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Title: The Lyrical Dramas of Aeschylus Translated into English Verse
Author: Aeschylus
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "The Lyrical Dramas of Aeschylus Translated into English Verse" ***

David Thomas


 Translated into


 by J.M. DENT & CO


The original text included Greek characters that were not supported by
Unicode at the time of this ebook's creation. In these cases I used the
nearest available character and surrounded it with parentheses. A full
listing, along with descriptions of the proper characters, can be found
at the end of the book in the section titled Greek Textual Notes.

Footnotes have been relocated to the end of the book. Footnotes and
(end)notes are labeled with an "f" and "n", respectively.

Text alterations: some spelling and punctuation corrections, change some
of the plays' formatting, and remove obsolete references to "vol. I"
and "vol. II", which were leftover from the 1850 two-volume version of
this work.


PROFESSOR JOHN STUART BLACKIE [1809-1895], in his day fondly called
"Scotland's greatest Greek scholar," began his translation of Æschylus
when he was still comparatively a young man, in 1837-8, and he did not
complete it, working intermittently, until 1846. Even then, there was a
process of revision and correction to be gone through, which carried on
the work by a further term of three or four years.

The translation had occupied twelve years, says Miss Stoddart, in her
biography (1895), but only the first three and the last three of those
years were specially devoted to the work. Carlyle interested himself in
finding a London publisher for the translation, and he characteristically
mingled his praise of it with blame. He spoke of it indeed as "spirited
and lively to a high degree," and added, "the grimmer my protest against
your having gone into song at all with the business." It was Professor
Aytoun who suggested the rhymed choruses. Leigh Hunt wrote to Blackie,
approving where Carlyle had demurred. He said: "Your version is right
masculine and Æschylean, strong, musical, conscious of the atmosphere of
mystery and terror which it breathes in;" and he especially admired the
poetic interpretation given "to the lyrical nature of these fine
Cassandra-voiced ringing old dramas."

The following is a list of the chief English translators of Æschylus:--

The Tragedies translated into English Verse; R. Potter, 1777, 1779.

The Seven Tragedies literally translated into English Prose, from the
Text of Blomfield and Schütz, 1822, 1827.

Literal translation by T. A. Buckley, 1849.

The Lyrical Dramas . . . into English Verse, J. S. Blackie, 1850; into
English Prose, F. A. Paley, 1864, 1891; E. H. Plumptre, 1868, 1873; Anna
Swanwick, 1873; from a revised text, W. Headlam, 1900, etc.

The Seven Plays in English Verse; L. Campbell, 1890.

The Agamemnon was translated by Dean Milman, 1865; and "transcribed"
by Robert Browning, 1877. A. W. Verrall's edition of the text, with
commentary and translation, appeared in 1889.

The most important of the earlier editions of the text was that by
Stanley; of the more recent, that by Schütz, Wellauer, and Hermann.


 On the Genius and Character of the Greek Tragedy
 The Life of Æschylus

   Introductory Remarks
   Introductory Remarks
   Introductory Remarks
   Introductory Remarks
   Introductory Remarks
   Introductory Remarks
   Introductory Remarks

 List of Editions, etc.
 Footnotes (Complete)
 Notes (Complete)
 Greek Textual Notes



THE poet who publishes an original work, or the painter who exhibits the
product of his own brush, does well, in the general case, to spare
himself the trouble of any sort of introductory exposition or
explanation; for the public are apt to look upon all such preambles as a
sort of forestalling of their own critical rights: besides that a good
work of art contains within itself all that is necessary to unfold its
own story to an intelligent spectator. A translator, however, is
differently situated. In interposing himself between the original author
and the public, he occupies the position of an optical artist, who, when
he presents to the infirm human eye the instrument that is to enable it
to scan the path of the stars, is bound, not merely to guarantee the
beauty, but to explain to the intelligent spectator the principle, and
to make intelligible the reality of the spectacle. Or, as all similes
limp, we may say that a translator stands to the public in the position
of the old Colchian sorceress, who having cut a live body in pieces, and
submitted it to a new fermentation in a magic pot, engaged to produce it
again re-invigorated in all its completeness. The spectators of such a
process have a right to know, not only that something--it may be a very
beautiful and a very attractive thing--has come out of the cauldron, but
also that the identical thing put in has come out without transmutation
or transformation. And if there has been transmutation or transformation
to any extent, they are entitled to know how far.

Now, with regard to poetical translation, I honestly confess that I
consider the reproduction, according to the German idea of a FACSIMILE
in all respects corresponding to the original, an impossible problem. In
the alembic of the translator's mind it is not merely that the original
elements of the organic whole, being disintegrated, are to be restored,
but the elements out of which the restoration is to be made, are
altogether different; as if a man should be required to make a
counterpart to a silk vesture with cotton twist, or to copy a glowing
Venus of Titian in chalk. The reproduction, in such a case, can never be
perfect; the copy may be something like--very like--the original, but it
is not the same; it may be better in some points, and in some points
worse. Just so in language. It is impossible sometimes to translate from
one language into another. {2} Greek, for instance, is a language so
redundant with rich efflorescence, so tumid with luxuriant growth and
overgrowth of all kinds, that our temperate language, unless it allow
itself to run into sheer madness, must often refuse to follow it. Like a
practised posture-maker or expert ballet-dancer, the old Hellenic
dialect can caper gracefully through movements that, if attempted, would
twist our English tongue into distortion or dislocation. Æschylus, in
particular, was famous, even amongst the Greeks, for the fearless,
masculine licence with which he handled the most flexible of all
languages. This licence I profess to follow only where I can do so
intelligibly and gracefully. The reader must not expect to find, in the
guise of the English language, an image of Æschylus in every minute
verbal feature, such as its gigantic outline has been sketched by

Some men of literary note, in the present day, observing the great
difficulties with which poetical translators have to contend, especially
when using a language of inferior compass, have been of opinion that the
task ought not to be attempted at all--that all poetical translations,
from Greek at least into English, should be done in prose; and, in
confirmation of this opinion, they point to the English translation of
the Hebrew Bible as a model. But if, as Southey says, "a translation is
good precisely as it faithfully represents the matter, manner, and
spirit of the original,"[f1] it is difficult to see how this
doctrine can be entertained. Poetry is distinguished from prose more by
the manner than by the matter; and rhythmical regularity or verse is
precisely that quality which distinguishes the manner of poetry from
that of prose. In one sense, and in the best sense, Plato and Richter
and Jeremy Taylor are poets; in another sense, and in the best sense,
Æschylus and Dante and Shakespere are philosophers; but that which a
poet as a poet has, and a philosopher as a philosopher has not, is
verse; and this element the advocates of a prose translation of poetical
works are content to miss out! That the argument from the English
translation of the Bible is not applicable to every case, will appear
plain to any one who will figure to himself Robert Burns or Horace or
Beranger in a prose dress. In the Bible we seek for the simplicity of
religious inculcation or devout meditation, and would consider the
finest rhythmical decorations out of place. Besides, the style of the
Hebrew poetry is eminently simple; and the rhythmical element of
language, so far as I can learn, was never highly cultivated by the
Jews, whose mission on earth was of a different kind. The Greeks, on the
other hand, were eminently a poetical people; the poetry of their drama,
though not without its {3} own simplicity, is, in respect of mere
linguistic organism, of a highly decorated order; and by nothing is that
decoration so marked as by a systematic attention to rhythm. I consider,
therefore, that prose translations of the Greek dramatists will never
satisfy the just demands of a cultivated taste, for the plain reason
that they omit that element which is most characteristic of the manner
of the original.

I am persuaded that the demand for prose translations of poets had
arisen, in this country, more from a sort of desperate reaction against
certain vicious principles of the old English school of translation,
than from a serious consideration either of the nature of the thing, or
of the capacity of our noble language. In Germany, I do not find that
this notion has ever been entertained; plainly because the German
poetical translations did not err, like our English ones, in conspiring,
by every sort of fine flourishing and delicate furbishment, to obscure
or to blot out what was most characteristic in their originals. The
proper problem of an English translator is not _how to say a thing as
the author would have said it, had he been an Englishman_; but _how,
through the medium of the English language, to make the English reader
feel both what he said and how he said it, being a Greek_. Now, any one
who is familiar with the general run of English rhythmical translations,
of which Pope's Iliad is the pattern, must be aware that they have too
often been executed under the influence of the former of these
principles rather than the latter. In Pope's Homer, and in Sotheby's
also, I must add, we find many, perhaps all the finest passages very
finely done; but so as Pope or Sotheby might have done themselves in an
original poem written at the present day, while that which is most
peculiarly Homeric, a certain blunt naturalness and a talkative
simplicity, we do not find in these translators at all. The very things
which most strike the eye of the accomplished connoisseur, and feed the
meditations of the student of human nature, are omitted.

Now, I at once admit that a good prose translation--that is to say, a
prose translation done by a poet or a man of poetical culture--of such
an author as Homer, is preferable, for many purposes, to a poetical
translation so elegantly defaced as that of Pope. A prose translation,
also, of any poet, done accurately in a prosaic style by a proser,
however much of a parody or a caricature in point of taste, may not be
without its use, if in no other way, as a ready check on the free
licence of omission or inoculation which rhythmical translators are so
fond to usurp. But it is a mistake to suppose, because Pope, under the
influence of Louis XIV. and Queen Anne, could not {4} write a good
poetical translation of Homer, that therefore such a work is beyond the
compass of the English language.[f2] I believe that, if Alfred
Tennyson were to give the world a translation of the Iliad in the
measure of _Locksley Hall_, he would cut Pope out of the market of the
million, even at this eleventh hour. We are, in the present epoch of our
literary history, arrived at a very favourable moment for producing good
translations. A band of highly-original and richly-furnished minds has
just left the stage, leaving us the legacy of a poetical language which,
under their hand, received a degree of rhythmical culture, of which it
had been before considered incapable. The example of the Germans, also,
now no longer confined to the knowledge of a few, stands forth to show
us how excellent poetical translations may be made, free, at least, from
those faults from which we have suffered. There is no reason why we
should despair of producing poetical versions of the Classics which
shall be at once graceful as English compositions, and characteristic as
productions of the Greek or Roman mind. I, for one, have already passed
this judgment on my own attempt, that if I have failed in these pages to
bring out what is Greek and what is Æschylean prominently, in
combination with force, grace, and clearness of English expression, it
is for lack of skill in the workman, not for want of edge in the tool.

The next question that calls for answer is: it being admitted that a
rhythmical translation of a Greek poem is preferable to a prose one,
should we content ourselves with a blank rhythm (such as Shelley has
used in Queen Mab, and Southey in Thalaba), or should we adopt also the
sonorous ornament of rhyme. On this subject, when I first commenced this
translation, about twelve years ago, I confess my feelings were strongly
against the use of rhyme in translations from the antique; but
experience and reflection have taught me considerably to modify, and, in
some points of view, altogether to abandon this opinion. With regard to
this matter, SOUTHEY has expressed himself thus:--"Rhyme is to
passages of no inherent merit what rouge and candle-light are to
ordinary faces. Merely ornamental passages, also, are aided by it, as
foil sets off paste. But when there is either passion or power, the
plainer and more straightforward the language can be made, the
better."[f3] This is the lowest ground on which the plea for rhyme
can be put; but even thus, it will be impossible for a discriminating
translator to ward off its application to the Greek tragedy. In all
poetry written for music, there will {5} occur, even from the best
poets, not a few passages on which the mere reader will pronounce, in
the language of Horace, that they are comparatively

  "Inopes rerum nugaeque canorae."

To these, rhyme is indispensable. Without this, these "trifles" will
lose that which alone rendered them tolerable to the ancient ear; they
will cease to be "canorous." One must consider at what a disadvantage an
ancient composer of "a goat-song" is placed, when the studiously
modulated phrase which he adapted to the cheerful chirpings of the lyre,
or the tumultuous blasts of the flute, is torn away from that
music-watered soil which was its life, and placed dry and bloodless on
the desk of a modern reader, beside the thought-pregnant periods of a
Coleridge, and the curiously-elaborated stanzas of a Wordsworth. Are we
to make him even more blank and disconsolate, by refusing him those
tuneful closes of modern rhythmical language, which scarcely our
sternest masters of the lyre can afford to disdain? It appears to me
that rhyme is so essential an accomplishment of lyrical language,
according to English use, that a translator is not doing justice to his
author who habitually rejects it. I have accordingly adopted it more or
less in every play, except the PROMETHEUS, the calm statuesque
massiveness of which seemed to render the common decorations of lyric
poetry dispensable. In the SEVEN AGAINST THEBES, I have, in the first
two choral chaunts, rhymed only in the closes; and in the opening chorus
of the Agamemnon, I have used irregular rhyme. In the FURIES, again,
I have allowed myself to be borne along in the most free and luxuriant
style of double rhyme of which I was capable, partly, I suppose, because
my admiration of that piece stimulated all my energies to their highest
pitch; partly, because, there being no question that the lyric metre of
the tragedians exhibits the full power of their language, the translator
is not doing justice to the work who does not endeavour, as far as may
be, to bring out the full power of his. The fact of the matter is, the
translator's art is always more or less of the nature of a compromise.
If the indulgence of a luxuriant freedom is apt to trench on accuracy,
the observance of a strict verbal accuracy is ill compatible with that
grace and elasticity of movement without which poetry has no existence.
In the present translation, I have been willing to try several styles,
if not to suit the humour of different readers, (which, however, were
anything but an illegitimate object), at least to satisfy myself what
could be done.

I shall now say a word on the principles which I have adopted with
regard to the representation of the various Greek metres by {6}
corresponding varieties of English verse. I say _corresponding_ or
_analogous_ emphatically; for, whatever apish tricks the Germans may
have taught their pliant tongue to play, the conservative English ear,
"peculiarly intolerant of metrical innovations,"[f4] will not allow
itself to be seduced--whether by the arguments of Southey, or the
example of Longfellow--from the familiar harmonies of our old Saxon
measures. Nor, indeed, is this stiffness of native metrical habit, a
circumstance at all to be regretted. Every language has its own
measures, which are natural and easy to it, as every man has his own way
of walking, which he cannot forego for another, without affectation. I
do not think Goethe's Reineke Fuchs a whit the better, but rather the
worse, for being written in the measure of the Odyssey; and the
artificial choral versification of Humboldt, Franz, Schoemann, and
Müller, in their translations from Æschylus, is, to my ear, mere
metrical monstrosity, which would read much better if it were broken
down into plain prose.[f5] I have, therefore, not attempted anything
of this kind in my translation, except accidentally; that is to say,
when the Greek measure happened to be at the same time an English
measure, as in the case of the Trochaic Tetrameter, of which the reader
will find examples in the conclusion of the AGAMEMNON, and in various
parts of the PERSIANS. This measure, as Aristotle informs us,[f6]
is a remnant of the old energetic triple time to which the sportive
Bacchic chorus originally danced; and, as it seems to be used by the
tragedians in passages where peculiar energy or elevation is
intended,[f7] I do not think the translator is at liberty to
confound it in his version with the common dialogue. With regard to the
Iambic dialogue itself, there can be no question that our heroic blank
verse of ten syllables, both in point of character and compass, is the
natural and adequate representative of the Greek trimeter of
twelve.[f8] The Anapæstic verse occasions more difficulty. The {7}
proper nature of this measure, as corresponding to our modern
_march-time_ in music, has been pointed out by Müller;[f9] and in
conformity with his views, I have, in my translation, accurately marked
the distinction, in the AGAMEMNON, the SUPPLIANTS, and the
PERSIANS, between the Anapæstic verses sung by the Chorus to
march-time, when entering the Orchestra, and the regular odes or hymns
sung after they were arrived at their proper destination round the
Thymele. But how are we to render this verse in English? Our own
Anapæstic verse, though the same when counted by the fingers, has, if I
mistake not, a light, ambling, unsteady air about it, which is quite the
reverse of the weighty character of the "equal rhythm," as the ancients
called both it and its counterpart the Dactylic.[f10] I have,
therefore, thought myself safer in using, for this measure, the Trochaic
verse of eight syllables, varied with occasional sevens and fives,
generally without rhyme, in the AGAMEMNON with a few rhymes
irregularly interspersed. In the Persians only I have made the
experiment, tried also by Connington in the Agamemnon, of rendering the
Greek by the common English Anapæsts; the delicate-treading
(ἁβροβάται) sons of Susa not seeming to require the same
weight and firmness of diction for their sad vaticinations, as the
stout-hearted Titan for his words of haughty defiance, and the Herald of
the Thunderer for his threats.

With regard to the proper choral odes--the most difficult, and, in my
view, the most important part of my task--I have allowed myself a
licence, which some may think too large, but which, if I were to do the
work over again, I scarcely think I should contract. In very few cases
have I given anything like a curious imitation of the original; and,
when I have done so--as in the Trochaic Chaunt of the FURIES,
p. 157, and in the Cretics mingled with Trochees, in the short ode of
the SUPPLIANTS, p. 232[f11]--it was more to humour the whim
of the moment than from any fixed principle. For, to speak truth,
rhyming men will have their whim; and I do not think it politic or
judicious to deprive the translator altogether of that rhythmical
freedom which is the great delight of the original composer. {8} But
another, and the principal reason with me for not attempting a
systematic imitation of the choral measures, was, that many of them
failed to produce, on my ear, an intelligible musical effect, which I
could set myself to reproduce; while, in other cases, though I clearly
saw the _rhythmical principle_ on which they were constructed (for I do
not speak of the blind jargon of inherited _metrical terminology_), I
saw with equal clearness _that in our English poetry written to be read,
systematic imitation of ancient metres written on musical principles,
and with a view to musical exhibition, is, in the majority of cases,
altogether absurd and impertinent_. I confined myself, therefore, to the
selection of such English metres as to my ear seemed most dramatically
to represent the feeling of the original, making a marked contrast
everywhere between the rhythmical movement of joy and sorrow, and always
distinguishing carefully between what was piled up with a stable
continuity of sublime emotion, and what was ejaculated in a hurried and
broken style, where the Dochmiac verse prevails.[f12]

So much for metres. With regard to the more strictly linguistic part of
my task, I have only to say that I thought it proper to assume
Wellauer's cautiously edited text as a safe general foundation, with the
liberty, of course, to deviate from it whenever I saw distinct and
clearly made out grounds. The other editions, old and new, which I have
used are enumerated in an Appendix at the end of this book.
There also will be found those Commentaries and Translations which I
have consulted on all the difficult passages; my obligations to which
are, of course, great, and are here gratefully acknowledged. I desire
specially to name, as having been of most service to me, LINWOOD,
PEILE, and PALEY among the English; WELLAUER, WELCKER, MÜLLER, and
SCHOEMANN among the German scholars. My manner of proceeding with
previous English translations was to borrow from them an occasional
phrase or hint, only after I had finished and carefully revised my
own. But my obligations in respect of poetical diction to my
fellow-labourers in the same field are very few, and are for the most
part specially acknowledged.

The introductory remarks to each play are intended to supply the English
reader with that particular mythological or historical knowledge, and to
inspire him with those Hellenic views and feelings, {9} which are
necessary to the enjoyment of the different dramas. The appended notes
proceed on the principle, generally understood in this country, though
apparently neglected in erudite Germany, that translations are made, not
for the learned mainly, but for the unlearned. I have, therefore, not
assumed even the most common points of mythological and antiquarian
lore. Some of the notes, especially those on moral and religious points,
have a higher view than mere explanation. They are intended to stir
those human feelings, and suggest those trains of moral reflection
without which the most profound scholarship issues only in a
multitudinous cracking of empty nut-shells, and a ghastly exhibition of
gilded bones. The few notes of a strictly hermeneutical character that
are mingled with these, are mere jottings to preserve for my own use,
and that of my fellow-students of the Greek text, the grounds of
decision which have moved me in some of the more difficult passages,
where I have either departed from Wellauer's text, or where something
appeared to lie in the various renderings fraught with a more than
common poetical significance. In the general case, however, the
translation must serve as its own commentary; and, though I do not
pretend to have read every thing that has been written on the disputed
passages of this most difficult, and, in many places, sadly corrupt
author, I hope there is evidence enough in every page of my work to show
that I have conscientiously grappled with all real difficulties in any
way affecting the meaning of the text, and not leapt to a conclusion
merely because it was the most obvious and most convenient one. If here
and there I have made a rapid dash, a headlong plunge, or a bold sweep,
beyond the rules of a strict philology, it was because these were the
only tactics that the desperation of the case allowed.[f13]

In conclusion, I am glad to take this opportunity of publicly returning
my thanks to two gentlemen of well-known literary taste and discernment,
who took the trouble to read my sheets as they went through the press,
and favour me with their valuable suggestions.



"In der Beurtheilung des Hellenischen Alterthums soll der Scharfsinnige
nicht aus sich herauszuspinnen suchen, was nur aus der Verbindung
mannichfacher Ueberlieferungen gewonnen werden kann."--BÖCKH.

THE reader will have observed that the word TRAGEDY, which is
generally associated with the works of Æschylus, does not occur either
in the general title-page of this translation, or in the special
superscriptions of the separate pieces; in the one place the designation
"LYRICAL DRAMAS" being substituted, and in the other "LYRICO-DRAMATIC
SPECTACLE." This change of the common title, by which these productions
are known in the book-world, was not made from mere affectation, or the
desire of singularity, but from the serious consideration that "the
world is governed by names," and that the word "tragedy" cannot be used
in reference to a serious lyrico-dramatic exhibition on the ancient
Greek stage, without importing a host of modern associations that will
render all healthy sympathy with the Æschylean drama, and all sound
criticism, extremely difficult. Names, indeed, are a principal part of
the hereditary machinery with which the evil Spirit of Error in the
region of thought, as well as in that of action, juggles the plain
understandings of men that they become the sport of every quibble, and
believe a lie. By means of names the plastic soul of man contrives at
first, often crudely enough, to express some part of a great truth, and
make it publicly recognised; but when, in the course of natural growth
and progress the thing has been altered, while the word, transmitted
from age to age, and itinerant from East to West, remains; then the
vocal sign performs its natural functions as a signifier of thought no
longer, but is as a mask, which either tells a complete lie, or looks
with the one-half of its face a meaning which the other half (seen only
by the learned) is sure to contradict. I have, therefore, thought it
convenient to do away with this cause of misunderstanding in the
threshold: and the purpose of the few remarks that follow is to make
plain to the understanding of the most unlearned the reason of the
terminology which I have adopted, and guard him yet more fully against
the misconceptions which are {11} sure to arise from suffering his
chamber of thought to be preoccupied by the echoes of a false

If the modern spectator of a tragedy of Shakespere or Sheridan Knowles
comes from the vivid embodiments of a Faucit or a Macready, to the
perusal of what are called the "tragedies of Æschylus," and applies the
subtle rules of representative art there exemplified, to the extant
remains of the early Greek stage, though he will find some things
strikingly conceived and grandly expressed, and a general tone of poetic
elevation, removed alike from what is trivial, and what is morbid; yet
he must certainly be strangely blinded by early classical
prepossessions, if he fails to feel that, as a whole, a Greek tragedy,
when set against the English composition of the same name, is
exceedingly narrow in its conception, meagre in its furniture,
monotonous in its character, unskilful in its execution, and not seldom
feeble in its effort. No doubt a generous mind will be disposed to look
with a kindly and even a reverent sympathy on the inferiority of the
infant fathers of that most difficult of all the poetic arts, which has
now, in this late age of the world, under the manly British training,
exhibited such sturdiness of trunk, such kingliness of stature, and such
magnificence of foliage; it may be also, that the novelty and the
strangeness of some things in the Greek tragedy--to those at least who
have not had their appetite palled by early Academic appliances--may
afford a pleasant compensation for what must appear its glaring
improprieties as falling under the category of a known genus of poetic
art; still, to the impartial and experienced frequenter of a first-rate
modern theatre, the first effect of an acquaintance with the old Greek
tragedy is apt to be disappointment. He will wonder what there is in
these productions so very remarkable that the select youth of Great
Britain should, next to their mother's milk, be made to suck in them,
and and them only, as the great intellectual nutriment of the
fresh-fledged soul, till, in the regular course of things, they are fit
to be fed on Church and State controversies and Parliamentary reports,
and other diet not always of the lightest digestion; and he will be apt
to imagine that in this, as in other cases, an over-great reverence for
antiquity has made sensible men bow the knee to idols--that learned
professors, like other persons, have their hobby-horses, which they are
fond of over-riding--and that no sane man should believe more than the
half of what is said by a professional trumpeter. All this will be very
right in the circumstances, and very true so far. But the frequenter of
the modern theatre must consider farther--if he wishes to be
just--whether he be not violating one of {12} the great proprieties of
nature, in rushing at once from the narrow confined gas-lighted boxes of
a modern theatre into the large sweeping sun-beshone tiers of an ancient
one. No man goes from a ball-room into a church without a certain decent
interval, and, if possible, a few moments of becoming preparation. So it
is with literary excursions. We must be acclimatized in the new country
before we can feel comfortable. We must not merely deliver our criticism
thus (however common such a style may be)--_I expected to find that; I
find this; and I am disappointed;_ but we must ask the deeper and the
only valuable question--_What ought I to have expected to find, what
shall I surely find of good, and beautiful, and true, if my eyes are
open, and my free glance pointed in the right direction?_ In short, if a
man will enjoy and judge a Greek "tragedy," he must seek to know not
what it is in reference to the general idea of tragedy which he brings
with him from modern theatrical exhibitions, but what it was to the
ancient Greeks, sitting in the open air, on their wooden bench, or on
their seat hewn from the native rock, with the merry Bacchic echoes in
their ears, long before Aristotle laid down those nice rules of tragic
composition which only Shakespere might dare to despise.

Let us inquire, therefore, setting aside alike Shaksperian examples and
Aristotelian canons, what the τραγῳδία, or "tragedy," was to
the ancient Greeks. Nor have we far to seek. The name, when the modern
paint is rubbed off, declares its own history; and we find that the main
idea of the old word τραγῳδία--as, by the way, the _only_ idea of
the modern word τραγουδι[f1]--is A SONG. Of the second part of this
word, we have preserved the root in our English words _ode_, _melody_,
_monody_, _threnody_, and the other half of the word means _goat_;
whether that descriptive addition to the principal substantive came
from the circumstance that the song was originally sung by persons
habited like goats,[f2] or from other circumstances connected with the
worship of Dionysus, to whom this animal was sacred, is of no
importance for our present purpose. The main fact to which we have to
direct attention, is that the word _tragedy_, when analysed, bears
upon its face, and in the living Greek tongue proclaims loudly to the
present hour, that the essential character of this species of
poetry--when the name was originally given to it--was lyrical, and
{13} not at all dramatic or tragic, in the modern sense of these
words. A drama, in modern language, means an action represented by
acting persons; and a tragedy is such a represented action, having a
sad issue; but neither of these elements belonged to the original
Greek tragedy, as inherited from his rude predecessors by Æschylus,
nor (as we shall immediately show) do they form the prominent or
characteristic part of that exhibition, as transmitted by him to his
successors. With regard to the origin of the Greek "goat-song," and
its condition previous to the age of Æschylus, there is but one
uncontradicted voice of tradition on the subject; the curious
discussions and investigations of the learned affecting only certain
minute points of detail in the progress, which have no interest for
the general student. That tradition is to the effect that the Greek
lyrical drama, as we find it in the extant works of Æschylus, arose
out of the Dithyrambic hymns sung at the sacred festivals of the
ancient Hellenes in honour of their god Dionysus, or, as he is
vulgarly called, Bacchus; hymns which were first extemporized under
the influence of the stimulating juice of the grape,[f3] and then sung
by a regularly trained Chorus, under the direction of the famous
Methymnean minstrel, Arion.[f4] The simplest form which such hymns,
under such conditions, could assume, was that of a circular dance by a
band of choristers round the statue or the altar of the god in whose
honour the hymn was sung. This is not a matter peculiar to Greece, but
to be found at all times, and all over the world, wherever there are
men who are not mere brutes. So in the description of the religious
practices of the ancient Mexicans, our erudite poet SOUTHEY has the
following beautiful passage, picturing a sacred choral dance round the
altar of sacrifice:--

          Round the choral band
  The circling nobles gay, with gorgeous plumes,
  And gems which sparkled to the midnight fire,
  Moved in the solemn dance; each in his hand,
  In measured movements, lifts the feathery shield,
  And shakes a rattling ball to measured sounds;
  With quicker steps, the inferior chiefs without,
  Equal in number, but in just array,
  The spreading radii of the mystic wheel
  Revolved; and outermost, the youths roll round,
  In motions rapid as their quickened blood.

Now, according to the general tradition of old Greek commentators and
lexicographers, the Dithyramb or Bacchic Hymn was also called a
_Circular Hymn_[f5] an expression which a celebrated Byzantine
writer has interpreted to mean "_a hymn sung by a chorus standing in a
ring round the altar._"[f6] It is, no doubt, true that the phrase
χορὸς κύκλιος, or circular chorus, does not necessarily
mean a chorus of this description; the term, as has been ingeniously
observed,[f7] like our own word _roundelay_, and the German
_Rund-gesang_, being capable of an equally natural application to a hymn
composed of parts, that run back to the point from which they started,
and form, as it were, a circle of melody. But, whatever etymologists may
make of the word, the fact that there were hymns sung by the ancient
Greeks in chorus round the altars of their gods is not denied; and
seems, indeed, so natural and obvious, that we shall assume it as the
first form of the "goat-song," in which form it continued up to a period
which it is impossible to define; the only certainty being that,
whereas, in olden times, it was composed of fifty men, it was afterwards
diminished to twelve or fifteen, and arranged in the form of a military
company in regular rank and file.[f8] Such a chorus, therefore, was
the grand central trunk out of which the Attic tragedy branched and
bloomed to such fair luxuriance of verbal melody. We shall now trace, if
we can, the natural steps of progress.

Let us suppose that the Leader of a Chorus, trained to sing hymns in
honour of the gods, is going to make them sing publicly a hymn {15} in
honour of Ζεύς ἱκέσιος--Jove, in his benign character as the
friend of the friendless, and the protector of suppliants. Instead of a
vague general supplication in the abstract style to which we are
accustomed in our forms of prayer, what could be more natural than for a
susceptible and lively Greek to conceive the persons of the Chorus as
engaged in some particular act of supplication, well known in the sacred
traditions of the people, whose worship he was leading, and to put words
in their mouths suitable to such a situation? This done, we have at once
_drama_, according to the etymological meaning of the word; that is to
say, a represented _action_. The Chorus represents certain persons, we
shall say, the daughters of Danaus, fugitives from their native Libya,
arrived on the stranger coast of Argolis, and in the act of presenting
their supplications to their great celestial protector. Such an
exhibition, if we will not permit it to be called by the substantive
name of _drama_, is, at all events, a dramatized hymn; an ode so
essentially dramatic in its character, that it requires but the addition
of a single person besides the Chorus to form a complete action; for an
action, like a colloquy, is necessarily between two parties--meditation,
not action, being the natural business of a solitary man. Now, the
single person whose presence is required to turn this dramatized hymn
into a proper lyrical drama is already given. The Leader of the Chorus,
or the person to whom the singing band belonged, and who superintended
its exhibitions, is such a person. He has only, in the case supposed, to
take upon himself the character of the person, the king of the Argives,
to whom the supplication is made, to indicate, by word or gesture, the
feelings with which he receives their address, and finally to accept or
reject their suit; this makes a complete action, and a lyrical drama
already exists in all essentials, exactly such as we read the skeleton
of it at the present hour, in the SUPPLIANTS of Æschylus. To go a
step beyond this, and add (as has been done in our play) another actor
to represent the party pursuing the fugitives, is only to bring the
situation already existing to a more violent issue, and not essentially
to alter the character of the exhibition. Much less will the mere
appendage of a guide or director to the main body of the Chorus, in the
shape of a father, brother, or other accessory character, change the
general effect of the spectacle. The great central mass which strikes
the eye, and fills ear and heart with its harmonious appeals, remains
still what it was, even before the leader of the band took a part in the
lyric exhibition. The dramatized lyric, and the lyrical drama, differ
from one another only according to the simile already used, as a tree
with two or three branches differs from a tree with a simple stem. {16}
The main body and stamina are the same in each. The SONG is the soul
of both.

The academic student, who is familiar with these matters, is aware that
what has been here constructed hypothetically, as a natural result of
the circumstances, is the real historical account of the origin and
progress of the Greek tragedy, as it is shortly given in a well-known
passage of Diogenes Laertius. "In the oldest times," says that
biographer of the philosophers, "the Chorus alone went through the
dramatic exhibition (διεδραματίζεν) in tragedy; afterwards
Thespis, to give rest to the Chorus, added one actor distinct from the
singers; then Æschylus added a second, and Sophocles a third; which
gave to tragedy its complete development."[f9] The reason mentioned
here for the addition of the first actor by Thespis, is a very probable
one. The convenience or ease of the singers contributed, along with the
lively wit of the Greeks, and a due regard for the entertainment of the
spectators, to raise the dramatized ode, step by step, into the lyrical

In the above account, two secondary circumstances connected with this
transition, have not been mentioned. The _first_ is, that the jocund and
sometimes boisterous hymn, in honour of the wine-god, should have passed
into the lyrical representation of an action generally not at all
connected with the worship or history of that divinity; and, _secondly_,
that this action should have changed its tone from light to grave, from
jocular to sad, and become, in fact, what we, in the popular language of
modern times, call _tragic_. Now, for the first of these circumstances,
I know nothing that can be said in the way of historical philosophy,
except that man is fond of variety, that the Greek genius was fertile,
and that accident often plays strange tricks with the usages and
institutions of mortal men. For the other point, there can be no doubt
that the worship of the god of physical and animal joy, being violent in
its character, had its ebb as well as its flow, its broad-gleaming
sunshine not without the cloud, its wail as well as its rejoicing.
Whether Dionysus meant the sun, or only wine, which is the produce of
the solar heat, or both, it is plain that his worshippers would have to
lament his departure, at least as often as they hailed his advent; and,
in this natural alternation, a foundation was laid for the separation of
the original Dithyrambic {17} Chorus into a wild, sportive element,
represented by the Aristophanic comedy, and a deeply serious, meditative
element represented by tragedy. But we must beware, in reference to
Æschylus at least, of supposing that the lyrical drama, as exhibited by
him, however solemn and awe-inspiring, was necessarily sad, or, as we
say, tragic in its issue. Aristotle indeed, in his famous treatise, lays
down the doctrine that the main object of tragic composition is to
excite pity and terror, and that Euripides, "though in other respects he
manages badly, is in this respect the most tragic of the tragedians,
that the most of his pieces end unfortunately."[f10] But there is
not the slightest reason, in the nature of things, why a solemn dramatic
representation, any more than a high-toned epical narrative, should end
unfortunately. The Hindoo drama, for one, never does;[f11] and, in
the case of our poet, it is plain that the great trilogy, of which the
Orestes is the middle piece, is constructed upon the principle of
leading the sympathizing spectator through scenes of pity and terror, as
stations in a journey, but finally to a goal of moral peace and
harmonious reconciliation. That the great trilogy of the PROMETHEUS,
of which only one part remains, had an equally fortunate termination, is
not to be doubted. Here, therefore, we see another impertinence in that
modern word _tragedy_, which, in the superscriptions of these plays, I
have been so careful to eschew.

We shall now examine one or two of the Æschylean pieces by a simple
arithmetical process, and see how essentially the lyrical element
predominates in their construction. Taking Wellauer's edition, and
turning up the SUPPLIANTS, I find that that play, consisting
altogether of 1055 lines, is opened by a continuous lyric strain of 172
lines. Then we have dialogue, in part of which the Chorus uses lyric
measures to the extent of 22 lines. Then follows a short choral song of
only 20 lines. The next Chorus comprises 76 lines, and the next 70.
After this follows another dialogue, in which the Chorus, being in great
mental agitation, use, according to the uniform practice of Æschylus,
lyric measures to the extent altogether of 20 verses. Then follows
another regular choral hymn of 47 lines. After that a violent lyrical
altercation between the Chorus and a new actor, to the amount of 74
lines, in the most impassioned lyrical rhythm. Then follow 14 lines of
anapæsts; and the whole concludes with a grand lyrical finale of 65
lines: altogether 580--considerably more than the half of the piece by
bare arithmetic, and equal to two-thirds of it fully, if we consider how
much more time the singing, with the musical accompaniments, must have
occupied than the simple {18} declamation. No more distinct proof could
be required how essentially the account of Diogenes Laertius is right;
how true it is that the choral part of the Æschylean drama is both its
body and its soul, while the dialogic part, to use the technical
language of Aristotle's days, was, in fact, only an ἐπεισόδιον (from
which our English word _Episode_) or thing thrown in between the main
choral acts of the representation, for the sake of variety to the
spectators, and, as the writer says, of rest to the singers. We thus
see, also, what an incorrect and indefinite idea of the Æschylean drama
Aristotle had when he says--so far as we can gather his meaning--that
"Æschylus first added a second actor; he also abridged the chorus, and
made the dialogue the principal part of tragedy."[f12] The last
article, so far as the play of the SUPPLIANTS is concerned, is simply
not true. Let us make trial of another play. The AGAMEMNON, which, for
many reasons, is one of the best for testing the mature genius of the
bard, contains about 1600 lines; and, without troubling the reader with
details, it will be found that about the half of this number is written
in lyric measures. When we consider, further, that the most splendid
imaginative pictures, and the wildest bursts of passion, all the
interest, the doubt, and the anxiety, the fear, the terror, the surprise,
and the final issue, are, according to the practice of Æschylus,
regularly thrown into lyric measures, we shall be convinced that
Aristotle (if we rightly apprehend him) was altogether mistaken when he
led the moderns to imagine that the father of tragedy had really given
such a preponderance to the dialogic element, that the lyric part is to
be looked on, in his productions, as in any way subordinate. Unless it
be the PROMETHEUS, I do not know a single extant play of Æschylus in
which the lyric element occupies a position which, in actual
representation, would justify the dictum of the Stagyrite. And even in
this play, let it be observed, how grandly the poet makes his anapæsts
swell and billow with sonorous thunder in the finale; as if to make
amends for the somewhat prolix epic recitals with which he had occupied
the spectator, and to prove that a Greek tragedy could never be true to
itself, unless it left upon the ear, in its last echoes, the permanent
impression of its original character as a SONG.

Three observations strike me, that may conveniently be stated as
corollaries from the above remarks. _First_, That those translators have
erred who, whether from carelessness, or from ignorance, or from a
desire to accommodate the ancient tragedy as much as possible to the
modern, have given an undue predominance to blank {19} verse in their
versions, making it appear as if the spoken part of the Æschylean
tragedy bore a much larger proportion, than it really does, to the sung.
_Second_, Those critics have erred who, applying the principles of
modern theatrical criticism to the chaunted parts of the ancient lyrical
drama, have found many parts dull or wearisome, extravagant, and even
ridiculous, which, there can be no doubt, with their proper musical
accompaniment, were the most impressive, and the most popular parts of
the representation. _Third_, We err altogether, when we judge of the
excellence of an ancient Greek drama as a composition, by its effect on
us when reading it. The SUPPLIANTS, for instance, is generally
considered a stupid play; because it wants grand contrasts of character
and striking dramatic situations, and contains so much of mere
reiterated supplication. But this reiteration, though wearisome to us
who read the text-book of the lost opera, was, in all probability, that
on which the ravished ears of the devout ancient auditors dwelt with
most voluptuous delight. In general, without re-creating some musical
accompaniment, and dwelling with ear and heart on the frequent
variations of the lyric burden of the piece, a man is utterly incapable
of passing any sane judgment on an Æschylean drama. Such a piece may
contain in abundance everything that the auditors desired and enjoyed,
and yet be very stupid now to us who merely read and criticise.

The fact of the matter is, that the marshalled band of singers, however
satisfactory to an ancient audience, who looked principally for musical
excitement in their tragedies, and not for an interesting plot, was not
at all calculated for allowing a dramatic genius to bring out those
tragic situations in which the modern reader delights; but rather stood
directly in the way of such an effect. The fine development of character
under the influence of various delicate situations, and in collision
with different persons, all acting their part in some complex knot of
various-coloured life, could not be exhibited in a performance where a
band of singers on whom the eye of the spectators principally rested,
and who formed the great attraction for the masses,[f13] constantly
occupied the central ground, and constantly interfered with every thing
that was either said or done, whether it was convenient for them to do
so or not. For a perfect tragedy, as conceived scientifically by
Aristotle, and executed with a grand practical instinct by Shakespere,
the Chorus was, in the very nature {20} of the thing, an incumbrance and
an impediment. It was only very seldom that the persons of that body
could form such an important part of the action, and come forward with
such a startling dramatic effect as in the Eumenides. Too often they
were obliged to hang round the action as an atmosphere, or look at it as
spectators; spectators either impartial altogether, and then too wise
for dramatic sympathy, or half-partial, and then, by indecision of
utterance, often making themselves ridiculous, as in a noted scene of
the Agamemnon (p. 81), or contemptible, as in the Antigone.[f14] The
proper position of the Chorus in a regularly constructed drama, is,
like the witches in Macbeth, to form a mysterious musical background
(not a _fore_-ground, as in the Greek tragedy), or to circle, as in
the opera of Masaniello, the principal character with a
band of associates naturally situated to assist and cheer him on to his
grand enterprise. But the Greek Chorus, even in the time of Sophocles
and Euripides, who enlarged the spoken part, was too independent, too
stationary, too central a nucleus of the representation, not to impede
the movements of the acting persons who performed the principal parts.
As a form of art, therefore, the Greek tragedy, so soon as it attempted
to assume the scientific ground so acutely seized on by the subtle
analysis of Aristotle, was necessarily clumsy and incongruous. The lyric
element, which was always the most popular element, refused to be
incorporated with the acting element, and yet could not be altogether
displaced; a position of scenic affairs which has strangely perplexed
not a few modern critics, looking for a dramatic plot with all the
dramatic proprieties in a composition where the old Hellenic spectator
only felt a hymn to Jove; and curiously tasking their wits to find
excuses for a poet like Euripides, who, with blossoming lyrics and
sonorous rhetoric, might gain the prize of the "goat-song," even over
the head of a Sophocles, and yet, in point of dramatic propriety, as we
demand it in our modern plays, be constantly perpetrating enormities
which a clever schoolboy at Westminster or Eton might avoid.[f15]


So much for the artistic form of the Æschylean drama. As for the
matter, it was essentially a combination of mythological, legendary, and
devotional elements, such as naturally belonged to a people whose
religion was intimately blended with every passion of the human heart,
and every chance of human life, and whose gods were only a sort of
glorified men, as their men sometimes were nothing less than mortal
gods. The Greek lyrical dramas were part of the great public exhibitions
at the great feasts of Bacchus, which took place, some in the winter
season, and some in the spring of the year;[f16] and in this respect
they bear a striking resemblance both to the Hindoo dramas (for which
see WILSON), to the so-called mysteries and moralities of mediæval
piety, and to the sacred dramas of Metastasio, exhibited to the court at
Vienna. And what sort of an aspect does ancient polytheistic piety
present, what sort of an attitude does it maintain, in these
compositions? An aspect surprisingly fair, considering what motley
confusion it sprang from, an attitude singularly noble, seeing how
nearly it was allied to mere animal enjoyment, and how prone was its
degeneration into the mire of the grossest sensuality. The pictured
pages of Livy, and brazen tablets of the grave Roman senate still
extant, tell only too true a tale into what a fearful mire of
brutishness the fervent worship of Dionysus might plunge its votaries.
And yet out of this Bacchantic worship, so wild, so animal, and so
sensual, arose the Greek tragedy, confessedly amongst the most
high-toned moral compositions that the history of literature knows. Our
modern Puritans, who look upon the door of a theatre (according to the
phrase of a famous Edinburgh preacher) as the gate of hell, might take
any one of these seven plays which are here presented in an English
dress, and with the simple substitution of a few Bible designations for
Heathen ones, find, so far as moral and religious doctrine is concerned,
that, with the smallest possible exercise of the pruning-knife, they
might be exhibited in a Christian Church, and be made to subserve the
purposes of practical piety, as usefully as many a sermon. The following
passage from the Agamemnon is not a solitary gem from a heap of rubbish,
but the very soul and significance of the Æschylean drama:--

  "For Jove doth teach men wisdom, sternly wins
  To virtue by the tutoring of their sins;
  Yea! drops of torturing recollection chill
  The sleeper's heart; 'gainst man's rebellious will
    Jove works the wise remorse:
  Dread Powers, on awful seats enthroned, compel
    Our hearts with gracious force."


The only serious charge that, to my knowledge, has ever been made
against the morality of the Greek drama, is that in it "an innocent
person, one in the main of a virtuous character, through no crime of his
own, nay not by the vices of others, but through mere FATALITY AND
BLIND CHANCE, is involved in the greatest of all human miseries." This
is the critical judgment of Dr. Blair (lecture xlvi.) in reference to
the famous Labdacidan story of Œdipus.[f17] Now, though the
personal history of Œdipus contains many incidents that expose it
justly to criticism, especially when brought upon the stage in a
modernized dress by modern French or other poets (which abuse the
learned Doctor no doubt had principally in view); yet, as applied to the
whole Labdacidan story, or to the subjects of the Greek drama generally,
the allegation is either extremely shallow, or altogether false. There
is no destiny or fatality of any kind in the Æschylean drama, other
than that which, according to the Mosaic record, drove Adam out of
Paradise; that destiny which a divine decree, seeing the end in the
beginning, has prepared, and that fatality which makes a guilty man not
merely the necessary architect of his own misery, but the propagator of
a moral contagion, more or less, to the offspring that inherits his
pollution and his curse. On this subject I need make no lengthened
observations here, as I have brought it and other points of moral and
religious feeling prominently forward, both in the introductory
observations to the separate plays, and in various places of the notes.
I shall only say that the reader who does not find a high moral purpose
and a deep religious meaning in the specimens of ancient Greek worship
now submitted to his inspection, has no eye for what is best in these
pages, and had better throw the book down. The Germans, who look deeper
into these matters than we have either time, inclination, or, in the
general case, capacity to do, have written volumes on the
subject.[f18] To me it has seemed more suitable to the genius of the
English reader merely to hint the existence of this rich mine of moral
wealth, leaving to the quiet thinker where, amid our various political
and ecclesiastical clamour, he may have found a corner, to work out the
vein with devout spade and mattock for himself.


A few words must now be said on the DANCE, as an essential part
of the lyrical element of the Greek tragedy. Our sober British, stern
Protestant, and precise Presbyterian notions, make it very difficult for
us to realize this peculiarity. Even the old Heathen Roman could say,
"Nemo fere saltat sobrius, nisi forte insanit";[f19] much more
must it be hard for a modern Presbyterian Christian to recognise, in the
twinkling-footed celerity of the merry dance, an exercise which a pious
old Dorian could look upon as an indispensable part of an act of public
worship. To read the weighty moral sentences of a solemn Æschylean
Chorus, and then figure to ourselves their author as a dancing-master,
is an unnatural and almost painful transition of thought to a Christian
man in these times; and yet Athenæus tells us, that the author of the
Prometheus really was a professor of the orchestric art, and a very
cunning one too.[f20] The fundamental truth of the case is, that the
religion of the Greeks was not, like ours, a religion only of moral
emotions and theological principles, but a religion of the whole man,
with rather too decided a tendency, in some parts, it must be confessed,
towards a disturbance of the equipoise on the side of the senses. But,
whatever may be thought of Bacchic orgies and other associate rites,
with regard to dancing, there is plainly nothing in the exercise, when
decorously conducted, inconsistent either with dignity, or with piety;
and the feelings of ancient Romans and modern Presbyterians on the
subject, must be regarded as the mere products of arbitrary association.
Certain it is, that all the Greek philosophers looked upon dancing as an
essential element, not only in the education of a gentleman, but in the
performance of public worship; nay, even among the severe Jews, we read
that David, on occasion of a great religious festival, danced before the
Lord; and only an idle woman called him an idle fellow for doing so. We
need not be surprised, therefore, if among the merry Greeks, professing
a religion fully as much of physical enjoyment as of moral culture,
orchestric evolutions, along with sacred hymns, formed an essential part
of the tragic exhibitions belonging to the feasts of the great god
Dionysus. On the details of this matter, we are sadly wanting in
satisfactory information; but that the fact was so, there can be no
doubt.[f21] The only point with regard to which there is room for a
serious difference of opinion is, whether every performance of the {24}
Chorus in full band included dancing, or whether it was only introduced
occasionally, as the ballet in our modern operas. On this point, the
greatest authority in Greek Literature at present living has declared
strongly in favour of the latter view; and, in doing so, he has been
followed by one of the first philologers of our own country;[f22]
and as I have not been led, in the course of my studies, to make any
particular examination of this subject, I am loath to contradict
anything proceeding from such an authoritative quarter. One great branch
of the evidence, I presume, on which this view is supported, lies in the
words of the old Scholiast to the choral chaunt in the Phœnissae of
Euripides, beginning with these words, Τύριον (ὀ)ιδμα λιπῦσ῎ ἔβαν.
"This chaunt," says the annotator, "is what is called a στάσιμον, or
_standing_ chorus; for when the Chorus, after the πάροδος, remaining
motionless, sings a hymn arising out of the subject of the play, this
song is called a στάσιμον. A πάροδος, on the other hand, is a song sung
as they are marching into the orchestra on the first entrance."[f23]
Now, no doubt, if this matter be taken with a literal exactitude, the
expression, ἀκίνητος, or _without moving_, will exclude dancing; but if
we merely take it generally, as opposed to the great sweeping evolutions
of the Chorus, and as implying only a permanent occupation of the same
ground in the centre of the orchestra, by the band, as a whole, while
the individual members might change their places in the most graceful
and beautiful variety of forms, we are thus saved from the harshness of
giving to the orchestric element, in many plays, a subordinate position,
equally at variance with the original character of the Chorus, and with
the place which the dance held as a prominent part of Greek social
life.[f24] With regard to Æschylus, in particular, I do not see how
I should be acting in consistency with the testimony of Athenæus just
quoted, if I were to assign such a small proportion of the choric
performances to orchestric accompaniment, as Boeckh and Donaldson have
done in their editions of the play of Sophocles, which the genius of
Miss Faucit has rendered so dear to the friends of the drama in this
country. It would be easy to show, from internal evidence such as Boeckh
finds in what he calls the Orchestric Chorus, or ἐμμέλεια of the
Antigone, that certain choruses of Æschylus are more adapted for
violent and extensive orchestric movements than others. But I have
thought it more prudent, considering {25} the general uncertainty that
surrounds this matter, not to make any allusion to dancing in any one
performance of the Chorus more than another; contenting myself with
carefully distinguishing everywhere between the anapæstic parts where
the Chorus is plainly making extensive movements, and the CHORAL HYMN
with regular Strophe and Antistrophe, which is sung when they are placed
in their proper position in a square band round the _Thymele_ (θυμέλη),
or Bacchic altar, in the centre of the orchestra.[f25]

Having said so much with regard both to the form and substance of the
lyric portion of the Æschylean drama, I have said almost all that I was
anxious to say; for, in stating this matter clearly, I have brushed out
of the way the principal part of that host of modern associations which
is so apt to disturb our sympathetic enjoyment of the great masterpieces
of Hellenic art. Anything that might be said in detail on the iambic or
dialogic part of ancient tragedy would only serve to set in a yet
stronger light the grand fact which has been urged, that the strength of
the Greek drama lies in the singing, and not in the acting. It were easy
to show by an extensive analysis, that the classical "goat-singers" had
but very imperfect notions on the subject of stage dialogue; and that it
was a light thing for them to deal at large in mere epic description, or
rhetorical declamation, without offending the taste of a fastidious
audience, or sinning grossly against the understood laws of the sort of
composition which they exhibited.[f26] Notwithstanding Aristotle's
nicely-drawn distinction, the narrated, or purely epic parts of the
Greek tragedy, are often the best. This is the case not seldom even with
Æschylus, whose native dramatic power the voice of a master has judged
to be first-rate.[f27] But with him the infant state of the art, and
the insufficient supply of actors,[f28] combined with a radical
faultiness of structure, produced, in not a few instances, the same
anti-dramatic results as the want of dramatic genius in Euripides.
Further, to {26} use the language of Mr. Donaldson--"the narrowness and
distance of the stage rendered any (free and complex) grouping
unadvisable. The arrangement of the actors was that of a processional
bas relief. Their movements were slow, their gesticulations abrupt and
angular, and their delivery a sort of loud and deep-drawn sing-song,
which resounded throughout the immense theatre. They probably neglected
everything like _by-play_ and _making points_, which are so effective on
the English stage. The distance at which the spectators were placed
would prevent them from seeing those little movements and hearing those
low tones which have made the fortune of many a modern actor. The mask,
too, precluded all attempts at varied expression, and it is probable
that nothing more was expected from the performer than was looked for
from his predecessor, the rhapsode--viz., good recitation." These
observations, flowing from a realization of the known circumstances of
the case, will sufficiently explain to the modern reader the extreme
stiffness and formality which distinguishes the tragic dialogue of the
Greeks from that dexterous and various play of verbal interchange which
delights us so much in Shakespere and the other masters of English
tragedy. Every view, in short, that we can take, tends to fix our
attention on the musical and the religious elements, as on the
life-blood and vital soul of the Hellenic τραγῳδία; forces us
to the conclusion that, with a due regard to organic principle, its
proper designation is SACRED OPERA,[f29] and not TRAGEDY, in the
modern sense of the word {27} at all; and leads us to look on the
dramatic art altogether in the hands of Æschylus, not as an infant
Hercules strangling serpents, but as a Titan, like his own Prometheus,
chained to a rock, whom only, after many ages, a strong Saxon Shakespere
could unbind.

To conclude. If these observations shall seem to any conceived in a
style too depreciatory of the masterpieces of Hellenic art, such persons
will observe, that what has been here said of a negative character has
reference only to the form of these productions as works of art, and not
to their poetic contents. An unfortunate external arrangement is often,
as in the case of the German writer Richter, united in intimate
amalgamation with the richest and most exuberant energy of intellectual
and moral life. However imperfect the Greek "tragedies" are as forms of
artistic exhibition, they are not the less admirable, for the mass of
healthy poetic life of which they are the embodiment, and the grand
combination of artistic elements which they present. As among the
world's notable men there are some who are great rather by a harmonious
combination of the great healthy elements of humanity, than by the
gigantic development of any one faculty, so in literature there are
phenomena which must be measured by the mass of inward life which they
concentrate, not by the structural perfection of form which they
exhibit. The lyrical tragedy of the Greeks presents, in a combination
elsewhere unexampled, the best elements of our serious drama, our opera,
our oratorio, our public worship, and our festal recreations. The people
who prepared and enjoyed such an intellectual banquet were not
base-minded. Had their stability been equal to their susceptibility, the
world had never seen their equal. As it is, they are like to remain for
ages the great Hierophants of the intellectual world, whose influence
will always be felt even by those who are ignorant or impudent enough to
despise them; and among the various branches of art and science which
owed a felicitous culture to their dexterous and subtle genius, there is
certainly no phenomenon in the wide history of imaginative manifestation
more imposing and more significant than that which bears on its face the
signature of the rude god of wine, and his band of shaggy and
goat-footed revellers.



  τοῦτον τὸν βακχεῖον ἅνακτα.--ARISTOPHANES.

  . . . personæ pallæque repertor honestæ.--HORACE.

THE richest heritage that a great dramatic poet can receive from the
past, is a various store of legendary tradition, in the shape of ballads
or popular epos; the greatest present blessing that can happen to him
from Heaven, is to live in an age when every mighty thought to which he
can give utterance finds a ready response in the hearts of the people,
urged by the memory of great deeds recently achieved, to aspire after
greater yet to come. Both these blessings were enjoyed by the founder of
the serious lyrical drama of the Greeks. In Homer, Æschylus recognised
his heritage from the past.[f1] Marathon and Salamis were the first
sublime motions of those strong popular breezes by which the flight of
his eagle muse was sustained.

The Parian marble, more trustworthy than the discordant statements of
ill-informed, or ill-transcribed lexicographers and scholiasts, enables
us to fix the date of Æschylus, in the year 525 before Christ. Born an
Athenian, in the deme of Eleusis, of an ancient and noble family, he had
ample opportunity, by the contagion of the place, in his boyish days, of
brooding over those lofty religious ideas which formed the
characteristic inspiration of his drama,[f2] Pausanias (I. 21)
relates of him that, on one occasion, when he was watching the vineyards
as a mere boy, Dionysus appeared to him and ordered him to write dramas.
Of this story, we may say that it either is true, literally, or invented
to symbolize something that must have been true. The next authentic fact
in the life of the poet, testified by Suidas, is that in his
twenty-fifth year (499, B.C.), the same in which Sardes was burnt by the
Ionians, he first appeared as a competitor for the tragic prize. But, as
the strongest intellectual genius is often that which, like the oak,
grows slowest, we do not find him registered as having actually gained
the prize in such a competition till the lapse of sixteen years.
Meanwhile, the soul of Greece had been called out at Marathon to prepare
the world, as it were, for {29} that brilliant display of
self-dependence which was afterwards made at Salamis. At both these
victories, which belonged to the world as much as to Greece, Æschylus
was present, as also, according to some accounts, at Artemisium and
Platæae--learning in all these encounters how much more noble it is to
act poetry than to sing it, and borrowing from them certain high
trumpet-notes of martial inspiration that stirred the soul deeper than
any that could have been fetched from the fountains of Helicon, or the
double peak of Parnassus. Braced in this best school of manhood, he
continued his exertions as a dramatic poet, bringing gradually to
firmness and maturity the dim broodings of his early years, till, in the
year 484, according to the marble already quoted, he was publicly
declared victor in that species of composition, of which, from the great
improvement he made in it, he was afterwards to be celebrated as the
father. In a few years after this, he, with his brother Ameinias,
performed a distinguished part at the battle of Salamis; and this
victory he eight years afterwards celebrated in his play of the
PERSIANS, the earliest of his extant productions, of which the date is
certainly known.[f3] The next mention that we find of the poet,
among the few stray and comparatively unimportant notices that remain,
is that some time between the year 478, that is, two years after the
battle of Salamis, and the year 467, he paid a visit to Sicily, and
along with Pindar, Bacchylides, Simonides, and other famous poets, was
hospitably entertained by Hieron the famous tyrant of Syracuse. The two
dates mentioned are those which mark the beginning and the end of the
reign of that ruler; within which period, of course, the visit to Sicily
must have taken place. Plutarch, in his life of Cimon (c. 8), connects
Æschylus' departure for Sicily with the first tragic victory gained by
the young Sophocles in the year preceding the death of Hiero; but it is
possible that this precise date may have no other foundation than the
story which attributed the Sicilian journey of the elder bard to his
envy of the rising greatness of the younger; an instance of that sort of
impertinence in which small wits constantly indulge when they busy
themselves to assign motives for the actions of great ones. But the
precise period is of small moment. When in Sicily, we are told {30} that
Æschylus re-exhibited his play of the Persians,[f4] and also wrote
a play called the AETNEANS, to celebrate the foundation of the new
city of Etna by his patron. This event, we are informed by Diodorus (xi.
49), took place in the year 476, a date which would require the presence
of the poet in Sicily six years before the date mentioned by Plutarch.
Connected with Sicily, there is worthy of mention also, in a life of
Æschylus, the notable eruption of Etna, which took place in the year
479--the same in which the battle of Platæae took place[f5]--because
there is a distinct allusion to this in the Prometheus Bound
(p. 192), which enables us to say that this famous drama could not have
been written before the forty-seventh year of the poet's life--that is
to say, the full maturity of his powers. The next date in the life of
the poet, according to the recently discovered διδασκαλία to the SEVEN
AGAINST THEBES,[f6] is the representation of the great Oedipodean
tetralogy in the year 467; and the next date is a yet more important
one, the year of the representation of that famous trilogy, still
extant, which has always been looked on as his masterpiece. The
argument of the AGAMEMNON fixes the exhibition of the trilogy of which
it is the first piece, to the year of the archonship of Philocles,
B.C. 458. It is known, also, that the poet died at Gela, in Sicily,
two years afterwards, in the sixty-ninth year of his age, the date
being given in the marble; and there can be little doubt that the
cause of this, his final retirement to that island, must have been a
growing distance between him and the Athenian public, arising from
diversity of political feeling, and the state of parties in the Attic
capital. In that city, democracy had been in steady advance from the
time of Cleisthenes (B.C. 509), and was now ebullient under the popular
inspiration of the recent Persian wars, and glorified by the
captainship of Pericles. The tendencies of the poet of the Eumenides
(as explained in the introduction to that play) were all aristocratic;
and it is in the highest degree probable that the reception given by
democratic spectators to his eulogy of the aristocratic Court of the
Areopagus, in the play just mentioned, may have been such as to induce
him to consult his own comfort, if not his safety, by withdrawing
altogether from a scene where his continual presence might only tend
to irritate those whom it could not alter.

After his death the Athenians testified their esteem for his character
by decreeing--what was quite an extraordinary privilege {31} according
to their stage practice--that his dramas might be exhibited at the great
Dionysiac festivals, when their author could be no longer a competitor
for the prize.[f7] The people of Gela, justly proud that the bones
of so great a man should repose in their soil, erected a monument to his
memory with the following inscription:--

  "Here Æschylus lies, from his Athenian home
  Remote, 'neath Gela's wheat-producing loam.
  How brave in battle was Euphorion's son
  The long-haired Mede can tell that fled from Marathon."

With regard to the great merits of Æschylus both as a poet and as the
creator of the tragic stage, there is but one testimony among the
writers of antiquity. He not only introduced, as we have elsewhere
stated, a second, and afterwards a third actor--without which there was
no scope for the proper representation of an action--but he made the
greatest improvements in the whole machinery and decorations of the
stage, gave dignity to the actors by a minute attention to their masks,
dresses, and buskins,[f8] besides attending specially to the
graceful culture of the dance, according to the testimony of Athenæus
above quoted. As a dramatist he is distinguished by peculiar loftiness
of conception and grandeur of phraseology. His style is sometimes harsh
and abrupt, but it is always manly and vigorous; his metaphors are bold
and striking, with something at times almost oriental in their cast;
and, though not free from the offence of mixing incongruous
metaphors--the natural sin of an imagination at once fearless and
fertile--I do not think he can be fairly charged with turgidity and
bombast; for, as Aristophanes remarks, in the FROGS, there is a
superhuman grandeur about his characters which demands a more than
common elevation of phrase.[f9] As to the obscurity with which he
has been charged, {32} the comparative clearness of those plays which
have been most frequently transcribed is a plain indication that this
fault proceeds more from the carelessness of stupid copyists, than from
confusion of thought or inadequate power of expression in the writer. In
some cases, as in the prophecy of Calchas in the opening scene of the
AGAMEMNON, the obscurity is studied and most appropriate. Poetry, like
painting, will have its shade. But the great excellence of Æschylus, as
a poet, is the bracing tone of thorough manhood, noble morality, and
profound piety which pervades his works. Among those who are celebrated
by Virgil as walking with Orpheus and Musæus in blissful Elysium--

  "Quique pii vates et Phoebo digna locuti,"

the poet of the EUMENIDES deserves the first rank. There is a
tradition current, in various shapes, among the ancient writers that he
was brought before the Court of the Areopagus (so nobly eulogised by
himself), on the charge of impiety, but that he was acquitted. That the
Athenians might have taken offence at the freedom and boldness with
which he handled religious, as other topics, is possible, though
certainly by no means probable, considering how little of fixed doctrine
there was in their imaginative theology; but it is more like the truth,
according to the accounts which we have, that the offence which he gave
consisted in some purely accidental allusion occurring in one of his
plays, to some points that were, or seemed to be connected with the
awful Eleusinian mysteries.[f10] Certain it is that no writer could
be less justly charged with impiety or irreligion. In his writings,
religion is the key-note; and the noblest moral sentiments spring
everywhere from the profoundest faith in a system of retribution carried
on by the various personages of the great celestial aristocracy, of
which Jove is the all-powerful and the all-wise head. So sublime,
indeed, is the Æschylean theology, that certain modern writers, as if
unwilling to think that such pure notions could co-exist with a belief
in the popular religion, have concluded that the poet, like Euripides
afterwards, must have been a free-thinker; and have imagined that they
have found sure indications to this effect in his writings. But, though
Æschylus was a Pythagorean (Cic. Tusc. II. 10), we have no proof that
the Pythagoreans, any more than their successors, the Platonists, were
given to scepticism. The seriousness of a poetic mind like that of
Æschylus is, at all times, naturally inclined to faith; and the
multiform {33} polytheism of the Greeks was as pliable in the hands of
pure men for pure purposes, as in the hands of gross men, to give a
delusive ideality to their grossness.[f11]




 "Ὁι Τρώων μεν ὑπεξέφυγον στονόεσσαν ἀϋτὴν
 Ἐν νόστῳ δ᾽ απόλοντο κακῆς ἰότητι γυναικός."

 "Greeks that 'scaped the Trojan war-cry, and the wailing battle-field,
 But home returning basely perished by a wicked woman's guile."
                                     HOMER, _Odys_. xi. 383-4.



 CLYTEMNESTRA, Wife of Agamemnon.
 AGAMEMNON, King of Argos and Mycenæ.
 CASSANDRA, a Trojan Prophetess, Daughter of Priam.
 ÆGISTHUS, Son of Thyestes.

SCENE--The Royal Palace in Argos.



OF all that rich variety of Epic materials with which the early
minstrel-literature of Greece supplied the drama of a future age, there
was no more notable cycle among the ancients than that which went by the
popular name of Νόστοι, or the _Returns_; comprehending an account
of the adventures that befell the various Hellenic heroes of the Trojan
war in their return home. To this cycle, in its most general
acceptation, the Odyssey itself belongs; though the name of
Νόστοι, according to the traditions of the ancient grammarians, is
more properly confined to a legendary Epic, composed by an old poet,
Agias of Troezene, of which the return of Agamemnon and Menelaus forms
the principal subject. Of this Epos the grammarian Proclus[f1]
gives us the following abstract:--

"Athena raises a strife between Agamemnon and Menelaus concerning their
voyage homeward. Agamemnon remains behind, in order to pacify the wrath
of Athena; but Diomede and Nestor depart, and return in safety to their
own country. After them Menelaus sails, and arrives with five ships in
Egypt; the rest of his vessels having been lost in a storm. Meanwhile,
Calchas and Leonteus and Polypœtes go to Colophon, and celebrate the
funeral obsequies of Tiresias, who had died there. There is then
introduced the shade of Achilles appearing to Agamemnon, and warning him
of the dangers that he was about to encounter. Then follows a storm as
the fleet is passing the Capharean rocks, at the south promontory of
Eubœa, on which occasion the Locrian Ajax is destroyed by the wrath of
Athena, whom he had offended. Neoptolemus, on the other hand, under the
protection of Thetis, makes his way overland through Thrace (where he
encounters Ulysses in Maronea), to his native country, and proceeding to
the country of the Molossi, is there recognised by his grandfather, the
aged Peleus, the father of Achilles. The poem then concludes with an
account of the murder of Agamemnon by Ægisthus and Clytemnestra, of the
revenge taken on her by Orestes and Pylades, and of the return of
Menelaus to Lacedæmon."[f2]

{38} The last sentence of this curious notice contains the Epic germ of
which the famous trilogy--the Agamemnon, the Choephorœ, and the
Eumenides of Æschylus--present the dramatic expansion. The celebrity
of the legends with regard to the return of the mighty Atridan arose
naturally from the prominent situation in which he stood as the admiral
of the famous thousand-masted fleet; and, besides, the passage from the
old Troezenian minstrel just quoted, is sufficiently attested by various
passages--some of considerable length--in the Odyssey, which will
readily present themselves to the memory of those who are familiar
with the productions of the great Ionic Epopœist. In the very opening
of that poem, for instance, occur the following remarkable lines:--

  "Strange, O strange, that mortal men immortal gods will still be
  Saying that the source of evil lies with us; while they, in sooth,
  More than Fate would have infatuate with sharp sorrows pierce
  Thus even now Ægisthus, working sorrow more than Fate would have,
  The Atridan's wife hath wedded, and himself returning slain,
  Knowing well the steep destruction that awaits him; for ourselves
  Sent the sharp-eyed Argus-slayer, Hermes, to proclaim our will,
  That nor him he dare to murder, nor his wedded wife to woo.
  Thus spoke Hermes well and wisely; but thy reckless wit, Ægisthus,
  Moved he not; full richly therefore now thy folly's fine thou payest."

And the same subject is reverted to in the Third Book (v. 194), where
old Nestor, in Pylos, gives an account to Telemachus, first of his own
safe return, and then of the fate of the other Greeks, so far as he
knew; and, again, in the Fourth Book (v. 535) where Menelaus is informed
of his brother's sad fate (slain "like a bull in a stall") by the old
prophetic Proteus, the sea harlequin of the African coast; and, also, in
the Eleventh Book (v. 405), where Ulysses, in Hades, hears the sad
recital from the injured shade of the royal Atridan himself.

The tragic events by which Agamemnon and his family have acquired such a
celebrity in the epic and dramatic annals of Greece, are but the sequel
and consummation of a series of similar events commencing with the great
ancestor of the family; all which hang together in the chain of popular
tradition by the great moral principle so often enunciated in the course
of these dramas, that sin has always a tendency to propagate its like,
and a root of bitterness once planted in a family, will grow up and
branch out luxuriantly, till, in the fulness of time, it bears those
bloody blossoms, and fruits of perdition that are its natural product.
The guilty ancestor, in the present case, is the {39} well-known
Tantalus, the peculiar style of whose punishment in the infernal regions
has been stereotyped, for the modern memory, in the shape of one of the
most common and most expressive words in the English language. Tantalus,
a son of Jove, a native of Sipylos in Phrygia, and who had been admitted
to the table of the gods, thinking it a small matter to know the divine
counsels, if he did not, at the same time, gratify his vanity by making
a public parade of his knowledge before profane ears, was punished in
the pit of Tartarus by those tortures of ever reborn and never gratified
desire which every schoolboy knows. His son, Pelops, an exile from his
native country, comes with great wealth to Pisa; and having, by
stratagem, won, in a chariot race, Hippodamia, the daughter of
Oernomaus, king of that place, himself succeeded to the kingdom, and
became so famous, according to the legend, as to lend a new name to the
southern peninsula of Greece which was the theatre of his
exploits.[f3] In his career also, however, the traces of blood
are not wanting, which soil so darkly the path of his no less famous
descendants. Pelops slew Myrtilus, the charioteer by whose aid he had
won the race that was the beginning of his greatness; and it was the
Fury of this Myrtilus--or "his blood crying to Heaven," as in Christian
style we should express it--that, according to one poet (Eurip. Orest.
981), gave rise to the terrible retributions of blood by which the
history of the Pelopidan family is marked. Of Pelops, according to the
common account, Atreus and Thyestes were the sons. These having murdered
their stepbrother, Chrysippus, were obliged to flee for safety to
Mycenæ, in Argolis, where, in the course of events, they afterwards
established themselves, and became famous for their wealth and for their
crimes. The bloody story of these hostile brothers commences with the
seduction, by Thyestes, of Aerope, the wife of Atreus; in revenge for
which insult, Atreus recalls his banished brother, and, pretending
reconciliation, offers that horrid feast of human flesh--the blood of
the children to the lips of the father--from which the sun turned away
his face in horror. The effect of this deed of blood was to entail,
between the two families of Thyestes and Atreus, a hereditary hostility,
the fruits of which appeared afterwards in the person of Ægisthus, the
son of the former, who is found, in this first play of the trilogy,
engaged with Clytemnestra in a treacherous plot to avenge his father's
wrongs, by the murder of his uncle's son.

Agamemnon, the son, or, according to a less common account (for which
see Schol. ad Iliad II. 249), the grandson of Atreus, being {40}
distinguished above the other Hellenic princes for wealth and power, was
either by special election appointed, or by that sort of irregular
kingship common among half-civilized nations, allowed to conduct the
famous expedition against Troy that in early times foreshadowed the
conquests of Alexander the Great, and the influence of the Greek
language and letters in the East. Such a distant expedition as this,
like the crusades in the middle ages, was not only a natural living Epos
in itself, but would necessarily give rise to that intense glow of
popular sympathy, and that excited state of the popular imagination,
which enable the wandering poets of the people to make the best poetic
use of the various dramatic incidents that the realities of a highly
potentiated history present. Accordingly we find, in the very outset of
the expedition, the fleet, storm-bound in the harbour of Aulis, opposite
Eubœa, enabled to pursue its course, under good omens, only by the
sacrifice of the fairest daughter of the chief. This event--a sad
memorial of the barbarous practice of human sacrifice, even among the
polished Greeks--formed the subject of a special play, perhaps a
trilogic series of plays,[f4] by Æschylus. This performance,
however, has been unfortunately lost; and we can only imagine what it
may have been by the description in the opening chorus of the present
play, and by the beautiful, though certainly far from Æschylean,
tragedy of Euripides. For our present purpose, it is sufficient to note
that, in the Agamemnon, special reference is made to the sacrifice of
Iphigenia, both as an unrighteous deed on the part of the father, for
which some retribution was naturally to be expected, and as the origin
of a special grudge in the mind of the mother, which she afterwards
gratifies by the murder of her husband.

As to that deed of blood itself, and its special adaptation for dramatic
purposes, there can be no doubt; as little that Æschylus has used his
materials in the present play in a fashion that satisfies the highest
demands both of lyric and dramatic poetry, as executed by the first
masters of both. The calm majesty and modest dignity of the much-tried
monarch; the cool self-possession, and the smooth front of specious
politeness that mark the character of the royal murderess: the
obstreperous bullying of the cowardly braggart, who does the deed with
his heart, not with his hand; the half-wild, half-tender ravings of the
horror-haunted Trojan prophetess; these together contain a combination
of highly wrought dramatic elements, {41} such as is scarcely excelled
even in the all-embracing pages of our own Shakespere. As far removed
from common-place are the lyrical--in Æschylus never the
secondary--elements of the piece. The sublime outbreak of Cassandra's
prophetic horror is, as the case demanded, made to exhibit itself as
much under the lyric as in the declamatory form; while the other choral
parts, remarkable for length and variety, are marked not only by that
mighty power of intense moral feeling which is so peculiarly Æschylean,
but by the pictorial beauty and dramatic reality that distinguish the
workmanship of a great lyric master from that of the vulgar dealer in
inflated sentiment and sonorous sentences.



 I pray the gods a respite from these toils,
 This long year's watch that, dog-like, I have kept,
 High on the Atridan's battlements,[n1] beholding
 The nightly council of the stars, the circling
 Of the celestial signs, and those bright regents,
 High-swung in ether, that bring mortal men
 Summer and winter. Here I watch the torch,
 The appointed flame that wings a voice from Troy,
 Telling of capture; thus I serve her hopes,
 The masculine-minded who is sovereign here.[n2]
 And when night-wandering shades encompass round
 My dew-sprent dreamless couch (for fear doth sit
 In slumber's chair, and holds my lids apart),
 I chaunt some dolorous ditty, making song,
 Sleep's substitute, surgeon my nightly care,
 And the misfortunes of this house I weep,
 Not now, as erst, by prudent counsels swayed.
 Oh! soon may the wished for sign relieve my toils,
 Thrice-welcome herald, gleaming through the night!
   (_The beacon is seen shining_.)
 All hail thou cresset of the dark! fair gleam
 Of day through midnight shed, all hail! bright father
 Of joy and dance, in Argos, hail! all hail!
 Hillo! hilloa!
 I will go tell the wife of Agamemnon
 To shake dull sleep away, and lift high-voiced[n3]
 The jubilant shout well-omened, to salute
 This welcome beacon, if, indeed, old Troy
 Hath fallen--as flames this courier torch to tell.
 Myself will dance the prelude to this joy.
 My master's house hath had a lucky throw,
 And thrice six falls to me,[n4] thanks to the flame!
 Soon may he see his home; and soon may I
 Carry my dear-loved master's hand in mine!
 The rest I whisper not, for on my tongue
 Is laid a seal.[n5] These walls, if they could speak,
 Would say strange things. Myself to those that know
 Am free of speech, to whoso knows not dumb. [_Exit_.

  [_Enter_ CHORUS _in procession. March time_.

  Nine years have rolled, the tenth is rolling,
  Since the strong Atridan pair,
  Menelaus and Agamemnon,
  Sceptred kings by Jove's high grace,[n6]
  With a host of sworn alliance,
  With a thousand triremes rare,
  With a righteous strong defiance,
  Sailed for Troy. From furious breast
  Loud they clanged the peal of battle;
  Like the cry of vultures wild
  O'er the lone paths fitful-wheeling,[n7]
  With their plumy oarage oaring
  Over the nest by the spoiler spoiled,
  The nest dispeopled now and bare,
     Their long but fruitless care.
  But the gods see it: some Apollo,
  Pan or Jove, the wrong hath noted,
  Heard the sharp and piercing cry
  Of the startled birds, shrill-throated
     Tenants of the sky;
  And the late-chastising Fury[n8]
  Sent from above to track the spoiler,
     Hovers vengeful nigh.
  Thus great Jove, the high protector
  Of the hospitable laws,[n9]
  'Gainst Alexander sends the Atridans,
  Harnessed in a woman's cause,
   The many-lorded fair.
  Toils on toils shall come uncounted,
   (Jove hath willed it so);
  Limb-outwearying hard endeavour,
  Where the strong knees press the dust,
  Where the spear-shafts split and shiver,
   Trojan and Greek shall know.
  But things are as they are: the chain
  Of Fate doth brad them; sighs are vain,
  Tears, libations, fruitless flow,
  To divert from purposed ire
  The powers whose altars know no fire.[n10]
  But we behind that martial train
   Inglorious left remain,
  Old and frail, and feebly leaning
  Strength as of childhood on a staff.
  Yea! even as life's first unripe marrow
  In the tender bones are we,
   From war's harsh service free.
  For hoary Eld, life's leaf up-shrunken,
  Totters, his three-footed way
  Feebly feeling, weak as childhood,
  Like a dream that walks by day.
  But what is this? what wandering word,
  Clytemnestra queen, hath reached thee?
  What hast seen? or what hast heard
  That from street to street swift flies
  Thy word, commanding sacrifice?
  All the altars of all the gods
  That keep the city, gods supernal,
  Gods Olympian, gods infernal,
  Gods of the Forum, blaze with gifts;
  Right and left the flame mounts high,
     Spiring to the sky,
  With the gentle soothings cherished
  Of the oil that knows no malice,[n11]
  And the sacred cake that smokes
  From the queen's chamber in the palace.
  What thou canst and may'st, declare;
  Be the healer of the care
  That bodes black harm within me; change it
  To the bright and hopeful ray,
  Which from the altar riseth, chasing
  From the heart the sateless sorrow
     That eats vexed life away.

  [_The_ CHORUS, _having now arranged themselves into a regular band
  in the middle of the Orchestra, sing the First_ CHORAL HYMN.

 I'll voice the strain.[n12] What though the arm be weak
      That once was strong,
 The suasive breath of Heaven-sent memories stirs
     The old man's breast with song.
     My age hath virtue left
 To sing what fateful omens strangely beckoned
     The twin kings to the fray,
   What time to Troy concentuous marched
     The embattled Greek array.
 Jove's swooping bird, king of all birds,[f5] led on
 The kings of the fleet with spear and vengeful hand:
 By the way-side from shining seats serene,
 Close by the palace, on the spear-hand seen,[f6]
   Two eagles flapped the air,
 One black, the other silver-tipt behind,
 And with keen talons seized a timorous hare,
   Whose strength could run no more,
 Itself, and the live burden which it bore.
   Sing woe and well-a-day! But still
   May the good omens shame the ill.

 The wise diviner of the host[f7] beheld,
      And knew the sign;
 The hare-devouring birds with diverse wings
     Typed the Atridan pair,
     The diverse-minded kings;[n13]
 And thus the fate he chaunted:--Not in vain
     Ye march this march to-day;
   Old Troy shall surely fall, but not
     Till moons on moons away
 Have lingering rolled. Rich stores by labour massed
 Clean-sweeping Fate shall plunder. Grant the gods,
 While this strong bit for Troy we forge with gladness,
 No heavenly might in jealous wrath o'ercast
     Our mounting hope with sadness.
 For the chaste Artemis[f8] a sore grudge nurses
 Against the kings; Jove's winged hounds she curses,[n14]
     The fierce war-birds that tore
 The fearful hare, with the young brood it bore.
   Sing woe and well-a-day! but still
   May the good omens shame the ill.


 The lion's fresh-dropt younglings, and each whelp
 That sucks wild milk, and through the forest roves,
 Live not unfriended; them the fair goddess loves,[n15]
    And lends her ready help.
 The vision of the birds shall work its end
 In bliss, but dashed not lightly with black bane;[f9]
 I pray thee, Pæan, may she never send[n16]
 Contrarious blasts dark-lowering, to detain
     The Argive fleet.
 Ah! ne'er may she desire to feast her eyes
 On an unblest unholy sacrifice,
 From festal use abhorrent, mother of strife,
 And sundering from her lawful lord the wife.[f10]
 Stern-purposed waits the child-avenging wrath[n17]
    About the fore-doomed halls,
 Weaving dark wiles, while with sure-memoried sting
     Fury to Fury calls.
 Thus hymned the seer, the doom, in dubious chaunt
 Bliss to the chiefs dark-mingling with the bane,
   From the way-haunting birds; and we
    Respondent to the strain,
   Sing woe and well-a-day! but still
   May the good omens shame the ill.

    Jove, or what other name[n18]
 The god that reigns supreme delights to claim,
 Him I invoke; him of all powers that be,
     Alone I find,
 Who from this bootless load of doubt can free
     My labouring mind.

    Who was so great of yore,
 With all-defiant valour brimming o'er,[n19]
 Is mute; and who came next by a stronger arm
     Thrice-vanquished fell;
 But thou hymn victor Jove: so in thy heart
     His truth shall dwell


 For Jove doth teach men wisdom, sternly wins
 To virtue by the tutoring of their sins;
 Yea! drops of torturing recollection chill
 The sleeper's heart; 'gainst man's rebellious will
     Jove works the wise remorse:
 Dread Powers, on awful seats enthroned, compel
     Our hearts with gracious force.[n20]

 The elder chief, the leader of the ships,
 Heard the dire doom, nor dared to ope his lips
 Against the seer, and feared alone to stand
 'Gainst buffeting fate, what time the Chalcian strand[f11]
     Saw the vexed Argive masts
 In Aulis tides hoarse-refluent,[n21] idly chained
     By the fierce Borean blasts;

   Blasts from Strymon[f12] adverse braying,
   Harbour-vexing, ship-delaying,
   Snapping cables, shattering oars,
   Wasting time, consuming stores,
   With vain-wandering expectation,
   And with long-drawn slow vexation
     Wasting Argive bloom.
   At length the seer forth-clanged the doom,
   A remedy strong to sway the breeze,
   And direful Artemis to appease,
     But to the chiefs severe:
 The Atridans with their sceptres struck the ground,
     Nor could restrain the tear.

   Then spake the elder. To deny,
   How hard! still harder to comply!
   My daughter dear, my joy, my life,
   To slay with sacrificial knife,
   And with life's purple-gushing tide,
   Imbrue a father's hand, beside
     The altar of the gods.
   This way or that is ill: for how
   Shall I despise my federate vow?
   How leave the ships? That all conspire
     Thus hotly to desire
 The virgin's blood--wind-soothing sacrifice--
   Is the gods' right. So be it.[n22]

 Thus to necessity's harsh yoke he bared
 His patient neck. Unblissful blew the gale
     That turned the father's heart[n23]
 To horrid thoughts unholy, thoughts that dared
 The extreme of daring. Sin from its primal spring
 Mads the ill-counsel'd heart, and arms the hand
      With reckless strength. Thus he
 Gave his own daughter's blood, his life, his joy,
 To speed a woman's war, and consecrate[n24]
      His ships for Troy.

 In vain with prayers, in vain she beats dull ears
 With a father's name; the war-delighting chiefs
      Heed not her virgin years.
 The father stood; and when the priests had prayed,
 Take her, he said; in her loose robes enfolden,
 Where prone and spent she lies,[n25] so lift the maid;
      Even as a kid is laid,
 So lay her on the altar; with dumb force
 Her beauteous[f13] mouth gag, lest it breathe a voice
      Of curse to Argos.

 And as they led the maid, her saffron robe[n26]
 Sweeping the ground, with pity-moving dart
    She smote each from her eye,
 Even as a picture beautiful, fain to speak,
 But could not. Well that voice they knew of yore;
   Oft at her father's festive board,
 With gallant banqueters ringed cheerly round,
     The virgin strain they heard[n27]
     That did so sweetly pour
 Her father's praise, whom Heaven had richly crowned
     With bounty brimming o'er.


 The rest I know not, nor will vainly pry;
 But Calchas was a seer not wont to lie.
     Justice doth wait to teach
 Wisdom by suffering. Fate will have its way.
 The quickest ear is pricked in vain to-day,
   To catch to-morrow's note. What boots
 To forecast woe, which, on no wavering wing,[n28]
     The burthen'd hour shall bring.
      But we, a chosen band,
 Left here sole guardians of the Apian land,[f14]
     Pray Heaven, all good betide!


 Hail Clytemnestra! honour to thy sceptre!
 When her lord's throne is vacant, the wife claims
 His honour meetly. Queen, if thou hast heard
 Good news, or to the hope of good that shall be,
 With festal sacrifice dost fill the city,
 I fain would know; but nothing grudge thy silence.

 Bearing blithe tidings, saith the ancient saw,
 Fair Morn be gendered from boon mother Night!
 News thou shalt hear beyond thy topmost hope;
 The Greeks have ta'en old Priam's city.

 Troy taken! the word drops from my faithless ear.

 The Greeks have taken Troy. Can I speak plainer?

 Joy o'er my heart creeps, and provokes the tear.

 Thine eye accuses thee that thou art kind.

 What warrant of such news? What certain sign?

 Both sign and seal, unless some god deceive me.

 Dreams sometimes speak; did suasive visions move thee?

 Where the soul sleeps, and the sense slumbers, there
 Shall the wise ask for reasons?

                                Ever swift
 Though wingless, Fame,[n29] with tidings fair hath cheered thee.

 Thou speak'st as one who mocks a simple girl.

 Old Troy is taken? how?--when did it fall?

 The self-same night that mothers this to-day.

 But how? what stalwart herald ran so fleetly?


 Hephæstus.[f15] He from Ida shot the spark;[n30]
 And flaming straightway leapt the courier fire
 From height to height; to the Hermæan rock
 Of Lemnos, first from Ida; from the isle
 The Athóan steep of mighty Jove received
 The beaming beacon; thence the forward strength
 Of the far-travelling lamp strode gallantly[n31]
 Athwart the broad sea's back. The flaming pine
 Rayed out a golden glory like the sun,
 And winged the message to Macistus' watch-tower.
 There the wise watchman, guiltless of delay,
 Lent to the sleepless courier further speed;
 And the Messapian station hailed the torch
 Far-beaming o'er the floods of the Eurípus.
 There the grey heath lit the responsive fire,
 Speeding the portioned message; waxing strong,
 And nothing dulled across Asopus' plain
 The flame swift darted like the twinkling moon,
 And on Cithæron's rocky heights awaked
 A new receiver of the wandering light.
 The far-sent ray, by the faithful watch not spurned,
 With bright addition journeying, bounded o'er
 Gorgópus' lake and Ægiplanctus' mount,
 Weaving the chain unbroken.[n32] Hence it spread
 Not scant in strength, a mighty beard of flame,[n33]
 Flaring across the headlands that look down
 On the Saronic gulf.[n34] Speeding its march,
 It reached the neighbour-station of our city,
 Arachne's rocky steep; and thence the halls
 Of the Atridæ recognised the signal,
 Light not unfathered by Idæan fire.
 Such the bright train of my torch-bearing heralds,
 Each from the other fired with happy news,
 And last and first was victor in the race.[n35]
 Such the fair tidings that my lord hath sent,
 A sign that Troy hath fallen.

                              And for its fall
 Our voice shall hymn the gods anon: meanwhile
 I'm fain to drink more wonder from thy words.

