lodge with me; at last,
 That, loathed of all and friendless, I should die,
 A wretched mummy, all my strength consumed.
 Must I not trust such oracles as these?
 Yea, though I trust not, must the deed be done;                     290
 For many motives now in one converge,—
 The God's command, great sorrow for my father;
 My lack of fortune, this, too, urges me
 Never to leave our noble citizens,
 With noblest courage Troïa's conquerors,
 To be the subjects to two women thus;
 Yea, his soul is as woman's:[420] an' it be not,
 He soon shall know the issue.

 _Chor._ Grant ye from Zeus, O mighty Destinies!
         That so our work may end
 As Justice wills, who takes our side at last;                       300
 Now for the tongue of bitter hate let tongue
 Of bitter hate be given. Loud and long
 The voice of Vengeance claiming now her debt;
         And for the murderous blow
 Let him who slew with murderous blow repay.
 “That the wrong-doer bear the wrong he did,”
 Thrice-ancient saying of a far-off time,[421]
         This speaketh as we speak.

                               STROPHE I

 _Orest._ O father, sire ill-starred,
         What deed or word could I
         Waft from afar to thee,
         Where thy couch holds thee now,                             310
 *To be a light with dark commensurate?
         Alike, in either case,
 The wail that tells their praise is welcome gift
 To those Atreidæ, guardians of our house.

                               STROPHE II

 _Chor._ My child, my child, the mighty jaws of fire[422]
 Bind not the mood and spirit of the dead!
 But e'en when that is past he shows his wrath.
         When he that dies is wailed,
         The murderer stands revealed:                               320
 The righteous cry for parents that begat,
         To fullest utterance roused,
         Searches the whole truth out.

                             ANTISTROPHE I

 _Elect._ Hear then, O father, now
         Our tearful griefs in turn;
         From us thy children twain
         The funeral wail ascends;
 And we, as suppliants and as exiles too,
         Find shelter at thy tomb.
 What of all this is good, what void of ills?                        330
 Is not this now a woe invincible?

 _Chor._ Yet, even yet, from evils such as these,
 God, if He will, may bring more pleasant strains:
 And for the dirge we utter by the tomb,
 A pæan in the royal house may raise
         Welcome to new-found friend.

                              STROPHE III

 _Orest._ Had'st thou beneath the walls
         Of Ilion, O my sire,
         Been slain by Lykian foe,[423]
         Pierced through and through with spear,
         Leaving high fame at home,                                  340
         And laying strong and sure
         *Thy children's paths in life,
         Then had'st thou had as thine
         Far off across the sea
         A mound of earth heaped high,
 To all thy kith and kin endurable.

                             ANTISTROPHE II

 _Chor._ Yea, and as friend with friends
         That nobly died, he then
         Had dwelt in high estate
         A sovereign ruler, held
         Of all in reverence,
         High in their train who rule
         Supreme in that dark world;                                 350
         For he, too, while he lived,
         As monarch ruled o'er those
         Whose hands the sceptre held
         That mortal men obey.[424]

                            ANTISTROPHE III

 _Elect._ Not even 'neath the walls
         Of Troïa, O my sire,
         With those the spear hath slain,
         Would I have had thee lie
         By fair Scamandros' stream:
         No, this my prayer shall be
         That those who slew thee fall,
         *By their own kin struck down,                   360
         That one might hear far off,
         Untried by woes like this,
 The fate that brings inevitable death.

 _Chor._ Of blessings more than golden, O my child,
 Greater than greatest fortune, or the bliss
 Of those beyond the North[425] thou speakest now;
         For this is in thy grasp;
 But hold; e'en now this thud of double scourge[426]
         Finds its way on to him;
 Already these find helpers 'neath the earth,
 But of those rulers whom we loathe and hate
         Unholy are the hands:                                       370
         And children gain the day.

                               STROPHE IV

 _Elect._ Ah! this, like arrow, pierces through the ear!
 O Zeus! O Zeus! who sendest from below
         A woe of tardy doom
 Upon the bold and subtle hands of men....
         Nay, though they parents be,
         Yet all shall be fulfilled.

                               STROPHE V

 _Chor._ May it be mine to chant o'er funeral pyre
 *Cry well accordant with the pine-fed blaze,[427]
         When first the man is slain,
         And his wife perisheth!                                     380
 Why should I hide what flutters round my heart?
 On my heart's prow a blast blows mightily,
         Keen wrath and loathing fierce.

                             ANTISTROPHE IV

 _Orest._ And when shall Zeus, the orphan's guardian true,
 Lay to his hand and smite the guilty heads?
         So may our land learn faith!
 Vengeance I claim from those who did the wrong.                     390
         Hear me, O Earth, and ye,
         *Powers held in awe below!

 _Chor._ Yea, the law saith that gory drops once shed
 Upon the ground for yet more blood should crave;
 *For lo! fell slaughter on Erinnys calls,
 To come from those that perished long ago,
 And on one sorrow other sorrow bring.

                               STROPHE VI

 _Elect._ *Ah, ah, O Earth, and Lords of those below!
 Behold, ye mighty Curses of the slain,
 Behold the remnant of the Atreidæ's house
         Brought to extremest strait,                                400
         Bereaved of house and home!
 Whither, O Zeus, can any turn for help?

                             ANTISTROPHE V

 _Chor._ Ah, my fond heart is quivering in dismay,
 *Hearing this loud lament most lamentable:
         Now have I little cheer,
         And blackened is my heart,
 *Hearing that speech; but then again when hope
 *On strength uplifts me, far it drives my grief,
         *Propitious seen at last.

                             ANTISTROPHE VI

 _Orest._ What could we speak more fitly than the woes        410
 We suffer, yea, and from a parent's hands?
 Well, she may fawn; our mood remains unsoothed;
         For like a wolf untamed,
         We from our mother take
 A wrathful soul that to no fawning yields.

                              STROPHE VII

 _Chor._ *I strike an Arian stroke, and in the strain
         Of Kissian mourner skilled,[428]
 Ye might have seen the stretching forth of hands,
 With rendings of the hair, and random blows,
         In quick succession given,
 Dealt from above with arm at fullest length,
 And with the beating still my head is stunned,                      420
         Battered and full of woe.

 _Elect._ O mother, hostile found, and daring all!
         With burial as of foe
 Thou had'st the heart a ruler to inter,
         His citizens not there,
 A spouse unwept, with no lamentings loud.

                              STROPHE VIII

 _Orest._ Ah! thou hast told the whole full tale of shame;
 Shall she not pay then for that outrage dire
         Unto my father done,
         So far as Gods prevail,
         So far as my hands work?
 May it be mine to smite her and then die!                           430

                            ANTISTROPHE VII

 _Chor._ Yea, he was maimed![429] (that thou the tale may'st know)
 And as she slaughtered, so she buried him,
         Seeking to work a doom
 For thy young life all unendurable.
         Now thou dost hear the woes
 Thy father suffered, stained with foulest shame.

                            ANTISTROPHE VIII

 _Elect._ Thou tellest of my father's death, but I
         Stood afar off, contemned,
 Counted as nought, and like a cursèd hound
 Shut up within, I poured the tide of tears
         (More ready they than smiles)
 Uttering in secret wail of weeping full.                            440
 Hear thou these things, and write them in my mind.

 _Chor._ Let the tale pierce thine ears,
 While thy soul onward moves with tranquil step:
         So much, thou know'st, stands thus;
 Seek thou with all desire to know the rest;
         'Tis meet to enter now
 Within the lists with mind inflexible.

                               STROPHE IX

 _Orest._ I bid thee, O my father, help thy friends.

 _Elect._ Bitterly weeping, these my tears I add.

 _Chor._ With full accord so cries our company.
           Come then to light, and hear;                             450
           Be with us 'gainst our foes.

                             ANTISTROPHE IX

 _Orest._ My Might their Might, my Right their
           Right must meet.

 _Elect._ *Ye Gods, give righteous issue in our cause.

 _Chor._ Fear creeps upon me as I hear your prayers.
           Long tarries destiny,
           But comes to those who pray.

                               STROPHE X

 _Semi-Chor. A._ Oh, woe that haunts the race,
 And harsh, shrill stroke of Atè's bloody scourge!
         Woes sad and hard to bear,                                  460
         Calling for wailing loud,
 Ah, woe is me, a grief immedicable.

                             ANTISTROPHE X

 _Semi-Chor. B._ Yea, but as cure for this,
 And healing salve,'tis yours with your own hands,
         With no help from without,
         *To press your suit of blood;
 So runs our hymn to those great Gods below.

 _Chor._ Yea, hearing now, ye blest Ones 'neath the earth,
 This prayer, send ye your children timely help
         That worketh victory.

 _Orest._ O sire, who in no kingly fashion died'st,           470
 Hear thou my prayer; grant victory o'er this house.

 _Elect._ I, father, ask this prayer, that I may work
 *Ægisthos' death, and then acquittal gain.

 _Orest._ Yea, thus the banquets that men give the dead
 Would for thee too be held, but otherwise
 *Dishonoured wilt thou lie 'mid those that feast,[430]
 Robbed of thy country's rich burnt-offerings.

 _Elect._ I too from out my father's house will bring
 Libations from mine own inheritance,
 As marriage offerings. Chief and first of all,
 Will I do honour to this sepulchre.

 _Orest._ Set free my sire, O Earth, to watch the battle.     480

 _Elect._ O Persephassa, goodly victory grant!

 _Orest._ Remember, sire, the bath in which they slew thee!

 _Elect._ *Remember thou the net they handselled so!

 _Orest._ In fetters not of brass wast thou snared, father.

 _Elect._ Yea, basely with that mantle they devised.

 _Orest._ Art thou not roused by these reproaches, father?

 _Elect._ Dost thou not lift thine head for those thou lov'st?

 _Orest._ Or send thou Vengeance to assist thy friends;
 Or let them get like grasp of those thy foes,
 If thou, o'ercome, dost wish to conquer them.                       490

 _Elect._ And hear thou this last prayer of mine, my father,
 Seeing us thy nestlings sitting at thy tomb,
 Have mercy on thy boy and on thy girl;
 Nor blot thou out the seed of Pelopids:
 So thou, though thou hast died, art yet not dead;
 For children are the voices that preserve
 Man's memory when he dies: so bear the net
 The corks that float the flax-mesh from the deep.
 Hear thou: This is our wailing cry for thee,
 And thou, our prayer regarding, sav'st thyself.                     500

 _Chor._ Unblamed have ye your utterance lengthened out,
 Amends for that his tomb's unwept-for lot.
 But as to what remains, since thou'rt resolved
 To act, act now; make trial of thy Fate.

 _Orest._ So shall it be. Yet 'tis not out of course
 To ask why she libations sent, why thus
 Too late she cares for ill she cannot cure?
 Yea, to a dead man heeding not 'twas sent,
 A sorry offering. Why, I fail to guess:
 The gifts are far too little for the fault;                         510
 For should a man pour all he has to pay
 For one small drop of blood, the toil were vain:
 So runs the saying. But if thou dost know,
 Tell this to me as wishing much to learn.

 _Chor._ I know, my child, for I was by. Stirred on
 By dreams and wandering terrors of the night,
 That godless woman these libations sent.

 _Orest._ And have ye learnt the dream, to tell it right?

 _Chor._ As she doth say, she thought she bare a snake.

 _Orest._ How ends the tale, and what its outcome then?

 _Chor._ She nursed it, like a child, in swaddling clothes.   520

 _Orest._ What food did that young monster crave for then?

 _Chor._ She in her dream her bosom gave to it.

 _Orest._ How 'scaped her breast by that dread beast unhurt?

 _Chor._ Nay, with the milk it sucked out clots of blood.

 _Orest._ Ah, not in vain comes this dream from her lord.

 _Chor._ She, roused from sleep, cries out all terrified,
 And many torches that were quenched in gloom
 Blazed for our mistress' sake within the house.
 Then these libations for the dead she sends,
 Hoping they'll prove good medicine of ills.                         530

 _Orest._ Now to Earth here and my sire's tomb I pray
 They leave not this strange vision unfulfilled.
 So I expound it that it all coheres;
 For if, the self-same spot that I left leaving,
 *The snake was then wrapt in my swaddling clothes,
 And sucked the very breast that nourished me,
 And mixed the sweet milk with a clot of blood,
 And she in terror wailed the strange event,
 So must she, as that monster dread she nourished,
 Die cruel death: and I, thus serpentised,                           540
 Am here to slay her, as this dream portends;
 I take thee as my dream-interpreter.

 _Chor._ So be it; but in all else guide thy friends;
 *Bid some do this, some that, some nought at all.

 _Orest._ Simple my orders, that she [_pointing to_ ELECTRA] go within;
 And you, I charge you, hide these plans of mine,
 That they who slew a noble soul by guile,
 By guile may die and in the self-same snare
 Be caught, as Loxias gave his oracle,
 The king Apollo, seer that never lied: 550
 For like a stranger in full harness clad
 Will I draw near with this man, Pylades,
 To the great gates, a stranger I, and he,
 Ally in arms. And then we both will speak
 Parnassian speech, and imitate the tone
 Of Phokian tongue. And should no porter there
 Give us good welcome, on the ground that now
 The house with ills is haunted, there we'll stay,
 So that a man who passeth by the house
 Will guess, and thus will speak, “Why drives Ægisthos
 The suppliant from his gate, if he's at home
 And knows it?” But if I should pass the threshold 560
 Of the great gate, and find him seated there
 Upon my father's throne, or if he comes
 And meets me, face to face, and lifts his eyes,
 And drops them, then be sure, before he says,
 “Whence is this stranger?”—I will lay him dead,
 With my swift-footed brazen weapon pierced;
 And then Erinnys, stinted not in slaughter,
 Shall drink her third draught of unmingled blood.[431]
 Thou, then, [_to_ ELECTRA] watch well what passes in the house, 570
 So that these things may dovetail close and well:
 And you [_to the Chorus_] I bid to keep a tongue discreet,
 Silent, if need be, or the right word speaking,
 And Him[432] [_pointing to the statue of Apollo_] I call to look upon
    me here,
 Since he has set me on this strife of swords.

                               [_Exeunt_ ORESTES, PYLADES, _and_ ELECTRA

                               STROPHE I

 _Chor._ Many dread forms of evils terrible
         Earth bears, and Ocean's bays
         With monsters wild and fierce
 *O'erflow, and through mid-air the meteor lights         580
         Sweep by; and wingèd birds
 And creeping things can tell the vehement rage
         Of whirling storms of winds.

                             ANTISTROPHE I

 But who man's temper overbold may tell,
         Or daring passionate loves
         Of women bold in heart,
 Passions close bound with men's calamities?
         Love that true love disowns,
 That sways the weaker sex in brutes and men,                        590
         Usurps o'er wedlock's ties.

                               STROPHE II

 Whoso is not bird-witted, let him think
         What scheme she learnt to plan,
 Of subtle craft that wrought its will by fire,
 That wretched child of Thestios, who to slay
         Her son did set a-blaze
         The brand that glowed blood-red,
 Which had its birth when first from out the womb
         He came with infant's wail,
 And spanned the measure of its life with his,                       600
         On to the destined day.[433]

                             ANTISTROPHE II

 Another, too, must we with loathing name,
         Skylla, with blood defiled.[434]
 Who for the sake of foes a dear one slew,
 Won by the gold-chased bracelets brought from Crete,
         The gifts that Minos gave,
         And knowing not the end,
 Robbed Nisos of his lock of deathless life,
         She with her dog-like heart                                 610
 Surprising him deep-breathing in his sleep;
         But Hermes comes on her.[435]

                              STROPHE III

 And since I tell the tale of ruthless woes....[436]
         Yet now 'tis not the time
 *To tell of evil marriage which this house
         Doth loathe and execrate,
 And of a woman's schemes and stratagems
         Against a warrior chief,
 *Chief whom his people honoured as was meet,
 I give my praise to hearth from hot broils free,
         And praise that woman's mood
         That dares no deed of ill.

                            ANTISTROPHE III

 But of all crimes the Lemnian foremost stands[437]                  620
         *And the Earth mourns that woe
 As worthy of all loathing. Yes, this guilt
         One might have well compared
 With Lemnian ills; and now that race is gone,
         To lowest shame brought down
 By the foul guilt the Gods abominate:
 For no man honours what the Gods condemn,
         Which instance of all these
         Do I not rightly urge?[438]

                               STROPHE IV

 And now the sword already at the heart,
 Sharp-pointed, strikes a blow that pierces through,
     While Vengeance guides the hand;                                630
     For lo! the lawlessness
 Of one who doth transgress all lawlessly
 The might and majesty of Zeus, lies not
     As trampled under foot.[439]

                             ANTISTROPHE IV

 The anvil-block of Vengeance firm is set,
 And Fate, the swordsmith, hammers on the bronze
     Beforehand; and the child
     Is brought unto his home,
 And in due time the debt of guilt is paid
 By the dark-souled Erinnys, famed of old,
 For blood of former days.

     ORESTES _and_ PYLADES _enter, disguised as Phokian travellers,
            go to the door of the palace, and knock loudly_

 _Orest._ What ho, boy! hear us knocking at the gate.         640
 Who is within, boy? who, boy?—hear, again;
 A third time now I give my summons here,
 If good Ægisthos' house be hospitable.

                                             [_A_ SLAVE _opens the door_

 _Slave._ Hold, hold; I hear. What stranger comes, and whence?

 _Orest._ Tell thou thy lords who over this house rule,
 To whom I come and tidings new report;
 And make good speed, for now the dusky car
 Of night comes on apace, and it is time
 For travellers in hospitable homes
 To cast their anchor; and let some one come
 From out the house who hath authority;                              650
 The lady, if so be one ruleth here,
 But, seemlier far, her lord; for then no shame
 In converse makes our words obscure and dim;
 But man with man gains courage to speak out,
 And makes his mission manifest as day.

                          _Enter_ CLYTÆMNESTRA

 _Clytæm._ If ye need aught, O strangers, speak; for here
 Is all that's fitting for a house like ours;
 Warm baths,[440] and bed that giveth rest from toil,
 And presence of right honest faces too;
 If there be aught that needeth counsel more,
 That is men's business, and to them we'll tell it.                  660

 _Orest._ A Daulian traveller, from Phokis come,
 Am I, and as I went on business bound,
 My baggage with me, unto Argos, I
 (Just as I set forth,) met a man I knew not,
 Who knew not me, and he then, having asked
 My way and told me his, the Phokian Strophios
 (For so I learnt in talking) said to me,
 “Since thou dost go, my friend, for Argos bound,
 In any case, tell those who gave him birth,
 Remembering it right well, Orestes' death;
 See thou forget it not, and whether plans                           670
 Prevail to fetch him home, or bury him
 There where he is, a stranger evermore,
 Bear back the message as thy freight for us;
 For now the ribbed sides of an urn of bronze
 The ashes hide of one whom men have wept.”
 So much I heard and now have told; and if
 I speak to kin that have a right in him
 I know not, but his father sure should know it.

 _Clytæm._ Ah, thou hast told how utterly our ruin
 Is now complete! O Curse of this our house,
 Full hard to wrestle with! How many things,                         680
 Though lying out of reach, thou aimest at,
 And with well-darted arrows from afar
 Dost bring them low! And now thou strippest me,
 Most wretched one, of all that most I loved.
 A lucky throw Orestes now was making,
 Getting his feet from out destruction's slough;
 But now the hope of high, exulting joy,
 *Which this house had as healer, he scores down
 As present in this fashion that we see.

 _Orest._ I could have wished to come to prosperous hosts,
 As known and welcomed for my tidings good;
 For who to hosts is friendlier than a guest?                        690
 But 'twould have been as impious in my thoughts
 Not to complete this matter for my friends,
 By promise bound and pledged as guest to host.

 _Clytæm._ Thou shalt not meet with less than thou deserv'st;
 Nor wilt thou be to this house less a friend;
 Another would have brought news all the same:
 But since 'tis time that strangers who have made
 A long day's journey find the things they need,
 Lead him [_to her Slave, pointing to_ ORESTES] to these our hospitable
 And these his fellow-travellers and servants:                       700
 There let them meet with what befits our house.
 I bid thee act as one who gives account;
 And we unto the masters of our house
 Will tell this news, and with no lack of friends
 Deliberate of this calamity.[441]

                               [_Exeunt_ CLYTÆMNESTRA, ORESTES, PYLADES,
                                   _and Attendants_

 _Chor._ Come then, handmaids of the palace,
         When shall we with full-pitched voices
         Show our feeling for Orestes?
     O earth revered! thou height revered, too,
     Of the mound piled o'er the body
     Of our navy's kingly captain,                                   710
     Oh, hear us now; oh, come and help us;
     For 'tis time for subtle Suasion[442]
     To go with them to the conflict,
     And that Hermes act as escort,
     He who dwells in earth's deep darkness,
     In the strife where swords work mischief.

                            _Enter_ KILISSA

 _Chor._ The stranger seems about to work some ill;
 And here I see Orestes' nurse in tears.
 Where then, Kilissa, art thou bound, that thus
 Thou tread'st the palace-gates, and with thee comes
 Grief as a fellow-traveller unbidden?                               720

 _Kilis._ Our mistress bids me with all speed to call
 Ægisthos to the strangers, that he come
 And hear more clearly, as a man from man,
 This newly-brought report. Before her slaves,
 Under set eyes of melancholy cast,
 She hid her inner chuckle at the events
 That have been brought to pass—too well for her,
 But for this house and hearth most miserably,—
 As in the tale the strangers clearly told.
 He, when he hears and learns the story's gist,
 Will joy, I trow, in heart. Ah, wretched me!                        730
 How those old troubles, of all sorts made up,
 Most hard to bear, in Atreus' palace-halls
 Have made my heart full heavy in my breast!
 But never have I known a woe like this.
 For other ills I bore full patiently,
 But as for dear Orestes, my sweet charge,
 Whom from his mother I received and nursed....
 And then the shrill cries rousing me o' nights.
 And many and unprofitable toils
 For me who bore them. For one needs must rear
 The heedless infant like an animal,                                 740
 (How can it else be?) as his humour serves.
 For while a child is yet in swaddling clothes,
 *It speaketh not, if either hunger comes,
 Or passing thirst, or lower calls of need;
 And children's stomach works its own content.
 And I, though I foresaw this, call to mind
 How I was cheated, washing swaddling clothes,
 And nurse and laundress did the self-same work.
 I then with these my double handicrafts,
 Brought up Orestes for his father dear;
 And now, woe's me! I learn that he is dead,                         750
 And go to fetch the man that mars this house:
 And gladly will he hear these words of mine.