 This day Troy fell. Methinks I see't; a host
 Of jarring voices stirs the startled city,
 Like oil and acid, sounds that will not mingle,
 By natural hatred sundered. Thou may'st hear
 Shouts of the victor, with the dying groan,
 Battling, and captives' cry; upon the dead--
 Fathers and mothers, brothers, sisters, wives--
 The living fall--the young upon the old;
 And from enthralléd necks wail out their woe.
 Fresh from the fight, through the dark night the spoilers
 Tumultuous rush where hunger spurs them on,
 To feast on banquets never spread for them.
 The homes of captive Trojan chiefs they share
 As chance decides the lodgment; there secure
 From the cold night-dews and the biting frosts,
 Beneath the lordly roof, to their hearts' content[n36]
 They live, and through the watchless night prolong
 Sound slumbers. Happy if the native gods
 They reverence, and the captured altars spare,[n37]
 Themselves not captive led by their own folly!
 May no unbridled lust of unjust gain
 Master their hearts, no reckless rash desire!
 Much toil yet waits them. Having turned the goal,[n38]
 The course's other half they must mete out,
 Ere home receive them safe. Their ships must brook
 The chances of the sea; and, these being scaped,
 If they have sinned[n39] the gods their own will claim,
 And vengeance wakes till blood shall be atoned.
 I am a woman; but mark thou well my words;
 I hint the harm; but with no wavering scale,
 Prevail the good! I thank the gods who gave me
 Rich store of blessings, richly to enjoy.

 Woman, thou speakest wisely as a man,
 And kindly as thyself. But having heard
 The certain signs of Agamemnon's coming,
 Prepare we now to hymn the gods; for surely
 With their strong help we have not toiled in vain.

     O regal Jove! O blessed Night!
     Thou hast won thee rich adornments,
     Thou hast spread thy shrouding meshes
     O'er the towers of Priam. Ruin
     Whelms the young, the old. In vain
     Shall they strive to o'erleap the snare,
     And snap the bondsman's galling chain,
      In woe retrieveless lost.
     Jove, I fear thee, just protector
     Of the wrong'd host's sacred rights;
     Thou didst keep thy bow sure bent
     'Gainst Alexander; not before
     The fate-predestined hour, and not
     Beyond the stars, with idle aim,
      Thy cunning shaft was shot.

    The hand of Jove hath smote them; thou
      May'st trace it plainly;
    What the god willed, behold it now
      Not purposed vainly!
    The gods are blind,[n40] and little caring,
    So one hath said, to mark the daring
    Of men, whose graceless foot hath ridden
    O'er things to human touch forbidden.
    Godless who said so; sons shall rue
       Their parents' folly,
    Who flushed with wealth, with insolence flown,
    The sober bliss of man outgrown,
    The trump of Mars unchastened blew,
    And stirred red strife without the hue
       Of justice wholly.
    Live wiselier thou, not waxing gross
    With gain, thou shalt be free from loss.
    Weak is his tower, with pampering wealth
       In brief alliance
    Who spurns great Justice' altar dread
       With damned defiance;
    Him the deep hell shall claim, and shame
       His vain reliance.

    Self-will fell Até's daughter,[n41] still
       Fore-counselling ruin,
    Shall spur him on resistless borne
       To his undoing.
    Fined with sharp loss beyond repairing,
    His misery like a beacon flaring,
    Shall shine to all. Like evil brass,
    That tested shows a coarse black mass,
    His deep distemper he shall show
       By dints of trial.
    Even as a boy in wanton sport,[n42]
    Chasing a bird to his own hurt,
    And to the state's redeemless loss,
    Whom, when he prays, the gods shall cross
       With sheer denial,
    And sweep the lewd and lawless liver
    From earth's fair memory for ever;
    Thus to the Atridans' palace came
       False Alexander,
    And shared the hospitable board,
       A bold offender,
    Filching his host's fair wife away
       To far Scamander.

 She went, and to the Argive city left
     Squadrons shield-bearing,
     Battle preparing,
     Swords many-flashing,
     Oars many-plashing;
 She went, destruction for her dowry bearing,
     To the Sigean shore;
 Light with swift foot she brushed the doorstead, daring
     A deed undared before.
  The prophets of the house loud wailing,[n43]
  Cried with sorrow unavailing,
   "Woe to the Atridans! woe!
   The lofty palaces fallen low!
   The marriage and the marriage bed,
   The steps once faithful, fond to follow
   There where the faithful husband led!"
 He silent stood in sadness, not in wrath,[n44]
    His own eye scarce believing,
 As he followed her flight beyond the path
    Of the sea-wave broadly heaving.
 And phantoms sway each haunt well known,
 Which the lost loved one wont to own,
 And the statued forms that look from their seats
    With a cold smile serenely,
 He loathes to look on; in his eye
    Pines Aphrodité[f16] leanly.

  In vain he sleeps; for in the fretful night
     Shapes of fair seeming
     Flit through his dreaming,
     Soothing him sweetly,
     Leaving him fleetly
 Of bliss all barren. The shape fond fancy weaves him
     His eager grasp would keep,
 In vain; it cheats the hand; and leaves him, sweeping
     Swift o'er the paths of sleep.
  These sorrows pierce the Atridan chiefs,
  And, worse than these, their private griefs,
  But general Greece that to the fray
  Sent her thousands, mourns to-day;
  And Grief stout-hearted at each door
  Sits to bear the burden sore
  Of deathful news from the Trojan shore.
  Ah! many an Argive heart to-day
  Is pricked with wail and mourning,
  Knowing how many went to Troy,
  From Troy how few returning!
  The mothers of each house shall wait
  To greet their sons at every gate;
  But, alas! not men, but dust of men
    Each sorrowing house receiveth,
  The urn in which the fleshly case
    Its cindered ruin leaveth.

 For Mars doth market bodies, and for gold
 Gives dust, and in the battle of the bold
    Holds the dread scales of Fate.
 Burnt cinders, a light burden, but to friends
     A heavy freight,
 He sends from Troy; the beautiful vase he sends
 With dust, for hearts, well lined, on which descends
     The frequent tear.
 And friends do wail their praise; thin here
 Expert to wield the pointed spear,
 And this who cast his life away,
 Nobly in ignoble fray,
    For a strange woman's sake.
  And in their silent hearts hate burns;
      Against the kings
   The moody-muttered grudge creeps forth,
      And points its stings.
   Others they mourn who 'neath Troy's wall
     Entombed, dark sleep prolong,
   Low pressed beneath the hostile sod,
     The beautiful, the strong!

 O hard to bear, when evil murmurs fly,
 Is a nation's hate; unblest on whom doth lie
     A people's curse!
 My heart is dark, in my fear-procreant brain
     Bad begets worse.
 For not from heaven the gods behold in vain
 Hands red with slaughter. The black-mantled train[f17]
     Who watch and wait,
   In their own hour shall turn to bane
   The bliss that grew from godless gain.
   The mighty man with heart elate
   Shall fall; even as the sightless shades,
   The great man's glory fades.
   Sweet to the ear is the popular cheer
     Forth billowed loudly;
   But the bolt from on high shall blast his eye[n45]
     That looketh proudly.
   Be mine the sober bliss, and far
   From fortune's high-strung rapture;
   Not capturing others, may I never
   See my own city's capture!

   Swift-winged with thrilling note it came,
   The blithe news from the courier-flame;
   But whether true and witnessed well,
   Or if some god hath forged a lie,
      What tongue can tell?
   Who is so young, so green of wit,
   That his heart should blaze with a fever fit,
   At a tale of this fire-courier's telling,
   When a new rumour swiftly swelling,
 May turn him back to dole? To lift the note
 Of clamorous triumph ere the fight be fought,
   Is a light chance may fitly fall,
   Where women wield the spear.[n46]
 A wandering word by woman's fond faith sped
      Swells and increases,
 But with dispersion swift a woman's tale
      Is lost and ceases.


 Soon shall we know if the light-bearing lamps
 And the bright signals of the fiery changes
 Spake true or, dream-like, have deceived our sense
 With smiling semblance. For, behold, where comes,
 Beneath the outspread olive's branchy shade,
 A herald from the beach; and thirsty dust,
 Twin-sister of the clay, attests his speed.
 Not voiceless he, nor with the smoking flame
 Of mountain pine will bring uncertain news.
 His heraldry gives increase to our joy,
 Or--but to speak ill-omened words I shun;--
 May fair addition fair beginning follow!

 Whoso fears evil where no harm appears,
 Reap first himself the fruit of his own fears.

   [_Enter_ HERALD.

 Hail Argive land! dear fatherland, all hail!
 This tenth year's light doth shine on my return!
 And now this one heart's hope from countless wrecks
 I save! Scarce hoped I e'er to lay my bones
 Within the tomb where dearest dust is stored.
 I greet thee, native land! thee, shining sun!
 Thee, the land's Sovereign, Jove! thee, Pythian King,
 Shooting no more thy swift-winged shafts against us.
 Enough on red Scamander's banks we knew
 Thee hostile; now our saviour-god be thou,
 Apollo, and our healer from much harm![n47]
 And you, all gods that guide the chance of fight,
 I here revoke; and thee, my high protector,
 Loved Hermes, of all heralds most revered.
 And you, all heroes that sent forth our hosts,
 Bring back, I pray, our remnant with good omens.
 O kingly halls! O venerated seats!
 O dear-loved roofs, and ye sun-fronting gods,[n48]
 If ever erst, now on this happy day,
 With these bright-beaming eyes, duly receive
 Your late returning king; for Agamemnon
 Comes, like the sun, a common joy to all.
 Greet him with triumph, as beseems the man,
 Who with the mattock of justice-bringing Jove
 Hath dug the roots of Troy, hath made its altars
 Things seen no more, its towering temples razed,
 And caused the seed of the whole land to perish.
 Such yoke on Ilium's haughty neck the elder
 Atridan threw, a king whom gods have blessed
 And men revere, 'mongst mortals worthy most
 Of honour; now nor Paris, nor in the bond
 Partner'd with him, old Troy more crime may boast
 Than penalty; duly in the court of fight,
 In the just doom of rape and robbery damned,
 His pledge is forfeited;[n49] his hand hath reaped
 Clean bare the harvest of all bliss from Troy.
 Doubly they suffer for a double crime.

 Hail soldier herald, how farest thou?

                                      Right well!
 So well that I could bless the gods and die.

 Doubtless thy love of country tried thy heart?

 To see these shores I weep for very joy.

 And that soul-sickness sweetly held thee?

 Instruct my wit to comprehend thy words.

 Smitten with love of them that much loved thee.

 Say'st thou? loved Argos us as we loved Argos?

 Ofttimes we sorrowed from a sunless soul.

 How so? Why should the thought of the host have clouded
 Thy soul with sadness?

                       Sorrow not causeless came;
 But I have learned to drug all woes by silence.

 Whom should'st thou quail before, the chiefs away?

 I could have used thy phrase, and wished to die.

 Die now, an' thou wilt, for joy! The rolling years
 Have given all things a prosperous end, though some
 Were hard to bear; for who, not being a god,
 Can hope to live long years of bliss unbroken?
 A weary tale it were to tell the tithe
 Of all our hardships; toils by day, by night,
 Harsh harbourage, hard hammocks, and scant sleep.
 No sun without new troubles, and new groans,
 Shone on our voyage; and when at length we landed,
 Our woes were doubled; 'neath the hostile walls,
 On marshy meads night-sprinkled by the dews,
 We slept, our clothes rotted with drenching rain,
 And like wild beasts with shaggy-knotted hair.
 Why should I tell bird-killing winter's sorrows,
 Long months of suffering from Idéan snows,
 Then summer's scorching heat, when noon beheld
 The waveless sea beneath the windless air
 In sleep diffused; these toils have run their hour.
 The dead care not to rise; their roll our grief
 Would muster o'er in vain; and we who live
 Vainly shall fret at the cross strokes of fate.
 Henceforth to each harsh memory of the past
 Farewell! we who survive this long-drawn war
 Have gains to count that far outweigh the loss.
 Well may we boast in the face of the shining sun,
 O'er land and sea our winged tidings wafting,
 On the high temples of the gods we hang
 These spoils, a shining grace, there to remain
 An heritage for ever.[n50] These things to hear
 Shall men rejoice, and with fair praises laud
 The state and its great generals, laud the grace
 Of Jove the Consummator. I have said.

 I own thy speech the conqueror; for a man
 Can never be too old to learn good news,
 And though thy words touch Clytemnestra most,
 Joy to the Atridan's halls is wealth to me.

 I lifted first the shout of jubilee,
 Then when the midnight sign of the courier fire
 Told the deep downfall of the captured Troy;
 But one then mocked my faith, that I believed
 The fire-sped message in so true a tale.
 'Tis a light thing to buoy a woman's heart
 With hopeful news, they cried; and with these words
 They wildered my weak wit. And yet I sped
 The sacrifice, and raised the welcoming shout
 In woman's wise, and at a woman's word
 Forthwith from street to street uprose to the gods
 Well-omened salutations, and glad hymns,
 Lulling the fragrant incense-feeding flame.
 What needs there more? The event has proved me right,
 Himself--my lord--with his own lips shall speak
 The weighty tale; myself will go make ready
 With well-earned honour to receive the honoured.
 What brighter bliss on woman's lot may beam,
 Than when a god gives back her spouse from war,
 To ope the gates of welcome. Tell my husband,
 To his loved home, desired of all, to haste.
 A faithful wife, even as he left her, here
 He'll find expectant, like a watch-dog, gentle
 To him and his, to all that hate him harsh.
 The seals that knew his stamp, when hence he sailed,
 Unharmed remain, untouched: and for myself
 Nor praise nor blame from other man I know,
 No more than dyer's art can tincture brass.[n51]

 A boast like this, instinct with very truth,
 Comes from a noble lady without blame.

 Wise words she spake, and words that need no comment
 To ears that understand. But say, good Herald,
 Comes Menelaus safe back from the wars,
 His kindly sway in Argos to resume?

 I cannot gloss a lie with fair pretence;
 The best told lie bears but a short-lived fruit.

 Speak the truth plainly, if thou canst not pleasantly;
 These twain be seldom wedded; and here, alas!
 They stand out sundered with too clear a mark.

 The man is vanished from the Achæan host,
 He and his vessel. Thou hast heard the truth.

 Sailed he from Ilium separate from the fleet?
 Or did the tempest part him from his friends!

 Like a good marksman thou hast hit the mark,
 In one short sentence summing many sorrows.

 Alive is he or dead? What word hath reached you?
 What wandering rumour from sea-faring men?

 This none can tell, save yon bright sun aloft,
 That cherishes all things with his friendly light.

 How came the storm on the fleet? or how was ended
 The wrath of the gods?

                       Not well it suits to blot
 With black rehearsal this auspicious day.
 Far from the honors of the blissful gods[n52]
 Be grief's recital. When with gloomy visage
 An ugly tale the herald's voice unfolds,
 At once a general wound, and private grief,
 An army lost, the sons of countless houses
 Death-doomed by the double scourge so dear to Ares,[f18]
 A twin-speared harm, a yoke of crimson slaughter:
 A herald saddled with such woes may sing
 A pæan to the Erinnyes. But I,
 Who to this city blithe and prosperous
 Brought the fair news of Agamemnon's safety,
 How shall I mingle bad with good, rehearsing
 The wintry wrath sent by the gods to whelm us?
 Fire and the sea, sworn enemies of old,[n53]
 Made friendly league to sweep the Achæan host
 With swift destruction pitiless. Forth rushed
 The tyrannous Thracian blasts, and wave chased wave,
 Fierce 'neath the starless night, and ship on ship
 Struck clashing; beak on butting beak was driven;
 The puffing blast, the beat of boiling billows,
 The whirling gulph (an evil pilot) wrapt them
 In sightless death. And when the shining sun
 Shone forth again, we see the Ægean tide
 Strewn with the purple blossoms of the dead,
 And wrecks of shattered ships. Us and our bark
 Some god, no man, the storm-tost hull directing,
 Hath rescued scathless, stealing us from the fray,
 Or with a prayer begging our life from Fate.
 Kind Fortune helmed us further, safely kept
 From yeasty ferment in the billowy bay,
 Nor dashed on far-ledged rocks. Thus having 'scaped
 That ocean hell,[n54] scarce trusting our fair fortune,
 We hailed the lucid day; but could we hope,
 The chance that saved ourselves had saved our friends?
 Our fearful hearts with thoughts of them we fed,
 Far-labouring o'er the loosely-driving main.[n55]
 And doubtless they, if yet live breath they breathe,
 Deem so of us, as we must fear of them,
 That they have perished. But I hope the best.
 And first and chief expect ye the return
 Of Menelaus. If the sun's blest ray
 Yet looks on him, where he beholds the day
 By Jove's devising,[n56] not yet willing wholly
 To uproot the race of Atreus, hope may be
 He yet returns. Thou hast my tale; and I
 Have told the truth untinctured with a lie. [_Exit_.


      Who gave her a name
      So true to her fame?
 Does a Providence rule in the fate of a word?
 Sways there in heaven a viewless power
 O'er the chance of the tongue in the naming hour?
      Who gave her a name,
     This daughter of strife, this daughter of shame,
 The spear-wooed maid of Greece?
   Helen the taker![n57] 'tis plain to see
   A taker of ships, a taker of men,
     A taker of cities she.
 From the soft-curtained chamber of Hymen she fled,
   By the breath of giant[n58] Zephyr sped,
 And shield-bearing throngs in marshalled array
 Hounded her flight o'er the printless way,
     Where the swift-plashing oar
      The fair booty bore
   To swirling Simois' leafy shore,
     And stirred the crimson fray.

     For the gods sent a bride,
      Kin but not kind,[n59]
   Ripe with the counsel of wrath to Troy,
 In the fulness of years, the offender to prove,
     And assert the justice of Jove;
      For great Jove is lord
 Of the rights of the hearth and the festal board.
      The sons of Priam sang
   A song to the praise of the bride:
 From jubilant throats they praised her then,
     The bride from Hellas brought;
   But now the ancient city hath changed
     Her hymn to a doleful note.
 She weeps bitter tears; she curses the head
 Of the woe-wedded Paris; she curses the bed
      Of the beautiful bride
      That crossed the flood,
   And filched the life of her sons, and washed
     Her wide-paved streets with blood.


     Whoso nurseth the cub of a lion
 Weaned from the dugs of its dam, where the draught
     Of its mountain-milk was free,
   Finds it gentle at first and tame.
   It frisks with the children in innocent game,
     And the old man smiles to see;
   It is dandled about like a babe in the arm,
   It licketh the hand that fears no harm,
   And when hunger pinches its fretful maw,
     It fawns with an eager glee.

 But it grows with the years; and soon reveals
   The fount of fierceness whence it came:
   And, loathing the food of the tame,
 It roams abroad, and feasts in the fold,
 On feasts forbidden, and stains the floor
   Of the house that nursed it with gore.
 A curse they nursed for their own undoing,
 A mouth by which their own friends shall perish;
 A servant of Até, a priest of Ruin,[n60]
   Some god hath taught them to cherish.

 Thus to Troy came a bride of the Spartan race,
 With a beauty as bland as a windless calm,
     Prosperity's gentlest grace;
 And mild was love's blossom that rayed from her eye,
 The soft-winged dart that with pleasing pain
      Thrills heart and brain.
   But anon she changed: herself fulfilled
      Her wedlock's bitter end;
     A fatal sister, a fatal bride,
      Her fateful head she rears;
   Herself the Erinnys from Jove to avenge
   The right of the injured host, and change
      The bridal joy to tears.

 'Twas said of old, and 'tis said to-day,
 That wealth to prosperous stature grown
    Begets a birth of its own:
 That a surfeit of evil by good is prepared,
   And sons must bear what allotment of woe
     Their sires were spared.
   But this I rebel to believe: I know
     That impious deeds conspire
   To beget an offspring of impious deeds
     Too like their ugly sire.
 But whoso is lust, though his wealth like a river
 Flow down, shall be scathless: his house shall rejoice
     In an offspring of beauty for ever.

   The heart of the haughty delights to beget
   A haughty heart.[n61] From time to time
   In children's children recurrent appears
      The ancestral crime.
 When the dark hour comes that the gods have decreed,
   And the Fury burns with wrathful fires,
   A demon unholy, with ire unabated,
   Lies like black night on the halls of the fated:
   And the recreant son plunges guiltily on
    To perfect the guilt of his sires.

   But Justice shines in a lowly cell;
   In the homes of poverty, smoke-begrimed,
   With the sober-minded she loves to dwell.
     But she turns aside
   From the rich man's house with averted eye,
   The golden-fretted halls of pride
   Where hands with lucre are foul, and the praise
   Of counterfeit goodness smoothly sways:
   And wisely she guides in the strong man's despite
    All things to an issue of RIGHT.

      But, hail the king! the city-taking
   Seed of Atreus' race.
   How shall I accost thee! How
   With beseeming reverence greet thee?
   Nor above the mark, nor sinking
     Beneath the line of grace?
   Many of mortal men there be,
   'Gainst the rule of right preferring
   Seeming to substance; tears are free
   In the eye when woe its tale rehearseth,
   But the sting of sorrow pierceth
   No man's liver; many force
   Lack-laughter faces to relax
   Into the soft lines traced by joy.
   But the shepherd true and wise
   Knows the faithless man, whose eyes,
   With a forward friendship twinkling,
     Fawn with watery love.[n62]
   For me, I nothing hide. O King,
   In my fancy's picturing,
   From the Muses far I deemed thee,
   And thy soul not wisely helming
     When thou drew'st the knife
   For Helen's sake, a woman, whelming
   Thousands in ruin, rushing rashly
     On unwelcome strife.
   But now all's well. No shallow smiles
   We wear for thee, thy weary toils
   All finished. Thou shalt know anon
   What friends do serve thee truly,
   And who in thy long absence used
     Their stewardship unduly.

   [_Enter_ AGAMEMNON. _with attendants_; CASSANDRA _behind_.

 First Argos hail! and ye, my country's gods,
 Who worked my safe return, and nerved my arm
 With vengeance against Priam! for the gods,
 Taught by no glozing tongue, but by the sight
 Of their own eyes knew justice; voting ruin
 And men-destroying death to ancient Troy,
 Their fatal pebbles in the bloody urn
 Not doubtingly they dropt; the other vase,
 Unfed with hope of suffrage-bearing hand,
 Stood empty. Now the captured city's smoke
 Points where it fell. Raves Ruin's storm; the winds
 With crumbled dust and dissipated gold
 Float grossly laden. To the immortal gods
 These thanks, fraught with rich memory of much good,
 We pay; they taught our hands to spread the net
 With anger-whetted wit; a woman's frailty
 Laid bare old Ilium to the Argive bite,
 And with the setting Pleiads outleapt a birth
 Of strong shield-bearers from the fateful horse.
 A fierce flesh-tearing lion leapt their wails,
 And licked a surfeit of tyrannic blood.
 This prelude to the gods. As for thy words
 Of friendly welcome, I return thy greeting,
 And as your thought, so mine; for few are gifted
 With such rich store of love, to see a friend
 Preferred and feel no envy; 'tis a disease
 Possessing mortal men, a poison lodged
 Close by the heart, eating all joy away
 With double barb--has own mischance who suffers
 And bliss of others sitting at his gate,
 Which when he sees he groans. I know it well;
 They who seemed most my friends, and many seemed,
 Were but the mirrored show, the shadowy ghost
 Of something like to friendship, substanceless.
 Ulysses only, most averse to sail,
 Was still most ready an the yoke with me
 To bear the harness; living now or dead,
 This praise I frankly give him. For the rest,
 The city and the gods, we will take counsel
 In full assembly freely. What is good
 We will give heed that it be lasting; where
 Disease the cutting or the caustic cure
 Demands, we will apply it. I, meanwhile,
 My hearth and home salute, and greet the gods,
 Who, as they sent me to the distant fray,
 Have brought me safely back. Fair victory,
 Once mine, may she dwell with me evermore!

 Men! Citizens! ye reverend Argive seniors,
 No shame feel I, even in your face, to tell
 My husband-loving ways. Long converse lends
 Boldness to bashfulness. No foreign griefs,
 Mine own self-suffered woes I tell. While he
 Was camping far at Ilium, I at home
 Sat all forlorn, uncherished by the mate
 Whom I had chosen; this was woe enough
 Without enforcement; but, to try me further,
 A host of jarring rumours stormed my doors,
 Each fresh recital with a murkier hue
 Than its precedent; and I must hear all.
 If this my lord, had borne as many wounds
 In battle as the bloody fame recounted,
 He had been pierced throughout even as a net;
 And had he died as oft as Rumour slew him,
 He might have boasted of a triple coil[n63]
 Like the three-bodied Geryon, while on earth
 (Of him below I speak not), and like him
 Been three times heaped with a cloak of funeral dust.
 Thus fretted by cross-grained reports, oft-times
 The knotted rope high-swung had held my neck,
 But that my friends with forceful aid prevented.
 Add that my son, pledge of our mutual vows,
 Orestes is not here; nor think it strange.
 Thy Phocian spear-guest,[n64] the most trusty Strophius,
 Took him in charge, a twofold danger urging
 First thine beneath the walls of Troy, and further
 The evil likelihood that, should the Greeks
 Be worsted in the strife, at home the voice
 Of many-babbling anarchy might cast
 The council down, and as man's baseness is,
 At fallen greatness insolently spurn.
 Moved by these thoughts I parted with my boy,
 And for no other cause. Myself the while
 So woe-worn lived, the fountains of my grief
 To their last drop were with much weeping drained;
 And far into the night my watch I've kept
 With weary eyes, while in my lonely room
 The night-torch faintly glimmered. In my dream
 The buzzing gnat, with its light-brushing wing,
 Startled the fretful sleeper; thou hast been
 In waking hours, as in sleep's fitful turns
 My only thought. But having bravely borne
 This weight of woe, now with blithe heart I greet
 Thee, my heart's lord, the watch-dog of the fold,
 The ship's sure mainstay, pillared shaft whereon
 Rests the high roof, fond parent's only child,
 Land seen by sailors past all hope, a day
 Lovely to look on when the storm hath broken,
 And to the thirsty wayfarer the flow
 Of gushing rill. O sweet it is, how sweet
 To see an end of the harsh yoke that galled us!
 These greetings to my lord; nor grudge me, friends,
 This breadth of welcome; sorrows we have known
 Ample enough. And now, thou precious head,
 Come from thy car; nay, do not set thy foot,
 The foot that trampled Troy, on common clay.
 What ho! ye laggard maids! why lags your task
 Behind the hour? Spread purple where he treads.
 Fitly the broidered foot-cloth marks his path,
 Whom Justice leadeth to his long-lost home
 With unexpected train. What else remains
 Our sleepless zeal, with favour of the gods,
 Shall order as befits.

 Daughter of Leda, guardian of my house!
 Almost thou seem'st to have spun thy welcome out
 To match my lengthened absence; but I pray thee
 Praise with discretion, and let other mouths
 Proclaim my pæans. For the rest, abstain
 From delicate tendance that would turn my manhood
 To woman's temper. Not in barbaric wise
 With prostrate reverence base, kissing the ground,
 Mouth sounding salutations; not with purple,
 Breeder of envy, spread my path. Such honors
 Suit the immortal gods; me, being mortal,
 To tread on rich-flowered carpetings wise fear
 Prohibits. As a man, not as a god,
 Let me be honored. Not the less my fame
 Shall be far blazoned, that on common earth
 I tread untapestried. A sober heart
 Is the best gift of God; call no man happy
 Till death hath found him prosperous to the close.
 For me, if what awaits me fall not worse
 Than what hath fallen, I have good cause to look
 Bravely on fate.

                 Nay, but my good lord will not
 In this gainsay my heart's most warm desire.

 My wish and will thou shalt not lightly mar.

 Hast thou a vow belike, and fear'st the gods?

 If e'er man knew, I know my will in this.

 Had Priam conquered, what had Priam done?

 His feet had trod the purple; doubt it not.

 What Priam would, thou may'st, unless the fear
 Of popular blame make Agamemnon quail.

 But popular babble strengthens Envy's wing.

 Thou must be envied if thou wilt be great.

 Is it a woman's part to hatch contention?

 For once be conquered; they who conquer may
 Yield with a grace.

                    And thou in this vain strife
 Must be perforce the conqueror; is it so?


 'Tis even so: for once give me the reins.

 Thou hast thy will. Come, boy, unbind these sandals,[n65]
 That are the prostrate subjects to my feet,
 When I do tread; for with shod feet I never
 May leave my print on the sea-purple, lest
 Some god with jealous eye look from afar
 And mark me. Much I fear with insolent foot
 To trample wealth, and rudely soil the web
 Whose precious threads the pure-veined silver buys.
 So much for this. As for this maid, receive
 The stranger kindly: the far-seeing gods
 Look down with love on him who mildly sways.
 For never yet was yoke of slavery borne
 By willing neck; of all the captive maids
 The choicest flower she to my portion fell.
 And now, since thou art victor o'er my will,
 I tread the purple to my father's hall.

 The wide sea flows; and who shall dry it up?
 The ocean flows, and in its vasty depths
 Is brewed the purple's die, as silver precious,
 A tincture ever-fresh for countless robes.
 But Agamemnon's house is not a beggar;
 With this, and with much more the gods provide us;
 And purple I had vowed enough to spread
 The path of many triumphs, had a god
 Given me such 'hest oracular to buy
 The ransom of thy life. We have thee now,
 Both root and trunk, a tree rich leafage spreading
 To shade this mansion from the Sirian dog.
 Welcome, thou double blessing! to this hearth
 That bringest heat against keen winter's cold,
 And coolness when the sweltering Jove prepares
 Wine from the crudeness of the bitter grape;
 Enter the house, made perfect by thy presence.
 Jove, Jove, the perfecter! perfect thou my vow,[n66]
 And thine own counsels quickly perfect thou! [_Exeunt_.

   Whence these shapes of fear that haunt me?
     These hovering portents why?
     Is my heart a seer inspired,
   To chaunt unbidden and unhired[n67]
      Notes of dark prophecy?
   Blithe confidence, my bosom's lord,[f19]
     That swayed the doubtful theme,
   Arise, and with thy clear command
     Chase the vain-vexing dream!
   Long years have rolled; and still I fear,
     As when the Argive band
   Unloosed their cables from the shore,[n68]
   And eager plied the frequent oar
     To the far Ilian strand.

   Now they return: my vouching eyes
     To prop my faith conspire,
   And yet my heart, in self-taught hymns,
   As with a Fury's burden brims,
     And will not own the lyre.
   I fear, I fear: the bold-faced Hope
     Hath left my heart all drear;
   And my thought, not idly tossed within,
     Feels evil creeping near.
   For the heart hath scent of things to come
     And prophesies by fear;
   And yet I pray, may all conspire
   To prove my boding heart a liar,
     And me a foolish seer.

   Full-blooded health, that in the veins
     With lusty pulses hotly wells,
   Shall soon have check. Disease beside it
     Wall to wall, ill-sundered, dwells.
   The proud trireme, with sudden shock,
   In its mid career, on a sunken rock
     Strikes, and all is lost.
   Yet there is hope; the ship may rein
   Its plunge, from whelming ruin free,
   If with wise sling the merchant fling
     Into the greedy sea
   A part to save the whole. And thus
   Jove, that two-handed stores for us,
     In our mid woe may pause,
   Heap gifts on gifts from yearly furrows,
   And save the house from swamping sorrows,
     And lean starvation's jaws.

   But, oh! when black blood stains the ground,
     And the mortal mortal lies,
   Shall the dead hear when thou chauntest?
     To thy charming shall he rise?
     Once there was a leech so wise
   Could raise the dead,[f20] but, from the skies,
      Struck by Jove, he ceased.
   But cease my song. Were link with link
   In the chain of things not bound together[n69]
   That each event must wait its time,
     Nor one dare trip the other,
   My tongue had played the prophet's part,
   And rolled the burden from my heart;
     But now, to doubt resigned,
   With smothered fears, all dumb I wait
   The unravelling hour; while sparks of fate
     Flit through my darksome mind.


 Come thou, too, in; this maid, I mean; Cassandra!
 For not in wrath Jove sent thee here to share
 Our family lustrations, and to stand,
 With many slaves, beside the household altar.[n70]
 Step from this car, nor bear thy spirit proudly
 Above thy fate, for even Alcmena's son,
 To slavery sold, once bore the hated yoke.
 What must be, must be; rather thank the chance
 That gave thee to an old and wealthy house;
 For they who reap an unexpected growth
 Of wealth, are harsh to slaves beyond the line
 Of a well-tempered rule. Here thou shalt find
 The common use of bondage.

                           Plainly she speaks;
 And thou within Fate's iron toils once caught
 Wert wise to go--if go thou wilt--but, soothly,
 Thou hast no willing look.

                           Nay! an' she be not
 Barbarian to the bone, and speaking nought
 Save swallow jabber,[f21] she shall hear my voice.
 I'll pierce her marrow with it.

                                Captive maid,
 Obey! thou shouldst; 'tis best; be thou persuaded
 To leave thy chariot-seat and follow her.

 No time have I to stand without the gate
 Prating with her. Within, on the central hearth,
 The fire burns bright, the sheep's fat slaughter waiting,
 To furnish forth a banquet that transcends
 The topmost of our hopes. Wilt thou obey,
 Obey me quickly! If with stubborn sense
 Thou hast nor ear to hear, nor voice to speak,
 Answer my sign with thy barbarian hand.

 A wise interpreter the maid demands;
 Like a wild beast new caught, even so she stands.

 Ay! she is mad; her wit to sober counsels
 Is deaf; she comes from the new-captured city,
 Untaught to bear the Argive bit with patience,
 But foams and dashes bloody froth. I will not
 Make myself base by wasting words on her. [_Exit_.

 Poor maid, I may not blame; I pity thee.
 Come, leave thy seat; for, though the yoke be strange,
 Necessity compels, and thou must bear it.

 Ah! ah! woe's me! woe! woe!
     Apollo! O Apollo!

 Why dost thou waft to Loxias?[f22] is he
 A gloomy god that he should list sad tales?

 Ah! ah! woe's me! woe! woe!
     Apollo! O Apollo!

 Again with evil-omened voice she cries
 Upon the god least fit to wait on woe.

 Apollo! Apollo!
 My way-god, my leader Apollo![n71]
     Apollo the destroyer!
 Thou with light labour hast destroyed me quite.


 Strange oracles against herself she speaks;
 Ev'n in the bondsman's bosom dwells the god.

 Apollo! Apollo!
 Apollo, my leader, whither hast thou led me?[n72]
     My way-god, Apollo?
 What homes receive thy captive prophetess?

 The Atridæ's homes. This, an' thou knowst it not,
 I tell thee; and the words I speak are true.

 Ha! the house of the Atridæ![f23]
  Well the godless house I know,
 With the dagger and the rope,
  And the self-inflicted blow!
 Where red blood is on the floor,
 And black murder at the door--
  This house--this house I know.

 She scents out slaughter, mark me, like a hound,
 And tracks the spot where she shall feast on blood.

 Ay! I scent a truthful scent,
  And the thing I say I know.
 See! see! these weeping children,
  How they vouch the monstrous woe!
 Their red wounds are bleeding fresh,
 And their father eats their flesh,
  This bloody house I know.

 The fame of thy divinings far renowned
 Have reached us, but we wish no prophets here.

     Ha! ha! what plots she now!
     A new sorrow, a new snare
     To the house of the Atridæ,
     And a burden none may bear!
     A black harm to all and each,
     A disease that none may leech,
     And the evil plot to mar
     All help and hope is far.


 Nay now I'm lost and mazed in vain surmise.
 What first she said I knew--the common rumour.

     Ha! woman wilt thou dare?
     Thy bed's partner and thy mate
     In the warm refreshing bath
     Shall he find his bloody fate?
     How shall I dare to say
     What comes and will not stay?
     See, to do her heart's command
     Where she stretches her red hand!

 Not yet I understand: through riddles dark
 And cloudy oracles my wits are wandering.

     Ha! what bloody sight is this!
     'Tis a net of Hades spread--
     'Tis a snare to snare her lord,
     The fond sharer of her bed.
     The black chorus of the place[f24]
     Shout for vengeance o'er the race,
     Whose offence cries for atoning,
     With a heavy death of stoning!

   What black Fury of the place
   Shall shout vengeance o'er the race?
   Such strange words I hate to hear.
   The blithe blood, that crimson ran[n73]
   In my veins, runs pale and wan
     With the taint of yellow fear,
   As when in the mortal anguish,[n74]
   Life's last fitful glimpses languish
     And Fate, as now, is near!

   Ha! ha! the work proceeds!
   From the bull keep back the cow!
   Lo! now she seizes him
   By the strong black horn,[n75] and now
   She hath wrapt him round with slaughter;
   She strikes! and in the water
   Of the bath he falls. Mark well,
   In the bath doth murder dwell.


   No prophetic gift is mine
   The dark saying to divine,
   But this sounds like evil quite;
   For to mortal man was never
   The diviner's voice the giver
   Of a message of delight,
   But in words of mazy mourning,
   Comes the prophet's voice of warning,
     With a lesson of affright.

   Fill the cup, and brim the woe!
     'Tis my own heart's blood must flow.
      Me! miserable me!
   From old Troy why didst thou bring me,
   Poor captive maid, to sing thee
     Thy dirge, and die with thee?

   By a god thou art possessed,
   And he raveth in thy breast,
   And he sings a song of thee
   That hath music, but no glee.
   Like a dun-plumed nightingale,[f25]
   That, with never-sated wail,
   Crieth Itys! Itys! aye,[n76]
   As it scatters, in sweet flow,
   The thick blossoms of its woe,[n77]
   So singest thou to-day.

   Ah! the clear-toned nightingale!
   Mellow bird, thou dost not wail,[f26]
     For the good gods gave to thee
   A light shape of fleetest winging,
   A bright life of sweetest singing,
     But a sharp-edged death to me.


   By a god thou art possessed,
   And he goads thee without rest,
   And he racks thy throbbing brain
   With a busy-beating pain,
   And he presses from thy throat
   The heavy struggling note,
   And the cry that rends the air.
   Who bade her tread this path,
   With the prophecy of wrath,
   And the burden of despair?

   O the wedlock and the woe
   Of the evil Alexander,
   To his chiefest friends a foe!
   O my native stream Scamander,
   Where in youth I wont to wander,
   And was nursed for future woes,
   Where thy swirling current flows!
   But now on sluggish shore
   Of Cocytus I shall pour,
   'Mid the Acherusian glades,
   My divinings to the shades.

   Nothing doubtful is the token;
   For the words the maid hath spoken
     To a very child are clear.
   She hath pierced me to the marrow;
   And her cry of shrieking sorrow
     Ah! it crushes me to hear.

   The proud city lieth lowly,
   Nevermore to rise again!
   It is lost and ruined wholly;
   And before the walls in vain
   Hath my pious father slain
   Many meadow-cropping kine,
   To appease the wrath divine.
   Where it lieth it shall lie,
   Ancient Ilium: and I
   On the ground, when all is past,
   Soon my reeking heart shall cast.[n78]

 Ah! the mighty god, wrath-laden,
 He hath smote the burdened maiden
   With a weighty doom severe.
 From her heart sharp cries he wringeth,
 Dismal, deathful stratus she singeth,
   And I wait the end in fear.

 No more my prophecy, like a young bride
 Shall from a veil peep forth, but like a wind
 Waves shall it dash from the west in the sun's face,[n79]
 And curl high-crested surges of fierce woes,
 That far outbillow mine. I'll speak no more
 In dark enigmas. Ye my vouchers be,
 While with keen scent I snuff the breath of the past,
 And point the track of monstrous crimes of eld.
 There is a choir, to destiny well-tuned,
 Haunts these doomed halls, no mellow-throated choir,
 And they of human blood have largely drunk:
 And by that wine made bold, the Bacchanals
 Cling to their place of revels. The sister'd Furies
 Sit on these roofs, and hymn the prime offence
 Of this crime-burthened race; the brother's sin
 That trod the brother's bed.[f27] Speak! do I hit
 The mark, a marksman true? or do I beat
 Your doors, a babbling beggar prophesying
 False dooms for hire? Be ye my witnesses,
 And with an oath avouch, how well I know
 The hoary sins that hang upon these walls.

 Would oaths make whole our ills, though I should wedge them
 As stark as ice?[n80] But I do marvel much
 That thou, a stranger born, from distant seas,
 Dost know our city as it were thine own.

 Even this to know, Apollo stirred my breast.

 Apollo! didst thou strike the god with love?

 Till now I was ashamed to hint the tale.

 The dainty lips of nice prosperity
 Misfortune opens.

                  Like a wrestler he
 Strove for my love; he breathed his grace upon me.


 And hast thou children from divine embrace?

 I gave the word to Loxias, not the deed.

 Hadst thou before received the gift divine?

 I had foretold my countrymen all their woes.

 Did not the anger of the god pursue thee?

 It did; I warned, but none believed my warning.

 To us thou seem'st to utter things that look
 Only too like the truth.

                         Ah me! woe! woe!
 Again strong divination's troublous whirl
 Seizes my soul, and stirs my labouring breast
 With presages of doom. Lo! where they sit,
 These pitiful young ones on the fated roof,
 Like to the shapes of dreams! The innocent babes,
 Butchered by friends that should have blessed them, and
 In their own hands their proper bowels they bear,
 Banquet abhorred, and their own father eats it.[f28]
 This deed a lion, not a lion-hearted
 Shall punish; wantonly in her bed, whose lord
 Shall pay the heavy forfeit, he shall roll,
 And snare my master--woe's me, even _my_ master,
 For slavery's yoke my neck must learn to own.
 Ah! little weens the leader of the ships,
 Troy's leveller, how a hateful bitch's tongue,
 With long-drawn phrase, and broad-sown smile, doth weave
 His secret ruin. This a woman dares;
 The female mars the male. Where shall I find
 A name to name such monster? dragon dire,
 Rock-lurking Scylla, the vexed seaman's harm,
 Mother of Hades, murder's Mænad, breathing
 Implacable breath of curses on her kin.[f81]
 All-daring woman! shouting in her heart,
 As o'er the foe, when backward rolls the fight,
 Yet hymning kindliest welcome with her tongue.
 Ye look mistrustful; I am used to that.
 That comes which is to come; and ye shall know
 Full soon, with piteous witness in your eyes,
 How true, and very true, Cassandra spake.

 Thyestes' banquet, and his children's flesh
 I know, and shudder; strange that she should know
 The horrors of that tale; but for the rest
 She runs beyond my following.

                              Thus I said;
 Thine eyes shall witness Agamemnon's death

 Hush, wretched maiden! lull thy tongue to rest,
 And cease from evil-boding words!

 The gods that heal all evil, heal not this.

 If it must be; but may the gods forefend!

 Pray thou, and they will have more time to kill.

 What man will dare to do such bloody deed?

 I spake not of a _man_: thy thoughts shoot wide.

 The deed I heard, but not whose hand should do it.

 And yet I spake good Greek with a good Greek tongue.

 Thou speakest Apollo's words: true, but obscure.

 Ah me! the god! like fire within my breast
 Burns the Lycéan god.[f29] Ah me! pain! pain!
 A lioness two-footed with a wolf
 Is bedded, when the noble lion roamed
 Far from his den; and she will murder me.
 She crowns the cup of wrath; she whets the knife
 Against the neck of the man, and he must pay
 The price of capture, I of being captive.
 Vain gauds, that do but mock my grief, farewell!
 This laurel-rod, and this diviner's wreath
 About my neck, should they outlive the wearer?
 Away! As ye have paid me, I repay.
 Make rich some other prophetess with woe!
 Lo! where Apollo looks, and sees me now
 Doff this diviner's garb, the self-same weeds
 He tricked me erst withal, to live for him,
 The public scorn, the scoff of friends and foes,
 The mark of every ribald jester's tongue,
 The homeless girl, the raving mountebank,
 The beggar'd, wretched, starving maniac.
 And now who made the prophetess unmakes her,
 And leads me to my doom--ah! not beside
 My father's altar doomed to die! the block
 From my hot life shall drink the purple stain.
 But we shall fall not unavenged: the gods
 A mother-murdering shoot shall send from far
 To avenge his sire; the wanderer shall return
 To pile the cope-stone on these towering woes.
 The gods in heaven a mighty oath have sworn,
 To raise anew the father's prostrate fate
 By the son's arm.--But why stand here, and beat
 The air with cries, seeing what I have seen;
 When Troy hath fallen, suffering what it suffered,
 And they who took the city by the doom
 Of righteous gods faring as they shall fare?
 I will endure to die, and greet these gates
 Of Hades gaping for me. Grant me, ye gods,
 A mortal stroke well-aimed, and a light fall
 From cramped convulsion free! Let the red blood
 Flow smoothly from its fount, that I may close
 These eyes in peaceful death.

                              O hapless maid!
 And wise as hapless! thou hast spoken long!
 But if thou see'st the harm, why rush on fate
 Even as an ox, whom favouring gods inspire
 To stand by the altar's steps, and woo the knife.

 I'm in the net. Time will not break the meshes.

 But the last moment of sweet life is honoured.

 My hour is come; what should I gain by flight?

 Thou with a stout heart bravely look'st on fate.

 Bravely thou praisest: but the happy hear not
 Such commendations.[n82]

                    Yet if death must come,
 His fame is fair who nobly fronts the foe.

 Woe's me, the father and his noble children!

 Whither now? What father and what children? Speak.

 (_Approaching and starting back from the house_.)
 Woe! woe!

 What means this WOE? What horrid fancy scares thee?

 Blood-dripping murder reeks from yonder house.

 How? 'Tis the scent of festal sacrifice.

 The scent of death--a fragrance from the grave.

 Soothly no breath of Syrian nard she names.

 But now the time is come. I go within
 To wail for Agamemnon and myself.
 I've done with life. Farewell! My vouchers ye,
 Not with vain screaming, like a fluttering bird,[n83]
 Above the bush I cry. Yourselves shall know it
 Then when, for me a woman, a woman dies,
 And for a man ill-wived a man shall fall
 Trust me in this. Your honest faith is all
 The Trojan guest, the dying woman, craves.

 O wretched maid! O luckless prophetess!

 Yet will I speak one other word, before
 I leave this light. Hear thou my vows, bright sun,
 And, though a slave's death be a little thing,
 Send thou the avenging hand with full requital,
 To pay my murderers back, as they have paid.
 Alas! the fates of men! their brightest bloom
 A shadow blights; and, in their evil day,
 An oozy sponge blots out their fleeting prints,
 And they are seen no more. From bad to worse
 Our changes run, and with the worst we end.[n84] [_Exit_.

 Men crave increase of riches ever
 With insatiate craving. Never
 From the finger-pointed halls
 Of envied wealth their owner calls,
 "Enter no more! I have enough!"
 This man the gods with honour crowned;
 He hath levelled with the ground
 Priam's city, and in triumph
 Glorious home returns;
 But if doomed the fine to pay
 Of ancient guilt, and death with death
   To guerdon in the end,
 Who of mortals will not pray,[n85]
 From high-perched Fortune's favour far,
   A blameless life to spend.

 (_From within_.)
 O I am struck! struck with a mortal blow!

 Hush! what painful voice is speaking there of strokes and mortal blows?

 O struck again! struck with a mortal blow!

 'Tis the king that groans; the work, the bloody work, I fear, is doing.
 Weave we counsel now together, and concert a sure design.[n86]

 1st CHORUS.
 I give my voice to lift the loud alarm,
 And rouse the city to besiege the doors.

 2nd CHORUS.
 Rather forthwith go in ourselves, and prove
 The murderer with the freshly-dripping blade.

 3rd CHORUS.
 I add my pebble to thine. It is not well
 That we delay. Fate hangs upon the moment.

 4th CHORUS.
 The event is plain, with this prelusive blood
 They hang out signs of tyranny to Argos.

 5th CHORUS.
 Then why stay we? Procrastination they
 Tramp underfoot; they sleep not with their hands.

 6th CHORUS.
 Not so. When all is dark, shall we unwisely
 Rush blindfold on an unconsulted deed?


 7th CHORUS.
 Thou speakest well. If he indeed be dead,
 Our words are vain to bring him back from Hades.

 8th CHORUS.
 Shall we submit to drag a weary life
 Beneath the shameless tyrants of this house?

 9th CHORUS.
 Unbearable! and better far to die!
 Death is a gentler lord than tyranny.

 10th CHORUS.
 First ask we this, if to have heard a groan
 Gives a sure augury that the man is dead.

 11th CHORUS.
 Wisdom requires to probe the matter well:
 To guess is one thing, and to know another.

 12th CHORUS.
 So wisely spoken.[n87] With full-voiced assent
 Inquire we first how Agamemnon fares.

   [_The scene opens from behind, and discovers_ CLYTEMNESTRA _standing
   over the dead bodies of_ AGAMEMNON _and_ CASSANDRA.

 I spoke to you before; and what I spoke
 Suited the time; nor shames me now to speak
 Mine own refutal. For how shall we entrap
 Our foe, our seeming friend, in scapeless ruin,
 Save that we fence him round with nets too high
 For his o'erleaping? What I did, I did
 Not with a random inconsiderate blow,
 But from old Hate, and with maturing Time.
 Here, where I struck, I take my rooted stand,
 Upon the finished deed:[n88] the blow so given,
 And with wise forethought so by me devised,
 That flight was hopeless, and to ward it vain.
 With many-folding net, as fish are caught,
 I drew the lines about him, mantled round
 With bountiful destruction; twice I struck him,
 And twice he groaning fell with limbs diffused
 Upon the ground; and as he fell, I gave
 The third blow, sealing him a votive gift
 To gloomy Hades, saviour of the dead.
 And thus he spouted forth his angry soul,
 Bubbling a bitter stream of frothy slaughter,
 And with the dark drops of the gory dew
 Bedashed me; I delighted nothing less
 Than doth the flowery calix, full surcharged
 With fruity promise, when Jove's welkin down
 Distils the rainy blessing. Men of Argos,
 Rejoice with me in this, or, if ye will not,
 Then do I boast alone. If e'er 'twas meet
 To pour libations to the dead, he hath them
 In justest measure. By most righteous doom,
 Who drugged the cup with curses to the brim,
 Himself hath drunk damnation to the dregs.

 Thou art a bold-mouthed woman. Much we marvel
 To hear thee boast thy husband's murder thus.

 Ye tempt me as a woman, weak, unschooled.
 But what I say, ye know, or ought to know,
 I say with fearless heart. Your praise or blame
 Is one to me. Here Agamemnon lies,
 My husband, dead, the work of this right hand--
 The hand of a true workman. Thus it stands.

 Woman! what food on wide earth growing
 Hast thou eaten of? What draught
 From the briny ocean quaffed,
 That for such deed the popular breath
 Of Argos should with curses crown thee,
 As a victim crowned for death?
 Thou hast cast off: thou hast cut off
 Thine own husband:[n89] thou shalt be
 From the city of the free
 Thyself a cast-off: justly hated
 With staunch hatred unabated.

 My sentence thou hast spoken; shameful flight,
 The citizens' hate, the people's vengeful curse:
 For him thou hast no curse, the bloody man
 Who, when the fleecy flocks innumerous pastured,
 Passed the brute by, and sacrificed my child,
 My best-beloved, fruit of my throes, to lull
 The Thracian blasts asleep. Why did thy wrath,
 In righteous guerdon of this foulest crime,
 Not chase this man from Greece? A greedy ear
 And a harsh tongue thou hast for me alone.
 But mark my words,[n90] threats I repay with threats;
 If that thou canst subdue me in fair fight,
 Subdue me; but if Jove for me decide,
 Thou shalt be wise, when wisdom comes too late.

 Thou art high and haughty-hearted,
 And from lofty thoughts within thee
 Mighty words are brimming o'er:
 For thy sober sense is madded
 With the purple-dripping gore;
 And thine eyes with fatness swell[n91]
 From bloody feasts: but mark me well,
 Time shall come, avenging Time,
 And hunt thee out, and track thy crime:
 Then thou, when friends are far, shalt know
 Stroke for stroke, and blow for blow.

 Hear thou this oath, that seals my cause with right:
 By sacred Justice, perfecting revenge,
 By Até, and the Erinnys of my child,
 To whom I slew this man, I shall not tread
 The threshold of pale Fear, the while doth live
 Ægisthus, now, as he hath been, my friend,
 Stirring the flame that blazes on my hearth,
 My shield of strong assurance. For the slain,
 Here lieth he that wronged a much-wronged woman,
 Sweet honey-lord of Trojan Chryseids.
 And for this spear-won maid, this prophetess,
 This wise diviner, well-beloved bed-fellow,
 And trusty messmate of great Agamemnon,
 She shares his fate, paying with him the fee
 Of her own sin, and like a swan hath sung
 Her mortal song beside him. She hath been
 Rare seasoning added to my banquet rare.

 STROPHE I.[n92]
 O would some stroke of Fate--no dull disease
     Life's strings slow-rending,
 No bed-bound pain--might bring, my smart to soothe,
     The sleep unending!
 For he, my gracious lord, my guide, is gone,
     Beyond recalling;
 Slain for a woman's cause, and by the hands
     Of woman falling.

     O Helen! Helen! phrenzied Helen,
     Many hearts of thee are telling
     Damned destruction thou hast done,
     There where thousands fell for one
       'Neath the walls of Troy!


     Bloomed from thee the blossom gory
     Of famous Agamemnon's glory;
     Thou hast roused the slumbering strife,
     From age to age, with eager knife,
       Watching to destroy.

    Death invoke not to relieve thee
    From the ills that vainly grieve thee!
    Nor, with ire indignant swelling,
    Blame the many-murdering Helen!
    Damned destruction did she none,
    There, where thousands fell for one,
      'Neath the walls of Troy.

    O god that o'er the doomed Atridan halls[n93]
       With might prevailest,
    Weak woman's breast to do thy headlong will
       With murder mailest!
    O'er his dead body, like a boding raven,
       Thou tak'st thy station,
    Piercing my marrow with thy savage hymn
       Of exultation.

    Nay, but now thou speakest wisely;
    This thrice-potent god precisely
    Works our woe, and weaves our sorrow.
    He with madness stings the marrow,
    And with greed that thirsts for blood;
    Ere to-day's is dry, the flood
      Flows afresh to-morrow.

    Him, even him, this terrible god, to bear
       These walls are fated;
    From age to age he worketh wildly there
       With wrath unsated.
    Not without Jove, Jove cause and end of all,
       Nor working vainly.
    Comes no event but with high sway the gods
      Have ruled it plainly.


     O the king! the king! for thee
     Tears in vain my cheek shall furrow,
     Words in vain shall voice my sorrow!
     As in a spider's web thou liest;
     Godless meshes spread for thee,
     An unworthy death thou diest!

 There, even there thou liest, woe's me, outstretched
     On couch inglorious;
 O'er thee the knife prevailed, keen-edged, by damned
     Deceit victorious.

 Nay, be wise, and understand;
 Say not Agamemnon's wife
  Wielded in this human hand
    The fateful knife.
 But a god, my spirit's master,
 The unrelenting old Alastor[n94]
 Chose this wife, his incarnation,
 To avenge the desecration
 Of foul-feasting Atreus; he
 Gave, to work his wrath's completion,
 To the babes this grown addition.

 Thy crime is plain: bear thou what thou hast merited,
     Guilt's heavy lading;
 But that fell Spirit, from sire to son inherited,
     Perchance was aiding.
 Black-mantled Mars through consanguineous gore
     Borne onwards blindly,
 Old horrors to atone, fresh Murder's store
     Upheaps unkindly.

    O the king! the king! for thee
    Tears in vain my cheek shall furrow,
    Words in vain shall voice my sorrow!
    As in a spider's web thou liest;
    Godless meshes spread for thee,
    An unworthy death thou diest.


 There, even there, thou liest, woe's me, outstretched
     On couch inglorious!
 O'er thee the knife prevailed, keen-edged, by damned
     Deceit victorious.

 Say not thou that he did die
 By unworthy death inglorious;
 Erst himself prevailed by damned
    Deceit victorious,
 Then when he killed the deep-lamented
 Iphigenía, nor relented
 When for my body's fruit with weeping
 I besought him. Springs his reaping
 From what seed he sowed. Not he
 In Hades housed shall boast to-day;
 So slain by steel as he did slay.

 I'm tossed with doubt, on no sure counsel grounded,
     With fear confounded.
 No drizzling drops, a red ensanguined shower,
 Upon the crazy house, that was my tower,
     Comes wildly sweeping,
 On a new whetstone whets her blade the Fate
     With eyes unweeping.

 O Earth, O Earth, would thou hadst yawned,
 And in thy black pit whelmed me wholly,
 Ere I had seen my dear-loved lord
 In the silver bath thus bedded lowly!
 Who will bury him? and for him
 With salt tears what eyes shall brim?
 Wilt thou do it--thou, the wife
 That slew thy husband with the knife?
 Wilt thou dare, with blushless face,
 Thus to offer a graceless grace?
 With false show of pious moaning,
 Thine own damned deed atoning?

 What voice the praises of the godlike man
     Shall publish clearly?
 And o'er his tomb the tear from eyelids wan
     Shall drop sincerely?

 In vain thy doubtful heart is tried
 With many sorrows. By my hand
 Falling he fell, and dying died.[n95]
 I too will bury him; but no train
 Of mourning men for him shall plain
 In our Argive streets; but rather
 In the land of sunless cheer
 She shall be his convoy; she,
 Iphigenía, his daughter dear.
 By the stream of woes[f30] swift-flowing,
 Round his neck her white arms throwing,
 She shall meet her gentle father,
   And greet him with a kiss.

 Crime quitting crime, and which the more profanely
     Were questioned vainly;
 'Tis robber robbed, and slayer slain, for, though
 Oft-times it lag, with measured blow for blow
     Vengeance prevaileth,
 While great Jove lives.[n96] Who breaks the close-linked woe
     Which Heaven entaileth?

 O Earth, O Earth, would thou hadst yawned,
 And in thy black pit whelmed me wholly,
 Ere I had seen my dear-loved lord
 In the silver bath thus bedded lowly!
 Who will bury him? and for him
 With salt tears, what eyes shall brim?
 Wilt thou do it? thou, the wife
 That killed thy husband with the knife?
 Wilt thou dare, with blushless face,
 Thus to offer a graceless grace?
 With false show of pious moaning
 Thine own damned deed atoning?


 What voice the praises of the god-like man
     Shall publish clearly?
 And o'er his tomb the tear from eyelids wan
     Shall drop sincerely?

 Cease thy cries. Where Heaven entaileth,
 Thyself didst say, woe there prevaileth.
 But for this tide enough hath been
 Of bloody work. My score is clean.
 Now to the ancient stern Alastor,
 That crowns the Pleisthenids[f31] with disaster,
 I vow, having reaped his crop of woe
 From me, to others let him go,
 And hold with them his bloody bridal,
 Of horrid murders suicidal!
 Myself, my little store amassed
 Shall freely use, while it may last,
    From murdering madness healed.

   [_Enter_ ÆGISTHUS.

 O blessed light! O happy day proclaiming
 The justice of the gods! Now may I say
 The Olympians look from heaven sublime, to note
 Our woes, and right our wrongs, seeing as I see
 In the close meshes of the Erinnyes tangled
 This man--sweet sight to see!--prostrate before me,
 Having paid the forfeit of his father's crime.
 For Atreus, ruler of this Argive land,
 This dead man's father--to be plain--contending
 About the mastery, banished from the city
 Thyestes, his own brother and my father.
 In suppliant guise back to his hearth again
 The unhappy prince returned, content if he
 Might tread his native acres, not besprent
 With his own blood. Him with a formal show
 Of hospitality--not love--received
 The father of this dead, the godless Atreus;
 And to my father for the savoury use
 Of festive viands gave his children's flesh
 To feed on; in a separate dish concealed
 Were legs and arms, and the fingers' pointed tips,[n97]
 Broke from the body. These my father saw not;
 But what remained, the undistinguished flesh,
 He with unwitting greed devoured, and ate
 A curse to Argos. Soon as known, his heart
 Disowned the unholy feast, and with a groan
 Back-falling he disgorged it. Then he vowed
 Dark doom to the Pelopidae, and woes
 Intolerable, while with his heel he spurned[n98]
 The supper, and thus voiced the righteous curse:
 See here the cause why Agamemnon died,
 And why his death most righteous was devised
 By me; for I, Thyestes' thirteenth son,
 While yet a swaddled babe, was driven away
 To houseless exile with my hapless sire.
 But me avenging Justice nursed, and taught me,
 Safer by distance, with invisible hand
 To reach this man, and weave the brooded plot,
 That worked his sure destruction. Now 'tis done;
 And gladly might I die, beholding him,
 There as he lies where Vengeance trapped his crimes.

 Ægisthus, that thou wantonest in the woe
 Worked by thy crime I praise not. Thou alone
 Didst slay this man, and planned the piteous slaughter
 With willing heart. So say'st thou: but mark well,
 Justice upon thy head the stony curse
 Shall bring avoidless from the people's hand.

 How? Thou who sittest on the neathmost bench,
 Speak'st thus to me who ply the upper oar?
 'Tis a hard task to teach an old man wisdom,
 And dullness at thy years is doubly dull;
 But chains and hunger's pangs sure leeches are,
 And no diviner vends more potent balms
 To drug a doting wit.[n99] Have eyes, and see,
 Kick not against the pricks, nor vainly beat
 Thy head on rocks.

                   Woman, how couldst thou dare,
 On thine own hearth to plot thy husband's death;
 First having shamed his bed, to welcome him
 With murder from the wars?

 Speak on; each word shall be a fount of tears,
 I'll make thy tongue old Orpheus' opposite.
 He with sweet sounds led wild beasts where he would,
 Thou where thou wilt not shalt be led, confounding
 The woods with baby cries. Thou barkest now,
 But, being bound, the old man shall be tame.

 A comely king wert thou to rule the Argives!
 Whose wit had wickedness to plan the deed,
 But failed the nerve in thy weak hand to do it.

 'Twas wisely schemed with woman's cunning wit
 To snare him. I, from ancient date his foe,
 Stood in most just suspicion. Now, 'tis done;
 And I, succeeding to his wealth, shall know
 To hold the reins full tightly. Who rebels
 Shall not with corn be fatted for my traces,
 But, stiffly haltered, he shall lodge secure
 In darkness, with starvation for his mate.

 Hear me yet once. Why did thy dastard hand
 Shrink from the deed? But now his wife hath done it,
 Tainting this land with murder most abhorred,
 Polluting Argive gods. But still Orestes
 Looks on the light; him favouring Fortune shall
 Nerve with one stroke to smite this guilty pair.

 Nay, if thou for brawls art eager, and for battle, thou shalt know--

 Ho! my gallant co-mates, rouse ye![n100] 'tis an earnest business now!
 Quick, each hand with sure embracement hold the dagger by the hilt!

 I can also hold a hilted dagger--not afraid to die.

 DIE!--we catch the word thou droppest; lucky chance, if thou wert dead!

 Not so, best-beloved! there needeth no enlargement to our ills.
 We have reaped a liberal harvest, gleaned a crop of fruitful woes,
 Gained a loss in brimming measure: blood's been shed enough to-day.
 Peacefully, ye hoary Elders, enter now your destined homes,
 Ere mischance o'ertake you, deeming WHAT IS DONE HATH SO BEEN DONE,
 AS IT BEHOVED TO BE, contented if the dread god add no more,
 He that now the house of Pelops smiteth in his anger dire.
 Thus a woman's word doth warn ye, if that ye have wit to hear.


 Babbling fools are they; and I forsooth must meekly bear the shower,
 Flowers of contumely east from doting drivellers, tempting fate!
 O! if length of hoary winters brought discretion, ye should know
 Where the power is; wisely subject you the weak to me the strong.

 Ill beseems our Argive mettle to court a coward on a throne.

 Shielded now, be brave with words; my deeds expect some future day.

 Ere that day belike some god shall bring Orestes to his home.

 Feed, for thou hast nothing better, thou and he, on empty hope.

 Glut thy soul, a lusty sinner, with sin's fatness, while thou may'st.

 Thou shalt pay the forfeit, greybeard, of thy braggart tongue anon.

 Oh, the cock beside its partlet now may crow right valiantly!

 Heed not thou these brainless barkings. While to folly folly calls,
 Thou and I with wise command shall surely sway these Argive halls.

[The End]




 Ἐκ γὰρ Ὀρέσταο τίσις ἔσσεται Ἀτρέιδαο
 Ὁπποτ ἄν ἡβήσῃ τε κὰι ἧς ἱμείρεται ἄιης.

                        Think upon our father,
 Give the sword scope--think what a man was he.



 ORESTES, Son of Agamemnon.
 PYLADES, Friend of Orestes.
 ELECTRA, Sister of Orestes.
 CLYTEMNESTRA, Mother of Orestes.

SCENE--_as in the preceding piece. The Tomb of Agamemnon in the
centre of the Stage._



THE right of the avenger of blood, so familiar to us from its prominency
in the Mosaic Law (see Numbers, chap. 35), is a moral phenomenon which
belongs to a savage or semi-civilized state of society in all times and
places; and appears everywhere with the most distinct outline in the
rich records of the early age of Greece, which we possess in the Homeric
poems. No doubt, the most glowing intensity, and the passionate
exaggeration of the feeling, from which this right springs, is found
only among the hot children of the Arabian desert;[f1] and in no
point of his various enactments were the wisdom and the humanity of
their great Jewish lawgiver more conspicuous than in the appointment of
sacerdotal cities of refuge, which set certain intelligible bounds of
space and time to the otherwise interminable prosecution of family
feuds, and the gratification of private revenge. But the great traits of
the system of private revenge for manslaughter, stand out clearly in the
Iliad and Odyssey; and the whole of the ancient heroic mythology of
Greece is full of adventures and strange chances that grew out of this
germ. Out of many, I shall mention only the following instance. In the
twenty-third book of the Iliad (v. 82), when the shade of Patroclus
appears at the head of his sorrowful, sleeping friend, after urging the
necessity of instant funeral, for the peace of his soul, he proceeds to
make a further request, as follows:--

  "This request I make, this strict injunction I on thee would lay,
  Not apart from thine Achilles, place thy dear Patroclus' bones;
  But together as, like brothers, in your father's house we grew,
  Then when me, yet young, Menœtius from the Locrian Opus guiding,
  To the halls of Peleus brought because that I had slain a man,
  Even thy son, Amphidamas, whom unwittingly of life I reft
  In a brainish moment, foolishly, when we quarrelled o'er the dice;
  Then the horseman, Peleus, kindly took me to his house, and kindly
  Reared me with his son, and bade me be thy comrade to the end;
  So my bones, when they are gathered, place where thine shall also be,
  In the two-eared golden urn which gracious Thetis gave to thee."

In these verses, we see the common practice of the heroic ages in
Greece, with regard to manslaughter. No matter how slight the occasion
might be out of which the lethal quarrel arose; how {96} innocent soever
of all hostile intention the unhappy offender; the only safety to him
from the private revenge of the kinsman of the person unwittingly slain,
was to flee to a country that acknowledged some foreign chief, and find
both a friend and a country in a distant land. All this, too, in an era
of civilization, when courts of law and regular judges (as from various
passages of Homer is apparent) were not altogether unknown; but nature
is stronger than law, and passion slow to yield up its fiery right of
summary revenge, for the cold, calculating retribution of an impartial

The person on whom the duty of avenging shed blood, according to the
heroic code of morals, fell, was the nearest of kin to the person whose
blood had been shed; and accordingly we find (as stated more at large by
Gesenius and Michaelis[f2]) that in the Hebrew language, the same
word means both an avenger of blood and a kinsman, while in the cognate
Arabic the term for an avenger means also a _survivor_--that is, the
surviving kinsman. In the same way, when Clytemnestra, as we have just
seen in the previous drama, had treacherously murdered her husband
Agamemnon, the code of social morality then existing laid the duty of
avenging this most unnatural deed on the nearest relation of the
murdered chieftain, viz.--his son, Orestes; a sore duty indeed, in this
case, as the principal offender was his own mother: so that in
vindicating one feeling of his filial nature the pious son had to do
violence to another; but a duty it still remained; and there does not
appear the slightest trace that it was considered one whit the less
imperative on account of the peculiar relation that existed here between
the dealer of the vengeful blow and the person on whom it was dealt.
patriarchal law on the subject, proclaimed without limitation and
without exception; and the cry of innocent blood rose to Heaven with
peculiar emphasis when the sufferer was both a father and a king.

  "Good, how good, when one who dies unjustly leaves a son behind him
  To avenge his death!"--Odyss. iii. 196,

is the wisdom of old Nestor with regard to this subject and this very
case: and the wise goddess Athena, the daughter of the Supreme
Councillor, in whom "all her father lives," stamps her distinct approval
on the deed of Orestes, by which Clytemnestra was murdered, and holds
him up as an illustrious example to Telemachus, by which his own conduct
was to be regulated in {97} reference to the insolent and unjust suitors
who were consuming his father's substance.

  "This when thou hast done, and well accomplished, as the need demands,
  Then behoves thee in thy mind with counsel rife to ponder well
  How the suitors that obscenely riot in thy father's halls
  Thou by force or fraud may'st slay: for surely now the years are come,
  When too old thou art to trifle like a child with childish things.
  Hast not heard what fair opinion the divine Orestes reaped
  From the general voice consenting to the deed, then when he slew
  The deceitful false Ægisthus, slayer of his famous sire."
                                                      Odyssey i. 293.

Public opinion, therefore, to use a modern phrase, not only justified
Orestes in compassing the death of his mother, but imperatively called
on him to do so. Public opinion, however, could not control Nature, nor
save the unfortunate instrument of paternal retribution from that
revulsion of feeling which must necessarily ensue, when the hand of the
son is once red with the blood of her whose milk he had sucked. Orestes
finds himself torn in twain by two contrary instincts, the victim of two
antagonist rights. No sooner are the Furies of the father asleep, than
those of the mother awake; and thus the bloody catastrophe of the
present piece prepares the way for that tragic conflict of opposing
moral claims set forth with such power in the third piece of this
trilogy--the Eumenides.

The action of this play is the simplest possible, and will, for the most
part, explain itself sufficiently as it proceeds. Clytemnestra,
disturbed in conscience, and troubled by evil dreams, sends a chorus of
young women to offer libations at the tomb of Agamemnon, which, in the
present play, may fitly be conceived as occupying the centre of the
stage.[f3] These "libation-bearers" give the name to the piece. In
their pious function, Electra, the daughter of Agamemnon, joins; and as
she is engaged in the solemn rite, her brother Orestes (who had been
living as an exile in Phocis with Strophius, married to Anaxibia, the
sister of Agamemnon) suddenly arrives, and making himself known to his
sister, plans with her the murder of Ægisthus and Clytemnestra--which
is accordingly executed. Scarcely is this done, when the Furies of the
murdered mother appear, and commence that chase of the unhappy son from
land to land, which is ended in the next piece only by the eloquent
intercession of Apollo, and the deliberative wisdom of the blue-eyed
virgin-goddess of the Acropolis.

As a composition, the Choephoræ is decidedly inferior both to {98} the
Agamemnon which precedes, and the Eumenides which follows it; and the
poet, as if sensible of this weakness, following the approved tactics of
rhetoricians and warriors, has dexterously placed it in a position where
its deficiencies are least observed. At the same time, in passing a
critical judgment on this piece we must bear in mind two
things--_first_, that some parts of this play that appear languid,
long-drawn, and ineffective to us who read, may have been overflowing
with the richest emotional power in their living musical exhibition;
and, _secondly_, that many parts, especially of the choral chaunts, have
been so maimed and shattered by time that the modern commentator is
perhaps as much chargeable with the faults of the translation as the
ancient tragedian.



  [_Enter_ ORESTES. _and_ PYLADES.

 Hermes, that wieldest underneath the ground
 What power thy father lent,[n1] be thou my saviour
 And my strong help, and grant his heart's request
 To the returning exile! On this mound,
 My father's tomb, my father I invoke,
 To hear my cry!
 * * * * * *
 * * My early growth of hair
 To Inachus I vowed;[n2] this later lock
 The right of grief for my great sire demands.
 * * * * * *
 But what is this? what sad procession comes
 Of marshalled maids in sable mantles clad?
 What mission brings them? Some new woe that breaks
 Upon our fated house? Or, do they come
 To soothe the ancient anger of the dead
 With sweet libations for my father's tomb?
 'Tis even so: for lo! Electra comes--
 My sister--with them in unblissful grief
 Pre-eminent. O Jove, be thou mine aid,[n3]
 And nerve my hand to avenge my father's wrong!
 Stand we aside, my Pylades, that we
 May learn the purpose of the murky pomp. [_They go aside._

 (_dressed in sable vestments, bearing vessels with libations._)
     Missioned from these halls I come
      In the sable pomp of woe,
     Here to wail and pour libations,
      With the bosom-beating blow;
     And my cheeks, that herald sorrow,[n4]
     With the fresh-cut nail-ploughed furrow,
       Grief's vocation show.
     See! my rent and ragged stole
     Speaks the conflict of my soul;
     My vex'd heart on grief is feeding,
      Night and day withouten rest;
     Riven with the ruthless mourning,
     Hangs the linen vest, adorning
        Woefully my breast.

     Breathing wrath through nightly slumbers,
      By a dream-encompassed lair,
     Prophet of the house of Pelops,
      Terror stands with bristling hair.
     Through the dark night fitful yelling,
     He within our inmost dwelling
        Did the sleeper scare.
     Heavily, heavily terror falls
     On the woman-governed halls!
     And, instinct with high assurance,
     Speak the wise diviners all;
     "The dead, the earth-hid dead are fretful,
     And for vengeance unforgetful,
       From their graves they call."

     This graceless grace to do, to ward
      What ills the dream portendeth
     This pomp--O mother Earth!--and me
      The godless woman sendeth.
     Thankless office! Can I dare,
     Naming thee, to mock the air?
     Blood that stains with purple track
     The ground, what price can purchase back?
     O the hearth beset with mourning!
     O the proud halls' overturning!
     Darkness, blithe sight's detestation,
        Sunless sorrow spread
     Round the house of desolation,
        Whence the lord is fled.

     The kingly majesty that was
      The mighty, warlike-hearted,
     That swayed the general ear and will,
      The unconquered, hath departed.
     And now fear rules,[n5] and we obey,
     Unwillingly, a loveless sway.
     Who holds the key of plenty's portals
     Is god, and more than god to mortals;
     But justice from her watchful station,
     With a sure-winged visitation
     Swoops; and some in blazing noon
       She for doom doth mark,
     Some in lingering eve, and some
       In the deedless dark.

     When mother Earth hath drunk black gore,
     Printed on the faithful floor,
       The staring blot remaineth;
     There the deep disease is lurking;
     There thrice double-guilt is working
       Woes that none restraineth.
     As virgin-chambers once polluted
     Never may be pure again,
     So filthy hands with blood bedabbled[n6]
     All the streams of all the rivers
       Flow to wash in vain.
     For me I suffer what I must;
       By ordinance divine,
     Since Troy was levelled with the dust
       The bondman's fate is mine.
     What the masters of my fate
       In their strength decree,[n7]
     Just or unjust, matters not,
       Is the law to me.
     I must look content; and chain
     Strongest hate with tightest rein;
     I for my mistress' woes must wail,
     And for my own, beneath the veil;[n8]
       I must sit apart,
     And thaw with tears my frozen heart,
       When no eye may see.

   [_Enter_ ELECTRA.

 Ye ministering maids with dexterous heed
 That tend this household, as with me ye share
 This pomp of supplication, let me share
 In your good counsel. Speak, and tell me how,
 This flood funereal pouring on the tomb,
 I shall find utterance in well-omened words?
 Shall I declare me bearer of sweet gifts
 From a dear wife to her dear lord? I fear
 To mingle faslehood with libations pure,
 Poured on my father's tomb.[n9] Or shall I pray,
 As mortals wont to pray, that he may send
 Just retribution, and a worthy gift
 Of ill for ill to them that sent these garlands?
 Or shall I silent stand, nor with my tongue
 Give honour, as in dumb dishonoured death
 My father died, and give the Earth to drink
 A joyless stream, as who throws lustral ashes[n10]
 With eyes averse, and flings the vase away?
 Your counsel here I crave; ye are my friends,
 And bear with me, within these fated halls
 A common burden. Speak, and no craven fear
 Lurk in your breasts! The man that lives most free,
 And him to sternest masterdom enthralled,
 One fate abides. Lend me your wisdom, friends.

 Thy father's tomb shall be to me an altar;
 As before God I'll speak the truth to thee.

 Speak thus devoutly, and thou'lt answer well.

 Give words of seemly honour, as thou pourest,
 To all that love thy father.

                             Who are they?

 Thyself the first, and whoso hates Ægisthus.

 That is myself and thou.

                         Thyself may'st judge.

 Hast thou none else to swell the scanty roll?

 One far away, thy brother, add--Orestes.

 'Tis well remembered, very well remembered.

 Nor them forget that worked the deed of guilt.

 Ha! what of them? I'd hear of this more nearly.

 Pray that some god may come, or mortal man.

 Judge or avenger?

                  Roundly pray the prayer,
 Some god or man may come to slay the slayer.

 And may I pray the gods such boon as this?

 Why not? What other quittance to a foe
 Than hate repaid with hate, and blow with blow?[n11]


 (_approaching to the tomb of Agamemnon_)
 Hermes, that swayest underneath the ground,[f4] [n12]
 Of powers divine, Infernal and Supernal,
 Most weighty herald, herald me in this,
 That every subterranean god, and earth,
 Even mother earth, who gave all things their birth,
 And nurseth the reviving germs of all,
 May hear my prayer, and with their sleepless eyes
 Watch my parental halls. And while I dew
 Thy tomb with purifying stream, O father,
 Pity thou me, and on thy loved Orestes
 With pity look, and to our long lost home
 Restore us!--us, poor friendless outcasts both,
 Bartered by her who bore us, and exchanged
 Thy love for his who was thy murderer.
 Myself do menial service in this house;
 Orestes lives in exile; and they twain
 In riot waste the fruits of thy great toils.
 Hear thou my prayers, and quickly send Orestes
 With happy chance to claim his father's sceptre!
 And give thou me a wiser heart, and hand
 More holy-functioned than the mother's was
 That bore thy daughter. Thus much for myself,
 And for my friends. To those that hate my father,
 Rise thou with vengeance mantled-dark to smite
 Those justly that unjustly smote the just.
 These words of evil imprecation dire,[n13]
 Marring the pious tenor of my prayer,
 I speak constrained: but thou for me and mine
 Send good, and only good, to the upper air,
 The gods being with thee, mother Earth, and Justice
 With triumph in her train. This prayer receive
 And these libations. Ye, my friends, the while
 Let your grief blossom in luxuriant wail,
 Lifting the solemn pæan of the dead.

     Flow! in plashing torrents flow!
     Wretched grief for wretched master!
     O'er this heaped mound freely flow,
     Refuge of my heart's disaster!
     O thou dark majestic shade,
     Hear, O hear me! While anear thee
     Pours this sorrow-stricken maid
        The pure libation,
     May the solemn wail we lift
     Atone the guilt that taints the gift
        With desecration!
     O that some god from Scythia far,
        To my imploring,
     Might send a spearman strong in war,
        Our house restoring!
     Come Mars, with back-bent bow, thy hail
        Of arrows pouring,
     Or with the hilted sword assail,
     And in the grapple close prevail,
        Of battle roaring!

 These mild libations, earth-imbibed, my father
 Hath now received. Thy further counsel lend.

 In what? Within me leaps my heart for fear.

 Seest thou this lock of hair upon the tomb?

 A man's hair is it, or a low-zoned maid's?[n16]

 Few points there are to hit. 'Tis light divining.

 I am thine elder; yet I fain would reap
 Instruction from young lips.

                             If it was dipt
 From head in Argos, it should be my own.[n17]

 For they that should have shorn the mourning lock
 Are foes, not friends.

                       'Tis like, O strange! how like!

 Like what? What strange conception stirs thy brain?

 'Tis like--O strange!--to these same locks I wear.
 And yet--

         Not being yours, there's none, I know,
 Can claim it but Orestes.

                          In sooth, 'tis like.
 Trimmed with one plume Orestes was and I.

 But how should he have dared to tread this ground?

 Belike, he sent it by another's hand,
 A votive lock to grace his father's tomb.

 Small solace to my grief, if that he lives,
 Yet never more may touch his native soil.

 I, too, as with a bitter wave was lashed,
 And pierced, as with an arrow, at the sight
 Of this loved lock; and from my thirsty eyne
 With troubled overflowings unrestrained
 The full tide gushes: for none here would dare
 To gift a lock to Agamemnon's grave;
 No citizen, much less the wife that slew him.
 My mother most unmotherly, her own children
 With godless hate pursuing, evil-minded:
 And though to think this wandering lock have graced
 My brother's head--even his--my loved Orestes,
 Were bliss too great, yet will I hold the hope.
 O that this lock might with articulate voice
 Pronounce a herald's tale, and I no more
 This way and that with dubious thought be swayed!
 That I might know if from a hostile head
 'Twas shorn, and hate it as it hate deserves,
 Or, if from friends, my sorrows' fellow make it,
 The dearest grace of my dear father's tomb!
 But the gods know our woes; them we invoke,
 Whirled to and fro in eddies of dark doubt,
 Like vessels tempest-tossed. If they will save us,
 They have the power from smallest seed to raise
 The goodliest tree. But lo! a further proof[n18]--
 Footsteps, a perfect print, that seem to bear
 A brotherhood with mine! Nay, there are two--
 This claimed by him, and that by some true friend
 That shares his wanderings. See, the heel, the sole,
 Thus measured with my own, prove that they were
 Both fashioned in one mould. 'Tis very strange!
 I'm racked with doubt, my wits are wandering.

 (_coming forward_)
 Nay, rather thank the gods! Thy first prayer granted,
 Pray that fair end may fair beginning follow.[n19]

 Sayest thou? What cause have I to thank the gods?

 Even here before thee stands thine answered prayer.

 One man I wish to see: dost know him--thou?

 Thy wish of wishes is to see Orestes.

 Even so: but wishing answers no man's prayer.

 I am the man. No dearer one expect
 That wears that name.

                      Nay, but this is some plot?

 That were to frame a plot against myself.

 Unkind, to scoff at my calamities!

 To scoff at thine, were scoffing at mine own.

 And can it be? Art thou indeed Orestes?


 My bodily self thou seest, and dost not know!
 And yet the votive lock shorn from my head,
 Being to thine, my sister's hair, conform,
 And my foot's print with curious ardour scanned,
 Could wing thy faith beyond the reach of sense,
 That thou didst seem to see me! Take the lock,
 And match it nicely with this mother crop
 That bore it. More; behold this web,[n20] the fruit
 Of thine own toil, the strokes of thine own shuttle,
 The wild beasts of the woods by thine own hand
 Empictured! Nay, be calm, and keep thy joy
 Within wise bounds. Too well I know that they
 Who should be friends here are our bitterest foes.

 O of my father's house the chiefest care!
 Seed of salvation, hope with many, tears
 Bewept, with thy strong arm thou shalt restore
 Thy father's house. O my life's eye, thou dost
 Four several functions corporate in one
 Discharge for me! My father thou, and thine
 The gentler love that should have been my mother's,
 My justly hated mother; and in her place,
 Who died by merciless immolation,[f5] thou
 Must be my sister, so even as thou art
 My faithful brother, loved much and revered.
 May Power and Justice aid thee, mighty Twain,[n21]
 And a third mightier, JOVE supremely great.

 O Jove, great Jove, of all these things be thou
 Spectator! And behold the orphan'd brood,
 Of eagle father strangled in the folds
 And deadly coil of loathly basilisk!
 Them sireless see in dire starvation's gripe,
 Too weak of wing to bear unto the nest
 Their father's prey. So we before thee stand,
 Myself and this Electra, sire-bereaved,
 And exiles both from our paternal roof.
 If we, the chickens of the pious father
 That crowned thee with much sacrifice, shall fail,
 Where shalt thou find a hand like his, to offer
 Gifts from the steaming banquet? If the brood
 Of the eagle perish, where shall be thy signs,
 That speak from Heaven persuasive to mankind?
 If all this royal trunk shall rot, say who,
 When blood of oxen flows on holidays,
 Shall stand beside thine altar? O give ear,
 And of this house so little now, and fallen
 So low, rebuild the fortunes!

                              Hush, my children!
 If ye would save your father's house, speak softly,
 Lest some one hear, and, with swift babblement,
 Inform their ears who rule; whom may I see
 Flayed on a fire, with streaming pitch well fed!

 Fear not. The mighty oracle of Loxias,
 By whose commands I dare the thing I dare,
 Will not deceive me. He, with shrill-voiced warning,
 Foretold that freezing pains through my warm liver
 Should torturing shoot, if backward to avenge
 My father's death, and even as he was slain,
 To slay the slayers, exasperate at the loss[n22]
 Of my so fair possessions. Thus to do
 He gave me strict injunction: else myself
 With terrible pains, of filial zeal remiss,
 Should pay the fine. The evil-minded Powers
 Beneath the Earth[n23] would visit me in wrath,
 A leprous tetter with corrosive tooth
 Creep o'er my skin, and fasten on my flesh,
 And with white scales the white hair grow, defacing
 My bloom of health; and from my father's tomb
 Ripe with avenging ire the Erinnyes
 Should ruthlessly invade me. Thus he spake,
 And through the dark his prescient eyebrow arched.[n24]
 Sharp arrows through the subterranean night,
 Shot by dear Shades that through the Infernal halls
 Roam peaceless, madness, and vain fear o' nights,
 Prick with sharp goads, and chase from street to street,
 With iron scourge, the meagre-wasted form
 Of the Fury-hunted sinner; him no share
 In festal cup awaits, or hallowed drop
 Of pure libation;[n25] the paternal wrath,
 Hovering unseen, shall drive him from the altar;
 Him shall no home receive, no lodgment hold,
 Unhonoured and unfriended he shall die,
 Withered and mummied with the hot dry plague.
 Such oracle divine behoves me trust
 With single faith, or, be I faithless, still
 The vengeance must be done. All things concur
 To point my purpose; the divine command
 My sore heart-grief for a loved father's death,
 The press of want, the spoiling of my goods,
 The shame to see these noble citizens,
 Proud Troy's destroyers, basely bent beneath
 The yoke of two weak women: for he hath
 A woman's soul: if not, the proof is near.

     Mighty Fates, divinely guiding
     Human fortunes to their end,
     Send this man, with Jove presiding,
     Whither Justice points the way.
     Words of bitter hatred duly
     Pay with bitter words: for thus
     With loud cry triumphant shouting
     Justice pays the sinner's debt.
     Age to age with hoary wisdom
       Speaketh thus to men.[n26]

 O father, wretched father, with what air
     Of word or deed impelling,
 Shall I be strong to waft the filial prayer
     To thy dim distant dwelling?
 There where in dark, the dead-man's day, thou liest,[n27]
     Be our sharp wailing
 (Grace of the dead, and Hades' honour highest),
     With thee prevailing!

     Son, the strong-jawed funeral fire
     Burns not the mind in the smoky pyre;
     Sleeps, but not forgets the dead
     To show betimes his anger dread.
     For the dead the living moan,
     That the murderer may be known.
     They who mourn for parent slain
     Shall not pour the wail in vain,
     Bright disclosure shall not lack
     Who through darkness hunts the track.


 Hear thou our cries, O father, when for thee
     The frequent tear is falling;
 The wailing pair o'er thy dear tomb to thee
     From their hearts' depths are calling;
 The suppliant and the exile at one tomb
     Their sorrow showering,
 Helpless and hopeless; mantled round with gloom,
     Woe overpouring!

     Nay, be calm; the god that speaks
     With voice oracular shall attune
     Thy throat to happier notes;
     Instead the voice of wail funereal,
     Soon the jubilant shout shall shake
     His father's halls with joy, and welcome
       The new friend to his home.

 If but some Lycian spear, 'neath Ilium's walls,
     Had lowly laid thee,
 A mighty name in the Atridan halls
     Thou wouldst have made thee!
 Then hadst thou pitched thy fortune like a star,
 To son and grandson shining from afar;
 Beyond the wide-waved sea, the high-heaped mound
     Had told for ever
 Thy feats of battle, and with glory crowned
     Thy high endeavour.

     Ah! would that thou hadst found thy end
     There, where dear friend fell with friend,
     And marched with them to Hades dread,
     The monarch of the awful dead,[n28]
     Sitting beside the throne with might
     Of them that rule the realms of night;
     For thou in life wert monarch true,
     Expert each kingly deed to do,
     Leading, with thy persuasive rod,
     Submissive mortals like a god.

 Thou wert a king, no fate it was for thee
     To die as others
 'Neath Ilium's walls, far, far beyond the sea,
     With many brothers.
 Unworthy was the spear to drink thy blood,
 Where far Scamander rolls his swirling flood.
 Justly who slew had drawn themselves thy lot,
     And perished rather,
 And thou their timeless fate had welcomed, not
     They thine, my father.

     Child, thy grief begetteth visions
     Brighter than gold, and overtopping
         Hyperborean bliss.[n29]
     Ah, here the misery rudely riots,
     With double lash. These twins, their help
     Sleeps beneath the ground; and they
     Who hold dominion here, alas!
     With unholy sceptre sway.
     Woe is me! but chiefly woe
         Children dear to you!

 Chiefly to me! Thy words shoot like an arrow,
     And pierce my marrow.
 O Jove, O Jove! that sendest from below[n30]
     The retribution slow,
 Against the stout heart and bold hand,
 That dared defy thy high command.
 Even though a parent feel the woe,
 Prepare, prepare the finished blow.

 Mine be soon to lift the strain,
 O'er the treacherous slayer slain,
 To shout with bitter exultation,
 O'er the murtherous wife's prostration!
 Why should I the hate conceal,
 That spurs my heart with promptest zeal,
 Bitter thoughts, that gathering grow,
 Like blustering winds, that beat the plunging vessel's prow?

 O thou that flourishest, and mak'st to flourish,
     By thy hands perish
 All they that hate me! Cleave the heads of those,
     That are Orestes' foes!
   Pledge the land in peace to live,
   For injustice justice give;
   Ye that honoured reign below,[n31]
   Furies! prepare the crowning blow.

   Wont hath been, and shall be ever,
   That when purple gouts bedash
   The guilty ground, then BLOOD DOTH BLOOD
   Fury to Havoc cries; and Havoc,
   The tainted track of blood pursuing,
     From age to age works woe.

     Ye powers of Hades dread!
     Fell Curses of the Dead,
     Hear, me when I call!
     Behold! The Atridan hall,
     Dashed in dishonoured fall,
     Lies low and graceless all.
     O mighty Jove, I see
     Mine only help in thee!

   Thy piteous tale doth make my heart
   From its central hold back start;
   Hope departs, and blackening Fear
   Rules my fancy, while I hear.
   And if blithe confidence awhile[n32]
   Lends my dull faith the feeble smile,
   Soon, soon departs that glimpse of cheer,
 And all my map of things is desolate and drear.

     For why! our tale of wrong
     In hate of parents strong,
     Spurneth the flatterer's arm,
     Mocketh the soothing charm.
     The mother gave her child[n33]
     This wolfish nature wild;
     And I from her shall learn
     To be thus harsh and stern.


     Like a Persian mourner[n34]
      Singing sorrow's tale,
     Like a Cissian wailer,
      I did weep and wail.
     O'er my head swift-oaring
      Came arm on arm amain,
     The voice of my deploring
      Like the lashing rain!
     Sorrow's rushing river
      O'er me flooding spread,
     Black misfortune's quiver
      Emptied on my head!

   Mother bold, all-daring,
   On a bloody bier
   Thine own lord forth bearing
    Slain without a tear.
   Alone, unfriended he did go
   Down to the sunless homes below.

   Thou hast named the dire dishonor;
   The gods shall send swift judgment on her.
      By Heaven's command,
      By her own son's hand,
      Slain she shall lie;
   And I, having dealt the fated death,
      Myself shall die!

   Be the butcher's work remembered,
   Mangled was he, and dismembered;
      Like vilest clay,
      She cast him away,
      With burial base;
   Mocking the son, the father branding
      With dark disgrace.

    Thou dost tell too truly
     All my father's woe.

    I, the while, accounted
     Lower than most low,
    Like a dog, was sundered
     From my father's hearth,
    An evil dog, and wandered
     Far from seats of mirth;
    In my chamber weeping
     Tears of silent woe,
    From rude gazers keeping
     Grief too great for show.
    Hear these words; and hearing
     Nail them in thy soul,
    With steady purpose nearing,
     And noiseless pace, thy goal.
   Go where just wrath leads the way,
   With stout heart tread the lists to-day.

 O father, help thy friends, when helping thee!

 My tears, if they can help, shall flow for thee.

 And this whole mingled choir shall raise for thee
    The sistered cry: O hear!
    In light of day appear,
 And help thy banded friends, to avenge thy foes for thee!

 Now might with might engage, and right with right!

 And the gods justly the unjust shall smite.

 The tremulous fear creeps o'er my frame to hear
    Thy words; for, though long-dated,
    The thing divinely fated
 Shall surely come at last, our cloudy prayers to clear.

     O home-bred pain,
     Stroke of perdition that refuses
     Concord with the holy Muses!
     O burden more than heart can bear,
     Disease that no physician's care
       Makes sound again!

     So; even so.
     No far-sent leech this tetter uses;
     A home-bred surgery it chooses.
     I the red strife myself pursue,
     Pouring this dismal hymn to you,
       Ye gods below!

    Blessed powers, propitious dwelling,
    Deep in subterranean darkness,
      Hear this pious prayer;
    May all trials end in triumph
      To the suppliant pair!

 Father, who died not as a king should die,
 Give me to rule, as thou didst rule, these halls.

 My supplication hear, thy strong help lend me,
 Scathless myself[n37] to work Ægisthus' harm.

 Thus of the rightful feasts that soothe the Shades
 Thou too shalt taste,[n38] and not dishonoured lie,
 When savoury fumes mount to our country's dead.

 And I my whole of heritage will offer,
 The blithe libations of my marriage feast.
 Thy tomb before all tombs I will revere.

 O Earth, relax thy hold, and give my father
 To see the fight!

                  O Persephassa,[f6] send
 The Atridan forth, in beauty clad and strength.

 The bath that drank thy life remember, father.

 The close-drawn meshes of thy death remember.

 The chain, not iron-linked, that bound thee, then
 When to the death the kingly game was hunted.

 Then when with treacherous folds they curtained thee.

 Wake, father, wake to avenge thy speechless wrongs!

 Lift, father, lift thy dear-loved head sublime!

 Send justice forth to work the just revenge,
 Like quit with like, and harm with harm repay;
 Thou wert the conquered then, rise now to conquer.

 And hear this last request, my father, looking
 On thy twin chickens nestling by thy tomb;
 Pity the daughter, the male seed protect,
 Nor let the name revered of ancient Pelops
 Be blotted from the Earth! Thou art not dead,
 Though housed in Hades, while thy children live,
 For children are as echoes that prolong
 Their parents' fame; the floating cork are they
 That buoyant bear the net deep sunk in the sea.
 Hear, father--when we weep, we weep for thee,
 And, saving us, thou savest thine own honour.


 Well spoken both:[n39] and worthily fall the tears
 On this dear tomb, too long without them. Now,
 If to the deed thy purpose thou hast buckled,
 Orestes, try what speed the gods may give thee.[n40]

 I'll do the deed. Meanwhile not idly this
 I ask of thee--what moved her soul to send
 These late libations, limping remedy
 For wounds that cannot heal? A sorry grace
 To feed the senseless dead with sacrifice,
 When we have killed the living. What she means
 I scarce may guess, but the amend is less
 Than the offence. All ocean poured in offering
 For the warm life-drops of one innocent man
 Is labour lost. Old truth thus speaks to all.
 How was it?

            That I well may tell, for I
 Was with her. Hideous dreams did haunt her sleep;
 Night-wandering terrors scared her godless breast,
 That she did send these gifts to soothe the Shades.

 What saw she in her dream?

                           She dreamt, she said,
 She had brought forth a serpent.

                                 A serpent, say'st thou?

 Ay! and the dragon birth portentous moved,
 All swaddled like a boy.

 Eager for food, doubtless, the new-born monster?

 The nurturing nipple herself did fearless bare.

 How then? escaped the nipple from the bite?

 The gouted blood did taint the milk, that flowed
 From the wounded paps.

                       No idle dream was this.
 And he who sent it was my father.

 She from her sleep up started, and cried out,
 And many lamps, whose splendour night had blinded,
 Rushed forth, to wait upon their mistress' word.
 Straightway she sends us with funereal gifts,
 A medicinal charm, if medicine be
 For griefs like hers!

                      Now hear me, Earth profound,
 And my dear father's tomb, that so this dream
 May find in me completion! Thus I read it--
 As left the snake the womb that once hid me,
 And in the clothes was swathed that once swathed me,
 And as it sucked the breast that suckled me,
 And mingled blood with milk once sucked by me,
 And as she groaned with horror at the sight,
 Thus it beseems who bore a monstrous birth
 No common death to die. I am the serpent
 Shall bite her breast. It is a truthful dream.
 My seer be thou. Say have I read it well?

 Bravely. Now, for the rest, thy friends instruct
 What things to do, and what things to refrain.

 'Tis said in few. Electra, go within,
 And keep my counsels in wise secrecy;
 For, as they killed an honourable man
 Deceitfully, by cunning and deceit
 Themselves shall find the halter. Thus Apollo,
 A prophet never known to lie, foretold.
 Myself will come, like a wayfaring man
 Accoutred, guest and spear-guest of this house,[f7]
 With Pylades, my friend, to the court gates.
 We both will speak with a Parnassian voice,
 Aping the Phocian tongue. If then it chance
 (As seems most like, for this whole house with ills
 Is sheer possessed)[n41] that with a welcome greeting
 No servant shall receive us, we will wait
 Till some one pass, and for their churlish ways
 Rate them thus sharply. "Sirs, why dare ye shut
 Inhospitable doors against the stranger,[n42]
 Making Ægisthus sin against the gods?"
 When thus I pass the threshold of his courts,
 And see him sitting on my father's throne,
 When he shall scan me face to face, and seek
 To hear my tale; ere he may say the word,
 _Whence is the stranger?_ I will lay him dead,
 Dressing him trimly o'er with points of steel.
 The Fury thus, not scanted of her banquet,
 Shall drink unmingled blood from Pelops' veins,
 The third and crowning cup.[n43] Now, sister, see to 't
 That all within be ordered, as shall serve
 My end most fitly. Ye, when ye shall speak,
 Speak words of happy omen; teach your tongue
 Both to be silent, and to speak in season.
 For what remains, his present aid I ask,
 Who laid on my poor wits this bloody task.[n44] [_Exeunt._


    Earth breeds a fearful progeny,[n45]
      To man a hostile band.
    With finny monsters teems the sea,
      With creeping plagues the land;
    And winged portents scour mid-air,
      And flaring lightnings fly,
    And storms, sublimely coursing, scare
      The fields of the silent sky.

    But Earth begets no monster dire
     Than man's own heart more dreaded,
    All-venturing woman's dreadful ire,[n46]
     When love to woe is wedded.
    No mate with mate there gently dwells,
     There peace and joy depart,
    Where loveless love triumphant swells,
     In fearless woman's heart.

    This the light-witted may not know,
      The wise shall understand,
    Who hear the tale from age to age,
    How Thestios' daughter, wild with rage,[n47]
      Lighted the fatal brand,
    The brand that burned with conscious flashes
      At the cry of her new-born son;
    And, when the brand had burned to ashes,
      His measured course was run.

    And yet a tale of bloody love
      From hoary eld I know,
    How Scylla gay, in gold arrayed,[n48]
    The gift of Minos old, betrayed
      Her father to the foe.
    Sleeping all careless as he lay,
      She cut the immortal hair,
    And Hermes bore his life away,
      From the bold and blushless fair.


    Ah me! not far needs fancy range
      For tales of harshest wrong:
    Here, even here, damned wedlock thrives,
      And lawless loves are strong.
    Within these halls, where blazes now
    No holy hearth, a bloody vow
      Against her liege lord's life
    She vowed; and he, the king divine,
    Whose look back-drove the bristling line,
      Bled by a woman's knife.

    O woman! woman! Lemnos saw[n49]
      Your jealous fountains flow,
    And, when the worst of woes is named,
      It is a Lemnian woe.
    From age to age the infected tale,
    Far echoed by a wandering wail,
      To East and West shall go;
    And honor from the threshold hies,
    On which the doom god-spoken lies;[n50]
      Speak I not wisely so?

    Right through the heart shall pierce the blow,
    When Justice is the sinner's foe,
      With the avenging steel;
    In vain with brief success they strove,
    Who trampled on the law of Jove,
      With unregarding heel.

    Firm is the base of Justice. Fate,
    With whetted knife, doth eager wait
      At hoary Murder's door;
    The Fury, with dark-bosomed ire,
      Doth send the son a mission dire,
      To clear the parent's score.

   [_Enter_ ORESTES.

 What, ho! dost hear no knocking? boy! within!
 Is none within, boy? ho! dost hear me call
 The third time at thy portal? Is Ægisthus
 A man, whose ears are deaf to the strangers' cry?

 (_appearing at the door_)
 Enough. I hear thee. Who thou, and whence?

 Tell those within that a poor stranger waits
 Before the gate, bearer of weighty news.
 Speed thee; night's dusky chariot swoopeth down,
 And the dark hour invites the travelling man
 To fix his anchor 'neath some friendly roof.
 Thy mistress I would see, if here a mistress
 Rules, or thy master rather, if a master.
 For with a man a man may plainly deal,
 But nice regard for the fine feeling ear[n51]
 Oft mars the teller's tale, when women hear.


 Strangers, speak your desire. Whate'er becomes
 This house to give is free to you to share.
 Hot baths,[n52] a couch to soothe your travelled toil,
 Blithe welcoming eyes, and gentle tendance; these
 I freely give. If aught beyond ye crave,
 There's counsel with my lord. I'll speak to him.

 I am a stranger come from Phocian Daulis.
 When I, my burden to my back well saddled,
 Stood for the road accoutred, lo! a man
 To me not known, nor of me knowing more,
 But seeing only that my feet were bound
 For Argos, thus accosted me (his name,
 I learned, was Strophius the Phocian): Stranger,
 If Argos be thy purpose, bear this message
 From me to whom it touches near. Orestes
 Is dead; charge well thy memory with the tale,
 And bring me mandate back, if so his friends
 Would have him carried to his native home,
 Or he with us due sepulture shall find,
 A sojourner for ever. A brazen urn
 Holds all the remnant of the much-wept man,
 The ashes of his clay. Thus Strophius spake:
 And if ye are the friends, whom chiefly grief
 Pricks for his loss, my mission's done; at least
 His parents will be grieved to hear 't.

                                        Woe's me!
 Sheer down we topple from proud height; harsh fate
 Is ours to wrestle with. O jealous Curse,
 How dost thou eye us fatal from afar,
 And with thy well-trimmed bow shoot chiefly there
 Where thou wert least suspect! Thou hast me now
 A helpless captive lorn, and reft of all
 My trustiest friends. Orestes also gone,
 Whose feet above the miry slough most sure
 Seemed planted! Now our revelry of hope,
 The fair account that should have surgeoned woe,
 Is audited at nothing![n54]

                       Would the gods,
 Where happy hosts, give welcome, I were guest
 On a more pleasant tale! The entertained
 No greater joy can know than with good news
 To recreate his entertainer's ears;
 But piety forbade, nor faith allowed
 To lop the head of truth.

 Thou shalt not fare the worse for thy bad news,
 Nor be less dear to us. Hadst thou been dumb,
 Some other tongue had vented the sad tale.
 But ye have travelled weary leagues to-day,
 And doubtless need restoring. Take him, boy,
 With the attendant sharers of his travel,
 To the men's chambers. See them well bestowed,
 And do all things as one, that for neglect
 Shall give account. Meanwhile, our lord shall know
 What fate hath chanced; his wit and mine shall find
 What solace may be for these news unkind.
                           [_Exeunt into the house._

   When, O when, shall we, my sisters,
   Lift the strong full-throated hymn,
   To greet Orestes' triumph? Thou,
   O sacred Earth, and verge revered
   Of this lofty mound, where sleeps
   The kingly helmsman of our State,
   Hear thou, and help! prevail the hour
   Of suasive wile, and smooth deceit![n55]
   Herald him Hermes--lead him, thou
   The nightly courier of the dead,[n56]
   Through this black business of the sword!
 In sooth the host hath housed a grievous guest;
 For see where comes Orestes' nurse, all tears!
 Where goest thou, nurse, beyond our gates to walk,
 And why walks Grief, an unfee'd page, with thee!


   [_Enter_ NURSE.

 My mistress bids me bring Ægisthus quickly,
 To see the strangers face to face, that he
 May of their sad tale more assurance win
 From their own mouths. Herself to us doth show
 A murky-visaged grief; but in her eye
 Twinkles a secret joy, that time hath brought
 The consummation most devoutly wished
 By her--to us and Agamemnon's house
 Most fatal issue, if these news be true.
 Ægisthus, too, with a light heart will hear
 These Phocian tidings. O wretched me! what weight
 Of mingled woes from sire to son bequeathed,
 Have the gods burdened us withal! Myself,
 How many griefs have shaken my old heart;
 But this o'ertops them all! The rest I bore,
 As best I might, with patience: but Orestes,
 My own dear boy, my daily, hourly care,
 Whom from his mother's womb these breasts did suckle--
 How often did I rise o' nights, and walked
 From room to room, to soothe his baby cries;
 But all my nursing now, and all my cares
 Fall fruitless. 'Tis a pithless thing a child,
 No forest whelp so helpless; one must even
 Wait on its humour, as the hour may bring.
 No voice it has to speak its fitful wants,
 When hunger, thirst, or Nature's need commands.
 The infant's belly asks no counsel. I
 Was a wise prophetess to all his wants,
 Though sometimes false, as others are. I was
 Nurse to the child, and fuller to its clothes,
 And both to one sad end. Alack the day!
 This double trade with little fruit I plied,
 What time I nursed Orestes for his father;
 For he is dead, and I must live to hear it.
 But I must go, and glad his heart, who lives
 Plague of this house, with news that make me weep.

 What say'st thou, Nurse? _how_ shall thy master come?

 _How_ say'st thou? how shall I receive the question?

 Alone, I mean, or with his guards?

                                   She says
 His spearmen shall attend him.


                               Not so, Nurse!
 If thou dost hate our most hate-worthy master,
 Tell him to come alone, without delay,
 To hear glad tidings with exulting heart.
 The bearer of a tale can make it wear
 What face he pleases.[n57]

                      Well! if thou mean'st well,

         Perhaps that Jove may make the breeze
 Yet veer to us.

                How so? Our only hope,
 Orestes, is no more.

                     Softly, good Nurse;
 Thou art an evil prophet, if thou say'st so.

 How? hast thou news to a different tune?

                                         Go! go!
 Mind thine own business, and the gods will do
 What thing they will do.

                         Well! I'll do thy bidding!
 The gods lead all things to a fair conclusion!

   O thou, o'er all Olympian gods that be,
      Supremely swaying,
   With words of wisdom, when I pray to thee,
      Inspire my praying.
   We can but pray; to do, O Jove, is thine,
      Thou great director;
   Of him within, who works thy will divine,
      Be thou protector!
   Him raise, the orphaned son whom thou dost see
      In sheer prostration;
   Twofold and threefold he shall find from thee
      Just compensation.

   But hard the toil. Yoked to the car of Fate,
      When harshly driven,
   O rein him thou! his goaded speed abate
      Wisely from Heaven!
   Jove tempers all, steadies all things that reel;
      When wildly swerveth
   From the safe line life's burning chariot wheel,
      His hand preserveth.
   Ye gods, that guard these gold-stored halls, this day
      Receive the claimant,
   Who comes, that old Wrong to young Right may pay
      A purple payment.

   BLOOD BEGETS BLOOD; but, when this blow shall fall,
      O thou, whose dwelling
   Is Delphi's fuming throat, may this be all!
      Of red blood, welling
   From guilty veins, enough. Henceforth may joy
   Look from the eyes of the Atridan boy,
      Discerning clearly
   From his ancestral halls the clouds unrolled,
      That hung so drearly.

   And thou, O Maia's son,[f8] fair breezes blow,
      The full sail swelling!
   Cunning art thou through murky ways to go,
      To Death's dim dwelling;
   Dark are the doings of the gods; and we,
   When they are clearest shown, but dimly see;
      Yet faith will follow
   Where Hermes leads, the leader of the dead,
      And thou, Apollo.

   Crown ye the deed; then will I freely pour
      The blithe libation,
   And, with pure offerings, cleanse the Atridan floor
      From desecration!
   Then with my prosperous hymn the lyre shall blend
      Its kindly chorus,
   And Argos shall be glad, and every friend
      Rejoice before us!
   Gird thee with manhood, boy; though hard to do,
   It is thy father's work; to him be true.
   And, when she cries--_Son, wilt thou kill thy_ MOTHER?
   Cry--FATHER, FATHER! and with that name smother
   The rising ruth. As Perseus, when he slew
   The stony Dread,[f9] was stony-hearted, do
      Thy mission stoutly;
   For him below, and her above,[f10] pursue
      This work devoutly.
   The gods by thee, in righteous judgment, show
      Their grace untender!
   Thou to the man, that dealt the deathful blow,
      Like death shalt render.

   [_Enter_ ÆGISTHUS.

 Not uninvited come I, having heard
 A rumour strange, by certain strangers brought,
 No pleasant tale--Orestes' death. In sooth,
 A heavy fear-distilling sorrow this,
 More than a house may bear, whose wounds yet bleed,
 And ulcerate from the fangs of fate. But say,
 Is this a fact that looks us in the face,
 Or startling words of woman's fears begotten,
 That shoot like meteors through the air, and die?
 What proof, ye maids, what proof?

                                  Our ears have heard.
 But go within; thyself shalt see the man;
 Try well the teller, e'er thou trust the tale.

 I'll scan him well, and prove him close, if he
 Himself was at the death, or but repeat
 From blind report the news another told.
 It will go hard, if idle breath cheat me.
 My eyes are in my head, and I can see.
                            [_Exit into the house._

   Jove! great Jove! What shall I say?
   How with pious fervour pray,
   That from thee the answer fair
   Be wafted to my friendly prayer?
   Now the keen-edged axe shall strike,
   With a life-destroying blow;
   Now, or, plunged in deep perdition,
   Agamemnon's house sinks low,
   Or the hearth with hope this day
   Shall blaze, through all the ransomed halls,
   And the son his father's wealth
   Shall win, and with his sceptre sway.
   In the bloody combat fresh,
   He shall risk it, one with two;
   Hand to hand the fight shall be.
   Godlike son of Agamemnon,
      Jove give strength to thee!

 (_from within_)
 Ah me! I fall. Ah! Ah!

 Hear'st thou that cry? How is't? Whose was that groan?
 Let's go aside, the deed being done, that we
 Seem not partakers of the bloody work.[n59]
 'Tis ended now.

   [_Enter_ SERVANT.

                Woe's me! my murdered master!
 Thrice woeful deed! Ægisthus lives no more.
 Open the women's gates! uncase the bolts!
 Were needed here a Titan's strength--though that
 Would nothing boot the dead. Ho! hillo! ho!
 Are all here deaf? or do I babble breath
 In sleepers' ears? Where, where is Clytemnestra?
 What keeps my mistress? On a razor's edge
 Her fate now lies; the blow's already poised,
 That falls on her too--nor unjustly falls.


 Well! what's the matter? why this clamorous cry?

 He, who was dead, has slain the quick. 'Tis so.

 Ha! Thou speak'st riddles; but I understand thee.
 We die by guile, as guilefully we slew.
 Bring me an axe! an axe to kill a man!
 Quickly!--or conqueror or conquered, I
 Will fight it out. To this 'tis come at last.

   [_Enter_ ORESTES, _dragging in the dead body of_ ÆGISTHUS; _with him_

 Thee next I seek. For him, he hath enough.

 Ah me! my lord, my loved Ægisthus dead!

 Dost love this man? then thou shalt sleep with him,
 In the same tomb. He was thy bedmate living,
 Be thou his comrade, dead.

                           Hold thee, my son!
 Look on this breast, to which with slumbrous eyes
 Thou oft hast clung, the while thy baby gum
 Sucked the nutritious milk.


                            What say'st thou, Pylades?
 Shall I curtail the work, and spare my mother?

 Bethink thee well; the Loxian oracles,
 Thy sure-pledged vows, where are they, if she live?
 Make every man thy foe, but fear the gods.

 Thy voice shall rule in this; thou judgest wisely.
 Follow this man; here, side by side with him,
 I'll butcher thee. Seemed he a fairer man
 Than was my father when my father lived?
 Sleep thou, where he sleeps; him thou lovest well,
 And whom thou chiefly shouldst have loved thou hatedst.

 I nursed thy childhood, and in peace would die.[n60]

 Spare thee to live with me--my father's murderer?

 Not I; say rather Fate ordained his death.

 The self-same Fate ordains thee now to die.

 My curse beware, the mother's curse that bore thee.

 That cast me homeless from my father's house.

 Nay; to a friendly house I lent thee, boy.

 Being free-born, I like a slave was sold.

 I trafficked not with thee. I gat no gold.

 Worse--worse than gold--a thing too foul to name!

 Name all my faults; but had thy father none?

 Thou art a woman sitting in thy chamber.[n61]
 Judge not the man that goes abroad, and labours.

 Hard was my lot, my child, alone, uncherished.

 Alone by the fire, while for thy gentle ease
 The husband toiled.

                    Thou wilt not kill me, son?

 I kill thee not. Thyself dost kill thyself.

 Beware thy mother's anger-whetted hounds.[f11]

 My father's hounds have hunted me to thee.

 The stone that sepulchres the dead art thou,
 And I the tear on't.

                     Cease: I voyaged here,
 With a fair breeze; my father's murder brought me.

 Ah me! I nursed a serpent on my breast.

 Thou hadst a prophet in thy dream, last night;
 And since thou kill'd the man thou shouldst have spared,
 The man, that now should spare thee, can but kill.

   [_He drives her into the house, and there murders her._

 There's food for sorrow here; but rather, since
 Orestes could not choose but scale the height
 Of bloody enterprise, our prayer is this:
 That he, the eye of this great house, may live.[n63]

 Hall of old Priam, with sorrow unbearable,
 Vengeance hath come on the Argive thy foe;
 A pair of grim lions, a double Mars terrible,[n64]
 Comes to his palace, that levelled thee low.
 Chanced hath the doom of the guilty precisely,
 Even as Phœbus foretold it, and wisely
 Where the god pointed, was levelled the blow.
 Lift up the hymn of rejoicing; the lecherous,
 Sin-laden tyrant shall lord it no more;
 No more shall the mistress so bloody and treacherous
 Lavish the plundered Pelopidan store.

 Sore chastisement[n65] came on the doomed and devoted,
 With dark-brooding purpose and fair-smiling show;
 And the daughter of Jove the eternal was noted,
 Guiding the hand that inflicted the blow--
 Bright Justice, of Jove, the Olympian daughter;
 But blasted they fell with the breath of her slaughter
 Whose deeds of injustice made Justice their foe.
 Her from his shrine sent the rock-throned Apollo,[n66]
 The will of her high-purposed sire to obey,
 The track of the blood-stained remorseless to follow,
 Winged with sure death, though she lag by the way.

 Ye rulers on Earth, fear the rulers in Heaven,
 No aid by the gods to the froward is given;
 For the bonds of our thraldom asunder are riven,
     And the day dawns clear.
 Lift up your heads; from prostration untimely
 Ye halls of the mighty be lifted sublimely!
 All-perfecting Time shall bring swift restitution,
 And cleanse the hearth pure from the gory pollution,
     Now the day dawns clear.
 And blithely shall welcome them Fortune the fairest,[n67]
 The brother and sister, with omens the rarest;
 Each friend of this house show the warm love thou bearest,
     Now the day dawns clear!


   [_Enter_ ORESTES, _with the body of_ CLYTEMNESTRA.

 Behold this tyrant pair, my father's murderers,
 Usurpers of this land, and of this house
 Destroyers. They this throne did use in pride,
 And now in love, as whoso looks may guess,
 They lie together, all their vows fulfilled.
 Death to my hapless father, and to lie
 Themselves on a common bier--this was their vow;
 And they have vowed it well. Behold these toils,
 Wherewith they worked destruction to my father,
 Chained his free feet, and manacled his hands.
 There--spread it forth--approach--peruse it nicely.
 This mortal vest, that so the father--not
 My father, but the Sun that fathers all
 With light[n68]--may see what godless deed was done
 Here by my mother. Let him witness duly,
 That not unjustly I have spilt this blood--
 My mother's; for Ægisthus recks me not;
 As an adulterer should, he died: but she,
 That did devise such foul detested wrong
 Against the lord, to whom beneath her zone
 She bore a burden, once so valued, now
 A weight that damns her; what was she?--a viper
 Or a torpedo--that with biteless touch
 Strikes numb who handles.[n69] Harsh the smoothest phrase
 To name the bold unrighteous will she used.
 And for this fowler's net--this snare--this trap--
 This cloth to wrap the dead[n70]--this veil to curtain
 A bloody bath--teach me a name for it!
 Such murderous toils the ruffians use, who spill
 Their neighbour's blood, that they may seize his gold,
 And warm their heart with plenty not their own.
 Lodge no such mate with me! Sooner may I
 Live by high Heaven accursed, and childless die.

     A sorry work--alas! alas!
      A dismal death she found.
     Nor sorrow quite from man may pass
      That lives above the ground.

 A speaking proof! Behold, Ægisthus' sword
 Hath left its witness on this robe; the time
 Hath paled the murtherous spot, but where it was
 The sumptuous stole hath lost its radiant dye.
 Alas! I know not, when mine eyes behold
 This father-murdering web, if I should own
 Joy lord, or grief. Let grief prevail. I grieve
 Our crimes, our woes, our generation doomed,
 Our tearful trophies blazoned with a curse.

     The gods so will that, soon or late,
      Each mortal taste of sorrow;
     A frown to-day from surly Fate,
      A biting blast to-morrow.

 Others 'twixt hope and fear may sway, my fate
 Is fixed and scapeless.[n71] Like a charioteer,
 Dragged from his course by steeds that spurned the rein,
 Thoughts past control usurp me. Terror lifts,
 Even now, the prelude to her savage hymn,
 Within my heart exultant. But, while yet
 My sober mind remains, witness ye all
 My friends, this solemn abjuration! Not
 Unjustly, when I slew, I slew my mother--
 That mother, with my father's blood polluted,
 Of every god abhorred. And I protest
 The god that charmed me to the daring point
 Was Loxias, with his Pythian oracles,
 Pledging me blameless, this harsh work once done,
 Not done, foredooming what I will not say;
 All thoughts most horrible undershoot the mark.
 And now behold me, as a suppliant goes,
 With soft-wreathed wool, and precatory branch,[n72]
 Addressed for Delphi, the firm-seated shrine
 Of Loxias, navel of earth, where burns the flame
 Of fire immortal named.[n73] For I must flee
 This kindred blood, and hie me where the god
 Forespoke me refuge. Once again I call
 On you, and Argive men of every time,
 To witness my great griefs. I go an exile
 From this dear soil. Living, or dead, I leave
 These words, the one sad memory of my name.

 Thou hast done well; yoke not thy mouth this day
 To evil words. Thou art the liberator
 Of universal Argos, justly greeted,
 Who from the dragon pair the head hath lopped.

   [_The_ FURIES _appear in the background_.

 Ah, me! see there! like Gorgons! look! look there!
 All dusky-vested, and their locks entwined
 With knotted snakes. Away! I may not stay.

 O son, loved of thy sire, be calm, nor let
 Vain phantoms fret thy soul, in triumph's hour.

 These are no phantoms, but substantial horrors;
 Too like themselves they show, the infernal hounds
 Sent from my mother!

                     'Tis the fresh-gouted blood
 Upon thy hand, that breeds thy brain's distraction.

 Ha! how they swarm! Apollo! more--yet more!
 And from their fell eyes droppeth murderous gore.

 There is atonement.[n74] Touch but Loxias' altar,
 And he from bloody stain shall wash thee clean.

 Ye see them not. I see them.[n75] There!--Away!
 The hell-hounds hunt me: here I may not stay.

  Nay, but with blessing go. From fatal harm
  Guard thee the god whose eyes in love behold thee![n76]
  Blown hath now the third harsh tempest,
  O'er the proud Atridan palace,
     Floods of family woe!
  First thy damned feast, Thyestes,
  On thy children's flesh abhorrent;
  Then the kingly man's prostration,
  And thy warlike pride, Achaia,
     Butchered in a bath;
  Now he, too, our greeted Saviour
     Red with this new woe!
  When shall Fate's stern work be ended,
  When shall cease the boisterous vengeance,
     Hushed in slumbers low?

[The End]




 Πολλὰ μἀλ᾽ ὃσσα τε μητρὸς Ἐριννύες ἐκτελέουσιν.
                            _Odyssey_ xi. 289.

 My solitude is solitude no more,
 But peopled with the Furies.



 THE PYTHONESS of the Temple of Apollo in Delphi.
 HERMES (Mute).
 JUDGES of the Court of Areopagus (Mute).

SCENE--_First at Delphi in the Temple of Apollo; then on the Hill
of Mars, Athens._



THOUGH the ancient Greek religion, there can be no question, was too
much the creation of mere imagination, and tended rather to cultivate a
delicate sense of beauty than to strike the soul with a severe reverence
before the awful majesty of the moral law, yet it is no less certain
that to look upon it as altogether addressed to our sensuous emotions,
however convenient for a certain shallow school of theology, would lead
the calm inquirer after moral truth far away from the right track. As
among the gods that rule over the elements of the physical world, Jove,
according to the Homeric creed, asserts a high supremacy, which
restrains the liberty of the celestial aristocracy from running into
lawless licence and confusion; so the wild and wanton ebullitions of
human passion, over which a Bacchus, a Venus, and a Mars preside, are
not free from the constant control of a righteous Jove, and the sacred
terror of a retributive Erinnys. The great lesson of a moral government,
and a secret order of justice pervading the apparent confusion of the
system of things of which we are a part, is sufficiently obvious in the
whole structure of the two great Homeric poems; but if it exists in the
midst of that sunny luxuriance of popular fancy as a felt atmosphere, it
is planted by Æschylus, the thoughtful lyrist of a later age, on a
visible elevation, whence, as from a natural pulpit, enveloped with dark
clouds, or from a Heathen Sinai, involved in fearful thunders and
lightnings, it trumpets forth its warnings, and hurls its bolts of
flaming denunciation against Sin. The reader, who has gone through the
two preceding pieces of this remarkable trilogy, without discovering
this their deep moral significance, has read to little purpose; but it
is here, in the concluding piece, that the grand doctrine of the moral
government of the world is most formally enunciated; it is in the person
of the Furies that the wrathful indignation of Jove against the
violators of the moral law manifests itself, in the full panoply of
terror, and stands out as the stern Avatar of an inexorable Justice.
Here, therefore, if we will understand the moral seriousness, of which
the gay Hellenic Polytheism was not without its background, let us fix
our gaze. If the principles of "immutable morality," of which our great
English Platonist talks so comprehensively, are to be found anywhere,
they are to be found here.


The Furies (or the Εὐμενίδες, _i.e._ the _Gracious-minded_, as
they are called by a delicate euphemism) are generally looked upon as
the impersonations of an evil conscience, the incarnated scourges of
self-reproach. In this view there is no essential error; but it may be
beneficial, in entering on the perusal of the present piece, to place
before the modern reader more literally the true Homeric idea of these
awful Powers. In the Iliad and Odyssey, frequent mention is made of the
Erinnyes; and from the circumstances, in which their names occur, in
various passages of these poems, there can be no doubt that we are to
view them primarily as the impersonation of an imprecation or curse,
which a person, whose natural rights have been grossly violated,
pronounces on the person, by whom this violation comes.[f1] Thus
the father of Phoenix (Il. ix. 453), being offended by the conduct of
his son in relation to one of his concubines, "loads him with frequent
curses, and invokes the hated Furies"--

  Πολλὰ κατηρατο, στυγερὰς δ᾽ ἐπίκεκλετ Εριννΰς,

and "the gods," it is added, "gave accomplishment to his curse, the
subterranean Jove, and the awful Persephone." In the same book we find,
in the narration of the war, between the Curetes and the Ætolians,
about Calydon, how Althaea, the mother of Meleager, being offended with
her son on account of his having slain her brother, cursed him, and
invoked Pluto and Proserpine that he might die, and

                  Her the Fury that walketh in darkness,
  Heard from Erebus' depths, with a heart that knoweth no mercy.

Both these instances relate to offences committed against the revered
character of a parent; but the elder brother also has his Erinnys.--(Il.
xv. 204), and even the houseless beggar--(Od. xvii. 575), and, more than
all, he to whose prejudice the sacred obligation of truth and honour
have been set at nought by the perjured swearer--

  Mighty Jove, be thou my witness, Jove of gods supremest, best,
  Earth, and Sun, and Furies dread, that underneath the ground avenge
  Whoso speaks and sweareth falsely--

says Agamemnon--(Il. xix. 257)--in restoring the intact Briseis to

Thus, according to Homer's idea, wherever there is a cry of righteous
indignation, rising up to Heaven from the breast of an injured person,
there may be a Fury or Furies; for they are not {135} limited or defined
in any way as to number. It is not, however, on every petty occasion of
common offence that these dread ministers of divine vengeance appear.
Only, when deeds of a deeper darkness are done, do these daughters of
primeval Night (for so Æschylus symbolises their pedigree) issue forth
from their subterranean caverns. There is something volcanic in their
indignation, whose eruption is too terrible to be common. They chiefly
frequent the paths, that are dabbled with blood. A murdered father, or a
murdered mother especially, were never known to appeal to them in vain,
even though Jove's own prophet, Apollo, add his sanction to the deed. An
Orestes may not hope to escape the bloody chase, which the "winged
hounds," invoked by a murdered Clytemnestra, are eager to prepare--the
sacred precincts of an oracular Delphi may not repel their
intrusion--the scent of blood "laughs in their nostrils," and they will
not be cheated of their game. Only one greatest goddess, in whose hands
are the keys of her father's armoury of thunder, may withstand the full
rush of these vindictive powers. Only Pallas Athena, with her panoply of
Olympian strength, and her divine wisdom of reconciliation can bid them
be pacified.

In order to understand thoroughly the situation of the matricide
Orestes, in the present play, we must consider further the ancient
doctrine of pollution attaching to an act of murder, and the consequent
necessity of purification to the offender. The nature of this is
distinctly set forth by Orestes himself in a reply to his sister
Iphigenia, put into his mouth by Euripides. "Loxias," he says, "first
sent me to Athens, and

  There first arrived, no host would entertain me,
  As being hated of the immortal gods,
  And some, who pitied me, before me placed
  Cold entertainment on a separate board;
  Beneath the same roof though I lodged with them,
  No interchange of living voice I knew,
  But sat apart and ate my food alone."
                                Iphig. Taur. 954.

Like an unclean leper among the Jews, the man polluted with human blood
wandered from land to land, as with a Cain's mark upon his brow, and
every fellow-being shrank from his touch as from a living plague.

  "For wisely thus our ancestors ordained,
  That the blood-tainted man should know no joy
  From sight of fellow-mortal or from touch,
  But with an horrid sanctitude protected
  Range the wide earth an exile."
                          EURIP. Orest. 512.


Under the ban of such a social excommunication as this, the first act of
readmission into the fraternity of human society was performed by the
sprinkling of swine's blood on the exile, a ceremony described
particularly in the following passage of Apollonius Rhodius, where Jason
and Medea are purified by Circe from the taint of the murder of

  "First to free them from the taint of murder not to be recalled,
  She above them stretched the suckling of a sow whose teats distilled
  The juice that flows when birth is recent; this she cut across the
  And with the crimson blood outflowing dashed the tainted suppliants'
  Then with other pure libations she allayed the harm, invoking
  Jove that hears the supplication of the fugitive stained with blood."
                                      ARGON. IV. 704-9.

The other "pure libations" here mentioned include specially water, of
which particular mention is made in the legend of Alcmæon, which bears
a remarkable resemblance to that of Orestes, and in which it is in the
sacred stream of the Achelous alone that purification is at length
found, from the deeply-engrained guilt of matricide.--(Apollodor, Lib.
III., c. 7.) All this, however, availed only to remove the unhallowed
taint, with which human blood had defiled the murderer. It was
necessary, further, that he should be tried before a competent court,
and formally acquitted, as having performed every atonement and given
every satisfaction that the nature of the case required. According to
the consuetudinary law of Athens, there were various courts in which
different cases of murder and manslaughter were tried; but of all the
courts that held solemn judgment on shed blood, none was more venerable
in its origin, or more weighty in its authority, than the famous court
of the Areopagus; and here it is, accordingly, that, after being wearied
out by the sleepless chase of his relentless pursuers, Orestes, with the
advice and under the protection of Apollo, arrives to gain peace to his
soul by a final verdict of acquittal from the sage elders of Athens,
acting by the authority and with the direction of their wise
patron-goddess, Athena.

The connection of Athena and the Areopagus with the Orestean legend
gives to the present play a local interest and a patriotic hue of which
the want is too often felt in the existing remains of the Attic tragedy.
But Athena and the grave seniors of the hill of Ares are not the only
celestial personages here, in whom an Athenian audience would find a
living interest. The Furies themselves enjoyed a special reverence in
the capital of Athens, under the title of Σεμνὰι θεαι, or the
_dread goddesses_; and the principal seat of this worship, whether by a
happy conjunction or a wise choice, was situated on {137} the north-east
side (looking towards the Acropolis) of that very hill of the war god,
where the venerable court that bore his name held its solemn sessions on
those crimes, which it was the principal function of the Furies to
avenge. Up to the present hour, the curious traveller through the wreck
of Athenian grandeur sees pointed out the black rift of the rock into
which the awful virgins, after accepting the pacification of Athena, are
reported to have descended into their subterranean homes;[f2] and
it is with this very descent, amid flaming torch-light and solemn hymns,
that the great tragedian, mingling peace with fear, closes worthily the
train of startling superhuman terrors which this drama exhibits.

But Æschylus is not a patriot only, and a pious worshipper of his
country's gods in this play, he is also, to some small extent at least,
manifestly a politician. The main feature of the constitutional history
of Athens in the period immediately following the great Persian war, to
which period our trilogy belongs, was the enlargement and the systematic
completion of those democratic forms, of which the timocratic
legislation of Solon, about a century and a-half before, had planted the
first germs. Of these changes, Pericles, the man above all others who
knew both to understand and to control his age, was the chief promoter;
and in a policy whose main tendency was the substitution of a numerous
popular for a narrow professional control of public business, it could
not fail to be a main feature, that the authority of the judges of the
old aristocratic courts was curtailed in favour of those bodies of paid
jurymen, the institution of which is specially attributed to Pericles
and his coadjutor Ephialtes.[f3] Whether these changes were
politic or not, in the large sense of that word, need not be inquired
here; Mr. Grote has done much to lengthen the focus of those
short-sighted national spectacles, through which the English eye has
been accustomed to view the classic democracies; but let it be that
Pericles kept within the bounds of a wise liberty in giving a fair and a
large trial to the action of democratic principles at that time and
place; or let it be, on the other hand, that he overstepped the line

  "Which whoso passes, or who reaches not,
  Misses the mark of right"--

in either case, where decision was so difficult, and discretion so
delicate, no one can accuse the thoughtful tragic poet of a stolid
conservatism, when he comes forward, in this play, as the advocate of
{138} the only court of high jurisdiction in Athens, now left unshaken
by the great surge of those popular billows, that were yet swelling
everywhere with the eager inspiration of Marathon and Salamis.[f4]
The court of Areopagus was not now, since the legislation of Solon, and
the further democratic movement of Cleisthenes, in any invidious or
exclusive sense an aristocratic assembly, such as the close corporations
of the old Roman aristocracy before the series of popular changes
introduced by Licinius Stolo; it was a council, in fact, altogether
without that family and hereditary element, in which the principal
offence of aristocracy has always lain; its members were composed
entirely (not recruited merely like our House of Lords) of those
superior magistrates--archons annually elected by the people--who had
retired from office. To magnify the authority of such a body, and
maintain intact the few privileges that had now been left it, was, when
an obvious opportunity offered, not only excusable in a great national
tragedian, but imperative. One thing his political attitude in this
matter certainly proves, that he was not a vulgar hunter after
popularity, delighting to swell to the point of insane exaggeration the
cry of the hour, but one of those men of high purpose, who prove a
greater strength of patriotism by stemming the popular stream, than by
swimming with it.

Besides the championship of the Court of the Areopagus, there is another
political element in this rich drama, which, though of less consequence,
must not be omitted. No sooner had the Persian invaders been fairly
driven back from the Hellenic shore, than that old spirit of narrow
local jealousy, which was the worm at the heart of Grecian political
existence, broke out with renewed vigour, and gave ominous indications
in the untoward affair of Tanagra, of that terrible collision which
shook the two great rival powers a few years afterwards in the famous
Peloponnesian war. Sparta and Athens, opposed as they were by race, by
geographical position, and by political character, after some public
attempts at co-operation, in which Cimon was the principal actor, shrunk
back, as in quiet preparation for the great trial of strength, into a
state of isolated antagonism. But, though open hostility was deferred,
wise precaution could not sleep; and, accordingly, we find the
Athenians, about this time, anxious to secure a base of operations, so
to speak, against Sparta in the Peloponnesus, by entering into an
alliance with Argos. As a genuine Athenian, Æschylus, whatever his
political feelings might be towards Cimon and the Spartan party, could
not but look with {139} pleasure on the additional strength which this
Argive connection gave to Athens in the general council of Greece; and,
accordingly, he dexterously takes advantage of the circumstance of
Orestes being an Argive, to trace back the now historical union of the
two countries to a period where Fancy is free to add what links she
pleases to the brittle bonds of international association.

Such is a rapid sketch of the principal religious and political
relations, some notion of which is necessary to enable the general
English reader to enter with sympathy on the perusal of the very
powerful and singular drama of the Eumenides. The professional student,
of course, will not content himself with what he finds here, but will
seek for complete satisfaction in the luminous pages of Thirlwall and
Grote--in the learned articles of Dr. Smith's Dictionary of Antiquities,
in the notes of Schoemann, and, above all, in the rare Dissertations of
Ottfried Müller, accompanying his edition of the Eumenides--a work
which I have read once and again with mingled admiration and
delight--from which I have necessarily drawn with no stinted hand in my
endeavours to comprehend the Orestean trilogy for myself, and to make it
comprehensible to others; and which I most earnestly recommend to all
classical students as a pattern-specimen of erudite architecture raised
by the hand of a master, from whom, even in his points of most baseless
speculation (as what German is without such?), more is to be learned
than from the triple-fanged certainties of vulgar commentators.



  [SCENE.--_In front of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi._

 Old Earth, primeval prophetess, I first
 With these my prayers invoke; and Themis[n1] next,
 Who doth her mother's throne and temple both
 Inherit, as the legend runs; and third
 In lot's due course, another Earth-born maid
 The unforced homage of the land received,
 Titanian Phœbe;[f5] she in natal gift
 With her own name her hoary right bequeathed
 To Phœbus: he from rocky Delos' lake[n2]
 To Attica's ship-cruised bays was wafted, whence
 He in Parnassus fixed his sure abode.
 Hither with pious escort they attend him:
 The Sons of Vulcan pioneer his path,[n3]
 Smoothing the rugged desert where he comes:
 The thronging people own him, and king Delphos,
 The land's high helmsman, flings his portals wide.
 Jove with divinest skill his heart inspires,
 And now the fourth on this dread seat enthroned
 Sits Loxias,[f6] prophet of his father Jove.[n4]
 These be the gods, whom chiefly I invoke:
 But thee, likewise, who 'fore this temple dwellest,[n5]
 Pallas, I pray, and you, ye Nymphs that love
 The hollow Corycian rock,[n6] the frequent haunt
 Of pleasant birds, the home of awful gods.
 Thee, Bromius, too, I worship,[n7] not unweeting
 How, led by thee, the furious Thyads rushed
 To seize the godless Pentheus,[n8] ev'n as a hare
 Is dogged to death. And you, the fountains pure
 Of Pleistus,[f7] and Poseidon's[f8] mighty power[n9]
 I pray, and Jove most high, that crowns all things
 With consummation. These the gods that lead me
 To the prophetic seat, and may they grant me
 Best-omened entrance; may consulting Greeks,
 If any be, by custom'd lot approach;
 For as the gods my bosom stir, I pour
 The fateful answer.
   [_She goes into the Temple, but suddenly returns._
 O horrid tale to tell! O sight to see
 Most horrible! that drives me from the halls
 Of Loxias, so that I nor stand nor run,
 But, like a beast fourfooted stumble on,
 Losing the gait and station of my kind,
 A gray-haired woman, weaker than a child![n10]
 Up to the garlanded recess I walked,
 And on the navel-stone[f9] behold! a man
 With crime polluted to the altar clinging,
 And in his bloody hand he held a sword
 Dripping with recent murder, and a branch
 Of breezy olive, with flocks of fleecy wool
 All nicely tipt. Even thus I saw the man;
 And stretched before him an unearthly host
 Of strangest women, on the sacred seats
 Sleeping--not women, but a Gorgon brood,
 And worse than Gorgons, or the ravenous crew
 That filched the feast of Phineus[n11] (such I've seen
 In painted terror); but these are wingless, black,
 Incarnate horrors, and with breathings dire
 Snort unapproachable, and from their eyes
 Pestiferous beads of poison they distil.
 Such uncouth sisterhood, apparel'd so,[n12]
 From all affinity of gods or men
 Divorced, from me and from the gods be far,
 And from all human homes! Nor can the land,
 That lends these unblest hags a home, remain
 Uncursed by fearful scourges. But the god,
 Thrice-potent Loxias himself will ward
 His holiest shrine from lawless outrage. Him
 Physician, prophet, soothsayer, we call,
 Cleansing from guilt the blood-polluted hall. [_Exit._

   [_The interior of the Delphic Temple is now presented to view._
   ORESTES _is seen clinging to the navel-stone; the_ EUMENIDES
   _lie sleeping on the seats around. In the background_ HERMES
   _beside_ ORESTES. _Enter_ APOLLO.

 (_to_ ORESTES)
 Trust me, I'll not betray thee. Far or near,
 Thy guardian I, and to thine every foe
 No gentle god. Thy madded persecutors
 Sleep-captured lie: the hideous host is bound.
 Primeval virgins, hoary maids, with whom
 Nor god, nor man, nor beast hath known communion.
 For evil's sake they are: in evil depth
 Of rayless Tartarus, underneath the ground,
 They dwell, of men and of Olympian gods
 Abhorred. But hence! nor faint thy heart, though they
 Are mighty to pursue from land to land
 O'er measureless tracks, from rolling sea to sea,
 And sea-swept cities. A bitter pasture truly
 Was thine from Fate;[n13] but bear all stoutly. Hie thee
 Away to Pallas' city, and embrace
 Her ancient image[n14] with close-clinging arms.
 Just Judges there we will appoint to judge
 Thy cause, and with soft-soothing pleas will pluck
 The sting from thy offence, and free thee quite
 From all thy troubles. Thou know'st that I, the god,
 When thou didst strike, myself the blow directed.

 Liege lord Apollo, justice to the gods
 Belongs; in justice, O remember me.
 Thy power divine assurance gives that thou
 Can'st make thy will a deed.

                             Fear nought. Trust me.
 [_To_ HERMES] And thou, true brother's blood, true father's son,
 Hermes, attend, and to this mission gird thee.
 Fulfil the happy omen of thy name,
 The GUIDE,[f10] and guide this suppliant on his way.
 For Jove respects thy function and thy pride,
 The prosperous convoy, and the faithful guide.

   [_Exit_ HERMES, _leading_ ORESTES. APOLLO _retires_.


 Sleeping? All sleeping! Ho! What need of sleepers?
 While I roam restless, of my fellow-dead
 Dishonoured and reproached, by fault of you,
 That when I slew swift vengeance overtook me.
 But being slain myself, my avengers sleep
 And leave my cause to drift! Hear me, sleepers!
 Such taunts I bear, such contumelious gibes,
 Yet not one god is touched with wrath to avenge
 My death, who died by matricidal hands.
 Behold these wounds![n15] look through thy sleep, and see!
 Read with thy heart; some things the soul may scan
 More clearly, when the sensuous lid hath dropt,
 Nor garish day confounds.[n16] Full oft have ye
 Of my libations sipped the wineless streams,
 The soothing? of my sober sacrifice,
 The silent supper from the solemn altar,
 At midnight hour when only ye are worshipped.
 But now all this beneath your feet lies trampled.
 The man is gone; fled like a hind! he snaps
 The meshes of your toils, and makes--O shame!
 Your Deity a mark for scoffers' eyes
 To wink at! Hear me, ye infernal hags,
 Unhoused from hell! For my soul's peace I plead,
 Once Clytemnestra famous, now a dream.[n17]
           [_The_ CHORUS _moans._
 Ye moan! the while the man hath fled, and seeks
 For help from those that are no friends to me.[n18]
           [_The_ CHORUS _moans again._
 Sleep-bound art thou. Hast thou no bowels for me?
 My Furies sleep, and let my murderer flee.
           [_The_ CHORUS _groans._
 Groaning and sleeping! Up! What work hast thou
 To do, but thine own work of sorrow? Rouse thee!
           [_The_ CHORUS _groans again._
 Sleep and fatigue have sworn a league to bind
 The fearful dragon with strong mastery.

 (_with redoubled groans and shrill cries_)
 Hold! seize him! seize him! seize there! there! there! hold!

 Thy dream scents blood; and, like a dog that doth
 In dreams pursue the chase, even so dost thou
 At phantasms bark and howl. To work! to work!
 Let not fatigue o'ermaster thus thy strength,
 Nor slumber soothe the sense of sharpest wrong.
 Torture thy liver with reproachful thoughts;
 Reproaches are the pricks that goad the wise.
 Up! blow a blast of bloody breath behind him!
 Dry up his marrow with the fiery vengeance!
 Follow! give chase! pursue him to the death!

   [CHORUS,[n19] _starting up in hurry and confusion._

 Awake! awake! rouse her as I rouse thee!


 Dost sleep? arise! dash drowsy sleep away!
 Brave dreams be prelude to brave deed! Ho, sisters!

    Shame, sisters, shame!
    Insult and injury!
    Shame, O shame!

    Shame on me, too: a bootless, fruitless shame!

    Insult and injury,
     Sorrow and shame!
    Burden unbearable,
     Shame! O shame!

    The snare hath sprung: flown is the goodly game.

    I slept, and when sleeping
    He sprang from my keeping;
      Shame, O shame!

    O son of Jove, in sooth,
    If thou wilt hear the truth,
      Robber's thy name!

    Thou being young dost overleap the old.[n20]

    A suppliant, godless,
    And bloodstained, I see,
    And bitter to parents,
    Harboured by thee.

    Apollo's shrine a mother-murderer's hold!

    Apollo rewardeth
    Whom Justice discardeth,
    And robber's his name!

    A voice of reproach
    Came through my sleeping,
    Like a charioteer
    With his swift lash sweeping.

    Thorough my heart,
    Thorough my liver,
    Keen as the cold ice
    Shot through the river.

    Harsh as the headsman,
    Ruthless exacter,
    When tearless he scourges
    The doomed malefactor.


    All blushless and bold
    The gods that are younger
    Would rule o'er the old,
    With the right of the stronger.

    The Earth's navel-stone
    So holy reputed,
    All gouted with blood,
    With fresh murder polluted,
      Behold, O behold!

    By the fault of the younger,
      The holiest holy
    Is holy no longer.

    Thyself thy hearth with this pollution stained,
    Thyself, a prophet, free and unconstrained.

    O'er the laws of the gods
    Thou hast recklessly ridden,
    Dispensing to men
    Gifts to mortals forbidden;

    Us thou hast reft
    Of our name and our glory,
    Us and the Fates,
    The primeval, the hoary.

    I hate the god. Though underneath the ground
    He hide my prey, there, too, he shall be found.

    I at each shrine
    Where the mortal shall bend him,
    Will jealously watch,
    That no god may defend him.

    Go where he will,
    A blood-guilty ranger,
    Hotly will hound him still
    I, the Avenger!

 Begone! I charge thee, leave these sacred halls!
 From this prophetic cell avaunt! lest thou
 A feathered serpent in thy breast receive,
 Shot from my golden bow; and, inly pained,
 Thou vomit forth black froth of murdered men,
 Belching the clotted slaughter by thy maw
 Insatiate sucked. These halls suit not for thee;
 But where beheading, eye-out-digging dooms,[n21]
 Abortions, butcheries, barrenness abound,
 Where mutilations, flayings, torturings,
 Make wretches groan, on pointed stakes impaled,
 There fix your seats; there hold the horrid feasts,
 In which your savage hearts exultant revel,
 Of gods abominate--maids whose features foul
 Speak your foul tempers plainly. Find a home
 In some grim lion's den sanguinolent, not
 In holy temples which your breath pollutes.
 Depart, ye sheep unshepherded, whom none
 Of all the gods may own!

                         Liege lord, Apollo,
 Ours now to speak, and thine to hear: thyself
 Not aided only, but the single cause
 Wert thou of all thou blamest.

                               How so? Speak!

 Thine was the voice that bade him kill his mother.

 Mine was the voice bade him avenge his father.

 All reeking red with gore thou didst receive him.

 Not uninvited to these halls he came.

 And we come with him. Wheresoe'er he goes,
 His convoy we. Our function is to follow.

 Follow! but from this holy threshold keep
 Unholy feet.

             We, where we must go, go
 By virtue of our office.

                         A goodly vaunt!
 Your office what?

                  From hearth and home we chase
 All mother-murderers.

                      She was murdered here,
 That murdered first her husband.[n22]

                                 Yet should she
 By her own body's fruitage have been slain?

 Thus speaking, ye mispraise the sacred rites
 Of matrimonial Hera[n23] and of Jove,
 Unvalued make fair Aphrodite's grace,
 Whence dearest joys to mortal man descend.
 The nuptial bed, to man and woman fated,[n24]
 Hath obligation stronger than an oath,
 And Justice guards it. Ye who watch our crimes,
 If that loose reins to nuptial sins ye yield,
 Offend, and grossly. If the murtherous wife
 Escape your sharp-set vengeance, how can ye
 Pursue Orestes justly? I can read
 No even judgment in your partial scales,
 In this more wrathful, and in that more mild.
 She who is wise shall judge between us, Pallas.

 The man is mine already. I will keep him.

 He's gone; and thou'lt but waste thy toil to follow.

 Thy words shall not be swords, to cut my honors.

 Crowned with such honors, I would tear them from me!

 A mighty god beside thy father's throne
 Art thou, Apollo. Me this mother's blood
 Goads on to hound this culprit to his doom.

 And I will help this man, champion and save him,
 My suppliant, my client; should I not,
 Both gods and men would brand the treachery.

   [_The scene changes to the Temple of Pallas in Athens. A considerable
   interval of time is supposed to have elapsed between
   the two parts of the Play._

   [_Enter_ ORESTES.

 Athena queen, at Loxias' hest I come.
 Receive the suppliant with propitious grace.
 Not now polluted, nor unwashed from guilt
 I cling to the first altar; time hath mellowed
 My hue of crime, and friendly men receive
 The curse-beladen wanderer to their homes.
 True to the god's oracular command,
 O'er land and sea with weary foot I fare,
 To find thy shrine, O goddess, and clasp thine image;
 And now redemption from thy doom I wait.

   [_Enter_ CHORUS.

 'Tis well. The man is here. His track I know.
 The sure advisal of our voiceless guide
 Follow; as hound a wounded stag pursues,
 We track the blood, and snuff the coming death.
 Soothly we pant, with life-outwearying toils
 Sore overburdened! O'er the wide sea far
 I came, and with my wingless flight outstripped
 The couriers of the deep. Here he must lie,
 In some pent corner skulking. In my nostrils
 The scent of mortal blood doth laugh me welcome.


    Look, sisters, look!

    On the right, on the left, and round about,
    Search every nook!

    Warily watch him,
    The blood-guilty ranger,
    That Fraud may not snatch him,
    From me the Avenger!

    At the shrine of the goddess,
    He bendeth him lowly,
    Embracing her image,
    The ancient the holy.

    With hands crimson-reeking,
    He clingeth profanely,
    A free pardon seeking
    From Pallas--how vainly!

    For blood, when it floweth,
    For once and for ever
    It sinks, and it knoweth
    To mount again never.

    Thou shalt pay me with pain;
    From thy heart, from thy liver
    I will suck, I will drain
    Thy life's crimson river.

    The cup from thy veins
    I will quaff it, how rarely!
    I will wither thy brains,
    Thou shalt pine late and early.

    I will drag thee alive,
    For thy guilt matricidal,
    To the dens of the damned,
    For thy lasting abidal.

    There imprisoned thou shalt see
    All who living sinned with thee,
    'Gainst the gods whom men revere,
    'Gainst honoured guest, or parents dear;
    All the guilty who inherited
    Woe, even as their guilt had merited.
    For Hades,[f11] in his halls of gloom,
    With a justly portioned doom,
      Binds them down securely:
    All the crimes of human kind,
    In the tablet of his mind,
      He hath graven surely.

 By manifold ills I have been taught to know
 All expiations; and the time to speak
 I know, and to be silent. In this matter
 As a wise master taught me, so my tongue
 Shapes utterance. The curse that bound me sleeps,
 My harsh-grained guilt is finer worn, the deep
 Ensanguined stain washed to a softer hue;
 Still reeking fresh with gore, on Phœbus' hearth,
 The blood of swine hath now wrought my lustration,[f12]
 And I have held communings with my kind
 Once and again unharming. Time, that smooths
 All things, hath smoothed the front of my offence.
 With unpolluted lips I now implore
 Thy aid, Athena, of this land the queen.
 Myself, a firm ally, I pledge to thee,
 Myself, the Argive people, and their land,
 Thy bloodless prize. And whether distant far
 On Libyan plains beside Tritonian pools,[n26]
 Thy natal flood, with forward foot firm planted,
 Erect, or with decorous stole high-seated,[n27]
 Thy friends thou aidest, or with practised eye
 The ordered battle on Phlegrean fields
 Thou musterest[n28]--come!--for gods can hear from far--
 And from these woes complete deliverance send!

    Not all Apollo's, all Athena's power
    Shall aid thee. Thou, of gods and men forsook,
    Shalt pine and dwindle, stranger to the name
    Of joy, a wasted shadow, bloodless sucked
    To fatten wrathful gods. Thou dost not speak,
    But, as a thing devoted, standest dumb,
    My prey, even mine! my living banquet thou,
    My fireless victim. List, and thou shalt hear
    My song, that binds thee with its viewless chain.

    Deftly, deftly weave the dance!
    Sisters lift the dismal strain!
    Sing the Furies, justly dealing
    Dooms deserved to guilty mortals;
    Deftly, deftly lift the strain!
    Whoso lifted hands untainted
    Him no Furies' wrath shall follow,
    He shall live unharmed by me;
    But who sinned, as this offender,
    Hiding foul ensanguined hands,
    We with him are present, bearing
    Unhired witness for the dead;
    We will tread his heels, exacting
    Blood for blood, even to the end.

    Mother Night that bore me,
    A scourge, to go before thee,
    To scourge, with stripes delightless,
    The seeing and the sightless,[n30]
    Hear me, I implore thee,
      O Mother Night!
    Mother Night that bore me,
    The son of Leto o'er me
     Rough rides, in thy despite.
    From me, the just pursuer,
    He shields the evil-doer,
    The son to me devoted,
    For mother-murder noted,
     He claims against the right.

      Where the victim lies,
      Let the death-hymn rise!
   Lift ye the hymn of the Furies amain!
   The gleeless song, and the lyreless strain,[n31]
   That bindeth the heart with a viewless chain,
 With notes of distraction and maddening sorrow,
 Blighting the brain, and burning the marrow!
      Where the victim lies,
      Let the death-hymn rise,
   The hymn that binds with a viewless chain!

     Mother Night that bore me,
     The Fate that was before me,
     This portion gave me surely,
     This lot for mine securely,
     To bear the scourge before thee,
      O Mother Night!
     And, in embrace untender
     To hold the red offender,
      That sinned in gods' despite,
     And wheresoe'er he wend him,
     His keepers close we tend him.
     In living or in dying,
     From us there is no flying,
      The daughters of the Night.

       Where the victim lies,
       Let the death-hymn rise!
    Lift ye the hymn of the Furies amain!
    The gleeless song, and the lyreless strain,
    That bindeth the heart with a viewless chain,
  With notes of distraction and maddening sorrow,
  Blighting the brain, and burning the marrow!
       Where the victim lies,
       Let the death-hymn rise,
     The hymn that binds with a viewless chain!

      From primal ages hoary,
      This lot, our pride and glory,
       Appointed was to us;
      To Hades' gloomy portal,
      To chase the guilty mortal,
      But from Olympians, reigning
      In lucid seats,[f13] abstaining;
      Their nectared feasts we taste not,
      Their sun-white robes invest not
       The maids of Erebus.

        But, with scourge and with ban,
        We prostrate the man,
        Who with smooth-woven wile,
        And a fair-faced smile,
     Hath planted a snare for his friend;
      Though fleet, we shall find him,
      Though strong, we shall bind him,
     Who planted a snare for his friend.

      This work of labour earnest,[n32]
      This task severest, sternest,
       Let none remove from us.
      To all their due we render,
      Each deeply-marked offender
      Our searching eye reproveth,
      Though blissful Jove removeth,
      From his Olympian glory,
      Abhorr'd of all and gory,
       The maids of Erebus.

        But, swift as the wind,
        We follow and find,
        Till he stumbles apace,
        Who had hoped in the race,
     To escape from the grasp of the Furies!
        And we trample him low,
        Till he writhe in his woe,
     Who had fled from the chase of the Furies.

        The thoughts heaven-scaling
        Of men haughty-hearted,
        At our breath, unavailing
        Like smoke they departed.
        Our jealous foot hearing,
        They stumble before us,
        And bite the ground, fearing
        Our dark-vested chorus.

        They fall, and perceive not
        The foe that hath found them;
        They are blind and believe not,
        Thick darkness hath bound them.
        From the halls of the fated,
        A many-voiced wailing
        Of sorrow unsated
        Ascends unavailing.

        For the Furies work readily
        Vengeance unsparing,
        Surely and steadily
        Ruin preparing.
        Dark crimes strictly noted,
        Sure-memoried they store them;
        And, judgment once voted,
        Prayers vainly implore them.
        For they know no communion
        With the bright-throned union
         Of the gods of the day;
        Where the living appear not,
        Where the pale Shades near not,
        In regions delightless,
        All sunless and sightless,
         They dwell far away.

        What mortal reveres not
        Our deity awful?
        When he names us, who fears not
        To work deeds unlawful?
        From times hoary-dated,
        This statute for ever
        Divinely was fated;
        Time takes from it never.
        For dishonour we bear not,
        Though the bright thrones we share not
        With the gods of the day.
        Our right hoary-dated
        We claim unabated,
        Though we dwell, where delightless
        No sun cheers the sightless,
         'Neath the ground far away.

   [_Enter_ ATHENA.

 The cry that called me from Scamander's banks[n33]
 I heard afar, even as I hied to claim
 The land for mine which the Achæan chiefs
 Assigned me, root and branch, my portion fair
 Of the conquered roods, a goodly heritage
 To Theseus' sons. Thence, with unwearied foot,
 I journeyed here by these high-mettled steeds
 Car-borne, my wingless ægis in the gale
 Full-bosomed whirring. And now, who are ye,
 A strange assembly, though I fear you not,
 Here gathered at my gates? I speak to both,
 To thee the stranger, that with suppliant arms
 Enclasps my statue--Whence art thou? And you,
 Like to no generation seed-begotten,
 Like to no goddess ever known of gods,
 Like to no breathing forms of mortal kind;
 But to reproach with contumelious phrase
 Who wrong not us, nor courtesy allows,
 Nor Themis wills. Whence are ye?

                                 Daughter of Jove,
 'Tis shortly said: of the most ancient Night
 The tristful daughters we, and our dread name,
 Even from the fearful CURSE we bear, we borrow.[f14]

 I know you, and the dreaded name ye bear.

 Our sacred office, too--

                       That I would hear.

 The guilty murderer from his home we hunt.

 And the hot chase, where ends it?

                                  There, where joy
 Is never named.

                And is this man the quarry,
 That, with hoarse-throated whoop, thou now pursuest?

 He slew his mother--dared the worst of crimes.

 What mightier fear, what strong necessity
 Spurred him to this?

                     What fear so strong that it
 Should prompt a mother's murder?

 There are two parties. Only one hath spoken.

 He'll neither swear himself, nor take my oath.[n34]

 The show of justice, not fair Justice self,
 Thou lovest.

             HOW? Speak--thou so rich in wisdom.

 Oaths are no proof, to make the wrong the right.

 Prove thou. A true and righteous judgment judge.

 I shall be judge, betwixt this man and thee
 To speak the doom.

                   Even thou. Thy worthy deeds
 Give thee the worth in this high strife to judge.

 Now, stranger, 'tis thy part to speak. Whence come,
 Thy lineage what, and what thy fortunes, say,
 And then refute this charge against thee brought.
 For well I note the sacredness about thee,
 That marks the suppliant who atonement seeks,
 In old Ixíon's guise;[n35] and thou hast fled
 For refuge, to my holy altar clinging.
 Answer me this, and plainly tell thy tale.

 Sovran Athena, first from these last words
 A cause of much concernment be removed.
 I seek for no atonement; no pollution
 Cleaves to thy sacred image from my touch.
 Of this receive a proof. Thou know'st a murderer
 Being unatoned a voiceless penance bears,
 Till, from the hand of friendly man, the blood
 Of a young beast from lusty veins hath sprent him,
 Cleansing from guiltiness. These sacred rites
 Have been performed: the blood of beasts hath sprent me,
 The lucent lymph hath purged the filthy stain.
 For this enough. As for my race, I am
 An Argive born: and for my father, he
 Was Agamemnon, king of men, by whom
 The chosen admiral of the masted fleet,
 The ancient city of famous Priam thou
 Didst sheer uncity.[n36] Sad was his return;
 For, with dark-bosomed guile, my mother killed him,
 Snared in the meshes of a tangled net,
 And of the bloody deed the bath was witness.
 I then, returning to my father's house
 After long exile--I confess the deed--
 Slew her who bore me, a dear father's murder
 With murder quitting. The blame--what blame may be--
 I share with Loxias, who fore-augured griefs
 To goad my heart if, by my fault, such guilt
 Should go unpunished. I have spoken. Thou
 What I have done, if justly or unjustly,
 Decide. Thy doom, howe'er it fall, contents me.

 In this high cause to judge, no mortal man
 May venture; nor may I divide the law
 Of right and wrong, in such keen strife of blood.
 For thee, in that thou comest to my halls,[n37]
 In holy preparation perfected,
 A pure and harmless suppliant, I, as pledged
 Already thy protector, may not judge thee.
 For these, 'tis no light thing to slight their office.
 For, should I send them hence uncrowned with triumph,
 Dripping fell poison from their wrathful breasts,
 They'd leave a noisome pestilence in the land
 Behind them. Thus both ways I'm sore perplexed;
 Absent or present, they do bring a curse.
 But since this business needs a swift decision,
 Sworn judges I'll appoint, and they shall judge
 Of blood in every age. Your testimonies
 And proofs meanwhile, and all that clears the truth,
 Provide. Myself, to try this weighty cause,
 My choicest citizens will choose, and bind them
 By solemn oath to judge a righteous judgment.

     Ancient rights and hoary uses
     Now shall yield to young abuses,
     Right and wrong together chime,
       If the vote
       Fail to note
     Mother-murder for a crime.
     Murder now, made nimble-handed,
     Wide shall rage without control;
     Sons against their parents banded
       Deeds abhorred
       With the sword
     Now shall work, while ages roll.

     Now no more, o'er deeds unlawful,
     Shall the sleeping Mænads[f15] awful
     Watch, with jealous eyes to scan;
       Free and chainless,
       Wild and reinless,
     Stalks o'er Earth each murtherous plan.
     Friend to friend his loss deploreth,
     Lawless rapine, treacherous wound,
     But in vain his plaint he poureth;
       To his bruises
       Earth refuses
     Balm; no balm on Earth is found.

     Now no more, from grief's prostration,
         Cries and groans
     Heaven shall scale with invocation--
     "Justice hear my supplication,
     Hear me, Furies, from your thrones!"
     From the recent sorrow bleeding,
      Father thus or mother calls,
     Vainly with a piteous pleading,
      For the House of Justice falls.

     Blest the man in whose heart reigneth
         Holy Fear;
     Fear his heart severely traineth;
     Blest, from troublous woe who gaineth
      Ripest fruits of wisdom clear;[f16]
     But who sports, a careless liver,[n39]
      In the sunshine's flaunting show,
     Holy Justice, he shall never
      Thy severest virtue know.

     Lordless life, or despot-ridden,
     Be they both from me forbidden.
     To the wise mean strength is given,[n40]
     Thus the gods have ruled in heaven;
     Gods, that gently or severely
     Judge, discerning all things clearly.
     Mark my word, I tell thee truly,
     Pride, that lifts itself unduly,[n41]
     Had a godless heart for sire.
     Healthy-minded moderation
     Wins the wealthy consummation,
       Every heart's desire.

     Yet, again, I tell thee truly,
     At Justice' altar bend thee duly.
     Wean thine eye from lawless yearning
     After gain; with godless spurning
     Smite not thou that shrine most holy.
     Punishment, that travels slowly,
     Comes at last, when least thou fearest.
     Yet, once more; with truth sincerest,
     Love thy parents and revere,
     And the guest, that to protect him,
     Claims thy guardian roof, respect him,
       With an holy fear.[f17]

     Whoso, with no forced endeavour,
       Sin-eschewing liveth,
     Him to hopeless ruin never
       Jove the Saviour giveth.
     But whose hand, with greed rapacious,
       Draggeth all things for his prey,
     He shall strike his flag audacious,
       When the god-sent storm shall bray,
         Winged with fate at last;
     When the stayless sail is flapping,
     When the sail-yard swings, and, snapping,
         Crashes to the blast.

     He shall call, but none shall hear him,
       When dark ocean surges;
     None with saving hand shall near him,
       When his prayer he urges.
     Laughs the god, to see him vainly
       Grasping at the crested rock;
       Fool, who boasted once profanely
     Firm to stand in Fortune's shock;
       Who so great had been
     His freighted wealth with fearful crashing,
     On the rock of Justice dashing,
       Dies, unwept, unseen.

   [_Enter_ ATHENA, _behind a Herald._

 Herald, proclaim the diet, and command
 The people to attention; with strong breath
 Give the air-shattering Tyrrhene trump free voice,[n42]
 To speak shrill-throated to the assembled throngs;
 And, while the judges take their solemn seats,
 In hushed submission, let the city hear
 My laws that shall endure for aye; and these,
 In hushed submission, wait the righteous doom.


   [_Enter_ APOLLO.[n43]

 Sovran Apollo, rule where thou art lord;
 But here what business brings the prophet? Speak.

 I come a witness of the truth; this man
 Is suppliant to me, he on my hearth
 Found refuge, him I purified from blood.
 I, too, am patron of his cause, I share
 The blame, if blame there be, in that he slew
 His mother. Pallas, order thou the trial.

 (_to the Furies_)
 Speak ye the first, 'tis wiseliest ordered thus,
 That, who complains, his plaint set forth in order,
 Point after point, articulately clear.

 Though we be many, yet our words are few.
 Answer thou singly, as we singly ask;
 This first--art thou the murderer of thy mother?

 I did the deed. This fact hath no denial.

 Once worsted! With three fits I gain the trial.

 Boast, when thou seest me fall. As yet I stand.

 This answer now--how didst thou do the deed.

 Thus; with my pointed dagger, in the neck
 I smote her.

             Who the bloody deed advised?

 The god of oracles. Here he stands to witness.

 Commanding murder with prophetic nod?

 Ay! and even now I do not blame the god.

 Soon, soon, thou'lt blame him, when the pebble drops
 Into the urn of justice with thy doom.

 My murdered sire will aid me from the tomb.

 Trust in the dead; in thy dead mother trust.

 She died, with two foul blots well marked for vengeance.

 How so? This let the judges understand.

 The hand that killed her husband killed my father.

 If she for her crimes died, why livest thou?

 If her thou didst not vex, why vex me now?

 She slew a man, but not of kindred blood.

 Is the son's blood all to the mother kin,
 None to the father?

                    Peace, thou sin-stained monster!
 Dost thou abjure the dearest blood, the mother's
 That bore thee 'neath her zone?

 (_to_ APOLLO)
                                Be witness thou.
 Apollo, speak for me, if by the rule
 Of Justice she was murdered. That the deed
 Was done, and by these hands, I not deny;
 If justly or unjustly blood was spilt,
 Thou knowest. Teach me how to make reply.

 I speak to you, Athena's mighty council;
 And what I speak is truth: the prophet lies not.
 From my oracular seat was published never
 To man, to woman, or to city aught
 By my Olympian sire unfathered.[f18] Ye
 How Justice sways the scale will wisely weigh;
 But this remember--what my father wills
 Is law. Jove's will is stronger than an oath.

 Jove, say'st thou, touched thy tongue with inspiration,
 To teach Orestes that he might avenge
 A father's death by murdering a mother?

 His was no common father--Agamemnon,
 Honoured the kingly sceptre god-bestowed
 To bear--he slain by a weak woman, not
 By furious Amazon with far-darting bow,
 But in such wise as I shall now set forth
 To thee, Athena, and to these that sit
 On this grave bench of judgment. Him returning
 All prosperous from the wars, with fairest welcome
 She hailed her lord, and in the freshening bath
 Bestowed him; there, ev'n while he laved, she came
 Spreading death's mantle out, and, in a web
 Of curious craft entangled, stabbed him. Such
 Was the sad fate of this most kingly man,
 Of all revered, the fleet's high admiral.
 A tale it is to prick your heart with pity,
 Even yours that seal the judgment.

                                   Jove, thou sayest,
 Prefers the father: yet himself did bind
 With bonds his hoary-dated father Kronos.[n44]
 Make this with that to square, and thou art wise.
 Ye judges, mark me, if I reason well.

 O odious monsters, of all gods abhorred!
 A chain made fast may be untied again.
 This ill hath many cures; but, when the dust
 Hath once drunk blood, no power can raise it. Jove
 Himself doth know no charm to disenchant
 Death; other things he turns both up and down,
 At his good pleasure, fainting not in strength.


 Consider well whereto thy words will lead thee.
 How shall this man, who spilt his mother's blood,
 Dwell in his father's halls at Argos? How
 Devoutly kneel at the public altar? How
 With any clanship share lustration?[n45]

 Likewise I'll answer. Mark me! whom we call
 The mother begets not;[n46] she is but the nurse,
 Whose fostering breast the new-sown seed receives.
 The father truly gets; the dam but cherishes
 A stranger-bud, that, if the gods be kind,
 May blossom soon, and bear. Behold a proof!
 Without a mother may a child be born,
 Not so without a father. Which to witness
 Here is this daughter of Olympian Jove,
 Not nursed in darkness, in the womb, and yet
 She stands a goddess, heavenly mother ne'er
 Bore greater. Pallas, here I plight my faith
 To magnify thy city and thy people;
 And I this suppliant to thy hearth hath sent,
 Thy faithful ally ever. May the league
 Here sworn to-day their children's children bind!

 Now judges, as your judgment is, I charge you,
 So vote the doom. Words we have had enough.

 Our quiver's emptied. We await the doom.

 How should the sentence fall to keep me free
 Of your displeasure?

                     What we said we said.
 Even as your heart informs you, nothing fearing,
 So judges justly vote, the oath revering.

 Now, hear my ordinance, Athenians![n47] Ye,
 In this first strife of blood, umpires elect,
 While age on age shall roll, the sons of Aegeus
 This Council shall revere. Here, on this hill,
 The embattled Amazons pitched their tents of yore,[n48]
 What time with Theseus striving, they their tents
 Against these high-towered infant walls uptowered.
 To Mars they sacrificed, and, to this day,
 This Mars' Hill speaks their story. Here, Athenians,
 Shall reverence of the gods, and holy fear,
 That shrinks from wrong, both night and day possess,
 A place apart, so long as fickle change
 Your ancient laws disturbs not; but, if this
 Pure fount with muddy streams ye trouble, ye
 Shall draw the draught in vain. From anarchy
 And slavish masterdom alike my ordinance
 Preserve my people! Cast not from your walls
 All high authority; for where no fear
 Awful remains, what mortal will be just?
 This holy reverence use, and ye possess
 A bulwark, and a safeguard of the land,
 Such as no race of mortals vaunteth, far
 In Borean Scythia, or the land of Pelops.[f19]
 This council I appoint intact to stand
 From gain, a venerated conclave, quick
 In pointed indignation, when all sleep
 A sleepless watch. These words of warning hear,
 My citizens for ever. Now ye judges
 Rise, take your pebbles, and by vote decide,
 The sacred oath revering. I have spoken.

   [_The_ AEROPAGITES _advance; and, as each puts his pebble into the
   urn, the_ CHORUS _and_ APOLLO _alternately address them as follows:_

 I warn ye well: the sisterhood beware,
 Whose wrath hangs heavier than the land may bear.

 I warn ye well: Jove is my father; fear
 To turn to nought the words of me, his seer.

 If thou dost plead, where thou hast no vocation,
 For blood, will men respect thy divination?

 Must then my father share thy condemnation,
 When first he heard Ixion's supplication?

 Thou say'st.[n49] But I, if justice be denied me,
 Will sorely smite the land that so defied me.

 Among the gods the elder, and the younger,
 Thou hast no favour; I shall prove the stronger.

 Such were thy deeds in Pheres' house,[n50] deceiving
 The Fates, and mortal men from death reprieving.

 Was it a crime to help a host? to lend
 A friendly hand to raise a sinking friend?

 Thou the primeval Power didst undermine,
 Mocking the hoary goddesses with wine.

 Soon, very soon, when I the cause shall gain,
 Thou'lt spit thy venom on the ground in vain.


 Thou being young, dost jeer my ancient years
 With youthful insolence; till the doom appears,
 I'll patient wait; my hot-spurred wrath I'll stay,
 And even-poised betwixt two tempers sway.

 My part remains; and I this crowning pebble
 Drop to Orestes; for I never knew
 The mother's womb that bore me.[f20] I give honor,
 Save in my virgin nature, to the male
 In all things; all my father lives in me.[n51]
 Not blameless be the wife, who dared to slay
 Her husband, lord and ruler of her home.
 My voice is for Orestes; though the votes
 Fall equal from the urn, my voice shall save him.
 Now shake the urn, to whom this duty falls,
 And tell the votes.

                    O Phœbus, how shall end
 This doubtful issue?

                     O dark Night, my mother,
 Behold these things!

                     One moment blinds me quite,
 Or to a blaze of glory opes my eyes.

 We sink to shame, or to more honor rise.

 Judges, count well the pebbles as they fall,
 And with just jealousy divide them. One
 Being falsely counted works no simple harm.
 One little pebble saves a mighty house.

 Hear now the doom. This man from blood is free.
 The votes are equal; he escapes by me.

 O Pallas, Saviour of my father's house,
 Restorer of the exile's hope, Athena,
 I praise thee! Now belike some Greek will say,
 The Argive man revisiteth the homes
 And fortunes of his father, by the aid
 Of Pallas, Loxias, and Jove the Saviour
 All-perfecting, who pled the father's cause,
 Fronting the wrathful Furies of the mother!
 I now depart: and to this land I leave,
 And to this people, through all future time,
 An oath behind me, that no lord of Argos
 Shall ever brandish the well-pointed spear
 Against this friendly land.[f21] When, from the tomb,
 I shall perceive who disregards this oath
 Of my sons' sons, I will perplex that man
 With sore perplexities inextricable;
 Ways of despair, and evil-birded paths[f22]
 Shall be his portion, cursing his own choice.
 But if my vows be duly kept, with those
 That in the closely-banded league shall aid
 Athena's city, I am present ever.
 Then fare thee well, thou and thy people! Never
 May foe escape thy grasp! When thou dost struggle,
 Safety and victory attend thy spear! [_Exit._

     Curse on your cause,
     Ye gods that are younger!
     O'er the time-hallowed laws
     Rough ye ride as the stronger.
     Of the prey that was ours
     Ye with rude hands bereave us,
     'Mid the dark-dreaded Powers
     Shorn of honor ye leave us.
     Behold, on the ground
     From a heart of hostility,
     I sprinkle around
     Black gouts of sterility!
     A plague I will bring,
     With a dry lichen spreading;
     No green blade shall spring
     Where the Fury is treading.
     To abortion I turn
     The birth of the blooming,
     Where the plague-spot shall burn
     Of my wrath, life-consuming.
     I am mocked,[f23] but in vain
     They rejoice at my moaning;
     They shall pay for my pain,
     With a fearful atoning,
     Who seized on my right,
     And, with wrong unexampled,
     On the daughters of Night
     High scornfully trampled.


 Be ruled by me: your heavy-bosomed groans
 Refrain. Not vanquished thou, but the fair vote
 Leapt equal from the urn, with no disgrace
 To thee. From Jove himself clear witness came;
 The oracular god that urged the deed, the same
 Stood here to vouch it, that Orestes might not
 Reap harm from his obedience. Soothe ye, therefore;
 Cast not your bolted vengeance on this land,
 Your gouts of wrath divine distil not, stings
 Of pointed venom, with keen corrosive power
 Eating life's seeds, all barrenness and blight.
 A home within this land I pledge you, here
 A shrine, a refuge, and a hearth secure,
 Where ye on shining thrones shall sit, my city
 Yielding devoutest homage to your power.

     Curse on your cause,
     Ye gods that are younger!
     O'er the time-hallowed laws
     Rough ye ride, as the stronger.
     Of the prey that was ours
     Ye with rude hands bereave us,
     'Mid the dark-dreaded Powers
     Shorn of honor ye leave us.
     Behold, on the ground
     From a heart of hostility,
     I sprinkle around
     Black gouts of sterility!
     A plague I will bring
     With a dry lichen spreading;
     No green blade shall spring
     Where the Fury is treading.
     To abortion I turn
     The birth of the blooming,
     Where the plague-spot shall burn
     Of my wrath, life-consuming.
     I am mocked, but in vain
     They rejoice at my moaning;
     They shall pay for my pain,
     With a fearful atoning,
     Who seized on my right,
     And, with wrong unexampled,
     On the daughters of Night
     High scornfully trampled.


 Dishonoured are ye not: Spit not your rancour
 On this fair land remediless. Rests my trust
 On Jove, the mighty, I of all the gods
 Sharing alone the strong keys that unlock
 His thunder-halls:[n53] but this I name not here.
 Yield thou: cast not the seed of reckless speech
 To crop the land with woe. Soothing the waves
 Of bitter anger darkling in thy breast,
 Dwell in this land, thy dreadful deity
 Sistered with me. When thronging worshippers
 Henceforth shall cull choice firstlings for thine altars,
 Praying thy grace to bless the wedded rite,
 And the child-bearing womb--then honoured so,
 How wise my present counsel thou shalt know.

     I to dwell 'neath the Earth
      All clipt of my glory,
     In the dark-chambered Earth,
      I, the ancient, the hoary!

     I breathe on thee curses,
     I cut through thy marrow,
     For the insult that pierces
     My heart like an arrow.

     Hear my cry, mother Night,
     'Gainst the gods that deceived me!
     With their harsh-handed might
     Of my right they bereaved me.

 Thy anger I forgive; for thou'rt the elder.
 But though thy years bring wisdom, to me also
 Jove gave a heart, not undiscerning. You--
 Mark well my words--if now some foreign land
 Ye choose, will rue your choice, and long for Athens.
 The years to be shall float more richly fraught
 With honor to my citizens; thou shaft hold
 An honoured seat beside Erectheus' home,[n54]
 Where men and women in marshalled pomp shall pay thee
 Such homage, as no land on Earth may render.
 But cast not ye on this my chosen land
 Whetstones of fury, teaching knives to drink
 The blood of tender bowels, madding the heart
 With wineless drunkenness, that men shall swell
 Like game cocks for the battle; save my city
 From brothered strife, and from domestic brawls.[n55]
 Without the walls, and far from kindred hearths
 Rage war, where honor calls, and glory crowns.
 A bird of blood within the house I love not.
 Use thine election; wisely use it; give
 A blessing, and a blessing take; with me
 May this land dear to the gods be dear to thee!

     I to dwell 'neath the Earth
      All clipt of my glory,
     In the dark-chambered Earth
      I, the ancient, the hoary!

     I breathe on thee curses,
     I cut through thy marrow,
     For the insult that pierces
     My heart like an arrow.