 _Chor._ And how equipped then doth she bid him come?

 _Nurse._ 'How?' Speak again that I may better learn.

 _Chor._ By spearmen followed, or himself alone?

 _Nurse._ She bids him bring his guards with lances armed.

 _Chor._ Nay, say not that to him thy lord doth hate.[443]
 But bid him 'come alone,' (that so he hear
 Without alarm,) 'full speed, with joyous mind,'
 Since 'secret speech with messengers goes best.'                    760

 _Nurse._ And art thou of good cheer at this my tale?

 _Chor._ But what if Zeus will turn the tide of ill?

 _Nurse._ How so? Orestes, our one hope is gone.

 _Chor._ Not yet; a sorry seer might know thus much.

 _Nurse._ What say'st thou? Know'st thou aught besides my tale?

 _Chor._ Go tell thy message; do thine errand well:
 The Gods for what they care for, care enough.

 _Nurse._ I then will go, complying with thy words:
 May all, by God's gift, end most happily!

                               STROPHE I

 _Chor._ Now to my prayer, O Father of the Gods               770
         Of high Olympos, Zeus,
 Grant that their fortune may be blest indeed
 *Who long to look on goodness prospering well,
         Yea, with full right and truth
 I speak the word—O Zeus, preserve thou him!

                               STROPHE II

 Yea, Zeus, set him whom now the palace holds,
         Set him above his foes;
         For if thou raise him high,
 Then shall thou have, to thy heart's full content,
 Payment of twofold, threefold recompense.

                             ANTISTROPHE I

 Know that the son of one who loved thee well                        780
         *Like colt of sire bereaved,
 *Is to the chariot of great evils yoked,
 *And set thy limit to his weary path.
         *Ah, would that one might see
 *His panting footsteps, as he treads his course,
 *Keeping due measure through this plain of ours!

                              STROPHE III

         And ye within the gate,
         Ye Gods, in purpose one,
         Who dwell in shrines enriched
         With all good things, come ye,
         And now with vengeance fresh
         Atone for murder foul
         Of those that fell long since:                              790
         *And let that blood of old,
         *When these are justly slain,
         Breed no more in our house.


 O Thou[444] that dwellest in the cavern vast,
         Adorned with goodly gifts,
 Grant our lord's house to look up yet once more,
         And that it now may glance,
         In free and glorious guise
         With loving kindly eyes,
         From out its veil of gloom.
         Let Maia's son[445] too give
         His righteous help, and waft
         Good end with prosperous gale.

                            ANTISTROPHE III

         *And things that now are hid,                    800
         He, if he will, will bring
         As to the daylight clear;
         But when it pleases him
         Dark, hidden words to speak,
         As in thick night he bears
         Black gloom before his face;[446]
         Nor is he in the day
         One whit more manifest.

                               STROPHE IV

         *And then our treasured store,[447]
         *The price as ransom paid
         To free the house from ill,
         A woman's gift on breath
         Of favouring breeze onborne,
         We then with clamorous cry,
         To sound of cithern sweet,
         Will in the city pour;
         And if this prospers well,
 *My gains, yea mine, 'twill swell, and Atè then
         From those I love stands far.                               810

                             ANTISTROPHE II

 But thou, take courage, when the time is come
         For action, and cry out,
         Shouting thy father's name,
 When she shall cry aloud the name of “son,”
 And work thou out a woe that none will blame.

                             ANTISTROPHE IV

         And have thou in thy breast
         The heart that Perseus had,[448]
         And for thy friends beneath,
         And those on earth who dwell,
         Go thou and work the deed
         Acceptable to them,                                         820
         Of bitter, wrathful mood,
         And consummate within
         *The loathly work of blood;
 [And bidding Vengeance come as thine ally,]
         Destroy the murderer.

                            _Enter_ ÆGISTHOS

 _Ægis._ Not without summons came I, but by word
 Of courier fetched, and learn that travellers bring
 Their tale of tidings new, in no wise welcome.
 As for Orestes' death, with it to charge
 The house would be a burden dropping fear
 To one by that old bloodshed sorely stung.[449]
 How shall I count these things? As clear and true?
 Or are they vague reports of woman's fears,                         830
 That leap up high and die away to nought?
 What can'st thou say that will my mind inform?

 _Chor._ We heard, 'tis true; but go thou in and ask
 Of these same strangers. Nought is found in words
 Of messengers like asking, man from man.

 _Ægis._ I wish to see and probe the messenger,
 If he himself were present at the death,
 Or tells it hearing of a vague report:
 They shall not cheat a mind with eyes wide open.


 _Chor._ Zeus! Zeus! what words shall I                       840
         Now speak, whence start in prayer,
         *Invoking help of Gods?
         How with all wish for good
         Shall I speak fitting words?
         For now the sharp sword-points,
         Red with the blood of man,
         Will either work for aye
         The utter overthrow
         Of Agamemnon's house,
         Or, kindling fire and torch
         For freedom thus achieved,
         Will he the sceptre wield
         Of duly-ordered sway,
         His father's pride and state:                               850
         Such is the contest he,
         Orestes, godlike one,
         Now wages all alone,
         The one sole combatant,[450]
         In place of him who fell,
 Against those twain. May victory be his!

 _Ægisth._ [_groaning within_] Ah! ah! Woe's me!

 _Chor._ Hark! hark! How goes it now?
 What issue has been wrought within the house?
 Let us hold back while they the deed are doing,
 That we may seem as guiltless of these ills:
 For surely now the fight has reached its end.

                 _Enter_ Servant _from the chief door_

 _Serv._ Alas! alas! my master perishes!                      860
 Alas! alas! a third time yet I call.
 Ægisthos is no more; but open now
 With all your speed, and loosen ye the bolts
 That bar the women's gates. A man's full strength
 Is needed; not indeed that that would help
 A man already slain.

                         [_Rushes to the gate of the woman's half of the

                         Ho there! I say:
 I speak to the deaf; to those that sleep I utter
 In vain my useless cries. And where is she?
 Where's Clytæmnestra? What doth she do now?
 Her neck upon the razor's edge doth seem
 To fall, down-stricken by a vengeance just.                         870

               _Enter_ CLYTÆMNESTRA _from the side door_

 _Clytæm._ What means all this? What cry is this thou mak'st?

 _Serv._ I say the dead are killing one who lives.

 _Clytæm._ Ah, me! I see the drift of thy dark speech;
 By guile we perish, as of old we slew:
 Let some one hand at once axe strong to slay;
 Let's see if we are conquered or can conquer,
 For to that point of evil am I come.

          _Enter_ ORESTES _and_ PYLADES _from the other door_

 _Orest._ 'Tis thou I seek: he there has had enough.

 _Clytæm._ Ah me! my loved Ægisthos! Art thou dead?

 _Orest._ Lov'st thou the man? Then in the self-same tomb     880
 Shalt thou now lie, nor in his death desert him.

 _Clytæm._ [_baring her bosom_] Hold, boy! Respect
 this breast of mine, my son,[451]
 Whence thou full oft, asleep, with toothless gums,
 Hast sucked the milk that sweetly fed thy life.

 _Orest._ What shall I do, my Pylades? Shall I
 Through this respect forbear to slay my mother?

 _Pyl._[452] Where, then, are Loxias' other oracles,
 The Pythian counsels, and the fast-sworn vows?
 Have all men hostile rather than the Gods.

 _Orest._ My judgment goes with thine; thou speakest well:
 [_To_ CLYTÆMNESTRA] Follow: I mean to slay thee where he lies,890
 For while he lived thou held'st him far above
 My father. Sleep thou with him in thy death,
 Since thou lov'st him, and whom thou should'st love hatest.

 _Clytæm._ I reared thee, and would fain grow old with thee.

 _Orest._ What! Thou live with me, who did'st slay my father?

 _Clytæm._ Fate, O my son, must share the blame of that.

 _Orest._ This fatal doom, then, it is Fate that sends.

 _Clytæm._ Dost thou not fear a parent's curse, my son?

 _Orest._ Thou, though my mother, did'st to ill chance cast me.

 _Clytæm._ No outcast thou, so sent to house allied.          900

 _Orest._ I was sold doubly, though of free sire born.

 _Clytæm._ Where is the price, then, that I got for thee?

 _Orest._ I shrink for shame from pressing that charge home.

 _Clytæm._ Nay, tell thy father's wantonness as well.

 _Orest._ Blame not the man who toils when thou'rt at ease.[453]

 _Clytæm._ 'Tis hard, my son, for wives to miss their husband.

 _Orest._ The husband's toil keeps her that sits at home.[453]

 _Clytæm._ Thou seem'st, my son, about to slay thy mother.

 _Orest._ It is not I that slay thee, but thyself.

 _Clytæm._ Take heed, beware a mother's vengeful hounds.[454] 910

 _Orest._ How, slighting this, shall I escape my father's?

 _Clytæm._ I seem in life to wail as to a tomb.[455]

 _Orest._ My father's fate ordains this doom for thee.

 _Clytæm._ Ah me! the snake is here I bare and nursed.[456]

 _Orest._ An o'er-true prophet was that dread dream-born;
 Thou slewest one thou never should'st have slain,
 Now suffer fate should never have been thine.

                       [_Exit_ ORESTES, _leading_ CLYTÆMNESTRA _into the
                           palace, and followed by_ PYLADES

 _Chor._ E'en of these two I wail the twin mischance;
 But since long line of murder culminates
 In poor Orestes, this we yet accept,
 That he, our one light, fall not utterly.                           920

                               STROPHE I

 Late came due vengeance on the sons of Priam,
         Just forfeit of sore woe;—
 Late came there too to Agamemnon's house,
         Twin lions, twofold Death.[457]
 The exile who obeyed the Pythian hest
         Hath gained his full desire,
 Sped on his way by counsel from the Gods.

                               STROPHE II

 Shout ye, loud shout for the escape from ills
         Our master's house has seen,
 And from the wasting of his ancient wealth
         By that defilèd pair,                                       930
         Ill fate intolerable.

                             ANTISTROPHE I

 And so on one who loves the war of guile
         Revenge came subtle-souled;
 And in the strife of hands the child of Zeus
         In very deed gave help,
 (We mortals call her Vengeance, hitting well
         The meetest name for her,)
 Breathing destroying wrath against her foes.

                              STROPHE III

 She, she it is whom Loxias summons now,                             940
 Who dwelleth in Parnassia's cavern vast,
         *Calling on her who still
         *Is guileful without guile,
 *Halting of foot and tarrying over-long:
 The will of Gods is strangely overruled;
         It may not help the vile;[458]
 'Tis meet to adore the Power that rules in Heaven:
         At last we see the light.

                             ANTISTROPHE II

 *Now is the bit that curbed the slaves ta'en off:[459]
         Arise, arise, O house:
 Too long, too long, all prostrate on the ground                     950
         Ye have been used to lie.
        ·       ·       ·       ·       ·

                            ANTISTROPHE III

 Quickly all-working Time will bring a change
 Across the threshold of the palace old,
         When from the altar-hearth
         It shall drive all the guilt,
 With cleansing rites that chase away our woes;
 And Fortune's throws shall fall with gladsome cast,
           *Once more benign to see,[460]
 For new-come strangers settled in the house:
           At last we see the light.

  _Enter_ ORESTES, PYLADES, _and followers from the palace. His
        attendants bear the robe in which_ AGAMEMNON _had been murdered_

 _Orest._ See ye this country's tyrant rulers twain,          960
 My father's murderers, wasters of his house;
 Stately were they, seen sitting on their thrones,
 Friends too e'en now, to argue from their fate,
 Whose oaths are kept to every pledge they gave.
 Firmly they swore that they would slay my father,
 And die together. Well those oaths are kept:
 And ye who hear these ills, behold ye now
 Their foul device, as bonds for my poor father,
 Handcuffs, and fetters both his feet to bind.
 Come, stretch it out, and standing all around,                      970
 Show ye the snare that wrapt him o'er, that He
 May see, our Father,—not of mine I speak,
 But the great Sun that looks on all we do,—
 My mother's deeds, defilèd and impure,
 That He may be a witness in my cause,
 That I did justly bring this doom to pass
 Upon my mother.... Of Ægisthos' fate
 No word I speak. He bears the penalty,
 As runs the law, of an adulterer's guilt;
 But she who planned this crime against a man
 By whom she knew the weight of children borne
 Beneath her girdle, once a burden loved,
 But now, as it is proved, a grievous ill,                           980
 What seems she to you? Had she viper been,
 Or fell myræna,[461] she with touch alone,
 *Rather than bite, had made a festering sore
 With that bold daring of unrighteous mood.
 What shall I call it, using mildest speech?
 A wild beast's trap?—a pall that wraps a bier,
 And hides a dead man's feet?—A net, I trow,
 A snare, a robe entangling, one might call it.
 Such might be owned by one to plunder trained,
 Practised in duping travellers, and the life
 That robs men of their money; with this trap                        990
 Destroying many, many deeds of ill
 His fevered brain might hatch. May such as she
 Ne'er share my dwelling! May the hand of God
 Far rather smite me that I childless die!

 _Chor._ [_looking on_ AGAMEMNON'S _robe._] Ah me! ah me! these deeds
    most miserable!
 By hateful murder thou wast done to death.
         Woe, woe is me!
 And evil buds and blooms for him that's left.

 _Orest._ Was the deed hers or no? Lo! this same robe
 Bears witness how she dyed Ægisthos' sword,
 And the blood-stain helps Time's destroying work,                  1000
 Marring full many a tint of pattern fair:
 *Now name I it, now as eye-witness wail;[462]
 And calling on this robe that slew my father,
 Moan for all done and suffered, wail my race,
 Bearing the foul stains of this victory.

 _Chor._ No mortal man shall live a life unharmed,
 *Stout-hearted and rejoicing evermore.
         Woe, woe is me!
 One trouble vexes now, another comes.

 _Orest._ (_wildly, as one distraught._) Nay, know ye—for I know not how
    'twill end;1010
 Like chariot-driver with his steeds I'm dragged
 Out of my course; for passion's moods uncurbed
 Bear me their victim headlong. At my heart
 Stands terror ready or to sing or dance
 In burst of frenzy. While my reason stays,
 I tell my friends here that I slew my mother,
 Not without right, my father's murderess,
 Accursed, and hated of the Gods. And I
 As chiefest spell that made me dare this deed
 Count Loxias, Pythian prophet, warning me
 That doing this I should be free from blame,                       1020
 But slighting.... I pass o'er the penalty[463]....
 For none, aim as he will, such woes will hit.
 And now ye see me, in what guise equipped,

                       [_Putting on the suppliant's wreaths of wool, and
                           taking an olive branch in his hand_

 With this my bough and chaplet I will gain
 Earth's central shrine, the home where Loxias dwells,
 And the bright fire that is as deathless known,[464]
 Seeking to 'scape this guilt of kindred blood;
 And on no other hearth, so Loxias bade,
 May I seek shelter. And I charge you all,
 Ye Argives, bear ye witness in due time                            1030
 How these dark deeds of wretched ill were wrought:
 But I, a wanderer, exiled from my land,
 Shall live, and leaving these my prayers in death,...

 _Chor._ Nay, thou hast prospered: burden not thy lips
 With evil speech, nor speak ill-boding words,
 When thou hast freed the Argive commonwealth,
 By good chance lopping those two serpents' heads.

                      [_The Erinnyes are seen in the background, visible
                          to_ ORESTES _only, in black robes, and with
                          snakes in their hair_

 _Orest._ Ah! ah! ye handmaids: see, like Gorgons these,
 Dark-robed, and all their tresses hang entwined
 With many serpents. I can bear no more.

 _Chor._ What phantoms vex thee, best beloved of sons        1040
 By thy dear sire? Hold, fear not, victory's thine.

 _Orest._ These are no phantom terrors that I see:
 Full clear they are my mother's vengeful hounds.

 _Chor._ The blood fresh-shed is yet upon thy hands,
 And thence it is these troubles haunt thy soul.

 _Orest._ O King Apollo! See, they swarm, they swarm,
 And from their eyes is dropping loathsome blood.

 _Chor._ One way of cleansing is there; Loxias' form
 Clasp thou, and he will free thee from these ills.

 _Orest._ These forms ye see not, but I see them there:
 They drive me on, and I can bear no more.           [_Exit_

 _Chor._ Well, may'st thou prosper; may the gracious God     1050
 Watch o'er and guard thee with a chance well timed!

 Here, then, upon this palace of our kings
         A third storm blows again;
 The blast that haunts the race has run its course.
 First came the wretched meal of children's flesh;
         Next what befell our king:
 Slain in the bath was he who ruled our host,
         Of all the Achæans lord;
 And now a third has come, we know not whence,[465]
         To save ... or shall I say,
         To work a doom of death?
 Where will it end? Where will it cease at last,
         The mighty Atè dread,
         Lulled into slumber deep?


Footnote 401:

  Hermes is invoked, (1) as the watcher over the souls of the dead in
  Hades, and therefore the natural patron of the murdered Agamemnon; (2)
  as exercising an authority delegated by Zeus, and therefore capable of
  being, like Zeus himself, the deliverer and helper of suppliants. So
  Electra, further on, invokes Hermes in the same character. The line
  may, however, be rendered,

             “Who stand'st as guardian of my father's house.”

  The three opening lines are noticeable, as having been chosen by
  Aristophanes as the special object for his satirical criticism
  (_Frogs_, 1126-1176), abounding in a good score of ambiguities and

Footnote 402:

  The words point to the two symbolic aspects of one and the same
  practice. In both there are some points of analogy with the earlier
  and later forms of the Nazarite vow among the Jews. (1) As being part
  of the body, and yet separable from it without mutilation, it became
  the representative of the whole man, and as such was the sign of a
  votive dedication. As early as Homer, it was the custom of youths to
  keep one long, flowing lock as consecrated, and when they reached
  manhood, they cut it off, and offered it to the river-god of their
  country, throwing it into the stream, as that to which, directly and
  indirectly, they owed their nurture. Here the offering is made to
  Inachos, as the hero-founder of Argos, identified with the river that
  bore his name. (2) They shaved their head, wholly or in part, as a
  token as a token of grief, and then, because true grief for the dead
  was an acceptable and propitiatory offering, this became the natural
  offering for suppliants who offered their prayers at the tombs of the
  departed. So in the _Aias_ of Sophocles (v. 1174) Teucros calls on
  Eurysakes to approach the corpse of his father, holding in his hand
  locks of his own hair, his mother's, and that of Teucros. In the
  offering which Achilles makes over the grave of Patroclos of the hair
  which he had cherished for the river-god of his fatherland,
  Spercheios, we have the union of the two customs. Homer. _Il._ xxiii.

Footnote 403:

  After the widespread fashion of the East, the handmaids of
  Clytæmnestra (originally Troïan captives) had to rend their clothes,
  beat their breasts, and lacerate their faces till the blood came. The
  higher civilisation of Solon's laws had forbidden these wild,
  barbarous forms of grief at Athens. Plutarch, _Solon_, p. 164.

Footnote 404:

  Purposely, perhaps, obscure. They seem to say that the old reverence
  for Agamemnon has passed away, and instead of it there is only a
  slavish fear for Ægisthos. For the more acute, however, they imply
  that those who have cause to fear are Ægisthos and Clytæmnestra

Footnote 405:

  The words, in their generalising sententiousness, refer specially to
  the twofold crime of Ægisthos as an adulterer and murderer. Then, in
  the Epode, the Chorus justify themselves for their seeming
  inconsistency in thus abhorring the guilt, and yet acting as
  instruments of the guilty in their attempts to escape punishment.

Footnote 406:

  The mourners speak, of course, of Agamemnon and Orestes, not of
  Ægisthos and Clytæmnestra.

Footnote 407:

  A mixture of meal, honey, and oil formed the half-liquid substance
  commonly used for these funereal libations. The “garlands” may be
  wreaths of flowers or fillets, or the word may be used figuratively
  for the libation itself, as crowning the mound in which Agamemnon lay.

Footnote 408:

  The words point to a strange Athenian custom. When a house was
  cleansed of that which defiled it, morally or physically, the filth
  was carried in an earthen vessel to a place where three ways met, and
  the worshipper flung the vessel behind him, and walked away without
  turning to look at it. To Electra's mind, the libation which her
  mother sends is equally unclean, and should be treated in the same
  way. So in Hom. _Il._ i. 314, the Argives purify themselves, and then
  cast the lustral water they have used into the sea. Lev. vi. 11, gives
  us an analogous usage. Comp. also Theocritos, _Idyll_ xxiv., vv.

Footnote 409:

  Partly it is the youth of Electra that seeks counsel from those who
  had more experience; partly she shrinks from the responsibility of
  being the first to utter the formula of execration.

Footnote 410:

  The word “escort” has a special reference to the function of Hermes in
  the unseen world. As he was wont to act as guide to the souls of the
  dead in their downward journey, so now Electra prays that he may lead
  the blessings she asks for upward from the dark depths of Earth.

Footnote 411:

  The Skythian bow, long and elastic, bending either way, like those of
  the Arabians (Herod. vii. 69). The connection of Ares with the wild,
  fierce tribes of Thrakia and Skythia meets us again and again in the
  literature of Greece. He was the only God to whom they built temples
  (_ibid._ iv. 59). They sacrificed human victims to an iron sword as
  his more appropriate symbol (iv. 62). The use of iron for weapons of
  war came to the Greeks from them (_Seven ag. Th._ 729; _Prom._ 714).

Footnote 412:

  It may be worth while to compare the method adopted by the three
  dramatists of Greece in bringing about the recognition of the brother
  by the sister. (1) Here the lock of hair, in its peculiar colour and
  texture resembling her own, followed by the likeness of his footsteps
  to hers, prepares the way first for vague anticipations, and then the
  robe she had made for him, leads to her acceptance of Orestes on his
  own discovery of himself. To this it has been objected, by Euripides
  in the first instance (_Electra_, vv. 462-500), that the evidence of
  the colour of the hair is weak, that a young man's foot must have been
  larger than a maiden's, and that he could not have worn as a man the
  garment she had made for him as a child. It might be replied, perhaps,
  that there are such things as hereditary resemblances extending to the
  colour of the hair and the arch of the instep, and that the robe may
  either have been shown instead of worn, or, being worn, have been
  adapted for the larger growth. (2) In the _Electra_ of Sophocles the
  lock of hair alone convinces Chrysothemis that her brother is near at
  hand (v. 900), while Electra herself requires the further evidence of
  Agamemnon's seal (v. 1223). In Euripides (v. 527), all proof fails
  till Orestes shows a scar on his brow, which his sister remembers.

Footnote 413:

  The saying is probably one of the widespread proverbs which imply
  parables. The idea is obviously that with which we are familiar in the
  Gospel “grain of mustard seed.” Here, as in the “kicking against the
  pricks” of Acts ix. 5, xxvi. 14, and _Agam._ v. 1604, we are carried
  back to a period which lies beyond the range of history as that in
  which men took note of the analogies and embodied them in forms like

Footnote 414:

  So in the _Odyssey_ (xix. 228), Odysseus appears as wearing a woollen
  cloak, on which are embroidered the figures of a fawn and a dog.

Footnote 415:

  An obvious reproduction of the words of Andromache (_Il._ vi. 429).

Footnote 416:

  The words seem to imply that burning alive was known among the Greeks
  as a punishment for the most atrocious crimes. The “oozing pitch,” if
  we adopt that rendering, apparently describes something like the
  “_tunica molesta_” of Juvenal. (_Sat._ viii. 235.) Hesychios (s. v.
  Κωνῆσαι) mentions the practice as alluded to in a lost play of

Footnote 417:

  The words are both doubtful and obscure. Taking the reading which I
  have adopted, they seem to mean that while men in general had means of
  propitiating the Erinnyes and other Powers for the guilt of unavenged
  bloodshed, Orestes and Electra had no such way of escape open to them.
  If they, the next of kin, failed to do their work, they would be
  exposed to the full storm of wrath. But a conjectural emendation of
  one word gives us,

                “For making known to men the earth-born ills
                That come from wrathful Powers.”

Footnote 418:

  Either that old age would come prematurely, or that the hair itself
  would share the leprous whiteness of the flesh.

Footnote 419:

  The words, as taken in the text, refer to Orestes seeing even in sleep
  the spectral forms of the Erinnyes. By some editors the verse is
  placed after v. 276, and the lines then read thus:—

          “And that he calls fresh onsets of the Erinnyes
          As brought to issue from a father's blood,
          Seeing clearly, though he move his brow in darkness.”

  So taken, the last line refers to Agamemnon, who, though in the
  darkness of Hades, sees the penalties which will fail upon his son
  should he neglect to take vengeance on his father's murderers.

Footnote 420:

  Stress is laid here, as in _Agam._ 1224, on the effeminacy of the

Footnote 421:

  The great law of retribution is repeated from _Agam._ 1564. As one of
  the earliest utterances of man's moral sense, it was referred
  popularly among the Greeks to Rhadamanthos, who with Minos judged the
  souls of the dead in Hades. Comp. Aristot. _Ethic. Nicom._, v. 8.

Footnote 422:

  The funeral pyre, which consumes the body, leaves the life and power
  of the man untouched. The spirit survives, and calls on the Gods that
  dwell in darkness to avenge him. The very cry of wailing tends, as a
  prayer to them, to the exposure of the murderer.

Footnote 423:

  The Lykians, of whom Glaucos and Sarpedon are the representative
  heroes in the _Iliad_, are named as the chief allies of the Troïans.

Footnote 424:

  The words embody the widespread feeling that the absence of funereal
  honours affected the spirit of the dead, and that the souls with whom
  he dwelt held him in high or low esteem according as they had been
  given or withheld.

Footnote 425:

  Pindar (_Pyth._ x. 47), the contemporary of Æschylos, had made the
  name of these Hyperborei well known to all Greeks. The vague dreams of
  men, before the earth had been searched out, pictured a happy land as
  lying beyond their reach. There were Islands of the Blest in the far
  West; Æthiopians, peaceful and long-lived, in the South; and far away,
  beyond the cold North, a people exempt from the common evils of
  humanity. The latter have been connected with the old Aryan belief in
  the paradise of Mount Meru. Comp. also Herod. iv. 421; _Prom._ 812.

Footnote 426:

  _Sc._, the beating of both hands upon the breast, as the Chorus
  uttered their lamentations.

Footnote 427:

  Perhaps, simply “the sharp and bitter cry.” But the rendering in the
  text seems justified as repeating the wish already expressed (v. 260),
  that the murderers may die by this form of death.

Footnote 428:

  The Chorus at this point renew their words and cries of lamentation,
  smiting on their breasts. By some critics this speech and Antistrophe
  VII. are assigned to Electra, Antistrophe VIII. to the Chorus, with a
  corresponding change in the pronouns “my” and “thy.” The Chorus, as
  consisting of Troïan captives, is represented as adopting the more
  vehement Asiatic forms of wailing. Among these the Arians, Kissians,
  and Mariandynians (_Pers._ 920) seem to have been most conspicuous for
  their skill in lamentation, and, as such, were in request where hired
  mourners were wanted. Compare the opening chorus, v. 22.

Footnote 429:

  The practice of mutilating the corpse of a murdered man by cutting off
  his hands and feet and fastening them round his waist, seems to have
  been looked on as rendering him powerless to seek for vengeance. Comp.
  Soph. _Elect._ v. 437. This kind of mutilation, and not mere wanton
  outrage, is what the Chorus refer to.

Footnote 430:

  As in v. 351 the loss of honour among the dead was represented as one
  consequence of the absence of funereal rites from those who loved the
  dead, so here the restoration of the children to their rights appears
  as the condition without which that dishonour must continue. If they
  succeed, then, and then only, can they offer funereal banquets, year
  by year, as was the custom. There may be a special reference to an
  Argive custom mentioned by Plutarch (_Quæst. Græc._, c. 24) of
  sacrificing immediately after the death of a relative to Apollo, and
  thirty days later to Hermes.

Footnote 431:

  Another reference to the third cup of undiluted wine which men drank
  to the honour of Zeus the Preserver. Comp. _Agam._ v. 245.

Footnote 432:

  Possibly the pronoun refers to Pylades.

Footnote 433:

  The story of Althæa has perhaps been made most familiar to English
  readers by Mr. Swinburne's _Atalanta in Calydon_. More briefly told,
  the legend ran that she, being the wife of Œneus, bare a son, who was
  believed to be the child of Ares—that the Fates came to her when the
  boy, who was named Meleagros, was seven days old, and told her that
  his life should last until the firebrand then burning on the earth
  should be consumed. She took the firebrand and quenched it, and laid
  it by in a chest; but when Meleagros grew up, he joined in the chase
  of the great boar of Calydon, and when he had slain it, gave the skin
  as a trophy to Atalanta, and when his mother's brothers, the sons of
  Thestios, claimed it as their right, he waxed wroth with them and slew
  them. And then Althæa, in her grief, caring more for her brothers than
  her son, took the brand from the chest, and threw it into the fire,
  and so Meleagros died. Phrynichos is said to have made the myth the
  subject of a drama. In Homer (_Il._ x. 566), Althæa brings about her
  son's death by her curses.

Footnote 434:

  Skylla (not to be confounded with the sea-monster of Messina) was the
  daughter of Nisos, king of Megaris, who had on his head a lock of
  purple hair, which was a charm that preserved his life from all
  danger. And the Cretans under Minos attacked Nisos, and besieged him
  in his city; and Minos won the love of Skylla, and tempted her with
  gifts, and she cut off her father's lock of hair, and so he perished.
  But Minos, scorning her for her deed, bound her by the feet to the
  stern of his ship and drowned her.

Footnote 435:

  Hermes, _i.e._, in his office as the escort of the souls of the dead
  to Hades.

Footnote 436:

  The Chorus apparently is represented as on the point of completing its
  catalogue of crimes committed by women with the story of
  Clytæmnestra's guilt. Something leads them to check themselves, and
  they are contented with a dark and vague allusion.

Footnote 437:

  The story of the Lemnian women is told by Herodotos (vi. 138). They
  rose up against their husbands and put them all to death; and the deed
  passed into a proverb, so that all great crimes were spoken of as
  Lemnian. This guilt is that alluded to in Strophe III.

Footnote 438:

  In every case of which the Chorus had spoken guilt had been followed
  by retribution. So, it is implied, it will be in that which is present
  to their thoughts.

Footnote 439:

  _Sc._, is not forgotten or overlooked, but will assuredly meet with
  its due punishment.

Footnote 440:

  So in Homer (_Il._ xxii. 444), the warm bath is prepared by Andromache
  for Hector on his return from the battle in which he fell.

Footnote 441:

  As in her speeches in the _Agamemnon_ (vv. 595, 884), Clytæmestra's
  words here also are full of significant ambiguity. The “things that
  befit the house,” the proposed conference with Ægisthos, her
  separation of Orestes from his companions, are all indications of
  suspicion already half aroused. The last three lines were probably
  spoken as an “aside.”

Footnote 442:

  Suasion is personified, and invoked to come and win Clytæmnestra to
  trust herself in the power of the two avengers.

Footnote 443:

  An alternative rendering is,

              “Nay, say not that to him with show of hate.”

Footnote 444:

  Apollo in the shrine at Delphi.

Footnote 445:

  Hermes invoked once more, as at once the patron of craft and the
  escort of the dead.

Footnote 446:

  Or “before our eyes.”

Footnote 447:

  The “treasured score” is explained by the words that follow to mean
  the cry of exultation which the Chorus will raise when the deed of
  vengeance is accomplished; or, possibly (as Mr. Paley suggests), the
  funereal wail over the bodies of Ægisthos and Clytæmnestra, which the
  Chorus would raise to avert the guilt of the murder from Orestes.

Footnote 448:

  As Perseus could only overcome the Gorgon, Medusa, by turning away his
  eyes, lest looking on her he should turn to stone, so Orestes was to
  avoid meeting his mother's glance, lest that should unman him and
  blunt his purpose.

Footnote 449:

  Ægisthos had suffered enough, he says, for his share in Agamemnon's
  death. He has no wish that fresh odium should fall on him, as being
  implicated also in the death of Orestes, of which he has just heard.

Footnote 450:

  The word (_ephedros_) was applied technically to one who sat by during
  a conflict between two athletes, prepared to challenge the victor to a
  fresh encounter. Orestes is such a combatant, taking the place of

Footnote 451:

  So, in Homer (_Il._ xxii. 79), Hecuba, when the entreaties of Priam
  had been in vain, makes this last appeal—

             “Then to the front his mother rushed, in tears,
             Her bosom bare, with either hand her breast
             Sustaining, and with tears addressed him thus,
             'Hector, my son, thy mother's breast revere.'”

Footnote 452:

  The reader will note this as the only speech put into the lips of
  Pylades, though he is present as accompanying Orestes throughout great
  part of the drama.

Footnote 453:

  The different ethical standard applied to the guilt of the husband and
  the wife was, we may well believe, that which prevailed among the
  Athenians generally. It has only too close a parallel in the ballads
  and romances of our own early literature.

Footnote 454:

  The line is memorable as prophetic of the whole plot of the

Footnote 455:

  The phrase “wail as to a tomb” seems to have been a by-word for
  fruitless entreaty and lamentation.

Footnote 456:

  Clytæmnestra sees now the important of the dream referred to in vv.

Footnote 457:

  The words must be left in their obscurity. Commentators have
  conjectured Orestes and Pylades, or the deaths of Agamemnon and
  Iphigeneia, or those of Ægisthos and Clytæmnestra, as the “two lions,”
  spoken of. The first seems most in harmony with the context.

Footnote 458:

  The Eternal Justice which orders all things is mightier than any
  arbitrary will, such as men attribute to the Gods. That will, even if
  we dare to think of it as changeable or evil, is held in restraint. It
  cannot, even if it would, protect the evildoers.

Footnote 459:

  The Chorus feel that they have been too long silent; now, at last,
  they can speak. As slaves dreading punishment they had been gagged
  before; now the gag is removed.

Footnote 460:

  Or, “Once more for those who wail.”

Footnote 461:

  It is not clear with what form of animal life the _myræna_ is to be
  identified. The ideal implied is that of some sea-monster whose touch
  was poisonous, but this does not hold good of the “lamprey.”

Footnote 462:

  As the text stands, Orestes says that at last he can speak of the
  murder over which he had long brooded in silence. Another reading
  makes him speak of the oscillations in his own mind—

              “Now do I praise myself, now wail and blame.”

Footnote 463:

  Comp. vv. 270-288.

Footnote 464:

  Delphi was to the Greek (as Jerusalem was to mediæval Christendom) the
  centre at once of his religious life and of the material earth. Its
  rock was the _omphalos_ of the world. Consecrated widows watched over
  the sacred and perpetual fire. Once only up to the time of Æschylos,
  when the Temple itself was desecrated by the Persians, had it ceased
  to burn.

Footnote 465:

  Once again we have the thought of the third cup offered as a libation
  to Zeus as saviour and deliverer. The Chorus asks whether this third
  deed of blood will be true to that idea and work out deliverance.


                            DRAMATIS PERSONÆ

                 PYTHIAN PRIESTESS
                 _Ghost of Clytæmnestra_
                 _Chorus of the Erinnyes_
                 _Athenian Citizens, Women, and Girls_

_ARGUMENT.—The Erinnyes who appeared to Orestes after the murder of
Clytæmnestra made his life miserable, and drove him without rest from
land to land. And he, seeking to escape them, had recourse to the Oracle
of Apollo at Delphi, believing that he who had sent him to do the work
of vengeance would also help to free him from this wretchedness. But the
Erinnyes followed him there also, and took their places even within the
holy shrine of the Oracle, and while Orestes knelt on the central hearth
as a suppliant, they sat upon the seats there, and for very weariness
fell asleep._


   SCENE.—_The Outer Court of the Oracle at_ Delphi. _Inner shrine in
              the background, with doors leading into it_

                     _Enter the_ PYTHIAN PRIESTESS

 _Pyth._ First, with this prayer, of all the Gods I honour
 The primal seeress Earth, and Themis next,[466]
 Who in due order filled her mother's place,
 (So runs the tale,) and in the third lot named,
 With her good-will and doing wrong to none,
 Another of the Titans' offspring sat,
 Earth's daughter Phœbe, and as birthday gift
 She gives it up to Phœbos,[467] and he takes
 His name from Phœbe. And he, leaving then
 The pool[468] and rocks of Delos, having steered
 To the ship-traversed shores that Pallas owns,                       10
 Came to this land and to Parnassos' seat:
 And with great reverence they escort him on,
 Hephæstos' sons, road-makers,[469] turning thus
 The wilderness to land no longer wild;
 And when he comes the people honour him,
 And Delphos too,[470] chief pilot of this land.
 And him Zeus sets, his mind with skill inspired,
 As the fourth seer upon these sacred seats;
 And Loxias is his father Zeus's prophet.
 These Gods in prologue of my prayer I worship;                       20
 Pallas Pronaia[471] too claims highest praise;
 The Nymphs adore I too where stands the rock
 Korykian,[472] hollow, loved of birds and haunt
 Of Gods. [And Bromios[473] also claims this place,
 Nor can I now forget it, since the time
 When he, a God, with help of Bacchants warred,
 And planned a death for Pentheus, like a hare's.[474]
 Invoking Pleistos'[475] founts, Poseidon's might,
 And Zeus most High, supreme Accomplisher,
 I in due order sit upon this seat
 As seeress, and I pray them that they grant
 To find than all my former divinations                               30
 One better still. If Hellas pilgrims sends,
 Let them approach by lot, as is our law;
 For as the God guides I give oracles.[476]

                            [_She passes through the door to the adytum,
                                and after a pause returns trembling and
                                crouching with fear, supporting herself
                                with her hands against the walls and
                                columns. The door remains open, and
                                Orestes and the Erinnyes are seen in the
                                inner sanctuary_

 Dread things to tell, and dread for eyes to see,
 Have sent me back again from Loxias' shrine,
 *So that strength fails, nor can I nimbly move,
 But run with help of hands, not speed of foot;
 A woman old and terrified is nought,
 A very child. Lo! into yon recess
 With garlands hung I go, and there I see
 Upon the central stone[477] a God-loathed man,                       40
 Sitting as suppliant, and with hands that dripped
 Blood-drops, and holding sword but newly drawn,
 And branch of olive from the topmost growth,
 With amplest tufts of white wool meetly wreathed;
 For this I will say clearly.[478] And a troop
 Of women strange to look at sleepeth there,
 Before this wanderer, seated on their stools;
 Not women they, but Gorgons[479] I must call them;
 Nor yet can I to Gorgon forms compare them:
 I have seen painted shapes that bear away                            50
 The feast of Phineus.[480] Wingless, though, are these,
 And swarth, and every way abominable.
 *They snort with breath that none may dare approach,
 And from their eyes a loathsome humour pours,
 And such their garb as neither to the shrine
 Of Gods is meet to bring, nor mortal roof.
 Ne'er have I seen a race that owns this tribe,
 Nor is there land can boast it rears such brood,
 Unhurt and free from sorrow for its pains.
 Henceforth be it the lot of Loxias,                                  60
 Our mighty lord, himself to deal with them:
 True prophet-healer he, and portent-seer,
 And for all others cleanser of their homes.

            _Enter_ APOLLO _from the inner adytum, attended
                               by_ HERMES

 _Apol._ [_To_ ORESTES.] Nay, I'll not fail thee, but as close at hand
 Will guard thee to the end, or though far off,
 Will not prove yielding to thine adversaries;
 And now thou see'st these fierce ones captive ta'en,
 These loathly maidens fallen fast in sleep.
 Hoary and ancient virgins they, with whom
 Nor God, nor man, nor beast, holds intercourse.                      70
 They owe their birth to evils; for they dwell
 In evil darkness, yea in Tartaros
 Beneath the earth, and are the hate and dread
 Of all mankind, and of Olympian Gods.
 Yet fly thou, fly, and be not faint of heart;
 For they will chase thee over mainland wide,
 As thou dost tread the soil by wanderers tracked,
 And o'er the ocean, and by sea-girt towns;
 And fail thou not before the time, as brooding
 O'er this great toil. But go to Pallas' city,
 And sit, and clasp her ancient image[481] there;                     80
 And there with judges of these things, and words
 Strong to appease, will we a means devise
 To free thee from these ills for evermore;
 For I urged thee to take thy mother's life.

 _Orest._ Thou know'st, O king Apollo, not to wrong;
 And since thou know'st, learn also not to slight:
 Thy strength gives full security for act.

 _Apol._ Remember, let no fear o'ercome thy soul;
 And [_To_ HERMES] thou, my brother, of one father born,
 My Hermes, guard him; true to that thy name,
 Be thou his Guide, true shepherd of this man,
 Who comes to me as suppliant: Zeus himself                           90
 *Reveres this reverence e'en to outcasts due,
 When it to mortals comes with guidance good.[482]

                       [_Exit_ ORESTES _led by_ HERMES. APOLLO _retires
                           within the adytum. The Ghost of_ CLYTÆMNESTRA
                           _rises from the ground_

 _Clytæm._ What ho! Sleep on! What need of sleepers now?
 And I am put by you to foul disgrace
 Among the other dead, nor fails reproach
 Among the shades that I a murderess am;
 And so in shame I wander, and I tell you
 That at their hands I bear worst form of blame.
 And much as I have borne from nearest kin,                          100
 Yet not one God is stirred to wrath for me,
 Though done to death by matricidal hands.
 See ye these heart-wounds, whence and how they came?
 Yea, when it sleeps, the mind is bright with eyes;[483]
 But in the day it is man's lot to lack
 All true discernment. Many a gift of mine
 Have ye lapped up, libations pure from wine,[484]
 And soothing rites that shut out drunken mirth;
 And I dread banquets of the night would offer
 On altar-hearth, at hour no God might share.
 And lo! all this is trampled under foot.                            110
 He is escaped, and flees, like fawn, away;
 And even from the midst of all your toils
 Has nimbly slipped, and draws wide mouth at you.
 Hear ye; for I have spoken for my life:
 Give heed, ye dark, earth-dwelling Goddesses,
 I, Clytæmnestra's phantom, call on you.

                                     [_The Erinnyes moan in their sleep_

 Moan on, the man is gone, and flees far off:
 My kindred find protectors; I find none.

                                                       [_Moan as before_

 Too sleep-oppressed art thou, nor pitiest me:
 Orestes, murderer of his mother, 'scapes.                           120

                                                      [_Noises repeated_

 Dost snort? Dost drowse? Wilt thou not rise and speed?
 What have ye ever done but work out ill?