     Hear my cry, mother Night,
     'Gainst the gods that deceived me!
     With their harsh-handed might
     Of my right they bereaved me.

 To advise thee well I faint not. Never more
 Shalt thou, a hoary-dated power, complain
 That I, a younger, or my citizens,
 From our inhospitable gates expelled thee
 Of thy due honors shortened. If respect
 For sacred Peitho's[f24] godhead, for the honey
 And charming of the tongue may move thee, stay;
 But, if ye will go, show of justice none
 Remains, with rancour, wrath, and scathe to smite
 This land and people. Stands your honoured lot
 With me for ever, so ye scorn it not.

 Sovran Athena, what sure home receives me?

 A home from sorrow free. Receive it freely.

 And when received, what honors wait me then?

 No house shall prosper where thy blessing fails.

 This by thy grace is sure?

                           I will upbuild
 His house who honours thee.

                            This pledged for ever?

 I cannot promise what I not perform.

 Thy words have soothed me, and my wrath relents.


 Here harboured thou wilt number many friends.

 Say, then, how shall my hymn uprise to bless thee?

 Hymn things that strike fair victory's mark: from Earth,
 From the sea's briny dew, and from the sky
 Bring blessings; the benignly-breathing gales
 On summer wings be wafted to this land;
 Let the Earth swell with the exuberant flow
 Of fruits and flowers, that want may be unknown.
 Bless human seed with increase, but cast out
 The impious man; even as a gardener, I
 Would tend the flowers, the briars and the thorns
 Heaped for the burning. This thy province. I
 In feats of Mars conspicuous will not fail
 To plant this city 'fore all eyes triumphant.

 Pallas, thy welcome so kindly compelling
 Hath moved me; I scorn not to mingle my dwelling
 With thine, and with Jove's, the all-ruling, thy sire.
 The city I scorn not, where Mars guards the portals,
 The fortress of gods,[n56] the fair grace of Immortals.
 I bless thee prophetic; to work thy desire
 To the Sun, when he shines in his full-flooded splendour,
 Her tribute to thee may the swelling Earth render,
    And bounty with bounty conspire!

 Athens, no trifling gain I've won thee.
 With rich blessing thou shalt harbour,
 Through my grace, these much-prevailing
 Sternest-hearted Powers. For they
 Rule, o'er human fates appointed,
   With far-reaching sway.
 Woe to the wretch, by their wrath smitten![n57]
 With strokes he knows not whence descending,
 Not for his own, for guilt inherited,[n58]
 They with silent-footed vengeance
 Shall o'ertake him: in the dust,
 Heaven with piercing cries imploring,
   Crushed the sinner lies.

 Far from thy dwelling, and far from thy border,
 By the grace of my godhead benignant I order
 The blight that may blacken the bloom of thy trees.
 Far from thy border, and far from thy dwelling
 Be the hot blast that shrivels the bud in its swelling,
 The seed-rotting taint, and the creeping disease!
 Thy flocks still be doubled, thy seasons be steady,
 And, when Hermes is near thee,[n59] thy hand still be ready
    The Heaven-dropt bounty to seize!

    Hear her words, my city's warders,
    Fraught with blessing; she prevaileth
    With Olympians and Infernals,
    Dread Erinnys much revered.
    Mortal fates she guideth plainly
    To what goal she pleaseth, sending
    Songs to some, to others days
       With tearful sorrows dulled.

      Far from your dwelling
      Be death's early knelling,
    When falls in his green strength the strong
      Your virgins, the fairest,
      To brave youths the rarest
    Be mated, glad life to prolong!
      Ye Fates, high-presiding,[n60]
      The right well dividing,
    Dread powers darkly mothered with me;
      Our firm favour sharing,
      From judgment unsparing
    The homes of the just man be free!
      But the guilty shall fear them,
      When in terror shall near them
    The Fates, sternly sistered with me.

    Work your perfect will, dread maidens,
    O'er my land benignly watching!
    I rejoice. Blest be the eyes
    Of Peitho, that with strong persuasion
    Armed my tongue, to soothe the fierce
    Refusal of these awful maids.
    Jove, that rules the forum, nobly
    In the high debate hath conquered.[n61]
    In the strife of blessing now,
    You with me shall vie for ever.


      Far from thy border
      The lawless disorder,
    That sateless of evil shall reign!
      Far from thy dwelling
      The dear blood welling,
    That taints thy own hearth with the stain,
      When slaughter from slaughter
      Shall flow, like the water,
    And rancour from rancour shall grow!
      But joy with joy blending
      Live, each to all lending,
    And hating one-hearted the foe!
      When bliss hath departed,
      From will single-hearted,
    A fountain of healing shall flow.

    Wisely now the tongue of kindness
    Thou hast found, the way of love;
    And these terror-speaking faces
    Now look wealth to me and mine.
    Her so willing, ye more willing
    Now receive; this land and city,
    On ancient right securely throned,
      Shall shine for evermore.

 Hail, and all hail! mighty people be greeted!
 On the sons of Athena shine sunshine the clearest!
 Blest people, near Jove the Olympian seated,
 And dear to the virgin his daughter the dearest.
 Timely wise 'neath the wings of the daughter ye gather;
 And mildly looks down on her children the father.

    Hail, all hail to you! but chiefly
    Me behoves it now to lead you
    To your fore-appointed homes.
    Go, with holy train attendant,
    With sacrifice, and torch resplendent,
      Underneath the ground.
    Go, and with your potent godhead
    Quell the ill that threats the city,
    Spur the good to victory's goal.
    Lead the way ye sons of Cranaus,[f25]
    To these strangers, strange no more;
    Their kindly thoughts to you remember,
      Grateful evermore.

 Hail, yet again, with this last salutation,
 Ye sons of Athena, ye citizens all!
 On gods, and on mortals, in high congregation
 Assembled, my blessing not vainly shall fall.
 O city of Pallas, while thou shalt revere me,
 Thy walls hold the pledge that no harm shall come near thee.

 Well hymned. My heart chimes with you, and I send
 The beamy-twinkling torches to conduct you
 To your dark-vaulted chambers 'neath the ground.
 They who attend my shrine, with pious homage,
 Shall be your convoy. The fair eye of the land,
 The marshalled host of Theseus' sons shall march
 In festive train with you, both man and woman,
 Matron and maid, green youth and hoary age.
 Honor the awful maids, clad with the grace
 Of purple-tinctured robes; and let the flame
 March 'fore their path bright-rayed; and, evermore,
 With populous wealth smile every Attic rood
 Blessed by this gracious-minded sisterhood.[n62]

   [CONVOY, _conducting the_ EUMENIDES _in festal pomp to their
   subterranean temple, with torches in their hands:_

    Go with honor crowned and glory,
    Of hoary Night the daughters hoary,
      To your destined hall.
    Where our sacred train is wending,
    Stand, ye pious throngs attending,
      Hushed in silence all.

    Go to hallowed habitations,
    'Neath Ogygian[f26] Earth's foundations:
      In that darksome hall
    Sacrifice and supplication
    Shall not fail. In adoration
      Silent worship all.


    Here, in caverned halls, abiding,
    High on awful thrones presiding,
      Gracious ye shall reign.
    March in torches' glare rejoicing!
    Sing, ye throngs, their praises, voicing
      Loud the exultant strain!

    Blazing torch, and pure libation
    From age to age this pious nation
      Shall not use in vain.
    Thus hath willed it Jove all-seeing,
    Thus the Fate. To their decreeing
      Shout the responsive strain!

[The End]




 Δῆσε δ᾽ ἀλυκτοπέδῃσι Προμηθέα ποικιλόβουλην
 Δεσμοῖς ἀργαλέοισι.

 Neither to change, nor flatter, nor repent.



 MIGHT and FORCE, Ministers of Jove.
 HEPHAESTHUS or VULCAN, the God of Fire.
 PROMETHEUS, Son of Iapetus, a Titan.
 IO, Daughter of Inachus, King of Argos.
 HERMES, Messenger of the Gods.

SCENE--_A Rocky Desert in European Scythia._



IN the mythology of the ancient Greeks, as of many other nations, we
find the earlier periods characterised by a series of terrible mundane
struggles--wars in Heaven and wars on Earth--which serve as an
introduction to, and a preparation for the more regularly ordered and
more permanent dynasty that ultimately sways the sceptre of Olympus. In
the theological poem of Hesiod, as in the prose narration of
Apollodorus, HEAVEN and EARTH are represented as the rulers of the
first celestial dynasty; their offspring, called Titans, in the person
of one of their number, KRONOS, by a violent act of dethronement,
forms a second dynasty; while he, in his turn, after a no less violent
struggle, gives place to a third sceptre--viz., that of JOVE--who, in
the faith of the orthodox Athenian, was the supreme ruler of the world
of gods, and men, now, after many throes and struggles, arrived, at its
normal state, not henceforward to be disturbed. The general character
which this succession of dynasties exhibits, is that of order arising
out of confusion, peace out of war, and wisely-reasoned plan triumphing
over brute force--

        "Scimus ut impios
  Titanas immanemque turmam
    Fulmine sustulerit caduco,
  Qui terram inertem, qui mare temperat
  Ventosum, et urbes, regnaque tristia,
   Divosque, mortalesque turbas,
    Imperio regit unus aequo."

This representation of the philosophic lyrist of a late age is in
perfect harmony with the epithets μητιόεις and μητιέτα given to Jove by
the earliest Greek poets, and with the allegory by  which Μῆτις, or
_Counsel_ personified, is represented as one of the wives of the Supreme
Ruler. It is worthy of notice also, in the same view, that the legends
about the Titans, Giants, and other Earth-born monsters, warring with
Jove, are often attached to districts--such as Campania and Cilicia--in
which the signs of early volcanic action are, even at the present day,
unmistakeable; plainly indicating that such mythic narrations were only
exhibitions, in the historical form (according to the early style), of
great elemental convulsions and physical changes taking place on the
face of the Earth.


Among the persons most prominent in that primeval age of gigantic
"world-strife" (if we may be allowed to Anglicize a German compound)
stands Prometheus; not, however, like his Titan brethren in character,
though identical with them in descent, and in the position which he
finally assumed towards the god in whose hands the supreme government of
the world eventually remained. Prometheus, as his name denotes, strives
against the high authority of Jove, not by that "reasonless force which
falls by its own weight," but by intelligence and cunning. Viewed in
this character, he was the natural ally, not of the serpent-footed
Giants and the flame-breathing Typhon, but of the All-wise Olympian; and
such, indeed, Æschylus, in the present piece (v. 219, p. 189 below),
represents as having been his original position: but, as "before honor
is humility, and before pride comes a fall," so the son of Iapetus, like
Tantalus, and so many others in the profoundly moral mythology of the
Hellenes, found himself exalted into the fellowship of the blissful
gods, only that he might be precipitated into a more terrible depth of
misery. He was wise; nay, benevolent (ἄκακητα, Hesiod. Theog.,
614); his delight was to exercise his high intellect in the elevation of
the infant human race, sunk in a state of almost brutish stupidity; he
stood forward as an incarnation of that practical intellect (so
triumphant in these latter days), which subjects the rude elements of
nature, for human use and convenience, to mechanical calculation and
control; but, with all this, he was proud, he was haughty; his Titanic
strength and his curious intellect he used, to shake himself free from
all dependence on the highest power, which the constitution of things
had ordered should stand as the strong key-stone of the whole. Not to
ruin mankind, but to save them, he sinned the sin of Lucifer; he would
make himself God; and, as in the eye of a court-martial, the subaltern
who usurps the functions of the commander-in-chief stands not acquitted,
because he alleges that he acted with a benevolent intent, or for the
public good, so, in the faith of an orthodox Athenian, Prometheus was
not the less worthy of his airy chains because he defied the will of
Jove in the championship of mankind. Neither man nor god may question or
impugn the divine decree of supreme Jove, on grounds of expediency or
propriety. With the will of Zeus, as with the laws of nature, there is
no arguing. In this relationship the first, second, and third point of
duty is submission. Such is the doctrine of modern Christian theology;
such, also, was the doctrine of the old Hellenic theologer, HESIOD--


  Vain the wit is of the wisest to deceive the mind of Jove;
  Not Prometheus, son of Iapetus, though his heart was moved by love,
  Might escape the heavy anger of the god that rules the skies,
  But, despite of all his cunning, with a strong chain bound he lies.
                                                      THEOG. 613.

Those who are acquainted with the philological learning on this subject,
which I have discussed elsewhere,[f1] or even with the common
ideas on the legend of Prometheus brought into circulation by the
productions of modern poetry, are aware that the view just given of the
moral significance of this weighty old myth, is not the current one, and
that we are rather accustomed to look upon Prometheus as a sort of
proto-martyr of liberty, bearing up with the strength of a god against
the punishment unjustly inflicted on him by the celestial usurper and
tyrant, Jove. But Hesiod, we have just seen, looks on the matter with
very different eyes; and the unquestioned supremacy of Jove that stands
out everywhere, from the otherwise not always consistent theological
system of the Iliad, leads plainly to the conclusion that Homer also,
had he had occasion to introduce this legend, would have handled it in a
spirit altogether different from our Shelleys and Byrons, and other
earth-shaking and heaven-scaling poets of the modern revolutionary
school. As little is there any ground (see the life of Æschylus)
for the supposition that our tragedian has taken up different
theological ground in reference to this myth, from that which belonged
to the two great expositors of the popular creed; not to mention the
staring absurdity of the idea, that a grave tragic poet in a serious
composition, at a public religious festival, should have dared, or
daring, should have been allowed, to hold up their supreme deity to a
nation of freemen in the character of a cruel and unjust tyrant. Thrown
back, therefore, on the original Hesiodic conception of the myth, we are
led to observe that the imperfect and unsatisfactory ideas so current on
this subject in modern times, have taken their rise from the practice
(so natural under the circumstances) of looking on the extant piece as
a complete whole, whereas nothing is more certain than that it is only a
fragment; the second part, in fact, of a dramatic trilogy similar in
conception and execution to that, of which we have endeavoured to
present a reflection in the preceding pages. Potter, in his translation
published a hundred years ago, prefaced his version of the present piece
with the well-known fact, that Æschylus wrote three plays on this
subject--_the Fire-bringing Prometheus, the Prometheus Bound, and the
Prometheus Unbound_--this intimation {180} was not sufficient to prevent
his readers, with the usual hastiness of human logic, from judging of
what they saw, as if it were an organic whole, containing within itself
every element necessary for forming a true conception of its character.
The consequence was, that the hero of the piece, who, of course, tells
his own story in the most favourable way for himself, was considered as
having passed a final judgment on the case; as the friend and
representative of man, he naturally seemed entitled to the gratitude of
men; while Jove, being now only an idol in the world (perhaps a devil),
and having no advocate in the heart of the modern reader, was made to
stand--on the representation of the same Prometheus--as the type of
heartless tyranny, and the impersonation of absolute power combined with
absolute selfishness. This is Shelley's view; but that such was not the
view of Æschylus we may be assured, both from the consideration already
mentioned, and from the poet's method of reconciling apparently
incompatible claims of opposite celestial powers, so curiously exhibited
in the Eumenides. In the trilogy of the preceding pages, Orestes stands
in a situation, so far as the development of the plot is concerned,
precisely analogous to that of Prometheus in the present piece. His
conduct, as submitted to the moral judgment of the spectator, produces
the same conflict of contrary emotions of which his own bosom is the
victim. With the one-half of our heart we approve of his avenging his
father's murder; with the other half, we plead that a son shall, on no
ground of offence, allow his indignation to proceed so far as to imbrue
his hands in the blood of her whose milk he had sucked. This contrariety
of emotions excited in the second piece of the trilogy, produces the
tragic knot, which it is the business of the poet to unloose, by the
worthy interposition of a god. "_Nec Deus intersit, nisi dignus vindice
nodus_."--Exactly so in the second piece of the Promethean trilogy, our
moral judgment praises the benevolence of the god, who, to elevate our
human race from brutish degradation, dared to defy omnipotent power, and
to deceive the wisdom of the omniscient; while, at the same time, we
cannot but condemn the spirit of unreined independence that would shake
itself free from the great centre of moral cohesion, and the reckless
boldness that casts reproach in, the face of the great Ruler of the
universe. In this state of suspense, represented by the doubtful
attitude of the Chorus[f2] through the whole play, the present
fragment of the great Æschylean Promethiad leaves the well-instructed
modern reader; and it admits {181} not, in my view, of a doubt that, in
the concluding piece, it remained for the poet to effect a
reconciliation between the contending interests and clashing emotions,
somewhat after the fashion of which we possess a specimen in the
Eumenides. By what agency of individuals or of arguments this was done,
it is hopeless now to inquire; the fragmentary notices that remain are
too meagre to justify a scientific restoration of the lost drama; they
who wish to see what erudite imagination can do in this direction may
consult Welcker and Schoemann--WELCKER, in the shape of prose
dissertation in his _Trilogie_, p. 28; and SCHOEMANN, in the shape of
a poetical restoration of the lost poem, in the Appendix to his very
valuable edition of this play. About one thing only can we be certain,
that, in the ultimate settlement of disputed claims, neither will
Prometheus, on the one hand, be degraded from the high position on which
the poet has planted him as a sort of umpire between gods and men, nor
will Jove yield one whit of his supreme right to exact the bitterest
penalties from man or god who presumes to act independently of, and even
in opposition to his will. The tragic poet will duly exercise his grand
function of keeping the powers of the celestial world--as he does the
contending emotions of the human mind--in due equipoise and

The plot of the Prometheus Unbound is the simplest possible, being not
so much the dramatic progression of a course of events, as a single
dramatic situation presented through the whole piece under different
aspects. The theft of fire from Heaven, or (as the notice of Cicero
seems to indicate) from the Lemnian volcano of Mosychlos,[f4]
having been perpetrated in the previous piece, MIGHT and FORCE, two
allegorical personages, the ministers of Jove's vengeance, are now
introduced, along with HEPHAESTUS, the forger of celestial chains,
nailing the benevolent offender to a cold craggy rock in the wastes of
European Scythia. In this condition when, after a long silence, he at
length gives vent to his complaint, certain kindred divine
persons--first, the Oceanides, or daughters of Ocean, and then their
hoary sire himself, are brought on the scene, with words of solace and
friendly exhortation to the sufferer.[f5] When all the arguments
that these parties have to advance are exhausted in vain, another mythic
personage, of a different character, and for a {182} different purpose,
appears. This is Io, the daughter of Inachus, the primeval king of
Argos, who, having enjoyed the unblissful distinction of stirring the
heart of Jove with love, is, by the jealous wrath of Hera, transmuted
into the likeness of a cow[f6] and sent wandering to the ends of
the Earth, fretted into restless distraction by the stings of a
malignant insect. This character serves a threefold purpose. First, as a
sufferer, tracing the origin of all her misery from Jove, she both
sympathizes strongly with Prometheus, and exhibits the character of Jove
in another unfavourable aspect; secondly, with her wild maniac cries and
reinless fits of distraction, she presents a fine contrast to the calm
self-possession with which the stout-hearted Titan endures the penalty
of his pride; and, in the third place, as the progenitrix of the Argive
Hercules, the destined instrument of the delivery of Prometheus, she
connects the middle with the concluding piece of the trilogy. Last of
all, when this strange apparition has vanished, appears on the scene the
great Olympian negotiator, Hermes; who, with the eloquence peculiar to
himself, and the threatened terrors of his supreme master, endeavours to
break the pride and to bend the will of the lofty-minded offender. In
vain. The threatened terrors of the Thunderer now suddenly start into
reality; and, amid the roar of contending elements, the pealing Heaven
and the quaking Earth, the Jove-defying son of Iapetus descends into

The superhuman grandeur and high tragic sublimity which belongs to the
very conception of this subject, has suffered nothing in respect of
treatment from the genius of the bard who dared to handle it. The
Prometheus Bound, though inferior in point of lyric richness and variety
to the Agamemnon, and though somewhat overloaded with narrative in one
place, is nevertheless felt throughout to be one of the most powerful
productions of one of the most powerful minds that the history of
literature knows. No work of a similar lofty character certainly has
ever been so extensively popular. The Prometheus Unbound of Shelley, and
Lord Byron's Manfred, bear ample witness, of which we may well be proud,
to the relationship which exists between the severe Melpomene of ancient
Greece, and the lofty British Muse.



  [_Enter_ MIGHT _and_ FORCE, _leading in_ PROMETHEUS; HEPHAESTUS,
  _with chains._

 At length the utmost bound of Earth we've reached,
 This Scythian soil, this wild untrodden waste.[n1]
 Hephaestus now Jove's high behests demand
 Thy care; to these steep cliffy rocks bind down
 With close-linked chains of during adamant
 This daring wretch.[n2] For he the bright-rayed fire,
 Mother of arts, flower of thy potency,
 Filched from the gods, and gave to mortals. Here,
 Just guerdon of his sin shall find him; here
 Let his pride learn to bow to Jove supreme,
 And love men well, but love them not too much.

 Ye twain, rude MIGHT and FORCE, have done your work
 To the perfect end; but I--my heart shrinks back
 From the harsh task to nail a kindred god[n3]
 To this storm-battered crag. Yet dare I must.
 Where Jove commands, whoso neglects rebels,
 And pays the traitor's fine. High-counselled son
 Of right-decreeing Themis,[n4] I force myself
 No less than thee, when to this friendless rock
 With iron bonds I chain thee, where nor shape
 Nor voice of wandering mortal shall relieve
 Thy lonely watch; but the fierce-burning sun
 Shall parch and bleach thy fresh complexion. Thou,
 When motley-mantled Night[f7] hath hid the day,
 Shalt greet the darkness, with how short a joy!
 For the morn's sun the nightly dew shall scatter,
 And thou be pierced again with the same pricks
 Of endless woe--and saviour shall be none.[n5]
 Such fruits thy forward love to men hath wrought thee.
 Thyself a god, the wrath of gods to thee
 Seemed little, and to men thou didst dispense
 Forbidden gifts. For this thou shalt keep watch
 On this delightless rock, fixed and erect,
 With lid unsleeping, and with knee unbent.
 Alas! what groans and wails shalt thou pour forth,
 Fruitless. Jove is not weak that he should bend;[n6]
 For young authority must ever be
 Harsh and severe.

                  Enough of words and tears.
 This god, whom all the gods detest, wilt thou
 Not hate, thou, whom his impious larceny
 Did chiefly injure?

                    But, my friend, my kinsman--

 True, that respect; but the dread father's word
 Respect much more. Jove's word respect and fear.

 Harsh is thy nature, and thy heart is full
 Of pitiless daring.

                    Tears were wasted here,
 And labour lost is all concern for him.

 O thrice-cursed trade, that e'er my hand should use it!

 Curse not thy craft; the cunning of thy hand
 Makes not his woes; he made them for himself.

 Would that some other hand had drawn the lot
 To do this deed!

                 All things may be, but this
 To dictate to the gods.[n7] There's one that's free,
 One only; Jove.

                I know it, and am dumb.

 Then gird thee to the work, chain down the culprit,
 Lest Jove thy laggard zeal behold, and blame.

 The irons here are ready.

                          Take them, and strike
 Stout blows with the hammer; nail him to the rock.

 The work speeds well, and lingers not.

                                       Strike! strike!
 With ring, and clamp, and wedge make sure the work.
 He hath a subtle wit will find itself
 A way where way is none.

                         This arm is fast.

 Then clasp this other. Let the sophist know,
 Against great Jove how dull a thing is wit.

 None but the victim can reprove my zeal.

 Now take this adamantine bolt, and force
 Its point resistless through his rebel breast.

 Alas! alas! Prometheus, but I pity thee!


 Dost lag again, and for Jove's enemies weep
 Fond tears? Beware thou have no cause to weep
 Tears for thyself.

                   Thou see'st no sightly sight
 For eyes to look on.

                     I behold a sower
 Reaping what thing he sowed. But take these thongs,
 And bind his sides withal.

                           I must! I must!
 Nor needs thy urging.

                      Nay, but I will urge,
 Command, and bellow in thine ear! Proceed,
 Lower--yet lower--and with these iron rings
 Enclasp his legs.

                  'Tis done, and quickly done.

 Now pierce his feet through with these nails. Strike hard!
 There's one will sternly prove thy work, and thee.

 Harsh is thy tongue, and, like thy nature, hard.

 Art thou a weakling, do not therefore blame
 The firm harsh-fronted will that suits my office.

 Let us away. He's fettered limb and thew.

 There lie, and feed thy pride on this bare rock,
 Filching gods' gifts for mortal men. What man
 Shall free thee from these woes? Thou hast been called
 In vain the Provident:[n8] had thy soul possessed
 The virtue of thy name, thou hadst foreseen
 These cunning toils, and hadst unwound thee from them.

   [_Exeunt all, except_ PROMETHEUS, _who is left chained_.

 O divine ether, and swift-winged winds,
 And river-fountains, and of ocean waves
 The multitudinous laughter,[n10] and thou Earth,
 Boon mother of us all, and thou bright round
 Of the all-seeing Sun, you I invoke!
 Behold what ignominy of causeless wrongs
 I suffer from the gods, myself a god.
   See what piercing pains shall goad me
   Through long ages myriad-numbered!
   With such wrongful chains hath bound me
   This new leader of the gods.
   Ah me! present woes and future
   I bemoan. O! when, O! when
   Shall the just redemption dawn?
 Yet why thus prate? I know what ills await me.
 No unexpected torture can surprise
 My soul prophetic; and with quiet mind
 We all must bear our portioned fate, nor idly
 Court battle with a strong necessity.
 Alas! alas! 'tis hard to speak to the winds;
 Still harder to be dumb! my well-deservings
 To mortal men are all the offence that bowed me
 Beneath this yoke. The secret fount of fire
 I sought, and found, and in a reed concealed it;[n11]
 Whence arts have sprung to man, and life hath drawn
 Rich store of comforts. For such deed I suffer
 These bonds, in the broad eye of gracious day,
 Here crucified. Ah me! ah me! who comes?[n12]
 What sound, what viewless breath, thus taints the air,
 God sent, or mortal, or of mingled kind?
 What errant traveller ill-sped comes to view
 This naked ridge of extreme Earth, and me?
 Whoe'er thou art, a hapless god thou see'st
 Nailed to this crag; the foe of Jove thou seest.
   Him thou see'st, whom all the Immortals
   Whoso tread the Olympian threshold,
   Name with hatred; thou beholdest
   Man's best friend, and, therefore, hated
      For excess of love.
   Hark, again! I hear the whirring
   As of winged birds approaching;
   With the light strokes of their pinions
   Ether pipes ill-boding whispers!--
   Alas! alas! that I should fear
   Each breath that nears me.

   [_The_ OCEANIDES _approach, borne through the air in a winged car_.

 Fear nothing; for a friendly band approaches;
     Fleet rivalry of wings
 Oar'd us to this far height, with hard consent
     Wrung from our careful sire
 The winds swift-sweeping bore me: for I heard
 The harsh hammer's note deep deep in ocean caves,
 And, throwing virgin shame aside, unshod
     The winged car I mounted.


 Ah! ah!
 Daughters of prolific Tethys,[n13]
 And of ancient father Ocean,
 With his sleepless current whirling
 Round the firm ball of the globe.
 Look! with rueful eyes behold me
 Nailed by adamantine rivets,
 Keeping weary watch unenvied
 On this tempest-rifted rock!

 I look, Prometheus; and a tearful cloud
     My woeful sight bedims,
 To see thy goodliest form with insult chained,
     In adamantine bonds,
 To this bare crag, where pinching airs shall blast thee
 New gods now hold the helm of Heaven; new laws
 Mark Jove's unrighteous rule; the giant trace
     Of Titan times hath vanished.[n14]

 Deep in death-receiving Hades
 Had he bound me, had he whelmed me
 In Tartarean pit, unfathomed,
 Fettered with unyielding bonds!
 Then nor god nor man had feasted
 Eyes of triumph on my wrongs,
 Nor I, thus swung in middle ether,[f8]
 Moved the laughter of my foes.

 Which of the gods hath heart so hard
 To mock thy woes? Who will withhold
 The fellow-feeling and the tear,
 Save only Jove. But he doth nurse
 Strong wrath within his stubborn breast,
     And holds all Heaven in awe.
 Nor will he cease till his hot rage is glutted,
 Or some new venture shakes his stable throne.

 By my Titan soul, I swear it!
 Though with harsh chains now he mocks me,
 Even now the hour is ripening,
 When this haughty lord of Heaven
 Shall embrace my knees, beseeching
 Me to unveil the new-forged counsels
 That shall hurl him from his throne.[n15]
 But no honey-tongued persuasion,
 No smooth words of artful charming,
 No stout threats shall loose my tongue,
 Till he loose these bonds of insult,
 And himself make just atonement
 For injustice done to me.

   Thou art a bold man, and defiest
   The keenest pangs to force thy will.
   With a most unreined tongue thou speakest;
   But me--sharp fear hath pierced my heart.
   I fear for thee: and of thy woes
     The distant, doubtful end
 I see not. O, 'tis hard, most hard to reach
 The heart of Jove![n16] prayer beats his ear in vain.

 Harsh is Jove, I know--he frameth
 Justice for himself; but soon,
 When the destined arm o'ertakes him,
 He shall tremble as a child.
 He shall smooth his bristling anger,
 Courting friendship shunned before,
 More importunate to unbind me
 Than impatient I of bonds.

 Speak now, and let us know the whole offence
 Jove charges thee withal; for which he seized,
 And with dishonor and dire insult loads thee.
 Unfold the tale; unless, perhaps, such sorrow
 Irks thee to tell.

                   To tell or not to tell
 Irks me the same; which way I turn is pain.
 When first the gods their fatal strife began,
 And insurrection raged in Heaven--some striving
 To cast old Kronos from his hoary throne,
 That Jove might reign, and others to crush i' the bud
 His swelling mastery--I wise counsel gave
 To the Titans, sons of primal Heaven and Earth;
 But gave in vain. Their dauntless stubborn souls
 Spurned gentle ways, and patient-working wiles,
 Weening swift triumph with a blow. But me,
 My mother Themis, not once but oft, and Earth
 (One shape of various names),[n17] prophetic told
 That violence and rude strength in such a strife
 Were vain--craft haply might prevail. This lesson
 I taught the haughty Titans, but they deigned
 Scarce with contempt to hear my prudent words.
 Thus baffled in my plans, I deemed it best,
 As things then were, leagued with my mother Themis,
 To accept Jove's proffered friendship. By my counsels
 From his primeval throne was Kronos[f9] hurled
 Into the pit Tartarean, dark, profound,
 With all his troop of friends. Such was the kindness
 From me received by him who now doth hold
 The masterdom of Heaven; these the rewards
 Of my great zeal: for so it hath been ever.
 Suspicion's a disease that cleaves to tyrants,
 And they who love most are the first suspected.[n18]
 As for your question, for what present fault
 I bear the wrong that now afflicts me, hear.
 Soon as he sat on his ancestral throne
 He called the gods together, and assigned
 To each his fair allotment, and his sphere
 Of sway supreme; but, ah! for wretched man!
 To him nor part nor portion fell: Jove vowed
 To blot his memory from the Earth, and mould
 The race anew,[f10] I only of the gods
 Thwarted his will;[n19] and, but for my strong aid,
 Hades had whelmed, and hopeless ruin swamped
 All men that breathe. Such were my crimes: these pains
 Grievous to suffer, pitiful to behold,
 Were purchased thus; and mercy's now denied
 To him whose crime was mercy to mankind:
 And here I lie, in cunning torment stretched,[n20]
 A spectacle inglorious to Jove.

 An iron-heart were his, and flinty hard,
 Who on thy woes could look without a tear,
 Prometheus; I had liefer not so seen thee,
 And seeing thee fain would call mine eyesight liar.

 Certes no sight am I for friends to look on.

 Was this thy sole offence?

                           I taught weak mortals
 Not to foresee harm, and forestall the Fates.


 A sore disease to anticipate mischance:
 How didst thou cure it?

                        Blind hopes of good I planted
 In their dark breasts.[n21]

                       That was a boon indeed,
 To ephemeral man.

                  Nay more, I gave them fire.

 And flame-faced fire is now enjoyed by mortals?[n22]

 Enjoyed, and of all arts the destined mother.

 And is this all the roll of thy offendings
 That he should rage so fierce? Hath he not set
 Bounds to his vengeance?

                         None, but his own pleasure.

 And when shall he please? Vain the hope; thou see'st
 That thou hast erred; and that thou hast to us
 No pleasure brings, to thee excess of pain.
 Of this enough. Seek now to cure the evil.

 'Tis a light thing for him whose foot's unwarped
 By misadventure's meshes to advise
 And counsel the unfortunate. But I
 Foreknew my fate, and if I erred, I erred
 With conscious purpose, purchasing man's weal
 With mine own grief. I knew I should offend
 The Thunderer, though deeming not that he
 Would perch me thus to pine 'twixt Earth and Sky,
 Of this wild wintry waste sole habitant.
 But cease to weep for ills that weeping mends not;
 Descend, and I'll discourse to thee at length
 Of chances yet to come. Nay, do not doubt;
 But leave thy car, nor be ashamed to share
 The afflictions of the afflicted; for Mishap,
 Of things that lawless wander, wanders most;
 With me to-day it is with you to-morrow.

 Not to sluggish ears, Prometheus,
 Hast thou spoken thy desire;
 From our breeze-borne car descending,
 With light foot we greet the ground.
 Leaving ether chaste, smooth pathway
 Of the gently-winnowing wing,
 On this craggy rock I stand,
 To hear the tale, while thou mayst tell it,
 Of thy sorrows to the end.


   [_Enter_ OCEAN.[n23]

 From my distant caves cerulean[n24]
 This fleet-pinioned bird hath borne me;
 Needed neither bit nor bridle,
 Thought instinctive reined the creature;
 Thus, to know thy griefs, Prometheus,
 And to grieve with thee I come.
 Soothly strong the tie of kindred
 Binds the heart of man and god;
 But, though no such tie had bound me,
 I had wept for thee the same.
 Well thou know'st not mine the cunning
 To discourse with glozing phrase:
 Tell me how I may relieve thee,
 I am ready to relieve;
 Friend thou boastest none than Ocean
 Surer, in the hour of need.

 How now, old Ocean? thou too come to view
 My dire disasters?--how shouldst thou have dared,
 Leaving the billowy stream whose name thou bearest,
 Thy rock-roofed halls, and self-built palaces,
 To visit this Scythian land, stern mother of iron,
 To know my sorrows, and to grieve with me?
 Look on this sight--thy friend, the friend of Jove,
 Who helped him to the sway which now he bears,
 Crushed by the self-same god himself exalted.

 I see, Prometheus; and I come to speak
 A wise word to the wise; receive it wisely.
 Know what thou art, and make thy manners new;
 For a new king doth rule the subject gods.
 Compose thy speech, nor cast such whetted words
 'Gainst Jove, who, though he sits apart sublime,
 Hath ears, and with new pains may smite his victim,
 To which his present wrath shall seem a toy.
 Listen to me; slack thy fierce ire, and seek
 Speedy deliverance from these woes. Trite wisdom
 Belike I speak, Prometheus; but thou knowest
 A lofty-sounding tongue with passionate phrase
 Buys its own ruin. Proud art thou, unyielding,
 And heap'st new woes tenfold on thine own head.
 Why should'st thou kick against the pricks? Jove reigns
 A lord severe, and of his acts need give
 Account to none, I go to plead for thee,
 And, what I can, will try to save my kinsman;
 But be thou calm the while; curb thy rash speech,
 And let not fame report, that one so wise
 Fell by the forfeit of a foolish tongue.

 Count thyself happy, Ocean, being free
 From blame, who shared and dared with me. Be wise,
 And what thy meddling aids not, let alone.
 In vain thou plead'st with him; his ears are deaf.
 Look to thyself: thy errand is not safe.

 Wise art thou, passing wise, for others' weal,
 For thine own good most foolish. Prithee do not
 So stretch thy stubborn whim to pull against
 The friends that pull for thee. 'Tis no vain boast;
 I know that Jove will hear me.

                               Thou art kind;
 And for thy kind intent and friendly feeling
 Have my best thanks. But do not, I beseech thee,
 Waste labour upon me. If thou wilt labour,
 Seek a more hopeful subject. Thou wert wiser,
 Being safe, to keep thee safe. I, when I suffer,
 Wish not that all my friends should suffer with me.
 Enough my brother Atlas' miseries grieve me.[n25]
 Who in the extreme West stands, stoutly bearing
 The pillars of Heaven and Earth upon his shoulders,[n26]
 No lightsome burden. Him too, I bewail,
 That made his home in dark Cilician caverns.
 The hostile portent, Earth-born, hundred-headed
 Impetuous Typhon,[n27] quelled by force, who stood
 Alone, against the embattled host of gods,
 Hissing out murder from his monstrous jaws;
 And from his eyes there flashed a Gorgon glare,
 As he would smite the tyranny of great Jove
 Clean down; but he, with sleepless thunder watching,
 Hurl'd headlong a flame-breathing bolt, and laid
 The big-mouthed vaunter low. Struck to the heart
 With blasted strength, and shrunk to ashes, there
 A huge and helpless hulk, outstretched he lies,
 Beside the salt sea's strait, pressed down beneath
 The roots of Ætna, on whose peaks Hephaestus
 Sits hammering the hot metal. Thence, one day,
 Shall streams of liquid fire, swift passage forcing,
 With savage jaws the wide-spread plains devour
 Of the fair-fruited Sicily. Such hot shafts,
 From the flame-breathing ferment of the deep,
 Shall Typhon cast with sateless wrath, though now
 All scorched and cindered by the Thunderer's stroke,
 Moveless he lies. But why should I teach thee?
 Thou art a wise man, thine own wisdom use
 To save thyself. For me, I'll even endure
 These pains, till Jove shall please to slack his ire.

 Know'st thou not this, Prometheus, that mild words
 Are medicines of fierce wrath?[n28]

                               They are, when spoken
 In a mild hour; but the high-swelling heart
 They do but fret the more.

                           But, in the attempt
 To ward the threatened harm, what evil see'st thou?

 Most bootless toil, and folly most inane.

 Be it so; but yet 'tis sometimes well, believe me,
 That a wise man should seem to be a fool.

 Seem fool, seem wise, I, in the end, am blamed.

 Thy reckless words reluctant send me home.

 Beware, lest love for me make thyself hated.

 Of whom? Of him, who, on the all-powerful throne
 Sits, a new lord?

                  Even him. Beware thou vex not
 Jove's jealous heart.

                      In this, thy fate shall warn me.

 Away! farewell; and may the prudent thoughts,
 That sway thy bosom now, direct thee ever.

 I go, and quickly. My four-footed bird
 Brushes the broad path of the limpid air
 With forward wing: right gladly will he bend
 The wearied knee on his familiar stall.

   Thy dire disasters, unexampled wrongs,
       I weep, Prometheus.
   From its soft founts distilled the flowing tear
       My cheek bedashes.
   'Tis hard, most hard! By self-made laws Jove rules,
   And 'gainst the host of primal gods he points
       The lordly spear.


   With echoing groans the ambient waste bewails
       Thy fate, Prometheus;
   The neighbouring tribes of holy Asia weep
       For thee, Prometheus;[n29]
   For thee and thine! names mighty and revered
   Of yore, now shamed, dishonoured, and cast down,
       And chained with thee.

   And Colchis, with her belted daughters, weeps
       For thee, Prometheus;
   And Scythian tribes, on Earth's remotest verge,
   Where lone Mæotis[f11] spreads her wintry waters,
       Do weep for thee.

   The flower of Araby's wandering warriors weep
       For thee, Prometheus;[n30]
   And they who high their airy holds have perched
   On Caucasus' ridge, with pointed lances bristling,
       Do weep for thee.

   One only vexed like thee, and even as thou,
       In adamant bound,
   A Titan, and a god scorned by the gods,
       Atlas I knew.
   He on his shoulders the surpassing weight
   Of the celestial pole stoutly upbore,
       And groaned beneath.
   Roars billowy Ocean, and the Deep sucks back
   Its waters when he sobs; from Earth's dark caves
       Deep hell resounds;
   The fountains of the holy-streaming rivers
       Do moan with him.

 Deem me not self-willed, nor with pride high-strung,
 That I am dumb; my heart is gnawed to see
 Myself thus mocked and jeered. These gods, to whom
 Owe they their green advancement but to me?
 But this ye know; and, not to teach the taught,
 I'll speak of it no more. Of human kind,
 My great offence in aiding them, in teaching
 The babe to speak, and rousing torpid mind
 To take the grasp of itself--of this I'll talk;
 Meaning to mortal men no blame, but only
 The true recital of mine own deserts.
 For, soothly, having eyes to see they saw not,[n31]
 And hearing heard not; but like dreamy phantoms,
 A random life they led from year to year,
 All blindly floundering on. No craft they knew
 With woven brick or jointed beam to pile
 The sunward porch; but in the dark earth burrowed
 And housed, like tiny ants in sunless caves.
 No signs they knew to mark the wintry year:
 The flower-strewn Spring, and the fruit-laden Summer,
 Uncalendared, unregistered, returned--
 Till I the difficult art of the stars revealed,
 Their risings and their settings. Numbers, too,
 I taught them (a most choice device)[n32] and how
 By marshalled signs to fix their shifting thoughts,
 That Memory, mother of Muses, might achieve
 Her wondrous works. I first slaved to the yoke
 Both ox and ass. I, the rein-loving steeds
 (Of wealth's gay-flaunting pomp the chiefest pride)
 Joined to the car; and bade them ease the toils
 Of labouring men vicarious. I the first
 Upon the lint-winged car of mariner
 Was launched, sea-wandering. Such wise arts I found
 To soothe the ills of man's ephemeral life;
 But for myself, plunged in this depth of woe,
 No prop I find.

                Sad chance! Thy wit hath slipt
 From its firm footing then when needed most,
 Like some unlearned leech who many healed,
 But being sick himself, from all his store,
 Cannot cull out one medicinal drug.

 Hear me yet farther; and in hearing marvel,
 What arts and curious shifts my wit devised.
 Chiefest of all, the cure of dire disease
 Men owe to me. Nor healing food, nor drink,
 Nor unguent knew they, but did slowly wither
 And waste away for lack of pharmacy,
 Till taught by me to mix the soothing drug,
 And check corruption's march. I fixed the art
 Of divination with its various phase
 Of dim revealings, making dreams speak truth,
 Stray voices, and encounters by the way
 Significant; the flight of taloned birds
 On right and left I marked--these fraught with ban,
 With blissful augury those; their way of life,
 Their mutual loves and enmities, their flocks,
 And friendly gatherings; the entrails' smoothness,
 The hue best liked by the gods, the gall, the liver
 With all its just proportions. I first wrapped
 In the smooth fat the thighs; first burnt the loins,
 And from the flickering flame taught men to spell
 No easy lore, and cleared the fire-faced signs[n33]
 Obscure before. Yet more: I probed the Earth,
 To yield its hidden wealth to help man's weakness--
 Iron, copper, silver, gold. None but a fool,
 A prating fool, will stint me of this praise.
 And thus, with one short word to sum the tale,
 Prometheus taught all arts to mortal men.

 Do good to men, but do it with discretion.
 Why shouldst thou harm thyself? Good hope I nurse
 To see thee soon from these harsh chains unbound,
 As free, as mighty, as great Jove himself.

 This may not be; the destined course of things
 Fate must accomplish; I must bend me yet
 'Neath wrongs on wrongs, ere I may 'scape these bonds.
 Though Art be strong, Necessity is stronger.

 And who is lord of strong Necessity?[n34]

 The triform Fates, and the sure-memoried Furies.

 And mighty Jove himself must yield to them?

 No more than others Jove can 'scape his doom.[n35]

 What doom?--No doom hath he but endless sway.

 'Tis not for thee to know: tempt not the question.

 There's some dread mystery in thy chary speech,

              Urge this no more: the truth thou'lt know
 In fitting season; now it lies concealed
 In deepest darkness! for relenting Jove
 Himself must woo this secret from my breast.

     Never, O never may Jove,
 Who in Olympus reigns omnipotent lord,
 Plant his high will against my weak opinion![n36]
     Let me approach the gods
 With blood of oxen and with holy feasts,
 By father Ocean's quenchless stream, and pay
     No backward vows:
 Nor let my tongue offend; but in my heart
     Be lowly wisdom graven.

     For thus old Wisdom speaks:
 Thy life 'tis sweet to cherish, and while the length
 Of years is thine, thy heart with cheerful hopes
     And lightsome joys to feed.
 But thee--ah me! my blood runs cold to see thee,
 Pierced to the marrow with a thousand pains.
     Not fearing Jove,
 Self-willed thou hast respect to man, Prometheus,
   Much more than man deserveth.

    For what is man?[f12] behold!
 Can he requite thy love--child of a day--
 Or help thy extreme need? Hast thou not seen
   The blind and aimless strivings,
   The barren blank endeavour,
 The pithless deeds, of the fleeting dreamlike race?
   Never, O nevermore,
 May mortal wit Jove's ordered plan deceive.

   This lore my heart hath learned
 From sight of thee, and thy sharp pains, Prometheus.
 Alas! what diverse strain I sang thee then,
   Around the bridal chamber,
   And around the bridal bath,
 When thou my sister fair, Hesione,
   Won by rich gifts didst lead[n37]
 From Ocean's caves thy spousal bed to share.

   [_Enter_ IO.[n38]

   What land is this?--what race of mortals
   Owns this desert? who art thou,
   Rock-bound with these wintry fetters,
   And for what crime tortured thus?
   Worn and weary with far travel,
   Tell me where my feet have borne me!
 O pain! pain! pain! it stings and goads me again,
 The fateful brize!--save me, O Earth![n39]--Avaunt
 Thou horrible shadow of the Earth-born Argus!
 Could not the grave close up thy hundred eyes,
     But thou must come,
 Haunting my path with thy suspicious look,
     Unhoused from Hades?
 Avaunt! avaunt!--why wilt thou hound my track,
 The famished wanderer on the waste sea-shore?

 Pipe not thy sounding wax-compacted reed
 With drowsy drone at me! Ah wretched me!
 Wandering, still wandering o'er wide Earth, and driven
   Where? where? O tell me where?
 O Son of Kronos, in what damned sin
 Being caught hast thou to misery yoked me thus,
 Pricked me to desperation, and my heart
   Pierced with thy furious goads?
 Blast me with lightnings! bury me in Earth! To the gape
 Of greedy sea-monsters give me! Hear, O hear
     My prayer, O King!
 Enough, enough, these errant toils have tried me;
 And yet no rest I find: nor when, nor where
   These woes shall cease may know.

 Dost hear the plaint of the ox-horned maid?

 How should I not? the Inachian maid who knows not,
 Stung by the god-sent brize? the maid who smote
 Jove's lustful heart with love: and his harsh spouse
 Hounds her o'er Earth with chase interminable.

 My father's name thou know'st, and my descent!
 Who art thou? god or mortal? Speak! what charm
 Gives wretch like thee, the certain clue to know
     My lamentable fate?
 Aye, and the god-sent plague thou know'st; the sting
 That spurs me o'er the far-stretched Earth; the goad
 That mads me sheer, wastes, withers, and consumes,
    A worn and famished maid,
 Whipt by the scourge of jealous Hera's wrath!
 Ah me! ah me! Misery has many shapes,
     But none like mine.
 O thou, who named my Argive home, declare
 What ills await me yet; what end; what hope?
    If hope there be for Io.

 I pray thee speak to the weary way-worn maid.

 I'll tell thee all thy wish, not in enigmas
 Tangled and dark, but in plain phrase, as friend
 Should speak to friend. Thou see'st Prometheus, who
 To mortal men gifted immortal fire.

 O thou, to man a common blessing given,
 What crime hath bound thee to this wintry rock?

 I have but ceased rehearsing all my wrongs.

 And dost thou then refuse the boon I ask?

 What boon? ask what thou wilt, and I will answer.

 Say, then, who bound thee to this ragged cliff?

 Stern Jove's decree, and harsh Hephaestus' hand.

 And for what crime?

                    Let what I've said suffice.

 This, too, I ask--what bound hath fate appointed
 To my far-wandering toils?

                           This not to know
 Were better than to learn.

                           Nay, do not hide
 This thing from me!

                    If 'tis a boon, believe me,
 I grudge it not.

                 Then why so slow to answer?

 I would not crush thee with the cruel truth.

 Fear not; I choose to hear it.

                               Listen then.

 Nay, hear me rather. With her own mouth this maid
 Shall first her bygone woes rehearse; next thou
 What yet remains shalt tell.

                             Even so. [_To_ Io.] Speak thou;
 They are the sisters of thy father, Io;[n41]
 And to wail out our griefs, when they who listen
 Our troubles with a willing tear requite,
 Is not without its use.

                        I will obey,
 And in plain speech my chanceful story tell;
 Though much it grieves me to retrace the source,
 Whence sprung this god-sent pest, and of my shape
 Disfigurement abhorred. Night after night
 Strange dreams around my maiden pillow hovering
 Whispered soft temptings. "_O thrice-blessed maid,_
 _Why pin'st thou thus in virgin loneliness,_
 _When highest wedlock courts thee? Struck by the shaft_
 _Of fond desire for thee Jove burns, and pants_
 _To twine his loves with thine. Spurn not, O maid,_
 _The proffered bed of Jove; but hie thee straight_
 _To Lerne's bosomed mead_,[n42] _where are the sheep-folds_
 _And ox-stalls of thy sire, that so the eye_
 _Of Jove, being filled with thee, may cease from craving._"
 Such nightly dreams my restless couch possessed
 Till I, all tears, did force me to unfold
 The portent to my father. He to Pytho[f13]
 Sent frequent messengers, and to Dodona,
 Searching the pleasure of the gods; but they
 With various-woven phrase came back, and answers
 More doubtful than the quest. At length, a clear
 And unambiguous voice came to my father,
 Enjoining, with most strict command, to send me
 Far from my home, and from my country far,
 To the extreme bounds of Earth an outcast wanderer,
 Else that the fire-faced bolt of Jove should smite
 Our universal race. By such responses,
 Moved of oracular Loxias, my father
 Reluctant me reluctant drove from home,
 And shut the door against me. What he did
 He did perforce; Jove's bit was in his mouth.
 Forthwith my wit was frenzied, and my form
 Assumed the brute. With maniac bound I rushed,
 Horned as thou see'st, and with the sharp-mouthed sting
 Of gad-fly pricked infuriate to the cliff
 Of Lerne, and Cenchréa's limpid wave;
 While Argus, Earth-born cow-herd, hundred-eyed,
 Followed the winding traces of my path
 With sharp observance. Him swift-swooping Fate
 Snatched unexpected from his sleepless guard;
 But I from land to land still wander on,
 Scourged by the wrath of Heaven's relentless Queen.
 Thou hast my tale; the sequel, if thou know'st it,
 Is thine to tell; but do not seek, I pray thee,
 In pity for me, to drop soft lies; for nothing
 Is worse than the smooth craft of practised phrase.

     Enough, enough! Woe's me that ever
 Such voices of strange grief should rend my ear!
     That such a tale of woe,
 Insults, and wrongs, and horrors, should freeze me through,
     As with a two-edged sword!
 O destiny! destiny! woes most hard to see,
 More hard to bear! Alas! poor maid for thee!

 Thy wails anticipate her woes; restrain
 Thy trembling tears till thou hast heard the whole.

 Proceed: to know the worst some solace brings
 To the vexed heart.

                    Your first request I granted,
 And lightly; from her own mouth, ye have heard
 The spring of harm, the stream expect from me,
 How Hera shall draw out her slow revenge.
 Meanwhile, thou seed of Inachus, lend an ear
 And learn thy future travel. First to the east[n43]
 Turn thee, and traverse the unploughed Scythian fields,
 Whose wandering tribes their wattled homes transport
 Aloft on well-wheeled wains, themselves well slung
 With the far-darting bow. These pass, and, holding
 Thy course by the salt sea's sounding surge, pass through
 The land; next, on thy left, thou'lt reach the Chalybs,
 Workers in iron. These too avoid--for they
 Are savage, and harsh to strangers. Thence proceeding,
 Thou to a stream shalt come, not falsely named
 Hubristes: but the fierce ill-forded wave
 Pass not till Caucasus, hugest hill, receives thee,
 There where the flood its gushing strength foams forth
 Fresh from the rocky brow. Cross then the peaks
 That neighbour with the stars, and thence direct
 Southward thy path to where the Amazons
 Dwell, husband-hated, who shall one day people
 Thermódon's bank, and Themiscyre, and where
 Harsh Salmydessus whets his ravening jaws,
 The sailor's foe, stepmother to the ships.
 These maids shall give thee escort. Next thou'lt reach
 The narrow Cimmerian isthmus, skirting bleak
 The waters of Mæotis. Here delay not,
 But with bold breast cross thou the strait. Thy passage
 Linked with the storied name of Bosphorus
 Shall live through endless time. Here, leaving Europe,
 The Asian soil receives thee. Now, answer me,
 Daughters of Ocean, doth not Jove in all things
 Prove his despotic will?--In lawless love
 Longing to mingle with this mortal maid,
 He heaps her with these woes. A bitter suitor,
 Poor maid, was thine, and I have told thee scarce
 The prelude of thy griefs.

                          Ah! wretched me!

 Alas, thy cries and groans!--What wilt thou do,
 When the full measure of thy woes is told thee?

 What! more? her cup of woes not full?

                                      'Twill flow
 And overflow, a sea of whelming woes.

 Why do I live? Why not embrace the gain
 That, with one cast, this toppling cliff secures,
 And dash me headlong on the ground, to end
 Life and life's sorrows? Once to die is better
 Than thus to drag sick life.

                             Thou'rt happy, Io,
 That death from all thy living wrongs may free thee;
 But I, whom Fate hath made immortal, see
 No end to my long-lingering pains appointed,
 Till Jove from his usurping sway be hurled.

 Jove from his tyranny hurled--can such thing be?

 Doubtless 'twould feast thine eyes to see't?

                                             Ay, truly,
 Wronged as I am by him.

                        Then, learn from me
 That he is doomed to fall.

                           What hand shall wrest
 Jove's sceptre?

                Jove's own empty wit.

                                     How so?

 From evil marriage reaping evil fruit.

 Marriage! of mortal lineage or divine?

 Ask me no further. This I may not answer.

 Shall his spouse thrust him from his ancient throne?

 The son that she brings forth shall wound his father.

 And hath he no redemption from this doom?

 None, till he loose me from these hated bonds.

 But who, in Jove's despite, shall loose thee?

 From thine own womb descended.

                               How? My Son?
 One born of me shall be thy Saviour!--When?

 When generations ten have passed, the third.[n44]

 Thou speak'st ambiguous oracles.

                                 I have spoken
 Enough for thee. Pry not into the Fates.

 Wilt thou hold forth a hope to cheat my grasp?

 I give thee choice of two things: choose thou one.

 What things? Speak, and I'll choose.

                                     Thou hast the choice
 To hear thy toils to the end, or learn his name
 Who comes to save me.

                      Nay, divide the choice;
 One half to her concede, to me the other,
 Thus doubly gracious: to the maid her toils,
 To me thy destined Saviour tell.

                                 So be it!
 Being thus whetted in desire, I would not
 Oppose your wills. First Io, what remains
 Of thy far-sweeping wanderings hear, and grave
 My words on the sure tablets of thy mind.
 When thou hast crossed the narrow stream that parts[n45]
 The continents, to the far flame-faced East
 Thou shalt proceed, the highway of the Sun;
 Then cross the sounding Ocean, till thou reach
 Cisthené and the Gorgon plains, where dwell
 Phorcys' three daughters, maids with frosty eld
 Hoar as the swan, with one eye and one tooth
 Shared by the three; them Phœbus beamy-bright
 Beholds not, nor the nightly Moon. Near them
 Their winged sisters dwell, the Gorgons dire,
 Man-hating monsters, snaky-locked, whom eye
 Of mortal ne'er might look upon and live.
 This for thy warning. One more sight remains,
 That fills the eye with horror: mark me well;
 The sharp-beaked Griffins, hounds of Jove, avoid.
 Fell dogs that bark not; and the one-eyed host
 Of Arimaspian horsemen with swift hoofs
 Beating the banks of golden-rolling Pluto.
 A distant land, a swarthy people next
 Receives thee: near the fountains of the Sun
 They dwell by Aethiops' wave. This river trace
 Until thy weary feet shall reach the pass
 Whence from the Bybline heights the sacred Nile
 Pours his salubrious flood.[n46] The winding wave
 Thence to triangled Egypt guides thee, where
 A distant home awaits thee, fated mother
 Of no unstoried race. And now, if aught
 That I have spoken doubtful seem or dark,
 Repeat the question, and in plainer speech
 Expect reply. I feel no lack of leisure.

 If thou hast more to speak to her, speak on;
 Or aught omitted to supply, supply it;
 But if her tale is finished, as thou say'st,
 Remember our request.

                      Her tale is told,
 But for the more assurance of my words
 The path of toils through which her feet had struggled
 Before she reached this coast I will declare;
 Lightly, and with no cumbrous comment, touching
 Thy latest travel only, wandering Io.
 When thou hadst trod the Molossian plains, and reached
 Steep-ridged Dodona, where Thesprotian Jove
 In council sits, and from the articulate oaks
 (Strange wonder!) speaks prophetic, there thine ears
 This salutation with no doubtful phrase
 Received: "_All hail, great spouse of mighty Jove_
 _That shall be!_"--say, was it a pleasing sound?
 Thence by the sting of jealous Hera goaded,
 Along the coast of Rhea's bosomed sea[f14]
 Thy steps were driven: thence with mazy course
 Tossed hither;[n47] gaining, if a gain, this solace,
 That future times, by famous Io's name,
 Shall know that sea.[f15] These things may be a sign
 That I, beyond the outward show, can pierce
 To the heart of truth. What yet remains, I tell
 To thee and them in common, tracing back
 My speech to whence it came. There is a city
 In extreme Egypt, where with outspread loam
 Nile breasts the sea, its name Canopus. There
 Jove to thy sober sense shall bring thee back,
 Soft with no fearful touch, and thou shalt bear
 A son, dark Epaphus, whose name shall tell
 The wonder of his birth;[n48] he shall possess
 What fruitful fields fat Nile broad-streaming laves.
 Four generations then shall pass; the fifth
 In fifty daughters[f16] glorying shall return
 To ancient Argos, fatal wedlock shunning
 With fathers' brothers' sons; these, their wild hearts
 Fooled with blind lust, as hawks the gentle doves,
 Shall track the fugitive virgins; but a god
 Shall disappoint their chase, and the fair prey
 Save from their lawless touch; the Apian soil
 Shall welcome them to death, and woman's hands
 Shall dare the deed amid the nuptial watches.
 Each bride shall rob her lord of life, and dip
 The sharp steel in his throat. Such nuptial bliss
 May all my enemies know! Only one maid
 Of all the fifty, with a blunted will,
 Shall own the charm of love, and spare her mate,
 And of two adverse reputations choose
 The coward, not the murderess. She shall be
 The mother of a royal race in Argos.
 To tell what follows, with minute remark,
 Were irksome; but from this same root shall spring
 A hero, strong in the archer's craft, whose hand
 Shall free me from these bonds. Such oracle spake
 Titanian Themis, my time-honoured mother,
 But how and why were a long tale to tell,
 Nor being told would boot thine ear to hear it.

 Ah me! pain! pain! ah me!
 Again the fevered spasm hath seized me,
 And the stroke of madness smites!
 Again that fiery sting torments me,
 And my heart doth knock my ribs!
 My aching eyes in dizziness roll,
 And my helmless feet are driven
 Whither gusty frenzy blows!
 And my tongue with thick words struggling
 Like a sinking swimmer plashes
 'Gainst the whelming waves of woe! [_Exit_.

     Wise was the man, most wise,
 Who in deep-thoughted mood conceived, and first
 In pictured speech and pregnant phrase declared
 That marriage, if the Fates shall bless the bond,
     Must be of like with like;
 And that the daughters of an humble house
 Shun tempting union with the pomp of wealth
     And with the pride of birth.

     Never, O! never may Fate,
 All-powerful Fate which rules both gods and men,
 See me approaching the dread Thunderer's bed,
 And sharing marriage with the Olympian king,
     An humble Ocean-maid!
 May wretched Io, chased by Hera's wrath,
 Unhusbanded, unfriended, fill my sense
     With profitable fear.

     Me may an equal bond
 Bind with my equal: never may the eye
     Of a celestial suitor fix the gaze
 Of forceful love on me.
 This were against all odds of war to war,
 And in such strife entangled I were lost;
 For how should humble maid resist the embrace,
     Against great Jove's decree?

 Nay, but this Jove, though insolent now, shall soon
 Be humbled low. Such wedlock even now
 He blindly broods, as shall uptear his kingdom,
 And leave no trace behind; then shall the curse,
 Which Kronos heaped upon his ingrate son,
 When hurled unjustly from his hoary throne,
 Be all fulfilled. What remedy remains
 For that dread ruin I alone can tell;
 I only know. Then let him sit aloft,
 Rolling his thunder, his fire-breathing bolt
 Far-brandishing; his arts are vain; his fall,
 Unless my aid prevent, his shameful fall,
 Is doomed. Against himself to life he brings
 A champion fierce, a portent of grim war,
 Who shall invent a fiercer flame than lightning,
 And peals to outpeal the thunder, who shall shiver
 The trident mace that stirs the sea, and shakes
 The solid Earth, the spear of strong Poseidon.
 Thus shall the tyrant learn how much to serve
 Is different from to sway.

                           Thou dost but make
 Thy wishes father to thy slanderous phrase.

 I both speak truth and wish the truth to be.

 But who can think that Jove shall find a master?

 He shall be mastered! Ay, and worse endure.

 Dost thou not blench to cast such words about thee?

 How should I fear, being a god and deathless?

 But he can scourge with something worse than death.

 Even let him scourge! I'm armed for all conclusions.

 Yet they are wise who worship Adrastéa.[n49]

 Worship, and pray; fawn on the powers that be;
 But Jove to me is less than very nothing.
 Let him command, and rule his little hour
 To please himself; long time he cannot sway.
 But lo! where comes the courier of this Jove,
 The obsequious minion of this upstart King,
 Doubtless the bearer of some weighty news.

   [_Enter_ HERMES.

 Thee, cunning sophist, dealing bitter words
 Most bitterly against the gods, the friend
 Of ephemeral man, the thief of sacred fire,
 Thee, Father Jove commands to curb thy boasts,
 And say what marriage threats his stable throne.
 Answer this question in plain phrase, no dark
 Tangled enigmas; do not add, Prometheus,
 A second journey to my first: and, mark me!
 Thy obduracy cannot soften Jove.

 This solemn mouthing, this proud pomp of phrase
 Beseems the lackey of the gods. New gods
 Ye are, and, being new, ye ween to hold
 Unshaken citadels. Have I not seen
 Two Monarchs ousted from that throne? the third
 I yet shall see precipitate hurled from Heaven
 With baser, speedier, ruin. Do I seem
 To quail before this new-forged dynasty?
 Fear is my farthest thought. I pray thee go
 Turn up the dust again upon the road
 Thou cam'st. Reply from me thou shalt have none.

 This haughty tone hath been thy sin before:
 Thy pride will strand thee on a worser woe.


 And were my woe tenfold what now it is,
 I would not barter it for thy sweet chains;
 For liefer would I lackey this bare rock
 Than trip the messages of Father Jove.
 The insolent thus with insolence I repay.

 Thou dost delight in miseries; thou art wanton.

 Wanton! delighted! would my worst enemies
 Might wanton in these bonds, thyself the first!

 Must I, too, share the blame of thy distress?

 In one round sentence, every god I hate
 That injures me who never injured him.

 Thou'rt mad, clean mad; thy wit's diseased, Prometheus.

 Most mad! if madness 'tis to hate our foes.

 Prosperity's too good for thee: thy temper
 Could not endure't.

                    Alas! this piercing pang!

 "Alas!"--this word Jove does not understand.

 As Time grows old he teaches many things.

 Yet Time that teaches all leaves thee untaught.

 Untaught in sooth, thus parleying with a slave!

 It seems thou wilt not grant great Jove's demand.

 Such love as his to me should be repaid
 With like!

           Dost beard me like a boy? Beware.

 Art not a boy, and something yet more witless,
 If thou expectest answer from my mouth?
 Nor insult harsh, nor cunning craft of Jove
 Shall force this tale from me, till he unloose
 These bonds. Yea! let him dart his levin bolts,
 With white-winged snows and subterranean thunders
 Mix and confound the elements of things!
 No threat, no fear, shall move me to reveal
 The hand that hurls him from his tyrant's throne.

 Bethink thee well: thy vaunts can help thee nothing.

 I speak not rashly: what I said I said.

 If thou art not the bought and sold of folly,
 Dare to learn wisdom from thy present ills.

 Speak to the waves: thou speak'st to me as vainly!
 Deem not that I, to win a smile from Jove,
 Will spread a maiden smoothness o'er my soul,
 And importune the foe whom most I hate
 With womanish upliftings of the hands.
 Thou'lt see the deathless die first!


                                     I have said
 Much, but that much is vain: thy rigid nature
 To thaw with prayer is hopeless. A young colt
 That frets the bit, and fights against the reins,
 Art thou, fierce-champing with most impotent rage;
 For wilful strength that hath no wisdom in it
 Is less than nothing.[n50] But bethink thee well;
 If thou despise my words of timely warning,
 What wintry storm, what threefold surge of woes
 Whelms thee inevitable. Jove shall split
 These craggy cliffs with his cloud-bosomed bolt,
 And sink thee deep: the cold rock shall embrace thee;
 There thou shalt lie, till he shall please to bring thee
 Back to the day, to find new pains prepared:
 For he will send his Eagle-messenger,
 His winged hound,[f17] in crimson food delighting,
 To tear thy rags of flesh with bloody beak,
 And daily come an uninvited guest
 To banquet on thy gory liver. This,
 And worse expect, unless some god endure
 Vicarious thy tortures,[n51] and exchange
 His sunny ether for the rayless homes
 Of gloomy Hades, and deep Tartarus.
 Consider well. No empty boast I speak,
 But weighty words well weighed: the mouth of Jove
 Hath never known a lie, and speech with him
 Is prophet of its deed. Ponder and weigh,
 Close not thy stubborn ears to good advice.

 If we may speak, what Hermes says is wise,
 And fitting the occasion. He advises
 That stubborn will should yield to prudent counsel.
 Obey: thy wisdom should not league with folly.

 Nothing new this preacher preaches:
 Seems it strange that foe should suffer
 From the vengeance of his foe?
 I am ready. Let him wreathe
 Curls of scorching flame around me;
 Let him fret the air with thunder,
 And the savage-blustering winds!
 Let the deep abysmal tempest
 Wrench the firm roots of the Earth!
 Let the sea upheave her billows,
 Mingling the fierce rush of waters
 With the pathway of the stars!
 Let the harsh-winged hurricane sweep me
 In its whirls, and fling me down
 To black Tartarus: there to lie
 Bound in the iron folds of Fate.
 I will bear: but cannot die.

 Whom the nymphs have struck with madness
 Raves as this loud blusterer raves;
 Seems he not a willing madman,
 Let him reap the fruits he sowed![n52]
 But ye maids, who share his sorrows,
 Not his crimes, with quick removal
 Hie from this devoted spot,
 Lest with idiocy the thunder
 Harshly blast your maundering wits.

 Wouldst thou with thy words persuade us,
 Use a more persuasive speech;
 Urge no reasons to convince me
 That an honest heart must hate.
 With his sorrows I will sorrow:
 I will hate a traitor's name;
 Earth has plagues, but none more noisome
 Than a faithless friend in need.

 Ponder well my prudent counsel,
 Nor, when evil hunts thee out,
 Blame great Jove that he doth smite thee
 With an unexpected stroke.
 Not the gods; thy proper folly
 Is the parent of thy woes.[f18]
 Jove hath laid no trap to snare thee,
 But the scapeless net of ruin
 Thou hast woven for thyself.

 Now his threats walk forth in action,
 And the firm Earth quakes indeed.
 Deep and loud the ambient Thunder
 Bellows, and the flaring Lightning
 Wreathes his fiery curls around me,
 And the Whirlwind rolls his dust;
 And the Winds from rival regions
 Rush in elemental strife,
 And the Ocean's storm-vexed billows
 Mingle with the startled stars!
 Doubtless now the tyrant gathers
 All his hoarded wrath to whelm me.
 Mighty Mother, worshipped Themis,
 Circling Ether that diffusest
 Light, a common joy to all,
 Thou beholdest these my wrongs!

[The End]




 Be not forgetful to entertain strangers; for thereby
 Some have entertained angels unawares.
                                        ST. PAUL.

           πρὸς γὰρ Διός ἐισιν ἅπαντες
 Ξεῖνοί τε πτωχόι τε.



 PELASGUS, King of Argos, and Attendants.



DANAUS, according to the received Greek story, was an Egyptian, who
founded a colony in Argos, at some date between the age of the oldest
Argive king Inachus, and the Trojan war. In the reality of this
sea-faring adventurer, modern historians, following the faith of the
ancient Greeks, have generally acquiesced, till, latterly, the Germans,
with that instinctive hostility to external tradition which
characterises them, have boldly ventured to explain both the Egyptian
and his colony away into a symbol, or an inanity. Of our most recent
writers, however, THIRLWALL, after considering all the German
speculations on the subject, is not ashamed to say a word in favour of
the possibility or probability of an Egyptian colony in Argos;[f1]
while CLINTON[f2] (Introd. pp. 6, 7), boldly announces the
principle that "we may acknowledge as real persons all those whom there
is no reason for rejecting. The presumption is in favour of the early
tradition. . . . Cadmus and Danaus appear to be real persons; for it is
conformable to the state of mankind, and perfectly credible that
Phœnician and Egyptian adventurers, in the ages to which these persons
are ascribed, should have found their way to the coasts of Greece."
GROTE, however, seems to have acted most wisely in refusing to decide
whether any particular legend of the earliest times is mythical or
historical, on the ground that, though many of the legends doubtless
contain truth, they contain it only "in a sort of chemical combination
with fiction, which we have no means of decomposing"--(II. p. 50). This
play of Æschylus, therefore, cannot boast of any accessory historical
superadded to the principal poetic interest.

Danaus, the legend tells, though an Egyptian born, was not of Egyptian
descent. The original mother of his race was Io, daughter of Inachus,
king of Argos, and priestess of Hera in that place. How this
much-persecuted maid found her way from the banks of the "Erasinus old"
to the shores of the nurturing Nile, we have seen in the previous piece.
Danaus had a brother called Ægyptus, the father of fifty sons, as
himself was of fifty daughters. These fifty sons Ægyptus sought to
unite in wedlock to the equal-numbered progeny of his brother; but the
chaste maidens, whether because they actually thought it unholy (as it
certainly is, in the general case, unadvisable) for first cousins to
marry first cousins, or {216} because the suit was pressed in a manner
not the most respectful, or from a combination of both motives, refused
to enter into the bond; and, to escape the importunities of their
stronger male suitors, fled, under the guidance of their father, over
the seas to Greece. As kind chance, or, rather, Divine Providence, would
have it, they were wafted to that very part of Greece whence their
famous ancestress Io had originally proceeded, when the god-sent gadfly
drove her, in a career of tempestuous wanderings, through great part of
Europe and Asia, to Egypt. With their landing on this coast the present
opera commences; and the action which it represents is the very simple
one of the reception of the Libyan fugitives, by the Argive monarch
Pelasgus (otherwise called Gelanor), and their participation in the
rights and privileges of Argive citizenship. The transference of their
affections from Nile to Erasinus is solemnly sung in the concluding
chaunt. The Danaides are now Argives.

Considered by itself, the action of this piece is the most meagre that
can be conceived, and, as the poet has handled it, contains little that
can stir the deeper feelings of the heart, or strike the imagination
strongly. That the king of the Argives should feel serious doubts as to
the propriety of receiving such a band of foreigners into his kingdom,
formidable not in their own strength, indeed, but in respect of the
pursuing party, by whom they were claimed, was most natural; equally
natural, however, and, in a poetic point of view, necessary, that his
political fears should finally be outweighed by his benevolent regard
for the rights of unprotected virgins, and his pious fear of the wrath
of Jove, the protector of suppliants. The alternation of mind between
these contending feelings, till a final resolve is taken on the side of
the right, affords no field for the higher faculty of the dramatist to
display itself. As we have it, accordingly, the Suppliants is, perhaps,
the weakest performance of Æschylus. But the fact is, there is the best
reason to believe that the great father of tragedy never meant this
piece to stand alone, but wrote it merely to usher in the main action,
which followed in the other pieces of a trilogy; the names of which
pieces--Ἀιγύπτιοι, and Δαναίδες--are preserved in the list of the
author's pieces still extant. Of this, the whole conclusion of the
present piece, and especially the latter half of the last choral chaunt,
furnishes the most conclusive evidence.

The remainder of the story, which formed the main action of the trilogy,
is well known. Immediately after the reception of the fugitives, by the
Argives, their pursuers arrive, and land on the coast. This arrival is
announced in the last scene of the present piece. On {217} this, Danaus,
unwilling to lead his kind host into a war, pretends to yield to the
suit still as eagerly pressed, and the marriage is agreed on. But a
terrible revenge had been devised. At the very moment that he hands over
his unwilling but obedient daughters to the subjection of their hated
cousins, he gives them secret instructions to furnish themselves each
with a dagger, and, during the watches of the nuptial night, to dip the
steel in the throats of their unsuspecting lords. The bloody deed was
completed. Only one of all the fifty daughters, preferring the fame of
true womanhood to the claims of filial homage, spared her mate.
Hypermnestra saved her husband Lynceus. This conduct, of course, brought
the daughter into collision with her father and her father's family; and
one of those strifes of our mysterious moral nature was educed, which,
as we have seen in the trilogy of the Orestiad, it was one great purpose
of the Æschylean drama to reconcile. If the murder occupied the second
piece, as the progress of the story naturally brings with it, a third
piece, according to the analogy of the Eumenides, would be necessary to
bring about the reconciliation, and effect that purifying of the
passions which Aristotle points out as the great moral result of tragic
composition. That Aphrodite was the great celestial agent employed in
the finale of the Suppliants, as Pallas Athena is in the Furies, has
been well divined; a beautiful fragment in celebration of love, and in
favour of Hypermnestra remains; but to attempt a reconstruction of these
lost pieces at the present day, though an amusement of which the learned
Germans are fond, is foreign to the habits of the British mind. Those
who feel inclined to see what ingenuity may achieve in this region, are
referred to Welcker's Trilogie, and Gruppe's Ariadne.

The moral tone and character of this piece is in the highest degree
pleasing and satisfactory. The Supreme Jove, whose prominent attribute
is power, here receives a glorification as the protector of the
persecuted, and the refuge of the distressed. On the duty of
hospitality, under the sanction of Ζεύς ξένιος and ἱκεσιος, as
practised among the ancient Greeks, I refer the reader with pleasure
to Grote's History of Greece, Vol. II., p. 114.

"The scene," says Potter, "is near the shore, in an open grove, close to
the altar and images of the gods presiding over the sacred games, with a
view of the sea and ships of Egyptus on one side, and of the town of
Argos on the other, with hills, and woods, and vales, a river flowing
between them: all, together with the persons of the drama, forming a
picture that would have well employed the united pencils of Poussin and



  [CHORUS, _entering the stage in procession. March time._

   Jove, the suppliant's high protector,[n1]
   Look from Heaven, benignly favouring
   Us the suppliant band, swift-oared
   Hither sailing, from the seven mouths
   Of the fat fine-sanded Nile![n2]
   From the land that fringes Syria,
   Land divine, in flight we came,
   Not by public vote forth-driven,
   Not by taint of blood divorced
   From our native state,[f3] but chastely
   Our abhorrent foot withdrawing
   From impure ungodly wedlock
   With Ægyptus' sons, too nearly
   Cousined with ourselves. For wisely,
   This our threatened harm well-weighing,
   Danaus, our sire, prime counsellor,
   And leader of our sistered band,
   Timely chose this least of sorrows
   O'er the salt-sea wave to flee;
   And here on Argive soil to plant us,
   Whence our race its vaunted spring
   Drew divinely, when great Jove
   Gently thrilled the brize-stung heifer[n3]
   With his procreant touch, and breathed
   Godlike virtue on her womb.
   Where on Earth should we hope refuge
   On more friendly ground than this,
   In our hands these green boughs bearing
   Wreathed with precatory wool?[f4]
   Ye blissful gods supremely swaying[n4]
   Land and city, and lucid streams;
   And ye in sepulchres dark, severely
   Worshipped 'neath the sunless ground;
   And thou, the third, great Jove the Saviour,
   Guardian of all holy homes,
   With your spirit gracious-wafted,
   Breathe fair welcome on this band
   Of suppliant maids. But in the depth
   Of whirling waves engulph the swarm
   Of insolent youths, Ægyptus' sons,
   Them, and their sea-cars swiftly oared,
   Ere this slimy shore receive
   Their hated footprint. Let them labour,
   With wrath-spitting seas confronted:
   By the wild storm wintry-beating,
   Thunder-crashing, lightning flashing,
   By the tyrannous blast shower-laden
   Let them perish, ere they mount
   Marriage beds which right refuses,[n5]
   Us, their father's brother's daughters
   To their lawless yoke enthralling!

   [_The_ CHORUS _assemble in a band round the centre of the Orchestra, and
   sing the Choral Hymn._

 Give ear to our prayer, we implore thee,
 Thou son, and the mother that bore thee--
 The calf and the heifer divine![f5]
   From afar be thine offspring's avenger,
 Even thou, once a beautiful ranger
   O'er these meads with the grass-cropping kine!
 And thou, whom she bore to her honor,
 When the breath of the Highest was on her,
   And the touch of the finger divine;
 Thine ear, mighty god, we implore thee
   To the prayer of thine offspring incline!

 O Thou who with blessing anointed,
 Wert born when by Fate 'twas appointed,
   With thy name to all ages a sign![f6]
 In this land of the mother that bore thee,
 Her toils we remember before thee,
   Where she cropped the green mead with the kine.
 O strange were her fortunes, and stranger
 The fate that hath chased me from danger
   To the home of the heifer divine.
 O son, with the mother that bore thee,
   Stamp my tale with thy truth for a sign!

 While we cry, should there haply be near us
 An Argive, an augur,[f7] to hear us,
    When our shrill-piercing wail
    His ear shall assail,
 'Tis the cry he will deem, and none other,
 Of Procne, the woe-wedded mother,
    The hawk-hunted nightingale;[f8]
 Sad bird, when its known streams it leaveth,
 And with fresh-bleeding grief lonely grieveth,
    And telleth the tale,
    With a shrill-voiced wail,
 How the son that she loved, and none other,
 Was slain by his fell-purposed mother,
    The woe-wedded nightingale!

 Even so from the Nile summer-tinted,
 With Ionian wailings unstinted,[n6]
   My cheek with the keen nail I tear;
     And I pluck, where it bloweth,
     Griefs blossom that groweth
   In this heart first acquainted with care;
     And I fear the fierce band,
     From the far misty land,[n7]
   Whom the swift ships to Argos may bear.

 Ye gods of my race, seeing clearly
 The right which ye cherish so dearly,
   To the haughty your hatred declare!
     'Gainst the right ye will never
     Chaste virgins deliver,
   The bed of the lawless to share;
     From the god-fenced altar
     Each awe-struck assaulter
   Back shrinks. Our sure bulwark is there.


 O would that Jove might show to men
   His counsel as he planned it;
 But ah! he darky weaves the scheme,
   No mortal eye hath scanned it.
 It burns through darkness brightly clear
   To whom the god shall show it;
 But mortal man, through cloudy fear,
   Shall search in vain to know it.

 Firm to the goal his purpose treads,
   His will knows no frustration;
 When with his brow the mighty god
   Hath nodded consummation.
 But strangely, strangely weave their maze
   His counsels, dusky wending,
 Concealed in densely-tangled ways
   From human comprehending.

 From their high-towering hopes the proud
   In wretched rout he casteth.
 No force he wields; his simple will,
   His quiet sentence blasteth.
 All godlike power is calm;[n8] and high
   On thrones of glory seated,
 Jove looks from Heaven with tranquil eye,
   And sees his will completed.

 Look down, O mighty god, and see
   How this harsh wedlock planning,
 That dry old tree in saplings green,
   The insolent lust is fanning!
 Madly he hugs the frenzied plan
   With perverse heart unbending,
 Hot-spurred, till Ruin seize the man,
   Too late to think of mending.

 Ah! well-a-day! ah! well-a-day![n9]
 Thus sadly I hymn the sorrowful lay,
    With a shrill-voiced cry,
    With a sorrow-streaming eye,
    Well-a-day, woe's me!
 Thus I grace my own tomb with the wail pouring free,
 Thus I sing my own dirge, ah me![f9]
   Ye Apian hills, be kind to me,
   And throw not back the stranger's note,
    But know the Libyan wail.
   Behold how, rent to sorrow's note,
   My linen robes all loosely float,
    And my Sidonian veil.

 Ah! well-a-day! ah! well-a-day!
 My plighted vows I'll duly pay,
    Ye gods, if ye will save
    From the foe, and from the grave
    My trembling life set free!
 Surges high, surges high, sorrow's many-billowed sea,
   And woe towers on woe. Ah me!
   Ye Apian hills,[n10] be kind to me,
   And throw not back the stranger's note
    But know the Libyan wail!
   Behold how, rent to sorrow's note,
   My linen robes all loosely float,
    And my Sidonian veil!

 And yet, in that slight timbered house, well-armed
    With frequent-plashing oar,
 Stiff sail and cordage straining, all unharmed
    By winter's stormy roar,
    We reached this Argive shore.
 Safely so far. May Jove, the all-seeing, send
 As the beginning, so the prosperous end.
    And may he grant, indeed,
 That we, a gracious mother's gracious seed,
    By no harsh kindred wooed,
 May live on Apian ground unyoked and unsubdued!


 May she, the virgin daughter of high Jove,[f10]
    Our virgin litany hear,
 Our loving homage answering with more love!
    She that, with face severe,
    Repelled, in awful fear,
 Each rude aggressor, in firm virtue cased,
 Nor knew the lustful touch divinely chaste.
    And may she grant, indeed,
 That we, a gracious mother's gracious seed,
    By no harsh kindred wooed,
 May live on Apian ground unyoked and unsubdued.

    But if no aid to us may be,
   Libya's swart sun-beaten daughters,
   The rope shall end our toils; and we,
   Beneath the ground, shall fare to thee,
    Thou many-guested Jove,[f11]
   To thee our suppliant boughs we'll spread,
    Thou Saviour of the weary Dead,
 Far from the shining thrones of blissful gods above.
    Ah, Jove too well we know
 What wrath divine scourged ancient Io, wailing
 Beneath thy consort's anger heaven-scaling;
      And even so,
     On Io's seed may blow
 A buffeting blast from her of black despairful woe.

     O Jove, how then wilt thou be free
   From just reproach of Libya's daughters,
     If thou in us dishonoured see
     Him whom the heifer bore to thee
       Whom thou didst chiefly love.
     If thou from us shalt turn thy face,
     What suppliant then shall seek thy grace?
 O hear my prayer enthroned in loftiest state above!
     For well, too well, we know
 What wrath divine scourged ancient Io, wailing
 Beneath thy consort's anger heaven-scaling;
      And even so,
     On Io's seed may blow
 A buffeting blast from her of black despairful woe.

   [_Enter_ DANAUS.

 Be wise, my daughters. In no rash flight with me,
 A hoary father, and a faithful pilot,
 Ye crossed the seas; nor less is wisdom needful
 Ashore; be wise, and on your heart's true tablet
 Engrave my words. For lo! where mounts the dust,
 A voiceless herald of their coming; hear
 Their distant-rumbling wheels! A host I see
 Of bright shield-bearing and spear-shaking men,
 Swift steeds, and rounded cars.[n11] Of our here landing,
 Timely apprised, the chiefs that rule this country
 Come with their eyes to read us. But be their coming
 Harmless, or harsh with fell displeasure, here
 On this high-seat of the Agonian gods[n12]
 Is safety for my daughters; for an altar
 Is a sure tower of strength, a shield that bears
 The rattling terror dintless. Go ye, therefore,
 Embrace these altars, in your sistered hands[n13]
 These white-wreathed precatory boughs presenting,
 Which awful Jove reveres; and with choice phrase
 Wisely your pity-moving tale-commend
 When they shall ask you; as becomes the stranger,
 The bloodless motive of your flight declaring
 With clear recital. The bold tongue eschewing,
 With sober-fronted face and quiet eye
 Your tale unfold. The garrulous prate, the length
 Of slow-drawn speech beware. Such fault offends
 This people sorely. Chiefly know to yield:
 Thou art the weaker--a poor helpless stranger--
 The bold-mouthed phrase suits ill with thy condition.

 Father, thou speakest wisely: nor unwisely
 Thy words would we receive, in memory's ward
 Storing thy hests; ancestral Jove be witness!

 Even so; and with benignant eye look down![n14]

 * * * *

 Delay not. In performance show thy strength.

 Even there where thou dost sit, I'd sit beside thee!

 O Jove show pity ere pity come too late!

 Jove willing, all is well.


                           Him, therefore, pray,
 There where his bird the altar decorates:[n15] pray
 Apollo, too, the pure, the exiled once[n16]
 From bright Olympus.

                     The sun's restoring rays
 We pray: the god what fate he knew will pity.

 May he with pity and with aid be near!

 Whom next shall I invoke?

                          Thou see'st this trident
 And know'st of whom the symbol?

                                May the same
 That sent us hither kindly now receive us!

 Here's Hermes likewise, as Greece knows the god.[n17]

 Be he my herald, heralding the free!

 This common altar of these mighty gods
 Adore: within these holy precincts lodged,
 Pure doves from hawks of kindred plumage fleeing,
 Foes of your blood, polluters of your race.
 Can bird eat bird and be an holy thing?[n18]
 Can man be pure, from an unwilling father
 Robbing unwilling brides? Who does these deeds
 Will find no refuge from lewd guilt in Hades;
 For there, as we have heard, another Jove
 Holds final judgment on the guilty shades.
 But now be ready. Here await their coming;
 May the gods grant a victory to our prayers!

   [_Enter_ KING.

 Whom speak we here? Whence come? Certes no Greeks.
 Your tire rich-flaunting with barbaric pride
 Bespeaks you strangers. Argos knows you not,
 Nor any part of Greece. Strange surely 'tis
 That all unheralded, unattended all,
 And of no host the acknowledged guest, unfearing
 Ye tread this land.[n19] If these boughs, woolly-wreathed,
 That grace the altars of the Agonian gods
 Speak what to Greeks they should speak, ye are suppliants.
 Thus much I see: what more remains to guess
 I spare; yourselves have tongues to speak the truth.

 That we are strangers is most true; but whom
 See we in thee? a citizen? a priest?
 A temple warder with his sacred wand?
 The ruler of the state?


 Speak with a fearless tongue, and plainly. I
 Of old earth-born Palæcthon am the son,[n20]
 My name Pelasgus, ruler of this land;
 And fathered with my name the men who reap
 Earth's fruits beneath my sway are called Pelasgi;
 And all the land where Algos flows, and Strymon,[n21]
 Toward the westering sun my sceptre holds.
 My kingdom the Perrhæbians bound, and those
 Beyond high Pindus, by Pæonia, and
 The Dodonéan heights; the briny wave
 Completes the circling line; within these bounds
 I rule; but here, where now thy foot is planted,
 The land is Apia, from a wise physician
 Of hoary date so called. He, from Naupactus,
 Apollo's son, by double right, physician
 And prophet both,[n22] crossed to this coast, and freed it
 By holy purifyings, from the plague
 Of man-destroying monsters, which the ground
 With ancient taint of blood polluted bore.
 This plague his virtue medicinal healed,
 That we no more unfriendly fellowship
 Hold with the dragon-brood. Such worthy service
 With thankful heart the Argive land received,
 And Apis lives remembered in her prayers.
 Of this from me assured, now let me hear
 Your whence, and what your purpose. Briefly speak;
 This people hates much phrase.

                               Our tale is short.
 We by descent are Argives, from the seed
 Of the heifer sprung, whose womb was blest in bearing;
 And this in every word we can confirm
 By manifest proofs.