                                                     [_Noises as before_

 Yea, sleep and toil, supreme conspirators,
 Have withered up the dreaded dragon's strength.

 _Chor._ [_starting up suddenly with a yell._] Seize him, seize, seize,
    yea, seize: look well to it.

 _Clytæm._ Thou, phantom-like,[485] dost hunt thy prey, and criest,
 Like hound that never rests from care of toil.
 What dost thou? (_to one Erinnys._) Rise and let not toil o'ercome
 Nor, lulled to sleep, lose all thy sense of loss.
 Let thy soul (_to another_) feel the pain of just reproach:  130
 The wise of heart find that their goad and spur.
 And thou (_to a third_), breathe on him with thy blood-flecked breath,
 And with thy vapour, thy maw's fire, consume him;
 Chase him, and wither with a fresh pursuit.

 _Leader of the Chor._ Wake, wake, I say; wake her, as I wake thee.
 Dost slumber? Rise, I say, and shake off sleep.
 Let's see if this our prelude be in vain.

                               STROPHE I

 Pah! pah! Oh me! we suffered, O my friends....
 Yea, many mine own sufferings undeserved....
 We suffered a great sorrow, full of woe,                            140
         An evil hard to bear.
 Out of the nets he's slipped, our prey is gone:
 O'ercome by sleep I have my quarry lost.

                             ANTISTROPHE I

 Ah, son of Zeus, a very robber thou,
 Though young, thou didst old Goddesses ride down,[486]
 Honouring thy suppliant, godless though he be,
         One whom his parents loathe:
 Thou, though a God, a matricide hast freed:
 Of which of these acts can one speak as just?

                               STROPHE II

 Yea, this reproach that came to me in dreams                        150
         Smote me, as charioteer
 Smites with a goad he in the middle grasps,
         Beneath my breast, my heart;
 'Tis ours to feel the keen, the o'er keen smart,
 As by the public scourger fiercely lashed.

                             ANTISTROPHE II

 Such are the doings of these younger Gods,
         Beyond all bounds of right
 Stretching their power.... A clot of blood besmeared
         Upon the base, the head,...
 Earth's central shrine itself we now may see                        160
 Take to itself pollution terrible.

                              STROPHE III

 And thou, a seer, with guilt that stains thy hearth
 Hast fouled thy shrine, self-prompted, self-impelled,
 Against God's laws a mortal honouring,
         And bringing low the Fates
         Born in the hoary past.

                            ANTISTROPHE III

 Me he may vex, but shall not rescue him;
 Though 'neath the earth he flee, he is not freed
 For he, blood-stained, shall find upon his head
         Another after me,
         Destroyer foul and dread.

                         [APOLLO _advances from the adytum and confronts

 _Apol._ Out, out, I bid you, quickly from this temple;
 Go forth, and leave this shrine oracular,                           170
 Lest, smitten with a serpent winged and bright,
 Forth darted from my bow-string golden-wrought,
 Thou in sore pain bring up dark foam, and vomit
 The clots of blood thou suck'dst from human veins.
 This is no house where ye may meetly come,
 But there where heads upon the scaffold lie,[487]
 And eyes are gouged, and throats of men are cut,
 *And mutilation mars the bloom of youth,
 Where men are maimed and stoned to death, and groan
 With bitter wailing, 'neath the spine impaled;                      180
 Hear ye what feast ye love, and so become
 Loathed of the Gods? Yes, all your figure's fashion
 Points clearly to it. Such as ye should dwell
 In cave of lion battening upon blood,
 Nor tarry in these sacred precincts here,
 Working defilement. Go, and roam afield
 Without a shepherd, for to flock like this
 Not one of all the Gods is friendly found.

 _Chor._ O king Apollo, hear us in our turn:
 No mere accomplice art thou of these things,                        190
 But guilty art in full as principal.

 _Apol._ How then? Prolong thy speech to tell me this.

 _Chor._ Thou bad'st this stranger be a matricide.

 _Apol._ I bade him to avenge his sire. Why not?

 _Chor._ Then thou did'st welcome here the blood just shed.

 _Apol._ I bade him seek this shrine as suppliant.

 _Chor._ Yet us who were his escort thou revilest.

 _Apol._ It is not meet that ye come nigh this house.

 _Chor._ Yet is this self-same task appointed us.

 _Apol._ What function's this? Boast thou of nobler task?     200

 _Chor._ We drive from home the murderers of their mothers.

 _Apol._ What? Those who kill a wife that slays her spouse?

 _Chor._ That deed brings not the guilt of blood of kin.[488]

 _Apol._ *Truly thou mak'st dishonoured, and as nought,
 The marriage-vows of Zeus and Hera great;
 And by this reasoning Kypris too is shamed,
 From whom men gain the ties of closest love.
 For still to man and woman marriage bed,
 Assigned by Fate and guided by the Right,
 Is more than any oath. If thou then deal
 So gently, when the one the other slays,                            210
 And dost not even look on them with wrath,
 I say thou dost not justly chase Orestes;
 For thou, in the one case, I know, dost rage;
 I' the other, clearly tak'st it easily:
 The Goddess Pallas shall our quarrel judge.

 _Chor._ That man I ne'er will leave for evermore.

 _Apol._ Chase him then, chase, and gain yet more of toil.

 _Chor._ Curtail thou not my functions by thy speech.

 _Apol._ Ne'er by my choice would I thy functions own.

 _Chor._ True; great thy name among the thrones of Zeus:      220
 But I, his mother's blood constraining me,
 Will this man chase, and track him like a hound.

 _Apol._ And I will help him and my suppliant free;
 For dreadful among Gods and mortals too
 The suppliant's curse, should I abandon him.


_Scene changes to_ Athens, _in front of the Temple of Athena Polias, on
the Acropolis_[489]

                            _Enter_ ORESTES

 _Orest._ [_clasping the statue of the Goddess._] O Queen Athena, I at
    Loxias' hest
 Am come: do thou receive me graciously,
 Sin-stained though I have been: no guilt of blood
 Is on my soul, nor is my hand unclean,
 But now with stain toned down and worn away,
 In other homes and journeyings among men,[490]                      230
 O'er land and water travelling alike,
 Keeping great Loxias' charge oracular,
 I come, O Goddess, to thy shrine and statue:
 Here will I stay and wait the trial's issue.

                    _Enter the Erinnyes in pursuit_

 _Chor._ Lo! here are clearest traces of the man:
 Follow thou up that dumb informer's[491] hints;
 For as the hound pursues a wounded fawn,
 So by red blood and oozing gore track we.
 My lungs are panting with full many a toil,
 Wearing man's strength down. Every spot of earth                    240
 Have I now searched, and o'er the sea in flight
 Wingless I came pursuing, swift as ship;
 And now full sure he's crouching somewhere here:
 The smell of human blood wafts joy to me.
 See, see again, look round ye every way,
 Lest he, the murderer, slip away unscathed.
 He, it is true, in full security,
 Clasping the statue of the deathless goddess,
 Would fain now take his trial at our hands.                         250
 This may not be; a mother's blood out-poured
 (Pah! pah!) can never be raised up again,
 The life-blood shed is pourèd out and gone,
 But thou must give to us to suck the blood
 Red from thy living members; yea, from thee,
 May I gain meal of drink undrinkable!
 And, having dried thee up, I'll drag thee down
 Alive to bear the doom of matricide.
 There thou shalt see if any other man
 Has sinned in not revering God or guest,
 Or parents dear, that each receiveth there                          260
 The recompense of sin that Vengeance claims.
 For Hades is a mighty arbiter
 Of those that dwell below, and with a mind
 That writes true record all man's deeds surveys.

 _Orest._ I, taught by troubles, know full many a form
 Of cleansing rites,—to speak, when that is meet,
 And when 'tis not, keep silence, and in this
 I by wise teacher was enjoined to speak;
 For the blood fails and fades from off my hands;
 The guilt of matricide is washed away.                              270
 For when 'twas fresh, it then was all dispelled,
 At Phœbos' shrine, by spells of slaughtered swine.
 Long would the story be, if told complete,
 Of all I joined in harmless fellowship.
 Time waxing old, too, cleanses all alike:
 And now with pure lips, I in words devout,
 Call Athenæa, whom this land owns queen,
 To come and help me: So without a war
 Shall she gain me, my land, my Argive people,                       280
 Full faithful friends, allies for evermore;[492]
 But whether in the climes of Libyan land,
 Hard by her birth-stream's foam, Tritonian named,[493]
 She stands upright, or sits with feet enwrapt,
 Helping her friends, or o'er Phlegræan plains,
 Like a bold chieftain, she keeps watchful guard,[494]
 Oh, may she come! (far off a God can hear,)
 And work for me redemption from these ills!

 _Chor._ Nay, nor Apollo, nor Athena's might
 Can save thee from the doom of perishing,                           290
 Outcast, not knowing where to look for joy,
 The bloodless food of demons, a mere shade.
 Wilt thou not answer? Scornest thou my words,
 A victim reared and consecrate to me?
 Alive thou'lt feed me, not at altar slain;
 And thou shalt hear our hymn as spell to bind thee.

_The Erinnyes, as they sing the ode that follows, move round and round
in solemn and weird measure_

         Come, then, let us form our chorus;
         Since 'tis now our will to utter
         Melody or song most hateful,
         Telling how our band assigneth
         All the lots that fall to mortals;                          300
         And we boast that we are righteous:
         Not on one who pure hands lifteth
         Falleth from us any anger,
         But his life he passeth scatheless;
         But to him who sins like this man,
         And his blood-stained hands concealeth,
         Witnesses of those who perish,
         Coming to exact blood-forfeit,
         We appear to work completeness.                             310

                               STROPHE I

 O mother who did'st bear me, mother Night,
 A terror of the living and the dead,
         Hear me, oh hear!
 The son of Leto puts me to disgrace
         And robs me of my spoil,
 This crouching victim for a mother's blood:
         And over him as slain,
 We raise this chant of madness, frenzy-working,[495]
         The hymn the Erinnyes love,
 A spell upon the soul, a lyreless strain
         That withers up men's strength.

                             ANTISTROPHE I

 This lot the all-pervading Destiny                                  320
 Hath spun to hold its ground for evermore,
         That we should still attend
 On him on whom there rests the guilt of blood
         Of kin shed causelessly,
 Till earth lie o'er him; nor shall death set free.
         And over him as slain,
 We raise this chant of madness, frenzy-working,
         The hymn the Erinnyes love,
 A spell upon the soul, a lyreless strain
         That withers up men's strength.

                               STROPHE II

 Such lot was then assigned us at our birth:
 From us the Undying Ones must hold aloof:                           330
         Nor is there one who shares
         The banquet-meal with us;
 In garments white I have nor part nor lot;[496]
 My choice was made for overthrow of homes,
 Where home-bred slaughter works a loved one's death:
         Ha! hunting after him,
         Strong though he be, 'tis ours
 *To wear the newness of his young blood down.[497]

                             ANTISTROPHE II

 *Since 'tis our work another's task to take,[498]        340
 *The Gods indeed may bar the force of prayers
         Men offer unto me,
         But may not clash in strife;
 For Zeus doth cast us from his fellowship,
 “Blood-dropping, worthy of his utmost hate.”...
 For leaping down as from the topmost height,
         I on my victim bring
         The crushing force of feet,
 Limbs that o'erthrow e'en those that swiftly run,
         An Atè hard to bear.                                        350

                              STROPHE III

 And fame of men, though very lofty now
         Beneath the clear, bright sky,
 Below the earth grows dim and fades away
 Before the attack of us, the black-robed ones,
         And these our dancings wild,
         Which all men loathe and hate.

                            ANTISTROPHE III

 Falling in frenzied guilt, he knows it not;
         So thick the blinding cloud
 *That o'er him floats; and Rumour widely spread
 With many a sigh reports the dreary doom,
         A mist that o'er the house
         In gathering darkness broods.

                               STROPHE IV

 Fixed is the law, no lack of means find we;                         360
         We work out all our will,
 We, the dread Powers, the registrars of crime,
         Whom mortals fail to soothe,
 Fulfilling tasks dishonoured, unrevered,
         Apart from all the Gods,
         *In foul and sunless gloom,[499]
 Driving o'er rough steep road both those that see,
         And those whose eyes are dark.

                             ANTISTROPHE IV

 What mortal man then doth not bow in awe
         And fear before all this,
 Hearing from me the destined ordinance
         Assigned me by the Gods?                                    370
 This task of mine is one of ancient days;
         Nor meet I here with scorn,
         Though 'neath the earth I dwell,
 And live there in the darkness thick and dense,
         Where never sunbeam falls.

      _Enter_ ATHENA, _appearing in her chariot, and then alights_

 _Athena._ I heard far off the cry of thine entreaty
 E'en from Scamandros,[500] claiming there mine own,
 The land which all Achaia's foremost leaders,
 As portion chief from out the spoils of war,
 Gave to me, trees and all, for evermore,
 A special gift for Theseus' progeny.                                380
 Thence came I plying foot that never tires,
 Flapping my ægis-folds, no need of wings,
 My chariot drawn by young and vigorous steeds:
 And seeing this new presence in the land,
 I have no fear, though wonder fills mine eyes;
 Who, pray, are ye? To all of you I speak,
 And to this stranger at my statue suppliant.
 And as for you, like none of Nature's births,
 Nor seen by Gods among the Goddess-forms,
 Nor yet in likeness of a mortal shape....                           390
 But to speak ill of neighbours blameless found
 Is far from just, and Right holds back from it.

 _Chor._ Daughter of Zeus, thou shalt learn all in brief;
 Children are we of everlasting Night;
 [At home, beneath the earth, they call us Curses.]

 _Athena._ Your race I know, and whence ye take your name.

 _Chor._ Thou shalt soon know then what mine office is.

 _Athena._ Then could I know, if ye clear speech would speak.

 _Chor._ We from their home drive forth all murderers.

 _Athena._ Where doth the slayer find the goal of flight?     400

 _Chor._ Where to find joy in nought is still his wont.

 _Athena._ And whirrest thou such flight on this man here?

 _Chor._ Yea, for he thought it meet to slay his mother.

 _Athena._ Was there no other power whose wrath he feared?

 _Chor._ What impulse, then, should prick to matricide?

 _Athena._ Two sides are here, and I but half have heard.

 _Chor._ But he nor takes nor tenders us an oath.[501]

 _Athena._ Thou lov'st the show of Justice more than act.

 _Chor._ How so? Inform me. Skill thou dost not lack!

 _Athena._ 'Tis not by oaths a cause unjust shall win.[502]   410

 _Chor._ Search out the cause, then, and right judgment judge.

 _Athena._ And would ye trust to me to end the cause?[503]

 _Chor._ How else? Thy worth, and worthy stock we honour.

 _Athena._ What dost thou wish, O stranger, to reply?
 Tell thou thy land, thy race, thy life's strange chance,
 And then ward off this censure aimed at thee,
 Since thou sitt'st trusting in thy right, and hold'st
 This mine own image, near mine altar hearth,
 A suppliant, like Ixion,[504] honourable.
 Answer all this in speech intelligible.                             420

 _Orest._ O Queen Athena, from thy last words starting,
 I first will free thee from a weighty care:
 I am not now defiled: no curse abides
 Upon the hand that on thy statue rests;
 And I will give thee proof full strong of this.
 The law is fixed the murderer shall be dumb,
 Till at the hand of one who frees from blood,
 The purple stream from yeanling swine run o'er him;[505]
 Long since at other houses these dread rites[506]
 We have gone through, slain victims, flowing streams:
 This care, then, I can speak of now as gone.                        430
 And how my lineage stands thou soon shalt know:
 An Argive I, my sire well known to thee,
 Chief ruler of the seamen, Agamemnon,
 With whom thou madest Troïa, Ilion's city,
 To be no city. He, when he came home,
 Died without honour; and my dark-souled mother
 Enwrapt and slew him with her broidered toils,
 Which bore their witness of the murder wrought
 There in the bath; and I, on my return,                             440
 (Till then an exile,) did my mother kill,
 (That deed I'll not deny,) in forfeit due
 Of blood for blood of father best beloved;
 And Loxias, too, is found accomplice here,
 Foretelling woes that pricked my heart to act,
 If I did nought to those accomplices
 In that same crime. But thou, judge thou my cause,
 If what I did were right or wrong, and I,
 Whate'er the issue, will be well content.

 _Athena._ Too great this matter, if a mortal man
 Think to decide it. Nor is't meet for me
 To judge a cause of murder stirred by wrath;                        450
 *And all the more since thou with contrite soul
 Hast come to this my house a suppliant,
 Harmless and pure. I now, in spite of all,
 Take thee as one my city need not blame;[507]
 But these hold office that forbids dismissal,
 And should they fail of victory in this cause,
 Hereafter from their passionate mood will poison[508]
 Fall on the land, disease intolerable,
 And lasting for all time. E'en thus it stands;
 And both alike, their staying or dismissal,
 Are unto me perplexing and disastrous.
 But since the matter thus hath come on me,
 I will appoint as judges of this murder
 Men bound by oath, a law for evermore;[509]
 And ye, call ye your proofs and witnesses,
 Sworn pledges given to help the cause of right.
 And I, selecting of my citizens
 Those who are best, will come again that they
 May judge this matter truly, taking oaths
 To utter nought against the law of right.        [_Exit_

                               STROPHE I

 _Chor._ Now will there be an outbreak of new laws:
         If victory shall rest
 Upon the wrong right of this matricide,                             470
         This deed will prompt forthwith
 All mortal men to callous recklessness.
         And many deaths, I trow,
 At children's hands their parents now await
         Through all the time to come.

                             ANTISTROPHE I

 For since no wrath on evil deeds will creep
         Henceforth from those who watch
 With wild, fierce souls the evil deeds of men,
         I will let loose all crime;
 *And each from each shall seek in eager quest,           480
         *Speaking of neighbour's ills,
 *For pause and lull of woes;[510] yet wretched man,
         He speaks of cures that fail.

                               STROPHE II

         Henceforth let none call us,
         When smitten by mischance,
         Uttering this cry of prayer,
 “O Justice, and O ye, Erinnyes' thrones!”
 Such wail, perchance, a father then shall utter,
         Or mother newly slain,
 Since, fallen low, the shrine of Justice now
         Lies prostrate in the dust.                                 490

                             ANTISTROPHE II

         There are with whom 'tis well
         That awe should still abide,
         As watchman o'er their souls.
 Calm wisdom gained by sorrow profits much:
 For who that in the gladness of his heart,
         Or man or commonwealth,
 Has nought of this, would bow before the Right
         Humbly as heretofore?[511]

                              STROPHE III

         Praise not the lawless life,                                500
 Nor that which owns a despot's sovereignty;
 To the true mean in all God gives success,[512]
         And with far other mood,
         On other course looks on;
 And I will say, with this in harmony,
 That Pride is truly child of Godlessness;
         While from the soul's true health
 Comes the fair fortune, loved of all mankind,
         And aim of many a prayer.

                            ANTISTROPHE III

         And now, I say, in sum,                                     510
 Revere the altar reared to Justice high,
 Nor, thine eye set on gain, with godless foot
         Treat it contemptuously:
         For wrath shall surely come;
 The appointed end abideth still for all.
 Therefore let each be found full honour giving
         To parents, and to those,
 The honoured guests that gather in his house,
         Let him due reverence show.

                               STROPHE IV

 And one who of his own free will is just,                           520
         Not by enforced constraint,
         He shall not be unblest,
 Nor can he e'er be utterly o'erthrown;
 But he that dareth, and transgresseth all,
         In wild, confusèd deeds,
         Where Justice is not seen,
 I say that he perforce, as time wears on,
         Will have to take in sail,
 When trouble makes him hers, and each yard-arm
         Is shivered by the blast.

                             ANTISTROPHE IV

 And then he calls on those who hear him not,
         And struggles all in vain,
         In the fierce waves' mid-whirl;
 And God still mocks the man of fevered mood,                        530
 When he sees him who bragged it ne'er would come,
         With woes inextricable
         Worn out, and failing still
 To weather round the perilous promontory;
         And for all time to come,
 Wrecking on reefs of Vengeance bliss once high,
         He dies unwept, unseen.

_The scene changes to the Areopagos._ _Enter_ ATHENA, _followed by
Herald and twelve Athenian citizens_

 _Athena._ Cry out, O herald; the great host hold back;
 Then let Tyrrhenian trumpet,[513] piercing heaven,
 Filled with man's breath, to all that host send forth
 The full-toned notes, for while this council-hall                   540
 Is filling, it is meet men hold their peace.

                                             [_Herald blows his trumpet_

 And let the city for all time to come
 Learn these my laws, and this accused one too,
 That so the trial may be rightly judged.[514]

                                  [_As_ ATHENA _speaks_, APOLLO _enters_

 _Chor._ O King Apollo, rule thou o'er thine own;
 But what hast thou to do with this our cause?

 _Apol._ I am come both as witness,—for this man
 Is here as suppliant, that on my hearth sat,
 And I his cleanser am from guilt of blood,—
 And to plead for him as his advocate:
 I bear the blame of that his mother's death.
 But thou, whoe'er dost act as president,
 Open the suit in way well known to thee.[515]                       550

 _Athena._ [_to the Erinnyes._] 'Tis yours to speak; I thus the
    pleadings open,
 For so the accuser, speaking first, shall have,
 Of right, the task to state the case to us.

 _Chor._ Many are we, but briefly will we speak;
 And answer thou [_to_ ORESTES], in thy turn, word for word;
 First tell us this, did'st thou thy mother slay?

 _Orest._ I slew her: of that fact is no denial.

 _Chor._ Here, then, is one of our three bouts[516] decided.

 _Orest._ Thou boastest this o'er one not yet thrown down.    560

 _Chor._ This thou at least must tell, how thou did'st slay her.