                    That ye are Argives, this
 My ear receives not; an unlikely tale!
 Like Libyan women rather; not a line
 I trace in you that marks our native race.
 Nile might produce such daughters; ye do bear
 A Cyprian character in your female features,
 The impressed likeness of some plastic male.[f12]
 Of wandering Indians I have heard, that harness
 Camels for mules, huge-striding, dwelling near
 The swarthy Æthiop land; ye may be such;
 Or, had ye war's accoutrement, the bow,
 Ye might be Amazons, stern, husband-hating,
 Flesh-eating maids. But speak, that I may know
 The truth. How vouch ye your descent from Argos?

 They say that Io, on this Argive ground,
 Erst bore the keys to Hera,[n23] then 'tis said,
 So runs the general rumour--[n24]

                                  I have heard.
 Was it not so, Jove with the mortal maid
 Mingled in love?

                 Even so; in love they mingled,
 Deceiving Hera's bed.

                      And how then ended
 The Olympian strife?

                     Enraged, the Argive goddess
 To a heifer changed the maid.

                              And the god came
 To the fair horned heifer?

                           Like a leaping bull,
 Transformed he came;[n25] so the hoar legend tells.

 And what did then the potent spouse of Jove?

 She sent a watchman ringed with eyes to watch.

 This all-beholding herdsman, who was he?

 Argus the son of Earth, by Hermes slain.

 How further fared the ill-fated heifer, say?

 A persecuting brize was sent to sting her.

 And o'er the wide earth goaded her the brize?

 Just so; thy tale with mine accordant chimes.

 Then to Canopus, and to Memphis came she?

 There, touched by Jove's boon hand, she bore a son.

 The heifer's boasted offspring, who was he?

 Epaphus, who plainly with his name declares
 His mother's safety wrought by touch of Jove.

 * * * *[n26]

 Libya, dowered with a fair land's goodly name.

 And from this root divine what other shoots?

 Belus, my father's father, and my uncle's.

 Who is thy honoured father?

 And fifty sons his brother hath, my uncle.

 This brother who? Spare not to tell the whole.

 Ægyptus. Now, O king, our ancient race
 Thou knowest. Us from our prostration raising,
 Thou raisest Argos.


                     Argives in sooth ye seem,
 By old descent participant of the soil;
 But by what stroke of sore mischance harsh-smitten,
 Dared ye to wander from your native seats?

 Pelasgian prince, a motley-threaded web
 Is human woe; a wing of dappled plumes.
 Past hope and faith it was that we, whose blood
 From Argive Io flows, to Io's city,
 In startled flight, should measure back our way,
 To escape from hated marriage.

                               How say'st thou?
 To escape from marriage thou art here, displaying
 These fresh-cropt branches, snowy-wreathed, before
 The Agonian gods?

                  Ay! Never, never may we
 Be thralled to Ægyptus' sons!

                              Speak'st thou of hate
 To them, or of a bond your laws forbid?

 Both this and that.[n27] Who should be friends were foes,
 And blood with blood near-mingled basely flows.

 But branch on branch well grafted goodlier grows.

 Urge not this point; but rather think one word
 From thee the wretched rescues.

                                How then shall I
 My friendly disposition show?

                              We ask
 But this--from our pursuers save us.

 Shall I for unknown exiles breed a war?

 Justice will fight for him who fights for us.

 Doubtless; if Justice from the first hath stamped
 Your cause for hers.

 (_pointing to the altar_)
                     The state's high poop here crowned

        This green environment of shade,
 Mantling the seats of the gods I see, and shudder.

 The wrath of suppliant Jove[n28] is hard to bear.

     O hear my cry, benignly hear!
      Thou son of Palæcthon, hear me!
     The fugitive wandering suppliant hear!
      Thou king of Pelasgians, hear me!
     Like a heifer young by the wolf pursued[n29]
      O'er the rocks so cliffy and lonely,
     And loudly it lows to the herdsman good,
      Whose strength can save it only.

 My eyes are tasked; there, 'neath the shielding shade
 Of fresh-lopt branches I behold you clinging
 To these Agonian gods; but what I do
 Must spare the state from harm. I must provide
 That no unlooked-for unprepared event
 Beget new strife; of this we have enough.

   Great Jove that allotteth their lot to all,
    By his sentence of right shall clear thee,
   Dread Themis that heareth the suppliants' call,
    No harm shall allow to come near thee.
   Though I speak to the old with the voice of the young,
    Do the will of the gods, and surely
   Their favour to thee justly weighed shall belong,
    When thy gifts thou offerest purely.

 Not at my hearth with precatory boughs
 Ye lie. The state, if guilty taint from you
 Affect the general weal, will for the state
 Take counsel. I nor pledge nor promise give,
 Till all the citizens hear what thou shalt say.

   Thou art the state, and the people art thou,[n30]
    The deed that thou doest who judges?
   The hearth and the altar before thee bow,
    The grace that thou grantest who grudges?
   Thou noddest; the will that thou willest is thine,
    Thy vote with no voter thou sharest;
   The throne is all thine, and the sceptre divine,
    And thy guilt, when thou sinnest, thou bearest.

 Guilt lie on those that hate me! but your prayers
 Harmless I may not hear; and to reject them
 Were harsh. To do, and not to do alike
 Perplex me; on the edge of choice I tremble.

   Him worship who sitteth a watchman in Heaven,
    And looks on this life of our labour;
   Nor looketh in vain, when the wretched is driven
    From the gate of his pitiless neighbour.
   On our knees when we fall, and for mercy we call,
    If his right thou deny to the stranger,
   Jove shall look on thy home, from his thunder dome,
    Sternly wrathful, the suppliants' avenger.

 But if Ægyptus' sons shall claim you, pleading
 Their country's laws, and their near kinship, who
 Shall dare to stand respondent? You must plead
 Your native laws, so the laws plead for you,
 And speak you free from who would force your love.

   Ah ne'er to the rough-handed youth let me yield,
   But rather alone, 'neath the wide starry field,
    Let me wander, an outcast, a stranger!
   The ill-sorted yoke I abhor: and do thou,
   With Justice to second thee, judge for me now,
    And fear Him above, the Avenger!

 Not I shall judge: it is no easy judgment.
 What I have said, I said. Without the people
 I cannot do this thing;[n31] being absolute king,
 I would not. Justly, if mischance shall follow,
 The popular tongue will blame the ruler, who,
 To save the stranger, ruined his own flock.

   Where kindred with kindred contendeth in war,
   Jove looks on the strife, and decides from afar,
    Where he holdeth the scales even-handed;[f13]
   O why wilt thou doubt to declare for the right?
   He blesseth the good, but in anger will smite,
    Where the sons of the wicked are banded.

 To advise for you in such confounding depths,
 My soul should be a diver, to plunge down
 Far in the pool profound with seeing eye,
 And feel no dizziness. 'Tis no light matter
 Here to unite your safety and the state's.
 If that your kindred claim you as their right,
 And we withstand, a bloody strife ensues.
 If from these altars of the gods we tear you,
 Your chosen refuge, we shall surely bring
 The all-destroying god, the stern Alastor,[f14]
 To house with us, whom not the dead in Hades
 Can flee. Is here no cause to ponder well?

       Ponder well;
       With thee to dwell,
   A righteous-minded host receive us!
       Exiles lorn,
   From the godless men that grieve us
       Save to-day;
       Nor cast-a-way
   Homeless, houseless, hopeless leave us!

       Shall rash assaulters
       From these altars
   Rudely drag the friendless stranger?
       Thou art king,
       'Neath thy wing
   Cowers in vain the weak from danger?
       Thy terror show
       To our fierce foe,
   Fear, O fear our High Avenger!

       Where they see
       The gods and thee,
   Shall their lawless will not falter?
       Shall they tear
       My floating hair,
   As a horse dragged by the halter?
       Wilt thou bear
       Him to tear
       My frontlets fair,
   My linen robes--the bold assaulter?

       One the danger,
       If the stranger
   Thou reject, or welcome wisely:
       For thee and thine
       To Mars a fine
   Thou shalt pay the same precisely:
       From Egypt far
       Fearing war,
       Thou shalt mar
   Thy peace with mighty Jove, not wisely.

 Both ways I'm marred. Even here my wits are stranded.
 With these or those harsh war to make, strong Force
 Compels my will. Nailed am I like a vessel
 Screwed to the dock, beneath the shipwright's tool.
 Which way I turn is woe. A plundered house
 By grace of possessory Jove[n32] may freight
 New ships with bales that far outweigh the loss;
 And a rash tongue that overshoots the mark
 With barbéd phrase that harshly frets the heart,
 With one smooth word, may charm the offence away.
 But ere the sluice of kindred blood be opened,
 With vows and victims we must pray the gods
 Importunate, if perchance such fateful harm
 They may avert. Myself were little wise
 To mingle in this strife: of such a war
 Most ignorant is most blest: but may the gods
 Deceive my fears, and crown your hopes with blessing!

 Now hear the end of my respectful prayers.

 I hear. Speak on. Thy words shall not escape me.

 Thou see'st this sash, this zone my stole begirding.

 Fit garniture of women. Yes; I see it.

 This zone well-used may serve us well.

                                       How so?

 If thou refuse to pledge our safety, then--

 Thy zone shall pledge it how?

                              Thou shalt behold
 These ancient altars with new tablets hung.

 Thou speak'st in riddles. Explain.

                                   These gods shall see me
 Here hanging from their shrines.

                                 Hush, maiden! Hush!
 Thy words pierce through my marrow!

                                    Thou hast heard
 No blind enigma now. I gave it eyes.

 Alas! with vast environment of ills
 I'm hedged all round. Misfortune, like a sea,
 Comes rushing in: the deep unfathomed flood
 I fear to cross, and find no harbour nigh.
 Thy prayer if I refuse, black horror rises
 Before me, that no highest-pointed aim
 May overshoot. If posted fore these walls
 I give thy kindred battle, I shall be
 Amerced with bitter loss, who reckless dared
 For woman's sake to incarnadine the plain
 With brave men's blood. Yet I perforce must fear
 The wrath of suppliant Jove, than which no terror
 Awes human hearts more strongly. Take these branches,
 Thou aged father of these maids, and place them
 On other altars of the native gods,
 Where they may speak, true heralds of thy mission,
 To all the citizens: and, mark me, keep
 My words within thy breast: for still the people
 To spy a fault in whoso bears authority
 Have a most subtle sight. Trust your good cause.
 Thy pitiful tale may move their righteous ire
 Against your haughty-hearted persecutors,
 And 'neath their wings they'll shield you. The afflicted
 Plead for themselves: their natural due is kindness.

 Your worth we know to prize, and at their weight
 Our high protector's friendly words we value.
 But send, we pray, attendant guides to show us
 The pillar-compassed seats divine,[n33] the altars
 That stand before their temples, who protect
 This city and this land, and to insure
 Our safety mid the people: for our coming
 (Being strangers from the distant Nile, and not
 Like you that drink the stream of Inachus
 In features or in bearing) might seem strange.
 Too bold an air might rouse suspicion; men
 Oft-times have slain their best friends unawares.

 (_to the Attendants_)
 See him escorted well! conduct him hence
 To the altars of the city, to the shrines
 Of the protecting gods, wasting no speech
 On whom you meet. Attend the suppliant stranger!

   [_Exeunt Attendants with_ DANAUS.

 These words to him: and, with his sails well trimmed,
 Fair be his voyage! But I, what shall I do,
 My anchor where?

                 Here leave these boughs that prove
 Thy sorrows.


             Here at thy rever'd command
 I leave them.

 This ample wood shall shade thee; wait thou here!

 No sacred grove is this: how should it shield me?

 We will not yield thee to the vultures' claws.

 But worse than vultures, worse than dragons threat us.

 Gently. To fair words give a fair reply.

 I'm terror-struck. Small marvel that I fret.

 Fear should be far, when I the king am near.[f15]

 With kind words cheer me, and kind actions too.

 Thy father will return anon; meanwhile
 I go to call the assembly of the people,[n34]
 And in thy favour move them, if I can.
 Thy father, too, I'll aptly train, how he
 Should woo their favour. Wait ye here, and pray
 The native gods to crown your heart's desire.
 I go to speed the business; may Persuasion
 And Chance, with happy issue pregnant, guide me!

    King of all kings, high-blest above
     Each blest celestial nature,
    Strength of the strong, all-glorious Jove,
     All crowning Consummator![n35]
    Hear thou our prayer: the proud confound;
     With hate pursue the hateful,
    And plunge in purpling pools profound
     The black-bench'd bark, the fateful!

    Our ancient line from thee we trace
     Our root divinely planted;
    Look on these sisters with the grace
     To that loved maid once granted,
    Our mother Io; and renew
     Sweet memory in the daughters
    Of her thy gentle touch who knew
     By Nile's deep-rolling waters.

   Here, even here, where 'mid the browsing kine,
   My Argive mother fed her eye divine,
      With rich mead's flowery store,
   My Libyan foot I've planted; hence by the brize[n36]
   Divinely fretted with fitful oar she hies[n37]
      From various shore to shore,
   God-madded wanderer. Twice the billowy wave
   She crossed; and twice her fated name she gave
      To the wide sea's straitened roar.

   Spurred through the Asian land with swiftest speed
   She fled, where Phrygian flocks far-pasturing feed;
      Then restless travelled o'er
   Mysia, where Teuthras holds his fortress high,
   Cilician and Pamphylian heights, and nigh
      Where roaring waters pour
   From fountains ever fresh their torrent floods,
   And Aphrodite's land whose loamy roods
      Swell with the wheaten store.[f16]

   Thence by her wingéd keeper stung, she speeds
   To the land divine, the many-nurturing meads,
      And to the snow-fed stream,
   Which like impetuous Typhon,[f17] vasty pours
   Its purest waves, that the salubrious shores
      From pestilent taint redeem.[f18]
   Here from harsh Hera's madly-goading pest,
   From hattering chase of undeserved unrest,
      At length by the holy stream.

   She rests. Pale terror smote their hearts who saw.
   The unwonted sight beheld with startled awe
      The thronging sons of Nile;
   Nor dared to approach this thing of human face,[n38]
   Portentous-mingled with the lowing race,
      Treading the Libyan soil.
   Who then was he, the brize-stung Io's friend,
   With charms of soothing virtue strong to end
      Her weary-wandering toil?

   Jove, mighty Jove, Heaven's everlasting king,
      He soft-inspiring came,
   And with fond force innocuous heals her ills;
   She from her eyes in lucent drops distils
      The stream of sorrowful shame,
   And in her womb from Jove a burden bore,
      A son of blameless fame,
   Who with his prosperous life long blessed the Libyan shore.

   Far-pealed the land with jubilant shout--from Jove,
      From Jove it surely came,
   This living root of a far-branching line!
   For who but Jove prevailed, with power divine,
      Harsh Hera's wrath to tame?
   Such the great work of Jove; and we are such,
      O Jove, our race who claim
   From him whose name declares the virtue of thy touch.

   For whom more justly shall my hymn be chaunted
   Than thee, above all gods that be, high-vaunted,
      Root of my race, great Jove;
   Prime moulder from whose plastic-touching hand
   Life leaps: thine ancient-minded counsels stand,
      Thou all-devising Jove.

   High-throned above the highest as the lowest,
   Beyond thee none, and mightier none thou knowest,
      The unfearing, all-feared one.
   When his deep thought takes counsel to fulfil,
   No dull delays clog Jove's decided will;[n39]
      He speaks, and it is done.

   [_Enter_ DANAUS.

 Be of good cheer, my daughters! All is well,
 The popular voice hath perfected our prayers.

 Hail father, bearer of good news: but say,
 How was the matter stablished? and how far
 Prevailed the people's uplifted hands to save us?

 Not doubtingly, but with a bold decision,
 That made my old heart young again to see't.
 With one acclaim, a forest of right hands
 Rose through the hurtled air. These Libyan exiles--
 So ran the popular will--shall find a home
 In Argos, free, and from each robber hand
 Inviolate, the native or the stranger;
 And, whoso holding Argive land refuses
 To shield these virgins from the threatened force,
 Disgrace shall brand him, and the popular vote
 Oust him from Argos. Such response the king
 Persuasive forced, with wise admonishment;
 Urging the wrath of Jove, which else provoked
 Would fatten on our woes, and the twin wrong
 To you the stranger, and to them the city,
 Pollution at their gate, a fuel to feed
 Ills without end. These words the Argive people
 Answered with suffragating hands, nor waited
 The herald's call to register their votes:
 Just eloquence ruled their willing ear, and Jove
 Crowned their fair purpose with the perfect deed. [_Exit._

     Come then, sisters, pour we freely
     Grateful prayers for Argive kindness;
     Jove, the stranger's friend, befriend us,
     While from stranger's mouth sincerest
       Here we voice the hymn;
     To a blameless issue, surely,
       Jove will guide the fate.

     Jove-born gods, benignly bending,
     Look, we pray, with eyes befriending,
       On these Argive halls!
     Ne'er may Mars, the wanton daring,
     With his shrill trump, joyless-blaring,
     Wrap, in wild flames, fiercely flaring,
       These Pelasgian walls!
     Go! thy gory harvest reaping
     Far from us: thy bloody weeping
       Distant tribes may know.
     Bless, O Jove, this Argive nation!
     They have heard the supplication
       Of thy suppliants low;
     Where the swooping Fate abased us,
     They with Mercy's vote upraised us
       From the prostrate woe!


     Not with the male, the stronger, erring,
     But, woman's weaker cause preferring,
       Stood their virtue proof:
     Wisely Jove, the Avenger, fearing,
     To the chastened eye appearing,
     High his front of wrath up-rearing
       'Gainst the guilty roof.
     For heavily, heavily weighs the Alastor,
     Scapeless, and, with sore disaster,
       Sinks the sinner low.
     Bless, O Jove, this Argive nation,
     That knew their kindred's supplication,
       And saved them from the foe:
     And when their vows they pay, then surely
     Gifts from clean hands offered purely
       Thou in grace shalt know.

     High these suppliant branches raising,
     Sisters, ancient Argos praising,
       Pour the grateful strain!
     Far from thy Pelasgian portals
     Dwell black Plague, from drooping mortals
       Ebbing life to drain!
     May'st thou see the crimson river
     From fierce home-bred slaughter, never
       Flowing o'er thy plain!
     Far from thee the youth-consuming
       Blossom-plucking strife!
     The harsh spouse of Aphrodite,
     Furious Mars in murder mighty,
     Where he sees thy beauty blooming,
       Spare his blood-smeared knife!

     May a reverend priesthood hoary
     Belt thy shrines, their chiefest glory,
       With an holy band!
     By the bountiful libation,
     By the blazing pile, this nation
       Shall securely stand.
     Jove, the great All-ruler, fearing,
     Jove, the stranger's stay, revering,
       Ye shall save the land;
     Jove, sure-throned above all cavil,
       Rules by ancient right,
     May just rulers never fail thee!
     Holy Hecate's aid avail thee,[n40]
     To thy mothers when in travail
       Sending labours light!

     May no wasting march of ruin
     Work, O Argos, thine undoing!
       Never may'st thou hear
     Cries of Mars, the shrill, the lyreless!
     Ne'er may tearful moans, and quireless,
       Wake the sleeper's ear!
     Far from thee the shapes black-trooping
     Of disease, delightless-drooping!
     May the blazing death-winged arrow
     Of the Sun-god spare the marrow
       Of thy children dear!

     Mighty Jove, the gracious giver,
     With his full-sheaved bounty ever
       Crown the fruited year!
     Flocks that graze before thy dwelling
     With rich increase yearly swelling
       The prosperous ploughman cheer!
     May the gods no grace deny thee,
     And the tuneful Muses nigh thee,
     With exuberant raptures brimming,
     From virgin throats thy praises hymning
       Hold the charmèd ear!

     O'er the general weal presiding,
     They that rule with far-providing
     Wisdom sway, and stably-guiding,
       Changeful counsels mar!
     Timely with each foreign nation
     Leagues of wise conciliation
     Let them join, fierce wars avoiding,
       From sharp losses far!


     The native gods, strong to deliver,
     With blood of oxen free-poured ever,
     With laurel-branches failing never,
       Piously adore!
     HONOUR THY PARENTS: spurn not lightly
     This prime statute sanctioned rightly;
     Cling to this, a holy liver,
       Steadfast evermore!

   [_Re-enter_ DANAUS.

 Well hymned, my daughters! I commend your prayers;
 But brace your hearts, nor fear, though I, your father,
 Approach the bearer of unlooked-for news.
 For from this consecrated hold of gods
 I spy the ship; too gallantly it peers
 To cheat mine eye. The sinuous sail I see,
 The bulging fence-work on each side,[n41] the prow
 Fronted with eyes to track its watery way,[n42]
 True to the steerman's hint that sits behind,
 And with no friendly bearing. On the deck
 Appear the crew, their swarthy limbs more swart
 By snow-white vests revealed: a goodly line
 Of succour in the rear: but in the van
 The admiral ship, with low-furled sail makes way
 By the swift strokes of measured-beating oars.
 Wait calmly ye, and with well-counselled awe
 Cling to the gods; the while ye watch their coming,
 Myself will hence, and straight return with aid
 To champion our need.[n43] For I must look for
 Some herald or ambassador claiming you,
 Their rightful prey, forthwith; but fear ye not,
 Their harsh will may not be. This warning take
 Should we with help be slow, remain you here
 Nor leave these gods, your strength. Faint not: for surely
 Comes the appointed hour, and will not stay,
 When godless men to Jove just fine shall pay.

   Father, I tremble, lest the fleet-winged ships,
   Ere thou return, shall land--soon--very soon!
   O father, I tremble to stay, and not flee,
     When the bands of the ruthless are near!
   My flight to foreclose from the chase of my foes!
     O father, I faint for fear!

 Fear not, my children. The accomplished vote
 Of Argos saves you. They are champions sworn.

 They come--destruction's minions mad with hate,
 Of fight insatiate: well thou know'st the men.
   With their host many-counted, their ships dark-fronted,[n44]
    They are near, O father, how near!
   Their ships stoutly-timbered, their crews swarthy-membered,
    Triumphant in wrath I fear!

 Even let them come. They'll find their match in Argos;
 A strong-limbed race with noon-day sweats well hardened.[n45]

 Only not leave me! Pray thee, father, stay!
 Weak is a lonely woman. No Mars is in her.[n46]
   Dark-counselled, false, cunning-hearted are they,
    Unholy, as obscene crows
   On the feast of the altar that filthily prey;
    They fear not the gods, my foes!

 'Twill make our cause the stronger, daughters, if
 Their crime be sacrilege, and their foes the gods.

 The trident and the sacred blazonry
 Will not repel their violent hands, O father!
   They are proud, haughty-hearted, a high-blown race;
    They are hot, they are mad for the fray!
   With the hound in their heart, and the dog in their face,
    They will tear from the altar their prey.

 Dogs let them be, the world has wolves to master them!
 And good Greek corn is better than papyrus.[n47]

 Being reasonless as brutes, unholy monsters,
 And spurred with wrath we must beware their fury.

 'Tis no light work to land a fleet. To find
 Safe roads, sure anchorage, and to make fast
 The cables, this not with mere thought is done.
 The shepherds of the ships[n48] are slow to feel
 Full confidence, the more that on this coast
 Harbours are few.[n49] Besides, thou see'st the sun
 Slants to the night; and still a prudent pilot
 Fears in the dark. No man will disembark,
 Trust me, till all are firmly anchored. Thou
 Through all thy terrors still cling to the gods,
 Thy most sure stay. Thy safety's pledged. For me
 I'm old, but with the tongue of fluent youth
 I'll speak for thee, a pleader without blame. [_Exit._

 O hilly land, high-honoured land,
 What wait we now, poor fugitive band?
        Some dark, dark cave
 Show me, within thy winding strand,
        To hide and save!
 Would I might vanish in smoke, ascending
 To Heaven, with Jove's light clouds dim-blending
        In misty air,
 Like wingless, viewless dust, and ending
        In nothing there!

 'Tis more than heart may bear. Quick Fear
 My quaking life with dusky drear
        Alarm surroundeth!
 My father spied my ruin: sheer
        Despair confoundeth.
 Sooner, high-swung from fatal rope,
 Here may I end both life and hope,
        And strong Death bind me,
 Than hated hearts shall reach their scope,
        And shame shall find me!

 Would I were throned in ether high,
 Where snows are born, and through the sky
 The white rack skurries! Would that I
        Might sit sublime
 On a hanging cliff where lone winds sigh,[n50]
 Where human finger never showed
 The far-perched vultures' drear abode,
        Nor goat may climb!
 Thence sheer to leap, and end for ever
        My life and name,
 Ere forceful hands this heart deliver
        To married shame!

 There, where no friendly foot may stray,
 There let me lie, my limbs a prey
 To dogs and birds: I not gainsay:
        'Twas wisely said,
 Free from much woe who dies to-day
 Shall be to-morrow. Rather than wedded
 To whom I hate, let me be bedded
        Now with the dead!
 Or if there be, my life to free,
        A way, declare it,
 Ye gods!--a surgeon's cut for me,
        My heart shall bear it!

 Voice ye your sorrow! with the cry
 Of doleful litany pierce the sky!
 For freedom, for quick rescue cry
        To him above!
 Ruler of Earth, look from thy throne,
        With eyes of love!
 These deeds of violence wilt thou own,
 Nor know thy prostrate suppliant's groan,
        Almighty Jove?

 Ægyptus' sons, a haughty race,
 Follow my flight with sleepless chase,
 With whoop and bay they scent my trace
        To force my love.
 Thy beam is true; both good and ill
        Thy sure scales prove,
 Thou even-handed! Mortals still
 Reap fair fulfilment from thy will,
        All-crowning Jove.

   [CHORUS, _in separate voices, and short hurried exclamations:_[n51]

   Ah me! he lands! he leaps ashore!
   He strides with ruffian hands to hale us!


   Cry, sisters, cry! swift help implore!
   If here to cry may aught avail us!

   Ah me! 'tis but the muffled roar
   Of forceful storms soon to assail us!

   Flee to the gods! to the altars cling!

   By sea, by land, the ruthless foe
   Grimly wantons in our woe!

   Beneath thy wing shield us, O king!

   [_Enter_ HERALD.

 Hence to the ships! to the good ships fare ye![n52]
 Swiftly as your feet may bear ye!

     Tear us! tear us!
     Rend us rather,
     Torture and tear us!
     From this body
     Cut the head!
     Gorily gather
     Us to the dead!

 Hence to the ships, away! away!
 A curse on you, and your delay!
 O'er the briny billowy way
 Thou shalt go to-day, to-day!
 Wilt thou stand, a mulish striver,
 I can spur, a forceful driver;
 Deftly, deftly, thou shalt trip
 To the stoutly-timbered ship!
 If to yield thou wilt not know,
 Gorily, gorily thou shalt go!
 An' thou be not madded wholly,
 Know thy state, and quit thy folly!

 Help, ho! help, ho! help!

 To the ships! to the ships away with me!
 These gods of Argos what reck we?

     Never, O never
     The nurturing river,
     Of life the giver,
     The healthful flood
     That quickens the blood
      Let me behold!
     An Argive am I,[f19]
      From Inachus old,
     These gods deny
      Thy claim. Withhold!


 To the ships, to the ships, with march not slow,
 Will ye, nill ye, ye must go!
 Quickly, quickly, hence away!
 Know thy master and obey!
 Ere a worse thing thou shalt know--
 Blows and beating--gently go!

     Worse than worsest
     May'st thou know!
     As thou cursest,
     Curst be so!
     The briny billow
     O'er thee flow!
     On sandy pillow
     Bedded low,
   'Neath Sarpedon's breezy brow,[f20]
   With the shifting sands shift thou!

 Scream--rend your robes in rags!--call on the gods!
 The Egyptian bark thou shalt not overleap.
 Pour ye the bitter bootless wail at will!

     With fierce heart swelling
      To work my woe,
     With keen hate yelling
      Barks the foe.
     Broad Nile welling
      O'er thee flow!
     Find thy dwelling
      Bedded low,
   'Neath the towering Libyan waters,
   Towering thou 'gainst Libya's daughters!

 To the ships! to the ships! the swift ships even-oared!
 Quickly! no laggard shifts! the hand that drags thee
 Will lord it o'er thy locks, not gently handled!

      O father, oh!
      From the altar
      The assaulter
     Drags me to my woe!
   Step by step, a torturing guider,
   Like the slowly-dragging spider,
      Cruel-minded so!
      Like a dream,
      A dusky dream,
     My hope away doth go!
      O Earth, O Earth,
      From death redeem!
     O Earth, O Jove deliver!

 Your Argive gods I know not; they nor nursed
 My infant life, nor reared my riper age.

      O father, oh!
      From the altar
      The assaulter
     Drags me to my woe!
   A snake two-footed fiercely fretted
   Swells beside me! from his whetted
     Fangs, black death doth flow!
      Like a dream,
      A dusky dream,
     My hope is vanished so!
      O Earth, O Earth,
      From death redeem!
     O Earth, O Jove deliver!

 To the ships! to the ships! Obey! I say, obey!
 Pity thy robes, if not thy flesh--away!

     Ye chiefs of the city,
     By force they subdue me!

 Well! I must drag thee by the hair! come! come!
 Point thy dull ears, and hear me!--come! come! come!

     I'm lost! I'm ruined!
     O king, they undo me!

 Thou shalt see kings enough anon, believe me,
 Ægyptus' sons--kingless thou shalt not die.

   [_Enter_ KING _with Attendants._

 Fellow, what wouldst thou? With what purpose here
 Dost flout this land of brave Pelasgian men?
 Deem'st thou us women? A barbarian truly
 Art thou, if o'er the Greek to sport it thus
 The fancy tempts thee. Nay, but thou art wrong
 Both root and branch in this.

                              How wrong? Speak plainly.

 Thou art a stranger here, and dost not know
 As a stranger how to bear thee.

                                This I know,
 I lost my own, and what I lost I found.

 Thy patrons[f21] who, on this Pelasgian ground?

 To find stray goods the world all over, Hermes
 Is prince of patrons.[n53]

                      Hermes is a god,
 Thou, therefore, fear the gods.

                                And I do fear
 The gods of the Nile.

                      We too have gods in Argos.

 So be it: but, in Argos or in Africk,
 My own's my own.

                 Who touches these reaps harm,
 And that right soon.

                     No friendly word thou speak'st,
 To welcome strangers.

                      Strangers are welcome here;
 But not to spoil the gods.

                           These words of thine
 To Ægyptus' sons be spoken, not to me.

 I take no counsel, or from them, or thee.

 Thou--who art thou? for I must plainly make
 Rehearsal to my masters--this my office
 Enforces--both by whom, and why, unjustly
 I of this kindred company of women
 Am robbed. A serious strife it is; no bandying
 Of words from witnesses, no silver passed
 From hand to hand will lay such ugly strife;
 But man for man must fall, and noblest souls
 Must dash their lives away.

                            For what I am,
 You, and your shipmates, soon enough shall know me.
 These maids, if with the softly suasive word
 Thou canst prevail, are thine; to force we never
 Will yield the suppliant sisters; thus the people
 With one acclaim have voted; 'tis nailed down
 Thus to the letter. So it must remain.
 Thou hast my answer, not in tablets graven,
 Or in the volumed scroll, all stamped and sealed,
 But from a free Greek mouth. Dost understand me?
 Hence quickly from my sight!

                             Of this be sure,
 A war thou stirrest, in which, when once begun,
 The males will be the stronger.

                                We, too, have males
 In Argos, lusty-blooded men, who drink
 Good wine, not brewed from barley.[f22] As for you,
 Ye virgins, fearless follow where these guides
 Shall lead. Our city strongly girt with wall,
 And high-reared tower receives you. We can boast
 Full many a stately mansion; stateliest piled
 My palace stands, work of no feeble hands.
 Right pleasant 'tis in populous floors to lodge
 With many a fellow-tenant: some will find
 A greater good in closely severed homes,
 That have no common gates: of these thou hast
 The ample choice: take what shall like thee most.
 Know me thy patron, and in all things know
 My citizens thy shield, whose vote hath pledged
 Thy safety; surer guarantee what wouldst thou?

     Blessing for thy blessing given,
     Flow to thee, divine Pelasgian!
     But for our advisal forthwith
     Send, we pray thee, for our father;
     He the firm, the far foreseeing,
     How to live, and where to lodge us,
     Duly shall direct. For ever
     Quick to note the faults of strangers
     Sways the general tongue; though we
     Hope all that's good and best from thee.

 (_to the attendant maids_)
     Likewise you, ye maids attendant
     For his daughters' service, wisely
     Portioned by the father, here
      Be your home secure,
     Far from idle-bruited babblings,
      'Neath my wing to dwell!


   [_Enter_ DANAUS, _attended by an Argive guard._

 Daughters! if so the Olympian gods deserve
 Your sacrifices, your libations, surely
 Argos no less may claim them! Argos truly
 Your Saviour in worst need! With eager ears
 They drank my tale, indignant the foul deeds
 Of our fell-purposed cousinship they heard,
 And for my guard this goodly band they set me
 Of strong spear-bearing men, lest being slain
 By the lurking lance of some insidious foe
 My death bring shame to Argos. Such high honor,
 From hearts where kindness moves the friendly deed,
 They heaped the sire withal, that you, the daughters,
 In father's stead should own them. For the rest,
 To the chaste precepts graven on your heart
 That oft I gave, one timely warning add,
 That time, which proveth all, approve your lives
 Before this people; for 'gainst the stranger, calumny
 Flows deftly from the tongue, and cheap traducement
 Costs not a thought. I charge ye, therefore, daughters,
 Your age being such that turns the eyes of men
 To ready gaze, in all ye do consult
 Your father's honor: such ripe bloom as yours
 No careless watch demands: so fair a flower
 Wild beasts and men, monsters of all degrees,
 Winged and four-footed, wantonly will tear.
 Her luscious-dropping fruits the Cyprian[f23] hangs
 In the general view, and publishes their praise;[n54]
 That whoso passes, and beholds the pomp
 Of shapeliest beauty, feels the charmed dart
 That shoots from eye to eye, and vanquished falls
 By strong desire. Give, therefore, jealous heed
 That our long toils, and ploughing the deep sea
 Not fruitless fall; but be your portment such
 As breeds no shame to us, nor to our enemies
 Laughter. A double lodgment for our use,
 One from the state, the other from the king,
 Rentless we hold. All things look bright. This only,
 Your father's word, remember. More than life
 Hold a chaste heart in honor.

                              The high Olympians
 Grant all thy wish! For us and our young bloom,
 Fear nothing, father: for unless the gods
 Have forged new counsels, we ev'n to the end
 Will tread the trodden path, and will not bend.

     Lift ye the solemn hymn!
     High let your pæans brim!
       Praise in your strain
     Gods that in glory reign
     High o'er the Argive plain,
     High o'er each castled hold,
     Where Erasinus old[f24]
       Winds to the main!

 (_to the attendant maids_)
     Sing, happy maids, with me!
     Loud with responsive glee
       Voice ye the strain!
     Praise ye the Argive shore,
     Praise holy Nile no more,
     Wide where his waters roar,
       Mixed with the main!

     Lift ye the solemn hymn!
     High let your pæans brim!
       Praise in your strain
     Torrents that bravely swell
     Fresh through each Argive dell,
     Broad streams that lazily
     Wander, and mazily
       Fatten the plain.

     Sing, sisters, sing with me
     Artemis chaste! may she
       List to the strain!
     Never, O never may
     Marriage with fearful sway
     Bind me; nor I obey
       Hatefullest chain!

     Yet, mighty praise be thine[n56]
     Cyprian queen divine!
     Hera, with thee I join,
       Nearest to Jove.
     Subtly conceiving all,
     Wiseliest weaving all,
     Thy will achieving all
       Nobly by love!

     With thee Desire doth go;
     Peitho,[f25] with suasive flow
     Bending the willing foe,
       Marches with thee.
     Lovely Harmonia[n57]
     Knows thee; and, smote with awe,
     Strong kings obey the law
       Whispered by thee.

     Yet must I fear the chase,[n58]
     Sail spread in evil race,
     War with a bloody pace
       Spurred after me.
     Why to this Argive shore
     Came they with plashing oar,
     If not with sorrow's store
       Treasured for me?

     Comes fated good or ill,
     Wait we in patience still!
     No power may thwart his will
       Jove, mighty Jove.
     Laden with sorrow's store
     Virgins in days of yore
     Praised, when their grief was o'er,
       Jove, mighty Jove.

     Jove, mighty Jove, may he
     From wedded force for me
       Rescue prepare!

     Fair fall our maiden lot!
     But mighty Jove may not
       Yield to thy prayer.

     Know'st thou what woes may be
     Stored yet by Fate for me?

     Jove and his hidden plan
     Sight of the sharpest man
       Searcheth in vain;
     Thou in thy narrow span
       Wisely remain!


     Wisely my thought may fare
     Tell me, O tell me where?

     'Gainst what the gods ordain
     Fret not thy heart in vain!

     Save me, thou chief of gods, great Jove,
     From violent bonds of hated love,
     Even as the Inachian maid of yore
     Thy hand set free from labour sore,
     What time thou soothed with touch divine
       Her weary frame,
     And with a friendly force benign
     Thy healing came.

     May the woman's cause prevail!
     And, when two certain ills assail,
     Be ours the less: and Justice fair
     For the just shall still declare.
     Ye mighty gods o'er human fates
       Supremely swaying,
     On you my prayer, my fortune waits,
       Your will obeying.

[The End]




 I cannot think but curses climb the sky,
 And there awake God's gentle-sleeping peace.

 Alle Schuld rächt sich auf Erden.



 ETEOCLES, Son of Oedipus.
 ISMENE and ANTIGONE, Sisters of Eteocles.

SCENE--_The Acropolis of Thebes._



ONE of the most indisputable laws of the moral world, and, when
seriously considered, perhaps the most awful one, is that principle of
hereditary dependence, which connects the sins of one generation, and
often of one individual, by an indissoluble bond, with the fortunes of
another. In the closely compacted machinery of the moral world no man
can be ignorant, or foolish, or vicious to himself. The most isolated
individual by the very act of his existence, as he necessarily inhales,
so he likewise exhales, a social atmosphere, either healthy so far, or
so far unhealthy, for the race. Nothing in the world is independent
either of what co-exists with it, or of what precedes it. The present,
in particular, is everywhere at once the child of the past, and the
parent of the future. It is no doubt true that a foolish father does not
always beget a foolish son. There are counteracting influences
constantly at work to prevent the fatal tendency to degeneration, of
which Horace speaks so feelingly--

  Aetas parentum pejor avis tulit
  Nos nequiores, mox daturos
  Progeniem vitiosiorem,

but the "Delicta majorum immeritus lues" of the same poet remains a
fearful reality in the daily administration of the world, which no
serious-thinking man can afford to disregard. In the ancient law of
Moses, as in the most famous systems of Christian theology, this
principle plays a prominent part; and awful as its operation is, often
sweeping whole generations into ruin, and smiting whole nations with a
chronic leprosy, for the folly or extravagance of an ephemeral
individual, we shall not be surprised to find it equally conspicuous in
the literature of so subtle a people as the Greeks. The Hellenic mind,
no doubt, was too sunny and too healthy to allow itself to be encased
and imprisoned with this idea, as with an iron mail; but as a mysterious
dark background of moral existence it was recognised in its highest
power; and nowhere so distinctly, and with such terrible iteration, as
in those lyrical exhibitions of solemn, religious, and legendary faith,
which we call tragedy.


Among the other serious ethico-religious legends with which the scanty
remains of the rich Greek tragedy have made us more familiar, the dark
fates of two famous families--the Pelopidae and the Labdacidae--force
themselves upon our attention with a marked distinctness. How the evil
genius (ἀλάστωρ) of inherited guilt revealed itself in the
blood-stained track of the descendants of Tantalus we have seen on the
large scale of a complete trilogy; the play to which we now introduce
the reader is an exhibition of the same stern law of moral
concatenation, in one of the scenes of the dark story of the Theban
family of the Labdacidae. Labdacus, the father of this unfortunate
race, is traced back in the legendary genealogy to the famous
Phœnician settler, Cadmus, being removed from him by only one
generation.[f1] This head of the family appears tainted with no moral
guilt of an extraordinary kind; but his son Laius figures in the
legend, not like Pelops in the Pelopidan story, as a murderer, but as
a licentious and a lustful character. Yielding to the violent impulses
of unnatural passion,[f2] he is said to have carried off from Elis,
Chrysippus, the son of Pelops; whereupon the injured father pronounced
against the unholy ravisher the appropriate curse that he should die
childless, or, if he did beget children, that himself should lose his
life by the hands of those to whom he had been the means of giving it.
We see here exemplified that grand principle of retaliation (_lex
talionis_), "_An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth_," which
stands out so prominently in the laws of Moses, and is so agreeable to
the moral instincts of the human heart. Laius was to perish by his own
progeny, because, in the irregular gratification of the procreative
instinct, he had sinned against Nature. The curse spoken against him
by Pelops was the wrathful expression of one of Nature's greatest
laws; in whatever way we seek violently to obtain happiness contrary
to the sober course of the divine arrangements, in that way we are
sure with our own hands to work our own destruction. This is
inevitable. Accordingly, that the direct sanction of the gods might be
added to the utterance of an aggrieved human heart, the legend
represents the lustful offender as consulting the oracle of Delphi,
whether he might not with safety disregard the imprecation of Pelops,
and beget children by his wife Iocaste (called Epicaste in Homer, Od.
XI. 271); and receiving the ominous answer--

  Sow not the seed of children, in despite
  Of the gods: for if thou shalt beget a son,
  Him who begat shall the begotten slay,
  And all thy house in bloody ruin perish.[f3]

But the divine oracle, as was to have been expected from the character
of the questioner, was given in vain. Laius had consulted the oracle not
that he might know and obey the divine will, but that he might, if
possible, escape from the terrible consequences of the curse of Pelops,
and yet gratify his natural desire of having offspring. The result was
natural. In a moment of forgetfulness, induced by the free use of that
mother of many evils, wine, he neglected the divine warning; and, from
his fatal embrace, a child was born, destined in the course of the
accomplishment of the ancient curse, both to suffer many monstrous
misfortunes in his own person, and to transmit guilt and misery to
another generation. This child was Oedipus,[f4] so named from the
piercing of his feet by nails, and subsequent exposure on Mount
Cithaeron, a device contrived by his father, in order to escape the
fulfilment of the divine oracle. But it is not possible, as Homer
frequently inculcates, to deceive the mind of the gods. The helpless
infant, the child of destiny, is found (like Romulus), by some
shepherds, and by them taken to Polybus king of Corinth. Here the
foundling is brought up as the son of that monarch; but, on one
occasion, being taunted by some of his youthful comrades with the
reproach that he is not really the son of Polybus, but a fatherless
foundling, he goes forth to the oracle of Delphi, and to the wide world,
to clear up what had been more wisely left in the dark; and here his
god-sent misfortunes overtake him, and the evil genius of his father
drives the innocent son blindfold into inevitable woe. The Pythoness,
according to her wont, returned an answer more doubtful than the
question. Oedipus was told not who his father was, but that a dark
destiny hung over him, to kill his father, and to commit incest with his
mother. Knowing no parents but those whom he had left at Corinth, he
proceeded on his wanderings, in a direction the opposite of that by
which he had come; and, on the road between Delphi and Daulis,[f5]
met a person of consequence, with a charioteer and an attendant, in a
car. The charioteer immediately ordered the foot traveller, somewhat
insolently, after the manner of aristocratic satellites, to get out of
the way; which rudeness the hot youth resenting, a scuffle ensued, in
which the charioteer {260} and his master were slain, while the
attendant fled. The murdered prince was Laius; and Oedipus, unwittingly,
nay, doing everything he could to elude the fate, had slain his own
father. But the ancient Fury, for a season, concealed her vengeance, and
allowed a brief glory to be shed round her victim, that he might
thereafter be plunged in more terrible darkness. The Sphynx, a monstrous
creature, of Egyptian birth, half virgin, half lion, had been sent by
wrathful Mars, to desolate the Theban country, devouring, with her
bloody jaws, whosoever could not solve her famous riddle. When
depopulation proceeded at a fearful rate from this cause, the Thebans
promised Iocaste, the widow of Laius, and queen of the country, in
marriage, to him who should succeed in explaining the enigma. Oedipus
was successful; and, becoming king of Thebes, was married, in ignorance,
to his own mother. Thus the net of destiny was drawn closer and closer
round its victim; but the hour of doom was not yet come. Joined in this
unnatural wedlock, the unfortunate son of Laius became the father of two
sons, Eteocles and Polynices, and of two daughters, Antigone and Ismene.
Circumstances (which Sophocles narrates in his Oedipus Tyrannus)
afterwards bringing the story of Oedipus' life and the nature of his
connection with Iocaste to light, the unfortunate old king looking upon
himself as an object of hatred to the gods, and unworthy to look upon
the day, tore out his eyes, and was confined by his sons--whether from
cruelty or superstition--in a separate house, and treated otherwise in a
manner that appeared to him disrespectful and unkind.[f6] Enraged
at this treatment, he pronounced an imprecation against them, that they
should one day DIVIDE THEIR INHERITED LAND BY STEEL; whereupon they,
to render any hostile collision impossible, made an agreement to
exercise kingly authority over the whole Theban territory, each for a
year at a time, while the other should leave the country. Eteocles, as
the elder, reigned first; but when the appointed term came round, like
other holders of power, he showed himself loath to quit; and Polynices,
fleeing to Argos, sought assistance from Adrastus, king of that country.
This prince, along with the Ætolian Tydeus, the father of Diomede, and
other chiefs, marched against Thebes with a great armament, in order to
force Eteocles to yield the yearly tenure of the throne to his brother,
according to agreement. The appearance of this armament before the gates
of the Cadmean city, and its sad issue, in the death, by their own {261}
hands, of the two hostile brothers, form the subject of the present

From this rapid sketch, the reader will see plainly that the dismal
story of Laius and Oedipus, and his children, affords materials for a
whole series of tragedies; and that, in fact, "THE SEVEN AGAINST
THEBES" is only one of the last acts of a great consecutive legendary
history, of which each part is necessary to explain the other. This
close connection of the subjects naturally suggests the question,
whether our play, as we now have it, stood alone in dramatic
representation, or whether it was not only a subordinate part of a large
dramatic whole. We know for certain that Æschylus wrote at least four
plays, besides the present, of which the materials were taken from the
cycle of this Theban legend--namely, LAIUS, OEDIPUS, THE SPHYNX, and the
ELEUSINIANS;[f7] and it has been not unplausibly conjectured that some
of his other plays, of which the names are preserved, belong to the same
series.[f8] In what precise connection, however, the existing play stood
to any of the rest in actual representation, there were, till very
recently, no satisfactory means of judging; and accordingly no scanty
wealth of erudite speculation (after the German fashion), made to look
like science, was spent upon the subject. Now, at length it has been
announced, that the διδασκαλία, containing the actual order of
representation of four of these plays, has been discovered;[f9] and, if
the document be genuine, we are enabled to assert that, in the 78th
Olympiad, Æschylus gained the tragic prize with the tetralogy, of

With regard to the merits of the present piece, while its structure
exhibits, in the most striking manner, the deficient skill of the early
dramatists, its spirit is everywhere manly and noble, and instinct with
the soul of the warlike actions which it describes. The best parts are
epic, not dramatic--namely, those in which the Messenger describes the
different characters and appearance of the seven chiefs posted each at a
separate gate of the Cadmean city. The drama concludes with a Theban
coronach or wail over the dead bodies of the self-slain brothers; for
the proper relishing of which, the imaginative reproduction of some
appropriate music is indispensable. The introduction after this of the
Herald, announcing the decree of the Theban senate, whereby burial is
denied to the body of Polynices, {262} and the heroic display of
sisterly affection on the part of Antigone, are--if this really was the
last piece of a trilogy--altogether foreign both to the action and to
the tone of the tragedy, and must be regarded as a blunder. If Schiller,
and even Shakespere, on occasions, could err in such matters, much more



 Ye citizens of Cadmus! he who sits
 Holding the helm in the high poop of state,
 Watchful, with sleepless eyes, must, when he speaks,
 Speak words that suit the time. If we succeed,
 The gods will have the praise; but should we fail
 (Which may averting Jove from me avert,[n1]
 And from this Theban city!), I alone
 Must bear the up-heaped murmurings of the whole,
 A motley-voiced lament. Ye men of Thebes,
 Not manhood's vigour only, but ye also
 Who lack ripe years, and ye whose green old age
 Nurses unwithered strength,[f10] arm, and redeem
 Your country's honor from a cruel blot.
 Let not the citadel of your ancient sires,
 The altars of your native gods, your children,
 Nor the dear mother Earth, that nursed you, blame
 The slackness of your love--the nurse who bore
 Your creeping childhood on her fostering soil,
 And through your slow growth up to firmer years,
 Toiled that the strong arms of her faithful sons,
 Might shield her need. Up to this hour the god
 Inclines to us; though close hedged in by the foe,
 The vantage hath been ours. But now the seer,
 The shepherd of prophetic birds' revolving
 In his ear and inward sense deep-pondered truths,[n2]
 By no false art, though without help from fire,
 Even he soothsaying sings that the Argive camp
 Holds midnight council to attack the city.
 Therefore be ready; mount the battlements;
 Top every tower; crown every parapet;
 Fence every gate with valiant-hearted men,
 Well harnessed for the fight: and never fear
 This trooping alien foe. The gods will give
 A happy issue. Myself have sent out scouts,
 Sure men, not wont to linger. Their advice
 Shall shield us from surprise.


   [_Enter_ MESSENGER.

 Most excellent lord of Thebes! what I have seen
 With mine own eyes, no idle unvouched tale,
 I bring thee from the camp. Seven warlike chiefs
 I saw, in solemn sacrifice assembled:
 Holding the head of the devoted ox,
 Over the shield with iron rimmed they dipped
 Their hands in the steaming blood, and swore an oath,
 By Mars, Enýo, and blood-loving Terror,[n3]
 Either to raze the walls of Thebes, and plunder
 The citadel of Cadmus, or else drench
 This soil with Argive blood. Then, as for death
 Prepared, they decked the chariot of Adrastus[n4]
 With choice love-tokens to their Argive kin,
 Dropping a tear, but with their mouths they gave
 No voice. An iron-hearted band are they,
 Breathing hot war, like lions when their eye
 Looks instant battle. Such my news; nor I
 Slow to report; for in the camp I left them
 Eager to share among their several bands
 Our gates by lot. Therefore, bestir thee; fence
 Each gate with the choicest men: dash all delay;
 For now the Argive host, near and more near,
 All panoplied comes on; the dark-wreathed dust
 Rolls, and the snowy foam of snorting chargers
 Stains the pure Theban soil. Like a wise pilot
 That scents the coming gale, hold thou the city
 Tight, ere the storm of Ares on our heads
 Burst pitiless. Loud the mainland wave is roaring.
 This charge be thine: myself, a sleepless spy,
 Will bring thee sure word from the hostile camp:
 Safe from without, so ye be strong within. [_Exit._

 O Jove! O Earth! O Gods that keep the city!
 And thou fell Fury of my father's curse![f11]
 Destroy not utterly this Cadméan seat
 Rent, razed, deracinated by the foe!
 Yield not our pious hearths, where the loved speech
 Of Hellas echoes, to a stranger host!
 Let not the free-born Theban bend the neck,
 To slavery thralled, beneath a tyrant's yoke!
 Be ye our strength! our common cause we plead;
 A prosperous state hath cause to bless the gods. [_Exit._


 _The_ CHORUS[n5] _enter the scene in great hurry and agitation._

 O wailing and sorrow, O wailing and woe!
 Their tents they have left, many-banded they ride,
 And onward they tramp with the prance of pride,
     The horsemen of the foe.
 The dark-volumed dust-cloud that rides on the gale,
 Though voiceless, declares a true messenger's tale;
 With clattering hoofs, on and on still they ride;[n6]
 It swells on my ear, loud it rusheth and roareth,
 As a fierce wintry torrent precipitous poureth,
 Rapidly lashing the mountain side.

 Hear me ye gods, and ye goddesses hear me!
 The black harm prevent that swells near and more near me!
 As a wave on the shore when the blast beats the coast,
 So breaks o'er the walls, from the white-shielded host,[n7]
 The eager war-cry, the sharp cry of fear,
 As near still it rolls, and more near.

 _The_ CHORUS _become more and more agitated. They speak one to another in
 short hurried exclamations, and in great confusion._

 To which of the gods and the goddesses now
 Shall I pay my vow?

 Shall I cling to the altar, and kneeling embrace
 The guardian gods of the Theban race?

 Ye blissful Olympians, throned sublime,
 In the hour of need, in the urgent time,
    May the deep drawn sigh,
    And the heart's strong cry
 Ascend not in vain to your seats sublime!

 Heard ye the shields rattle, heard ye the spear?
    In this dark day of dole,
    With chaplet and stole[n8]
 Let us march to the temples, and worship in fear!

 I heard the shield's rattle, and spear clashed on spear
 Came stunning my ear.

 O Ares, that shines in the helmet of gold,[n9]
 Thine own chosen city wilt thou behold
    To slavery sold?
 O Ares, Ares, wilt thou betray
   Thy Theban home to-day?


 _The_ CHORUS _crown the altars of the gods, and then, falling on their
 knees, sing the following Theban Litany, in one continuous chaunt._

     Patron gods that keep the city,
     Look, look down upon our woe,
     Save this band of suppliant virgins
     From the harsh-enslaving foe!
     For a rush of high-plumed warriors
     Round the city of the free,
     By the blast of Ares driven,
     Roars, like billows of the sea.
     Father Jove the consummator,[f12]
     Save us from the Argive spear;
     For their bristling ranks enclose us,
     And our hearts do quake with fear,
     And their steeds with ringing bridles[n10]
     Knell destruction o'er the land;
     And seven chiefs, with lance in hand,
     Fixed by lot to share the slaughter,
     At the seventh gate proudly stand.
     Save us, Pallas, war-delighting
     Daughter of immortal Jove!
     Save us, lord of billowy ocean!
     God of pawing steeds, Poseidon,[n11]
     Join thine aid to his above,
     And with thy fish-piercing trident
     Still our hearts, our fears remove.
     Save us Ares! father Ares,
     Father now thy children's need!
     Save us Cypris, mother of Thebans,[n12]
     For we are thy blood indeed!
     Save us, save us, Wolf-Apollo,[n13]
     Be a wolf against the foe!
     Whet thine arrows, born of Leto,
     Leto's daughter bend thy bow!

 _The Litany is here interrupted by the noise of the besiegers storming
 the city, and is continued in a hurried irregular manner._

 I hear the dread roll of the chariots of war!

 O holy Hera!


 And the axles harsh-creaking with dissonant jar!

 O Artemis dear!

 And the vext air is madded with quick-brandished spears.

 To Thebes, our loved city, what hope now appears?

 And when shall the gods bring an end of our fears?

 Hark! hark! stony hail the near rampart is lashing!

 O blest Apollo!

 And iron-bound shield against shield is clashing!

 The issue of war with the gods abideth,
 The doubtful struggle great Jove decideth.
 O Onca, blest Onca,[n14] whose worshippers ever
 Invoke thee, the queen of the Oncan gate,
 The seven-gated city deliver, deliver,[n15]
 Thou guardian queen of the gate.

 _The_ CHORUS _unite again into a full band, and sing the Finale of
 the Litany in regular Strophe and Antistrophe._

     Gods and goddesses almighty!
     Earthly and celestial powers!
     Of all good things consummators,
     Guardians of the Theban towers!
     Save the spear-encompassed city
     From a foreign-speaking foe![n16]
     Hear the virgin band, that prays thee
     With the out-stretched arms of woe!

     Gods and demigods! the city
     Aid that on your aid depends,
     Watch around us, and defend us;
     He is strong whom God defends.
     Bear the incense in remembrance
     Of our public sacrifice;
     From a people rich in offerings
     Let no prayer unanswered rise!

   [_Re-enter_ ETEOCLES.

 Answer me this, insufferable brood!
 Is this your wisdom, this your safety-note
 To Theban soldiers, this your war-cry, thus
 In prostrate woe clasping the guardian gods,
 To scream and wail the vain lament of fools?
 I pray the gods, in good or evil days,
 May never fate be mine to lodge with women.
 When fortune's brave, their pride's unbearable;
 But, comes a thought of fear, both hall and forum
 Must ring with their laments. Why run ye thus
 From street to street, into the hearts of men
 Scattering dastardy, and bruiting fear?
 Nay, but ye chiefly help the enemy's cause
 Without the gate, and we by friends within
 Are more besieged; such aid expect from women!
 Thebans give ear; whoso shall disobey
 My word in Thebes, man, woman, old, or young,
 Whoe'er he be, against himself he writes
 Black sentence to be stoned by the public hand.
 Without the gates let brave men fight; within
 Let women tend their children, and their webs.
 Hear ye, or hear ye not? or do I speak
 To the deaf?

     Son of Oedipus be witness!
     Should not terror rob our wits,
     When we hear the roll of chariots,
     Whirling wheels, and creaking axles,
     And the unresting tramp of horses
     Champing fierce their fire-forged bits?

 What then? when with the storm the good ship labours,
 Shall the wise helmsman leave his proper post,
 To clasp the painted gods upon the prow?[n17]

     When we heard war's rattling hail-drift
     Round our ramparts wildly rave,
     Trusting to the gods of Cadmus,
     Spurred by fear, we hither hurried,
     Here to pray, and clasp the statues
     Of the good gods strong to save.

 Pray that our well-manned walls be strong to save us,
 Else will the gods help little. Who knows not
 That, when a city falls, they pass to the Victor?[n18]


     Never, never may the council
     Of the assembled gods desert us,
     While I live, and look on day!
     Never, never may the stranger
     Rush through the streets, while midnight burning
     Lights the robber to his prey!

 Weak prayers confound wise counsel. Know ye not
 Obedience is the mother of success,
 And pledge of victory. So the wise have spoken.

     But the gods are strong. When mortals
     Stretch the arm in vain to save us,
     Help is waiting from above.
     When dark night enveils the welkin,
     And thick-mantled ruin gathers,
     They enclasp us round with love.

 Leave sacrifice and oracles to men,
 And 'gainst the imminent foe pray to the gods.
 Women should hold their tongues, and keep their homes.

     By the strength of gods the city
     Each rude tide hath learnt to stem;
     Who shall charge us with offending,
     When we make our vows to them?

 Your vows I grudge not, nor would stint your prayers;
 But this I say, blow not your fears about,
 Nor taint the general heart with apprehension.

     Startled by the blare of battle,
     Hearing clash of combat fell,
     With a quaking heart I hied me
     To this sacred citadel.

 And when ye hear that some are dead or wounded,
 Drag not the news with wailings through the town;
 For blood of mortals is the common food[n19]
 Of the war god.

                Hark! the angry steeds are snorting.

 Hear what thou wilt; but do not hear aloud.

 The Earth beneath me groans, the wall is shaking.


 The walls are mine to uphold. Pray you, be silent.

 Woe's me, the clash of arms, loud and more loud,
 Rings at the gate!

                   And thou the loudest!--Peace!

 Great council of the gods, O save us! save us!

 Perdition seize thee! thy words flow like water.

 O patron gods, save me from captive chains!

 Thy fear makes captive me, and thee, and all.

 O mighty Jove, fix with thy dart the foe!

 O Jove, of what strange stuff hast thou made women!

 Men are no better, when their city's captured.

 Dost clasp the gods again, and scream and howl?

 Fear hurries on my overmastered tongue.

 One small request I have; beseech you hear me.

 Speak: I am willing, if I can, to please thee.

 Please me by silence; do not fright thy friends.

 I speak no more: and wait my doom with them.

 This word is wiser than a host of wails.
 And now, instead of running to and fro,
 Clinging to every image as you pass,
 Pray to the gods with sober supplication,
 To aid the Theban cause: and, when ye hear
 My vow, lift up a blithe auspicious shout,
 A sacred hymn, a sacrificial cry,
 As brave Greek hearts are wont, whose voice shall speak
 Sure confidence to friends, and to the foe
 Dismay. Now, hear my vow. If they who keep
 The city, keep it now from the Argive spear,
 I vow to them, and to the patron gods
 Of field and forum, and the holy fount
 Of Dirce and Ismenus' sacred stream,[n20]
 That blood of lambs and bulls shall wash their altars,
 And spear-pierced trophies, Argive harnesses,
 Bedeck their holy halls. Such be your prayers;
 Not sighs and sobs, and frantic screams, that shake
 The hearts of men, but not the will of gods.
 Meanwhile, with six choice men, myself the seventh,
 I'll gallantly oppose these boastful chiefs
 That block our outlets. Timely thus I'll gag
 The swift-winged rush of various-bruited news,
 That in the hour of danger blazes fear. [_Exit._


     Well thou speakest; but unsleeping
     Terrors shake my virgin frame,
     And the blasts of war around me
     Fan my fears into a flame.
     As the dove her dovelets nursing,
     Fears the tree-encircling serpent,
     Fatal neighbour of her nest;
     Thus the foe, our walls enclosing,
     Thrills with ceaseless fears my breast.
     Hark I in hurrying throngs careering
     Rude they beat our Theban towers,
     And a rain of rock-torn fragments
     On the roofs of Cadmus showers!
     Save us, gods that keep the city,
     Save us, Jove-begotten Powers!

     Say what region shall receive ye,
     When the Theban soil is waste?
     When pure Dirce's fount is troubled,
     From what waters shall ye taste?
     Theban soil, the deepest, richest,
     That with fruits of joy is pregnant,
     Dirce, sweetest fount that runs,
     From Poseidon earth-embracing,
     And from Tethys' winding sons.[n21]
     Patron-gods maintain your glory,
     Sit in might enthroned to-day:
     Smite the foe with fear; fear stricken
     Let them fling their arms away:
     Hear our sharp shrill-piercing wailings,
     When for Cadmus' weal we pray!

     Sad it were, and food for weeping,
     To behold these walls Ogygian,
     By the stranger spearman mounted,
     Levelled by the Argive foe,
     And these towers by god-sent vengeance
     Laid in crumbling ashes low.
     Sad it were to see the daughters,
     And the sonless mothers grey,
     Of old Thebes, with hair dishevelled,
     And rent vestments, even as horses
     Dragged by the mane, a helpless prey;
     Sad to hear the victors' clamour
     Mingling with the captive's moan,
     And the frequent-clanking fetter
     Struggling with the dying groan.

     Sad, most sad, should hands unlicensed
     Rudely pluck our opening blossom;
     Sad--yea better far to die!
     Changing nuptial torch and chamber
     For dark homes of slavery.
     Ah! my soul within me trembles,
     When it shapes the sight of shame,
     Swift the chase of lawless murder,
     And the swifter chase of flame;
     Black the surly smoke upwreathing,
     Cries, confusion, choking heat;
     Shrine-polluting, man-subduing
     Mars, wild borne from street to street!

     Towers and catapults surrounding,
     And the greedy spear upswallowing
     Man by man, its gory food:
     And the sucking infants clinging
     To the breasts that cannot bear them,
     Cries to ears that cannot hear them
     Mingle with their mother's blood.
     Plunder, daughter of Confusion,
     Startles Plenty from his lair,
     And the robber with the robber
     Bargains for an equal share;
     Gods! in such a night of terrors
     How shall helpless maidens fare?

     Planless is the strife of Plunder.
     Fruits of patient years are trampled
     Reckless in the moment's grave;
     And the maids that tend the household,
     With a bitter eye of weeping,
     See the treasured store of summers
     Hurried by the barren wave.
     Woe, deep woe, waits captive maidens,
     To an untried thraldom led,
     Bound, by chains of forced affection,
     To some haughty husband's bed:
     Sooner, sooner may I wander
     Sister of the sunless dead!

 Methinks I see the scout sent by the king:
 Doubtless he brings us news; his tripping feet
 Come swift as wheels that turn on willing axles.

 The king himself, the son of Oedipus,
 Comes in the exact nick to hear his tidings:
 With rapid and unequal steps he too
 Urges the way.

   [_Enter_ MESSENGER _and_ ETEOCLES _from opposite sides._

               What I have seen I come
 To tell; the movements of the foe, the station
 That lot hath given each champion at the gates.
 First at the Prœtian portal Tydeus stands,[n22]
 Storming against the seer, who wise forbids
 To pass Ismenus' wave, before the sacrifice
 Auspicious smiles. But he, for battle burning,
 Fumes like a fretful snake in the sultry noon,
 Lashing with gibes the wise Oiclidan seer,[n23]
 Whose prudence he interprets dastardy,
 Cajoling death away. Thus fierce he raves,
 And shakes the overshadowing crest sublime,
 His helmet's triple mane, while 'neath his shield
 The brazen bells ring fear.[n24] On his shield's face
 A sign he bears as haughty as himself,
 The welkin flaming with a thousand lights,
 And in its centre the full moon shines forth,
 Eye of the night, and regent of the stars.
 So speaks his vaunting shield: on the stream's bank
 He stands, loud-roaring, eager for the fight,
 As some fierce steed that frets against the bit,
 And waits with ruffling neck, and ears erect,
 To catch the trumpet's blare. Who will oppose
 This man? what champion, when the bolts are broken,
 Shall plant his body in the Prœtian gate?


 No blows I fear from the trim dress of war,
 No wounds from blazoned terrors. Triple crests
 And ringing bells bite not without the spear;
 And for this braggart shield, with starry night
 Studded, too soon for the fool's wit that owns it
 The scutcheon may prove seer. When death's dark night
 Shall settle on his eyes, and the blithe day
 Beams joy on him no more, hath not the shield
 Spoken significant, and pictured borne
 A boast against its bearer? I, to match
 This Tydeus, will set forth the son of Astacus,
 A noble youth not rich in boasts, who bows
 Before the sacred throne of Modesty,
 In base things cowardly, in high virtue bold.
 His race from those whom Ares spared he draws,[n25]
 Born from the sown field of the dragon's teeth,
 His name Melanippus. Mars shall throw the dice
 Bravely for him, and Justice call him brother,
 While girt he goes from his loved Theban mother
 To ward the Argive spear.

     May the gods protect our champion!
     Be the cause of Right his shield!
     But I fear to see the breathless
     Bleeding bodies of true warriors
     Strewn upon the battle field.

 Speed well your pious prayers! The lot hath placed
 Proud Capaneus before the Electran gate,[n26]
 A giant warrior mightier than the first,
 And boasting more than mortal. His high threats
 May never Chance[f13] fulfil! for with the aid
 Of gods, or in the gods' despite, he vows
 To sack the city, and sets the bolted wrath
 Of Jove at nought, his lightnings and his thunders
 Recking no more--so speaks the vauntful tongue--
 Than vulgar noonday heat. His orbéd shield
 The blazon of a naked man displays,
 Shaking a flaring torch with lofty threat
 In golden letters--I WILL BURN THE CITY.
 Such is the man: who shall not quail before
 A pride that flings defiance to the gods?


 Here, too, we meet the strong with something stronger.
 When men are proud beyond the mark of right,
 They do proclaim with forward tongue their folly,
 Themselves their own accuser. This brave Capaneus
 With empty threats and wordy exercise,
 Fights mortal 'gainst immortals, and upcasts
 Loud billowy boasts in Jove's high face. But I
 In Jove have faith that he will smite this boaster
 With flaming bolts, to vulgar heat of noon
 In no wise like. The gallant Polyphontus,
 A man of glowing heart, against this blusterer
 I'll send, himself a garrison to pledge
 Our safety, by the grace of Artemis,
 And the protecting gods. Name now the others.

     Perish, with his boasts, the boaster,
     By strong thunder prostrate laid!
     Never, never may I see him
     Into holy homes of virgins
     Rushing, with his godless blade!

 Hear more. The third lot to Eteocles
 Leapt from the upturned brazen helm,[n27] and fixed him
 At the Netaean gate.[n28] His eager steeds,
 Their frontlets tossed in the breeze, their swelling nostrils
 High-snorting with the impatient blast of war,
 Their bridles flapping with barbaric clang,
 He curbs, and furious 'gainst the city wheels them,
 Even as a whirling storm. His breadth of shield,
 Superbly rounded, shows an armed man
 Scaling a city, with this proud device,
 Choose thou a champion worthy to oppose
 This haughty chief, and pledge his country's weal.

 Fear not: with happy omen, I will send,
 Have sent already, one to meet this foe,
 Whose boasts are deeds, brave Megareus, a son
 Of the dragon's race, a warrior recking nothing
 The snortings of impatient steeds. This man
 Will, with his heart's blood, pay the nursing fee
 Due to his Theban mother,[f14] or come back--
 Which grant the gods!--bearing on that proud shield
 Rich spoil to garnish forth his father's halls,
 The painted champion, and the painted city,
 And him that living bore the false-faced sign.
 Now name the fourth, and spare me not your boasts.

     May the gods protect my champion!
     Ruin seize the ruthless foe!
     As they boast to raze the city,
     So may Jove with wrathful vengeance
     Lay their frenzied babblings low!

 The fourth's Hippomedon. Before the gate
 He stands of Onca Pallas, clamouring on
 With lordly port. His shield's huge round he waved,
 (Fearful to view), a halo not a shield.
 No vulgar cunning did his hand possess
 Who carved the dread device upon its face,
 Typhon, forth-belching, from fire-breathing mouth,
 Black smoke, the volumed sister of the flame;[n29]
 And round its hollow belly was embossed[n30]
 A ring of knotted snakes. Himself did rage,
 Shouting for battle, by the god of war
 Indwelt,[n31] and, like a Maenad, his dark eyes
 Look fear. Against this man be doubly armed,
 For, where he is, grim Fear is with him.

 Herself will guard the gate that bears her name,
 From her own ramparts hurl the proud assailer,
 And shield her nurslings from this crested snake.
 Hyperbius, the right valiant son of Oenops,
 Shall stand against this foe, casting his life
 Into the chance of war; in lordly port,
 In courage, in all the accoutrements of fight
 Hippomedon's counterpart--a hostile pair
 Well matched by Hermes.[n32] But no equal match
 Their shields display--two hostile gods--the one
 Fire-breathing Typhon, father Jove the other,
 Erect, firm-planted, in his flaming hand
 Grasping red thunder, an unvanquished god.
 Such are the gods beneath whose wing they fight,
 For us the strong, for them the weaker power.
 And as the gods are, so the men shall be
 That on their aid depend. If Jove hath worsted
 This Typhon in the fight, we too shall worst
 Our adverse. Shall the king of gods not save
 The man whose shield doth bear the SAVIOUR JOVE.

     Earth-born Typhon, hateful monster,
     Sight that men and gods appals,
     Whoso bears in godless blazon
     Great Jove's foe, shall Jove almighty
     Dash his head against the walls.

 So grant the gods! The fifth proud foe is stationed
 Before the Borean gate, hard by the tomb
 Of the Jove-born Amphion. By his spear
 He swears, his spear more dear to him than gods,
 Or light of day, that he will sack the city
 In Jove's despite: thus speaks half-man, half-boy,
 The fair-faced scion of a mountain mother.
 The manly down, luxuriant, bushy, sprouts
 Full from his blooming cheek: no virgin he
 In aspect, though most virgin-like his name.[f15]
 Keen are his looks, and fierce his soul; he too
 Comes not without a boast against the gates;
 For on his shield, stout forgery of brass,
 A broad circumference of sure defence,
 He shows, in mockery of Cadméan Thebes,
 The terrible Sphynx, in gory food delighting,
 Hugely embossed, with terror brightly studded,
 And in her mortal paw the monster rends
 A Theban man: for which reproachful sign
 Thick-showered the bearer bears the keenest darts,--
 Parthenopæus, bold Arcadian chief.
 No man seems he to shame the leagues he travelled
 By petty war's detail. Not born an Argive,
 In Argos nursed, he now her love repays,
 By fighting 'gainst her foes. His threats--the god
 Grant they be only threats!

                            Did they receive
 What punishment their impious vaunts deserve,
 Ruin with one wide swoop should swamp them all.
 This braggart stripling, fresh from Arcady,
 The brother of Hyperbius shall confront,
 Actor, a man whose hand pursues its deed,
 Not brandishing vain boasts. No enemy,
 Whose strength is in his tongue, shall sap these walls,
 While Actor has a spear: nor shall the man
 Who bears the hated portent on his shield
 Enter our gate, but rather the grim sign
 Frown on its bearer, when thick-rattling hail
 Showered from our walls shall dint it. If the gods
 Are just, the words I speak are prophecy.

     The eager cry doth rend my breast,
     And on end stands every hair,
     When I hear the godless vaunting
     Of unholy men! May Até
     Fang them in her hopeless snare!

 The sixth a sober man, a seer of might,
 Before the Homoloidian gate stands forth,[n33]
 And speaks harsh words against the might of Tydeus,
 Rating him murderer, teacher of all ill
 To Argos, troubler of the city's peace,
 The Furies' herald, crimson slaughter's minion,
 And councillor of folly to Adrastus.
 Thy brother too, the might of Polynices,
 He whips with keen reproaches, and upcasts
 With bitter taunts his evil-omened name,
 Making it spell his ugly sin that owns it.[n34]
 O fair and pious deed, even thus he cries,
 To blot thy native soil with war, and lead
 A foreign host against thy country's gods!
 Soothly a worthy deed, a pleasant tale
 For future years to tell! Most specious right,
 To stop the sacred fountain up whence sprung
 Thy traitor life! How canst thou hope to live
 A ruler well acknowledged in the land,
 That thou hast wounded with invading spear?
 Myself this foreign soil, on which I tread,
 Shall feed with prophet's blood. I hope to die,
 Since die I must, an undishonoured death.
 Thus spake the seer, and waved his full-orb'd shield
 Of solid brass, but plain, without device.
 Of substance studious, careless of the show,
 The wise man is what fools but seem to be,[n35]
 Reaping rich harvest from the mellow soil
 Of quiet thought, the mother of great deeds.
 Choose thou a wise and virtuous man to meet
 The wise and virtuous. Whoso fears the gods
 Is fearful to oppose.

                      Alas! the fate
 That mingles up the godless and the just
 In one companionship! wise was the man
 Who taught that evil converse is the worst
 Of evils, that death's unblest fruit is reaped
 By him who sows in Até's fields.[f16] The man
 Who, being godly, with ungodly men
 And hot-brained sailors mounts the brittle bark,
 He, when the god-detested crew goes down,
 Shall with the guilty guiltless perish. When
 One righteous man is common citizen
 With godless and unhospitable men,
 One god-sent scourge must smite the whole, one net
 Snare bad and good. Even so, Oïcleus' son,
 This sober, just, and good, and pious man,
 This mighty prophet and soothsayer, he,
 Leagued with the cause of bad and bold-mouthed men
 In his own despite--so Jove hath willed--shall lead
 Down to the distant city of the dead
 The murky march with them. He will not even
 Approach the walls, so I may justly judge.
 No dastard soul is his, no wavering will;
 But well he knows, if Loxias' words bear fruit,
 (And, when he speaks not true, the god is dumb)
 Amphiaraus dies by Theban spear.
 Yet to oppose this man I will dispatch
 The valiant Lasthenes, a Theban true,
 Who wastes no love on strangers; swift his eye,
 Nor slow his hand to make the eager spear
 Leap from behind the shield. The gods be with him!

     May the gods our just entreaties
     For the cause of Cadmus hear!
     Jove! when the sharp spear approaches,
     Sit enthroned upon our rampires,
     Darting bolts, and darting fear!


 Against the seventh gate the seventh chief
 Leads on the foe, thy brother Polynices;
 And fearful vows he makes, and fearful doom
 His prayers invoke. Mounted upon our walls,
 By herald's voice Thebes' rightful prince proclaimed,
 Shouting loud hymns of capture, hand to hand
 He vows to encounter thee, and either die
 Himself in killing thee, or should he live
 And spare thy recreant life, he will repay
 Like deed with like, and thou in turn shalt know
 Dishonouring exile. Thus he speaks and prays
 The family gods, and all the gods of Thebes,
 To aid his traitor suit. Upon his shield,
 New-forged, and nicely fitted to the hand,
 He bears this double blazonry--a woman
 Leading with sober pace an armed man
 All bossed in gold, and thus the superscription,
 Such are the strange inventions of the foe.
 Choose thou a man that's fit to meet thy brother;
 Nor blame thy servant: what he saw he says:
 To helm the state through such rude storm be thine!

 O god-detested! god-bemadded race![n36]
 Woe-worthy sons of woe-worn Oedipus!
 Your father's curse is ripe! but tears are vain,
 And weeping might but mother worser woe.
 O Polynices! thy prophetic name
 Speaks more than all the emblems of thy shield;
 Soon shall we see if gold-bossed words can save thee,
 Babbling vain madness in a proud device.
 If Jove-born Justice, maid divine, might be
 Of thoughts and deeds like thine participant,
 Thou mightst have hope; but, Polynices, never,
 Or when the darkness of the mother's womb
 Thou first didst leave, or in thy nursling prime,
 Or in thy bloom of youth, or in the gathering
 Of beard on manhood's chin, hath Justice owned thee,
 Or known thy name; and shall she know thee now
 Thou leadst a stranger host against thy country?
 Her nature were a mockery of her name
 If she could fight for knaves, and still be Justice.
 In this faith strong, this traitor I will meet
 Myself: the cause is mine, and I will fight it.
 For equal prince to prince, to brother brother,
 Fell foe to foe, suits well. And now to arms!
 Bring me my spear and shield, hauberk and greaves!

   [_Exit_ MESSENGER.

 Dear son of Oedipus! let not thy wrath
 Wax hot as his whom thou dost chiefly chide!
 Let the Cadméans with the Argives fight;
 This is enough: their blood may be atoned.
 But, when a brother falls by brother's hands,
 Age may not mellow such dark due of guilt.

 If thou canst bear an ill, and fear no shame,
 Bear it: but if to bear is to be base,
 Choose death, thy only refuge from disgrace.

     Whither wouldst thou? calm thy bosom,
      Tame the madness of thy blood;
     Ere it bear a crimson blossom,
      Pluck thy passion in the bud.

 Fate urges on; the god will have it so.[n37]
 Now drift the race of Laius, with full sail,
 Abhorred by Phœbus, down Cocytus' stream!

     Let not ravening rage consume thee!
      Bitter fruit thy wrath will bear;
     Sate thy hunger with the thousands,
      But of brother's blood beware!

 The Curse must work its will: and thus it speaks,
 Watching beside me with dry tearless eyes,
 _Death is thy only gain, and death to-day_
 _Is better than to-morrow!_[n38]

     Save thy life: the wise will praise thee;
      To the gods with incense come,
     And the storm-clad black Erinnys
      Passes by thy holy home.

 The gods will reck the curse, but not the prayers
 Of Laius' race. Our doom is their delight.
 'Tis now too late to fawn the Fate away.


     Nay! but yet thou mayst: the god,
      That long hath raged, and burneth now,
     With a gentler sway soft-wafted,
      Soon may fan thy fevered brow.

 The Curse must sway, my father's burning curse.
 The visions of the night were true, that showed me
 His heritage twin-portioned by the sword.

 We are but women: yet we pray thee hear us.

 Speak things that may be, and I'll hear. Be brief.

 Fight not before the seventh gate, we pray thee.

 My whetted will thy words may never blunt.

 Why rush on danger? Victory's sure without thee.

 So speak to slaves; a soldier may not hear thee.

 But brother's blood--pluck not the bloody blossom.

 If gods are just, he shall not 'scape from harm. [_Exit._

   I fear the house-destroying power; I fear
     The goddess most ungodlike,[n39]
     The all-truth-speaking seer
   Of evil things, whose sleepless wrath doth nurse
   Fulfilment of the frenzied father's curse.
     The time doth darkly lower;
   This strife of brother's blood with brother's blood
       Spurs the dread hour.

   O son of Scythia, must we ask thine aid?
     Chalybian stranger thine,[n40]
     Here with the keen unsparing blade
   To part our fair possessions? thou dost deal
   A bitter lot, O savage-minded steel!
      Much loss is all the gain,
   When mighty lords with their stark corpses measure
       Their whole domain.

     When the slain shall slay the slayer,
     And kindred blood with blood
   Shall mingle, when the thirsty Theban soil
   Drinks eager the black-clotting sanguine flood,
   Who then shall purge the murderous stain,
     Who wash it clean again?
   When ancient guilt and new shall burst,
     In one dire flood of woe?

   With urgent pace the Fury treadeth,
      To generations three
   Avenging Laius' sin on Laius' race;
   What time he sinned against the gods' decree,
     When Phœbus from Earth's central shrine[f17]
      Thrice sent the word divine--

       But he to foolish words gave ear,
       And ruin to himself begot,
   The parricidal Oedipus, who joined
   A frenzied bond in most unholy kind,
   Sowing where he was sown; whence sprung a bud
       Of bitterness and blood.

       The city tosses to and fro,
     Like a drifted ship; wave after wave,
   Now high, now low, with triple-crested flow
   Now reared sublime, brays round the plunging prow.
   These walls are but a plank: if the kings fall
       'Tis ruin to us all.

   The ancestral curse, the hoary doom is ripe.
     Who now shall smooth such hate?
   What hand shall stay, when it hath willed to strike,
     The uplifted arm of Fate?
   When the ship creaks beneath the straining gale,
   The wealthy merchant[f18] flings the well-stowed bale
     Into the gulf below.[f19]

   When the enigma of the baleful Sphynx
     By Oedipus was read,
   And the man-rending monster on a stone
     Despairful dashed her head;
   What mortal man by herd-possessing men,
   What god by gods above was honoured then,
     Like Oedipus below!

   But when his soul was conscious, and he saw
   The monstrous wedlock made 'gainst Nature's law,
       Him struck dismay,
       In wild deray,
  He from their socket roots uptore
 His eyes, more dear than children, worthy no more
    To look upon the day.

 And he, for sorry tendance wrathful,[n41] flung
 Curses against his sons with bitter tongue,
 The threatened harm; with boding heart I hear
     The Fury's sleepless foot.

   [_Re-enter_ MESSENGER.

 Fear not, fair maids of Theban mothers nursed!
 The city hath 'scaped the yoke; the insolent boasts
 Of violent men hath fallen; the ship o' the state
 Is safe; in sunshine calm we float; in vain
 Hath wave on wave lashed our sure-jointed beams,
 No leaky gap our close-lipped timbers knew,
 Our champions with safety hedged us round,
 Our towers stand firm. Six of the seven gates
 Show all things prosperous; the seventh Phœbus
 Chose for his own (for still in four and three
 The god delights),[n42] he led the seventh pair,
 Crowning the doom of evil-counselled Laius.

 What sayst thou? What new ills to ancient Thebes?

 Two men are dead--by mutual slaughter slain.

 Who?--what?--my wit doth crack with apprehension.

 Hear soberly: the sons of Oedipus--

 O wretched me! true prophet of true woe.

 Too true. They lie stretched in the dust.


                                          Sayst so?
 Sad tale! yet must I school mine ears to hear it.

 Brother by brother's hand untimely slain.

 The impartial god smote equally the twain.

 A wrathful god the luckless race destroys,
 And I for plaints no less than pæans bring thee[n43]
 Plentiful food. The state now stands secure,
 But the twin rulers, with hard-hammered steel,
 Have sharply portioned all their heritage,
 By the dire curse to sheer destruction hurried.
 What land they sought they find it in the grave,
 The hostile kings in one red woe are brothered;
 The soil that called them lord hath drunk their blood.

    O Jove almighty! gods of Cadmus,
    By whose keeping Thebes is strong,
    Shall I sing a joyful pæan,
    Thee the god full-throated hymning
    That saved the state from instant harm?
    Or shall drops of swelling pity
    To a wail invert my ditty?
    O wretched, hapless, childless princes!
    Truly, truly was his name
    Prophet of your mutual shame![f20]
    Godless was the strife ye cherished,
    And in godless strife ye perished!

     The curse that rides on sable wing,
       Hath done its part,
     And horror, like a creeping thing,
       Freezes my heart.
     Their ghastly death in kindred blood
       Doth pierce me thorough,
     And deeply stirs the Thyad flood[f21]
       Of wail and sorrow.
     An evil bird on boding wing
       Did darkly sway,
     When steel on steel did sternly ring
       In strife to-day.


     The voice that from the blind old king
       With cursing came,
     In rank fulfilment forth doth bring
       Its fruit of shame.
     O Laius, thou didst work our woe
       With faithless heart;
     Nor Phœbus with a half-dealt blow
       Will now depart.
     His word is sure, or pacing slow,
       Or winged with speed,
     And now the burthened cloud of woe,
       Bursts black indeed.

   [_The bodies of_ ETEOCLES _and_ POLYNICES _are brought on the stage._

    Lo! where it comes the murky pomp,
    No wandering voice, but clear, too clear
    The visible body of our fear!
    Twin-faced sorrow, twin-faced slaughter,
    And twin-fated woe is here.
    Ills on ills of monstrous birth
    Rush on Laius' god-doom'd-hearth.

    Sisters raise the shrill lament,
    Let your lifted arms be oars!
    Let your sighs be breezes lent,
    Down the wailing stream to float
      The black-sail'd Stygian boat;
    Down to the home which all receiveth,
    Down to the land which no man leaveth,
    By Apollo's foot untrodden,
    Sullen, silent, sunless shores!

    But I see the fair Ismene,
    And Antigone the fair,
    Moving to this place of mourning,
    Slow, a sorrow-guided pair.
    We shall see a sight for weeping
    (They obey a doleful hest)
    Lovely maids deep-bosomed pouring
    Wails from heavy-laden breast.
    Chaunts of sorrow, dismal prelude
    Of their grief, to us belong:
    Let us hymn the dread Erinnys!
    To the gloomy might of Hades,
    Let us lift the sombre song.

   [_Enter_ ANTIGONE _and_ ISMENE _in sorrowful silence._

    Hapless sisters! maids more hapless
      Ne'er were girded with a zone:
    I weep, and wail, and mine, believe me,
      Is a heart's sigh, no hireling moan.[f22]

   [_Here commences the Funeral Wail over the dead bodies of_ ETEOCLES
   _and_ POLYNICES _with mournful music._

    Alas! alas! the hapless pair.
    To friendly voice and warning Fate
    They stopped the ear: and now too late
    Dear bought with blood their father's wealth
      In death they share.

    Outstretched in death, and prostrate low
    Them and their house the iron Woe
      Hath sternly crushed.

    Alas! alas! the old thrones reel,
    The lofty palace topples down;
    And Death hath won a bloody crown,
    And thou sure end of strife hast made,
      O keen cold steel!

    And, with fulfilment on her wing,
    Curse-laden from the blind old king
      The Fury rushed.

    Pierced through the left, with gaping gashes
      Gory they lie.

    All gashed and gored, by fratricidal
      Wounds they die.

    * * * *
      * * * *

    A god, a god doth rule the hour,
    Slaughter meets slaughter, and the curse
      Doth reign with power.


    See where the steel clean through hath cut
      Their bleeding life,
    Even to the marrow deep hath pierced
      The ruthless knife.

    Deep in their silent hearts they cherished
      The fateful curse,
    And, with fell purpose sternly hating,
      Defied remorse.

    From street to street shrill speeds the cry
      Of wail and woe.

    And towers and peopled plains reply
      With wail and woe.

    And all their wealth a stranger heir
      Shall rightly share.

    The wealth that waked the deadly strife,
    The strife that raged till rage and strife
      Ceased with their life.

    With whetted heart, and whetted glaive,
      They shared the lot;
    Victor and vanquished each in the grave
      Six feet hath got.

    A harsh allotment! who shall praise it,
      Friend or foe?
    Harsh strife in pride begun, and ending
      In wail and woe.

    Sword-stricken here they lie, they lie
      A breathless pair.

    Sword-stricken here they find, they find
      What home, and where?

    A lonely home, a home of gloom
      In their fathers' tomb.

    And wailing follows from the halls
      The dismal bier;
    Wailing and woe the heart-strings breaking,
    And sorrow from its own self taking
    The food it feeds on, moody sadness,
    Shunning all sights and sounds of gladness,
    And from the eye spontaneous bringing
      No practised tear;
    My heart within me wastes, beholding
      This dismal bier.

    And on the bier we drop the tear
      And justly say,

    To friend and foe, they purchased woe
      And wail to-day.

    And to Hades showed full many the road
      In the deadly fray.

    O ill-starred she!--there hath not been
      Nor will be more,
    Of sore-tried women children-bearing,
    One like her, like sorrow sharing.
    With her own body's fruit she joined
    Wedlock in most unholy kind,
    And to her son, twin sons the mother,
      O monstrous! bore:
    And here they lie, by brother brother
      Now drenched in gore.