 _Orest._ E'en so; her throat I cut with hand sword-armed.

 _Chor._ By whom persuaded, and with whose advice?

 _Orest._ [_Pointing to_ APOLLO.] By His divine command: He bears me

 _Chor._ The prophet-God prompt thee to matricide!

 _Orest._ Yea, and till now I do not blame my lot.

 _Chor._ Nay, when found guilty, soon thou'lt change thy tone.

 _Orest._ I trust my sire will send help from the tomb.

 _Chor._ Trust in the dead, thou murderer of thy mother!

 _Orest._ Yes; for in her two great pollutions met.           570

 _Chor._ How so, I pray? Inform the court of this.

 _Orest._ She both her husband and my father slew.

 _Chor._ Nay then, thou liv'st, and she gets quit by death.

 _Orest._ Why, while she lived, did'st thou to chase her fail?

 _Chor._ The man she slew was not one of blood with her.[517]

 _Orest._ And does my mother's blood then flow in me?

 _Chor._ E'en so; how else, O murderer, reared she thee
 Within her womb? Disown'st thou mother's blood?

 _Orest._ [_Turning to_ APOLLO.] Now bear thou witness, and declare to
 Apollo, if I slew her righteously;                                  580
 For I the deed, as fact, will not deny.
 But whether right or wrong this deed of blood
 Seem in thine eyes, judge thou that these may hear.

 _Apol._ I will to you, Athena's solemn council,
 Speak truly, and as prophet will not lie.
 Ne'er have I spoken on prophetic throne,
 Of man, or woman, or of commonwealth,
 But as great Zeus, Olympian Father, bade;
 And that ye learn how much this plea avails,
 I bid you [_turning to the court of jurymen_] follow out my Father's
 No oath can be of greater might than Zeus.[518]

 _Chor._ Zeus, then, thou say'st, did prompt the oracle
 That this Orestes here, his father's blood
 Avenging, should his mother's rights o'erthrow?

 _Apol._ 'Tis a quite other thing for hero-chief,
 Bearing the honour of Zeus-given sceptre,
 To die, and at a woman's hands, not e'en
 By swift, strong dart, from Amazonian bow,[519]
 But as thou, Pallas, now shalt hear, and those
 Who sit to give their judgment in this cause;                       600
 For when he came successful from the trade
 Of war with largest gains, receiving him
 With kindly words of praise, she spread a robe
 Over the bath, yes, even o'er its edge,
 As he was bathing, and entangling him
 In endless folds of cloak of cunning work,
 She strikes her lord down. Thus the tale is told
 Of her lord's murder, chief whom all did honour,
 The ships' great captain. So I tell it out,
 E'en as it was, to thrill the people's hearts,
 Who now are set to give their verdict here.

 _Chor._ Zeus then a father's death, as thou dost say,        610
 Of highest moment holds, yet He himself
 Bound fast in chains his aged father, Cronos;[520]
 Are not thy words at variance with the facts?
 I call on you [_to the Court_] to witness what he says.

 _Apol._ O hateful creatures, loathèd of the Gods,
 Those chains may be undone, that wrong be cured,
 And many a means of rescue may be found:
 But when the dust has drunk the blood of men,
 No resurrection comes for one that's dead:
 No charm for these things hath my sire devised;
 But all things else he turneth up or down,                          620
 And orders without toil or weariness.[521]

 _Chor._ Take heed how thou help this man to escape;
 Shall he who stained earth with his mother's blood
 Then dwell in Argos in his father's house?
 What public altars can he visit now?
 What lustral rite of clan or tribe admit him?[522]

 _Apol._ This too I'll say; judge thou if I speak right:
 The mother is not parent of the child
 That is called hers, but nurse of embryo sown.
 He that begets is parent:[523] she, as stranger,                    630
 For stranger rears the scion, if God mar not;
 And of this fact I'll give thee proof full sure.
 A father there may be without a mother:
 Here nigh at hand, as witness, is the child
 Of high Olympian Zeus, for she not e'en
 Was nurtured in the darkness of the womb,[524]
 Yet such a scion may no God beget.
 I, both in all else, Pallas, as I know,
 Will make thy city and thy people great,
 And now this man have sent as suppliant
 Upon thy hearth, that he may faithful prove                         640
 Now and for ever, and that thou, O Goddess,
 May'st gain him as ally, and all his race,
 And that it last as law for evermore,
 That these men's progeny our treaties own.

 _Athena._ [_To jurors._] I bid you give, according to your conscience,
 A verdict just; enough has now been said.

 _Chor._ We have shot forth our every weapon now:
 I wait to hear what way the strife is judged.

 _Athena._ [_To Chorus._] How shall I order this, unblamed by you?

 _Chor._ [_To jurors._] Ye heard what things ye heard, and in your
 Reverence your oaths, and give your votes, O friends.               650

 _Athena._ Hear ye my order, O ye Attic people,
 In act to judge your first great murder-cause.
 And henceforth shall the host of Ægeus' race[525]
 For ever own this council-hall of judges:
 And for this Ares' hill, the Amazons' seat
 And camp when they, enraged with Theseus, came[526]
 In hostile march, and built as counterwork
 This citadel high-reared, a city new,
 And sacrificed to Ares, whence 'tis named
 As Ares' hill and fortress: in this, I say,                         660
 The reverent awe its citizens shall own,
 And fear, awe's kindred, shall restrain from wrong
 By day, nor less by night, so long as they,
 The burghers, alter not themselves their laws:
 But if with drain of filth and tainted soil
 Clear river thou pollute, no drink thou'lt find.[527]
 I give my counsel to you, citizens,
 To reverence and guard well that form of state
 Which is not lawless, nor tyrannical,
 And not to cast all fear from out the city;[528]
 For what man lives devoid of fear and just?
 But rightly shrinking, owning awe like this,                        670
 Ye then would have a bulwark of your land,
 A safeguard for your city, such as none
 Boast or in Skythia's[529] or in Pelops' clime.
 This council I establish pure from bribe,
 Reverend, and keen to act, for those that sleep[530]
 An ever-watchful sentry of the land.
 This charge of mine I thus have lengthened out
 For you, my people, for all time to come.
 And now 'tis meet ye rise, and take your ballots,[531]
 And so decide the cause, maintaining still
 Your reverence for your oath. My speech is said.                    680

 _Chor._ And I advise you not to treat with scorn
 A troop that can sit heavy on your land.

 _Apol._ And I do bid you dread my oracles,
 And those of Zeus, nor rob them of their fruit.

 _Chor._ Uncalled thou com'st to take a murderer's part;
 No longer pure the oracles thou'lt speak.

 _Apol._ And did my father then in purpose err,
 Then the first murderer he received, Ixion?[532]

 _Chor._ Thou talk'st, but should I fail in this my cause,
 I will again dwell here and vex this land.

 _Apol._ Alike among the new Gods and the old                 690
 Art thou dishonoured: I shall win the day.

 _Chor._ This did'st thou also in the house of Pheres,[533]
 Winning the Fates to make a man immortal.

 _Apol._ Was it not just a worshipper to bless
 In any case,—then most, when he's in want?

 _Chor._ Thou did'st o'erthrow, yea, thou, laws hoar with age,
 And drug with wine the ancient Goddesses.[534]

 _Apol._ Nay, thou, non-suited in this cause of thine,
 Shall venom spit that nothing hurts thy foes.                       700

 _Chor._ Since thou, though young, dost ride me down, though old,
 I wait to hear the issue of the cause,
 Still wavering in my wrath against this city.

 _Athena._ 'Tis now my task to close proceedings here;
 And this my vote I to Orestes add;
 For I no mother own that brought me forth,
 And saving that I wed not, I prefer
 The male with all my heart, and make mine own
 The father's cause, nor will above it place
 A woman's death, who slew her own true lord,
 The guardian of her house. Orestes wins,                            710
 E'en though the votes be equal. Cast ye forth
 With all your speed the lots from out the urns,
 Ye jurors unto whom that office falls.

 _Orest._ Phœbos Apollo! what will be the judgment?

 _Chor._ Dark Night, my mother! dost thou look on this?

 _Orest._ My goal is now the noose, or full, clear day.

 _Chor._ Ours too to come to nought, or work on still.

                      [_A pause. The jurors take out the voting tablets
                          from the two urns (one of bronze, the other of
                          wood) for acquittal or condemnation_

 _Apol._ Now count ye up the votes thrown out, O friends,
 And be ye honest, as ye reckon them;
 One sentence lacking, sorrow great may come,                        720
 And one vote given hath ofttimes saved a house.

                        [_A pause, during which the urns are emptied and
                            the votes are counted_

 _Athena._ The accused is found “not guilty” of the murder:
 For lo! the numbers of the votes are equal.[535]

 _Orest._ O Pallas, thou who hast redeemed my house,
 Thou, thou hast brought me back when I had been
 Bereaved of fatherland, and Hellenes now
 Will say, “The man's an Argive once again,
 And dwells upon his father's heritage,
 Because of Pallas and of Loxias,
 And Zeus, the true third Saviour, all o'erruling,
 Who, touched with pity for my father's fate,                        730
 Saves me, beholding these my mother's pleaders.”
 And I will now wend homeward, giving pledge
 To this thy country and its valiant host,
 To stand as firm for henceforth and for ever,
 That no man henceforth, chief of Argive land,
 Shall bring against it spearmen well equipped:
 For we ourselves, though in our sepulchres,
 On those who shall transgress these oaths of ours,
 Will with inextricable evils work,
 Making their paths disheartening, and their ways                    740
 Ill-omened, that they may their toil repent.
 But if these oaths be kept, to those who honour
 This city of great Pallas, our ally,
 Then we to them are more propitious yet.
 Farewell then, Thou, and these who guard thy city.
 Mayst thou so wrestle that thy foes escape not,
 And so win victory and deliverance!


 _Chor._ Ah! ah! ye younger God!
 Ye have ridden down the laws of ancient days,
         And robbed me of my prey.
 But I, dishonoured, wretched, full of wrath,                        750
         Upon this land, ha! ha!
 Will venom, venom from my heart let fall,
         In vengeance for my grief,
         A dropping which shall smite
         The earth with barrenness!
 And thence shall come, (O Vengeance!) on the plain
 Down swooping, blight of leaves and murrain dire
 That o'er the land flings taint of pestilence.                      760
         Shall I then wail and groan?
         Or what else shall I do?
 Shall I become a woe intolerable
 Unto these men for wrongs I have endured?
         Great, very great are they,
 Ye virgin daughters of dim Night, ill-doomed,
         Born both to shame and woe!

 _Athena._ Nay, list to me, and be not over-grieved;
 Ye have not been defeated, but the cause
 Came fairly to a tie, no shame to thee.
 But the clear evidence of Zeus was given,
 And he who spake it bare his witness too
 That, doing this, Orestes should not suffer.
 Hurl ye not then fierce rage on this my land;
 Nor be ye wroth, nor work ye barrenness,
 *By letting fall the drops of evil Powers,[536]
 The baleful influence that consumes all seed.                       770
 For lo! I promise, promise faithfully,
 That, seated on your hearths with shining thrones,
 Ye shall find cavern homes in righteous land,
 Honoured and worshipped by these citizens.


 _Chor._ Ah ah! ye younger Gods!
 Ye have ridden down the laws of ancient days,
         And robbed me of my prey.
 And I, dishonoured, wretched, full of wrath,
         Upon this land, ha! ha!
 Will venom, venom from my heart let fall,
         In vengeance for my grief,
         A dropping which shall smite                                780
         The earth with barrenness!
 And thence shall come, (O Vengeance!) on the plain
 Down-swooping, blight of leaves and murrain dire
 That o'er the land flings taint of pestilence.
         Shall I then wail and groan?
         Or what else shall I do?
 Shall I become a woe intolerable
 Unto these men for wrongs I have endured?
         Great, very great are they,
 Ye virgin daughters of dim Night, ill-doomed,
         Born both to shame and woe!

 _Athena._ Ye are not left unhonoured; be not hot
 In wrath, ye Goddesses, to mar man's land,
 I too, yes I, trust Zeus. Need I say more?                          790
 I only of the high Gods know the keys
 Of chambers where the sealed-up thunder lies;
 But that I have no need of. List to me,
 Nor cast upon the earth thy rash tongue's fruit,
 That brings to all things failure and distress;
 Lull thou the bitter storm of that dark surge,
 As dwelling with me, honoured and revered;
 And thou with first-fruits of this wide champaign,
 Offerings for children's birth and wedlock-rites,
 Shall praise these words of mine for evermore.                      800

 _Chor._ That I should suffer this, fie on it! fie!
 That I, with thoughts of hoar antiquity,[537]
         Should now in this land dwell,
         Dishonoured, deemed a plague!
 I breathe out rage, and every form of wrath.
         Oh, Earth! fie on it! fie!
 What pang is this that thrills through all my breast?
         Hear thou, O mother Night,
         Hear thou my vehement wrath!
 For lo! deceits that none can wrestle with
 Have thrust me out from honours old of Gods,
         And made a thing of nought.

 _Athena._ Thy wrath I'll bear, for thou the elder art,       810
 [And wiser too in that respect than I;]
 Yet to me too Zeus gave no wisdom poor;
 And ye, if ye an alien country seek,
 Shall yearn in love for this land. This I tell you;
 For to this people Time, as it runs on,
 Shall come with fuller honours, and if thou
 Hast honoured seat hard by Erechtheus' home,
 Thou shalt from men and women reap such gifts
 As thou would'st never gain from other mortals;
 But in these fields of mine be slow to cast                         820
 Whetstones of murder's knife, to young hearts bale,
 Frenzied with maddened passion, not of wine;
 Nor, as transplanting hearts of fighting-cocks,[538]
 Make Ares inmate with my citizens,
 In evil discord, and intestine broils;
 Let them have war without, not scantily,
 For him who feels the passionate thirst of fame:
 Battle of home-bred birds ... I name it not;
 This it is thine to choose as gift from me;
 Well-doing, well-entreated, and well-honoured,                      830
 To share the land best loved of all the Gods.

 _Chor._ That I should suffer this, fie on it! fie!
 That I, with thoughts of hoar antiquity,
           Should now in this land dwell,
           Dishonoured, deemed a plague,
 I breathe out rage, and every form of wrath;
           Ah, Earth! fie on it! fie!
 What pang is this that thrills through all my breast?
           Hear thou, O mother Night,
           Hear thou my vehement wrath!
 For lo! deceits that none can wrestle with
 Have thrust me out from honours old of Gods,
 And made a thing of nought.                                         840

 _Athena._ I will not weary, telling thee of good,
 That thou may'st never say that thou, being old,
 Wert at the hands of me, a younger Goddess,
 And those of men who in my city dwell,
 Driven in dishonour, exiled from this plain.
 But if the might of Suasion thou count holy,
 And my tongue's blandishments have power to soothe,
 Then thou wilt stay; but if thou wilt not stay,
 Not justly would'st thou bring upon this city,
 Or wrath, or grudge, or mischief for its host.
 It rests with thee, as dweller in this spot,[539]                   850
 To meet with all due honour evermore.

 _Chor._ Athena, Queen, what seat assign'st thou me?

 _Athena._ One void of touch of evil; take thou it.

 _Chor._ Say I accept. What honour then is mine?

 _Athena._ That no one house apart from thee shall prosper.

 _Chor._ And wilt thou work that I such might may have?

 _Athena._ His lot who worships thee we'll guide aright.

 _Chor._ And wilt thou give thy warrant for all time?

 _Athena._ What I work not I might refrain from speaking.

 _Chor._ It seems thou sooth'st me: I relax my wrath.         860

 _Athena._ In this land dwelling thou new friends shalt gain.

 _Chor._ What hymn then for this land dost bid me raise?

 _Athena._ Such as is meet for no ill-victory.[540]
        ·       ·       ·       ·       ·
 And pray that blessings upon men be sent.
 And that, too, both from earth, and ocean's spray,
 And out of heaven; and that the breezy winds,
 In sunshine blowing, sweep upon the land,
 And that o'erflowing fruit of field and flock
 May never fail my citizens to bless,
 Nor safe deliverance for the seed of men.
 But for the godless, rather root them out:                          870
 For I, like gardener shepherding his plants,
 This race of just men freed from sorrow love.
 So much for thee: and I will never fail
 To give this city honour among men,
 Victorious in the noble games of war.

                               STROPHE I

 _Chor._ I will accept this offered home with Pallas,
       Nor will the city scorn,
       Which e'en All-ruling Zeus
 And Ares give as fortress of the Gods,
 The altar-guarding pride of Gods of Hellas;                         880
       And I upon her call,
       With kindly auguries,
 That so the glorious splendour of the sun
 May cause life's fairest portion in thick growth
       *To burgeon from the earth.

 _Athena._ Yea, I work with kindliest feeling
     For these my townsmen, having settled
     Powers great, and hard to soothe among them:
     Unto them the lot is given,
     All things human still to order;                                890
     He who hath not felt their pressure
     Knows not whence life's scourges smite him:
     For the sin of generations
     Past and gone;—a dumb destroyer,—
     Leads him on into their presence,
     And with mood of foe low bringeth
     Him whose lips are speaking proudly.

                             ANTISTROPHE I

 _Chor._ Let no tree-blighting canker breathe on them,
       (I tell of boon I give,)
       Nor blaze of scorching heat,
 That mars the budding eyes of nursling plants,                      900
 And checks their spreading o'er their narrow bounds;
       And may no dark, drear plague
       Smite it with barrenness.
 But may Earth feed fair flock in season due,
 Blest with twin births, and earth's rich produce pay
         To the high heavenly Powers,
         Its gift for treasure found.[541]

 _Athena._ Hear ye then, ye city's guardians,
         What she offers? Dread and mighty                           910
         With the Undying is Erinnys;
         And with Those beneath the earth too,
         And full clearly and completely
         Work they all things out for mortals,
         Giving these the songs of gladness,
         Those a life bedimmed with weeping.

                               STROPHE II

 _Chor._ Avaunt, all evil chance
 That brings men low in death before their time!
 And for the maidens lovely and beloved,
         Give, ye whose work it is,
         Life with a husband true,
 And ye, O Powers of self-same mother born,                          920
         Ye Fates who rule aright,
         Partners in every house,
         Awe-striking through all time,
 With presence full of righteousness and truth,
         Through all the universe
         Most honoured of the Gods!

 _Athena._ Much I joy that thus ye promise
         These boons to my land in kindness;
         And I love the glance of Suasion,
         That she guides my speech and accent
         Unto these who gainsaid stoutly.                            930
         But the victory is won by
         Zeus, the agora's protector;
       And our rivalry in blessings
       Is the conqueror evermore.

                             ANTISTROPHE II

       _Chor._ For this too I will pray,
 That Discord, never satiate with ill,
 May never ravine in this commonwealth,
       Nor dust that drinks dark blood
       From veins of citizens,
 Through eager thirst for vengeance, from the State
       Snatch woes as penalty
       For deeds of murderous guilt.
       But may they give instead
 With friendly purpose acts of kind intent,                          940
       And if need be, may hate
       With minds of one accord;
 For this is healing found to mortal men
       Of many a grievous woe.

 _Athena._ Are they not then waxing wiser,
       And at last the path discerning
       Of a speech more good and gentle?
       Now from these strange forms and fearful,
       See I to my townsmen coming,
       E'en to these, great meed of profit;
       For if ye, with kindly welcome,
       Honour these as kind protectors,
       Then shall ye be famed as keeping,
       Just and upright in all dealings,
       Land and city evermore.

                              STROPHE III

 _Chor._ Rejoice, rejoice ye in abounding wealth,
         Rejoice, ye citizens,
         Dwelling near Zeus himself,[542]                            950
 Loved of the virgin Goddess whom ye loved,
         In due time wise of heart,
 You, 'neath the wings of Pallas ever staying,[543]
         The Father honoureth.

 _Athena._ Rejoice ye also, but before you
         I must march to show your chambers,
         By your escorts' torches holy;
         Go, and with these dread oblations                          960
         Passing to the crypt cavernous,
         Keep all harm from this our country,
         Send all gain upon our city,
         Cause it o'er its foes to triumph.
         Lead ye on, ye sons of Cranaos,[544]
         Lead, ye dwellers in the city,
         Those who come to sojourn with you,
         And may good gifts work good purpose
         In my townsmen evermore!

                            ANTISTROPHE III

 _Chor._ Rejoice, rejoice once more, ye habitants!            970
         I say it yet again,
         Ye Gods, and mortals too,
 Who dwell in Pallas' city. Should ye treat
         With reverence us who dwell
 As sojourners among you, ye shall find
         No cause to blame your lot.

 _Athena._ I praise these words of yours, the prayers ye offer,
 And with the light of torches flashing fire,
 Will I escort you to your dark abode,[545]
 Low down beneath the earth, with my attendants,
 Who with due honour guard my statue here,
 For now shall issue forth the goodly eye
 Of all the land of Theseus; fair-famed troop                        980
 Of girls and women, band of matrons too,
 In upper vestments purple-dyed arrayed:
 *Now then advance ye; and the blaze of fire,
 Let it go forth, that so this company
 Stand forth propitious, henceforth and for aye,
 In rearing race of noblest citizens,

  _Enter an array of women, young and old, in procession, leading the
        Erinnyes—now, as propitiated, the Eumenides or Gentle Ones—to
        their shrines_

                       _Chorus of Athenian women_

                               STROPHE I

 Go to your home, ye great and jealous Ones,
 Children of Night, and yet no children ye;[546]
         With escort of good-will,
         Shout, shout, ye townsmen, shout.

                             ANTISTROPHE I

 There in the dark and gloomy caves of earth,
 With worthy gifts and many a sacrifice                              990
         Consumèd in the fire—
         Shout, shout ye, one and all.

                               STROPHE II

         Come, come, with thought benign
         Propitious to our land,
         Ye dreaded Ones, yea, come,
 While on your progress onward ye rejoice,
 In the bright light of fire-devourèd torch;
         Shout, shout ye to our songs.

                             ANTISTROPHE II

         Let the drink-offerings come,
         In order meet behind,
         While torches fling their light;
 *Zeus the All-seeing thus hath joined in league
 *With Destiny for Pallas' citizens;
         Shout, shout ye to our songs.

              [_The procession winds its way_, ATHENA _at its head, then
                  the Eumenides, then the women, round the Areopagos
                  towards the ravine in which the dread Goddesses were
                  to find their sanctuary._


Footnote 466:

  The succession is, in part, accordant with that in the _Theogonia_ of
  Hesiod (vv. 116-136), but the special characteristic of the Æschylean
  form of the legend is that each change is a step in a due, rightful
  succession, as by free gift, not accomplished (as in other narratives
  of the same transition) by violence and wrong.

Footnote 467:

  Phœbe, in the _Theogonia_, marries Coios, and becomes the mother of
  Leto, or Latona, and so the grandmother of Apollo. The “birthday gift”
  was commonly presented on the eighth day after birth, when the child
  was named. The oracle is spoken of as such a gift to Apollo, as
  bearing the name of Phœbos.

Footnote 468:

  The sacred circular pool of Delos is the crater of an extinct volcano.
  There Apollo was born, and thence he passed through Attica to
  Parnassos, to take possession of the oracle, according to one form of
  the myth, depriving Themis of it and slaying the dragon Python that
  kept guard over it.

Footnote 469:

  The people of Attica are thus named either as being mythically
  descended from Erichthonios the son of Hephæstos, or as artificers,
  who own him as their father. The words refer to the supposed origin of
  the Sacred Road from Athens to Delphi, passing through Bœotia and
  Phokis. When the Athenians sent envoys to consult the oracle they were
  preceded by men bearing axes, in remembrance of the original
  pioneering work which had been done for Apollo. The first work of
  active civilisation was thus connected with the worship of the giver
  of Light and Wisdom.

Footnote 470:

  Delphos, the hero _Eponymos_ (name-giving) of Delphi, was honoured as
  the son of Poseidon. Hence the Priestess invokes the latter as one of
  the guardian deities of the shrine.

Footnote 471:

  Pronaia, as having her shrine or statue in front of the temple of

Footnote 472:

  The Korykian rock in Parnassos, as in Soph., _Antig._, v. 1128; known
  also as the “Nymphs' cavern.”

Footnote 473:

  Bromios, a name of Dionysos, embodying the special attributes of loud,
  half-frenzied revelry.

Footnote 474:

  In the legend which Euripides follows, Kithæron, not Parnassos, is the
  scene of the death of Pentheus. He, it was said, opposed the wild or
  frantic worship of the Pelasgic Bacchos, concealed himself that he
  might behold the mysteries of the Mœnads, and was torn to pieces by
  his mother and two others, on whose eyes the God had cast such glamour
  that they took him for a wild beast. English readers may be referred
  to Dean Milman's translation of the _Bacchanals_ of Euripides.

Footnote 475:

  Pleistos, topographically, a river flowing through the vale of Delphi,
  mythically the father of the nymphs of Korykos.

Footnote 476:

  At one time the Oracle had been open to questioners once in the year
  only, afterwards once a month. The pilgrims, after they had made their
  offerings, cast lots, and the doors were opened to him to whom the lot
  had fallen. Plutarch, _Qu. Græc._, p. 292.

Footnote 477:

  The altar of the adytum, on the very centre, as men deemed, of the
  whole earth. Zeus, it was said, had sent forth two eagles at the same
  moment; one from the East and the other from the West, and here it was
  that they had met. The stone was of white marble, and the two eagles
  were sculptured on it. Strabo, ix. 3.

Footnote 478:

  The priestess dwells upon the outward tokens, which showed that the
  suppliant came as one whose need was specially urgent. On the ritual
  of supplication generally comp. _Suppl._, vv. 22, 348, 641, Soph.,
  _Œd. King_, v. 3; _Œd. Col._, vv. 469-489.

Footnote 479:

  Æschylos apparently follows the _Theogonia_ of Hesiod, (l. 278), who
  describes the Gorgons as three in number, daughters of Phorkys and
  Keto, and bearing the names of Stheno, Euryale, and Medusa. The last
  enters into the Perseus cycle of myths, as one of the monsters whom he
  conquered, with a face once beautiful, but with her hair turned to
  serpents by the wrath of Athena, and so dreadful to look upon that
  those who gazed on her were turned to stone. When Perseus had slain
  her, Athena placed her head in her ægis, and thus became the terror of
  all who were foes to herself or her people. A wild legendary account
  of them meets us in the _Prom. Bound_, v. 812. As works of art, the
  Gorgon images are traceable to the earliest or Kyclopian period.

Footnote 480:

  Here also we have a reference to a familiar subject of early Greek
  art, probably to some painting familiar to an Athenian audience. The
  name of Phineus indicates that the monstrous forms spoken of are those
  of the Harpies, birds with women's faces, or women with birds' wings,
  who were sent to vex the blind seer for his cruelty to the children of
  his first marriage. Comp. Soph. _Antig._, v. 973. In the _Æneid_ they
  appear (iii. 225) as dwelling in the Strophades, and harassing Æneas
  and his companions.

Footnote 481:

  The old image of Pallas, carved in olive-wood, as distinguished from
  later sculpture.

Footnote 482:

  The early code of hospitality bound the host, who as such had once
  received a guest under the shelter of his roof, not to desert him,
  even though he might discover afterwards that he had been guilty of
  great crimes, but to escort him safely to the boundary of his
  territory. Thus Apollo, as the host with whom Orestes had taken
  refuge, sends Hermes, the escort God, to guide and defend him on his
  way to Athens.

Footnote 483:

  The thought that the highest wisdom came to men rather in “visions of
  the night, when deep sleep falleth on men,” than through the waking
  senses, which we have already met with in _Agam._, v. 173, is
  traceable to the mysticism of Pythagoras, more distinctly perhaps to
  that of Epimenides.

Footnote 484:

  Wine, as in Soph. _Œd. Col._, vv. 100, 481, was rigidly excluded from
  the _cultus_ of the Eumenides, and to them only as daughters of Night
  were midnight sacrifices offered. We must not lose sight of the
  thought thus implied, that Clytæmnestra had herself lived, after her
  deed of guilt, in perpetual terror of the Erinnyes, seeking to soothe
  them by her sacrifices.

Footnote 485:

  The common rendering “in a dream” gives a sufficient meaning, and is,
  of course, tenable enough. But there is a force in the repetition of
  the same word, as in v. 116, which is thus lost, and which I have
  endeavoured to preserve. The Erinnyes, thus impotent in their rage,
  are as much mere dreamlike spectres as is the ghost of Clytæmnestra.

Footnote 486:

  Here, as throughout Æschylos, the Olympian divinities are thought of
  as new comers, thrusting from their thrones the whole Chthonian and
  Titanic dynasty, Gods of the conquering Hellenes superseding those of
  the Pelasgi.

Footnote 487:

  The accumulation of horrid forms of cruelty had, probably, a special
  significance for the Athenians. These punishments belonged to their
  enemies, the Persians, not to the Hellenic race, and the poet's
  purpose was to rekindle patriotic feeling by dwelling on their
  barbarity, as in _Agam._, v. 894, he points in like manner to their
  haughtiness and luxury.

Footnote 488:

  The argument of the Erinnyes is, to some extent, like that of the
  Antigone of Sophocles (_Antig._, 909-913), and the wife of Intaphernes
  (Herod. iii. 119). The tie which binds the husband to the wife is less
  sacred than that between the mother and the son. This, therefore,
  brings on the slayer the guilt of blood of kin, while murder in the
  other case is reduced to simple homicide. Orestes therefore was not
  justified in perpetrating the greater crime as a retribution for the
  less. Apollo, in meeting this plea, asserts the sacredness of the
  marriage bond as standing on the same level as that of consanguinity.

Footnote 489:

  The ideal interval of time between the two parts of the drama is left
  undefined, but it would seem from vv. 230, 274-6, and 429, to have
  been long enough to have allowed of many wanderings to sacred places,
  Orestes does not go straight from Delphi to Athens. He appears now,
  not as before dripping and besmeared with blood, but with hands and
  garments purified.

Footnote 490:

  The story of Adrastos and Crœsos in Herod. i. 35, illustrates the
  gradual purification of which Orestes speaks. The penitent who has the
  stain of blood-guiltiness upon him comes to the king, and the king, as
  his host, performs the lustral rites for him. Here Orestes urges that
  he has been received at many homes, and gone through many such
  lustrations. He has been cleansed from the pollution of sin: what he
  now seeks, to use the terminology of a later system, is a forensic

Footnote 491:

  _Sc._, the scent of blood, which, though no longer visible to the eyes
  of men, still lingers round him and is perceptible to his pursuers.

Footnote 492:

  Here, too, we trace the political bearing of the play. In the year
  when it was produced (B.C. 458) an alliance with Argos was the
  favourite measure of the more conservative party at Athens.

Footnote 493:

  The names Triton and Tritonis, wherever found in classical geography
  (Libya, Crete, Thessaly, Bœotia), are always connected with the legend
  that Athena was born there. Probably both name and legend were carried
  from Greece to Libya, and then amalgamated with the indigenous local
  worship of a warlike goddess. Hesiod (iv. 180, 188) connects the
  Libyan lake with the legend of Jason and Argonauts.

Footnote 494:

  In the war with the giants fought in the Phlegræan plains (the
  volcanic district of Campania) Athena had helped her father Zeus by
  her wise counsel, and was honoured there as keeping in check the
  destructive Titanic forces which had been so subdued, burying
  Enkelados, _e.g._, in Sicily. The “friends” are her Libyan
  worshippers. The passage is interesting, as showing the extent of
  Æschylos's acquaintance with the African and Italian coasts of the

Footnote 495:

  The Choral ode here is brought in as an incantation. This weapon is to
  succeed where others have failed, and this too, the frenzy which
  seizes the soul in the remembrance of its past transgression, is
  soothed and banished by Athena.

Footnote 496:

  White, as the special colour of festal joy, was not used in the
  worship of the Erinnyes.

Footnote 497:

  Another rendering gives—

             “To dim the bright hue of the fresh-shed blood.”

Footnote 498:

  The thought which underlies the obscurity of a corrupt passage seems
  to be that, as they relieve the Gods from the task of being avengers
  of blood, all that the Gods on their side can legitimately do against
  them is to render powerless the prayers for vengeance offered by the
  kindred of the slain. Their very isolation, as Chthonian deities, from
  the Gods of Olympos should protect them from open conflict. But an
  alternative rendering of the second line gives, perhaps, a better

                  “And by the prayers men offer unto me
                  Work freedom for the Gods;”

  _i.e._, by being the appointed receivers of such prayers for
  vengeance, they leave the Gods free for a higher and serener life.

Footnote 499:

  Perhaps, “With torch of sunless gloom.”

Footnote 500:

  The words contain an allusion to the dispute between Athens and
  Mitylene in the time of Peisistratos, as to the possession of Sigeion.
  Athena asserts that it had been given to her by the whole body of
  Achæans at the time when they had taken Troïa. Comp. Herod. vv. 94,
  95. It probably entered into the political purposes of the play to
  excite the Athenians to a war in this direction, so as to draw them
  off from the constitutional changes proposed by Pericles and

Footnote 501:

  Here, and throughout the trial, we have to bear in mind the
  technicalities of Athenian judicial procedure. The prosecutor, in the
  first instance, tendered to the accused an oath that he was not
  guilty. This he might accept or refuse. In the latter case, the course
  of the trial was at least stopped, and judgment might be recorded
  against him. If he could bring himself to accept it, he was acquitted
  of the special charge of which he was accused, but he was liable to a
  prosecution afterwards for that perjury. If, on the other hand, he
  tendered an oath affirming his guilt to the prosecutor, he placed
  himself in his hands. Orestes, not being able to deny the fact, will
  not declare on oath that he is “not guilty,” but neither will he place
  himself in the power of his accusers. The peculiarities of this use of
  oaths were: (1) That they were taken by the parties to the suit, not
  by the witnesses. (2) That if both parties agreed to that mode of
  decision, the oath was either way decisive. An allusion to the latter
  practice is found in Heb. vi. 16, and traces of it are found in the
  law-proceedings of Scotland. If either party refused, the cause had to
  be tried in the usual way, and witnesses were called.

Footnote 502:

  Æschylos seems here to attach himself to the principles of those who
  were seeking to reform the practice described in the previous note as
  being at once cumbrous and unjust, throwing its weight into the scale
  of the least scrupulous conscience, and to urge a simpler, more
  straightforward trial. The same objection is noticed by Aristotle in
  his discussion of the subject. (_Rhet._ i. 15.)

Footnote 503:

  Athena offers herself, not as arbitrator or sovereign judge, but as
  presiding over the court of jurors whom she proceeds to appoint.

Footnote 504:

  Ixion appeared in the mythical history of Greece as the prototype of
  all suppliants for purification. When he had murdered Deioneus, Zeus
  had had compassion to him, received him as a guest, cleansed him from
  his guilt. His ingratitude for this service was the special guilt of
  his attempted outrage upon Hera. The case is mentioned again in v.

Footnote 505:

  In heathen, as in Jewish sacrifices, the blood was the very instrument
  of purification. It was sprinkled or poured upon men, and they became
  clean. But this could not be done by the criminal himself, nor by any
  chance person. The service had to be rendered by a friend, who of very
  love gave himself to this mediatorial work.

Footnote 506:

  In the legend related by Pausanias (_Corinth._, c. 3), Trœzen was the
  first place where Orestes was thus received, and in his time the
  descendants of those who had thus helped held periodical feasts in
  commemoration of it.

Footnote 507:

  The course which Athena takes is: (1) to receive Orestes as a settler
  with the rights which attached to such persons on Athenian soil, not a
  criminal fugitive to be simply surrendered; (2) to offer to the
  Erinnyes, as being too important to be put out of court, a fair and
  open trial; (3) to acknowledge that he and they are equally
  “blameless,” as far as she is concerned. She has no complaint to make
  of them.

Footnote 508:

  The red blight of vines and wheat was looked on as caused by drops of
  blood which the Erinnyes had let fall.

Footnote 509:

  Stress is laid on the fact that the judges of the Areopagos, in
  contrast with those of the inferior tribunes of Athens, discharged
  their duty under the sanction of an oath.

Footnote 510:


            “And each from each shall learn, as he predicts
            His neighbour's ills, that he
            Shares in the same and harbours them, and speaks,
            Poor wretch, of cures that fail.”

Footnote 511:

  At a more advanced period of human thought, Cicero (_Orat. pro
  Roscio_, c. 24) could point to the “thoughts that accuse each other,”
  the horror and remorse of the criminal, as the true Erinnyes, the
  “assiduæ domesticæque Furiæ.” Æschylos clings to the mythical
  symbolism as indispensable for the preservation of the truth which it
  shadowed forth.

Footnote 512:

  Once again we have the poet of constitutional conservatism keeping the
  _via media_ between Peisistratos and Pericles.

Footnote 513:

  The Tyrrhenian trumpet, with its bent and twisted tube, retained its
  proverbial pre-eminence from the days of Æschylos and Sophocles
  (_Aias_, 17) to those of Virgil (_Æn._, viii. 526).

Footnote 514:

  The fondness of the Athenians for litigation, and the large share
  which every citizen took in the administration of justice, would
  probably make the scene which follows, with all its technicalities,
  the part of the play into which they would most enter.

Footnote 515:

  It was necessary that some one, sitting as President of the Court,
  should formally open the pleadings, by calling on this side or that to
  begin. Here Athena takes that office on herself, and calls on the

Footnote 516:

  The technicalities of the Areopagos are still kept up. The three
  points on which the Erinnyes, as prosecutors, lay stress are: (1) the
  fact of the murder; (2) the mode; (3) the motive. “Three bouts,” as
  referring to the rule of the arena, that three struggles for the
  mastery should be decisive.

Footnote 517:

  The pleas put in by the Erinnyes as prosecutors are: (1) That
  Clytæmnestra had been adequately punished by her death, while Orestes
  was still alive; and (2) when asked why they had not intervened to
  bring about that punishment, that the relationship between husband and
  wife was less close than that between mother and son. They drew, in
  other words, a distinction between consanguinity and affinity, and
  upon this the rest of the discussion turns. Orestes, and Apollo as his
  counsel, on the other hand, meet this with the rejoinder, that there
  is no blood-relationship between the mother and her offspring.

Footnote 518:

  _Sc._ Their oath to give a verdict according to the evidence must
  yield to the higher obligation of following the Divine will rather
  than the letter of the law.

Footnote 519:

  To have died in health by the arrows of a woman-warrior might have
  been borne. To be slain by a wife treacherously in his bath was to
  endure a far worse outrage.

Footnote 520:

  In this new argument, and the answer to it, we may trace, as in the
  _Prometheus_ and the _Agamemnon_, the struggles of the questioning
  intellect against the more startling elements of the popular religious
  belief. Zeus is worshipped as the supreme Lord, yet His dominion seems
  founded on might as opposed to goodness, on the unrighteous expulsion
  of another. Here, in Apollo's answer, there is a glimmer of a possible
  reconciliation. The old and the new, the sovereignty of Cronos and
  that of Zeus may be reconciled, and one supreme God be “all in all.”

Footnote 521:

  Comp. the thought and language of the _Suppliants_, v. 93.

Footnote 522:

  The last argument is, that the acquittal can be, at the best, partial
  only, not complete; formal, not real. There would remain for ever the
  pollution which would exclude Orestes from the _Phratria_, the
  clan-brotherhood, by which, as by a sacramental bond, all the members
  were held together.

Footnote 523:

  The question seems to have been one of those which occupied men's
  minds in their first gropings towards the mysteries of man's physical
  life, and both popular metaphors and primary impressions were in
  favour of the hypothesis here maintained. Euripides (_Orest._, v. 534)
  puts the same argument into the mouth of Orestes.

Footnote 524:

  The story of Athena's birth, full-grown, from the head of Zeus, is
  next referred to as the leading case bearing on the point at issue.

Footnote 525:

  Here, of course, the political interest of the whole drama reached its
  highest point. What seems comparatively flat to us must, to the
  thousands who sat as spectators, have been fraught with the most
  intense excitement, showing itself in shouts of applause, or audible
  tokens of clamorous dissent. The rivalry of Whigs and Tories over
  Addison's _Cato_, the sensation produced in times of Papal aggression
  by the king's answer to Pandulph in _King John_, presents analogies
  which are worth remembering.

Footnote 526:

  The story ran that the tribe of women warriors from the Caucasos, or
  the Thermodon, known by this name, had invaded Attica under Oreithyia,
  when Theseus was king, to revenge the wrongs he had done them, and to
  recover her sister Hippolyta. Ares, the God of Thrakians, Skythians,
  and nearly all the wilder barbaric tribes, was their special deity;
  and when they occupied the hill which rose over against the Acropolis,
  they sacrificed to him, and so it gained the name of the _Areopagos_,
  or “hill of Ares.”

Footnote 527:

  As in the _Agamemnon_ (v. 1010), so here we find the aristocratic
  conservative poet showing his colours, protesting against the
  admission to the Archonship, and therefore to the Areopagos, of men of
  low birth or in undignified employments.

Footnote 528:

  The words, like all political clap-trap, are somewhat vague; but, as
  understood at the time, the “lawless” policy alluded to was that of
  Pericles and Ephialtes, who sought to deface and to diminish the
  jurisdiction of the Areopagos, and the “tyrannical,” that which had
  crushed the independence of Athens under Peisistratos. Between the two
  was the conservative party, of which Kimon had been the leader.

Footnote 529:

  The Skythians may be named simply as representing all barbarous,
  non-Hellenic races; but they appear, about this time, wild and nomadic
  as their life was, to have impressed the minds of the Greeks somewhat
  in the same way as the Germans did the minds of the Romans in the time
  of Tacitus. Tales floated from travellers' lips of their wisdom and
  their happiness—of sages like Zamolxis and Aristarchos, who rivalled
  those of Hellas—of the Hyperborei, in the far north, who enjoyed a
  perpetual and unequalled blessedness.—Comp. _Libation-Pourers_, v.

Footnote 530:

  Two topics of praise are briefly touched on: (1) the lower, popular
  courts of justice at Athens might be open to the suspicion of
  corruption, but no breath of slander had ever tainted the fame of the
  Areopagos; (2) it met by night, keeping its watch, that the citizens
  might sleep in peace.

Footnote 531:

  The first of the twelve jurymen rises and drops his voting-ballot into
  one of the urns, and is followed by another at the end of each of the
  short two-line speeches in the dialogue that follows. The two urns of
  acquittal and condemnation stand in front of them. The plan of voting
  with different coloured balls (black and white) in the same urn, was a
  later usage.

Footnote 532:

  Compare note on v. 419.

Footnote 533:

  In the legend of Admetos son of Pheres, and king of Pheræ in
  Thessalia, Apollo is represented as having first given wine to the
  Destinies, and then persuaded them to allow Admetos, whenever the hour
  of death should come, to be redeemed from Hades, if father, or mother,
  or wife were willing to die for him. The self-surrender of his wife,
  Alkestis, for this purpose, forms the subject of the noblest of the
  tragedies of Euripides.

Footnote 534:

  Partly as setting at nought the power of Erinnyes and the Destinies,
  partly as giving wine to those whose libations were wineless.—Comp.
  Sophocles, _Œd. Col._ v. 100.

Footnote 535:

  The practice of the Areopagos is accurately reproduced. When the votes
  of the judges were equal a casting vote was given in favour of the
  accused, and was known as that of Athena.