    Ay, drenched in gore, in brothered gore,[n44]
      Weltering they lie;
    Mad was the strife, and sharp the knife
      That bade them die.

    The strife hath ceased: life's purple flood
      The dry Earth drinks;
    And kinsman's now to kinsman's blood
      Keen slaughter links.
    The far sea stranger forged i' the fire
    The pointed iron soothed their ire.
    A bitter soother! Mars hath made
      A keen division
    Of all their lands, and lent swift wing
    To the curse that came from the blind old king
      With harsh completion.

    They strove for land, and did demand
      An equal share;
    In the ground deep, deep, where now they sleep,
      There's land to spare.


    A goodly crop to you hath grown
      Of woe and wailing;
    Ye reaped the seed by Laius sown,
      The god prevailing.
    Shrill yelled the curse, a deathful shout,
    And scattered sheer in hopeless rout
    The kingly race did fall; and lo!
      Fell Até planteth
    Her trophy at the gate; and there
    Triumphant o'er the princely pair
      Her banner flaunteth.

   [ANTIGONE _and_ ISMENE _now come forward, and standing beside the dead
   bodies, pointing now to the one, and now to the other, finish the Wail
   as chief mourners._

    Wounded, thou didst wound again.

    Thou didst slay, and yet wert slain.

    Thou didst pierce him with the spear.

    Deadly-pierced thou liest here.

    Sons of sorrow!

                   Sons of pain!

    Break out grief!

                    Flow tears amain!

    Weep the slayer.

                    And the slain.

    Ah! my soul is mad with moaning.

    And my heart within is groaning.

    O thrice-wretched, wretched brother!

    Thou more wretched than the other!

    Thine own kindred pierced thee thorough.

    And thy kin was pierced by thee.

    Sight of sadness!

                     Tale of sorrow!

    Deadly to say!

                  Deadly to see!

    We with you the sorrow bear.

    And twin woes twin sisters share.

    Alas! alas!
    Moera, baneful gifts dispensing[n45]
    To the toilsome race of mortals,
    Now prevails thy murky hour:
    Shade of Oedipus thrice sacred,
    Night-clad Fury, dread Erinnys,
    Mighty, mighty is thy power!

    Food to feed the eyes with mourning,

    Exile sad, more sad returning!

    Slain wert thou, when thou hadst slain.

    Found wert thou and lost again.

    Lost, in sooth, beyond reprieving.

    Life-bereft and life-bereaving.

    Race of Laius, woe is thee!

    Woe, and wail, and misery!

    Woe, woe, thy fatal name!

    Prophet of our triple shame.

    Deadly to say!

                  Deadly to see!

    Alas! alas!
    Moera, baneful gifts dispensing
    To the toilsome race of mortals,
    Now prevails thy murky hour;
    Shade of Oedipus thrice sacred,
    Night-clad Fury, dread Erinnys,
    Mighty, mighty is thy power.

    Thou hast marched a distant road.

    Thou hast gone to the dark abode.

    Cruel welcome met thee here.

    Falling by thy brother's spear.

    Deadly to say!

                  Deadly to see!

    Woe and wailing.

                    Wail and woe!

    To my home and to my country.

    And to me much wail and woe.

    Chief woe to me!

                    Weeping and woe!

    Alas! Eteocles, laid thus low!

    O thrice woe-worthy pair!

    A god, a god, hath dealt the blow!

    Where shall they find their clay-cold lair?


    An honoured place their bones shall keep.

    With their fathers they shall sleep.

   [_Enter_ HERALD.

 Hear ye my words--my herald's voice declaring
 What seemed and seems good to the Theban senate.
 Eteocles, his country's friend, shall find
 Due burial in its friendly bosom.[n46] He
 Is free from sin against the gods of Cadmus,
 And died, the champion of his country's cause,
 As generous youths should die. Severer doom
 Falls on his brother Polynices. He
 Shall lie in the breeze unburied, food for dogs,
 Most fit bestowal of a traitor's corpse;
 For, had some god not stept between to save us,
 And turned the spear aside, Cadméan Thebes
 Had stood no more. His country's gods demand
 Such stern atonement of the impious will
 That led a hireling host against their shrines.
 On him shall vultures banquet, ravening birds
 His flesh shall tear; no pious hand shall pile
 The fresh green mound, no wailing notes for him
 Be lifted shrill, no tearful friends attend
 His funeral march. Thus they who rule in Thebes
 Have strictly ordered.

                       Go thou back, and give
 This message to the rulers.--If none other
 Will grant the just interment to my brother
 Myself will bury him. The risk I reck not,
 Nor blush to call rebellion's self a virtue,
 Where I rebel, being kind to my own kin.
 Our common source of life, a mother doomed
 To matchless woes, nor less the father doomed,
 Demand no vulgar reverence. I will share
 Reproach with the reproached, and with my kin
 Know kindred grief, the living with the dead.
 For his dear flesh, no hollow-stomach'd wolves
 Shall tear it--no! myself, though I'm but woman,
 Will make his tomb, and do the sacred office.
 Even in this bosom's linen folds, I'll bear
 Enough of earth to cover him withal.
 This thing I'll do. I will. For bold resolves
 Still find bold hands; the purpose makes the plan.


 When Thebes commands, 'tis duty to obey.

 When ears are deaf, 'tis wisdom to be dumb.

 Fierce is a people with young victory flushed.

 Fierce let them be; he shall not go unburied.

 What? wilt thou honour whom the city hates?

 And did the gods not honour whom I honour?

 Once: ere he led the spear against his country.

 Evil entreatment he repaid with evil.

 Should thousands suffer for the fault of one?

 Strife is the last of gods to end her tale;
 My brother I will bury. Make no more talk.

 Be wilful, if thou wilt. I counsel wisdom.

    Mighty Furies that triumphant
    Ride on ruin's baleful wings,[n47]
    Crushed ye have and clean uprooted
    This great race of Theban kings.
    Who shall help me? Who shall give me,
    Sure advice, and counsel clear?
    Shall mine eyes freeze up their weeping?
    Shall my feet refuse to follow
    Thy loved remnant? but I fear
    Much the rulers, and their mandate
    Sternly sanctioned. Shall it be?
    Him shall many mourners follow?
    Thee, rejected by thy country,
    Thee no voice of wailing nears,
    All thy funeral march a sister
    Weeping solitary tears?

   [_The_ CHORUS _now divides itself into two parts, of which one
   attaches itself to_ ANTIGONE _and the corpse of_ POLYNICES; _the
   other to_ ISMENE _and the corpse of_ ETEOCLES.

    Let them threaten, or not threaten,
    We will drop the friendly tear,
    With the pious-minded sister,
    We will tend the brother's bier.
    And though public law forbids
    These tears, free-shed for public sorrow,
    Laws oft will change, and in one state
    What's right to-day is wrong to morrow.

    For us we'll follow, where the city
    And the law of Cadmus leads us,
    To the funeral of the brave.
    By the aid of Jove Supernal,
    And the gods that keep the city,
    Mighty hath he been to save;
    He hath smote the proud invader,
    He hath rolled the ruin backward
    Of the whelming Argive wave.

[The End]




 "Why should calamity be full of words?
 Windy attorneys to their client woes,
 Airy succeeders of intestate joys,
 Poor breathing orators of miseries!
 Let them have scope; though what they do in part
 Help nothing else, yet they do ease the heart."

 Ὦ θείη Σαλαμὶς. ἀπολεῖς δὲ σὺ τέκνα γυναικῶν.
                            DELPHIC ORACLE.



 ATOSSA, Mother of Xerxes.
 SHADE OF DARIUS, Father of Xerxes.
 XERXES, King of Persia.

SCENE--_Before the Palace at Susa. Tomb of Darius in the background._



THE piece, on the perusal of which the reader is now about to enter,
stands unique among the extant remains of the ancient drama, as drawing
its materials from the historical, not the mythological, age of the
Greek people. We are not, from this fact, to conclude that the Greeks,
or the ancients generally, drew a more strict boundary line between the
provinces of history and poetry, than the moderns. Such an inference
were the very reverse of the fact, as the whole style of ancient history
on the one hand, and the examples of Ennius and Lucan in poetry,
sufficiently show. Not even within the special domain of the Greek stage
is our one extant example the only historical drama of which the records
of Hellenic literature have preserved the memory; on the contrary, one
of the old arguments of the present play expressly testifies that
Phrynichus, a contemporary of Æschylus, had written a play on the same
subject; and we know, from other sources, that the same dramatist had
exhibited on the stage, with the most powerful effect, the capture of
the city of Miletus, which took place only a few years before the battle
of Marathon.[f1] There was a plain reason, however, why, with all
this, historical subjects should, in the general case, have been
excluded from the range of the Greek dramatic poetry; and that reason
was, the religious character which, as we have previously shown,
belonged so essentially to the tragic exhibitions of the Hellenes. That
religious character necessarily directed the eye of the tragic poet to
those ages in the history of his country, when the gods held more
familiar and open converse with men, and to those exploits which were
performed by Jove-descended heroes in olden time, under the express
sanction, and with the special inspiration, of Heaven. Had a
characteristically Christian drama arisen, at an early period, out of
the festal celebrations of the Church, the sacred poets of such a drama
would, in the same way, have confined themselves to strictly scriptural
themes, or to themes belonging to the earlier and more venerable
traditions of the Church.


With regard to the subject of the present drama, there can be no doubt
that, like the fall of Napoleon at Moscow, Leipzig, and Waterloo, in
these latter days, so in ancient history there is no event more suited
for the purposes of poetry than the expedition of Xerxes into Greece.
There is "a beginning, a middle, and an end," in this story, which might
satisfy the critical demands of the sternest Aristotle; a moral also,
than which no sermon ever preached from Greek stage or Christian pulpit
is better calculated to tame the foolish pride, and to purify the turbid
passions of humanity. In ancient and modern times, accordingly, from
Chœrilus to Glover, the whole, or part of this subject has been
treated, as its importance seemed to demand, epically;[f2] but of
all the poetical glorifications of this high theme, that of Æschylus
has alone succeeded in asserting for itself a permanent niche in the
library of that select poetry which belongs to all times and all places.

Of the battle of Salamis and the expedition of Xerxes, as an historical
event, it must be unnecessary for me to say a single word here,
entitled, as I am, to presume that no reader of the plays of Æschylus
can be ignorant of the main facts, and the tremendous moral significance
of that event. I shall only mention, for the sake of those whose memory
is not well exercised in chronology, that it took place in the autumn of
the year 480 before Christ, ten years after the battle of Marathon,
thirty years after the expulsion of the Tarquins from Rome, and eighty
years after the foundation of the great Persian empire by Cyrus the
great. Those who wish to read the descriptions of the poet with complete
interest and satisfaction should peruse the 38th, 39th, 40th, and 41st
chapters (Vol. V.), of Mr. GROTE's great work; and, if possible, also,
the 7th and 8th books of Herodotus.[f3]

On the poetical merit of the Persians, as a work of art, a great
authority, Schlegel, has pronounced that it is "undoubtedly the most
imperfect of all the extant tragedies of this poet;" but, unless the
historical theme be the stumbling-block, I really cannot see on what
ground this judgment proceeds. As for the descriptive parts, the battle
of Salamis, and the retreat of the routed monarch, are pictured with a
vividness and a power to which nothing in this massive and manly author
is superior; the interest to the reader being increased tenfold by the
fact, that he is here dealing with a real event of the most important
character, and recited by one of the best qualified {299} of
eye-witnesses. The moral of the piece, as already stated, is, in every
respect, what in a great drama or epos could be desired; and, with
respect to the lyrics, the Anapæstic march, and the choral chaunt in
Ionic measure, with which it opens, has about it a breadth, a
magnificence, and a solemnity surpassed only in the choral hymns of the
Agamemnon. Not less effective, to an ancient audience, I am sure, must
have been the grand antiphonal chaunt with which (as in The Seven
against Thebes) the variously repeated wail of this tragedy is brought
to a climax; and if the Bishop of London, and some other scholars, have
thought this sad exhibition of national lamentation ridiculous, we ought
to believe that these critics have forgot the difference between a
modern reader and an ancient spectator, rather than that so great a
master as Æschylus did not know how to distinguish between a tragedy
and a farce.

In common with other historical poems, the Persians of Æschylus is not
altogether free from the fault of bringing our imaginative faculty into
collision with our understanding, by a partial suppression or
exaggeration of historical truth. In the way of suppression, the most
noticeable thing is, that the slave of Themistocles, who is described as
having, by a false report to Xerxes, brought on the battle of Salamis,
appears, according to the poet, to have cheated the Persians only;
whereas, according to the real story, he cheated his countrymen also,
and forced them to fight in that place against the will of the
non-Athenian members of the confederation. In the way of exaggeration,
again, GROTE, in an able note,[f4] has shown what appear to me
valid reasons for disbelieving the fact of the freezing of the Strymon,
and its sudden thaw, described so piteously by our poet; while the very
nature of the case plainly shows that the whole circumstances of the
retreat, coming to us through Greek reporters, were very liable to
exaggeration. This, however, in a poetical description, is a small
matter. What appears to me much worse, and, indeed, the weakest point in
the structure of the whole drama, is that the contrast between the
character and conduct of Darius and that of his son is drawn in colours
much too strong; the fact being that the son, in following the advice of
Mardonius to attack Athens, was only carrying into execution the design
of the father, and making use of his preparations.[f5] All that I
have to say in defence of this misrepresentation is, that the poet wrote
with a glowing patriotic heat what we now contemplate with a cold
historical criticism. The greatest works of the greatest masters can, as
{300} human nature is constituted, seldom be altogether free from
inconsistencies of this kind.

I have only further to add, that I have carefully read what WELCKER
and GRUPPE[f6] have written on the supposed ideal connection
between the four pieces of the tetralogy, among which the Persians
stands second, in the extant Greek argument;[f7] but that, while I
admire exceedingly the learning and ingenuity of these writers, I doubt
much the utility of attempting to restore the palaces of ancient art out
of those few loose bricks which Time has spared us from the once compact
mass. Poetry may be benefited by such speculations; Philology, I rather
fear, has been injured.



  [CHORUS, _entering the Orchestra in procession. March time._

 We are the Persian watchmen old,
 The guardians true of the palace of gold,
 Left to defend the Asian land,
 When the army marched to Hellas' strand;
 Elders chosen by Xerxes the king,
 The son of Darius, to hold the reins,
 Till he the conquering host shall bring
 Back to Susa's sunny plains.
 But the spirit within me is troubled and tossed,
 When I think of the King and the Persian host;
 And my soul, dark-stirred with the prophet's mood,
      Bodes nothing good.
 For the strength of the Asian land went forth,
 And my heart cries out for the young king's worth
 That marshalled them on to the war:[f8]
 Nor herald, nor horseman, nor wandering fame,
 Since then to the towers of the Persian came.
 From Susa and from Ecbatana far,
 And from the Cissian fortress old,[f9]
 Strong in the ordered ranks of war
 Forth they went, the warriors bold;
 Horseman and footman and seaman went,
 A vast and various armament.
 Amistres, Artaphrenes, led the van,
 Megabátes, Astaspes, obeyed the ban;
 Persian leaders, kings from afar
 Followed the great King's call to the war.
 Forth they went with arrow and bow,[n1]
 And in clattering turms with chivalrous show;
 To the eye of the dastard a terrible sight,
    And with constancy mailed for the fight.
 Artembáres in steeds delighting,
 Imaeus the foe with the sure arrow smiting,
 Pharandáces, Masistres, Sosthánes in war
 Who lashes the steed, and drives the car.
 The mighty and many-nurturing Nile
 Sent forth many a swarthy file;
 Susiscánes and Egypt's son
 Pegastágon lead them on.
 Arsámes the mighty, whose word commands
 The strength of the sacred Memphian bands,
 And Ariomardus brave, whose sway
 The sons of Ogygian[f10] Thebes obey.
 And the countless host with sturdy oar
 That plough the lagoons of the slimy shore,[f11]
 And the Lydians march in luxurious pride,
 And the tribes of the continent far and wide
 Whom Arcteus and valiant Metragathes lead,
 Kings that serve the great King's need;
 And the men who fight from the sharp-scythed car,
 Whom golden Sardes[n2] sends to the war;
 Some with two yoke, some with three,
    A terrible sight to see.
 And the sons of sacred Tmolus appear[f12]
 On free-necked Hellas to lay the yoke,
 Mardon and Tharybis, stiff to the spear
 As the anvil is stiff to the hammer's stroke.
 And the men of Mysia skilful to throw
 The well-poised dart,[n3] and they who ride
    On wide Ocean's swelling tide,
 A mingled people with motley show
 From golden Babylon, men who know
 To point the arrow and bend the bow.
 The Asian tribes that wear the sword[n4]
      From far and near
      The summons hear,
 And follow the hest of their mighty Lord.
 All the flower of the Persian youth hath gone,
 And the land that nursed them is left alone
     To pine with love's delay;
 And wives and mothers from day to day,
     Fearing what birth
     The time shall bring forth,
 Fret the long-drawn hours away.


     Proudly the kingly host,
     City-destroying, crossed
     Hence to the neighbouring
       Contrary coast;
     Paving the sea with planks,
     Marched he his serried ranks:
     Hellè's swift-rushing stream,[f13]
     Binding with cord and chain,
       Forging a yoke
     For the neck of the main.

     King of a countless host,
       Asia's warlike boast,
     Shepherd of many sheep,[n5]
       Conquering crossed.
     Trusting to men of might,
     Footman and harnessed knight;
     Son of a golden race,
     Strong both by land and sea,
       Equal to gods,
     Though a mortal was he.

     His eyes like the dragon's dire
     Flashing with dark blue fire,[f14]
       See him appear!
     Through the long lines of war
     Driving the Syrian car,[f15]
     Ares in arrows strong
     Leading against the strong
       Men of the spear!

     When wave upon wave of men
     Breaks through each Grecian glen,
       Whelming the land,
     War like wild Ocean's tide,
     What arm shall turn aside?
     Persia's stout-hearted race,
     Hand to hand, face to face,
       Who shall withstand?

     But, when the gods deceive,[n6]
     Wiles which immortals weave
       Who shall beware?
     Who, when their nets surround,
     Breaks with a nimble bound
       Out of the snare?
     First they approach with smiles,
     Wreathing their hidden wiles:
       Then with surprise,
     Seize they their prey; and lo!
     Writhing in toils of woe
       Tangled he lies.

     Fate hath decreed it so,
     Peace, peace, is not for thee!
     Persia, hear and know,
     War is the lot for thee!
     Spake the supernal powers,
     Charging of steeds shall be,
     Taking of towns and towers,
       Persia, to thee!

     Where the sea, hoar with wrath,
     Roars to the roaring blast,
     Daring a doubtful path,
     Persian hosts have passed;
     Where wave on wave cresting on
     Bristles with angry breath,
     Cable and plank alone
       Part them from death!

     Therefore is my soul within me
     Murky-mantled, pricked with fear:
     Alas! the Persian army! Never
     May such cry invade my ear!
     Susa, emptied of her children,
       Desolate and drear!

   Never may the Cissian fortress
   With such echo split the air;
   Spare mine ears the shrieks of women,
   And mine eyes the sad sight spare,
   When fair hands the costly linen
     From gentle bosoms tear!

   For all our horse with frequent tramp,
   And our footmen from the camp,
   Even as bees on busy wing,
     Swarmed out with the king:
   And they paved their briny way,
   Where beats the many-mingling spray
   The bridge that joins the Thracian strand
       To Asian land.[f16]

   Wives bedew with many a tear
   The couches where the partner dear
   Hath been, and is not; Persian wives
     Fret with desire their lives.
   Far, far, he roams from land to land,
   Her restless lord with lance in hand;
   She in unmated grief to moan
       Is left alone.

 But come, ye Persian elders all,
 Let us seat us beside this ancient hall;
 Wise counsel to-day let us honestly frame,
 Touching the fate of the kingly one,
 Race of our race, and name of our name,
     Darius' godlike son:
 For much it concerns us to know
 Whether the winged shaft shot from the bow,
 Or the strength of the pointed spear hath won.
 But lo! where she comes, a moving light,
 Like the eyes of the god so bright,
 The mother of Xerxes, my queen.
 Let us fall down before her with humble prostration,[n7]
 And greet her to-day with a fair salutation,
 The mother of Xerxes, my queen.
 [_To_ ATOSSA, _entering_.] Mistress of the low-zoned women, queen of
   Persia's daughters, hail!
 Aged mother of King Xerxes, wife of great Darius, hail!
 Spouse of him who was a god, and of a present god the mother,
 If the ancient bliss that crowned it hath not left the Persian host.

   [_Enter_ ATOSSA, _drawn with royal pomp in a chariot._

 Even this hath moved me, leaving these proud golden-garnished halls,
 And the common sleeping chamber of Darius and myself,
 Here to come. Sharp fear within me pricks my heart; I will declare
 All the thoughts that deep perplex me to my friends; the secret fear
 Lest our pride of ramping riches kick our sober weal in the dust,
 Scattering wide what wealth Darius gathered, not without a god.
 Twofold apprehension moves me, when I ponder this old truth;
 Without men much riches profit little; without wealth the state,
 Though in numbers much abounding, may not look on joyous light.
 Riches are a thing not evil; but I tremble for the eye,
 And the eye I call the presence of the master in the house.[f17]
 Ye have heard my sorrows; make me sharer of your counsel now,
 In what matter I shall tell you, ancient, trusty Persian men;
 For with you my whole of wisdom, all my healthy counsels dwell.

 Mistress of this land, believe it, never shalt thou ask a kindness,
 Be it word from us or action, twice, while power shall aid the will;
 We are willing to advise thee in this matter, what we may.


 Since when my son departed with the army,
 To bring destruction on Ionia,[f18] scarcely
 One night hath been that did not bring me dreams;
 But yesternight, with figurement most clear,
 I dreamt; hear thou the theme. Methought I saw
 Two women richly dight, in Persian robes
 The one, the other in a Dorian dress,
 Both tall above the vulgar stature, both
 Of beauty blameless, and descended both
 From the same race. The one on Hellas dwelt,
 The other on fair Asia's continent.
 Between these twain some strife there seemed to rise;
 Which when my son beheld, forthwith he seized them,
 And joined them to his car, and made their necks
 Submissive to the yoke. The one uptowered
 In pride of harness, as rejoiced to follow
 The kingly rein. The other kicked and plunged,
 And tossed the gear away, and broke the traces,
 The yoke in sunder snapt, and from the car
 Ran reinless. On the ground my son was thrown,
 And to his aid Darius pitying came,
 Whom when he saw, my Xerxes rent his robes.
 Such was my vision of the night; the morn
 Brought a new portent with it. When I rose,
 And dipped my hands in the fair-flowing fount,[f8]
 And to the altar of the averting gods,
 To whom such right pertains, with sacred cake
 In sacrificial ministry advanced,
 I saw an eagle flying to the altar[n9]
 Of Phœbus; there all mute with fear I stood;
 And after it in swiftest flight I saw
 A hawk that darted on the eagle's head,
 And tore it with his claws, the royal bird
 Yielding his glory meekly to be plucked.
 These things I saw in fear, as ye in fear
 Must hear them. Ye know well, my son commands
 Supreme in Persia. Should success attend him,
 'Tis well; but should mischance o'ertake him, he
 Will rule in Susa as he ruled before;
 No power is here to whom he owes account.

 We advise thee, mother, neither with the feeble words of fear,
 Nor with boastful courage. Turn thee to the gods in supplication:
 Theirs it is to ward fulfilment of all evil-omened sights,
 Bringing good to full fruition for thyself and for thy children,
 For the city and all that love thee. Then a pure libation pour
 To the Earth and to the Manes; with especial honor pray
 The dread Shade of thy Darius whom thou sawest in the night,
 To send blessings on thy Xerxes in the gladness of the day,
 Keeping back unblissful sorrows in the sightless gloom of death.
 Thus my soul its own diviner[f19] with a friendly kind concern
 Counsels. Doubtless time will perfect happy fates for thee and thine.

 Truly, with a friendly reading thou hast read my mid-night*** dreams,
 Words of strengthening solace speaking to my son and to my house.
 May the gods all blessing perfect. I to them, as thou hast said,
 And the Shades, the well-beloved, will perform befitting rites,
 In the palace; meanwhile tell me this, for I would gladly know
 Where, O friends, is famous Athens on the broad face of the Earth?[n10]

 Far in the west: beside the setting of the lord of light the sun.

 This same Athens, my son Xerxes longed with much desire to take.

 Wisely: for all Greece submissive, when this city falls, will fall.

 Are they many? do they number men enough to meet my son?

 What they number was sufficient once to work the Medes much harm.

 Other strength than numbers have they? wealth enough within themselves?

 They can boast a fount of silver, native treasure to the land.[f20]


 Are they bowmen good? sure-feathered do their pointed arrows fly?

 Not so. Stable spears they carry, massy armature of shields.

 Who is shepherd of this people? lord of the Athenian host?

 Slaves are they to no man living, subject to no earthly name.[n11]

 How can such repel the onset of a strong united host?

 _How_ Darius knew in Hellas, when he lost vast armies there.

 Things of deep concern thou speakest to all mothers in this land.

 Thou shalt know anon exactly more than I can guess, for lo!
 Here comes one--a hasty runner--he should be a Persian man.
 News, I wis, this herald bringeth of deep import, good or bad.

   [_Enter_ MESSENGER.

 O towns and cities of wide Asia,
 O Persian land, wide harbour of much wealth,
 How hath one stroke laid all thy grandeur low,
 One frost nipt all thy bloom! Woe's me that I
 Should be first bearer of bad news! but strong
 Necessity commands to speak the truth.
 Persians, the whole barbaric host hath perished.

    O misery! misery, dark and deep!
     Dole and sorrow and woe!
    Weep, ye Persians! wail and weep,
     For wounds that freshly flow!

 All, all is ruined: not a remnant left.
 Myself, against all hope, see Persia's sun.

    O long, too long, through creeping years
     Hath the life of the old man lasted,
    To see--and nurse his griefs with tears--
     The hopes of Persia blasted!

 I speak no hearsay: what these eyes beheld
 Of blackest evil, Persians, I declare.


    Ah me! all in vain against Hellas divine
    Were the twanging bow and whizzing reed,
    All vainly mustered the thickly clustered
     Armies of the Mede!

 The shores of Salamis, and all around
 With the thick bodies of our dead are peopled.

    Alas! the wreck of the countless host!
    The sundered planks, and the drifted dead,[n12]
    Rocked to and fro, with the ebb and the flow
     On a wavy-wandering bed!

 Vain were our shafts; our mighty multitude
 Vanished before their brazen-beaked attack.

    Sing ye, sing ye a sorrowful song,
     Lift ye, lift ye a piercing cry!
    Our harnessed throng and armies strong
     Lost and ruined utterly!

 O hated name to hear, sad Salamis!
 O Athens, I remember thee with groans.

    O Athens, Athens, thou hast reft us
     Of our all we did possess!
    Sonless mothers thou hast left us,
     Weeping wives and husbandless!

 Thou see'st I have kept silence: this sad stroke
 Hath struck me dumb, as powerless to give voice
 To my own sorrows, as to ask another's.
 Yet when the gods send trouble, mortal men
 Must learn to bear it. Therefore be thou calm;
 Unfold the perfect volume of our woes,
 And, though the memory grieve thee, let us hear
 Thy tale to the end; what loss demands our tears,
 Which of the baton-bearing chiefs[f21] hath left
 An army to march home without a head.

 Xerxes yet lives, and looks on the light.

                                          Much light
 In this to me, and to my house thou speakest,
 A shining day from out a pitchy night.


 Artembares, captain of ten thousand horse,
 Upon the rough Silenian shores[f22] lies dead,
 And Dadaces, the chiliarch, spear-struck fell
 Precipitate from his ship--an easy leap;
 And noble Tenagon, a pure Bactrian born,
 Around the sea-lashed isle of Ajax floats.
 Lilaeus, Arsames, Argestes, these
 The waves have made their battering ram, to beat
 The hard rocks of the turtle-nurturing isle.
 Pharnuchus, Pheresseues, and Adeues,
 And Arcteus from their native Nile-spring far
 Fell from one ship into one grave. Matallus,
 The Chrysian myriontarch, who led to Hellas
 Full thrice ten thousand sable cavalry,
 His thick and bushy beard's long tawny pride
 Hath dyed in purple gore. The Magian Arabus
 The Bactrian Artames on the self-same shore
 Have found no cushioned lodgment.[f23] There Amestris,[n13]
 And there Amphistreus, wielder of the spear,
 And there Metragathes lies, for whom the Sardians
 Weep well-earned tears; and Sersames, the Mysian.
 With them, of five times fifty ships commander,
 Lyrnaean Tharybis, a goodly man,
 Lies hopeless stretched on the unfriendly strand.
 Syennesis, the brave Cilician chief
 Who singly wrought more trouble to the foe
 Than thousands, died with a brave man's report.
 These names I tell thee of the chiefs that fell,
 A few selecting out of many losses.

 Alas! alas! more than enough I hear;
 Shame to the Persians and shrill wails. But say,
 Retracing thy discourse, what was the number
 Of the Greek ships that dared with Persia's fleet
 To engage, and grapple beak to beak.

                                     If number
 Of ships might gain the fight, believe me, queen,
 The victory had been ours. The Greeks could tell
 But ten times thirty ships, with other ten,
 Of most select equipment. Xerxes numbered
 A thousand ships, two hundred sail and seven
 Of rapid wing beside. Of this be assured,
 What might of man could do was done to save us;
 Some god hath ruined us, not weighing justly
 An equal measure. Pallas saves her city.[n14]

 The city? is it safe? does Athens stand?

 It stands without the fence of walls. Men wall it.

 But say, who first commenced the fight--the Greeks
 Or, in his numbers strong, my kingly son.

 Some evil god, or an avenging spirit,[f24]
 Began the fray. From the Athenian fleet
 There came a Greek,[n15] and thus thy son bespoke.
 "Soon as the gloom of night shall fall, the Greeks
 No more will wait, but, rushing to their oars,
 Each man will seek his safety where he may,
 By secret flight." This Xerxes heard, but knew not
 The guile of Greece, nor yet the jealous gods,
 And to his captains straightway gave command
 That, when the sun withdrew his burning beams,
 And darkness filled the temple of the sky,[n16]
 In triple lines their ships they should dispose,
 Each wave-plashed outlet guarding, fencing round
 The isle of Ajax surely. Should the Greeks
 Deceive this guard, or with their ships escape
 In secret flight, each captain with his head
 Should pay for his remissness. These commands
 With lofty heart, thy son gave forth, nor thought
 What harm the gods were weaving. They obeyed.
 Each man prepared his supper, and the sailors
 Bound the lithe oar to its familiar block.
 Then, when the sun his shining glory paled,
 And night swooped down, each master of the oar,
 Each marshaller of arms, embarked; and then
 Line called on line to take its ordered place.
 All night they cruised, and, with a moving belt,
 Prisoned the frith, till day 'gan peep, and still
 No stealthy Greek the expected flight essayed.
 But when at length the snowy-steeded Day
 Burst o'er the main, all beautiful to see,
 First from the Greeks a tuneful shout uprose,
 Well-omened, and, with replication loud,
 Leapt the blithe echo from the rocky shore.
 Fear seized the Persian host, no longer tricked
 By vain opinion; not like wavering flight
 Billowed the solemn pæan of the Greeks,
 But like the shout of men to battle urging,
 With lusty cheer. Then the fierce trumpet's voice
 Blazed[f25] o'er the main; and on the salt sea flood
 Forthwith the oars, with measured plash, descended,
 And all their lines, with dexterous speed displayed,
 Stood with opposing front. The right wing first,
 Then the whole fleet bore down, and straight uprose
 A mighty shout. "SONS OF THE GREEKS, ADVANCE!
 A like salute from our whole line back-rolled
 In Persian speech. Nor more delay, but straight
 Trireme on trireme, brazen beak on beak
 Dashed furious. A Greek ship led on the attack,[f26]
 And from the prow of a Phœnician struck
 The figure-head; and now the grapple closed
 Of each ship with his adverse desperate.
 At first the main line of the Persian fleet
 Stood the harsh shock; but soon their multitude
 Became their ruin; in the narrow frith
 They might not use their strength, and, jammed together,
 Their ships with brazen beaks did bite each other,
 And shattered their own oars. Meanwhile the Greeks
 Stroke after stroke dealt dexterous all around,
 Till our ships showed their keels, and the blue sea
 Was seen no more, with multitude of ships
 And corpses covered. All the shores were strewn,
 And the rough rocks, with dead; till, in the end,
 Each ship in the barbaric host, that yet
 Had oars, in most disordered flight rowed off.
 As men that fish for tunnies, so the Greeks,
 With broken booms, and fragments of the wreck,
 Struck our snared men, and hacked them, that the sea,
 With wail and moaning, was possessed around,
 Till black-eyed Night shot darkness o'er the fray.[f27]
 These ills thou hearest: to rehearse the whole,
 Ten days were few; but this, my queen, believe,
 No day yet shone on Earth whose brightness looked
 On such a tale of death.


                          A sea of woes
 On Persia bursts, and all the Persian name!

 Thou hast not heard the half: another woe
 Remains, that twice outweighs what I have told.

 What worse than this? Say what mischance so strong
 To hurt us more, being already ruined?

 The bloom of all the Persian youth, in spirit
 The bravest, and in birth the noblest, princes
 In whom thy son placed his especial trust,
 All by a most inglorious doom have perished.

 O wretched me, that I should live to hear it!
 But by what death did Persia's princes die?

 There is an islet, fronting Salamis,
 To ships unfriendly, of dance-loving Pan[n17]
 The chosen haunt, and near the Attic coast.
 Here Xerxes placed his chiefest men, that when
 The routed Greeks should seek this strand, our troops
 Might both aid friends, where friends their aid required,
 And kill the scattered Greeks, an easy prey;
 Ill-auguring what should hap! for when the gods
 Gave to the Greeks the glory of the day,[f28]
 Straightway well-cased in mail from their triremes
 They leapt, rushed on the isle, and hedged it round,
 That neither right nor left our men might turn,
 But fell in heaps, some struck by rattling stones,
 Some pierced by arrows from the twanging bow.
 Then, in one onslaught fiercely massed, the Greeks
 Our fenceless chiefs in slashing butchery
 Mowed down, till not one breath remained to groan.
 But Xerxes groaned: for from a height that rose
 From the sea-shore conspicuous,[f29] with clear view
 He mustered the black fortune of the fight.
 His stole he rent, and lifting a shrill wail
 Gave the poor remnant of his host command
 To flee; and fled with them. Lament with me,
 This second sorrow heaped upon the first.

 O dismal god! how has thy hate deceived
 The mind of the Mede! A bitter vengeance truly
 Hath famous Athens wreaked on my poor son,
 To all the dead that fell at Marathon
 Adding this slaughter!--O my son! my son!
 Thyself hast paid the penalty that thou
 Went to inflict on others!--But let me hear
 Where hast thou left the few ships that escaped?

 The remnant of the fleet with full sail sped
 Swift in disordered flight from Salamis.
 The wreck of the army through Bœotia trailed
 Its sickly line: there some of thirst fell dead
 Even in the water's view; some with fatigue
 Panting toiled on through Phocian land, and Doris,
 And passed the Melian gulf, where through the plain
 Spercheius rolls his fructifying flood.
 Then faint and famished the Achaean land
 Received us, and fair Thessaly's city; there
 The most of hunger died and thirst; for with
 This double plague we struggled. Next Magnesia
 And Macedonian ground we traversed; then
 The stream of Axius, reedy Bolbe's mere,
 The Edonian fields, and the Pangaean hills.
 But here some god[f30] stirred winter premature,
 And in the night froze Strymon's holy stream.
 Then men who never worshipped gods before
 Called on the heavens and on the Earth to save them,
 With many prayers, in vain. A few escaped,
 What few had crossed the ice-compacted flood
 Ere the strong god of light shot forth his rays.
 For soon the lustrous orb of day shone out
 With blazing beams, unbound the stream, and oped
 Inevitable fate beneath them: then
 Man upon man in crowded ruin fell,
 And he was happiest who the soonest died.
 We who survived, a miserable wreck,
 Struggled through Thrace slowly with much hard toil,[n18]
 And stand again on Persian ground, and see
 Our native hearths. Much cause the city has
 To weep the loss of her selectest youth.
 These words are true: much I omit to tell
 Of all the woes a god hath smote withal
 Our Persian land.

                  O sorely-vexing god,
 How hast thou trampled 'neath no gentle foot
 The Persian race!


                   Woe's me! the army's lost.
 O dreamy shapes night wandering, too clearly
 Your prophecy spoke truth! But you, good Seniors,
 Sorry expounders though ye be, in one thing
 I will obey. I will go pray the gods,
 As ye advised; then gifts I will present
 To Earth and to the Manes. I will offer,
 The sacred cake to appease them. For the past,
 'Tis past beyond all change; but hope may be
 To make the gods propitious for the future.
 Meanwhile your counsel in this need I crave;
 A faithful man is mighty in mischance.
 My son, if he shall come ere I return,
 Cheer him with friendly words, and see him safe,
 Lest to this ill some worser woe be added. [_Exit._

   O Jove, king Jove destroyed hast thou
   Our high-vaunting countless hosts!
   Our high-vaunting countless hosts
       Where be they now?
   Susa's glory, Ecbatana's pride,
   In murky sorrow thou didst hide,
   And with delicate hands the virgins fair
       Their white veils tear,
   And salt streams flow from bright fountains of woe,
       And rain on the bosoms of snow.
   They whose love was fresh and young,
   Where are now their husbands strong?
   The soft delights of the nuptial bed
       With purple spread,
       Where, where be they?
   They have lost the joy of their jocund years,
   And they weep with insatiate tears:
   And I will reply with my heart's strong cry,
       And lift the doleful lay.

   Asia from each furthest corner
   Weeps her woes, a sonless mourner;
   Xerxes a wild chase pursuing,
   Xerxes led thee to thy ruin;
   Xerxes, luckless fancies wooing,
   Trimmed vain fleets for thy undoing.
   Not like him the old Darius
   Shattered thus from Hellas came;
   Rightly he is honoured by us,
   Susa's bowman without blame.

   Dark-prowed ships that plough wide ocean
   With well-poised wings through waves' commotion,
   Ships, the countless crews that carried,
   In briny death ye saw them buried,
   Where the Ionian beaks were dashing,
   Where the Persian booms were crashing!
   And our monarch scarcely scaping,
   Left with life the deathful fray,
   Through the plains of Thracia shaping
   Sad his bleak and wintry way.

   But the firstlings of our losses
   The Ionian billow tosses,
   And Cychréan waves are hurried,
   O'er the stranded dead unburied.
   Let the sharp grief bite thy marrow,
   With thy wailing smite the sky!
   Freely voice thy heaving sorrow,
   With a weighty burden cry!

   Woe's me! by the wild waves driven,
   By the mute sea-monsters riven,[n19]
   The untainted ocean's creatures
   Battening on their traceless features!
   Heirless homes are lorn and lonely,
   Childless parents weep and wail,
   Old men weep; with weeping only
   They receive the woeful tale.

   Ah me! even now while we are mourning
   Some rebel hearts belike are spurning
   The Persian rule; some serf refuses
   The gold due to his master's uses.
   And some are slow with reverence low
     To kiss the ground and adore,
   For the power that long was fresh and strong
       Is found no more.


   The tongues of men, free from wise reining,
   Will now break forth with loud complaining;
   Unmuzzled now, unyoked, the rabble
   Will blaze abroad licentious babble.
   For the blood-drenched soil of the sea-swept isle
     Its prey restoreth never.
   And the thing that hath been henceforth shall be seen
       No more for ever.

   [_Enter_ ATOSSA.

 Good friends, whoso hath knowledge of mishap,
 Knows this, that men, when swelling ills surge o'er them,
 Brood o'er the harm till all things catch the hue
 Of apprehension; but, when Fortune's stream
 Runs smooth, the same, with confidence elate,
 Hope the boon god will blow fair breezes ever.
 Thus to my soul all things are full of fear,
 The adverse gods from all sides strike my eye,
 And in my ear, with ominous-ringing peal,
 Fate prophesies. Such terror scares my wits.
 No royal car to-day, no queenly pomp
 Is mine; the broidered stole would ill become
 My present mission, bringing as thou see'st,
 These simple offerings to appease the Shades;
 From the chaste cow, this white and healthful milk,
 This clearest juice, by the flower-working bee
 Distilled, this pure wave from the virgin spring,
 This draught of joyaunce from the unmingled grape,
 Of a wild mother born; this fragrant fruit
 Of the pale green olive, ever leafy-fair,[n20]
 And these wreathed flowers, of all-producing Earth
 Fair children. But, my dear lov'd friends, I pray you,
 With pious supplication, now invoke,
 The god Darius[n21] while on the earth I pour
 These pure libations to the honour'd dead.

   O queen, much-revered of the Persian nation,
   To the chambers below pour thou the libation,
   While we shall uplift the holy hymn,
   That the gods who reign in the regions dim,
   May graciously hear when we pray.
   O holy powers that darkly sway
       In the subterranean night,
   O Earth, and Hermes, and thou who art king
   Of the Shades that float on bodiless wing,
   Send, O send him back to the light!
   For, if remedy be to our burden of woes,
      He surely knows.

   And dost thou hear me, blessed Shade, imploring
    Thy aid divine, and freely pouring
       Of plaintive grief
       The various flow?
   I will cry out, till Persia's godlike chief
       Shall hear below.

   O Earth, and ye that rule the shadowy homes,
    Send from your sunless domes
       The mighty god
       Of Susan birth,
   Than whom no greater yet was pressed by the sod
       Of Persian earth.

   O dear-loved man! dear tomb! and dearer dust
       That in thee lies!
    O Aïdóneus, thy charge release,[n22]
    O stern Aïdóneus, and, in peace,
       Let king Darius rise!

   He was a king no myriads vast he lost
       In wars inglorious.
    Persia, a counsellor was he,
    A counsellor of god to thee,
       He with his hosts victorious.

   Come, dread lord![n23] Appear! Appear!
   O'er the sepulchre's topmost tier;
   The disc of thy regal tiara showing,[n24]
   With thy sandals saffron-glowing,
   Come, good father Darius, come!


   Fresh and unstaunched woes to hear,
   Lord of a mighty lord appear!
   For the clouds of Stygian night o'ercome us,
   And all our youth are perished from us,
   Come, good father Darius, come!

    O woe! and woe! and yet again
    Woe, and misery, and pain!
    Why should'st thou die, and leave the land
    Thou master of the mighty hand?
    Why should thy son with foolish venture
    Shake thy sure Empire to its centre?[n25]
      And why must we deplore
   The countless triremes on the sea-swept shore
      Triremes no more?[n26]

   [_The Shade of_ DARIUS _rises from the Tomb._

 O faithfullest of my faithful friends, compeers
 Of my fair youth, elders of Persia, say
 With what sore labour labours now the state?
 Pierced is the Earth, and rent with sounds of woe!
 And I my spouse beholding near the tomb
 Am troubled, and her offerings I receive
 Propitious. Ye with her this cry have raised
 Of shrill lament to bring the dead from Hades,
 No easy climb; the gods beneath the ground
 Are readier to receive than to dismiss;[f31]
 But I was lord above them. I am come
 To meet your questioning. Ask, while yet the time
 Chides not my stay. What ill weighs Persia down?

    I cannot speak before thee;
    I tremble to behold thee;
    The ancient awe subdues me.

 Not to hold a long discourse, but swift to grant a short reply,
 I have left the homes of Hades, by your waitings deeply moved.
 What thou hast to ask me, therefore ask, and throw all fear aside.


    I tremble to obey thee.
    Such sorrows to unfold thee,
    My powerless lips refuse me.

 Since the ancient reverence holds thee, and enchains thy mind, to thee
 I will speak, the aged partner of my bed, my high-born spouse.
 Cease thy weepings and thy waitings; tell me what mischance hath hapt.
 'Tis most human that mischances come to mortal man, not few
 Woes by seas, not few by land, if the Fates prolong his span.

 O all men in bliss surpassing while thine eyes beheld the day,
 Of all Persians envied, living like a god on earth, no less
 Happy wert thou in thy dying, ere thou didst behold the depth
 Of this present woe, Darius. Thou, in short phrase shalt hear all.
 Persia's strength is gone: the army lost: all ruined. I have said.

 How? Did pestilence smite the city, or did foul sedition rise?

 Neither. Near far Athens routed was the Persian host.

                                                      Who marched?
 Which of my children marched the host to Athens?

                                                 Thy impetuous son
 Xerxes. Xerxes of her children drained wide Asia's plains.

                                                           On foot,
 Or with triremes did he risk this foolish venture?

                                                   With two fronts,
 One by sea, by land the other.

                               But so vast an army how?

 With rare bonds of wood and iron, Helle's streaming frith they crossed.

 Wood and iron! Could these fetter billowy Bosphorus in his flow?

 So it was. Some god had lent him wit to plan his own perdition.

 Alas! a mighty god full surely robbed him of his sober mind.


 And the fruit of his great folly we behold in matchless woes.

 I have heard your wailings: tell me more exact the dismal chance.

 First the whole sea host being ruined brought like ruin on the foot.

 By the hostile spear of Hellas they have perished one and all?

 Ay. The citadel of Susa, emptied of her children, moans.

 Alas! the faithful army!

                         All the flower of Bactria's youth are slain.

 Woe, my hapless son! What myriads of our faithful friends he ruined!

 Xerxes, stripped of all his glory, with a straggling few they say--

 What of him? Speak! Speak! I pray thee; is there safety, is there hope?

 Fainly comes, with life scarce rescued, to the bridge that links the

 And has crossed to Asia?

                         Even so, most surely, ran the news.

 Ah! on wings how swift the issue of the ancient doom hath sped!
 Thee, my son, great Jove hath smitten. Long-drawn years I hoped would
 Ere fulfilment of the dread prophetic burden should be known.
 But when man to run is eager, swift is the god to add a spur.[n27]
 Opened flows a fount of sorrow to ourselves and to our friends.
 This my son knew not: he acted with green youth's presumptuous daring,
 Weening Helle's sacred current, Bosphorus' flood divine to bind
 Like a slave with hammered fetters, damming its unconquered tide,
 Forcing passage against Nature for a host unwisely great.
 Being mortal with immortals, with Poseidon's power he dared
 To contend fool-hardy. Did not strong distemper hold the soul
 Of my hapless son? The riches stored by me with mickle care
 Now, I fear, will be the booty of the swiftest-seizing hand.

 Converse with the sons of folly taught thy eager son to err,[n28]
 Thou wert great they said, and mighty, winning riches with thy spear,
 He, unmanly, chamber-fighting, adding nothing to thy store.
 With these taunts the ears assailing of thy warlike son, bad men
 Planned at length the march to Hellas--planned his ruin and our woe.

 And, doing this, my son hath done a deed
 Whose heavy memory shall not die. For never
 Fell such mischance on Susa's halls, since when
 Jove gave his honor that one sceptre sways
 Sheep-pasturing Asia. First the Mede was King
 Of the vast host of people.[n29] Him his son
 Succeeded, ending well things well begun;
 For wisdom still was rudder to his valour.
 Cyrus, the third from him, a prosperous man,
 Brought peace to all his friends. The Lydian people,
 The Phrygians, the Ionians, he subdued:
 With him no god was wroth; for he was wise.
 The fourth was Cyrus' son: he was a leader
 Of mighty hosts. Him, the fifth, Mardus followed,
 A blot to Persia, and the ancestral throne;
 Whom in the palace slew Artaphrenes,
 Sworn, with a chosen band of faithful friends,
 To give him secret riddance. Maraphis next,
 And seventh Artaphrenes: myself
 Then won the lot I coveted. I marched
 My hosts to many wars, but never brought
 Mishap like this on Susa. My son, Xerxes,
 Being young hath young conceits; and takes no note
 Of my advisement. Ye, who were my friends,
 And fellows in the government, can witness,
 We suffered loss, but we preserved the state.

 Liege lord Darius, to what issue tend
 Thy words? With greedy ears we wait to hear
 How Persia henceforth may her strength repair.

 Learn from your loss, and never march your armies
 Again to Hellas, were they twice as strong.
 Not man alone, the land fights for the foe.


 How mean'st thou this? how fights the land for them?

 Our mighty multitudes their barren coast
 Kills by sheer famine.

                       But with a moderate host?

 A moderate host remains; but, of that few,
 Few shall see Persian land.

                            How? Shall the army
 Not all from Europe cross by Helle's frith?

 Few out of many; if the prophecies,
 That are in part fulfilled by what we see,
 (And the gods lie not) speak the future true.
 It is an empty hope that bids him leave
 A select force behind him: they remain,
 Where with fat streams Asopus feeds the plain,
 Themselves to feed it fatter: in Bœotia
 Much woe awaits them justly, the fair price
 Of their own godless pride, that did not fear
 When first they entered Greece, to rob the altars
 Of the eternal gods, to fire their temples,
 Uproot the old foundations of their shrines,
 And from their basements in commingled wreck
 Dash down the images. Much harm they worked,
 And much shall suffer. From no shallow bed
 Their woes shall flow, but like a spring gush forth,
 Still fresh enforced. With such gore-streaming death
 The Dorian spear shall daub Plataea's soil;
 And the piled dead to generations three
 Speak this mute wisdom to the thoughtful eye--
 A haughty spirit[f32] blossoming bears a crop
 Of woe, and reaps a harvest of despair.
 Look on these things, pride's just avengement; think
 On Athens and on Hellas; fear to slight
 The present bounty of the gods, lest they
 Rob you of much, while greed still gapes for more.
 Jove is chastiser of high-vaunting thoughts,
 And heavily falls his judgment on the proud;
 Therefore, my foolish son, when he shall come,
 With friendly warnings teach, that he may cease
 From rash imaginings that offend the gods.
 And thou, his aged mother, go within,
 And bring a seemly robe with thee, to meet
 Thy son withal: for thou shalt see him soon,
 His broidered vestments torn in many a shred,
 Griefs blazonry. Thou only with kind words
 Canst soothe his sorrow, deaf to all beside.
 But now I go hence to the gloom below.
 Ye aged friends, farewell. Though ills surround,
 Yet give your souls to joyaunce, while ye may,
 For riches profit nothing to the dead.

   [_The Shade of_ DARIUS _descends._

 O many woes, both present and to come,
 On the barbaric race I weep to hear!

 O god, how many sorrows hast thou sent
 To weigh me down: but this doth gnaw my heart,
 That I should live to see my kingly son
 Come in griefs tattered weeds to Susa's halls;
 But I will go and bring a seemly robe
 To meet him, if I may. I will not leave
 My dear-loved son unsolaced in his woe.
                       [_Exit into the palace._

  O glorious and great was the Persian land!
  To the cities of Susa that owned his command
      How blest was the day!
  Defeat came not nigh us when good old Darius
  With invincible, godlike, victorious hand
      Held fortunate sway.

  Sure-fenced were his cities with law, and no fear
  The Persian knew when his armies were near;
      They came from the fight,
  Not weary and worn, and of glory shorn,
  But trophied with spoils, and with costliest gear
      All proudly bedight.

      What cities of splendour
      To him did surrender,
  Though he crossed not the border that Halys prescribes
      To the Median tribes!
      From Susa far
      Thrace feared his war,
  And the islanded cities of Strymon the river
  Cowered at the clang of his sounding quiver.

      And cities of power,
      Girt with wall and with tower,
  Far inland away from the frith and the bay,
      Rejoiced in his sway;
      The proud roofs that gleam
      O'er Helle's broad stream,
  That fringe Propontis' bosomed shores,
  And where the mouth of hoarse Pontus roars.

  And the sea-swept isles that like sentinels stand
  Breasting the ports of the Asian land,
  Lesbos and Chios, with bright wine glowing,
  And Samos, where groves of green olive are growing,
  Myconos, Paros, and Naxos together,
  Studding the main like brother with brother,
  And Andros that neighbourly lies in the sea,
      Tenos to thee.

  And Lemnos that looks with a doubtful face
  Half to Asia, half to Thrace,
  And where Daedalean Icarus fell,
  And Rhodes and Cnidos of him can tell,
  And the cities of Cyprus great and small,
  Paphos and Soli obeyed his call,
  And the mother whose name the daughter borrows,
      That caused our sorrows.[f33]

  And the towns of the Greeks, well peopled and wealthy,
  He swayed with counsels wise and healthy;
  And the mustered strength of the East stood by us,
      A harnessed array,
      Many-mingled were they,
  Made one at the call of the mighty Darius.
    But now the tide hath turned indeed,
    The gods have worked our woe,
      By the spear, and the glaive,
      And the fierce-lashing wave
    Low lies the might of the Mede!


   [_Enter_ XERXES.

 Ah wretched me! even so, even so;
 Suddenly, suddenly came the blow,
 And strong was the rod of the merciless god
   That struck the Persian low!
   Ah me! Ah me!
 My knees beneath me shake, to see
 These seniors reverend and grey,
 Gathered to meet me on such a day.
 O would that I had been fated to die
 With the brave where destiny found them,
 When they stained with gore the stranger's shore,
 And the darkness of death came round them!

 O king of the goodly army, for thee
 We weep, and the princes that went with thee,
 Of Persian nobles the glory and crown,
 Whom a god with his scythe mowed down!
 For the halls of Hades, dark and wide,
 Xerxes hath plenished with Persia's pride,
   And the land laments her sons.
 Hundreds have trodden the path of gloom,
 Thousands of Asia's choicest bloom;
 Tens of thousands, that wielded the bow,
 Are gone to the chambers of death below.
 Ah me! ah me! these strong-limbed men,
 Where be they now that were lusty then?
 All Asia mourns, O King, with thee,
   And bends the feeble knee.

   [_Here commences, with mournful Oriental music, and with violent
   gesticulations, a great National Wail over the misfortunes of the
   Persian people._

 I am the man! I am the man!
 The father of shame! the fount of disgrace!
 Weep me! weep me! once a king,
 Now to my country an evil thing,
    A curse to my race!

     To meet thy returning,
     A voice of deep mourning,
     A tune evil-aboding,
     A cry spirit-goading,
     Of a Maryandine wailer,[n30]
     Thou shalt hear, thou shalt hear,
     O King, with many a tear!

 Lift ye, lift ye, the piercing cry!
 Tune ye, tune ye, the doleful lay!
 For the ancient god of the Persian race,
 That bless'd our fathers, hath turned his face
    From Xerxes away!

     A cry spirit-piercing,
     The dark tale rehearsing,
     Of ocean red-heaving,
     The slaughtered receiving,
     The cry of a city that wails for her children
     Thou shalt hear, thou shalt hear,
     O King, with many a tear!

    Ares was strong on the side of the foe,
      The Ionian foe!
    Bristling with ships he worked our woe.
      His scythe did mow,
      The sea, the land,
      And laid us low
      On the dismal strand.

    Lift, O lift, the earnest cry!
    Ask, and he will make reply.

    Where is all thy troop of friends,
     That marched with thee away, away?
    Where is the might of Pharandaces,
     Susas and Pelagon, where be they?
    Where is Datamas, where Agdabatus,
     Psammis, and Susiscánes, say?
    All that marched from Ecbatana's halls,
     Where be they? where be they?

    From a Tyrian ship they leapt on shore,
       To leap no more.
    On the shore of Salamis drenched in gore,
       The stony shore,
      They made their bed,
       To rise no more,
      The dead! the dead!


    Lift, O lift the earnest cry,
    Ask, and he will make reply!

    Ah! say, where is Pharnúchus, where?
    Cariomardus, where is he?
    Where the chief Seualces, where
    Aelæus of noble degree?
    Memphis, Tharybis, and Masistris,
    Hystæchmas, and Artembares, say?
    All the brave that journeyed to Hellas,
    Where be they? where be they?

   Ah me! ah me!
   They looked on Ogygian Athens,[f34] and straight
   With one fell swoop down came the Fate,
   And we left them there with gasp and groan,
   On the shore of the stranger strewn.

   Didst thou leave him there to lie,
   Batanóchus' son, thy faithful eye?[f35]
   Him didst thou leave on Salamis' shores
   Who counted thy thousands by tens and by scores
   The strong Oebáres and Parthus, were they
   Left to be lashed by the hostile spray?
   The Persian princes--woe! woe! woe!
   Hast thou left to the flood and the foe?

   Ah me! ah me!
   Balefully, balefully with sharp sorrow,
   Thou dost pierce my inmost marrow;
   My heart, my heart cries out to hear thee
   Name the lost friends I loved so dearly!

    One other name compels my grief,
    Xanthus, of Mardian men the chief;
    Ancháres the warlike, and lords of the steed
    Diaexis, Arsáces that ride with speed?
    Lythimnas, Kygdabatas, where be they,
    And Tolmos eager for the fray?
    Not, I wis, where they wont to be,
    Behind the tented car with thee.

 They are gone, the generals, gone for ever!


 Lost, and to be heard of never!

                                Woe worth the day!

    Ye gods! on a public place of woe
      Ye set us high;
    And Até on the sorrowful show
      Doth feast her eye.

 We are stricken, beyond redemption stricken!

 Stricken of Heaven! with vengeance stricken!

 And sore dismay!

    On an evil day we joined the fray,
      With the brave Greek name;
    From Ionian ships a sheer eclipse
      On Persia came.

 With such an army, struck so dire a blow!

 So great a power, the Persian power, laid low!

 These rags, the rest of all my state, behold!

 Ay! we behold.

 This arrow-case thou see'st, this quiver alone--

 What say'st thou? this alone?

 This arrow-case my all.

 From store how great, remnant how small!

 With no friends near, abandoned sheer.

 The Ionian people shrinks not from the spear.

 They face it well. I saw the deadly fight.

 The sea-encounter saw'st thou, and the flight?

 Ay! and beholding it I tore my stole.

 O dole! O dole!

 More dolorous than dole! and worse than worst!

 O doubly, trebly curst!

 To us annoy, to Athens joy!

 Our sinews lamed, our vigour maimed!

 Unministered and unattended!

 Alas! thy friends on Salamis were stranded!

    Weep, and while the salt tears flow,
    To the palace let us go!

    We weep, and, while the salt tears flow,
    To the palace with thee go.


 Ring the peal both loud and shrill!

 An ill addition is ill to ill.

 Swell the echo!--high and higher
 Lift the wail to my desire!

 With echoing sorrow, high and higher,
 We lift the wail to thy desire.

 Heavy came the blow, and stunning.

 From my eyes the tears are running.

 Lift thine arms and sink them low,
 Oaring with the oars of woe![n32]

 Our arms we lift, dark woes deploring,
 With the oars of sorrow oaring.

 Ring the peal both loud and shrill!

 Grief to grief, and ill to ill.

 With shrill melody, high and higher,
 Lift the wail to my desire!

 With thrilling melody, high and higher,
 We lift the wail to thy desire.

 Mingle, mingle sigh with sigh!

 Wail for wail, and cry for cry.

 Beat your breasts; let sorrow surge,
 Like a Mysian wailer's dirge!

 Even as a dirge; a Mysian dirge.

 From thy chin the honor tear,
 Pluck thy beard of snowy hair![f36]

 We tear, we tear, the snowy hair.

 Lift again the thrilling strain!

 Again, again, ascends the strain.

 From thy breast the white robe tear,
 Make thy wounded bosom bare!

 The purfled linen, lo! I tear.

 Pluck the honor from thy head,
 Weep in baldness for the dead!

 I pluck my locks, and weep the dead.

 Weep, weep! till thine eyes be dim!

 With streaming woe, they swim, they swim


 Ring the peal both loud and shrill!

 Grief to grief, and ill to ill!

 Go to the palace: go in sadness!

 I tread the ground sure not with gladness.

 Let sorrow echo through the city!

 From street to street the wailing ditty.

 Sons of Susa, with delicate feet,[n33]
 Gently, gently tread the street!

 Gently we tread the grief-sown soil.

 The ships, the ships by Ajax isle,
 The triremes worked our ruin sheer.

 Go. Thy convoy be a tear. [_Exeunt._

[The End]





 Note 1 (p. 43).
 "High on the Atridan's battlements."

DUNBAR, SEWELL, and CONNINGTON plead strongly for translating
ἄγκαθεν here as in Eumen. v. 80, thus--

            "As I lie propped on my arm
  Upon the Atridan housetop, like a dog."

But this idea has always appeared to be more like the curious conceit of
an ingenious philologist, than the natural conception of a great poet.
Supposing the original reading to have been ἀνέκαθεν, the mere accidental
lengthening of the leg of the ν by a hurried transcriber, would give the
word the appearance of γ to a careless scrutinizer; and that this blunder
was actually made the metre proves in Eumen. 361, in which passage,
whatever SEW. may ingeniously force into it, the meaning _from above_
is that which is most in harmony with the context. Besides, in such
matters, I am conservative enough to have a certain respect for tradition.

 Note 2 (p. 43).
 "The masculine-minded who is sovereign here."

"ἀνδρόβουλον seems to be used here ambiguously, and to be the first hint
of lurking mischief. The gradual development of the coming evil from
these casual hints is one of the chief dramatic beauties of the

 Note 3 (p. 43).
 ". . . and lift high-voiced
 The jubilant shout."

I have strongly rendered the strong term, ἐπορθιάζειν, which would
necessarily suggest to the Greek the high-keyed notes of the νόμος ὄρθιος
mentioned by Herod I. 22, as sung by Arion to the sailors. I think,
however, it is going beyond the mark to say, with SYMMONS, "With loud
acclaim, and Orthian minstrelsy," retaining the word ὄρθιος which is only
suggested, not expressed in the text, and printing it with a capital
letter, as if it were a sort of music as distinct as the Mysian and
Maryandine wailing, mentioned in the Persians. Thus, ὀρθίον κωκυμάτων
φωνή, Soph. Antigone, 1206, means nothing but the voice of shrill wails,
or, as DONALDSON well translates the whole passage,

  "The voice of lamentation treble-toned,
  Peals from the porch of that unhallowed cell."

 Note 4 (p. 43).
 "Thrice six falls to me."

That is, the highest throw in the dice. "The dice (_tessera_, κύβοι), in
games of chance among the ancients, were numbered on all the six sides,
like the dice now in use; and three were used in playing. Hence arose
the proverb, ἤ τρὶς ἓξ ἤ τρεῖς κύβοι, _either three sixes or three aces_,
all or none."--Dr. SMITH's Antiq. Dict. _voce_ TESSERA.

 Note 5 (p. 43).
 "Is laid a seal."

Literally, _a huge ox hath gone_, an expression supposed to be derived
from the figure of an ox, as the symbol of wealth, expressed on an old
coin; in {336} which case, to put the ox on a man's tongue, would be
equivalent to tipping it with silver, that is to say, giving money with
injunction of secrecy. After the expression became proverbial, it might
be used generally to express secrecy without any idea of bribery, which,
as CON. remarks, is quite foreign to this place, and therefore FRANZ
is wrong to translate "_mir verschliesst ein golden Schloss den Mund_."
I follow here, however, HUMBOLDT and SYM. in not introducing the ox
into the text, as it is apt to appear ludicrous; and, besides, the
origin of the expression seems only conjectural.

 Note 6 (p. 44).
 "Sceptred kings by Jove's high grace."

Διόθεν. "ἐκ δε Διός βασιλῆες," says the theogony. Homer also considers
the kingly office as having a divine sanction, and Agamemnon on Earth
represents Jupiter in Heaven.--ILIAD I. 279; II. 197. And there can
be no doubt that the highest authority in a commonwealth, whether regal
or democratic, has a divine sanction, so long as it is exercised within
its own bounds, and according to the laws of natural justice.

 Note 7 (p. 44).
 "O'er the lone paths fitful-wheeling."

I have endeavoured to combine both the meanings of ἐκπατιόις which have
any poetical value; that of SYM. _lonely_, and that of KLAUSEN,
_wandering_, and therefore excessive, which CON. well gives "_with a
wandering grief_." The same beautiful image is used by Shelley in his

 Note 8 (p. 44).
 ". . . The late-chastising Fury."

That the divine vengeance for evil deeds comes not immediately, but
slowly, at a predestined season, is a doctrine as true in Christian
theology as it is familiar to the Heathen dramatists. Therefore,
Tiresias, in the Antigone, prophesies to Creon that "the avenging
spirits of Hades and of Heaven, storing up mischief for a future day
(ὑστεροφθόροι), would punish him for his crimes. But when the sword
of Olympian justice is once drawn, then the execution of the divine
judgment comes swiftly and by a short way, and no mortal can stay it."
As the same Sophocles says--

                       συντέμνουσι γὰρ
  θεῶν ποδώκεις τὸυς κακὸφρονας βλάβαι.
                        ANTIG. V. 1104.

 Note 9 (p. 44).
 ". . . Jove, the high protector
 Of the hospitable laws."

As he is the supreme ruler of the physical, so Jove has a providential
supervision of the moral world, and in this capacity is the special
punisher of those who sin (where human laws are weak to reach), by
treachery or ingratitude, as was the case with Paris. This function of
the Hellenic Supreme Deity is often piously recognized by Homer, as in
Odys. XIV. 283--

  "But he feared the wrath of Jove, lord of the hospitable board,
  Jove who looks from Heaven in anger on the evil deeds of men."

 Note 10 (p. 44).
 "The powers whose altars know no fire."

ἀπύρων ἱερῶν, "fireless holy things." By "tireless" is here meant, so
far as I can see, not to be propitiated by fire, persons to whom all
sacrificial appeals are vain. Whether the Fates or the Furies are meant
there are no means of ascertaining; for both agree with the tone of
feeling, {337} and with the context; and as they are, in fact,
fundamentally the same, as powers that always act in unison (Eumen. 165
and 949), the reader need not much care. It is possible, however, that
the whole passage may bear the translation of "powers wroth for tireless
altars," _i.e._ neglected sacrifices.--So HUMB. and FR. Nor are we
bound to explain what sacrifices, or by whom neglected; for omission of
religious rites, known or unknown, was a cause, always at hand, with the
ancients, to explain any outpouring of divine wrath. BUCKLEY,
following BAMBERGER and DINDORF, considers that the sacrifice of
Iphigenia is alluded to; which is also probable enough. No commentary
can make clear what the poet has purposely left dark.

 Note. 11 (p. 45).
 "The oil that knows no malice."

We see in this passage the religious significancy, as it were, of the
oil used in their sacred rites by the ancients; and we may further
remark, with SEW., that "the oil used in religious rites was of great
value. Compare the directions given in the Scriptures for making that
which was used in the service of the Tabernacle," and, generally--see
Leviticus c. ii. for a description of the various kinds of sacred cakes
made of fine flour and oil used in the sacrificial offerings of the

 Note 12 (p. 45).
 "I'll voice the strain."

I have carefully read all that has been written on this difficult
passage, and conclude that it is better to rest contented with the
natural reference of ἀιὼν to the old age of the singer, indicated by
ἐτι, and the previous tone of the Anapests, than to venture with FR.,
HUM., and LINWOOD, on a reference which I cannot but think is more
far-fetched. The line ἀλκὰν σύμφυτος ἀιων is corrupt, and no rigid
rendering of it ought to be attempted. BUCKLEY in a note almost
disclaims his own version.

 Note 13 (p. 46).
 "The diverse-minded kings."

δυό λήμασι δισσούς. Surely this expression is too distinct and prominent
to be slurred over lightly, as CON. seems inclined to do. I follow my
own feeling of a passage so strongly marked by a peculiar phraseology,
and LINWOOD. It will be observed that, in the Iliad, while Agamemnon
behaves in a high and haughty style to Achilles, Menelaus conducts
himself everywhere, and especially in the case of Antilochus (xxiii.
612), with mildness and moderation, so as justly to allow himself the

  "ὠς ἐμὸς ὀύποτε θυμὸς ῦπερφιάλος κὰι ἀπηνής."

 Note 14 (p. 46).
 "Winged hounds."

"This is one of those extravagances of expression in which the wild
fancy of Æschylus often indulged, and for which he is rallied by
Aristophanes."--HARFORD. I cannot allow this to pass without remark.
No expression could be more appropriate to picture that singular
combination of the celerity of the bird nature, with the ferocity of the
quadruped, which is described here, and in the Prometheus, in the speech
of Mercury. Besides, in the present case the prophetic style would well
excuse the boldness of the phrase, were any excuse required. HARFORD
has put the tame expression, "Eagles," into his text; but Shelley in his
"Prometheus Unbound," had not the least hesitation to adopt the Greek


 Note 15 (p. 47).
 "The fair goddess."

ἁ καλὰ, "the beauteous one,"--SEW. An epithet which CON. was surely
wrong to omit, for it is characteristic. To this MÜLLER has called
attention in his _Prolegomena zu einer wissensch; Mythologie_ (p. 75;
edit. 1825) noting the expressions of Sappho, ἀρίστη καὶ καλλίστη, _the
best and the fairest_, as applied to Artemis, according to the testimony
of Pausanias, I. 29. The prominence given by Æschylus here to that
function of Artemis, by which, as the goddess of beauty, she is
protectress of the wild beasts of the forest, is quite Homeric; as we
may see from these three lines of the Odyssey:--

  "Even as Artemis, dart-rejoicing, o'er the mountains walks sublime,
  O'er the lofty ridge of Taygetus, o'er the Erymanthian steep,
  And with gladsome heart beholds the wild boar and the nimble stag."
                                                       VI. 102.

According to the elemental origin of mythology, this superintendence
naturally arose from the fact, that Artemis was the Moon, and that the
wild beasts go abroad to seek for prey in the night time.

 Note 16 (p. 47).
 "I pray thee, Pæan, may she never send."

In the original Ιήἴον παιᾶνα, a well-known epithet of Apollo, as in the
opening chorus of the Œdipus Tyrannos, Ιήϊέ Δάλιε παιάν, containing an
invocation of the Delphic god, quoted by PEILE. From the practice of
frequently invoking the name of the gods in the public hymns, as in the
modern Litanies, the name of the divine person passed over to the song
that voiced his praises--(Iliad I. 473)--and thence became the
appellation--as in the modern word pæan--for a hymn generally--(Proclus
Chrestom. Gaisford. Hephaest., p. 419)--or at least a hymn of jubilee,
sadness and sorrow of every kind being naturally abhorrent from the
worship of the beneficent sun god (p. 72, above).

 Note 17 (p. 47).
 "Stern-purposed waits the child-avenging wrath."

This passage is obscure in the original, and, no doubt, purposely so,
as became the prophetic style. I do not, therefore, think we are bound,
with SYM., to give the

  Child-avenging wrath

a special and distinctly pronounced reference to Clytemnestra, displeased
with Agamemnon for allowing the sacrifice of Iphigenia--

  "Homeward returning see her go,
  And sit alone in sullen woe;
  While child-avenging anger waits
  Guileful and horrid at the palace gates."

Though I have no doubt she is alluded to among other Furies that haunt
the house of Atreus; and the poet very wisely supplies here a motive. So
WELL., and LIN.; and my version, though free, I hope does nothing
more than express this idea of a retributive wrath brooding through long
years over a doomed family, and ever and anon, when apparently laid,
breaking out with new manifestations--an idea, however, so expressed in
the present passage that, as Dr. Peile says, "No translation can
adequately set it forth."

 Note 18 (p. 47).
 "Jove, or what other name."

After the above sublime introduction follows the Invocation of Jove, as
the supreme over-ruling Deity, who alone, by his infinite power and
wisdom, is able to lead the believing worshipper through the intricacies
of a seemingly {339} perplexed Providence. The passage is one of the
finest in ancient poetry, and deserves to be specially considered by
theological students. The reader will note carefully the reverential awe
with which the Chorus names the god invoked--a feeling quite akin to
that anxiety which takes possession of inexperienced people when they
are called on to address written or spoken words to persons of high
rank. Many instances of this kind are quoted from the ancients by
VICTORIUS, in STANLEY's notes, by SYM., and by PEILE. The most
familiar instance to which I can refer the general reader is in the
second chapter of Livy's first book:--

  "Situs est Æneas, quemcumque eum dici jus fasque est, super Numicium
  flumen. Jovem indigetem appellant."

If in so obvious a matter a profound mythologist like Welcker--(Tril.,
p. 104)--should have found in this language of deepest reverence signs
of free-thinking and irony, we have only another instance of the
tyrannous power of a favourite idea to draw facts from their natural
cohesion, that they may circle round the nucleus of an artificial
crystallization. Sewell has also taken up the same idea with regard to
the scepticism of this passage; and in him, no less, must we attribute
this notion to the influence of a general theory with regard to the
religious opinions of Æschylus, rather than to any criticism which the
present passage could possibly warrant.

 Note 19 (p. 47).
 "With all-defiant valour brimming o'er."

A very literal rendering of the short, but significant, original παμμαχῳ
θρὰσει βρύων, on which SYM. remarks that "it presents the magnificent
and, to us, incongruous image of a giant all-steeled for battle, and
bearing his boldness like a tree bearing its blossoms." But there is no
reason that I know for confining βρύω here to its special use in Iliad
XVII. 56 (Βρύει ἂυθ(ε)ι λευκῳ) and other such passages. It rather
suggests generally, as SEW. says, "ideas of violence, exuberance, and
uproar," like βρυάζων in Suppl. 856. He has accordingly given

  "With all-defying spirit, like a boiling torrent roaring,"

from which I have borrowed one word, with a slight alteration, but
consider myself safer in not tying down the general word βρύων, to the
special case of a _torrent_ any more than of a _tree_. The recent
Germans--"_Im Gefühle stolzer Kraft_" (FR.), and "_allbewährteu
Trotzes hehr_"--are miserably tame after Humboldt's admirable
"_strotzend kampfbegierig frech._" As to the meaning of the passage, the
three celestial dynasties of Uranus, Saturn, and Jove are plainly
indicated, though who first threw this light on a passage certainly
obscure, I cannot say. So far as I can see, it was SCHUTZ. The
Scholiast (A in BUTLER) talks of the Titans and Typhon, which is, at
all events, on the right scent. Neither ABRESCH nor STAN. seem to
have understood the passage; and POTTER, disdaining to take a hint
from the old Scholiast, generalises away about humanity.

 Note 20 (p. 48).
 "Our hearts with gracious force."

The βιαίως certainly refers to the χάρις, and not to the ημένων, with
the diluted sense of _pollenter_ given it by WELL.; and in this view
I have no objection, with BLOMFIELD and CON., to read βίαιος. I am
not, however, so sure as CON. that the common reading is wrong.
βιαίως may be an abrupt imperfectly enunciated expression (and there
are not a few such in Æschylus) for _exercising_ or _using compulsion_.
Poets are not always the most accurate of grammarians.


 Note 21 (p. 48).
 "In Aulis tides hoarse refluent."

The harbour of Aulis, opposite Euboea the district still called
_Ulike_--(Wordsworth's Athens and Attica, c. I.). In narrow passages of
the sea, as at Corryvreckan, on the west coast of Scotland, there are
apt to be strong eddies and currents; and this is specially noted of the
channel between Aulis and Chalcis, by Livy (XXVIII. 6. _haud facile alia
infestior classi statio est_) and other passages adduced by BUT. in

 Note 22 (p. 49).
 "Is the gods' right. So be it."

I am unable to see how the translation of this passage, given by SYM.
agrees with the context and with the spirit of Agamemnon's conduct, and
the view of it taken by the poet. SYM. says--

  "They're not her parents; they may call aloud
  For the dire rite to smoothe the stormy flood
  All fierce and thirsty for a virgin's blood."

And DROYSEN, though more literally, says the same thing--"_Dass sie
das windstillende Sühnopfer, das jungfraüliche Blut heischen und
schreien, ist es denn recht? Nein, sieg das Gute!_" and Fr. also takes
θέμις out of Agamemnon's mouth, and gives it to the Greeks.
"_Finden sie recht. Zum Heil sey's!_" Perhaps the reason for preferring
this version with the Germans lies in giving too great a force and
prominence to the μετέγνω in the following strophe. But this may
refer only to the change of a father's instinctive feelings (expressed
by silence only in this ode) to the open resolution of making common
cause with the diviner and the chieftain.

 Note 23 (p. 49).
 ". . . Unblissful blew the gale
 That turned the father's heart."

These words include both the τροπαίαν and the μετέγνω of the original.
I join βρότους or βρότοις with the following clause, the sense being
the same according to either reading. The verb θρασύνει, according to
CON.'s very just reasoning, seems grammatically to require βρότους,
though FR. says, with a reference to Bernhardy, that βρότοις may be
defended. SYM. has given a translation altogether different; though
he admits that the sense given in my version, and in all the modern
versions, is the most obvious one. His objection to connecting βρότους
with the following sentence I do not understand.

 Note 24 (p. 49).
 ". . . consecrate
 His ships for Troy."

προτέλεια ναῶν, _First fruits_, literally, as SEW. has it, will
scarcely do here; "first piation of the wind-bound fleet" of SYM. is
very good. HUMB., DROY., and FR. all use _Weihe_ in different
combinations; a word which seems to suit the present passage very well,
and I have accordingly adopted the corresponding English term.

 Note 25 (p. 49).
 "Where prone and spent she lies."

παντὶ θυμῷ προνωπῆ, literally "_prone with her whole soul;_" "_body and
soul,_" as CON. has it. The words are so arranged that it is
impossible to determine to what παντὶ θυμῳ refers, whether to the
general action λαβεῖν, or to the special position προνωπῆ. Sewell's
remark that "there is far more intensity of thought in applying παντὶ
θυμῷ to λαβεῖν," may be turned the other way. The phrase certainly must
give additional intensity to whichever {341} word it is joined with. The
act itself is sufficiently cruel, without adding any needless traits of

 Note 26 (p. 49).
 ". . . her saffron robe
 Sweeping the ground."

κρόκου βαφὰς εις πέδον χέουσα; "dropping her saffron veil," says SYM.;
perhaps rightly, but I see no ground for certainty. The application of
κρόκου βαφὰς to the drops of blood seems a modern idea, which has
proceeded from some critic who had not poetry enough to understand the
application of χέουσα to anything but a liquid. Except in peculiar
circumstances, the word κρόκος, as CON. justly observes (see note 73
below), cannot be applied to the blood; and, in the present passage, it
is plain the final work of the knife is left purposely undescribed.

 Note 27 (p. 49).
 "The virgin strain they heard."

I cannot sufficiently express my astonishment that HUMB., DROY., and
FR., as if it were a point of Germanism, have all conspired to wrench
the ἐτίμα out of its natural connection in this beautiful passage, and
to apply the whole concluding clause to the self-devotion of Iphigenia
at the altar, rather than to her dutiful obedience at the festal scene
just described. The fine poetical feeling of SYM. protested against
this piece of tastelessness. "These commentators," says he, "seem to
have been ignorant of the poet's intention, who raises interest, pity,
and honor to the height, by presenting Iphigenia at the altar, and
unveiling herself preparatory to her barbarous execution, on which point
of the picture he dwells, contrasting her present situation with her
former happiness, her cheerfulness, her songs, and the festivities in
her father's house." It is strange that the Germans do not see that
ἔυποτμον ἀιῶνα is the most unfortunate of all terms to apply to the
condition of Agamemnon, as a sacrificer; while it is most pertinent to
his previous fortunes, before his evil destiny began to be revealed in
the sacrifice of his beloved daughter.

 Note 28 (p. 50).
                           ". . . What boots
 To forecast woe, which, on no wavering wing."

It is both mortifying and consoling to think that all the learning which
has been expended on this corrupt passage from Δίκα down to ἀυγαῖς,
brings out nothing more than what already lies in the old Scholiast. As
to the details of the text, I wish I could say, with the same confidence
as CON., that WELL. and HER.'s σύνορθρον ἀυγαῖς is a bit more
certain than FR.'s σύναρθρον ἀταις, which, however, I am inclined to
prefer, from its agreeing better with the general sombre hue of the ode.

 Note 29 (p. 50).
           "Ever swift
 Though wingless, Fame."

ἄπτερος is an epithet by negation after a fashion not at all uncommon in
the Greek drama; the meaning being, _though fame is not a bird, and has
no wings, yet it flies as fast as if it had_. The idea that ἄπτερος is
the same as πτερωτὸς I agree with CON. is the mere expedient of
despair. I have not the slightest doubt that Rumour is called a
_wingless messenger_, just as Dust is called a _voiceless_ messenger in
the Seven against Thebes. SYM. is too subtle in explaining ἄπτερος
after the analogy of the beautiful simile in Virgil, Æneid V. 215, _so
swift as not to appear to move its wings_.


 Note 30 (p. 51).
 ". . . He from Ida shot the spark."

The geographical mountain points in the following famous descriptive
passages are as follows: (1) Mount Ida, near Troy; (2) the Island of
Lemnos, in the Ægean, half-way between Asia and Europe, due West; (3)
Mount Athos, the South point of the most Easterly of the three peninsulas
that form the South part of Macedonia; (4) a station somewhere betwixt
Athos and Bœotia, which the poet has characterised only by the name of
the Watchman Macistus; (5) the Messapian Mount, West of Anthedon in the
North of Bœotia; (6) Mount Cithæron, in the South of Bœotia; (7) Mount
Aegiplanctus, between Megara and Corinth; (8) Mount Arachne, in Argolis,
between Tiryns and Epidaurus, not far from Argos.

 Note 31 (p. 51).
                 ". . . the forward strength
 Of the far-travelling lamp strode gallantly."

I have not had the courage with SYM. to reject the πρὸς ἡδονὴν and
supply a verb. The phrase is not colloquial, as he says, but occurs, as
WELL. points out, in Prom. 492. MEDWYN has "crossing the breast of
ocean with a speed plumed by its joy." That there is some blunder in the
passage the want of a verb seems to indicate, but, with our present
means, it appears wise to let it alone; not, like FR., from a mere
conjecture, to introduce ἰχθῦς for ἰσχύς, and translate--

  "Und fern hin dass der Wanderflamme heller Schein,
  In lust die Fische auf des Meeres Rücken trieb."

Are we never to see an end of these extremely ingenious, but very useless

 Note 32 (p. 51).
 "Weaving the chain unbroken."

μη κατιζεσθαι--HEATH. The true reading not to be discovered.

 Note 33 (p. 51).
 ". . . a mighty beard of flame."

The Hindoos in their description of the primeval male who, with a
thousand heads and a thousand faces, issued from the mundane egg, use
the same image--"the hairs of his body are trees and plants, of his head
the clouds, _of his beard, lightning_, and his nails are
rocks."--Colonel VANS KENNEDY, Ch. VIII. Our translators generally
(except SEW. and CON.) have eschewed transplanting this image
literally into English; and even the Germans have stumbled, FR. giving
Feuersaüle most unhappily. DROY., when he says "Schweife," gives the
true idea, but I am not afraid to let the original stand.

 Note 34 (p. 51).
 ". . . the headlands that look down
 On the Saronic gulf."

I see no proof that πρῶν ever means anything but a promontory, and so
cannot follow CON. in reading κάτοπτρον.

 Note 35 (p. 51).
 "Each from the other fired with happy news," etc.

An allusion to the famous λαμπαδηφορία, or torch race, practised by the
Greeks at the Parthenon and other festivals. In this race a burning
torch was passed from hand to hand, so that, notwithstanding the extreme
celerity of the movement, the flame might not go out. See the article by
LIDDELL in the _Dict. Antiq._ where difficulties in the detail are


 Note 36 (p. 52).
 "To their hearts' content."

The reading of WELL. and the MS. ὡς δυσδαίμονες will never do, though
MED. certainly has shown genius by striking out of it

  "Soundly as mariners when the danger's past
  They sleep."

The connection decidedly requires ῶς (ε)υδαιμονες, neither more nor less
than "to their hearts' content," as I have rendered it. But one would
almost be reconciled to the sad state of the text of Æschylus, if every
difficulty were cleared with such a masterly bound as MED. here
displays. The Germans, FR. and DR., incapable, or not liking such
capers, adhere to the simple (ε)υδαίμονες. HUMB., according to his
general practice, follows the captainship of Hermann, and gives
"Götterngleich (ὡς δε δαίμονες)."

 Note 37 (p. 52).
 ". . . Happy if the native gods
 They reverence."

This sober fear of the evil consequences of excess in the hour of
triumph, so characteristic a trait of ancient poetry, and purposely
introduced here by Clytemnestra to serve her own purpose, finds an apt
illustration in the conduct of Camillus at the siege of Veii, as
reported by Livy (V. 21)--

  "Ad prædam miles permissu dictatoris discurrit. Quæ quum ante oculos
  ejus aliquantum spe atque opinione major majorisque pretii rerum
  ferretur, dicitur, manus ad cœlum tollens precatus esse, ut si cui
  deorum hominumque nimia sua fortuna populique Romani videretur, ut
  eam invidiam lenire quam minimo suo privato incommodo, publicoque
  populo Romano liceret."

 Note 38 (p. 52).
 "Having turned the goal."

The reader is aware that in the ancient racecourse there was a _meta_,
or goal, at each end of the course, round which the racers turned round
(_metaque fervidis evitata rotis_.--Hor. Carm. I. 1; and Æneid V. 129).

 Note 39 (p. 52).
 "If they have sinned."

ἀμπλακητος. In defence of this reading, which, with WELL., I prefer,
CON. has a very excellent note, to which I refer the critical reader.
FR., following AHRENS (as he often does), makes a bold transposition
of the lines, but the sense remains pretty much the same. As to the
guilt incurred by the Greeks, spoken of here and in the previous lines,
the poet has put it, as some palliation of her own contemplated deed,
into the mouth of Clytemnestra, but in perfect conformity also with the
Homeric theology, which supposes that suffering must always imply guilt.
Thus in the Odyss. III. 130-135, old Nestor explains to Telemachus:--

  "But when Priam's high-perched city by the Greeks was captured, then
  In their swift ships homeward sailing, they were scattered by a god;
  To the Greeks great Jove had purposed in his heart a black return,
  For not all had understanding, and not all observant lived
  Of Justice."

 Note 40 (p. 53).
 "The gods are blind."

I cannot here forbear recalling to the reader's recollection a similar
passage in Milton:--

  "Just are the ways of God
  And justifiable to men;
  Unless there be who think not God at all.
  If any be, they walk obscure:
  For of such doctrine never was there school,
  But the heart of the fool,
  And no man therein doctor but himself."
                       --SAMSON AGONISTES.


 Note 41 (p. 53).
 "Self-will fell Até's daughter."

I have here paraphrased a little the two lines--

  βιᾶται δ᾽ἁ τάλαινα πειθὼ
  προβουλόπαις ἄφερτος Ἄτας--

in which two evil powers are personified--_Ate_, destruction, and
_Peitho_, persuasion, which here must be understood of that evil
self-persuasion, by which, in the pride of self-will and vain
confidence, a man justifies his worst deeds to himself, and is driven
recklessly on to destruction. The case of Napoleon, in his Russian
expedition, is in point. What follows shows that Paris is meant. As to
the strange, truly Æschylean compound, προβουλόπαις, CON. says well,
that the simple πρόβουλος means "one who joins in a preliminary vote,"
and, of course, the compound is, as LIN. has it, a "forecounselling

 Note 42 (p. 54).
 "Even as a boy in wanton sport."

There is a great upheaping of incongruous images in this passage for
which, perhaps, the poet may be blamed; as the one prevents the other
from coming with a vivid and distinct impression on the mind. This image
of the boy chasing the butterfly is, however, the one which places the
inconsiderate love of Paris and Helen most distinctly before us; and it
comes, therefore, with peculiar propriety, preceded by the more general
and vague images, and immediately before the mention of the offender.

 Note 43 (p. 54).
 "The prophets of the house loud wailing."

δόμων προφῆται. I have retained the original word here, because it
appears most appropriate to the passage; but the reader must be warned,
by a reference to the familiar example in Epist. Tit. I. 12, that with
the ancients the characters of poet and prophet were confounded in a
way that belongs not at all to our modern usage of the same words.
Epimenides of Crete, in fact, to whom the Apostle Paul alludes, was not
only a prophet, but also a physician, like Apollo (ἱατρόμαντις, Eumen.
v. 62). In the same way the Hebrew word _Nabah_, prophetess, is applied
to Miriam, Exod. xv. 20; and it may well be, that Æschylus, in the true
spirit of these old times, and also following the deep religious
inspiration of his Muse, alludes here to a character more sacred than
the Homeric ἀοιδὸς, _Minstrel_ or _Bard_, and this distinction should,
of course, be preserved in the translation. SEW. with great happiness,
in my opinion, has given "the bards of fate;" but it were useless to
press any such nice matter in this passage, especially when we call to
mind the high estimation in which the Homeric ἀοιδὸς stands in the
Odyss., and the remarkable passage, III. 267, where a minstrel is
represented as appointed by Agamemnon to counsel and control Clytemnestra
in his absence, pretty much as a family confessor would do in a modern
Roman Catholic family.

 Note 44 (p. 54).
 "He silent stood in sadness, not in wrath."

Here commences one of the most difficult, and at the same time one of
the most beautiful passages in the Agamemnon. The words,

  πάρεστι σιγᾶς᾽, ἄτιμος, ἀλόιδορος
  ἅδιστος ἀφἐμένων ἰδεῖν,

are so corrupt, that a translator is quite justified in striking that
sense out of them which is most fit on grounds of taste, and in this
view I have little hesitation in adopting Hermann's reading,


  πάρεστι σιγὰς (σιγηλος) ἄτιμος ἀλόιδορος
    ἄληστος ἀφεμένων ἰδεῖν;

modified thus by Orelli--

  ἄπιστος ἀφεμέναν ἰδεῖν--(_See Wellauer_).

With a reference to Menelaus and not to Helen. In doing so, I am not at
all moved by any merely philological consideration; but I may observe
that the remark made by WELL., PEILE, and CON., that the words
cannot refer to Menelaus, because he has not yet been mentioned, can
have little weight in the present chorus, in the first antistrophe of
which Paris is first alluded to, by dim indications, and afterwards
distinctly by name. This method of merely hinting at a person, before
naming him, is common in all poetry, but peculiarly characteristic of
Æschylus. Besides, it is impossible to deny that the πόθος in the next
line refers to Menelaus, and can refer to no other. CON., who refers
the words to Helen, translates thus--

  "She stands in silence, scorned, yet unrebuking,
  Most sweetly sorrowfully looking
  Of brides that have from wedlock fled;"

to which I have this further objection, that it is contrary to the poet's
intention and to the moral tone of the piece, to paint the fair fugitive
with such an engaging look of reluctance to leave her husband; on the
contrary, he blames her in the strongest language, ἄτλητα τλᾶσα, and
represents her as leaving Argos with all the hurry of a common elopement,
where both parties are equally willing for the amorous flight, ῎Βέβακε
ρίμφα διὰ πυλᾶν. After which our fancy has nothing to do but imagine her
giving her sails to the wind as swiftly as possible, and bounding gaily
over the broad back of ocean with her gay paramour. In this connection,
to say "_she_ STANDS," appears quite out of place. In my view of this
"very difficult and all but desperate passage" (PEILE) I am supported
by SYM. in an able note, which every student ought to read, by MED.
and SEW., BUCK., HUMB., and DROYS. Neither is FR. against me,
because, though following a new reading of Hermann,

  πάρεστι σιγὰς ἀτίμους ἀλοιδόρους
  ᾽αισχρῶς ἀφειμενων ιδειν,

he avoids all special allusions to Menelaus, it is evident that the
picture of solitary desolation given in his translation can have no
reference but to the palace of the king of Sparta--

  "Ein Schweigen, sieh! voll von Schmach, nicht gebrochen church
  Vorwurf, beherrscht die Einsamkeit."

 Note 45 (p. 56).
 "The bolt from on high shall blast his eye."

"PEILE greatly admires Klausen's interpretation"--

  "Jacitur oculis a Jove fulmen,"

but the passages which the latter adduce are not to the point. The
Greeks do not attribute any governing virtue to the eyes of the gods,
further than this, that the immortal beings who are supposed to govern
human affairs must see, and take cognizance of them. Jupiter's eye may
glare like lightning, but the real lightning is always hurled from his
hand. Compare Soph. Antiq. 157. The words βάλλεται ὄσσοις Λιόθεν can
bear no other sense naturally than "is flashed in the eyes from

 Note 46 (p. 57).
 "Where women wield the spear."

The spear (δόρυ) is with the Greeks the regular emblem of war, as
the sword is with us; so a famous warrior in Homer is δουρικλυτὸς, a
famous {346} spearman, and a warrior generally ἀιχμητὴς. Further, as
in the heroic or semi-civilized age, authority presents itself, not
under the form of law and peaceful order, so much as under that of force
and war, the spear comes to be a general emblem of authority; so in the
present passage. St. Paul's language, Rom. xiii. 4, _the magistrate
weareth not the sword_ (μάχαιραν) _in vain_, gives the modern
counterpart of the Æschylean phraseology.

 Note 47 (p. 57).
 ". . . our healer from much harm."

παιώνιος. I have no hesitation whatever in leaving WELL. here, much as
I generally admire his judicious caution. "Ἀγώνίους in the next line,"
says CON., "at once convicts the old reading of tautology, and
accounts for its introduction." When a clear cause for a corrupt reading
is shown by a natural wandering of the eye, I see no wisdom in
obstinately adhering to a less appropriate reading. The emendation
originated, according to PEILE, with a writer in the Classical
Journal; and was thence adopted by SCHOLEFIELD, PEILE, CON., and
FRANZ, who names Ahrens as its author. LINW. also calls it "very

 Note 48 (p. 57).
 ". . . ye sun-fronting gods."

δαίμονες ἀντήλιοι. MED. has given the words a special application--

  "Ye images of our gods that stand
  Before the eastern gate."

But I suppose the reference may be only to the general custom of
placing the statues of the gods in open public places, and in
positions where they might front the sun.--See Hesychius and Tertullian,
quoted by STAN.

 Note 49 (p. 58).
 "His pledge is forfeited."

I agree with CON. that the juridical language used in the previous
line fixes down the meaning of ρυσίου here beyond dispute; which
meaning, indeed--ἐνέχυρον, a _pledge_ or _gage_, is that given by the
Scholiast on Iliad XI. 674. STAN. enounces this clearly in his Notes;
only there is no need of supposing, with him, that the gage means Helen,
or any one else. 'Tis merely a juridical way of saying that Paris was
worsted in battle--he has forfeited his caution-money.

 Note 50 (p. 59).
 "These spoils, a shining grace, there to remain
 An heritage for ever."

The word ἀρχαῖον in this version seems most naturally to have a
prospective reference, to express which a paraphrase seems necessary in
English; but a similar use of _Vetustas_ is common in Latin.--Cic.
Attic. XIV. 9, pro-Mil. 35. Virgil's Æneid X. 792. SEW. takes it
retrospectively; thus

  "Unto their ancient homes in Hellas land
   A pride and joy."

 Note 51 (p. 60).
 "No more than dyer's art can tincture brass."

χαλκοῦ βαφὰς. One cannot dye a hard impenetrable substance, like copper
or brass, by the mere process of steeping, as may be done with a soft
substance like cloth. Clytemnestra seems to say that her ears are
impenetrable in the same way. So SYM., CON., SEW.; and I have
little doubt as to this being the true meaning--but should we not read
χαλκὸς _more than the brass knows dyeing?_


 Note 52 (p. 60).
 "Far from the honors of the blissful gods."

χωρὶς ἡ τιμὴ θεῶν. I translate so, simply because this rendering seems
to lie most naturally in the words, when interpreted by the immediately
preceding context. The other translation which I originally had here,

  "To every god his separate hour belongs
  Of rightful honor,"

seems to spring from the contrast of the "pæan to the Furies" mentioned
below, with the hymns of joyful thanksgivings to the gods that suit the
present occasion. But when the term "gods" is used generally on a joyful
occasion, it seems more agreeable to Greek feeling to interpret it as
excluding than as including the Furies. The hymns in the Eumenides show
that they were considered as a dreadful power in the background, rather
than prominent figures in the foreground of Hellenic polytheism. But,
however this be, the more obvious key to such a doubtful passage is
surely that of the train of thought which immediately precedes.

 Note 53 (p. 61).
 "Fire and the sea, sworn enemies of old," etc.

This passage, in the original, boils with a series of high-sounding
words, δυσκύμαντα, κεροτοπούμεναι, ὀμβροκτύπῳ, extremely characteristic
both of the general genius of the poet and the special subject of poetic
description. I have endeavoured, according to the best of my ability,
not to lose a single line of this powerful painting; but, as it is more
than likely I may have missed some point, or brought it feebly out, I
would refer the reader to the able versions of SYM. and MED., which
are very good in this place. About the κακὸς ποιμὴν, whether it refer to
the whole tempest, as SYM. makes it, or to a part of it (στρόβος) as
in my version, there can be no doubt, I think, that here ποιμὴν can mean
nothing but "pilot," as in the Persian ποιμάνωρ means a commander. There
can be no objection to retaining the word "shepherd," but I do not like
CON.'s "demon-swain" at all. It seems to me to bring in a foreign, and
somewhat of a Gothic idea.

 Note 54 (p. 61).
 "That ocean hell."

ἅδην πόντιον, I took this from MED. and give him a thousand thanks for
supplying me with so literal, and yet so admirable a translation. SYM.
is also excellent here, though, as usual, too fine--

  "O how the day looked lovely, when ashore
  We crawled, escaped from the watery jaws
  Of a sea death."

 Note 55 (p. 61).
 "Far-labouring o'er the loosely-driving main."

There is a fine word in the original here, σποδουμένου, easily and
admirably rendered by FR.--zerstaübt--but to express which I have
found myself forced to have recourse to a cognate idea. The main idea
is dispersion and diffusion, _to drive about like dust_, or, perhaps,
the meaning may be, _to rub down to dust_.--See Passow. In the present
passage the context makes the former meaning preferable.

 Note 56 (p. 61).
 "By Jove's devising."

The reader will note here the supreme controlling power of Jove,
forming, as it were, a sort of monotheistic keystone to the many-stoned
arch of Hellenic Polytheism. Μηχαναῖς Διὸς here is just equivalent to
our phrase _by Divine interposition_, or, _by the interposition of
Divine Providence_, or the supreme moral superintendence of Jove.


 Note 57 (p. 62).
 "Helen the taker!"

There is an etymological allusion in the original here, concerning
which see the Notes to the Prometheus Bound, v. 85. The first syllable
of Helen's name in Greek means to take, from ἁιρέω 2 aor (ἑ)ιλον. "No
one who understands the deep philosophy of Æschylus and his oriental
turn of thought will suspect the play upon the name of Helen to be a
frigid exercise of wit," says SEW., who has transmuted the pun into
English in no bad fashion thus--

  "Helen, since as suited well
  Hell of nations, heroes' hell,
  Hell of cities, from the tissued
  Harem-chamber veils she issued."

 Note 58 (p. 62).
 ". . . giant Zephyr."

I see no reason why so many translators, from STAN. downward, should
have been so fond to render γίγαντος "_earth-born_" here, as if there
were any proof that any such genealogical idea was hovering before the
mind of the poet when he used the word. I entirely agree with CON.
that the notion of _strength_ may have been all that was intended (as,
indeed, we find in Homer the Zephyr always the strongest wind), and,
therefore, I retain the original word. SYM. Anglicising, after his
fashion, says, not inaptly--

  "Fanned by Zephyr's buxom gales;"

and CON. changes _giant_ into _Titan_, perhaps wisely, to avoid
certain ludicrous associations.

 Note 59 (p. 62).
 "Kin but not kind."

Another etymological allusion; κῆδος meaning both _kin_ and _care_.
SEW. has turned it differently--

  "And a marriage truly hight,
  A marjoy," etc.

HARF. does not relish this "absurd punning" at all, and misses it out
in this place; so also POTTER; but I agree altogether with SEW. that
"there is nothing more fatal to any poet than to generalize his
particularities." Shakespere also puts puns into his most serious
passages; a peculiarity which we must even tolerate like an affected way
of walking or talking in a beautiful woman; though, for the reason
stated in the note to the Prometheus, above referred to, the ancient,
when he puns upon proper names, is by no means to be considered as an
offender against the laws of good taste, in the same way as the modern.

 Note 60 (p. 63).
 "A servant of Até, a priest of Ruin."

Até the goddess of destruction, already mentioned (p. 53), and whose
name has been naturalized in English by the authority of Shakespere. In
Homer ατη appears (1) as an infatuation of mind leading to perdition;
(2) as that perdition effected; (3) as an allegorical personage, eldest
born of Jove, the cause of that infatuation of mind and consequent
perdition (Il. XIX. v. 91). In the tragedians, Ἄτη is more habitually
clothed with a distinct and prominent personality.

 Note 61 (p. 64).
 "A haughty heart."

In a passage hopelessly corrupt, and where no two editors agree in the
reading, I have necessarily been reduced to the expedient of translating
with a certain degree of looseness from the text of the MSS. as given by
{349} WELL. Through this text, broken and disjointed as it is, the
meaning glimmers with a light sufficient to guide the reader, who wishes
only to arrive at the idea, without aspiring at the reconstitution of
the lost grammatical form of the text; and it is a satisfaction to think
that all the translators, from POT. to CON., however they may vary
in single phrases, give substantially the same idea, and in a great
measure the same phrase. This idea, a most important one in the Greek
system of morals, is well expressed by SYM. in his note on this
place--"The Chorus here moralizes and dwells on the consequences to
succeeding generations of the crimes of their predecessors. He traces,
as it were, a moral succession, handed down from father to son, where
one transgression begets another as its inevitable result. The first
parent stock was 'ὕβρις' a spirit of insolence or insubordination,
breaking out into acts of outrage, the forerunner of every calamity in a
Grecian republic, against which the philosophers and tragedians largely
declaimed. They denounced it as well from a principle of policy as a
sentiment of religion. In short, the poet treats here of the moral
concatenation of cause and effect, the consequence to the descendants of
their progenitors' misconduct, operating either by the force of example
or of hereditary disposition, which in the mind of the Chorus produces
the effect of an irresistible fatality."--I may mention that I have
retained the original word δάιμων in its English form "demon,"
this being, according to my feeling, one of the few places where the one
can be used for the other without substituting a modern, and, therefore,
a false idea.

 Note 62 (p. 65).
 "Fawn with watery love."

ῦδαρεῖ σάινειν φιλότητι. This is one of those bold dramatic touches
which mark the hand of a Shakespere, or an Æschylus, and, by transmuting
or diluting which, the translator, in my opinion, commits a capital
sin. HARF., with his squeamish sensibility, has slurred over the whole
passage, and even FR., like all Germans, an advocate for close
translation, gives the rapid generality of "_trügend_;" MED., from
carelessness, I hope, and not from principle, has sinned in the same
way, and KENNEDY likewise; but I am happy in having both CON. and
SYM. for my companions, when I retain a simile which is as
characteristic of my author as a crooked beak is of an eagle. This note
may serve for not a few similar cases, where the nice critic will do
well to consult the Greek author before he blames the English translator.

 Note 63 (p. 67).
 "He might have boasted of a triple coil."

I consider it quite legitimate in a translator, where critical doctors
differ, and where decision is difficult or impossible, to embody in his
version the ideas of both parties, where that can be done naturally,
and without forcing, as in the present instance. It seems to me on the
one hand that την κάτω γὰρ ὀυ λέγω has more pregnancy of expression
when applied to the dead Geryon, than when interpreted of the earth;
and, on the other hand, I cannot think with SYM. that the expression
τρίμοιρον χλαῖναν, when applied to the earth, is "rank nonsense." There
are many phrases in Æschylus that, if translated literally, sound very
like nonsense in English. The parenthetic clause "_of him below I speak
not_," is added from a superstitious feeling, to avoid the bad omen of
speaking of a living person as dead. So WELL. and SYM., and this
appears the most natural qualification in the circumstances.


 Note 64 (p. 67).
 "Thy Phocian spear-guest."

Speaking of the era of the great Doric migration with regard to Megara,
Bishop THIRLWALL (Hist. Greece, c. VII.) writes as follows:--"Megara
itself was, at this time, only one, though probably the principal, among
five little townships which were independent of each other, and were not
unfrequently engaged in hostilities, which, however, were so mitigated
and regulated by local usage as to present rather the image than the
reality of war. They were never allowed to interrupt the labours of the
husbandman. The captive taken in these feuds was entertained as a guest
in his enemy's house, and when his ransom was fixed, was dismissed
before it was paid. If he discharged his debt of honour he became, under
a peculiar name (δορύξενος), the friend of his host; a breach of the
compact dishonoured him for life both among the strangers and his
neighbours--a picture of society which we could scarcely believe to have
been drawn from life, if it did not agree with other institutions which
we find described upon the best authority as prevailing at the same
period in other parts of Greece."

 Note 65 (p. 69).
 "Come, boy, unbind these sandals."

This passage will at once suggest to the Christian reader the well-known
passage in Exod. iii. 5., "take off thy shoes from thy feet, for the
ground where thou standest is holy ground," which KEN. aptly adduces,
and compares it with Lev. xxx. 19, and Juvenal Sat. VI. 159--

  "Observant ubi festa mero pede Sabbata reges,"

and other passages. In the same way the hand held up in attestation
before a bench of grave judges, according to our modern usage, must be

 Note 66 (p. 69).
 "Jove, Jove the perfecter! perfect thou my vow."

Ζεῦ τέλειε. I see no reason in the connection of this passage to give
the epithet of τέλειος a special allusion to Jove, as along with Juno,
the patron of marriage. BLOM., PEILE, and among the translators,
MED. and KEN. take this view. But POT., SYM., CON., FR.,
VOSS., and DROYS. content themselves with the more obvious and
general meaning. It is not contended, I presume, by any one that the
epithet τέλειος, when applied to Jove, _necessarily_ refers to marriage,
independently of the context, as for instance in Eumen. 28. The origin
of the epithet may be seen in Homer, Il. IV. 160-168, etc.

 Note 67 (p. 69).
 ". . . unbidden and unhired."

"Poor Louis! With them it is a hollow phantasmagoria, where, like mimes,
they mope and mow, and _utter false sounds for hire_, but with thee it
is frightful earnest."--CARLYLE's French Revolution; the ancient and
the modern, with equal felicity, alluding to the custom prevalent in
ancient times of hiring women to mourn for the dead. We must also note,
however, that there is an example here of that spontaneous prophecy of
the heart by god-given presentiment, which is so often mentioned in
Homer. The ancients, indeed, were the furthest possible removed from
that narrow conception of a certain modern theology, which confines the
higher influences of inspiration to a privileged sacerdotal order. In
St. Paul's writings, the whole Church prophesies; and so in Homer the
fair Helen, {351} who had no pretensions to the character of a
professional soothsayer, prefaces her interpretation of an omen by

  "Hear my word; as in my heart the immortal gods suggest the thought,
  I will read the omen rightly, as the sure event shall show."
                                            ODYS. XV. 172.

The words used by Homer to express this action of the divine on the
human mind are βάλλειν ὑποτίθεσθαι, and such like, to _throw into_, and
to _put under_, or _suggest_.

 Note 68 (p. 70).
 "Unloosed their cables from the shore."

I have not been curious in rendering this passage, as the word παρήβησεν
is hopelessly corrupt; but the general notion of my translation is taken
from SYM.'s note.

 Note 69 (p. 71).
                ". . . Were link with link
 In the chain of things not bound together."

ἐι δὲ μὴ τεταγμένα μοῖρα κ. τ. λ. In my opinion, SYM., CON., and
PEILE, are wrong in giving a different meaning to μοῖραν from that
which they assign to μοῖρα immediately preceding. In such phrases as
"_truditur dies die_" (Horace) and "_Day uttereth speech unto day_,"
the reader naturally attaches the same idea to the same word immediately
repeated. The literal translation of this passage, "if by the ordinance
of the gods ordered Fate did not hinder Fate," seems merely to express
the concatenation of things by divine decree as given in my version.
SYM.'s version is--

  "I pause. Some Fate from Heaven forbids
  The Fate within to utter more,
  Else had my heart outrun my tongue,
  And poured the torrent o'er."

MED. gives three lines substantially identical with mine--

  "Nor would I counteract the laws of Heaven;
  My heart would chain my tongue, e'en were it given
  To drag the secret of the Fates to the day."

 Note 70 (p. 71).
 ". . . the household altar."

κτησίου βωμοῦ. Literally, _the altar of our family wealth or
possession_. In the same way, Jove, the supreme disposer of all human
wealth, is called Ζεὺς κτήσιος, possessory Jove. See the Suppliants,
v. 440--my translation.

 Note 71 (p. 72).
 "My way-god, my leader Apollo!"

"Agyieus (from ἀγυιὰ, a way), a surname of Apollo, describing him as
the protector of the streets and public places. As such he was
worshipped at Acharnæ, Mycenæ, and Tegea."--Dr. SCHMITZ, in the
Mythol. Dict. In the same way, by ενοδιον θεὰν (Soph. Antig. 1200), or
"the way goddess," is understood Hecate. The Hindoos make their god
_Pollear_ perform a similar function, placing his image in all temples,
streets, highways, and, in the country, at the foot of some tree, that
travellers may make their adorations and offerings to him before they
pursue their journey.--SONNERAT in notes to the Curse of Kehama,
Canto V.

 Note 72 (p. 73).
 "Apollo, my leader, whither hast thou led me?"

In this Antistrophe, and the preceding Strophe, there is one of those
plays on the name of the god addressed, which appear inappropriate to
us, {352} but were meant earnestly enough by the ancients, accustomed to
deal with an original language from which the significancy of proper
names had not been rubbed away.--See note on Prometheus, v. 85. Besides
this, there was naturally a peculiar significancy attached to the names
of the gods.--See note 18, p. 338, above. In the present passage the
first pun is on the name Απόλλων, Apollo, and the verb ἀπόλλυμι, which
signifies to _destroy_) so the Hebrew ABADDON from ABAD, he
_perished_.--Apoc. ix. 11), a function of the Sun god familiar enough to
the Greek mind, from the description of the pestilence in the opening
scene of the Iliad. The second pun is on the title ἀγυιεὺς, leader, or
way-god, concerning which see previous note. I have here, as in the case
of Helen and Prometheus (v. 85), taken the simple plan of explaining the
epithet in the text. The translator who will not do this must either,
like CON. and SYM., leave the play on the words altogether
imperceptible to the English reader, or, like SEW., be driven to the
necessity of inventing a new pun, which may not always be happy English,
and is certainly not Greek, thus--

      "Apollo! Apollo!
      Leader! appaller mine!
  Yea! for the second time thou hast with ease
  Appalled me, and destroyed me."

 Note 73 (p. 74).
 "The blithe blood, that crimson ran
 In my veins, runs pale and wan."

With this SYM. aptly compares a passage from the speech of Theodosius
in Massinger's Emperor of the East--

  "What an earthquake I feel in me!
  And on the sudden my whole fabric totters;
  My blood within me turns, and through my veins
  Parting with natural redness, I discern it
  Changed to a fatal yellow."

Even more strongly expressed than in our Greek poet, perhaps a little
too strongly, the words, _I discern it_, certainly not improving the
passage. HARF., as is his fashion, fears to follow the boldness of
his author, and translates--

  "The ruddy drop is curdling at my heart."

And in the same spirit FR. gives _dunkelroth_.

 Note 74 (p. 74).
 "As when in the mortal anguish."

SYM. takes his stand too confidently on a corrupt text, when he says,
"POT. has entirely omitted the fallen warrior bleeding drop by drop,
which is, as it were, introduced into the background by the poet to
aggravate the gloom of the picture." I read καιρία with DIND., CON.,
LINW., and FR., with which single word the fallen warrior
disappears, who comes in, even in SYM.'s version, rather abruptly.

 Note 75 (p. 74).
    ". . . she seizes him
 By the strong black horn."

HARF. finds this rough Homeric trait too strong for him. MED. has--

  "With her black horn she buts him.
  What is that wrapt round his head?"

But, though there is some colour for this translation in the old
Scholiast, I think the reader will scarcely judge very favourably of it,
after considering what PEILE and CON. have judiciously said on the
point. As for authority, {353} all the translators, except MED. and
HUMB., from POT. downwards, English and German, are with me. It is
scarcely necessary to remark against Harford's squeamishness, that the
bull in ancient symbolical language (see poets and coins, _passim_) was
an animal in every respect as noble and kingly as the lion and the eagle
still remain.

 Note 76 (p. 75).
 "Crieth Itys! Itys! aye."

Procne and Philomele, according to one of the most familiar of old Greek
legends, were daughters of Pandion, king of Athens; and one of them
having been given in marriage to Tereus, a king of the Thracians, in
Daulis, who, after the marriage, offered violence to her sister--the
result was, that the wife, in a fit of mad revenge, murdered her own son
Itys, and gave his flesh to her husband to eat; and, being afterwards
changed into a nightingale, was supposed in her melodious wail
continually to repeat the name of this her luckless offspring.

 Note 77 (p. 75).
 "The thick blossoms of its woe."

ἀμφιθαλῆ κακοῖς βίον. I hope this expression will not be considered too
strong by those who consider as well the general style of our poet, as
the ὁρῶμεν ἀνθουν πέλαγος Ἀιγᾶιον νεκρ(ο)ις, v. 645 of this play (see
my translation, _supra_, p. 61), and the μανίας δεινόν ὰποστάζει ἀνθηρόν
τε μένος of Sophocles.--Antig. v. 960.

 Note 78 (p. 77).
 "Soon my reeking heart shall cast."

If the reader thinks this a bold phrase, he must bear in mind that it
is Cassandra who speaks, and Æschylus who writes. The translation,
indeed, is not literal, but the word "θερμόνους," as CON. says, "has
all the marks of genuineness," and I was more afraid of weakening it
in translation than of exaggerating it. Other translations are--

  "And I my warm blood soon on earth shall pour."--SYM.
  "But I shall soon press my hot heart to Earth."--CON.
  "Ich aber stúrze bald zur Erd im heissen Kampf."--FR.
  "Ich aber sinke bald im heissen Todeskampf."--DROYS.

 Note 79 (p. 77).
 "Waves shall it dash from the west in the sun's face."

"The beauty of this image can only be properly appreciated by those
who have observed the extraordinary way in which the waves of the sea
appear to rush towards the rising sun."--English Prose Tr. Oxon.

 Note 80 (p. 77).
 ". . . though I should wedge them
 As stark as ice?"

I read πῆγμα with WELL. and the majority of editors and translators.
SYM., who is sometimes a little too imperative in his style, calls
this to "obtrude an unnecessary piece of frigidity or fustian on
Æschylus." The reader, of course, will judge for himself; but there
are many things in our poet more worthy of the term "fustian" than the
word πῆγμα, applied to ὁρκος.

 Note 81 (p. 78).
 "Implacable breath of curses on her kin."

WELL. forgets his usual caution, when he receives ἄρην into his text,
and rejects ἀρὰν, the reading of the MS. It is paltry to object to the
phrase {354} ἄσπονδον ἀρὰν in an author like Æschylus. FRANZ receives
the emendation of LOBECK, modified into Ἄρη.

 Note 82 (p. 80).
 "Bravely thou praisest; but the happy hear not
 Such commendations."

I have here, in opposition to FR., SYM., MED., and even the
cautious WELL., reverted to the original order of this and the next
line, as they appear in the MSS., being chiefly moved by what is said
by CON. "The words ὰλλ ἐυκλεῶς τοι κατθαν(ε)ιν χάρις βροτῷ could
never have been put by Æschylus into the mouth of Cassandra, who is as
far as possible from cherishing the common view of a glorious death,
and, indeed, shows in her next speech very plainly what feelings such
a thought suggests to her."

 Note 83 (p. 80).
 "Not with vain screaming, like a fluttering bird."

"Fearing a wild beast about its nest," says the Scholiast; fearing the
fowler with "its limed wings," says MED. The original is short and
obscure; but there is no need of being definite; nothing is more common
than to see a bird fruitlessly fluttering about a bush, and uttering
piteous cries. A fit image of vain lamentation without purpose or

 Note 84 (p. 81).
                   ". . . From bad to worse
 Our changes run, and with the worst we end."

This translation is free, because it did not occur to me that the
laconism of the Greek, if literally translated, would be sufficiently
intelligible. I have no doubt as to the correctness of this version of
a passage which is certainly not a little puzzling at first sight. Two
phases of human life are spoken of in the previous lines; one is the
change from prosperity to adversity, the other, from adversity down to
utter ruin and death. The preference expressed in the line καὶ ταῦτ
ἒκέινων κ.τ.λ. can refer to nothing but these two. So PEILE and
CON.; and there is a terrible darkness of despair about Cassandra's
whole tone and manner, which renders this account of human life
peculiarly natural in her parting words.

 Note 85 (p. 81).
 "Who of mortals will not pray."

The line τίς ἀν ἔυξαιτο βροτῶν ἀσιν(ε)ι, being deficient in metre, one
may either supply ὄυκ, with CANTER., which gives the meaning expressed
in the text, or, retaining the affirmative form, read βροτός, ὤν, with
BOTH. and FR., which gives an equally good sense thus--

  "Who of mortals then may hope
  To live an unharmed life, when he
  Fell from such height of honor?"

so POT., MED., HUMB., DROYS., FR., and VOSS.

 Note 86 (p. 81).
 "Weave we counsel now together, and concert a sure design."

I follow MÜLLER here in dividing the Chorus among twelve, not fifteen
speakers. The internal evidence plainly points to this; and for any
external evidence of scholiasts and others in such matters, even if it
were uncontradicted, I must confess that I think it is worth very


 Note 87 (p. 82).
 "So wisely spoken."

Most lame and impotent conclusion!--so the reader has no doubt been all
the while exclaiming. Our great poet has here contrived to make one of
the most tragic moments of the play consummately ridiculous; and it is
in vain to defend him. No doubt, old men are apt enough to be
irresolute, and to deliberate, while the decisive moment for action
slips through their fingers. So far in character. But why does the poet
bring this vacillation so laboriously forward, that it necessarily
appears ludicrous? This formal argumentation turns the character of the
Chorus into caricature. Nor will it do to say with CON. that this
impotent scene was "forced on Æschylus, by the fact of the existence of
a Chorus, and the nature of the work he had to do." A short lyrical ode
might have covered worthily that irresolution, which a formal
argumentation only exposes. No one blames the Chorus for doing nothing;
that is all right enough; but every one must blame the poet for making
them talk with such a show of solemn gravity and earnest loyalty about
doing nothing.

 Note 88 (p. 82).
 "Here, where I struck, I take my rooted stand
 Upon the finished deed."

The natural attitude of decision. So when Brutus administered the
famous oath to the Roman people, "_neminem Romæ regnare passuros_," he
and his colleagues are described by Dionysius (V. 1) as σταντες ἐπι των

 Note 89 (p. 83).
 "Thou hast cast off: thou hast cut off
 Thine own husband."

I have endeavoured to express the repetition of the _off_ three times
as in the original; but the Greek is far more emphatic, the repetition
taking place in the same line, ἀπέδικες, ἀπέταμες ἀπόπολις δ ἕσῃ.

 Note 90 (p. 83).
 "But mark my words."

There is much difficulty in settling the reading and the construction
of the Greek here; but having compared all the translations, I find
that, from POT. down to MED. and FR., substantially the same
sentiment is educed. SYM. who praises BLOM.'s arrangement, gives--

  "Threaten away, for I too am prepared
  In the like manner. Rule me if thou canst,
  Get by thy hand the mastery--rule me then.
  But if," etc.

WELL. whom I follow, and who objects to BLOM.'s construction,

  "Jubeo antem te, quum et ego ad similes minas paratas sim, victoria vi
  reportata, mihi imperare; sin minus, et si contraria Dii perfecerint,
  damno edoctus sero sapere disces."

 Note 91 (p. 84).
 "And thine eyes with fatness swell."

I do not know whether I may not have gone too far in retaining the
original force of λίπος in this passage. I perceive that few of the
translators, not even SEW., so curious in etymological translation,
keep me in countenance. However, I am always very loath to smooth down
a strong phrase in Æschylus, merely because the modern ear may think it
gross. In this case, I am glad to find that I am supported by DROYS.

  "Ueber dem Auge glänzt fett Dir das Tropfenblüt,"

though my rendering is a little more free.


 Note 92 (p. 84).

STROPHE I. In the arrangement of the following lyric dialogue, I have
followed BUT., BLOM., and PEILE, in opposition to that given by
HERM., WELL., and FR., not for any metrical reasons sufficiently
strong to influence me either one way or other in constituting the text;
but because I find the sense complete and continuous after νῦν δε
τελειάν, and this alone is a sufficient reason why I, in my subordinate
function of a translator, should not suppose anything to have fallen out
of the text in this place. How much, however, we are all in the dark
about the matter appears from this, that in the place where BLOM. and
PEILE suppose an immense _lacuna_, the sense in the mouth of
Clytemnestra νῦν δ᾽ ὤρθωσας runs on with a continuous allusion to the
preceding words of the Chorus. For which reason I have not hinted the
existence of an omission, nor is it at all likely that the reader has
lost much. These are matters which belonged to the ancient symmetrical
arrangement of the Chorus before the eyes and ears of the spectators,
and which I much fear it it impossible for us, readers of a dry MS., to
revive at this time of day.

 Note 93 (p. 85).
 "O god that o'er the doomed Atridan halls."

I am afraid I stand alone, among the translators, in translating δαῖμον
in this and similar places, by the English word _god_; but persuaded as
I am that the English words _Fiend_ and _Demon_ are steeped in modern
partly Gothic, partly Christian associations of a character essentially
opposed to the character and genius of the Greek theology, I choose
rather to offend the taste than to confound the judgment of my reader in
so important a matter. The Greeks habitually attributed to their _gods_
actions and sentiments, which we attribute only to devils and demons.
Such beings (in the English sense) were, in fact, altogether unknown to
the Greeks. Their gods, as occasion required, performed all the
functions of our Devil; so that, to use a familiar illustration, instead
of the phrase, _what the devil are you about?_ so familiar to a genuine
English ear, the Athenians would have said, _what the god are you
about?_ Hence the use of δαιμόνιε in Homer.

 Note 94 (p. 86).
 "The unrelenting old Alastor."

Along with SYM. and CON. I retain the Greek word here, partly from
the reason given in the previous note with regard to δαίμων, partly
because the word is familiar to many poetical ears from Shelley's
poetry, partly, also, because I take care so to explain it in the
context, that it cannot be misunderstood by the English reader. The
Greek word ἀλάστωρ means an _evil genius_. Clement of Alexandria, in a
passage quoted by SYM. (Protrept c. II.) classes the Alastors of the
ancient tragedy with the Furies and other terrible ministers of heaven's
avenging justice. About the etymology of the word the lexicographers
and critics are not agreed. Would there be any harm in connecting it
with ἀλαστέω (Il. XII. 163), and ἐπαλαστέω (Odys. I. 252), so that it
should signify _an angry or wrathful spirit_.

 Note 95 (p. 88).
 "Falling he fell, and dying died."

I have here taken advantage of a Hebraism familiar, through the pages
of the Bible, to the English ear, in order to give somewhat of the
force of the fine alliteration in the original κάππεσε, κάτθανε. καὶ
καταθάψομεν. In the next three lines I have filled up a blank in the
text, by what must obviously have been the import of the lost lines,
if, indeed, PALEY, KLAUSEN, and CON. are not rather right in not
insisting on an exact response of stanza to stanza in the anapæstic
systems of the musical dialogue.


 Note 96 (p. 88).
 "While great Jove lives."

μίμνοντος ὲν χρόνῳΔιὸς. "The meaning is sufficiently plain, if we do
not disturb it by any philosophical notions about the difference
between time and eternity."--CON. The reader will note here the grand
idea of retributive justice pursuing a devoted family from generation
to generation, and, as it were, entailing misery upon them, concerning
which see Sewell's remarks above, p. 349. Sophocles strikes the same
keynote in the choric chaunt of the Antigone, ἀρχαῖα τα Δαβδακιδᾶν
ὄικων ὁρῶμαι.

 Note 97 (p. 90).
               ". . . in a separate dish concealed
 Were legs and arms, and the fingers' pointed tips."

Editors have a great difficulty in settling the text here; but there is
enough of the meaning visible--especially when the passage is compared
with Herod. I. 119, referred to by SCHÜTZ--to enable the translator
to proceed on the assumption of a text substantially the same as that
given by FR., where the second line is supplied--

  Τὰ μὲν ποδήρη και χ(ε)ρων ἄκρους κτένας
  [Ἔθετο κάτωθεν πὰντα συγκρύψας τὰ δ ἀυ]
  Ἔθρυπτ ἄνωθεν ὰνδρακὰς καθημένοις
  Ἄσήμ᾽· ὁ δ ἄυτῶν ἀυτικ᾽ αγνόιᾳ λαβὼν.

The reader will observe that in these and such like passages, where,
after all the labours of the learned, an uncertainty hangs over the
text, I think myself safer in giving only the general undoubted meaning
that shines through the passage, without venturing on the slippery
ground of translating words of which the proper connection may be lost,
or which, perhaps, were not written at all by the poet.

 Note 98 (p. 90).
 ". . . while with his heel he spurned
 The supper."

I quite agree with CON. that there is not the slightest reason for
rejecting the natural meaning of λακτίσμα δείπνου in this passage. Such
expressions are quite Æschylean in their character, and the analogy of
the feast of Tereus in Ovid, Met. VI. 661,

  "Thracius ingenti mensas clamore repellit,"

adduced by CON. is very happy. To push the table away, whether with
hand or heel, or with both, in such a case, is the most natural action
in the world.

 Note 99 (p. 90).
 "And no diviner vends more potent balms
 To drug a doting wit."

I have here expanded the text a little, to express the whole force of
the Greek word Ἱατρομάντεις, concerning which see Note to the Eumen. v.
62, below.

 Note 100 (p. 91).
 "Ho! my gallant co-mates, rouse ye!"

These two lines in the mouth of the Chorus make a good consecutive
sense; but the symmetrical response of line to line, so characteristic
of Greek tragedy, has led HERM., WELL., and the other editors of
note, to suppose that a line from Ægisthus has fallen out between these
lines of the Chorus. Blanks of this kind, however, the translator will
wisely overlook, so long as they do not seriously disturb the sense.



 Note 1 (p. 99).
 "What power thy father lent."

Jove was regarded as the grand source of the power exercised by all the
other gods, even Apollo receiving the gift of prophecy from him. There
is a peculiar propriety in the allusion to the father Zeus, as Mercury
is requested to perform the same office of σωτήρ or Saviour to
Orestes that Jove in a peculiar manner performs to all mankind.--See
MÜLLER on _Zeus Soter_. (Eumenides, § 94), whose observations,
however, on this particular passage, seem to force an artificial accent
on the epithet σώτηρ. The opening lines of this piece are wanting
in the MSS. and were supplied by STAN. from the Frogs of Aristophanes.

 Note 2 (p. 99).
 "* * My early growth of hair
 To Inachus I vowed."

These words will recall to the student of Homer a passage from the
twenty-third book of the Iliad, where an account is given of the funeral
ceremonies of Patroclus.

  "First the horsemen came, and then a cloud of infantry behind,
  Tens of thousands; his companions bore Patroclus in the midst,
  And the corpse they sadly covered with the locks which grief had shorn."
                                                         v. 133-5

And again--

  "Then another deed devised Achilles, godlike, swift of foot;
  Stationed sad behind the pyre he dipt his locks of yellow hair,
  Which, luxuriant shed, he cherished to Spercheius' flowing stream."
                                                      v. 140-3.

Compare the beautiful passage on the Greek mythology in Wordsworth's
Excursion, Book IV.

 Note 3 (p. 99).
 "O Jove, be thou mine aid."

Of the high functions which belong to the supreme god of the Greeks,
that of _avenger_ is not the least notable, and is alluded to with
special frequency in the Odyssey, of which poem, _retribution in this
life for wicked works_ is the great moral--whence the frequent line--

  ἀι κε πόθι Ζεὺς δῶσι παλίντιτα ἔργα γενέσθαι.

 Note 4 (p. 99).
 "And my cheeks, that herald sorrow."

"As these violent manifestations of grief were forbidden by Solon
(Plut. 21), we are to look upon them in this place as peculiarly
characteristic of the foreign captive maidens who compose the
chorus"--KL.; though the epithet of ἄμφιδρυφὴς ἄλοχος applied to the
wife of Protesilaus by Homer (Il. ii. 700, xi. 393), shows that, in the
heroic times, at least, the expression of sorrow was almost as violent
on the west as on the east side of the Hellespont.

 Note 5 (p. 101).
 "And now fear rules."

φοβεῖτας δέ τις. "_People are afraid, and dare not speak out_"--PEILE.
abruptness of this passage renders it difficult to see the allusion.
PALEY {359} gives it quite a different turn. "_Sunt qui ob commissi
sceleris quo adepti sint magnam fortunam_ (το ἐυτυχ(ε)ίν) _conscientiam
torqueantur._" But I do not think that this rendering agrees so well
with the words that follow. The thought seems to be--_the world judges
by results; and men are content, even in fear, to obey a usurper, who
shows his right by his success._ This brings out a beautiful contrast to
the σέβας, or feeling of loyal reverence that filled the public
mind towards Agamemnon, who is alluded to in the first words of the

 Note 6 (p. 101).
 "So filthy hands with blood bedabbled."

I do not see why WELL. and KL. should object to πόροι being
taken, as the Scholiast hints, for an equivalent to ποταμοὶ. The
word simply means "_channels_," and in the present connection of
purification would naturally explain itself to a Greek ear, as _channels
of water_. KL.'s rendering of πόρος, _ratio expiandae caedis_,
has no merit but being unpoetical. The ἰοῦσαν ἄτην holds concealed
some hopeless blunder; but for the need the κλύσειαν άν μάτην of FR.
may be adopted.

 Note 7 (p. 101).
 "What the masters of my fate
 In their strength decree."

"There is a proverb, Δ(ο)υλε δεσποτῶν ἄκουε καὶ δίκαια καὶ αδικα.
_Slave hear thy master whether right or wrong_."--SCHOLIAST.

 Note 8 (p. 101).
 ". . . beneath the veil."

ὑφ (ε)ιμάτων. STAN. quotes the beautiful picture of Telemachus
(Odyssey IV. 114), endeavouring to conceal his filial sorrow from the
eyes of Menelaus at Sparta--

  "From his eye the tear-drop fell when he heard his father's name,
  And with both his hands before his eyes he held the purple cloak."

 Note 9 (p. 102).
      ". . . libations pure,
 Poured on my father's tomb."

These libations are described in various passages of the Classics, of
which the following may suffice:--

  "Then to all the dead I poured libations, first with honied milk,
  Then with sweetest wine, and then with water, and I strewed the grains
  Of whitest meal."--ODYSSEY XI. 26.

  "Go, my Hermione, without the door,
  And these libations take, and take my hair,
  And, standing over Clytemnestra's tomb,
  Milk-mingled honey and the winy foam
  Pour, and thus speak."--EURIP., OREST. 112.

  "And with the due libation's triple flow
  She crowns the corpse."--SOPH. ANTIG., 429.

The χοᾶισι πρισπόνδαισι, being the _wine_, _water_, and _milk_,
particularised in the above extract from Homer. Compare Virgil's Æn. V.
78, and St. Augustine's Confessions vi. 2, with regard to his mother's
offering at the tombs of the martyrs--_pultes et panem et merum_.

 Note 10 (p. 102).
 ". . . as who throws lustral ashes."

καθάρματα. "Ashes of lustral offerings"--PEILE. "Alluding to the
custom of the Athenians, who, after purifying their houses with incense
in an earthen vessel, threw the vessel into the streets, and retired
with averted eyes."--SCHOLIAST.


 Note 11 (p. 102).
                  "What other quittance to a foe
 Than hate repaid with hate, and blow with blow?"

Why not? πῶς δ᾽ ου; how should it be otherwise? Observe, here, how far
the Christian rule, _love thine enemies_, was from the Heathen mind. It
is very far yet from our practice; though it is difficult to
over-estimate the value of having such ideal moral maxims as those of
the New Testament to refer to as a generally recognized standard.

 Note 12 (p. 103).
 "Hermes, that swayest underneath the ground."

All the recent editors agree in bringing up the line--

  κήρυξ μέγιστε των άνω τε καὶ κάτω,

from v. 162 to this place, where the initial words are plainly wanting.
"Hermes is invoked here as the great mediator between the living and
the dead."--KL. "_Herald me in this_"--κηύξας ᾽εμοι--_perform a
herald's function to me in this;_ the verb chosen with special
reference to the name κήρυξ, according to the common practice of the
Greek writers. In the second line below, I can have no hesitation in
adopting STAN.'s emendation of ὸωμάτων for ομμάτων. AHRENS (in
FR.) has tried to make the passage more pregnant by reading ἁιμάτων,
but this scarcely seems such an obvious emendation.

 Note 13 (p. 103).
 "These words of evil imprecation dire."

This is said to avoid the bad omen of mingling a curse with a blessing.
The ancients were very scrupulous as to the use of evil words in
religious services, and, when such were either necessary, or had
accidentally crept in, they always made a formal apology. This I have
expressed more largely than my text warrants in the next line, where I
follow SCHÜTZ in reading καλῆς for κακῆς; a correction which, though
not absolutely necessary, is sufficiently plausible to justify BLOM.,
SCHOL., and PAL. in their adoption of it.

 Note 14 (p. 103).

_Chorus_. This chorus seems hopelessly botched in the first half, and
all the attempts to mend it are more or less unsatisfactory. If any one
think "plashing torrents" a strong phrase, he must know that it is no
stronger than καναχὲς in the original, a word familiar to every student
of Homer. The ἐρυμα (or ἐρμα--HERM.), I agree with every interpreter,
except Klausen, in applying to the tomb of Agamemnon; of the κακῶν
κεδνῶν τε, I can make nothing, beyond incorporating the Scholiast's
gloss, ἀπότροπον των ἠμετέρων κακῶν.

 Note 15 (p. 104).

_Electra_. The reader will find in POT. a somewhat amplified
translation of the line here--

  κήρυξ μεγιστε των άνω τε καὶ κάτω,

mentioned above as having been thrown back by Hermann to the
commencement of Electra's address over the tomb of her father,
immediately preceding the short choral ode. It is literally translated
by E. P., Oxon.--

  "O mightiest herald of the powers above and below,"

but comes in quite awkwardly, and manifestly out of place.


 Note 16 (p. 104).
 ". . . a low-zoned maid's."

βαθυζώνου. "High-bosomed," POTTER; "hochgeschürzt," DROYSEN;
"deep-bosomed," E. P., Oxon.; "Weib im Festgewand," FRANZ. Not
having a distinct idea of what is meant by this epithet, I have
contented myself with a literal rendering.

 Note 17 (p. 104).
                         "If it was dipt
 From head in Argos, it should be my own."

This passage has given great trouble to commentators, who cannot see
how Electra should say that no person but herself could have owned this
lock, which yet she knew was not her own. They have, accordingly, at
least LIN., PEILE, and PAL., adopted DOBREES' emendation of
ἑνος (one person, _i.e._, _Orestes_), instead of ἐμου, mine, which,
though ingenious, does not appear to me at all necessary. Electra means
to say, _nobody here could have done it but me; and yet it is not mine_
(this implied); _therefore, of course, the conclusion to be made is
clear,_ ἐυξύμβολον τὸδ ἐστι δοξάσαι, _it must have been Orestes!_

 Note 18 (p. 105).
 ". . . But lo! a further proof."

Imagine such evidence produced as a step in the chain of circumstantial
evidence before a court of justice! Even the perturbed state of
Electra's mind may not redeem it from the charge of being grossly
ludicrous. WELL. and FR., with that solemn conscientious gravity for
which the Germans are notable, have, however, taken it under their wing,
followed here, strangely enough, by PEILE. If the circumstance is to
be defended at all, we had better suppose that Æschylus has given the
details of the recognition exactly as he had received them from the old
popular legend in the mouth of some story-teller. But why should not the
father of tragedy, as well as the father of Epos, sometimes nod?

 Note 19 (p. 105).
 "Pray that fair end may fair beginning follow."

This seems to have been a sort of proverbial prayer among the Greeks,
used for the sake of a good omen, as we find Clytemnestra, in the
Agamemnon (p. 57 above), saying the same thing.

῏Ευ γὰρ πρὸς ἐυ φαν(ε)ισι προσθήκη πελοι. v. 486.

 Note 20 (p. 106).
 ". . . behold this web."

"The ladies, in the simplicity of ancient times, valued themselves much,
and, indeed, were highly esteemed, for their skill in embroidery; those
rich wrought vests made great part of the wealth of noble houses.
Andromache, Helen, and Penelope, were celebrated for their fine work, of
which Minerva herself was the patroness, and Dido was as excellent as
the best of them."--POT. The student will recall a familiar instance
from Virgil--

  "Munera praetrea Iliacis erepta ruinis
  Ferre jubet; pallam signis auroque rigentem
  Et circumtextum croceo velamen acantho
  Ornatus Argivae Helenæ."--ÆNEID I. 651.

evidently modelled on Odys. xix. 225.


 Note 21 (p. 106).
 "May Power and Justice aid thee, mighty Twain."

The reader will note this theological triad as very characteristic of
the Greeks. POWER (Κράτος) is coupled with Jove, as being his most
peculiar physical attribute. Personified, this attribute appears in the
Prometheus; and in Homer,

  "Jove, the lofty-pealing Thunderer, and in power the chiefest god,"

answers to the opening words of our own solemn addresses to the Supreme
Being--ALMIGHTY GOD. JUSTICE, again, belongs to Jove as the highest
moral attribute; and this conjunction we find also very distinctly
expressed in Homer.

  "By Olympian Jove I charge you, and by Themis who presides
  O'er the assemblies of the people."--ODYSSEY II. 68.

 Note 22 (p. 107).
 ". . . exasperate at the loss
 Of my so fair possessions."

ἀποχρημάτοισι ζημιάις ταυρόυμενον. KL. has made sad havoc of this
line; but his objections to the old translation are weak, and his
transpositions, so far as I can see, only make confusion more
confounded. I stick by STAN. Ἀποχρήματος ζημιά est _damnum bonorum
omnium_. Huc facit illud quod sequitur v. 299. και προσπιέζει χρημάτων

 Note 23 (p. 107).
 ". . . The evil-minded Powers
 Beneath the Earth."

I am quite at a loss to explain the original of this passage further
than that I see nothing harsh (as LIN. does) in referring the general
term δυσφρόνων to the Furies, who are specially mentioned afterwards.
It is quite common with Æschylus to give a general description first,
and then specialise; and, moreover, in the present instance the
λιχήνος which the δυσφρονες are to send on the flesh of the sinner,
are strictly analogous to the λιχὴν ἀφυλλος (Eumen. v. 788), with
which, in the Eumenides, they threaten to curse the Athenian soil. For
the rest I should have little objection, in the present state of the
MSS., to adopt LOBECK's suggestion, μηνίματα, into the text, and
have in effect so translated.

 Note 24 (p. 107).
 "And through the dark his prescient eyebrow arched."

The reference of this impracticable line to Apollo comes from Pauw,
and has been adopted by SCHWENCK, who reads--

  'Ορῶν τε λαμπρὸν ὲν σκότῳ τ᾽ ᾽οφρὺν.

Another way of squeezing a meaning from the line is to refer it to

         "With trains of heavier woes
  Raised by the Furies from my father's blood,
  Who in the realms of night sees this, and bends
  His gloomy brows."--POT.

The other translations proposed are meagre and unpoetical.

 Note 25 (p. 107).
                    ". . . him no share
 In festal cup awaits, or hallowed drop
 Of pure libation."


Here we have a notable example of the terms of that sort of
excommunication which the religious and social feeling of the ancients
passed against the perpetrators of atrocious crimes. See Introductory
Remarks to the Eumenides.

 Note 26 (p. 108).
 "Age to age with hoary wisdom
 Speaketh thus to men."

The old Jewish maxim of _an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth_,
will here recur to every one; and, indeed, it is, to the present day, an
instinctive dictate of social justice, however insufficient it may be as
a general motive for individual conduct. In this spirit, wise old
Nestor, in the Iliad (II. 354), considers that it would be disgraceful
for the Greeks to think of returning home "before some Greek had slept
with the wife of some Trojan," as a retaliation for the woes that Paris
had inflicted on Greek social life, in the matter of Helen. In Dante's
Inferno there are many instances, sometimes ingenious, sometimes only
ridiculous, of the application of this principle to retributive
punishment in a future life.

 Note 27 (p. 108).
 "There where in dark, the dead-man's day, thou liest."

KL. appears to me to have supplied the true key to σκότω φάος
ἰσόμοιρον, by comparing the exclamation of Ajax in Sophocles, v. 394--

  Ιὼ σκότος ἐμὸν φάος
  ἔρεβος ὠ φαεννότατον ὡς εμόι!

The gloomy state of the dead in Hades is pictured yet more darkly, by
saying that the night, which covers them, is all that serves them for

 Note 28 (p. 109).
 "The monarch of the awful dead."

The Hades of the ancients was, as is well remarked by KL. on this
place, in all things an image of this upper world; an observation to be
made on the surface of Virgil--

                       "Quae gratia currum
  Armorumque fuit viris, quæ cura nitentes
  Pascere equos, eadem sequitur tellure repostos."
                               ÆNEID VI. 653.

But the parallel most striking to the present passage occurs in the
address of Ulysses to Achilles, Odyssey XI. 482--

  Never man before was happier, nor shall ever be, than thou;
  When thou wert among the living all the Argives honoured thee
  Like a god, and now amid the dead thou sway'st with mighty power."

To which address the hero gave the well-known reply, a reply
characteristic at once of his own tremendous energy, and of the Greek
views of a future state:--

  "Noble Ulysses, praise me not the state of death; for I would rather
  Be a serf, and break the clods to him that owneth acres few
  On Earth, than reign the mighty lord of millions of the shadowy dead."

 Note 29 (p. 110).
 "Hyperborean bliss."

"Fair birds have fair feathers;" so the Greeks, who had sent no voyages
of discovery to the Arctic seas, were free, without contradiction, to
place Utopia at the North Pole. (See Herodot. III. 106, quoted by
_Nitzsh_ in his comments on the Phœacians, Od. VII. 201-6.) SCHÜTZ
quotes POMP. MELA. III. 5--"_diutius quam ulli mortalium et beatius
vivunt._" Some of {364} these Hyperboreans drank nothing but milk
(γαλακτοφάγοι, Hom. Il. XIII. 6), and from this practice the alleged
purity of their manners, according to certain modern theories of
dietetics, may have arisen.

 Note 30 (p. 110).
 "O Jove, O Jove! that sendest from below."

"Zeus, though his proper region is above, yet, by reason of his perfect
concord with his brother in the moral government of the world, exercises
authority also in Hades"--KL. This is one of the many instances to be
found in Homer and Æschylus of the Monotheistic principle of an
enlightened Deism controlling and overruling the apparent confusion and
anarchy of Polytheism.

 Note 31 (p. 111).
 "Ye that honoured reign below."

What the true reading of the corrupt original here is, no one can know;
but it may be some satisfaction to the student to note that the
different readings of all the emendators bring out substantially the
same sense. I give the various translations as follows:--

             _You, whose dreaded power_
  _The infernal realms revere, ye Furies, hear me!_--POT.

  O ye powers that are honoured among the dead, listen to my prayer.--E.
    P., Oxon.

  Höret ihr Herrscher der Tiefe, hört mich.--DROY.
  Höret mich Erd, und des Abgrund's mächte!--FR.

Neither this "Earth," nor my "Furies," can be looked on as part of the
text. They are only put in to fill up a gap, where nothing better can be

 Note 32 (p. 111).
 "And if blithe confidence awhile."

This passage is desperate. I follow PEILE in the translation; though,
if I were editing the Greek, I should prefer to follow WELL. and
PAL. in doing nothing.

 Note 33 (p. 111).
 "The mother gave her child
 This wolfish nature wild."

This translation, which is supported by PEILE, and PAL., and LIN.,
seems to me to give θυμὸς that reference to Orestes which connects it
best with the previous lines, while it, at the same time, gives the
least forced explanation of ἐκ μάτρος.

 Note 34 (p. 112).
 "Like a Persian mourner."

The student will find a very remarkable difference between this version
and that in POT. and E. P. Oxon., arising from the conversion of the
word πολεμιστρίας into ἰηλεμιστρίας, a conjectural emendation which we
owe to HERMANN and AHRENS, and which appears to me to be one of the
most satisfactory that has ever been made on the text of Æschylus. It
has, accordingly, been adopted by KL., PEILE, PAL., FR., and
DROY. The oriental wailers were famous, and the "Maryandine and
Mysian wailers" are especially mentioned by our poet in the final
chorus of "the Persians;" which will be the best commentary on the
exaggerated tone of the present passage. I have followed the recent
German editors and translators in giving the first part of this Strophe
to the Chorus. There seems to be a natural division at the words Ἰὼ, Ἰὼ


 Note 35 (p. 112).

_Orestes_. WELL. has certainly made a great oversight in running on
continuously with these two Strophes. However the division be made, a
new person must commence with Αέγεις πατρώϊον μόρον.

 Note 36 (p. 113).

_Chorus_. Here again I follow the later editors and translators in
dividing the part given to the Chorus by WELL. There is a sort of
natural partition of the style and sentiment palpable to any reader. It
may also be remarked in general, that the broken and exclamatory style
of the lamentation in this Chorus is quite incompatible with long
continuous speeches (such as POT. has given), out of one mouth. The
order of persons I give as in PEILE.

 Note 37 (p. 114).
 "Scathless myself."

φυγεῖν. FR. has unnecessarily changed this into τυχεῖν. In Odyssey
XX. 43, Ulysses uses the same language to Athena.

 Note 38 (p. 114).
 "Thou too shalt taste."

That the dead were believed actually to eat the meat and drink that was
prepared for them at the funeral feast is evident from the eleventh
book of the Odyssey, where they come up in fluttering swarms and sip
the pool of blood from the victim which he had sacrificed.

 Note 39 (p. 115).
 "Well spoken both."

With KL., PEILE, FR., and PAL., I adopt Hermann's emendation--

  κὰι μὴν ἀμεμφῆ τον δ ἐτείνατον λόγον.

and with him give the four lines to the Chorus. A very obvious and
natural sense is thus brought out, besides that καὶ μὴν naturally
indicates a change of person.

 Note 40 (p. 115).
 ". . . try what speed the gods may give thee."

δαίμονος πειρῶμενος. Literally _trying your god_--the dependence of
fortune upon God being a truth so vividly before the Greek mind that
the term δαίμων came to be used for both in a manner quite foreign to
the use of the English language, and which can only be fully expressed
by giving both the elements of the word in a sort of paraphrase.

 Note 41 (p. 116).
 ". . . this whole house with ills
 Is sheer possessed."

δαὶμονᾷ δόμος κακοῖς. Literally, "the house is _godded_ with ills,"
that is, so beset with evil that we can attribute it only to a special
superhuman power--to a god, as the Greeks expressed it, to the devil,
as we say.

 Note 42 (p. 116).
           ". . . Sirs, why dare ye shut
 Inhospitable doors against the stranger?"

To shut the door upon a stranger or a beggar, seems, in Homer's days,
to have been accounted as great a sin, as it is now, from change of
circumstances, necessarily looked on as almost a virtue. Every book of
the Odyssey has some testimony to this; suffice it to quote the maxim--


     "προς γαρ Διος ἐισιν ἂπαντες
  ξεινοί τε πτωχοί τε."


 Note 43 (p. 116).
 "The third and crowning cup."

"Alluding first to the slaughter of the children of Thyestes by Atreus,
then to the murder of Agamemnon by Clytemnestra, and thirdly, that of
Clytemnestra and Ægisthus presently to take place."--KL.

 Note 44 (p. 116).
              ". . . his present aid I ask.
 Who laid on my poor wits this bloody task."

I am inclined with SCHÜTZ, KL., and PEILE, to think that there is
more propriety in referring this to Apollo than to Pylades. It is true,
also, as SCHÜTZ remarks, that Æschylus generally, if not invariably,
applies the word ἐποπτεύω to the notice taken of anything by a god.

 Note 45 (p. 117).
 "Earth breeds a fearful progeny."

The sentiment of this chorus was familiar to the ancients, and was
suggested with peculiar force to the minds of the tragedians, from the
contemplation of those terrible deeds of old traditionary crime, which
so often formed the subject of their most popular and most powerful
efforts. Sophocles had a famous chorus in the Antigone, beginning in
the same strain, though ranging over a wider and a more ennobling
field--"πολλὰ τα δεινὰ κ᾽ ουδὲν ανθρώπου δεινότερον πέλει."

  "Things of might hath Nature many
   In her various plan,
  But of daring powers who dareth
   Most on Earth is man."

In imitation of which, the

       "Audax omnia perpeti
  Gens humana ruit in vetitum nefas"

of Horace has become proverbial. In modern times, the pages of the
_Times_ newspaper will supply more ample and various illustrations of
the same great truth than the most learned ancient could have
collected. In England especially, the strong nature of the Saxon shows
something Titanic, both in feats of mechanical enterprise and in crime.

 Note 46 (p. 117).
 "All-venturing woman's dreadful ire."

KL. quotes here the Homeric

        ὡς ὀυκ ἀινότερον και κύντερον ἀλλο γυναικὸς.
  "Woman like a dog unblushing deeds of terrible name will do."

So a friend who was in Paris, at the time of the Revolution in 1848,
wrote to me--"With the men I can easily manage, but _the women are

 Note 47 (p. 117).
 "Thestios' daughter, wild with rage."

Althea, the mother of the famous Calydonian boar-hunter, Meleager, who
is so often seen on the sides of ancient sarcophagi. "When Meleager was
seven days old, it is said the Fates appeared, declaring that the boy
would die, as soon as the piece of wood that was burning on the hearth
should be consumed. When Althea heard this, she extinguished the
firebrand, and concealed it in a chest. Meleager himself became
invulnerable; {367} but when--in the war between the Calydonians and the
Curetes--he had unfortunately killed his mother's brother, she lighted
the piece of wood, and Meleager died."--_Dict. Biog._

 Note 48 (p. 117).
 "How Scylla, gay, in gold arrayed."

The daughter of Nisus, king of Megara, who, when Minos, in his
expedition against Athens, took Megara, betrayed the city to the enemy,
by cutting off the purple or golden hair which grew on the top of her
father's head, and on which his life and the preservation of the city
depended.--_Dict. Biog._; _voce_ NISUS, and Virgil Georg. I. 404, and
Ovid. Met VIII. 90, quoted here by STAN.

 Note 49 (p. 118).
 "O woman! woman! Lemnos saw."

The Lemnian women, as Apollodorus relates (I. 9, 17), having neglected
to pay due honor to Venus, were, by that goddess, made so ill-favoured
and intolerable to consort with (ἀυταῖς ἐμβάλλη δοσοσμίαν), that their
husbands, abandoning them, took themselves other wives from among the
captive women that they had brought over from Thrace. The Lemnian women,
in revenge, murdered both their fathers and their husbands; from which
atrocious act, and another bloody deed mentioned by Herodotus (VI. 138),
"it hath been the custom," says the historian, "to call by the name
Lemnian any monstrous and inhuman action."

 Note 50 (p. 118).
 "And honor from the threshold hies,
 On which the doom god-spoken lies."

We are not always sufficiently alive to the deep moral power which lay
concealed beneath the harlequin dress of the old Greek Polytheism. What
Æschylus puts into the mouth of a theatrical chorus in sounding rhythm,
Xenophon, in plain prose, teaches from the mouth of a Greek captain
thus--"Whosoever violates an oath to which the gods are witness, him I
can never be brought to look on as a happy man. For, when the gods are
once hostile, no one can escape their anger--not by hiding himself in
darkness--not by fencing himself within a strong place. For all things
are subject to the gods."--_Anab_. II. 5. Think on some of the Psalms!

 Note 51 (p. 119).
 "But nice regard for the fine feeling ear."

I have here with a certain freedom of version expressed KL.'s idea,
that the preference expressed by Orestes for a male ear to receive his
message arose from the nature of his news; but I do not think it is
"inept" to believe, with BL. and PEILE, that we have here merely an
instance of the general secluded state in which Greek women lived, so
that it was esteemed not proper to talk with them, in public--as
Achilles says, in Euripides--

  ἀισχρὸν δέ μοὶ γυναιξὶν συμβὰλλειν λόγους.
  "For me to hold exchange of words with women
  Were most improper."--IPHIG. AULID. 830.

 Note 52 (p. 119).
 "Hot baths."

To an English ear this sounds more like the apparatus of modern luxury
than the accompaniment of travel in the stout heroic times. It is a
fact, however, as KL. well notes, that of nothing is there more
frequent mention in Homer than of warm baths. This is especially
frequent in the Odyssey, {368} where so many journeys are made.
Telemachus, for instance, at Pylus, is washed by the beautiful
Polycaste, the youngest daughter of his venerable host; and the poet
records with pleasure how "out of the bath he came in appearance like to
the immortal gods" (III. 468), a verse which might serve as a very
suitable motto to a modern work on Hydropathy.

 Note 53 (p. 119).

_Electra_. WELL. is very imperative in taking these words out of
Electra's mouth, and giving them to some other person, he does not
exactly know who; but, though she left the stage before, there is no
reason why she should not come back; and, in fact, she is just doing
what she ought to do in appearing here, and carrying on the deception.

 Note 54 (p. 120).
 "Is audited at nothing."

The passage is corrupt. I read παρ᾽ ὀυδέν, with Blomfield. 'Tis
certainly difficult to say whether βακχείας καλης should be made to
depend on ἐλπὶς, as I have made it, or being changed into κακης, be
referred to Clytemnestra.

 Note 55 (p. 120).
 ". . . suasive wile, and smooth deceit!"

The reader need hardly be reminded that these qualities, so necessary
to the present transaction, render the invocation (in the next line)
peculiarly necessary of the god, who was the recognised patron of
thieves, and of whom the Roman lyrist, in a well-known ode sings--

  "Te boves olim nisi reddidisses
  Per dolum amotas puerum minaci
  Voce dum terret, viduus pharetra
     Risit Apollo."

 Note 56 (p. 120).
 "The nightly courier of the dead."

τὸν νύχιον. That there is a great propriety in the epithet _nightly_,
as applied to Mercury, both in respect of his general function as
πομπᾶιος, or leader of the dead through the realms of night, and in
respect of the particular business now in hand, and the particular time
of the action, is obvious. In spite of some grammatical objections,
therefore, I cannot but think it far-fetched in BLOM. and PEILE to
refer the epithet to Orestes. Were I editing the text I should be very
much inclined to follow HERM. and PAL. in putting καὶ τὸν νύχιον
within brackets, as perhaps a gloss.

 Note 57 (p. 122).
 "The bearer of a tale can make it wear
 What face he pleases."

I translate thus generally, in order to avoid the necessity of settling
the point whether κυπτὸς or κρυπτὸς is the proper reading--a point,
however, of little consequence to the translator of Æschylus, as the
Venetian Scholiast to Il. O. 207 has been triumphantly brought forward
to prove the real meaning of this otherwise corrupt and unintelligible
verse. POT. was not in a condition to get hold of the true text--so
he has given the best version he could of what he had--

  "_For the mind catches from the messenger_
  _A secret elevation and bold swell,_"

evidently from the reading of PAW.--


  ἐν ὰγγελῳ γὰρ κρυπτὸς ὠρθωθῃ φρενὶ
  _animo enim clam erigatur nuntio isto._

--See BUTLER's Notes.

 Note 58 (p. 122).

CHORAL HYMN. The text of this Chorus is a ruin, with here a pillar and
there a pillar, some fragments of a broken cornice, and something like
the cell of a god; but the rubbish is so thick, and the excavations so
meagre, that perfect recovery of the original scheme is in some places
impossible, and restoration in a great measure conjectural. Under these
circumstances, with the help of the Commentators (chiefly PEILE and
LIN.), I have endeavoured to piece out a connection between the few
fragments that are intelligible; but I have been guided throughout more
by a sort of poetical instinct than by any philological science, and
have allowed myself all manner of liberties, convinced that in this case
the most accurate translation is sure to be the worst. In the metre, I
follow PEILE.

 Note 59 (p. 125).
 "Let's go aside, the deed being done, that we
 Seem not partakers of the bloody work."

'Tis a misfortune, arising from having such a body as a Chorus always on
the stage, that they are often found to be spectators, where they cannot
be partakers of a great work; and thus their attitude as secret
sympathisers, afraid to show their real sentiments, becomes on many
occasions the very reverse of heroic. This strikes us moderns very
strongly, apt as we are, from previous associations, to take the Chorus
along with the other characters of the play, and judge it accordingly;
but to the Greeks, who felt that the Chorus was there only for the
purpose of singing, criticisms of this kind were not likely to occur.

 Note 60 (p. 126).
 "I nursed thy childhood, and in peace would die."

Clytemnestra says only that she wished to be allowed to spend her old
age in peace; but she implies further, according to a natural feeling
strongly expressed by Greek writers, that it was the special duty of
her son to support her old age, and thus pay the fee of his nursing.
Thus, in Homer, it is a constant lament over one who dies young in

                  "Not to his parents
  The nursing fee (θρέπτρα) he paid."
                       --IL. IV. 478.

"In general it was accounted a great misfortune by the Greeks to die
childless (ἄπαιδα γηράσκειν, Eurip. Ion. 621). And at Athens there was
a law making it imperative on an heir to afford aliment to his

 Note 61 (p. 126).
 "Thou art a woman sitting in thy chamber."

  "Go to thy chamber, mother, and mind the business that suits thee;
  Tend the loom and the spindle, and give thy maidens the order
  Each to her separate work; but leave the bow and the arrows
  To the men and to me--for the man in the house is the master."
                                               ODYSSEY XXI. 350.

So Telemachus says to his mother; and on other occasions he uses what we
should think, rather sharp and undutiful language--but in Greece a woman
who left the woman's chamber without a special and exceptional call
{370} subjected herself to just rebuke. With regard to the matter here
at issue between Orestes and Clytemnestra, KL. notes that, though the
wandering Ulysses is allowed without blame to form an amorous alliance
with Calypso, the same excuse is not allowed for the female sitting
quietly in her "upper chamber" (ὑπερώιον, Il. II. 514) as Homer has it.
For "in ancient times," says the Scholiast to that passage, "the Greeks
shut up their women in garrets (ὑπερ τοῦ δυσεντεύκτους ἀυτάς (ἐ)ιναι)
_that they might be difficult to get at_."--How Turkish!

 Note 62 (p. 126).

_Orestes_. I have little doubt that KL., PEILE, FR., WELL., and
PAL., are right in giving the line ἦ κάρτα μάντις to Orestes. I
should be inclined to agree with WELL. and PAL. also, that after
this line a verse has dropt out--"_in quo instantem sibi mortem
deprecata sit Clytemnestra;_" but there is no need of indicating the
supposed blank in the translation, as the sense runs on smoothly enough
without it.

 Note 63 (p. 127).
 ". . . the eye of this great house, may live."

An Oriental expression, to which the magnificent phraseology of our
Celestial brother who sells tea, has made the English ear sufficiently
familiar. He calls our king, or our consul, I forget which, "the
Barbarian eye." Other examples of this style occur in the Persians and
the Eumenides.--See p. 172 above.

 Note 64 (p. 127).
 "A pair of grim lions, a double Mars terrible."

Klausen, who, like other Germans, has a trick, sometimes, of preferring
what is far-fetched to what is obvious, considers that this double Mars
is the double death, first of Agamemnon in the previous piece, then of
Clytemnestra in this; but notwithstanding what he says, the best
comment on this passage is that given by the old Scholiast, when he
writes "PYLADES and ORESTES."

 Note 65 (p. 127).
 "Sore chastisement."

ποινὰ. AHRENS, with great boldness, changes this into Ἐρμᾶς, which
reading has been rashly thrown into the text by FR. If any special
allusion is needed, I agree with PAL. that Orestes is indicated, who
is mentioned in the next clause as inflicting the blow, under the
guidance of celestial Justice.

 Note 66 (p. 127).
 "Her from his shrine sent the rock-throned Apollo."

In this corrupt passage I adopt HERMANN's correction of τάν περ for
τάπέρ. How much the whole meaning is guesswork, the reader may see, by
comparing my translation with POT. and the E. P. Oxon., in this
place, who follow the old Scholiast in referring χρονισθ(ε)ισαυ to

 Note 67 (p. 127).
 "And blithely shall welcome them Fortune the fairest."

This passage being very corrupt, is rendered freely. I adopt STAN.'s
conjecture ἰδεῖν ἀκοῦσαι θ᾽ ἱεμενοις, and suppose μέτοικοι to refer to
Orestes and Electra.

 Note 68 (p. 128).
                              ". . . not
 My father, but the Sun that fathers all
 With light."


There is a certain mannerism in this description of a thing by the
negation of what is similar, to which the tragedians were much addicted.
As to the invocation of the sun, see the note in the Prometheus to the
speech beginning

  O divine ether and swift-winged winds.

 Note 69 (p. 128).
 "Or a torpedo, that with biteless touch
 Strikes numb who handles."

Literally, _a lamprey_, μύραινα; but to translate so would have been
ludicrous; and besides, as BLOM. has noted from Athenaeus, it was not
a common lamprey that, in the imagination of the Greeks, was coupled
with a viper, but "a sort of monstrous reptile begotten between a viper
and a lamprey."

 Note 70 (p. 128).
 "This cloth to wrap the dead."

'Tis difficult to say whether δρόιτη, in this place, means the bath in
which Agamemnon was murdered, or the bier on which any dead body is
laid after death. KL. supports this latter interpretation. I have
incorporated a reference to both versions.

 Note 71 (p. 129).
 "Others 'twixt hope and fear may sway, my fate
 Is fixed and scapeless."

I read--

  Ἄλλοις ἄν ἐι δή. τουτ᾽ ἂρ (ὀ)ιδ ὃπη τελ(ε)ι.

 Note 72 (p. 129).
 "With soft-wreathed wool, and precatory branch."

These insignia of suppliants are familiar to every reader of the
Classics. I shall only recall two of the most familiar instances. In the
opening scene of the Iliad the priest of Apollo appears before
Agamemnon, and

  "In his hand he held the chaplet of the distant-darting Phœbus
  On a golden rod."

And in the opening lines of the Œdipus Tyrannus, the old King asks the

  "Why swarm ye here around the seats of the gods,
  With branches furnished such as suppliants bear?"

 Note 73 (p. 129).
 ". . . navel of earth, where burns the flame
 Of fire immortal."

As the old astronomers made Earth the centre of the planetary system,
and as men are everywhere, and at all times, apt to consider their own
position and point of view as of more importance in the great whole of
things than it really is; so the Greeks, in their ignorant vanity,
considered their own Delphi to be the navel, or central point of Earth.
As to the immortal fire, STAN. quotes here from Plutarch, who, in his
life of Numa (c. ix.), describing the institution of the Vestal Virgins,
takes occasion to mention the sacred fire kept alive in Greece at two
places, Delphi and Athens, which, if extinguished, was always rekindled
from no earthly spark, but from the Sun.

 Note 74 (p. 130).
 "There is atonement."

Ἐισιν καθαρμόι, SCHÜTZ, PAL.; (ε)᾽ σται καθαρμός, BOTHE. Either of
these seems preferable to the vulgate ἐισω. FRANZ has ῟Εις σοι
καθαρμὸς. _Eins bleibt Dir Sühnung._


 Note 75 (p. 130).
 "Ye see them not. I see them."

Ghosts and gods are never visible to the bystander, but only to the
person or persons who may be under their special influence at the
moment of their appearance--so in the Iliad (I. 197), Pallas Athena--

  "There behind him stood, and by the yellow hair she seized Pelides,
  Seen to him alone; the others saw not where the goddess stood."

and so in a thousand places of the poet. To the spectator, however, in
the theatre, spiritual beings must be visible, because (as Müller,
Eumen. 3, properly remarks) they are the very persons from before whose
eyes it is the business of the poet to remove the veil that interposes
between our everyday life and the spiritual world. That the Furies of
the following piece were seen bodily at this part of the present play,
and are not supposed to exist merely in the brain of Orestes, is only
what a decent regard for common poetical consistency on the part of a
great tragic poet seems to imply.

 Note 76 (p. 130).
 ". . . the god whose eyes in love behold thee!"

What god is not said, but the word θεός is used indefinitely without
the article. The Greeks had an indefinite style when talking of the
divine providence--_a god_, or _some god_, or _the god_, or _the
gods_--a style which arose naturally out of the Polytheistic form of
celestial government. Examples of all the different kinds of phraseology
are frequent in Homer. Sometimes, in that author, the expression, though
indefinite in itself, has a special allusion, plain enough from the
context; and in the present passage I see no harm in supposing an
allusion to Apollo, under whose immediate patronage Orestes acts through
the whole of this piece and that which follows.



 Note 1 (p. 141).
      "Old earth, primeval prophetess, I first
 With these my prayers invoke; and Themis next."

Earth, or GAEA, as the Greeks name her, is described here, and in
Pausanias (X. 5), as the most ancient prophetess of Delphi, for two
reasons; _first_, because out of the earth came those intoxicating fumes
or vapours, by the inspiration of which the oracles were given forth
(see Diodorus XVI. 26); _second_, because, as SCHOEMANN well observes,
GAEA, as the aboriginal divine mother, out of whose womb all the
future celestial genealogies were developed, necessarily contained in
herself the law of their development, and is accordingly represented by
Hesiod as exercising a prophetic power with regard to the fates of the
other gods.--(Theog. 463, 494, 625). The same writer remarks with equal
ingenuity and truth, that Themis, her successor in the prophetic office,
is only a personification of that law of development which, by necessity
of her divine nature, originally lay in Gaea; and I would remark,
further, how admirable the instinct was of those old mythologists, who
placed LOVE and RIGHT, and other ineradicable feelings or notions of
the human mind, among the very oldest of the gods. It is notable also,
that previous to Apollo, all the presidents of prophecy at
Delphi--including the famous Phemonoe, not mentioned here but by
Pausanias l. c., were women, and even Loxias himself could not give forth
oracles without the help of a Pythoness. There is a great fitness in
this, as women are naturally both more pious and more emotional than
men. Hence their peculiar fitness for exercising prophetic functions, of
which ancient Germany was witness--(see Cæsar B.C. I. 50).

 Note 2 (p. 141).
 ". . . rocky Delos' lake."

There can be no question that SCHÜTZ was right in translating λίμνη,
in this passage, _lake_ (and not _sea_, as ABRESCH did), it being
impossible that a well-informed Athenian, on hearing this passage in
the theatre, should not understand the poet to refer to the circular
lake in Delos, described by Herodotus in II. 170.

 Note 3 (p. 141).
 "The Sons of Vulcan pioneer his path."

_i.e._ "The Athenians"--Scholiast--"who," adds STAN., "were called
the sons of Vulcan, because they were skilled in all the arts of which
Vulcan and Pallas were patrons; or, because Erichthonius, from whom the
Athenians were descended, was the son of Vulcan;" with which latter view
Müller and Schoemann concur; and it appears to me sufficiently
reasonable. There is no reason, however, for not receiving, along with
this explanation, another which has been given, that the sons of the
fire-god mean "smiths." Artificers of this kind were necessary to
pioneer the path for the procession of the god in the manner here
described, and would naturally form, at least, a part of the convoy.


 Note 4 (p. 141).
 ". . . Loxias, prophet of his father Jove."

'Tis plain from the whole language of Homer, both in the Iliad and
Odyssey, that the fountain of the whole moral government of the world
is Jove, and, of course, that all divination and inspiration comes
originally from him. Even Phœbus Apollo acts only as his instrument
(Nägelsbach Homerische Theologie, p. 105). STAN. compares Virgil
Æneid III. 250.

 Note 5 (p. 141).
 ". . . thee, likewise, who 'fore this temple dwellest."

The reading προνάια (or προνᾴα), which I translate, is that of WELL.
and all the MSS.; but LIN. has put πρόνοια, _providential_ or
_foreseeing_, into the text, following out a criticism of Lennep on
Phalaris, which has been stoutly defended by Hermann, in his remarks on
Müller's Eumenides (Opusc. VI. v. 2, p. 17). This, however, in the face
of an express passage of Herodotus (I. 92), as PAL. well observes, has
been done rashly; and now FR. and SCHOE. bring forward inscriptions
which prove that there is not the slightest cause for tampering with the
text. I have not been able to learn the substance of Lennep's remarks
otherwise than from the account of them by Müller in the Anhang, p. 14;
but, taken at their highest value, they seem only to prove that a
vagueness had taken hold of the ancients themselves in respect to the
designation of this temple, not certainly that Æschylus and Herodotus
both made a mistake in calling it προνᾴα, or that all the transcribers
of their texts made a blunder.

 Note 6 (p. 141).
 ". . . ye Nymphs that love
 The hollow Corycian rock."

"From Delphi, which lies pretty high, the traveller ascended about
60 stadia, or two hours' travel, till he arrived at the Corycian cave,
dedicated to Pan and the Nymphs, in which there were many stalactites
and live fountains."--SICKLER. _alte geog_. II. 134.

 Note 7 (p. 141).
 "Thee, Bromius, too, I worship."

Bacchus, so called from βρέμω, _fremo_--the roaring or boisterous god.
His connection with Apollo (though drinking songs are not so common now
as they were last century) is obvious enough; and some places of the
ancient poets where the close connection of these two gods is described,
may be seen in STAN. The Scholiast to Euripides Phœnissai (v. 227,
Matthiae) says expressly that Apollo and Artemis were worshipped on the
one peak of Parnassus, and Bacchus on the other.

 Note 8 (p. 141).
 ". . . the godless Pentheus."

"A son of Echion and Agave, the daughter of Cadmus. He was the
successor of Cadmus as king of Thebes, and being opposed to the
introduction of the worship of Dionysus in his kingdom, was torn to
pieces by his own mother and two other Mænads, Ino and Autonoe, who in
their Bacchic frenzy believed him to be a wild beast. The place where
Pentheus suffered death is said to have been Mount Cithæron; but,
according to some, it was Mount Parnassus."--_Myth. Dict._

 Note 9 (p. 141).
 "Poseidon's mighty power."

Next to Jove, Poseidon is the strongest of the gods, as the element
which he rules demands; and this strength, in works of art, is generally
{375} indicated by the breadth of chest given to this god. So Homer,
also, wishing to magnify Agamemnon, says--

  "Like to Jove that rules the thunder were his kingly head and eyes;
  Belted round the loins like Ares; like Poseidon was his breast."
                                                      IL. II. 478.

The connection of the god of the waters with Delphi is given by
Pausanias x. 5, where it is said, that originally Poseidon possessed the
oracle in common with Gaea; a legend easily explained by the fact, that
all high mountains necessarily produce copious streams of water of
which, no less than of the waves of ocean, Poseidon is lord.

 Note 10 (p. 142).
 "A gray-haired woman, weaker than a child."

STAN. refers here to the account given by Diodorus of the origin of
the Delphic oracle, c. xvi. 26, where he relates, that in the most
ancient times the prophetess was a young woman; but that, afterwards,
one Echecrates, a Spartan, being smitten with the beauty of a
prophetess, had offered violence to her, in consequence of which an
edict was published by the Delphians, forbidding any female to assume
the office of Pythoness till she was fifty years old.

 Note 11 (p. 142).
          ". . . the ravenous crew
 That filched the feast of Phineus."

The Harpies; who, from the names given to them in Homer and Hesiod (and
specially from Odyssey xx. 66 and 77 compared) seem to have been
impersonations of sudden and tempestuous gusts of wind; though, again,
it is not impossible that these winds may be symbolical of the
rapacious power of swift and sudden death--

  "Venit Mors velociter
  Rapit nos atrociter,"

as suggested by BRAUN. See the article by Dr. SCHMITZ in the
Biographical Dictionary.

 Note 12 (p. 142).
 "Such uncouth sisterhood, apparel'd so."

With regard to the dress of the Furies, STAN. quotes a curious
passage from Diogenes Laertius, which I shall translate:--"Menedemus,
the Cynic," says he, "went to such fantastic excess as to go about in
the dress of the Furies, saying, that he was sent as a visitant of
human iniquity from Hades, that he might descend again, and report to
the Infernal powers. His garb was as follows--a dun-coloured tunic
(χιτων) reaching down to the feet, girt with a crimson sash; on his
head an Arcadian cap, with the twelve signs of the Zodiac inwoven;
tragic buskins, a very long beard, and an ashen rod in his hand."--VI.
9. 2. The Romans were once put to flight by the Gauls, dressed in the
terrible garb of the Furies, with burning torches in their
hands.--LIVY VII. 17.

 Note 13 (p. 143).
 ". . . A bitter pasture truly
 Was thine from Fate."

So I have thought it best to translate somewhat freely τὸνδε
βουκολούμενος πόνον in order to express the original meaning of the
verb βουκολουμαι. In this I have followed MÜLLER--_diese
Schmerzentrift zu weiden._ This is surely more pregnant and poetical
than to say with FR. "_Diese Lebensbahn durcheilend._" The idea of
_soothing_ and _beguiling_, the only one given by {376} Hesychius,
cannot apply to this place. PAL., who agrees with me in this,
translates the word in both places of our author where it occurs (here
and in Agam. 655) by "_brooding over_" which differs little from my
idea of _feeding on_.

 Note 14 (p. 143).
 "Her ancient image."

"The image of Athena Pallas, on the citadel, which existed in the days
of Pausanias, and had maintained for ages its place here by a sort of
inviolable holiness. In the narrow area of the temple, on the
north-east slope of the Acropolis, Erechtheus had placed a carved
image, either first made by himself, or, perhaps, fallen from Heaven;
and round this, as a centre, the most ancient groups of Attic religion
and legend assembled themselves."--GERHARD, "_über die Minerven
Idole Athen's,_" quoted by SCHOE.

 Note 15 (p. 144).
 "Behold these wounds."

I am not able to see what objection lies against the literal rendering

  ὁρά δε πληγὰς τάσδε καρδίᾴ σέθεν,

as I read with FR. and LINW. PAL. and SCHOE. take πληγὰς
metaphorically to signify the contumelious language used by
Clytemnestra to the Furies; but this is surely rather going out of the
way. If there were any necessity for deserting the literal meaning, I
would rather take Hermann's way of turning it (Opusc. VI. v. 2, p. 28),
and read--

           ὁρά δε πληγὰς τάσδε καρδιάς ὃθεν.
  _Siehe diese Wunden meines Herzens woher sie kommen!_

 Note 16 (p. 144).
 "Read with thy heart; some things the soul may scan
 More clearly, when the sensuous lid hath dropt,
 Nor garish day confounds."

This method of speaking is quite in keeping with ancient ideas on the
nature of the connection 'twixt mind and body, as SCHOE. has proved
from Galen (Kühn. Med. gr. V. 301). As to the sentiment which follows,
STAN. has quoted--"_Quum ergo est somno sevocatus animus a societate
et a contagione corporis, tum meminit praeteritorum, praesentia cernit,
futura providet_"--Cic. Divinat. I. 30. According to Aelian (var. hist.
III. 11). the Peripatetics held the same opinion.

 Note 17 (p. 144).
 "Once Clytemnestra famous, now a dream."

There is another translation of this passage--the old one in STAN.--

  "_In somno enim vos nunc Clytemnestra voco,_"

to which POT., E. P. Oxon., and MÜL. adhere; but I cannot help
thinking with Hermann (Opusc. VI. p. ii. 30), that it is rather flat
(_matt_) when compared with the other. Which of the two the poet meant
cannot perhaps be settled now, as the meaning might depend on the
rhetorical accent which the player was taught to give by the poet; but I
am certain that the version in the text, sanctioned as it is by
WAKEFIELD, SCHÜTZ, HERM., LIN., and PAL. does not deserve to
be stigmatised (in E. P.'s language) as "fanciful nonsense." When
Clytemnestra calls herself "a dream," she uses the same sort of language
which Achilles does to Ulysses regarding his own unsubstantial state as
a Shade.--Odys. XI.


 Note 18 (p. 144).
                              ". . . and seeks
 For help from those that are no friends to me."

I have thought it better to retain the old and most obvious
interpretation of this passage; not seeing any proof that
προσίκτορες can be used in this general way as applied to the
gods who are supplicated, without being affixed as an epithet to some
special god; as when we say Ζεὺς ἀφίκτωρ (Suppl. I.)

 Note 19 (p. 144).