Footnote 536:

  Another reading gives—

            “By spurting from your throats those venom drops.”

Footnote 537:

  The conservative poet enters his protest through the Erinnyes against
  the innovating spirit that looked with contempt upon the principles of
  a past age.

Footnote 538:

  Cock-fighting took its place among the recognised sports of the
  Athenians. Once a year there was a public performance in the theatre.

Footnote 539:

  The Temple of the Eumenides or Semnæ (“venerable ones”) stood near the

Footnote 540:

  Some two or three lines have probably been lost here.

Footnote 541:

  Probably an allusion to the silver-mine at Laureion, which about the
  time formed a large element of the revenues of Athens, and of which a
  tithe was consecrated to Athena.

Footnote 542:

  Reference is made to another local sanctuary, the temple on the
  Areopagos dedicated to the Olympian Zeus.

Footnote 543:

  The figure of Athena, as identical with Victory, and so the tutelary
  Goddess of Athens, was sculptured with out-spread wings.

Footnote 544:

  Cranaos, the son of Kecrops, the mythical founder of Athens.

Footnote 545:

  The sanctuaries of the Eumenides were crypt-like chapels, where they
  were worshipped by the light of lamps or torches.

Footnote 546:

  Perhaps, “Children of Night, yourselves all childless left.”


                          APHRODITE _loquitur_

 The pure, bright heaven still yearns to blend with earth,
 And earth is filled with love for marriage-rites,
 And from the kindly sky the rain-shower falls
 And fertilises earth, and earth for men
 Yields grass for sheep, and corn, Demêter's gift;
 And from its wedlock with the South the fruit
 Is ripened in its season; and of this,
 All this, I am the cause accessory.


 So, in the Libyan fables, it is told
 That once an eagle, stricken with a dart,
 Said, when he saw the fashion of the shaft,
 “With our own feathers, not by others' hands,
 Are we now smitten.”


 Of all the Gods, Death only craves not gifts:
 Nor sacrifice, nor yet drink-offering poured
 Avails; no altars hath he, nor is soothed
 By hymns of praise. From him alone of all
 The powers of Heaven Persuasion holds aloof.


 When 'tis God's will to bring an utter doom
 Upon a house, He first in mortal men
 Implants what works it out.


 The words of Truth are ever simplest found.


 What good is found in life that still brings pain?


 To many mortals silence great gain brings.


 O Death the Healer, scorn thou not, I pray,
 To come to me: of cureless ills thou art
 The one physician. Pain lays not its touch
 Upon a corpse.


 When the wind
 Nor suffers us to leave the port, nor stay.


 And if thou wish to benefit the dead,
 'Tis all as one as if thou injured'st them,
 And they nor sorrow nor delight can feel:
 Yet higher than we are is Nemesis,
 And Justice taketh vengeance for the dead.


                   THETIS _on the death of Achilles_

 Life free from sickness, and of many years,
 And in a word a fortune like to theirs
 Whom the Gods love, all this He spake to me
 As pæan-hymn, and made my heart full glad:
 And I full fondly trusted Phœbos' lips
 As holy and from falsehood free, of art
 Oracular an ever-flowing spring,
 And He who sang this, He who at the feast
 Being present, spake these things,—yea, He it is
 That slew my son.


 The man who does ill, ill must suffer too.


 Evil on mortals comes full swift of foot,
 And guilt on him who doth the right transgress.


 Thou see'st a vengeance voiceless and unseen
 For one who sleeps or walks or sits at ease:
 It takes its course obliquely, here to-day,
 And there to-morrow. Nor does night conceal
 Men's deeds of ill, but whatsoe'er thou dost,
 Think that some God beholds it.


 “All have their chance:” good proverb for the rich.


 Wise is the man who knows what profiteth,
 Not he who knoweth much.


 Full grievous burden is a prosperous fool.


 From a just fraud God turneth not away.


 There is a time when God doth falsehood prize.


 The polished brass is mirror of the form,
 Wine of the soul.


 Words are the parents of a causeless wrath.


 Men credit gain for oaths, not oaths for them.


 God ever works with those that work with will.


 Wisdom to learn is e'en for old men good.


 The base who prosper are intolerable.


 The seed of mortals broods o'er passing things,
 And hath nought surer than the smoke-cloud's shadow.


 Old age hath stronger sense of right than youth.


 Yet though a man gets many wounds in breast,
 He dieth not, unless the appointed time,
 The limit of his life's span, coincide;
 Nor does the man who by the hearth at home
 Sits still, escape the doom that Fate decrees.


 How far from just the hate men bear to death,
 Which comes as safeguard against many ills.


                              _To_ FORTUNE

 Thou did'st beget me; thou too, as it seems,
 Wilt now destroy me.


 The fire-moth's silly death is that I fear.


 I by experience know the race full well
 That dwells in Æthiop land, where seven-mouthed Nile
 Rolls o'er the land with winds that bring the rain,
 What time the fiery sun upon the earth
 Pours its hot rays, and melts the snow till then
 Hard as the rocks; and all the fertile soil
 Of Egypt, filled with that pure-flowing stream,
 Brings forth Demêter's ears that feed our life.


 This hoopoo, witness of its own dire ills,
 He hath in varied garb set forth, and shows
 In full array that bold bird of the rocks
 Which, when the spring first comes, unfurls a wing
 Like that of white-plumed kite; for on one breast
 It shows two forms, its own and eke its child's,
 And when the corn grows gold, in autumn's prime,
 A dappled plumage all its form will clothe;
 And ever in its hate of these 'twill go
 Far off to lonely thickets or bare rocks.


 Still to the sufferer comes, as due from God,
 A glory that to suffering owes its birth.


 The air is Zeus, Zeus earth, and Zeus the heaven,
 Zeus all that is, and what transcends them all.


 Take courage; pain's extremity soon ends.


 When Strength and Justice are true yoke-fellows,
 Where can be found a mightier pair than they?

                            RHYMED CHORUSES


                             VERSES 40-248

     Nine weary years are gone and spent
     Since Menelaos' armament
     Sped forth, on work of vengeance bent,
             For Priam's guilty land;
     And with him Agamemnon there
     Throne, sceptre, army all did share;
     And so from Zeus the Atreidæ bear,
             Their twofold high command.
     They a fleet of thousand sail,
     Strong in battle to prevail,
     Led from out our Argive coast,
     Shouting war-cries to the host;
     E'en as vultures do that utter
     Shrillest screams as round they flutter,
     Grieving for their nestlings lost,
     Plying still their oary wings
     In many lonely wanderings,
     Robbed of all the sweet unrest
     That bound them to their young ones' nest.
     And One on high of solemn state,
     Apollo, Pan, or Zeus the great,
     When he hears that shrill wild cry
     Of his clients in the sky,
     On them, the godless who offend,
     Erinnys slow and sure doth send.
     So 'gainst Alexandros then
     The sons of Atreus, chiefs of men,
     Zeus sent to work his high behest,
     True guardian of the host and guest.
     He, for bride of many a groom,
     On Danai, Troïans sendeth doom,
     Many wrestlings, sinew-trying
     Of the knee in dust down-lying,
     Many a spear-shaft snapt asunder
     In the prelude of war's thunder.
     What shall be, shall, and still we see
     Fulfilled is destiny's decree.
     Nor by tears in secret shed,
     Nor by offerings o'er the dead,
     Will he soothe God's vengeful ire
     For altar hearths despoiled of fire.

     And we with age outworn and spent
     Are left behind that armament,
     With head upon our staff low bent.
     Weak our strength like that of boy;
     Youth's life-blood, in its bounding joy,
     For deeds of might is like to age,
     And knows not yet war's heritage:
     And the man whom many a year
     Hath bowed in withered age and sere,
     As with three feet creepeth on,
     Like phantom form of day-dream gone
     Not stronger than his infant son.

     And now, O Queen, who tak'st thy name
     From Tyndareus of ancient fame,
     Our Clytæmnestra whom we own
     As rightly sharing Argos' throne!
     What tidings joyous hast thou heard,
     Token true or flattering word,
     That thou send'st to every shrine
     Solemn pomp in stately line,—
     Shrines of Gods who reign in light,
     Or those who dwell in central night,
     Who in Heaven for aye abide,
     Or o'er the Agora preside.
     Lo, thy gifts on altars blaze,
     And here and there through heaven's wide ways
     The torches fling their fiery rays,
     Fed by soft and suasive spell
     Of the clear oil, flowing well
     From the royal treasure-cell.
     Telling what of this thou may,
     All that's meet to us to say,
     Do thou our haunting cares allay,
     Cares which now bring sore distress,
     While now bright hope, with power to bless,
     From out the sacrifice appears,
     And wardeth off our restless fears,
     The boding sense of coming fate,
     That makes the spirit desolate.

                               STROPHE I

         Yes, it is mine to tell
 What omens to our leaders then befell,
         Giving new strength for war,
         (For still though travelled far
 In life, by God's great gift to us belong
         The suasive powers of song,)
         To tell how those who bear
 O'er all Achæans sway in equal share,
         Ruling in one accord
 The youth of Hellas that own each as lord,
         Were sent with mighty host
 By mighty birds against the Troïan coast,
 Kings of the air to kings of men appearing
 Near to the palace, on the right hand veering;
         On spot seen far and near,
         They with their talons tear
 A pregnant hare with all her unborn young,
 All her life's course in death's deep darkness flung.
 Oh raise the bitter cry, the bitter wail;
         Yet pray that good prevail!

                             ANTISTROPHE I

         And then the host's wise seer
 Stood gazing on the Atreidæ standing near,
         Of diverse mood, and knew
         Those who the poor hare slew,
 And those who led the host with shield and spear,
         And spake his omens clear:
         “One day this host shall go,
 And Priam's city in the dust lay low,
         And all the kine and sheep
 Countless, which they before their high towers keep,
         Fate shall with might destroy:
 Only take heed that no curse mar your joy,
 Nor blunt the edge of curb that Troïa waiteth,
 Smitten too soon, for Artemis still hateth
         The wingèd hounds that own
         Her father on his throne,
 Who slay the mother with the young unborn,
 And looks upon the eagle's feast with scorn.
 Ah! raise the bitter cry, the bitter wail;
         Yet pray that good prevail.


 For she, the Fair One, though her mercy shields
   The lion's whelps, like dew-drops newly shed,
 And yeanling young of beasts that roam the fields,
   Yet prays her sire fulfil these omens dread,
         The good, the evil too.
 And now I call on him, our Healer true,
 Lest she upon the Danai send delays
 That keep our ships through many weary days,
         Urging a new strange rite,
 Unblest alike by man and God's high law,
 Evil close clinging, working sore despite,
         Marring a wife's true awe.
         For still there lies in wait,
         Fearful and ever new,
 Watching the hour its eager thirst to sate,
 Vengeance on those who helpless infants slew.”
 Such things, ill mixed with good, great Calchas spake,
 As destined by the birds' strange auguries;
 And we too now our echoing answer make
         In loud and woeful cries:
 Oh raise the bitter cry, the bitter wail;
         Yet pray that good prevail.

                               STROPHE II

         O Zeus, whoe'er Thou be,
         If that name please thee well,
         By that I call on Thee;
 For weighing all things else I fail to tell
         Of any name but Zeus;
         If once for all I seek
 Of all my haunting, troubled thoughts a truce,
         That name I still must speak.

                             ANTISTROPHE II

         For He who once was great,
         Full of the might to war,
         Hath lost his high estate;
 And He who followed now is driven afar,
         Meeting his Master too:
         But if one humbly pay
 With 'bated breath to Zeus his honour due,
         He walks in wisdom's way,—

                              STROPHE III

 To Zeus, who men in wisdom's path doth train,
         Who to our mortal race
 Hath given the fixèd law that pain is gain;
         For still through his high grace
 True counsel falleth on the heart like dew,
         In deep sleep of the night,
 The boding thoughts that out of ill deeds grew;
 This too They work who sit enthronèd in their might.

                            ANTISTROPHE III

 And then the elder leader of great fame
         Who ruled the Achæans' ships,
 Not bold enough a holy seer to blame
         With words from reckless lips,
 But tempered to the fate that on him fell;—
         And when the host was vexed
 With tarryings long, scant stores, and surging swell,
 Chalkis still far off seen, and baffled hopes perplexed;

                               STROPHE IV

 And stormy blasts that down from Strymon sweep,
 And breed sore famine with the long delay,
 Hurl forth our men upon the homeless deep
         On many a wandering way,
 Sparing nor ships, nor ropes, nor sailing gear,
 Doubling the weary months, and vexing still
         The Argive host with fear.
 Then when as mightier charm for that dread ill,
         Hard for our ships to bear,
 From the seer's lips did “Artemis” resound,
 The Atreidæ smote their staves upon the ground,
 And with no power to check, shed many a bitter tear.

                             ANTISTROPHE IV

 And then the elder of the chiefs thus cried:
 “Great woe it is the Gods to disobey;
 Great woe if I my child, my home's fond pride,
         With my own hands must slay,
 Polluting with the streams of maiden's blood
 A father's hands, the holy altar near.
         Which course hath least of good?
 How can I loss of ships and comrades bear?
         Right well may men desire,
 With craving strong, the blood of maiden pure
 As charm to lull the winds and calm ensure;
 Ah, may there come the good to which our hopes aspire!”

                               STROPHE V

     Then, when he his spirit proud
     To the yoke of doom had bowed,
     While the blasts of altered mood
     O'er his soul swept like a flood,
     Reckless, godless and unblest;
     Thence new thoughts upon him pressed,
     Thoughts of evil, frenzied daring,
     (Still doth passion, base guile sharing,
     Mother of all evil, hold
     The power to make men bad and bold,)
     And he brought himself to slay
     His daughter, as on solemn day,
     Victim slain the ship to save,
     When for false wife fought the brave.

                             ANTISTROPHE V

     All her cries and loud acclaim,
     Calling on her father's name,—
     All her beauty fresh and fair,
     They heeded not in their despair,
     Their eager lust for conflict there.
     And her sire the attendants bade
     To lift her, when the prayer was said,
     Above the altar like a kid,
     Her face and form in thick veil hid;
     Yea, with ruthless heart and bold,
     O'er her gracious lips to hold
     Their watch, and with the gag's dumb pain
     From evil-boding words restrain.

                               STROPHE VI

         And then upon the ground
 Pouring the golden streams of saffron veil,
         She cast a glance around
         That told its piteous tale,
 At each of those who stood prepared to slay,
   Fair as the form by skilful artist drawn,
 And wishing, all in vain, her thoughts to say;
   For oft of old in maiden youth's first dawn,
         Within her father's hall,
         Her voice to song did call,
 To chant the praises of her sire's high state,
 His fame, thrice blest of Heaven, to celebrate.
         What then ensued mine eyes
 Saw not, nor may I tell, but not in vain
         The arts of Calchas wise;
         For justice sends again,
 The lesson “pain is gain” for them to learn:
   But for our piteous fate since help is none,
 With voice that bids “Good-bye,” we from it turn
   Ere yet it come, and this is all as one
         With weeping ere the hour,
         For soon will come in power
 To-morrow's dawn, and good luck with it come!
 So speaks the guardian of this Apian home.

                             VERSES 346-471

     O great and sovran Zeus, O Night,
     Great in glory, great in might,
     Who round Troïa's towers hast set,
     Enclosing all, thy close-meshed net,
     So that neither small nor great
     Can o'erleap the bondslave's fate,
     Or woe that maketh desolate;
     Zeus, the God of host and guest,
     Worker of all this confessed,
     He by me shall still be blest.
     Long since, 'gainst Alexandros He
     Took aim with bow that none may flee,
     That so his arrows onward driven,
     Nor miss their mark, nor pierce the heaven.

                               STROPHE I

         Yes, they lie smitten low,
 If so one dare to speak, by stroke of Zeus;
         Well one may trace the blow;
 The doom that He decreed their soul subdues.
         And though there be that say
 The Gods for mortal men care not at all,
 Though they with reckless feet tread holiest way,
         These none will godly call.
 Now is it to the children's children clear
         Of those who, overbold,
 More than was meet, breathed Discord's spirit drear;
 While yet their houses all rich store did hold
         Beyond the perfect mean.
 Ah! may my lot be free from all that harms,
         My soul may nothing wean
 From calm contentment with her tranquil charms;
         For nought is there in wealth
 That serves as bulwark 'gainst the subtle stealth
         Of Destiny and Doom,
 For one who, in the pride of wanton mood,
 Spurns the great altar of the Right and Good.

                             ANTISTROPHE I

         Yea, a strange impulse wild
 Urges him on, resistless in its might,
         Atè's far-scheming child.
 It knows no healing, is not hid in night,
         That mischief lurid, dark;
 Like bronze that will not stand the test of wear,
 A tarnished blackness in its hue we mark;
 And like a boy who doth a bird pursue
         Swift-floating on the wing,
 He to his country hopeless woe doth bring;
         And no God hears their prayer,
 But sendeth down the unrighteous to despair,
         Whose hands are stained with sin.
         So was it Paris came
 His entrance to the Atreidæ's home to win,
         And brought its queen to shame,
 To shame that brand indelible hath set
 Upon the board where host and guest were met.

                               STROPHE II

 And leaving to her countrymen to bear
 Wild whirl of ships of war and shield and spear,
         And bringing as her dower,
         Death's doom to Ilion's tower,
 She hath passed quickly through the palace gate,
         Daring what none should dare;
 And lo! the minstrel seers bewail the fate
         That home must henceforth share;
 “Woe for the kingly house and for its lord;
 Woe for the marriage-bed and paths which still
         A vanished love doth fill!
 There stands he, wronged, yet speaking not a word
         Of scorn from wrathful will,
 Seeing with utter woe that he is left,
         Of her fair form bereft;
         And in his yearning love
 For her who now is far beyond the sea,
 A phantom queen through all the house shall rove;
         And all the joy doth flee
 The sculptured forms of beauty once did give;
 And in the penury of eyes that live,
         All Aphroditè's grace
         Is lost in empty space.

                             ANTISTROPHE II

 And spectral forms in visions of the night
 Come, bringing sorrow with their vain delight:
         For vain it is when one
         Thinks that great joy is near,
 And, passing through his hands, the dream is gone
         On gliding wings, that bear
 The vision far away on paths of sleep.”
         Such woes were felt at home
 Upon the sacred altar of the hearth,
 And worse than these remain for those who roam
         From Hellas' parent earth:
 In every house, in number measureless,
         Is seen a sore distress:
         Yea, sorrows pierce the heart:
 For those who from his home he saw depart
         Each knoweth all too well;
 And now, instead of warrior's living frame,
 There cometh to the home where each did dwell
 The scanty ashes, relics of the flame,
         The urns of bronze that keep
         The dust of those that sleep.

                              STROPHE III

 For Ares, who from bodies of the slain
         Reapeth a golden gain,
 And holdeth, like a trafficker, his scales,
 E'en where the torrent rush of war prevails,
         From Ilion homeward sends
 But little dust, yet burden sore for friends,
 O'er which, smooth-lying in the brazen urn,
         They sadly weep and mourn,
 Now for this man as foremost in the strife,
 And now for that who in the battle fell,
         Slain for another's wife.
 And muttered curses some in secret tell,
         And jealous discontent
 Against the Atreidæ who as champions led
         The mighty armament;
 And some around the wall, the goodly dead,
 Have there in alien land their monument,
         And in the soil of foes
 Take in the sleep of death their last repose.

                            ANTISTROPHE III

 And lo! the murmurs which our country fill
         Are as a solemn curse,
 And boding anxious fear expecteth still
         To hear of evil worse.
 Not blind the Gods, but giving fullest heed
 To those who cause a nation's wounds to bleed;
 And the dark-robed Erinnyes in due time
         By adverse chance and change
 Plunge him who prospers though defiled by crime
 In deepest gloom, and through its formless range
         No gleams of help appear.
 O'er-vaunted glory is a perilous thing;
 For on it Zeus, whose glance fills all with fear,
         His thunderbolts doth fling.
         That fortune fair I praise
 That rouseth not the Gods to jealousy.
 May I ne'er tread the devastator's ways,
         Nor as a prisoner see
 My life wear out in drear captivity!


 And now at bidding of the courier-flame,
         Herald of great good news,
 A murmur swift through all the city came;
 But whether it with truth its course pursues,
 Who knows? or whether God who dwells on high,
         With it hath sent a lie?
 Who is so childish, or of sense bereft,
         As first to feel the glow
 That message of the herald fire has left,
         And then to sink down low,
 Because the rumour changes in its sound?
         It is a woman's mood
 To accept a boon before the truth is found:
 Too quickly she believes in tidings good,
         And so the line exact
         That marks the truth of fact
 Is over-passed, and with quick doom of death
 A rumour spread by woman perisheth.

                             VERSES 665-782

                               STROPHE I

 Who was it named her with such foresight clear?
         Could it be One of might,
 In strange prevision of her work of fear,
         Guiding the tongue aright?
 Who gave that war-wed, strife-upstirring one
         The name of Helen, ominous of ill?
 For 'twas through her that Hellas was undone,
         That woes from Hell men, ships, and cities fill.
 Out from the curtains, gorgeous in their fold,
 Wafted by breeze of Zephyr, earth's strong child,
         She her swift way doth hold;
 And hosts of mighty men, as hunters bold
         That bear the spear and shield,
 Wait on the track of those who steered their way
 Unseen where Simois flows by leafy field,
 Urged by a strife that came with power to slay.

                             ANTISTROPHE I

 And so the wrath which doth its work fulfil
         To Ilion brought, well-named,
 A marriage marring all, avenging still
         For friendship wronged and shamed,
 And outrage foul on Zeus, of host and guest
   The guardian God, from those who then did raise
 The bridal hymn of marriage-feast unblest
   Which called the bridegroom's kin to shouts of praise.
         But now by woe oppressed
 Priam's ancient city waileth very sore,
 And calls on Paris unto dark doom wed,
       Suffering yet more and more
 For all the blood of heroes vainly shed,
 And bearing through the long protracted years
 A life of wailing grief and bitter tears.

                               STROPHE II

         One was there who did rear
 A lion's whelp within his home to dwell,
         A monster waking fear,
 Weaned from the mother's milk it loved so well:
         Then in life's dawning light,
 Loved by the children, petted by the old,
         Oft in his arms clasped tight,
 As one an infant newly-born would hold,
 With eye that gleamed beneath the fondling hand,
 And fawning as at hunger's strong command.

                             ANTISTROPHE II

         But soon of age full grown,
 It showed the inbred nature of its sire,
         And wrought unasked, alone,
 A feast to be that fostering nurture's hire;
         Gorged full with slaughtered sheep,
 The house was stained with blood as with a curse
         No slaves away could keep,
 A murderous mischief waxing worse and worse,
 Sent as from God a priest from Atè fell,
 And reared within the man's own house to dwell.

                              STROPHE III

 So I would say to Ilion then there came
   Mood as of calm when every wind is still,
 The gentle pride and joy of noble fame,
 The eye's soft glance that all the soul doth thrill;
         Love's full-blown flower that brings
         The thorn that wounds and stings;
         And yet she turned aside,
 And of the marriage feast wrought bitter end,
 Coming to dwell where Priam's sons abide,
         Ill sojourner, ill friend,
 Sent by great Zeus, the God of host and guest,
 A true Erinnys, by all wives unblest.

                            ANTISTROPHE III

 There lives a saying framed of ancient days,
   And in men's minds imprinted firm and fast,
 That great good fortune never childless stays,
   But brings forth issue,—that on fame at last
         There rushes on apace
         Great woe for all the race;
         But I, apart, alone,
 Hold a far other and a worthier creed:
 The impious act is by ill issue known,
         Most like the parent deed;
 While still for all who love the Truth and Right,
 Good fortune prospers, fairer and more bright.

                               STROPHE IV

 But wanton Outrage done in days of old
   Another wanton Outrage still doth bear,
 And mocks at human woes with scorn o'erbold,
   Or soon or late as they their fortune share.
         That other in its turn
         Begets Satiety,
 And lawless Might that doth all hindrance spurn,
         And sacred right defy,
 Two Atès fell within their dwelling-place,
         Like to their parent race.

                             ANTISTROPHE IV

 Yet Justice still shines bright in dwellings murk
   And dim with smoke, and honours calm content;
 But gold-bespangled homes, where guilt doth lurk,
   She leaves with glance in horror backward bent,
         And draws with reverent fear
         To places holier far,
 And little recks the praise the prosperous hear,
         Whose glories tarnished are;
 But still towards its destined goal she brings
         The whole wide course of things.

       Say then, son of Atreus, thou
       Who com'st as Troïa's conqueror now,
 What form of welcome right and meet,
 What homage thy approach to greet,
 Shall I now use in measure true,
 Nor more nor less than that is due?
 Many men there are, I wis,
 Who in seeming place their bliss,
 Caring less for that which is.
 If one suffers, then their wail
 Loudly doth the ear assail;
 Yet have they nor lot nor part
 In the grief that stirs the heart;
 So too the joyous men will greet
 With smileless faces counterfeit:
 But shepherd who his own sheep knows
 Will scan the lips that fawn and gloze,
 Ready still to praise and bless
 With weak and watery kindliness.
 Thou when thou the host did'st guide
 For Helen—truth I will not hide—
 In mine eyes had'st features grim,
 Such as unskilled art doth limn,
 Not guiding well the helm of thought,
 And giving souls with grief o'erwrought
 False courage from fresh victims brought,
 But with nought of surface zeal,
 Now full glad of heart I feel,
 And hail thy acts as deeds well done:
 Thou too in time shall know each one,
 And learn who wrongly, who aright
 In house or city dwells in might.

                            VERSES 947-1001

                               STROPHE I

         Why thus continually
 Do ever-haunting phantoms hover nigh
         My hearth that bodeth ill?
 Why doth the prophet's strain unbidden still,
         Unbought, flow on and on?
         Why on my mind's dear throne
 Hath faith lost all her former power to fling
 That terror from me as an idle thing?
 Yet since the ropes were fastened in the sand
         That moored the ships to land,
 When the great naval host to Ilion went,
 Time hath passed on to feeble age and spent.

                             ANTISTROPHE I

         And now as face to face,
 Myself reporting to myself I trace
         Their safe return; and yet
 My mind, taught by itself, cannot forget
         Erinnys' dolorous cry,
         That lyreless melody,
   And hath no strength of wonted confidence.
   Not vain these pulses of the inward sense,
   As my heart beateth in its wild unrest,
           Within true-boding breast;
   And hoping against hope, I yet will pray
   My fears may all prove false and pass away.

                               STROPHE II

           Of high, o'erflowing health
   There is no limit found that satisfies;
         For soon by force or stealth,
   As foe 'gainst whom but one poor wall doth rise,
   Disease upon it presses, and the lot
   Of fair good fortune onward moves until
   It strikes on unseen reef where help is not.
           But should fear move their will
           For safety of their freight,
 With measured sling a part they sacrifice,
         And so avert their fate,
 Lest the whole house should sink no more to rise,
         O'erwhelmed with misery;
 Nor does the good ship perish utterly:
         So too abundant gift,
 From Zeus in double plenty, from the earth,
 Doth the worn soul from anxious care uplift,
 And turns the famished wail to bounding joy and mirth.

                             ANTISTROPHE II

         But blood that once is shed
 In purple stream of death upon the ground,
         Who then, when life is fled,
 A charm to call it back again hath found?
   Else against him who raised the dead to life
 Zeus had not sternly warred, as warning given
   To all men; but if Fate were not at strife
         With Fate that brings from Heaven
         Help from the Gods, my heart,
 Out-stripping speech, had given thought free vent.
         But now in gloom apart
 It sits and moans in sullen discontent,
         And hath no hope that e'er
 It shall an issue seasonably fair
         From out the tangled skein
 Of life's strange course unravel straight and clear,
 While in the fever of continuing pain
 My soul doth burden sore of troublous anguish bear.

                          THE LIBATION-POURERS

                              VERSES 20-75

                               STROPHE I

 Lo, from the palace door
 We wend our way to pour
       Gifts on the dead;
 And in our bitter woe,
 Our hands with many a blow
       Smite breast and head.
 On each fair cheek the nail
 Has ploughed full many a trail,
 And all to tatters torn
 The garments we have worn;
 The foldings of the vest
 O'er maiden's swelling breast
     Are roughly rent;
 For now on us the chance
 That shuts out joy and dance
       Our fate hath sent.

                             ANTISTROPHE I

 A spectral vision clear
 Thrills every hair with fear,
 In haunted sleep,
 Breathing of dire distress,
 From innermost recess
 Its watch doth keep,
 Breaking with cry of fright
 The still deep hush of night:
 All through the queenly bower
 Sharp cry was heard that hour,
 And they to whom 'twas given
 To read decrees of Heaven,
         In dream o'er-true,
 By solemn pledges bound,
 Declared that underground
 The dead were wrathful found
         'Gainst those that slew.

                               STROPHE II

 And so the godless queen
 In eager haste is seen,—
 Sends me with gifts like this,
 Full graceless grace, I wis,
 As if (O mother Earth,
 To whom we owe our birth!)
         To banish dread.
 And I would fain delay
 This prayer of mine to pray:
 What ransom can men pay
         For blood once shed?
 Oh, hearth and home of woe!
 Oh, utter overthrow!
 Foul mists brood o'er our halls:
 No ray of sunlight falls;
 Thick darkness from the tomb
 Of heroes makes the gloom
         Yet more intense.

                             ANTISTROPHE II

 And awe that once we knew,
 Strong, mighty to subdue,
 Falling on every ear,
 Thrilling each soul with fear,
         Is gone far hence.
 There be that well may bow
 In craven terror now,
 For lo! Success enthroned
 As more than God is owned.
 But Vengeance will not fail
 Ere long to turn the scale.
 On some her strokes alight,
 While yet their day is bright;
 Some, as in twilight's gloom,
 O'erflow with gathering doom;
 Some endless night doth hold
 In realm of darkness old.

                              STROPHE III

 And for the blood which Earth,
 To whom it owed its birth,
 Hath drunk, there still doth wait
 A stern avenging Fate;
 The stain of blood doth stay,
 And will not pass away,
 And nerves are thrilled with pain
 In soul that sets in train
 The plague that works amain
         Its evil great.

                            ANTISTROPHE III

 All help from him hath fled
 Who with adulterous tread
 Denies another's bed.
 Though many streams should pour
 Their waters o'er and o'er,
 Those waters evermore
         Are poured in vain;
 They cannot cleanse the guilt
 Of blood that once is spilt,
         Man's hand to stain.


 But since to me by Heaven
 The exile's life is given,
 (Yea, far from home I know
 The bondslave's cup of woe,)
 I needs must yield assent
 To good or ill intent,
 Accepting their commands
 Who rule with sceptred hands,—
 Yea, I must hide my hate
 In this my evil fate,
 And under strong control
 Keep my rebellious soul;
 And now beneath my veil
 I weep my woes' full tale;
 For cares that vex and fret
 My cheeks with tears are wet.

                             VERSES 576-639

                               STROPHE I

 Many dread forms of woe and fear the Earth
     Doth breed; and Ocean's deep
 Is full of foes men hate, of monstrous birth;
 And Air's high pathways keep
 Their flashing meteors; birds that wing their flight,
     And things on earth that creep;
 And one might tell the wrath of whirlwind's might,
     When tempests wildly sweep.

                             ANTISTROPHE I

 But who can tell man's purpose overbold?
     Or woman's, prompt to dare?
 Or the strong loves that men in bondage hold,
     And bring woe everywhere?
 Or strange conjunctions of the hearth and home?
     But still the palm they bear,
 The loves unloved that women overcome,
     And hold dominion there.

                               STROPHE II

 And one whose thoughts are not o'erswift of wing,
     May learn and ponder well
 What purpose Thestios' child to act did bring,
     Purpose most dire and fell,
 Her burning thought who did her own child slay,
     Kindling the torch of death
 That with her child's life kept its equal way,
 Since coming from his mother's womb he cried,
 To that predestined day on which at last he died.

                             ANTISTROPHE II

 And yet another must I in my song
     Devote to hate and scorn,
 The murderess Skylla, who to deeds of wrong
     By Minos' gifts was borne,
 And for her foes' sake slew a man she loved
     For Cretan chains gold-wrought;
 She with dog's heart the deathless lock removed
 From him, in deep sleep sunk; yet Hermes' power
 She too was taught at last at her appointed hour.

                              STROPHE III

 But since I tell my tale of loathly crime,
 And of ill-omened marriage out of time,
     Wedlock our house abhors,
 The schemes and plots of women steeped in guile
 Against a warrior chief, a chief erewhile
         The dread of foes in wars,
 The foremost place I give to altar-hearth
 Where no wrath burns and woman knows the worth
         Of mood from daring free.

                            ANTISTROPHE III

 Yet of all ills the Lemnian first may stand,
 The cry of loathing rings through all the land,
         And still each crime of dread
 A man will liken to the Lemnian ill;
 And now by woe that comes from God's stern will
         The race is gone and fled,
 Of all men scorned, for no man looks with love
 On deeds that to the high Gods hateful prove;
         Is not this clear to see?

                               STROPHE IV

 And lo! the sword sharp-pointed pierces deep,
   E'en to the heart, the sword which Vengeance wields;
 The lawless deed will not neglected sleep,
   When men tread down what fear of high heaven shields;

                             ANTISTROPHE IV

 But still the block of Vengeance firm doth stand,
   And Fate, as swordsmith, hammers blow on blow;
 And then with thoughts that none can understand,
   Erinnys comes far known, though working slow,
 And to the old house brings the youthful heir,
   That deeds of blood wrought out of olden time
         May the due judgment bear
         For each polluting crime.

                             VERSES 769-820

                               STROPHE I

 Oh, hear me, hear my prayer, thou mighty Lord!
   Sire of all Gods that on Olympos dwell,
 Hear Thou, and grant my longing heart's desire,
   That those who wise of heart would fain do well
         May see each prayer for right
         Fulfilled in holiest might;
         That prayer, O Zeus, I pray.

                               STROPHE II

 Do Thou protect him, yea, O Zeus, and bring
   Before his foes on yonder secret way;
 For if thou raise him high, then Thou, O king,
         Shalt to thy heart's content
 Receive a twofold, threefold recompence,
         For that thine anger bent
         Against each old offence.

                             ANTISTROPHE I

 Look on the son of one whom Thou did'st love,
   Like orphan colt fast bound to car of woes;
 Set Thou a mark that may as limit prove;
   Ah, might one watch his footsteps as he goes,
         In measured course and true,
         This his own country through!

                              STROPHE III

         And ye who in our home
 Stand in the shrine with plenteous wealth full stored,
         Hear, O ye Gods, and come,
         Yea, come with one accord,
         Lead him on, wash away
 With vengeance new the blood of crime of old;
         Let not the old guilt stay
 To breed fresh offspring where our home we hold.


         But grant him good success,
 O Thou who dost within the great cave dwell!
 With upward glance of joy our chief's house bless,
         And that he too, full well,
 Freely and brightly with the dear, loved eyes,
 May look from out the veil of cloudy skies.

                            ANTISTROPHE III

         And then may Maia's son
 Assist him, as is meet, in this his task!
         Through Him success is won,
         The boon that now we ask:
 And many secret things will He make clear,
         If that should be His will;
 But should He choose the truth should not appear,
         Before men's eyes He still
 Brings darkness and the blackness of the night,
 Nor is He clearer in the day's full light.

                               STROPHE IV

         And then will we pour forth
 All that our house contains of costliest worth,
         Past evil to redeem,
 And through the city we will raise the strain
 Shrill-voiced of women's chant yet once again.
         All this as good I deem;
 This, this my gain increaseth more and more,
 And far from those I love is sorrow's bitter stour.

                             ANTISTROPHE II

 But thou, take courage when the time is come,
         The time to act indeed,
 And when she calls thee “child,” do thou strike home,
 And let thy father's name for vengeance plead;
 Do thy dread taskwork to the uttermost.

                             ANTISTROPHE IV

   Let Perseus' heart within thy bosom dwell,
 For thou dost work for each dear kindred ghost,
   And those on high, a bitter boon and fell,
         Completing there within
         The deed of blood and sin,
 And utterly destroying him whose hand
         That crime of murder planned.


                             VERSES 297-374

 Come then, and let us dance in solemn strain;
 It is our will to chant our harsh refrain,
         And tell how this our band
 Works among men the tasks we take in hand.
 In righteous vengeance find we full delight;
 On him who putteth forth clean hands and pure
         No wrath from us doth light;
 Unhurt shall he through all his life endure;
 But whoso, as this man, hath evil wrought,
         And hides hands stained with blood,
 On him we come, with power prevailing fraught,
         True witnesses and good,
 For those whom he has slain, and bent to win
 Full forfeit-price for that his deed of sin.

                               STROPHE I

         O Mother, Mother Night!
 Who did'st bear me a penalty and curse
   To those who see and those who see not light,
 Hear thou; for Leto's son, in mood perverse,
         Puts me to foulest shame,
 In that he robs me of my trembling prey,
         The victim whom we claim,
 That we his mother's blood may wash away;
         And over him as slain
 Sing we this dolorous, frenzied, maddening strain,
 The song that we, the Erinnyes, love so well,
 That binds the soul as with enchanter's spell,
 Without one note from out the sweet-voiced lyre,
 Withering the strength of men as with a blast of fire.

                             ANTISTROPHE I

         For this our task hath Fate
   Spun without fail to last for ever sure,
 That we on man weighed down with deeds of hate
   Should follow till the earth his life immure.
         Nor when he dies can he
         Boast of being truly free;
         And over him as slain
 Sing we this dolorous, frenzied, maddening strain,
 The song that we, the Erinnyes, love so well,
 That binds the soul as with enchanter's spell,
 Without one note from out the sweet-voiced lyre,
 Withering the strength of men as with a blast of fire.

                               STROPHE II

 Yea, at our birth this lot to us was given,
 And from the immortal Ones who dwell in Heaven
         We still must hold aloof;
 None sits with us at banquets of delight,
         Or shares a common roof,
 Nor part nor lot have I in garments white;
 My choice was made a race to overthrow,
 When murder, home-reared, lays a loved one low;
 Strong though he be, upon his track we tread,
 And drain his blood till all his strength is fled.

                             ANTISTROPHE II

 Yea, 'tis our work to set another free
   From tasks like this, and by my service due
 To give the Gods their perfect liberty,
   Relieved from task of meting judgment true;
 For this our tribe from out his fellowship
   Zeus hath cast out as worthy of all hate,
 And from our limbs the purple blood-drops drip;
 So with a mighty leap and grievous weight
     My foot I bring upon my quivering prey,
     With power to make the swift and strong give way,
 An evil and intolerable fate.

                              STROPHE III

 And all the glory and the pride of men,
 Though high exalted in the light of day,
         Wither and fade away,
         Of little honour then,
 When in the darkness of the grave they stay,
         By our attack brought low,
 The loathèd dance through which in raiment black we go:

                            ANTISTROPHE III

 And through the ill that leaves him dazed and blind,
 He still is all unconscious that he falls,
         So thick a cloud enthrals
         The vision of his mind:
 And Rumour with a voice of wailing calls,
         And tells of gathering gloom
 That doth the ancient halls in darkness thick entomb.

                               STROPHE IV

         So it abideth still;
 Ready and prompt are we to work our will,
         The dreaded Ones who bring
 The dire remembrance of each deed of ill,
   Whom mortals may not soothe with offering,
 Working a task with little honour fraught,
   Yea, all dishonoured, task the Gods detest,
         In sunless midnight wrought,
         By which alike are pressed
 Those who yet live, and those who lie in gloom unblest.

                             ANTISTROPHE IV

 What mortal man then will not crouch in fear,
         As he my work shall hear,
 The task to me by destiny from Heaven
         As from the high Gods given?
 Yea, a time-honoured lot is mine I trow,
         No shame in it I see,
 Though deep beneath the earth my station be,
 In gloom that never feels the sunlight's quickening glow.

                             VERSES 468-537

                               STROPHE I

 Now is there utter fall and overthrow,
         Which new-made laws begin;
 If he who struck the matricidal blow,
         His right—not so, his utter wrong shall win,
 This baseness will the minds of all men lead
         To wanton, reckless thought,
 And now for parents waits there woe, and deed
 Of parricidal guilt by children wrought.

                             ANTISTROPHE I

 For then no more shall wrath from this our band,
   The Mænad troop that watch the deeds of men,
 Come for these crimes; but lo! on either hand
   I will let slip all evil fate, and then,
         Telling his neighbours' grief,
 Shall this man seek from that, and seek in vain,
         Remission and relief,
 Nor is there any certain cure for pain.
 And lo! the wretched man all fruitlessly
         For grace and help shall cry.

                               STROPHE II

 Henceforth let no man in his anguish call,
 When he sore-smitten by ill-chance shall fall,
         Uttering with groan and moan,
 “O mighty Justice, O Erinnyes' throne!”
 So may a father or a mother wail,
 Struck by new woe, and tell their sorrow's tale;
         For low on earth doth lie
 The home where Justice once her dwelling had on high.

                             ANTISTROPHE II

 Yea, there are times when reverent Awe should stay
         As guardian of the soul;
 It profits much to learn through suffering
         The bliss of self-control.
 Who that within the heart's full daylight bears
         No touch of holy awe,
 Be it or man or State that casts out fear,
 Will still own reverence for the might of law?

                              STROPHE III

 Nor life that will no sovran rule obey,
 Nor one down-crushed beneath a despot's sway,
         Shalt thou approve;
 God still gives power and strength for victory
 To all that in the golden mean doth lie.
 All else, as they in diverse order move,
         He scans with watchful eye.
 With this I speak a word in harmony,
         That of irreverence still
         Outrage is offspring ill,
         While from the soul's true health
 Comes the much-loved, much-prayed-for joy and wealth.

                            ANTISTROPHE III

         Yes, this I bid thee know;
 Bow thou before the altar of the Right,
         And let no wandering glance
         That looks at gain askance
 Lead thee with godless foot to scorn or slight.
 Know well the appointed penalty shall come;
 The doom remaineth sure and will at last strike home.
 Wherefore let each man pay the reverence due
         To those who call him son;
 By each to thronging guests let honour true
         In loyal faith be done.

                               STROPHE IV

 But one who with no pressure of constraint
 Of his free will draws back from evil taint,
         He shall not be unblest,
 Nor ever sink by utter woe oppressed.
         But this I still aver,
 That he whose daring leads him to transgress,
 The chaos wild of evil deeds to stir,
         In sharp and sore distress,
         Against his will will slacken sail ere long,
 When, as his timbers crash before the blast,
         He feels the tempest strong.

                             ANTISTROPHE IV

 Then in the midst of peril he at last
 Shall call on those who then will hear him not.
         Yea, God still laughs to scorn
 The man by evil tide of passions borne,
         Swayed by thoughts wild and hot,
 When he beholdeth one whose boast was high
 He ne'er should know it, sunk in misery,
 And all unable round the point to steer;
   And so his former pride of prosperous days
 He wrecks upon the reefs of Vengeance drear,
   And dies with none to weep him or to praise.

                                THE END

                          TRANSCRIBER'S NOTES

 1. Added missing target for footnote on p. 17.
 2. Silently corrected typographical errors.
 3. Retained anachronistic and non-standard spellings as printed.
 4. Enclosed italics font in _underscores_.

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