CHORUS. Whether Hermann in his "_Dissertatio de Choro Eumenidum_"
(Leipzig, 1816) was the first that directed special attention to the
peculiar character of this Chorus as indicated by the Scholiast, I do
not know (Wellauer says so, and I presume he knew). Certain it is that
POT., by neglecting this indication, has lost a great deal of the
dramatic effect of this part of the tragedy. The style of the chorus is
decidedly fitful and exclamatory throughout, and must have formed a
beautiful contrast to the steady stability of the solemn hymn that
follows, beginning, "_Mother night that bore me_." As to the particular
distribution of the parts of this chorus, that is a matter on which, as
SCHOE. remarks, no two critics are likely to agree; nor is minute
accuracy in this respect, even if it were attainable, a matter of any
importance to the dramatic effect of the composition as now read. The
only thing to be taken care of is, that we do not blend in a false
continuity what was evidently spoken fitfully, and by different
speakers, with a sort of _staccato_ movement, as the musicians express
it. This is POT.'s grand error, not only here, but in many other of
the choral parts of our poet; and, in this view, some of Hermann's
remarks (Opusc. VI. 2, 38) on Müller's division are perfectly just. As
for myself, by distributing the parts of the chorus among three voices,
I mean nothing more than that these parts were likely spoken by separate
voices. Scholefield and Dyer's view (Classical Museum, Vol. I. p. 281),
that there were three principal Furies prominent above the rest in this
piece, is not improbable, but admits of no proof. In my versification I
have endeavoured to imitate the rapid Dochmiacs of the original.

 Note 20 (p. 145).
 "Thou being young dost overleap the old."

The idea of a succession of celestial dynasties proceeding on a system
of "development," as a certain class of modern philosophers are fond to
express it, is characteristic of the Greek mythology.--(See p. 47 above,
Antistrophe I.) The Furies, according to all the genealogies given of
them, were more ancient gods than Apollo, with whom they are here
brought, into collision. Our poet, as we shall see in the opening
invocation of the first grand choral hymn of this piece, makes them the
daughters of most ancient NIGHT, who, according to the Theogony (v.
123), proceeded immediately from the aboriginal CHAOS. Hesiod himself
makes the Erinyes, along with the giants, to be produced from the blood
of Uranus, when his genitals were cut off by Kronos (Theog. 185); a
genealogy, by the way, quite in consistency with the Homeric
representation given in the Introductory Remarks, of the origin of the
Furies from the curses uttered by injured persons, worthy of special
veneration, on those by whom their sacrosanct character had been


 Note 21 (p. 147).
 "But where beheading, eye-out-digging dooms."

In this enumeration of horrors I have omitted κακοῦ τε χλ(ο)υνις,
concerning which LIN. says, "_Omnino de hoc loco maximis in tenebris
versamur; nam neque de lectione, neque de verborum significatione certi
quidquam constat._"

 Note 22 (p. 147).
          "She was murdered here,
 That murdered first her husband."

The reasons given by WELL. and HER. (Opusc. vi. 2. 42.) why the two
lines, 203-4 W., should not both be given with STAN., SCHÜTZ, and
MÜL., to Apollo, have satisfied LIN., PAL., FR., SCHOE.,
DR., E. P. Oxon., and BUT. Certainly the epithets ὅμαιμος and
αυθέντης (which latter the Scholiast interprets μιαρὸς) sound anything
but natural in the mouth of Apollo. The emphasis put on ὃμαιμος in this
very connection by the Furies, in v. 575, _infra_, noted by Hermann,
should decide the question.

 Note 23 (p. 147).
 ". . . matrimonial Hera."

Literally the _perfect_ Hera, the _perfecting_ or _consummating_ Hera,
Ἤρα τελεια, marriage being considered the sacred consummating ceremony
of social life, and, therefore, designated among the Greeks by the same
term, τέλος, which they used to express initiation into the Eleusinian
mysteries. As Jove presides over all important turns in human fate,
there is also necessarily a Ζὲυς τελειος. See BLOM. Agam. 946, and
Passow _in voce_ τέλειος. Conf. Æn. iii. 605, _Juno pronuba._

 Note 24 (p. 147).
 "The nuptial bed, to man and woman fated."

STAN. has remarked that this word _fated_, μορσίμη, so applied, is
Homeric (Od. XVI. 392); and, indeed, though we seem to choose our
wives, we choose them oft-times so strangely, that a man may be said,
without exaggeration, to have as little to do with his marriage as with
his birth or his death--but all the three in a peculiar sense belong to
that Μοῖρα, or divine lot, which distributes all the good and evil of
which human life is made up.

 Note 25 (p. 149).

CHORUS. For the arrangement of this Chorus I refer the reader back to
what I said on the previous one. The concluding part I have here
arranged as an Epode, because it seems more continuous in its idea than
what precedes--less violent and exclamatory.

 Note 26 (p. 150).
 "On Libyan plains beside Tritonian pools."

Æschylus here follows the tradition of Apollodorus (I. 3, § 6), that
the epithet Τριτογένεια, given by Homer to Pallas, was derived from the
lake Tritonis in Libya, near which she is said to have been born.
Compare Virgil Æn. IV. 480.

 Note 27 (p. 150).
     ". . . with forward foot firm planted,
 Erect, or with decorous stole high-seated."

I have not the slightest doubt that τίθησιν (ο)ρθὸν πόδα in this
passage can only mean to _plant the foot down firmly and stand erect_;
if so, τίθησι κατηρεφῆ πόδα can only mean to _sit_, "the feet being
covered by the robes while {379} sitting"--LIN.; so also PAL. and
SCHOE. Sitting statues of the gods were very common in ancient times,
as we see in the Egyptian statues, and in the common representations of
the Greek and Roman Jupiter (see Thirlwall's History of Greece, c. VI.).
I am sorry that Hermann (p. 57) should have thrown out the idea that
κατηρεφῆς in this passage may mean "enveloped in clouds," which has
been taken up by Franz--

  "Sichtbar sic jezt herschreitet, oder Wolkumhüllt,"

because manifestly κατηρεφῆς, in this sense, forms no natural contrast
to ὀρθὸς. The "_forward foot firm-planted_," I have taken from Müller's
note, p. 112, as, perhaps, pointing out more fully what may have been
in the poet's eye, without, however, meaning to assert seriously
against a severe critic like Hermann, that the words of the text
necessarily imply anything of the kind.

 Note 28 (p. 150).
 "The ordered battle on Phlegrean fields
 Thou musterest."

The peninsula of Pallene in Macedonia, as also the district of Campania
about Baiæ and Cumae, were called Phlegraean, or _fire-fields_ (φλέγω),
in all likelihood from the volcanic nature of the country, to which
Strabo (Lib. V. p. 245) alludes. These volcanic movements in the
religious symbolism of early Greece became giants; and against these
the Supreme Wisdom and his wise daughter had to carry on a war worthy
of gods.

 Note 29 (p. 151).

CHORAL HYMN. "This sublime hymn is of a character, in some respects,
kindred to the καταδέσεις, or incantations of antiquity, which were
directed to Hermes, the Earth, and other infernal Deities for the
purpose of _binding down_ certain hated persons to destruction. For this
reason it is called ὕμνος δέσμιος. This character is specially
indicated by the refrain or burden, which occurs in the first pair of
Strophes; such repetitions containing the emphatic words of the
incantation being common in all magical odes. So in Theocritus (Idyll.
2), we have constantly repeated, '_Iungx, bring me the man, the man whom
I mean, to my dwelling,_' and, in the song of the Fates at the marriage
of Thetis in Catullus, the line--'_Currite ducentes subtemina, currite
fusi!_' and there can be no question, the movements and gestures of the
Furies while singing this hymn were such as to indicate the scapeless
net of woe with which they were now encompassing their victim."--MÜL.
The reader will observe how impressively the metre changes on the
recurrence of this burden, the rhythm in the original being Pæonic _v v
v_--, the agitated nature of which foot, when several times repeated, is
sufficiently obvious. I have done what I could to make the transition
and contrast sensible to the modern ear.

 Note 30 (p. 151).
 "The seeing and the sightless."

αλα(ο)ισι και δεδορκόσι, _i.e._ the living and the dead; an expression
familiar to the Greeks, and characteristic of a people who delighted to
live in the sun. βλέπειν φάος--_to look on the light_, is the most
common phrase in the tragedians for to live; and wisely so--

  "Since light so necessary is to life,
  And almost life itself, if it be true
  That light is in the soul,
  The soul in every part."--MILTON.

POT. has allowed himself to be led quite astray here by a petulant
criticism of De Pauw.


 Note 31 (p. 151).
 "The gleeless song, and the lyreless strain."

ὕμνος ἀφόρμιγκτος. "The musical character of this Choral Hymn must be
imagined as working upon the feelings with a certain solemn grandeur.
The κιθάρα or lyre is silent; an instrument which, as the Greeks used
it, always exercised a soothing power, restorative of the equipoise of
the mind: only the flute is heard, whose notes, according to the
unanimous testimony of antiquity, excited feelings, now of thrilling
excitement, now of mute awe; always, however, disturbing the just
emotional tenor of the soul. Assuredly the ὕμνος ἀφόρμιγκτος in this
place is no mere phrase."--MÜLLER.

 Note 32 (p. 152).
 "This work of labour earnest."

I have paraphrased, or rather interpolated, in this Antistrophe, a
little, because I do not see much in it that is either translatable or
worth translating. A meaning has been squeezed out of the two lines
beginning σπευδόμενοι; but one cannot help feeling, after all, that
there is something wrong, and saying with honest Wellauer, "_certi nihil
video._" The main idea, shimmering through the first three lines, is
plain enough--_that the Furies exercise a function, the legitimacy of
which no one is entitled to question._ This the words, μηδ ες
ἄγκρισιν ἐλθεῖν, plainly indicate; and it is upon this, and SCHOE.'s
conjectural emendation of the first line--

          σπευδομένος ἀπέχειν τινὰ τᾶσδε μερίμνας,
  "Diesem Geschäft das wir treiben verbleibe man ferne,"

that my paraphrase proceeds. With regard to the second part of this
Strophe, beginning with Μάλα γὰρ (ὀ)υν, I follow WELL. and all the
later editors, except SCHOE., in retaining it for metrical reasons, in
the place to which Heath transposed it. SCHOE's observations, however,
are worthy of serious consideration, as it is manifest that, if these
Pæonic lines be replaced to where they stand in all the old editions,
viz.:--between ὀρχησμοῖς τ᾽ (ε)πιφθόνοις ποδός and πιπτων δ᾽ ουκ ὀιδεν,
their connection with what precedes, and also with what follows, will be
more obvious than what it is now. FR.'s observation, however, in
answer to this, is not to be kept out of view--that this second part of
the Antistrophe takes up the idea, as it takes up the measure, with
which the corresponding part of the Strophe, as now arranged, ends,
viz.--διόμεναί κρατερὸν ὄνθ, which the reader will find clearly brought
out in my version--the concluding lines of the Pæonic section of the

  "Though fleet we shall find him,"

being taken up in the opening lines of the Pæonic section of the

  "But swift as the wind,
  We follow and find."

 Note 33 (p. 154).
 "The cry that called me from Scamander's banks."

The Sigean territory in the Troad was disputed between the Athenians and
the people of Mitylene; which strife Herodotus informs us (V. 94) ended,
by the activity of Pisistratus, in favour of the Athenians--B.C. 606. In
that same territory, continues the historian, there was a temple of
Pallas, where the Athenians hung up the arms of the poet Alcæus, who,
though "_ferox bello_," had been obliged to flee from the battle which
decided the matter in favour of the Athenians. Æschylus, like a true
patriot and poet, throws the claim of the Athenians to this territory as
far back into the heroic times as possible; and, by the words put into
the mouth of Athena, makes the claim {381} on the part of the Lesbians
tantamount to sacrilege.--See SCHOLIAST and STAN.

 Note 34 (p. 155).
 "He'll neither swear himself, nor take my oath."

"The Greek words, ἀλλ ὅρκον ὀυ δεξαιτ ἄν, ὀυ δοῦναι θέλει have, in the
juridical language of Athens, decidedly only this meaning; and, in the
present passage, there is no reasonable ground for taking them in any
other sense, though it is perfectly true that in some passages, ὅρκου
διδόναι signifies simply to _swear_, and ὅρκον δέχεσθαι, _to accept an
attestation on oath._"--SCHOEMANN.

 Note 35 (p. 155).
 "In old Ixíon's guise."

"Ixíon was the son of Phlegyas, his mother Dia, a daughter of Deioneus.
He was king of the Lapithæ, or Phlegyes, and the father of Peirithous.
When Deioneus demanded of Ixíon the bridal gifts he had promised, Ixíon
treacherously invited him as though to a banquet, and then contrived to
make him fall into a pit filled with fire. As no one purified Ixíon
from this treacherous murder, and all the gods were indignant at him,
Zeus took pity on him, purified him, and invited him to his
table."--_Mythol. Dict._

 Note 36 (p. 156).
 "The ancient city of famous Priam thou
 Didst sheer uncity."

The original ἄπολιν Ιλίου πόλιν ἔθηκας, contains a mannerism of the
tragedians too characteristic to be omitted. 'Tis one of the many
tricks of that wisdom of words which the curious Greeklings sought,
and did not find, in the rough Gospel of St. Paul.

 Note 37 (p. 156).
 "For thee, in that thou comest to my halls."

The best exposition that I have seen of the various difficulties of
this speech, is that of SCHOE., unfortunately too long for extract.
As to κατηρτὺκὼς, LIN. has, in the notes to his edition, justly
characterised his own translation of it, in the Dictionary as
_durissimum_. The first ὃμως, of course, must go; and there is nothing
better than changing it with PAUW, MÜLL., and SCHOE., into
ἐμ(ο)ις. The second ὅμως must likewise go; say ὁσιὼς with MÜLL. or
ὅυτως with SCHOE. There is then no difficulty.

 Note 38 (p. 157).

CHORAL HYMN. This chorus contains a solemn enumeration of some of the
main texts of Greek morality, and is in that view very important. The
leading measure is the heptasyllabic trochaic verse so common in
English, varied with cretics and dactyles. I have amused myself with
giving a sort of imitation of the rhythm, so far as the trochees and
cretics are concerned; to introduce the dactyles in the places where
they occur, would produce--as I found by experiment--a tripping effect
altogether out of keeping with the general solemnity of the piece.

 Note 39 (p. 158).
 "But who sports, a careless liver."

'Tis impossible not to agree with SCHOE. that these two lines are
corrupt beyond the hope of emendation. He proposes to read--

  τίς δὲ μηδὲν ἐυσεβεῖ
  καρδίας ἄγᾳ τρεων.


A very ingenious restoration; and one which, as matters now stand, I
should have little scruple in introducing into the text; but, for
poetical purposes, I have not been willing to lose the image with which
the present reading, ἐν φάει, supplies me and FR.--

  "Wer der nicht bei Wonneglanz
  Trauer auch im Herzen hegt," etc.

 Note 40 (p. 158).
 "To the wise mean strength is given,
 Thus the gods have ruled in heaven."

This is one of those current common-places of ancient wisdom, which are
now so cheap to the ear, but are still as remote from the general temper
and the public heart as they were some thousands of years ago, when
first promulgated by some prophetic Phemonoe of the Primeval Pelasgi.
The great philosopher of common sense, Aristotle, seized this maxim, as
the groundwork of practical ethics, some three hundred years before
Christ--῾Φθείρεται γαρ, says he, ἡ σωφροσύνη και ἡ ἀνδρεία ὑπὸ τῆς
ὑπερβολῆς καὶ τῆς ἐλλειψεως, ὑπὸ δὲ τῆς μεσότητος σώζεται; and Horace,
the poet of common sense, preached many a quiet, tuneful sermon to the
same ancient text--

  "Auream quisquis mediocritatem
  Diligit, tutus caret obsoleti
  Sordibus tecti, caret invidenda
    Sobrius aula."

 Note 41 (p. 158).
 "Pride, that lifts itself unduly."

I will not multiply citations here to show the reader how this pride or
insolence of disposition, ὓβρις (the German _Uebermuth_), is marked by
the Greek moralists as the great source of all the darker crimes with
which the annals of our floundering race are stained (See Note, p. 349
above). They are wrong who tell us that Humility is a Christian and not
a Heathen virtue: no doubt the name ταπεινοφροσύνη, used in the New
Testament, was not the fashionable one among the Greeks: but that they
had the thing, every page of their poetry testifies, with this
difference, however, to be carefully noted, that while Heathen humility
is founded solely on a sense of dependence, Christian humility proceeds
also, and perhaps more decidedly, from a sense of guilt. Neither does
the phraseology of Heathen and Christian writers on this subject differ
always so much as people seem to imagine; between the μη ὐπερφρον(ε)ιν
παρ ὃ δεῖ φρονεῖν of St. Paul (Rom. xii. 3), and the ὀυδεπώποτε ὐπερ
ἄνθρωπον ἐφρόνησα of Xenophon (Cyropaed. VIII), it were a foolish
subtlety that should attempt to make a distinction.

 Note 42 (p. 159).
 "Give the air-shattering Tyrrhene trump free voice."

"It is a correct and significant observation made by the Scholiast on
Iliad XVIII. 219, that Homer never mentions the trumpet (σάλπιγξ) in
the narrative part of his poem, but only for a comparison: familiar as
he was with the instrument, he was not ignorant that the use of it was
new, and not native in Greece. Indeed, it was never universally
adopted in that country: the Spartans and Cretans marching into battle,
first to the accompaniment of the lyre, and afterwards of the flute.
The tragedians again are quite familiar with the Tuscan origin of the
trumpet, though they make no scruple of introducing it into their
descriptions of the Hellenic heroic age"--MÜLL.; Etrusker I. p. 286.


 Note 43 (p. 160).

_Enter_ APOLLO. Here commences a debate between the daughters of Night
and the god accusing and defending, which, as Grote (History of Greece,
I. 512) remarks, is "eminently curious." And not only curious, but
unfortunately, to our modern sense at least, not a little ludicrous in
some places. The fact is, that the strange moral contradictions and
inconsistencies so common in the Greek mythology, so long as they are
concealed or palliated under a fair imaginative show, give small
offence; but when placed before the understanding, in order to be
interrogated by the strict forms of judicial logic, they necessarily
produce a collision with our practical reason and a smile is the result.

 Note 44 (p. 161)
                  ". . . himself did bind
 With bonds his hoary-dated father Kronos."

"In the fable of the binding of Kronos by his son Jove, Æschylus saw
nothing disrespectful to the character of the supreme ruler, but only
the imaginative embodiment of the fact, that one celestial dynasty had
been succeeded by another. The image of binding, and of the battles of
the Titans generally, might seem to his mind not the most appropriate;
but the offence that lay in them was softened not a little by the
consideration that the enchainment of Kronos and the Titans was only a
temporary affair, leading to a reconciliation. The result was, that the
Titans themselves at last acknowledged the justice of their punishment,
and submitted themselves to Jove, as the alone legitimate ruler of
Earth; and Herr Welcker is quite wrong in supposing that either here, or
in the Agamemnon, or the Prometheus, there is any indication that the
mind of Æschylus was fundamentally at war with his age in regard to the
celestial dynasties."--SCHOEMANN's Prometheus, p. 97.

 Note 45 (p. 162).
                         ". . . How
 With any clanship share lustration?"

Or, with BUCK., "what laver of his tribe shall receive him?"--the
word in the original being φρατόρων. The ancient Hellenic tribes
φράτραι were social unions, founded originally in the family tie, and
afterwards extended. These unions had certain religious ceremonies
which they performed in common, and to which allusion is here made.
(Compare Livy VI. 40, 41, _nos privatim auspicia habemus_ of the
Patrician families.) To be ἀφρήτωρ, or _excluded from a tribe_ (Il.
IX. 63), was among the Greeks of the heroic ages a penalty half-civil,
half-religious, similar in character to the _excommunication_ of the
middle ages. Of this extremely interesting subject, the English reader
will find a most luminous exposition in GROTE's _Greece_, vol. iii.
p. 74.

 Note 46 (p. 162).
   ". . . whom we call
 The mother begets not."

Strange as this doctrine may seem to our modern physiologists, it seems
founded on a very natural notion; and to the Greeks, who had such a low
estimate of women, must have appeared perfectly orthodox. The same
doctrine is enunciated by the poet in the Suppliants, v. 279, when he
says, "the male artist has imprinted a Cyprian character on your female
features"--the image being borrowed from the art of coining. And this,
like many fancies cherished by the Greeks, seems to have had its home
originally in {384} Egypt. STAN. quotes from Diodorus I. 80, who
says--"The Egyptians count none of their sons bastards, not even the
sons of a bought slave. For they are of opinion that the father is the
only author of generation; the mother but supplieth space and
nourishment to the fœtus." In the play of Euripides, Orestes uses the
same argument (Orest. 543).

 Note 47 (p. 162).
 "Now, hear my ordinance, Athenians!"

This address of the goddess, of practical wisdom, in constituting the
Court of the Areopagus, was pointed by the poet directly against the
democratic spirit, in his day beginning to become rampant in Athens; and
is applicable not less to all times in which great and, perhaps,
necessary social changes take place. The poet states, with the most
solemn distinctness, that the mere love of liberty will never protect
liberty from degenerating into licentiousness; but that a religious
reverence for law is as essential to society as a religious jealousy of
despotism. Only he who profoundly fears God can dispense with the fear
of man; and he who fears both God and man is the only good citizen.

 Note 48 (p. 162).
                         ". . . Here, on this hill,
 The embattled Amazons pitched their tents of yore."

The Amazons, "as strong as men" (αντιάνειραι, Il. III. 189),
are famous in the history of the Trojan war; and their expedition
against Athens, mentioned here, was familiar to every Athenian eye, from
the painting in the _Stoa Pœcile_, described by Pausanias (I. 15). As
to the historical reality of these hardy females, the sober Arrian (VII.
13) is by no means inclined (after the modern German fashion) to brush
them, with a stroke of his pen, out of the world of realities; and,
considering what a strange and strangely adaptable creature man is, I
see no reason why we should be sceptical as to their historical

 Note 49 (p. 163).
 "Thou say'st."

"This is an ancient way of replying to a captious question, as we see
in the Gospel (Matth. xxvii.), where, when Pilate asks, 'art thou the
king of the Jews,' our Lord, Jesus Christ, answers in these very words
Συ λέγεις--'_Thou say'st._'"--STAN.

 Note 50 (p. 163).
 "Such were thy deeds in Pheres' house."

"Alluding to Admetus, son of Pheres, whom Apollo raised from the dead,
having obtained this boon from the Fates, on condition that some one
should die in his stead.--See the well-known play of Euripides, the
Alcestes."--STAN. The Scholiast on that play, v. 12, as Dindorf notes,
remarks that, on this occasion, Apollo moved the inflexible goddesses by
the potent influence of wine. This is alluded to a few lines below.

 Note 51 (p. 164).
 ". . . all my father lives in me."

κάρτα δ᾽ ειμι τοῦ πατρος; specially wisdom and energy.--So Milton--

  "All my father shines in me."--Paradise Lost, VII.

Compare the Homeric epithet of Pallas ὁβριμοπάτρη with Nägelsbach's
Comprehensive Commentary--Hom. Theologie, p. 100.


 Note 52 (p. 164).

_Apollo_, FR., who examined the Medicean Codex, says that there is
here discernible the mark which introduces a new speaker. Who that
speaker is, however, the sense does not allow us to decide; but Orestes
and the Chorus having spoken, I do not see why Apollo, who showed such
eagerness before, should not now also, put in his word; and, therefore,
deserting WELL., I follow the old arrangement of VICT. and STAN.

 Note 53 (p. 167).
 "Sharing alone the strong keys that unlock
 His thunder-halls."

As Pallas possesses all her father's characteristic qualities of wisdom
and strength, so she is entitled to wield all his instruments, and even
the thunder. STAN. quotes--

  "Ipsa (Pallas) Jovis rapidum jaculata e nubibus ignem."--Virgil, ÆN.
    I. 46.

And Wakefield compares CALLIM, Lavac. Pall, 132. So the _aegis_, or
_shield of dark-rushing storms_ (ἀισσω), belongs to Pallas no less than
to Zeus (Il. V. 738).

 Note 54 (p. 167).
                  ". . . thou shalt hold
 An honoured seat beside Erectheus' home."

Erectheus, who, as his name signifies (ἔραζε, _Eretz_, Heb., _Erde_,
Teut., _Earth_), was the earth-born, or Adam of Attic legend, had a
temple on the Acropolis, beside the temple of the city-protecting
(πολιάς) Pallas, of which the ruins yet remain. The cave of the Furies
was on the Hill of Mars, directly opposite.--See Introductory Remarks.

 Note 55 (p. 168).
                             ". . . save my city
 From brothered strife, and from domestic brawls."

It was a principle with the Romans that no victory in a civil war
should be followed by a triumph; and, accordingly, in the famous
triumph of Julius Cæsar, which lasted three days, there was nothing to
remind the Roman eye that the conqueror of Pharsalia had ever plucked a
leaf from Pompey's laurels. In v. 826, I read with MÜL. ὀυ δόμοις
παρων, the present reading, μόλις, being clumsy any way that I have
seen it translated.

 Note 56 (p. 169).
 "The fortress of gods."

This designation is given to Athens with special reference to the
Persian wars; for the Persians destroyed everywhere the temples of the
Greek gods (only in the single case of Delos are they said to have made
an exception), and the Athenians, in conquering the Persians, saved not
only their own lives, but the temples of the gods from destruction.

 Note 57 (p. 169).
 "Woe to the wretch, by their wrath smitten."

WELL., as usual, is too cautious in not changing μὴ κύρσας into δὴ
κύρσας with PAUW and MÜL., or μὴν with LIN. and SCHOE.

 Note 58 (p. 169).
 "Not for his own, for guilt inherited."

"The sins of the fathers, as in the Old Testament, so also among the
Greeks, are visited on the children even to the third and fourth
generation; nay, even the idea of original sin, derived from the Titanic
men of the early ages, and exhibiting itself as a rebellious inclination
against the gods more or less in all--this essentially Christian idea
was not altogether unknown to the ancient Greeks."--SCHOEMANN.


 Note 59 (p. 170).
 "And, when Hermes is near thee."

What we call a "god-send," or a "wind-fall," was called by the Greeks
ἓρμαιον, or a thing given by the grace of Hermes. In his original
capacity as the patron god of Arcadian shepherds, Hermes was, in like
manner, looked on as the giver of patriarchal wealth in the shape of
flocks.--Il. xiv. 490.

 Note 60 (p. 170).
 "Ye Fates, high-presiding."

There is no small difficulty in this passage, from the state of the
text; but, unless it be the Furies themselves that are spoken of, as
KL. imagines (Theol. p. 45), I cannot think there are any celestial
powers to whom the strong language of the Strophe will apply but the
Fates. If the former supposition be adopted, we must interrupt the
chaunt between Athena and the Furies, putting this Strophe into the
mouth of the Areopagites, as, indeed, KL. proposes; but this seems
rather a bold measure, and has found no favour. It remains, therefore,
only to make such changes in the text as will admit of the application
of the whole passage to the Fates, who stand in the closest relation to
the Furies, as is evident from Strophe III. of the chorus (p. 146
above). This MÜL. has done; and I follow him, not, however, without
desiring some more distinct proof that ματροκασιγνῆται, in Greek, can
possibly mean sisters.--See SCHOE.'s note.

 Note 61 (p. 170).
 "Jove, that rules the forum, nobly
 In the high debate hath conquered."

Ζεὺς ἀγορᾶιος. The students of Homer may recollect the appeal of
Telemachus to the Ithacans in council assembled (Odys. II. 68). Jove,
as we have already had occasion to remark, has a peculiar right of
presidency over every grand event of human life, and every important
social institution; so that, on certain occasions, the Greek Polytheism
becomes, for the need, a Monotheism--somewhat after the same fashion as
the aristocratic Government of the old Roman Republic had the power of
suddenly changing itself, on important occasions, into an absolute
monarchy, by the creation of a Dictator.

 Note 62 (p. 172).
 "Gracious-minded sisterhood."

The Furies were called Ευμενίδες, or gracious, to propitiate their
stern deity by complimentary language. Suidas says (_voc_. Ευμενίδες)
that Athena, in this play, calls the Furies expressly by this name; but
the fact is, that it does not occur in the whole play. Either,
therefore, the word ἔυφρων, which I have translated "gracious-minded"
in the play, must be considered to have given occasion to the remark of
the lexicographer (which seems sufficient), or, with HERMANN and
SCHOE., we must suppose something to have fallen out of the present


On p. 132, after the _dramatis personæ_, I perceive that I have stated
that the scene of this piece changes from Delphi to the _Hill of Mars_,
Athens. This is either inaccurate, or, at least, imperfect; for the
first change of scene is manifestly (as stated p. 148), to the temple of
Athena Pallas, on the Acropolis; and, though the imagination naturally
desires that the institution of the Court of the Areopagus should take
place on the exact seat of its future labours, yet the construction of
the drama by no means necessitates another change of scene, and the
allusion to the Hill of Mars in p. 162 is easily explicable on the
supposition that it lies directly opposite the Acropolis, and that
Pallas points to it with her finger.



 Note 1 (p. 183).
 "This Scythian soil, this wild untrodden waste."

"The ancient Greek writers called all the Northern tribes (_i.e._ all
who dwelt in the Northern parts of Europe and Asia) generally by the
name of Scythians and Celto-Scythians; while some even more ancient than
these make a division, calling those beyond the Euxine, Ister, and
Adria, Hyperboreans, Sarmatians, and Arimaspi; but those beyond the
Caspian Sea, Sacæ and Massagetæ." Strabo, Lib. XI. p. 507.--STAN.

 Note 2 (p. 183).
 "This daring wretch."

λεωργὸν, a difficult word; "evil-doer"--MED. and PROW.;
_Bösewicht_--TOELP.; _Freveler_--SCHOE. The other translation of
this word--"artificer of man" (Potter)--given in the _Etym._ was very
likely an invention of Lexicographers to explain this very passage. But
the expounders did not consider that _Æschylus_ through the whole play
makes no allusion to this function of the fire-worker. It was, I
believe, altogether a recent form of the myth.--See WEISKE. "The
precise etymology of the word is uncertain."--LIN.

 Note 3 (p. 183).
 ". . . a kindred god."

"A fellow deity"--MED. But this is not enough. Vulcan, as a smith, and
Prometheus were kindred in their divine functions, for which reason they
were often confounded in the popular legends, as in the case of the
birth of Pallas from the brain of Jove, effected by the axe, some say of
Hephaestus, some of Prometheus--APOLLODOR. I. 3-6. EURIPID. Ion.
455; from which passage of the tragedian WELCKER is of opinion that
Prometheus, not Hephaestus, must have a place in the pediment of the
Parthenon representing the birth of Pallas.--_Class. Museum_, Vol. II.
p. 385.

 Note 4 (p. 183).
      "High-counselled son
 Of right-decreeing Themis."

Not CLYMENE according to the Theogony (V. 508) or ASIA, one of the
Oceanides according to Apollodorus (I. 2), which parentage has been
adopted by SHELLEY in his _Prometheus Unbound_. That Æschylus in
preferring this maternity meant to represent the Titan as suffering in
the cause of _Right_ against _Might_, as Welcker will have it (_Trilog_.
p. 42), is more than doubtful. One advantage, however, is certainly
gained, viz., that Prometheus is thus brought one degree further up the
line of ascent in direct progress from the two original divinities of
the Theogony--URANUS or HEAVEN, and GEE or the EARTH; for,
according to Hesiod, THEMIS is the daughter, CLYMENE only the
grand-daughter, of these primeval powers (Theog. 135, 315). Thus,
Prometheus is invested with more dignity, and becomes a more worthy
rival of Jove.

 Note 5 (p. 183).
 ". . . saviour shall be none."

I entirely agree with SCHOE. that in the indefinite expression--(ο)
λωφήσων γὰρ ὀυ πέφυκέ πω any allusion, such as the Scholiast suggests,
to {388} HERCULES, the person by whom salvation did at length come,
would be in the worst possible taste here, and quite foreign to the
tone of the passage.

 Note 6 (p. 184).
 "Jove is not weak that he should bend."

This character of harshness and inexorability belongs as essentially to
JOVE as to the FATES. Pallas, in the Iliad, makes the same

  "But my father, harsh and cruel, with no gentle humour raging,
  Thwarts my will in all things."
                           ILIAD VIII. 360.

We must bear in mind that Jove represents three things--(1) that iron
firmness of purpose which is so essential to the character of a great
ruler; (2) the impetuous violence and resistless power of the heavenly
elements when in commotion; (3) the immutability of the laws of Nature.

 Note 7 (p. 184).
 "All things may be, but this
 To dictate to the gods."

Ἅπαντ ἐπράχθη πλὴν θε(ο)ισι κοιρανεῖν--literally, _all things have been
done, save commanding the gods_. I do not know whether there is any
philological difficulty in the way of this translation. It certainly
agrees perfectly well with the context, and has the advantage of not
changing the received text. SCHOE., however, adopting HERM.'s
emendation of ἐπαχθῆ translates--

  "Last trägt ein jeder, nur der Götter König nicht."
  "All have their burdens save the king of the gods."

On the theological sentiment, I would compare that of SENECA--"_In
regno nati sumus; Deo parere libertas est_" (_Vit. Beat._ 15)--and that
of EURIPIDES, where the captive Trojan queen, finding the king of men,
Agamemnon, willing to assist her, but afraid of the opinion of the
Greeks, speaks as follows:--

  "Ουκἔστι θνητῶν ὃστις ἐστ ἐλέυθερος,
  ἢ χρημάτων γαρ δ(ο)υλος ἐστιν ἡ τύχης
  η πλῆθος ἀυτὸν πόλεως, ἤ νόμων γρἤφαι
  ἔιργουσι χρῆσθαι μὴ κατὰ γνῶμην τρόποις."
                              HEC. 864.

 Note 8 (p. 185).
 "Thou hast been called
 In vain the Provident."

This is merely translating PROMETHEUS (from προ before, and μῆτις
counsel) into English. These allusions to names are very frequent in
Æschylus--so much so as to amount to a _mannerism_; but we who use a
language, the heritage of years, a coinage from which the signature has
been mostly rubbed off, must bear in mind that originally all words,
and especially names, were significant. See the Old Testament
everywhere (particularly Gen. c. xxix. and xli., with which compare
Homer, Odyssey xix. 407). And, indeed, in all original languages, like
Greek or German, which declare their own etymology publicly to the most
unlearned, no taunt is more natural and more obvious than that derived
from a name. Even in Scotland, a man who is called _Bairnsfather_ will
be apt to feel rather awkward if he has no children. "In the oldest
Greek legend," says WELCKER (_Tril._ p. 356), "names were frequently
invented, in order to fix down the character or main feature of the
story"--(so Bunyan in the Pilgrim's Progress)--a true principle, which
many German writers abuse, to evaporate all tradition into mere
fictitious allegory. But the practice of the Old Testament patriarchs
shows that the significancy of a name affords of itself no presumption
against its historical reality.


 Note 9 (p. 185).

_Prometheus_. The critics remark with good reason the propriety of the
stout-hearted sufferer observing complete silence up to this point. It
is natural for pain to find a vent in words, but a proud man will not
complain in the presence of his adversary. Compare the similar silence
of Cassandra in the Agamemnon; and for reasons equally wise, that of
Faust in the Auerbach cellar scene. So true is it that a great poet,
like a wise man, is often best known, not by what he says, but by what
he does _not_ say--(και τῆς ἂγαν γάρ έστί που σιγῆς βάρος, as Sophocles
has it). As to the subject of the beautiful invocation here made by the
Titan sufferer, the reader will observe not merely its poetical beauty
(to which there is something analogous in Manfred, act I. sc. 2--

                                    "My mother Earth,
  And thou fresh-breaking day, and you, ye mountains,
  And thou the bright eye of the Universe,")

but also its mythological propriety in the person of the speaker, as in
the early times the original elementary theology common to the Greeks
with all polytheists, had not been superseded by those often sadly
disguised impersonations which are represented by the dynasty of Jove.
OCEAN and HYPERION (ὑπερίων--he that walks aloft) are named in the
Theogony, along with THEMIS and IAPETUS, as the first generation of
gods, directly begotten from Heaven and Earth.--(Theog. 133-4.) In the
natural progress of religious opinion, this original cosmical meaning of
the Greek gods, though lost by anthropomorphism to the vulgar, was
afterwards brought out by the natural philosophers, and by the
philosophical poets; of which examples occur everywhere among the later
classics. Indeed, the elemental worship seems never to have been
altogether exploded, but continued to exist in strange confusion along
with the congregation of fictitious persons to which it had given birth.
So in Homer, Agamemnon prays--

  "Father Jove from Ida swaying, god most glorious and great,
  And thou Sun, the all-perceiving and all-hearing power, and ye
  RIVERS and EARTH," etc.--Il. III. 277.

 Note 10 (p. 185).
 "The multitudinous laughter."

ἀνήριθμον γέλασμα. I must offer an apology here for myself, Mr. Swayne,
and Captain Medwyn, because I find we are in a minority. The Captain,
indeed, has paraphrased it a little--

  "With long loud laughs, exulting to be free,"

but he retains the laugh, which is the stumbling-block. Swayne has

                               "Ye ocean waves
  That with incessant laughter bound and swell

also a little paraphrased, but giving due prominence to the
characteristic idea. E. P. Oxon. has

  "Ocean smiling with its countless waves,"

with a reference to Stanley's note, "Refertur ad levem sonum undarum
ventis exagitatarum qui etiam aliquantulum _crispant_ maris dorsum
quasi amabili quadam γελασιᾳ," in which words we see the origin of

                                 "Ye waves
  That o'er the interminable ocean wreathe
  Your crisped smiles."

PROW. has--

  "_Dimpled in multitudinous smiles._"

And SCHOE.'s--

  "_Zahllosses Blinken._"


And so BLOM. in a note, emphatically--

  "_Lenis_ fluctuum agitatio."

But why all this gentleness? Does it agree either with the strength of
the poet's genius, or with the desolation of the wild scene around his
hero? I at once admit that γελάω is often used in Greek, where,
according to our usage, _smile_ would be the word; but in the Old
Testament we find the broad strong word _laugh_ often retained in
descriptions of nature; and I see not the least reason for walking in
satin shoes here.

 Note 11 (p. 186).
 ". . . in a reed concealed it."

νάρθηξ--"still used for this purpose in Cyprus, where the reed still
retains the old Greek name"--WELCKER, _Tril._ p. 8, who quotes
Walpole's Memoirs relative to Turkey, p. 284, and Tournefort, Letter
6. I recollect at school smoking a bit of bamboo cane for a cigar.

 Note 12 (p. 186).
 ". . . Ah me! ah me! who comes?"

The increased agitation of mind is here expressed in the original by
the abandonment of the Iambic verse, and the adoption of the
Bacchic--τίς ἀχὼ, etc., which speedily passes into the anapæst, as
imitated by my Trochees. Milton was so steeped in Greek, that I think
he must have had this passage in his mind when he wrote the lines of
Samson Agonistes, v. 110, beginning "_But who are these?_" Altogether,
the Samson is, in its general tone and character, quite a sort of
Jewish Prometheus.

 Note 13 (p. 187).
 "Daughters of prolific Tethys."

The ancient sea-goddess, sister and wife of Oceanus, daughter of Heaven
and Earth. The reader will observe that the mythology of this drama
preserves a primeval or, according to our phrase, antediluvian character
throughout. The mythic personages are true contemporaries belonging to
the most ancient dynasty of the gods. For this reason Ocean appears in a
future stage of the play, not _Poseidon_. Tethys, with the other Titans
and Titanesses are enumerated by Hesiod, Theog. 132-7, as follows--

  "Earth to Uranus wedded bore Ocean deep with whirling currents,
  Coeus, Creios, Hyperion, Theia, Rhea, Iapetus,
  Themis, Mnemosyne, lovely Tethys, likewise Phœbe golden-crowned,
  Then the youngest of them all, deep-designing Kronos."

As for the epithet _prolific_ applied to _Tethys_, the fecundity of fish
is a proverb in natural history; but I suppose it is rather the infinite
succession of waves on the expanded surface of Ocean that makes his
daughters so numerous in the Theogony (362)--

  "Thrice ten hundred they are counted delicate-ancled Ocean maids."

 Note 14 (p. 187).
       ". . . the giant trace
 Of Titan times hath vanished."

Here we have distinctly indicated that contrast between the _old_ and
the _new_ gods, which Æschylus makes so prominent, not only in this
play, but also in the Furies. The conclusion has been drawn by various
scholars that Æschylus was secretly unfavourable to the recognised
dynasty of Jove, and that his real allegiance was to these elder gods.
But the inference is hasty and unauthorised. His taste for the sublime
led him into these primeval ages, as it also did Milton: that is all we
can say.


 Note 15 (p. 188).
      ". . . the new-forged counsels
 That shall hurl him from his throne."

The new-forged counsels were of Jove's own devising--viz., that he
should marry Thetis; of which marriage, if it should take place, the
son was destined to usurp his father's throne.--SCHOLIAST.

 Note 16 (p. 188).
 "O, 'tis hard, most hard to reach
 The heart of Jove!"

Inexorability is a grand characteristic of the gods.

  "Desine fata deum flecti sperare precando."--VIRG., ÆN. VI.

And so Homer makes Nestor say of Agamemnon, vainly hoping to appease
the wrath of Pallas Athena, by hecatombs--

  "Witless in his heart he knew not what dire sufferings he must bear,
  For not lightly from their purposed counsel swerve the eternal gods."
                                                     ODYS. III. 147.

And of Jove, in particular, Hera says to Themis, in the council of the

                                              "Well thou knowest
  How the Olympian's heart is haughty, and his temper how severe."
                                               ILIAD XV. 94.

 Note 17 (p. 188).
 "My mother Themis, not once but oft, and Earth
 (One shape of various names)."

Æschylus does not and could not confound these two distinct persons, as
POT. will have it.--See Eumenides, 2. SCHOE. has stated the whole
case very clearly. POT. remarks with great justice, that a
multiplicity of names "is a mark of dignity;" it by no means follows,
however, that _Themis_, in this passage, is one of those many names
which Earth receives. In illustration we may quote a passage from the
_Kurma Ouran_ (Kennedy's Researches on Hindoo Mythology; London, 1831;
p. 208)--"That," says Vishnu, pointing to Siva, "is the great god of
gods, shining in his own refulgence, eternal, devoid of thought, who
produced thee (Brahma), and gave to thee the Vedas, and who likewise
originated me, and _gave me various names._" Southey, in the roll of
celestial _dramatis personæ_ prefixed to the Curse of Kehama, says
"that Siva boasts as many as _one thousand and eight names_."

 Note 18 (p 189).
 "Suspicion's a disease that cleaves to tyrants,
 And they who love most are the first suspected."

"_Nam regibus boni quam mali suspectiores sunt, semperque his aliena
virtus formidolosa est._"--Sall. Cat. VII. "In princes fear is stronger
than love; therefore it is often more difficult for them to tear
themselves from persons whom they hate than to cast off persons whom
they love."--RICHTER (Titan).

 Note 19 (p. 189).
 "I only of the gods
 Thwarted his will."

This is one of the passages which has suggested to many minds a
comparison between the mythical tortures of the Caucasus and the real
agonies of Calvary. The analogy is just so far; only the Greek
imagination never could look on Prometheus as suffering altogether
without just cause; he suffered for his own sins. This TOEPEL. p. 71,
has well expressed thus--"_Prometheus deos laesit ut homines bearet:
Christus homines beavit ut suae, Deique patris obsecundaret voluntati._"


 Note 20 (p. 189).
 ". . . in cunning torment stretched."

ἀνηλεῶς ἐῤῥύθμισμαι--"_so bin ich zugerichtet_."--PASSOW. A sort of
studious malignity is here indicated. So we say allegorically to _trim_
one handsomely, to _dress_ him, when we mean to _punish_. The frequent
use of this verb ρυθμίζω is characteristic of the Greeks, than whom no
people, as has been frequently remarked, seem to have possessed a nicer
sense of the beauty of measure and the propriety of limitation in their
poetry and works of art. So Sophocles, Antig. 318, has ρυθμίζειν λύπην.

 Note 21 (p. 190).
 "Blind hopes of good I planted
 In their dark breasts."

A striking phrase, meaning, however, nothing more, I imagine,
according to the use of the Greek writers (and also of the Latins with
_caecus_) than _dim_, _indistinct_; neither, indeed, is the phrase
foreign to our colloquial English idiom--"The swearing to a _blind_
etcetera they (the Puritans) looked upon as intolerable."--Calamy's Life
of Baxter. In the well-known story of Pandora, Hesiod relates that, when
the lid of the fatal box was opened, innumerable plagues flew out, only
HOPE remained within.--_Works and Days_, 84.

 Note 22 (p. 190).
 "And flame-faced fire is now enjoyed by mortals?"

Lieutenant-Colonel Collins, in his account of New South Wales (London,
1804), mentions that the wild natives produced fire with much
difficulty, and preserved it with the greatest care. The original
inhabitants of New Holland, and the wild African bushmen described by
Moffat, the missionary, are among the lowest specimens of human nature
with which we are acquainted. As for Æschylus, it is evident he follows
in this whole piece the notion of primitive humanity given in his
introductory chapters by Diodorus, and generally received amongst the
ancients, viz., that the fathers of our race were the most weak and
helpless creatures imaginable, like the famous Egyptian frogs, as it
were, only half developed from the primeval slime.

 Note 23 (p. 191).

_Enter_ OCEAN. "This sea god enters," says Brunoy, quoted by POT.,
on "I know not what winged animal--_bizarrerie inexplicable._" Very
inexplicable certainly; and yet, as the tragedian expressly calls the
animal a _bird_, I do not see why so many translators, both English and
German, should insist on making it a _steed_. The bird certainly was a
little anomalous, having, as we learn below, four feet (τετρασκελὴς
ὀιωνός, v. 395--a _four-footed bira_); but it was a bird for all that,
and the air was its element. If the creature must have a name, we must
even call it a griffin, or a hippogriff, notwithstanding Welcker's
remarks (_Tril._ p. 26). Those who wish to see its physiognomy more
minutely described may consult Aeliean. hist, animal. IV. 27, in an apt
passage quoted from JACOBS by BOTH. There is an ambiguity in the
passage which I have translated--

  "Thought instinctive reined the creature,"

some applying γνώμῃ not to the animal, but to the will of the rider. So

                 "Following still
  Each impulse of my guiding will."

But for the poetical propriety of my translation I can plead the
authority of SOUTHEY--


  "The ship of Heaven instinct with thought displayed
  Its living sail, and glides along the sky."
                            Curse of Kehama, VII. 1.

and of MILTON--

  "The chariot of paternal Deity
  Instinct with spirit."--VI. 750.

and what is much more conclusive in the present instance, that of
Homer, whose τιτυσκόμεναι φρεσὶ νῆες (Odyssey VIII. 556), or
self-piloted ships of the Phœnicians, belong clearly to the same
mythical family as the self-reined griffin of old Ocean.

 Note 24 (p. 191).
 "From my distant caves cerulean."

_i.e._, in the far West, extreme Atlantic, or "ends of the earth,"
according to the Homeric phrase.

  "To the ends I make my journey of the many-nurturing Earth,
  There where Ocean, sire of gods, and ancient mother Tethys dwells,
  They who nursed me in their palace, and my infant strength sustained,"

says _Hera_ in the Iliad (XIV. 200).

 Note 25 (p. 192).
 "Enough my brother Atlas' miseries grieve me."

The reader will see by referring to the old editions and to POT. that
the following description of the miseries of Atlas and Typhon is, in the
MS., given to Ocean; and, it must be confessed, there seems a peculiar
dramatic propriety in making the old sea god hold up the fate of the
Cilician Blaster as a warning to the son of Iapetus, whom he saw
embarked in a similar career of hopeless rebellion against the
Thunderer. But philological considerations, well stated by SCHOE.,
have weighed with that editor, as with his predecessors BLOM. and
WELL., whose authority and arguments I am for the present willing to
follow, though not without some lingering doubts. The alteration of the
text originally proceeded from Elmsley, and the original order of the
dialogue is stoutly defended by TOEPEL. in his notes.

 Note 26 (p. 192)
 "The pillars of Heaven and Earth upon his shoulders."

If the reader is a curious person, he will ask how Atlas when standing
on the Earth--in the extreme west of the Earth--could bear the pillars
of _Heaven_ and _Earth?_ and the question will be a very proper one;
for the fact is that, as Hesiod distinctly states the case, he bore the
pillars of _Heaven only_ (Theog. 517). This is, indeed, the only
possible idea that could be admitted into a mythology which proceeded on
the old principle that the Earth was a flat solid platform in the centre
of the Universe, round which the celestial pole (πόλος) wheeled.
The phrase "_pillars of Heaven and Earth_" is, therefore, to a certain
extent an improper one; for the Earth, being the stable base of all
things, required no pillars to support it. In one sense it is true that
the pillars of Atlas are the pillars of Heaven and Earth, viz., in so
far as they have Heaven at one end and Earth at the other, which is what
Homer means when he says (Odyssey I. 54), that these pillars "γᾶιάν τε
καὶ ὀυρανὸν ἀμφὶς ἔχουσιν." And that this is the idea of Æschylus, also,
is plain, both from the present passage, and from the Epode of the next
following Chorus, where, unless we force in one conjecture of Schütz,
or another of Hermann into the text, there is no mention of anything but
the _celestial pole_. In all this I but express in my own words, {394}
and with a very decided conviction, the substance of the admirable note
in SCHOE. to v. 426, WELL.

 Note 27 (p. 192).
 ". . . Typhon."

The idea of Typhon is that of a strong windy power, δεινόν ὑβριστήν
τ ἄνεμον, according to the express statement of Hesiod (Theog. 307).
The Greek word _Typhon_, with which our _typhus fever_ is identical,
expresses the state of being _swollen_ or _blown up_; with this, the
other idea of _heat_, which belongs also to Typhon (Sallust, περὶ θεῶν,
c. 4), is naturally connected. According to the elementary or physical
system of mythology, therefore, Typhon is neither more nor less than a
_simoom_ or _hot wind_.

 Note 28 (p. 193).
 "Knowest thou not this, Prometheus, that mild words
 Are medicines of fierce wrath?"

The reader may like to see Cicero's version of these four lines--

  "_Oceanus_. Atqui Prometheu te hoc, tenere existimo
    Mederi posse rationem iracundiæ."
  "_Prom_. Si quidem qui tempestivam medicinam admovens
    Non ad gravescens vulnus illidat manus."
                                    TUSC. Q., III. 31.

 Note 29 (p. 194).
 ". . . holy Asia weep
 For thee, Prometheus."

Here, and in the epithet of the rivers in the Epode (compare Homer's
Odyssey X. 351, ἱερων ποταμων, and _Nägelsbach_, Homer, Theologie, p.
85), the original word is ἁγνος, a term to be particularly noted, both
in the heathen writers and in the Old Testament, as denoting that
religious purity in connection with external objects and outward
ceremonies which the Christian sentiment confines exclusively to the
moral state of the soul. I have thought it important, in all cases, to
retain the Greek phrase, and not by modernizing to dilute it. The
religious sentiment in connection with external nature is what the
moderns generally do not understand, and least of all the English, whose
piety does not readily exhibit itself beyond the precincts of the church
porch. The Germans, in this regard, have a much more profound sympathy
with the Greek mind.

 Note 30 (p. 194).
 ". . . Araby's wandering warriors weep
 For thee, Prometheus."

Arabia certainly comes in, to a modern ear, not a little strangely here,
between the Sea of Azof and the Caucasus; but the Greeks, we must
remember, were a people whose notions of _barbarian_ geography (as they
would call it) were anything but distinct; and, in this play, the poet
seems wisely to court vagueness in these matters rather than to study

 Note 31 (p 195).
 "For, soothly, having eyes to see, they saw not."

With regard to the origin of the human race there are two principal
opinions, which have in all times prevailed. One is, that man was
originally created perfect, or in a state of dignity far transcending
what he now exhibits; that the state in which the earliest historical
records present him is a state of declension and aberration from the
primeval source; and that the {395} whole progress of what is called
civilization is only a series of attempts, for the most part
sufficiently clumsy, and always painful, whereby we endeavour to
reinstate ourselves in our lost position. This philosophy of
history--for so it may most fitly be called--is that which has always
been received in the general Christian world; and, indeed, it seems to
flow necessarily from the reception of the Mosaic records, not merely as
authentic Hebrew documents, but as veritable cosmogony and primeval
history--as containing a historical exposition of the creation of the
world, and the early history of man. The other doctrine is, that man was
originally created in a condition extremely feeble and imperfect; very
little removed from vegetable dulness and brutish stupidity; and that he
gradually raised himself by slow steps to the exercise of the higher
moral and intellectual faculties, by virtue of which he claims
successful mastery over the brute, and affinity with the angel. This
doctrine was very common, I think I may safely say the current and
generally received doctrine, among the educated Greeks and Romans;
though the poets certainly did not omit, as they so often do, to
contradict themselves by their famous tradition of a golden age, which
it was their delight to trick out and embellish. In modern times, this
theory of _progressive development_, as it may be called, has, as might
have been expected, found little favour, except with philosophers of the
French school; and those who have broached it in this country latterly
have met with a most hot reception from scientific men, principally, we
may presume, from the general conviction that such ideas go directly to
undermine the authority of the Mosaic record. It has been thought, also,
that there is something debasing and contrary to the dignity of human
nature in the supposition that the great-grandfather of the primeval
father of our race may have been a monkey, or not far removed from that
species; but, however this be, with regard to ÆSCHYLUS, it is plain
he did not find it inconsistent with the loftiest views of human duty
and destiny to adopt the then commonly received theory of a gradual
development; and, in illustration, I cannot do better than translate a
few sentences from DIODORUS, where the same doctrine is stated in
prose: "Men, as originally generated, lived in a confused and brutish
condition, preserving existence by feeding on herbs and fruits that grew
spontaneously. * * * Their speech was quite indistinct and confused, but
by degrees they invented articulate speech. * * * They lived without any
of the comforts and conveniences of life, without clothing, without
habitations, _without fire_ (Prometheus!), and without cooked victuals;
and not knowing to lay up stores for future need, great numbers of them
died during the winter from the effects of cold and starvation. By which
sad experience taught, they learned to lodge themselves in caves, and
laid up stores there. By-and-by, they discovered fire and other things
pertaining to a comfortable existence. The arts were then invented, and
man became in every respect such as a highly-gifted animal might well
be, having hands and speech, and a devising mind ever present to work
out his purposes." Thus far the Sicilian (I. 8); and the intelligent
reader need not be informed that, to a certain extent, many obvious and
patent facts seemed to give a high probability to his doctrine.
"Dwellers in caves," for instance, or "troglodytes," were well known to
the ancients, and the modern reader will find a historical account of
them in STRABO, and other obvious places. The HORITES (Gen. xiv. 6)
were so called from the Hebrew word HOR, a cave--(see Gesenius and
Jahn, I. 2-26). But it is needless to accumulate learned references in a
matter patent to the most modern observation.--MOFFAT's "African
Missions" will supply instances of human beings in a state as degraded
as anything here described by the poet; and with {396} regard to the
aboriginal Australians, I have preserved in my notes the following
passage from COLLINS: "The Australians dwell in miserable huts of
bark, all huddled together promiscuously (ἔφυρον εικῆ πάντα!) amid much
smoke and dirt. _Some also live in caves._" I do by no means assert,
however, that these creatures are remnants of primeval humanity,
according to the development theory; I only say they afford that theory
a historic analogy; while, on the other hand, they are equally
consistent with the commonly received Christian doctrine, as man is a
creature who degenerates from excellence much more readily in all
circumstances than he attains to it. These Australians and Africans may
be mere imbecile stragglers who have been dropt from the great army of
humanity in its march.

 Note 32 (p. 195).
                        "Numbers, too,
 I taught them (a most choice device)."

"The Pythagorean tenets of Æschylus here display themselves. It was one
of the doctrines attributed to this mysterious sect that they professed
to find in numbers, and their combinations, the primordial types of
everything cognisable by the mind, whether of a physical or moral
nature. They even spoke of the soul as a number."--PROW. But, apart
from all Pythagorean notions, we may safely say--from observation of
travellers indeed certainly affirm--that there is nothing in which the
civilized man so remarkably distinguishes himself from the savage, as in
the power to grasp and handle relations of number. The special reference
to Pythagoras in this passage is, I perceive, decidedly rejected by
SCHOE.; BERGK. and HAUPT., according to his statement, admitting
it. Of course, such a reference in the mind of the poet can never be
_proved_; only it does no harm to suppose it.

 Note 33 (p. 196).
 ". . . the fire-faced signs."

(φλογωπὰ σήματα). PROWETT refers this to _lightning_; but surely, in
the present connection, the obvious reference is to the sacrificial
flame, from which, as from most parts of the sacrificial ceremony, omens
were wont to be taken. When the flame burned bright it was a good omen;
when with a smoky and troublous flame, the omen was bad. See a
well-known description of this in Sophocles' Antigone, from the mouth of
the blind old diviner Tiresias, when he first enters the stage, v. 1005;
and another curious passage in Euripides' Phœniss. 1261.

 Note 34 (p. 196).
 "And who is lord of strong Necessity?"

Necessity (Ἀνάγκη), a favourite power to which reference is made
by the Greek dramatists, is merely an impersonation of the fact patent
to all, that the world is governed by a system of strict and inexorable
law, from the operation of which no man can escape. That the gods
themselves are subject to this Ἀνάγκη. is a method of expression
not seldom used by Heathen writers; but that they had any distinct idea,
or fixed theological notion of NECESSITY or FATE, as a power
separate from and superior to the gods I see no reason to believe.--See
my observations on the Homeric μοῖρα in _Clas. Mus._, No. XXVI.,
p. 437. And in the same way that Homer talks of the _fate from the
gods_, so the tragedians talk of _necessity from or imposed by the
gods_--τὰς γὰρ ἐκ θεῶν ἀνάγκας θνητον ὀντα δεῖ φέρειν. With regard to
Æschylus, certainly one must beware of drawing any hasty inference with
regard to his theological creed from this insulated passage. For here
the poet adopts the notion of the strict subjection of Jove to an
external FATE, {397} principally, one may suppose, from dramatic
propriety; it suits the person and the occasion. Otherwise, the
Æschylean theology is very favourable to the absolute supremacy of
Jove; and, accordingly, in the Eumenides, those very Furies, who are
here called his superiors, though they dispute with Apollo, are careful
not to be provoked into a single expression which shall seem to throw a
doubt on the infallibility of "the Father." For the rest, the Fates and
Furies, both here and in the Eumenides, are aptly coupled, and, in
signification, indeed, are identical; because a man's _fate_ in this
world can never be separated from his _conduct_, nor his conduct from
his _conscience_, of which the Furies are the impersonation.

 Note 35 (p. 196).
 "No more than others Jove can 'scape his doom."

The idea that the Supreme Ruler of the Universe can ever be dethroned
is foreign to every closely reasoned system of monotheism; but in
polytheistic systems it is not unnatural (for gods who had a beginning
may have an end); and in the Hindoo theology receives an especial
prominence. Southey accordingly makes Indra, the Hindoo Jove, say--

       "A stronger hand
  May wrest my sceptre, and unparadise
  The Swerga."--Curse of Kehama, VII.

We must bear in mind, however, that it is not Æschylus in the present
passage, but Prometheus who says this.

 Note 36 (p. 197)
 "Plant his high will against my weak opinion!"

The original of these words, "μηδάμ θ(ε)ιτ᾽ εμᾀ γνώμᾶ κράτος ἀντίπαλον
Ζεὺς," has been otherwise translated "_Minime Jupiter indat animo meo
vim rebellem;_" but, apart altogether from theological considerations,
I entirely agree with SCHOE. that this rendering puts a force upon
the word κράτος, which is by no means called for, and which it will not
easily bear.

 Note 37 (p. 197)
 "Won by rich gifts didst lead."

Observe here the primitive practice according to which the bridegroom
purchased his wife, by rich presents made to the father. In Iliad IX.
288, Agamemnon promises, as a particular favour, to give his daughter
in marriage to Achilles ἀνάεδνον, that is, without any consideration
in the shape of a marriage gift.

 Note 38 (p. 197).

_Enter_ IO. Io is one of those mysterious characters on the
borderland between history and fable, concerning which it is difficult
to say whether they are to be looked on as personal realities, or as
impersonated ideas. According to the historical view of ancient legends,
Io is the daughter of Inachus, a primeval king of Argos; and, from this
fact as a root, the extravagant legends about her, sprouting from the
ever active inoculation of human fancy, branched out. Interpreted by the
principles of early theological allegory, however, she is, according to
the witness of Suidas, the MOON, and her wanderings the revolutions of
that satellite. In either view, the immense extent of these wanderings
is well explained by mythological writers (1) from the influence of
Argive colonies at Byzantium and elsewhere; and (2) from the vain desire
of the Greeks to connect their {398} horned virgin Io, with the horned
ISIS of the Egyptians. It need scarcely be remarked that, if Io means
the moon, her horns are as naturally explained as her wanderings. But,
in reading Æschylus, all these considerations are most wisely left out
of view, the Athenians, no doubt, who introduced this play, believing in
the historical reality of the Inachian maid, as firmly as we believe in
that of Adam or Methuselah. As little can I agree with BOTH. that we
are called upon to rationalize away the reality of the persecuting
insect, whether under the name of ᾽(ο)ιστρος or μύωψ. In popular legends
the sublime is ever apt to be associated with circumstances that either
are, or, to the cultivated imagination, necessarily appear to be

 Note 39 (p. 198).
 ". . . save me, O Earth!"

I have here given the received traditionary rendering of Αλεῦ ὦ δᾶ;
but I must confess the appeal to Earth here in this passage always
appeared to me something unexpected; and it is, accordingly, with
pleasure that I submit the following observations of SCHOE. to the
consideration of the scholar--"Δᾶ is generally looked on as a
dialectic variation of γᾶ; and, in conformity with this opinion,
Theocritus has used the accusation Δᾶν. I consider this erroneous,
and am of opinion that in Δημητηρ we are rather to understand Δεαμητηρ
than Γημητηρ; and δᾶ is to be taken only as an interjection. This is
not the place to discuss this matter fully; but, in the meantime, I
may mention that AHRENS _de dialecta Doricâ_, p. 80, has refuted the
traditionary notion with regard to δᾶ.

 Note 40 (p. 198).

_Chorus_. With WELL., and SCHOE., and the MSS., I give this verse to
the Chorus, though certainly it is not to be denied that the
continuation of the lyrical metre of the Strophe pleads strongly in
favour of giving it to Io. It is also certain that, for the sake of
symmetry, the last line of the Antistrophe must also be given to the
Chorus, as SCHOE. has done.

 Note 41 (p. 199).
 ". . . the sisters of thy father, Io."

Inachus, the Argive river, was, like all other rivers, the son of Ocean,
and, of course, the brother of the Ocean-maids, the Chorus of the
present play. Afterwards, according to the historical method of
conception, characteristic of the early legends, the elementary god
became a human person--the river was metamorphosed into a king.

 Note 42 (p. 200).
 ". . . Lerne's bosomed mead."

We most commonly read of the _water_ or _fountain_ of Lerne; this
implies a meadow--and this, again, implies high overhanging grounds, or
cliffs, of which mention is made in the twenty-third line below. In that
place, however, the reading ἄκρην is not at all certain; and, were
I editing the text, I should have no objection to follow PAL. in
reading Λέρνης τε κρήνην, with Canter. In fixing this point, something
will depend upon the actual landscape.

 Note 43 (p. 201).
 "First to the east."

Here begins the narration of the mythical wanderings of Io--a strange
matter, and of a piece with the whole fable, which, however, with all
its perplexities, Æschylus, no doubt, and his audience, following the
old minstrels, took very lightly. In such matters, the less curious a
man is, {399} the greater chance is there of his not going far wrong;
and to be superficial is safer than to be profound. The following causes
may be stated as presumptive grounds why we ought not to be surprised at
any startling inaccuracy in geographical detail in legends of this
kind:--(1) The Greeks, as stated above, even in their most scientific
days, had the vaguest possible ideas of the geography of the extreme
circumference of the habitable globe and the parts nearest to it which
are spoken of in the passage. (2) The geographical ideas of Æschylus
must be assumed as more kindred to those of Homer than of the best
informed later Greeks. (3) Even supposing Æschylus to have had the most
accurate geographical ideas, he had no reasons in handling a Titanic
myth to make his geographical scenery particularly tangible; on the
contrary, as a skilful artist, the more misty and indefinite he could
keep it the better. (4) He may have taken the wanderings of Io, as
Welcker still suggests (_Trilog._ 137), literally from the old Epic poem
"Aigimius," or some other traditionary lay as old as Homer, leaving to
himself no more discretion in the matter, and caring as little to do so
as Shakespere did about the geographical localities in Macbeth, which he
borrowed from Hollinshed. For all these reasons I am of opinion that any
attempt to explain the geographical difficulties of the following
wanderings would be labour lost to myself no less than to the reader;
and shall, therefore, content myself with noting _seriatim_ the
different points of the progress, and explaining, for the sake of the
general reader, what is or is not known in the learned world about the

(1) The starting-point is not from Mount Caucasus, according to the
common representation, but from some indefinite point in the
NORTHERN PARTS OF EUROPE. So the Scholiast on v. 1, arguing
from the present passage, clearly concludes; and with him agree
HER. and SCHOE.; Welcker whimsically, I think, maintaining a
contrary opinion.

(2) The SCYTHIAN NOMADS, _vid._ note on v. 2, _supra._; their
particular customs alluded to here are well known, presenting a
familiar ancient analogy to the gipsy life of the present day. The
reader of Horace will recall the lines--

                "Campestres melius Scythae
  Quorum plaustra vagas rite trahunt domos."
                           --Ode III. 24-9.

and the same poet (III. 4-35) mentions the "quiver-bearing Geloni";
for the bow is the most convenient weapon to all wandering and
semi-civilized warriors.

(3) The CHALYBS, or CHALDAEI, are properly a people in Pontus,
at the north-east corner of Asia Minor; but Æschylus, in his primeval
Titanic geography, takes the liberty of planting them to the north of
the Euxine.

(4) The river HUBRISTES. The Araxes, says the Scholiast; the
TANAIS, say others; or the CUBAN (Dr. Schmitz in Smith's Dict.).
The word means _boisterous_ or _outrageous_, and recalls the Virgilian
"_pontem indignatus Araxes._"

(5) The CAUCASUS, as in modern geography.

(6) The AMAZONS; placed here in the country about Colchis to the
northward of their final settlement in Themiscyre, on the Thermodon,
in Pontus, east of the Halys.

(7) SALMYDESSUS, on the Euxine, _west_ of the Symplegades and the
Thracian Bosphorus; of course a violent jump in the geography.


(8) The CIMMERIAN BOSPHORUS, between the Euxine and the Sea of
Azof. Puzzling enough that this should come in here, and no
mention be made of the Thracian Bosphorus in the whole flight!
The word _Bosporus_ means in Greek the _passage of the Cow_.

(9) The ASIAN CONTINENT; from the beginning a strange wheel! For
the rest see below.

 Note 44 (p. 203).
 "When generations ten have passed, the third."

This mythical genealogy is thus given by SCHÜTZ from Apollodorus. 1.
Epaphus; 2. Libya; 3. Belus (see Suppliants, p. 228, above); 4. Danaus;
5. Hypermnestra; 6. Abas; 7. Proetus; 8. Acrisias; 9. Danae; 10.
Perseus; 11. Electryon; 12. Alcmena; 13. Heracles.

 Note 45 (p. 203).
 "When thou hast crossed the narrow stream that parts."

I now proceed with the mythical wanderings of the "ox-horned maid,"
naming the different points, and continuing the numbers, from the
former Note--

(10) The SOUNDING OCEAN.--Before these words, something seems to
have dropt out of the text; what the "sounding sea" (πόντου
φλ(ο)ισβος) is, no man can say; but, as a southward direction is
clearly indicated in what follows, we may suppose the CASPIAN,
with HER.; or the PERSIAN GULF, with SCHOE.

(11) The GORGONIAN PLAINS.--"The Gorgons are conceived by
Hesiod to live in the Western Ocean, in the neighbourhood of
Night, and the Hesperides; but later traditions place them in
Libya."--Dr. SCHMITZ, in Smith's Dict.: but SCHOE., in his note,
quotes a scholiast to Pindar, _Pyth._ X. 72, which places them near
the Red Sea, and in Ethiopia. This latter habitation, of course,
agrees best with the present passage of Æschylus.

With regard to CISTHENE, the same writer (SCHOE.) has an
ingenious conjecture, that it may be a mistake of the old copyists,
for the CISSIANS, a Persian people, mentioned in the opening chorus
to the play of the Persians.

(12) The country of the GRIFFINS, the ARIMASPI, and the river
PLUTO. The Griffins and the Arimaspi are well known from Herodotus
and Strabo, which latter, we have seen above (Note 1), places them to
the north of the Euxine Sea, as a sub-division of the Scythians.
Æschylus, however, either meant to confound all geographical
distinctions, or followed a different tradition, which placed the
Arimaspi in the south, as to which see SCHOE. "The river PLUTO
is easily explained, from the accounts of golden-sanded rivers in the
East which had reached Greece."--SCHOE.

(13) The river Aethiops seems altogether fabulous.

(14) The "Bybline Heights," meaning the κατάδουπα (Herod. II. 17), or
place where the Nile falls from the mountains.--LIN. _in voce_
καταβασμός, which is translated _pass_. No such place as BYBLUS is
mentioned here by the geographers, in want of which POT. has
allowed himself to be led, by the Scholiast, into rather a curious
error. The old annotator, having nothing geographical to say {401}
about this _Byblus_, thought he might try what etymology could do;
so he tells us that the Bybline Mountains were so called from the
_Byblos_ or _Papyrus_ that grew on them. This Potter took up and

  "Where from the _mountains with papyrus crowned_
  The venerable Nile impetuous pours,"

overlooking the fact that the papyrus is a sedge, and grows in flat,
moist places.

 Note 46 (p. 204).
     ". . . the sacred Nile
 Pours his salubrious flood."

ἔυποτον ρέος, literally, _good for drinking_. The medicinal qualities of
the _Nile_ were famous in ancient times. In the Suppliants, v. 556, our
poet calls the Nile water, νόσοις ἄθικτον, _not to be reached by
diseases;_ and in v. 835, _the nurturing river that makes the blood
flow more buoyantly_. On this subject, the celebrated Venetian
physician, Prosper Alpin, in his _Rerum Ægyptiarum_, Lib. IV. (Lugd.
Bat. 1735) writes as follows: "Nili aqua merito omnibus aliis præfertur
quod ipsa alvum subducat, menses pellat ut propterea raro mensium
suppressio in Ægypti mulieribus reperiatur. Potui suavis est, et
dulcis; sitim promptissime extinguit; frigida tuto bibitur, concoctionem
juvat, ac distributioni auxilio est, minime hypochondriis gravis corpus
firmum et coloratum reddit," etc.--Lib. I. c. 3. If the water of the
Nile really be not only pleasant to drink, but, strictly speaking, of
medicinal virtue, it has a companion in the Ness, at Inverness, the
waters of which are said to possess such a drastic power, that they
cannot be drunk with safety by strangers.

 Note 47 (p. 204).
 ". . . thence with mazy course
 Tossed hither."

I quite agree with SCHOE. that, in the word παλιμπλάγκτος, in this
passage, we must understand πάλιν to mean _to and fro_, not
_backwards_. With a backward or reverted course from the Adriatic, Io
could never have been brought northward to Scythia. The maziness of Io's
course arises naturally from the fitful attacks of the persecuting
insect of which she was the victim. A direct course is followed by sane
reason, a zigzag course by insane impulse.

 Note 48 (p. 204).
 ". . . Epaphus, whose name shall tell
 The wonder of his birth."

As Io was identified with Isis, so Epaphus seems merely a Greek term for
the famous bull-god Apis.--(Herod. III. 27, and Müller's Prolegom.
myth.) The etymology, like many others given by the ancients, is
ridiculous enough; ἐπαφή, _touch_. This derivation is often alluded to
in the next play, _The Suppliants_. With regard to the idea of a virgin
mother so prominent in this legend of Io, PROW. has remarked that it
occurs in the Hindoo and in the Mexican mythology; but nothing can be
more puerile than the attempt which he mentions as made by FABER to
connect this idea with the "promise respecting the seed of the woman
made to man at the fall." Sound philosophy will never seek a distant
reason for a phenomenon, when a near one is ready. When an object of
worship or admiration is once acknowledged as superhuman, it is the most
natural thing in the world for the imagination to supply a superhuman
birth. A miraculous life flows most fitly from a miraculous generation.
The mother of the great type of Roman {402} warriors is a vestal, and
his father is the god of war. Romans and Greeks will wisely be left to
settle such matters for themselves, without the aid of "patriarchal
traditions" or "the prophecy of Isaiah." The ancient Hellenes were not
so barren, either of fancy or feeling, as that they required to borrow
matters of this kind from the Hebrews. On the idea of "generation by a
god" generally, see the admirable note in GROTE's History of Greece,
P. I. c. 16 (Vol. I. p. 471).

 Note 49 (p. 207).
 ". . . they are wise who worship Adrastéa."

"A surname of Nemesis, derived by some writers from Adrastus, who is
said to have built the first sanctuary of Nemesis on the river Asopus
(Strabo XIII. p. 588), and by others from the verb διδράσκειν,
according to which it would signify the goddess whom none could
escape."--Dr. SCHMITZ. On this subject, STAN. has a long note,
where the student will find various illustrative references.

 Note 50 (p. 209).
 "For wilful strength that hath no wisdom in it
 Is less than nothing."

The word in the original, ἀυθαδιά, literally "self-pleasing," expresses
a state of mind which the Greeks, with no shallow ethical discernment,
were accustomed to denounce as the great source of all those sins whose
consequences are the most fearful to the individual and to society. St.
Paul, in his epistle to Titus (i. 7), uses the same word emphatically
to express what a Christian bishop should _not_ be (ἀυθὰδη,
self-willed). The same word is used by the blind old soothsayer
Tiresias in the ANTIGONE, when preaching repentance to the passionate
and self-willed tyrant of Thebes, ἀυθαδιά τοι σκαιότητ ὀφλισκάνει,
where Donaldson gives the whole passage as follows:--

  "Then take these things to heart, my son; for error
  Is as the universal lot of man;
  But, whensoe'er he errs, that man no longer
  Is witless, or unblest, who, having fallen
  Into misfortune, seeks to mend his ways,
  And is not obstinate: _the stiff-necked temper_
  Must oft plead guilty to the charge of folly."
              SOPHOCLES, ANTIG. v. 1028.

 Note 51 (p. 209).
 ". . . unless some god endure
 Vicarious thy tortures."

The idea of vicarious sacrifice, or punishment by substitution of one
person for another, does not seem to have been very familiar to the
Greek mind; at least, I do not trace it in Homer. It occurs, however,
most distinctly in the well-known case of MENŒCEUS, in Euripides'
play of the PHŒNISSÆ. In this passage, also, it is plainly implied,
though the word διάδοχος, strictly translated, means only a
_successor_, and not a _substitute_. WELCK. (_Trilog_. p. 47) has
pointed out that the person here alluded to is the centaur CHIRON, of
whom Apollodorus (II. 5-11-12) says that "Hercules, after freeing
Prometheus, who had assumed the olive chaplet (WELCK. reads
ἑλόμένον), delivered up Chiron to Jove willing, though immortal, to
die in his room (θνήσκειν ὰντ᾽ ἁυτου). This is literally the Christian
idea of vicarious death. The Druids, according to Cæsar (B.C. VI.
16), held the doctrine strictly--"_pro vita hominis nisi hominis vita
reddatur non posse aliter deorum immortalium numen placari._" Of
existing heathens practising human sacrifice, the religious rites of the
Khonds in Orissa present the idea {403} of vicarious sacrifice in the
most distinct outline. See the interesting memoir of Captain Macpherson
in _Blackwood's Magazine_ for August, 1842.

 Note 52 (p. 210).
 "Seems he not a willing madman,
 Let him reap the fruits he sowed."

I have translated these lines quite freely, as the text is corrupt,
and the emendations proposed do not contain any idea worth the
translator's adopting. SCHOE. reads--

  Τί γὰρ ἐλλείπει μὴ παραπάιειν
  Ἐι τάδ ἐπαυχεῖ τί χαλᾷ μανιῶν;

and translates

  _Was fehlet ihm noch wahnwitzig zo seyn,_
  _Wenn also er pocht? Wie zahmt er die Wuth?_

PROW. from a different reading, has

  To thee, if this resolve seems good,
  Why shouldst thou check thy frenzied mood?



 Note 1 (p. 219).
 "Jove the suppliant's high protector."

Ζεὺς ἀφίκτωρ, literally _suppliant Jove_, the epithet which properly
belongs to the worshipper being transferred to the object of worship.
The reader will note here another instance of the monotheistic element
in Polytheism, so often alluded to in these Notes. Jove, as the supreme
moral governor of the universe, has a general supervision of the whole
social system of gods and men; and specially where there is no inferior
protector, as in the case of fugitives and suppliants--there he presses
with all the weight of his high authority. In such cases, religion
presents a generous and truly humanizing aspect, and the "_primus in
orbe Deos fecit timor_" of the philosophers loses its sting.

 Note 2 (p. 219).
 "Of the fat fine-sanded Nile!"

WELLAUER, in his usual over-cautious way, has not received PAUW's
emendation λεπτοψαμάθων into his text, though he calls it _certissimum_
in his notes. PAL., whom I follow, acts in these matters with a more
manly decision. Even without the authority of PLINY (XXXV. 13), I
should adopt so natural an emendation, where the text is plainly

 Note 3 (p. 219).
 "Gently thrilled the brize-stung heifer
 With his procreant touch."

See p. 204 above, and Note 48 to Prometheus. There prevails throughout
this play a constant allusion to the divine significance of the name
EPAPHUS, meaning, as it does, _touch_. To the Greeks, as already
remarked (p. 388), this was no mere punning; and the names of the gods
(Note 17, p. 391 above) were one of the strongest instruments of Heathen
devotion. That there is an allusion to this in Matthew vi. 7, I have no

 Note 4 (p. 219).
 "Ye blissful gods supremely swaying."

I see no necessity here, with PAL., for changing ὧν πολις into ὦ
πολις--but it is a matter of small importance to the translator. Jove,
_the third_, is a method of designating the supreme power of which we
have frequent examples in Æschylus--see the Eumenides, p. 164, where
_Jove the Saviour all-perfecting_ is mentioned after _Pallas_ and
_Loxias_, as it were, to crown the invocation with the greatest of all
names. In that passage τρίτου occurs in the original, which I was
wrong to omit.

 Note 5 (p. 220).
 "Marriage beds which right refuses."

In what countries are first cousins forbidden to marry? WELCKER does
not know. "_Das Eherecht worauf diese Weigerung beruht ist nicht
bekannt._"--WELCKER (_Trilog._ 391).

 Note 6 (p. 221).
 "With Ionian wailings unstinted."

"Perhaps _Ionian_ is put in this place antithetically to Νειλοθερῆ,
_from the Nile_, in the next line, and the sense is, 'though coming
from Egypt, {405} yet, being of Greek extraction, I speak Greek.'
"--PALEY. This appears to me the simplest and most satisfactory
comment on the passage.

 Note 7 (p. 221).
 "From the far misty land."

That is EGYPT. So called according to the Etymol. M. quoted by
STAN., from the cloudy appearance which the low-lying Delta district
presents to the stranger approaching it from the sea.

 Note 8 (p. 222).
 "All godlike power is calm."

It would be unfair not to advertise the English reader that this fine
sentiment is a translation from a conjectural reading, πᾶν ἄπονον
δαιμονιων, of WELL., which, however, is in beautiful harmony with
the context. The text generally in this part of the play is extremely
corrupt. In the present stanza, WELL.'s correction of δε ἀπιδων into
ἐλπίδων deserves to be celebrated as one of the few grand triumphs of
verbal criticism that have a genuine poetical value.

 Note 9 (p. 222).
 "Ah! well-a-day! ah! well-a-day!"

The reader must imagine here a complete change in the style of the
music--say from the major to the minor key. In the whole Chorus, the
mind of the singer sways fitfully between a hopeful confidence and a
dark despair. The faith in the counsel of Jove, and in the sure
destruction of the wicked, so finely expressed in the preceding stanzas,
supports the sinking soul but weakly in this closing part of the hymn.
These alterations of feeling exhibited under such circumstances will
appear strange to no one who is acquainted with the human, and
especially with the female heart.

 Note 10 (p. 223).
 "Ye Apian hills."

"Apia, an old name for Peloponnesus, which remains still a mystery, even
after the attempt of Butmann to throw light upon it."--GROTE, Hist, of
Greece, Part I. c. 4. Æschylus' own account of Apis, the supposed
originator of the name Apia, will be found in this play a few lines
below. I have consulted Butmann, and find nothing but a conglomeration
of vague and slippery etymologies.

 Note 11 (p. 225).
 ". . . rounded cars."

καμπύλος, _with a bend_ or _sweep_; alluding to the form of the rim of
the ancient chariot, between the charioteer and the horses. See the
figure in SMITH's _Dict. Antiq._, Articles ἄντυξ and _currus_.

 Note 12 (p. 225).
 ". . . the Agonian gods."

The common meaning that a Greek scholar would naturally give to the
phrase θεοῖ ἀγωνιοι is that given by HESYCH, viz., _gods that
preside over public games_, or, as I have rendered it in the Agamemnon
(p. 57 above), _gods that rule the chance of combat_. For persons who,
like the Herald in that play, had just escaped from a great struggle,
or, like the fugitive Virgins in this piece, were going through one,
there does not appear to be any great impropriety (notwithstanding
PAL.'s. _inepte_) in an appeal to the gods of combat. Opposed to this
interpretation, however, we have the common practice of Homer, with whom
the substantive ἀγών generally means an assembly; and the testimony
of Eustathius, who, in his notes to {406} that poet, Iliad, Ω 1335, 58,
says "παρ Αισχύλῳ ἀγώνιοι θεοὶ ὁι ἀγορᾶιοι;" _i.e. gods that preside over

 Note 13 (p. 225).
 ". . . your sistered hands."

διὰ χερων συνωνύμων. I am inclined to think with PAL. that ἐυωνύμων
may be the true reading; _i.e. in your left hands_. And yet, so fond
is Æschylus of quaint phrases that I do not think myself at liberty to
reject the vulgate, so long as it is susceptible of the very
appropriate meaning given in the text. "_Hands of the same name_" may
very well be tolerated for "_hands of the same race_"--"hands of

 Note 14 (p. 225).
 "Even so; and with benignant eye look down!"

I have here departed from WELL.'s arrangement of this short colloquy
between Danaus and his daughters, and adopted PAL.'s, which appears
to me to satisfy the demands both of sense and metrical symmetry. That
there is something wrong in the received text WELL. admits.

 Note 15 (p. 226).
 "There where his bird the altar decorates."

I have here incorporated into the text the natural and unembarrassed
meaning of this passage given by PAL. The bird of Jove, of course,
is the eagle. What the Scholiast and STAN. say about the cock
appears to be pure nonsense, which would never have been invented but
for the confused order of the dialogue in the received text.

 Note 16 (p. 226).
 "Apollo, too, the pure, the exiled once."

"They invoke Apollo to help them, strangers and fugitives, because
that god himself had once been banished from heaven by Jove, and kept
the herds of Admetus.

  'Non ignara mali miseris succurrere disco.'"--STAN.

 Note 17 (p. 226).
 "Here, Hermes likewise, as Greece knows the god."

This plainly points out a distinction between the Greek and the famous
Egyptian Hermes. So the Scholiast, and STAN. who quotes Cic., Nat.
Deor. III. 22.

 Note 18 (p. 226).
 "Can bird eat bird and be an holy thing?"

This seems to have been a common-place among the ancients. PLINY, in
the following passage, draws a contrast between man and the inferior
animals, not much to the honor of the former:--"_Cætera animalia in suo
genere probe degunt; congregari videmus et stare contra dissimilia;
leonum feritas inter se non dimicat; serpentum morsus non petit
serpentes; ne maris quidem belluæ ac pisces nisi in diversa genera
sæviunt. At hercule homini plarima ex homine sunt mala._"--NAT. HIST.
VII. proem. This custom of blackening human nature (which is bad enough,
without being made worse) has been common enough also in modern times,
especially among a certain school of theologians, very far, indeed, in
other respects, from claiming kindred with the Roman polyhistor; but the
fact is, one great general law over-rides both man and the brute, viz.
this--LIKE HERDS {407} WITH LIKE--the only difference being that human
beings, with a great outward similarity, are characterized by a more
various inward diversity than the lower animals. There are, in fact, men
of all various kinds represented in the moral world--all those varieties
which different races and species exhibit in the physical. There are
lamb-men, tiger-men, serpent-men, pigeon-men, and hawk-men. That such
discordant natures should sometimes, nay always in a certain sense,
strive, is a necessary consequence of their existing.

 Note 19 (p. 226).
 "And of no host the acknowledged guest, unfearing
 Ye tread this land."

ἀπρόξενος, without a πρόξενος, or a _public host_ or _entertainer_--one
who occupied the same position on the part of the state towards a
stranger that a ξένος or landlord, did to his private guest. In some
respects "the office of proxenus bears great resemblance to that of a
modern consul or minister resident."--Dr. SCHMITZ, in Smith's Dict.,
article _Hospitium_. Compare SOUTHEY, Notes to MADOC. I. 5, _The
Stranger's House_.

 Note 20 (p. 227).
 "Of old earth-born Palæcthon am the son,
 My name Pelasgus."

Here we have an example of those names of the earliest progenitors of an
ancient race that seem to bear fiction on their face; PALAECTHON
meaning merely the _ancient son of the land_, and PELASGUS being the
name-father of the famous ante-Homeric wandering Greeks, whom we call

 Note 21 (p. 227).
 "All the land where Algos flows, and Strymon."

The geography here is very confused. I shall content myself with noting
the different points from Müller's map (_Dorians_)--

(1) ALGOS; unknown.

(2) STRYMON; a well-known river in Thrace.

(3) PERRHÆBIANS; in Thessaly, North of the Peneus (Homer, Il. II.

(4) PINDUS; the well-known mountain ridge in the centre of Northern
Greece, separating the great rivers which descend on the one hand
through Epirus into the Ionian sea and the Adriatic, on the other,
into the Ægean.

(5) PÆONIA; in the North of Macedonia (Iliad II. 848).

(6) DODONA; in Epirus.

 Note 22 (p. 227).
 "Apollo's son, by double right, physician
 And prophet both."

This is somewhat of a circumlocution for the single Greek phrase,
ἱατρόμαντις, _physician-prophet_; a name applied to Apollo himself by
the Pythoness, in the prologue to the Eumenides (p. 142 above). The
original conjunction of the two offices of prophet and leech in the
person of Melampus, Apis, Chiron, etc. and their patron Apollo, is a
remarkable fact in the history of civilization. The multiplication and
isolation of professions originally combined and confounded is a
natural enough consequence of the progress of society, of which
examples occur in every sphere of human activity; but there is,
besides, a peculiar fitness in the conjunction of {408} medicine and
theology, arising from the intimate connexion of mind with bodily
ailment, too much neglected by some modern drug-minglers, and also, from
the fact that, in ancient times, nothing was more common than to refer
diseases, especially those of a striking kind, to the immediate
interference of the Divine chastiser--(see Hippocrates περὶ ἱερῆς νόσου
_init_.). Men are never more disposed to acknowledge divine power than
when under the influence of severe affliction; and accordingly we find
that, in some savage or semi-savage tribes, the "medicine-man" is the
only priest. It would be well, indeed, if, in the present state of
advanced science, professional men would more frequently attempt to
restore the original oneness of the healing science--(see Max. Tyr.
πῶς ᾶν τις ἄλυπος ἒιη)--if all medical men would, like the late Dr.
Abercrombie, bear in mind that man has a soul as well as a body, and all
theologians more distinctly know that human bodies enclose a stomach as
well as a conscience, with which latter the operations of the former are
often strangely confounded.

 Note 23 (p. 228).
 ". . . Io, on this Argive ground,
 Erst bore the keys to Hera."

_i.e._ was priestess of the Argive goddess. The keys are the sign of
custodiary authority in modern as in ancient times. See various
instances in STAN.

 Note 24 (p. 228).
 "So runs the general rumour."

After this, WELL. supposes something has fallen out of the text; but
to me a break in the narration of the Chorus, caused by the eagerness
of the royal questioner, seems sufficiently to explain the state of
the text. PAL. agrees.

 Note 25 (p. 228).
 "Like a leaping bull,
 Transformed he came."

Βουθόρῳ ταύρῳ. I have softened this expression a little; so modern
delicacy compels. The original is quite Homeric--"συῶν ἐπιβήτορα
κάπρον."--Odyssey XI. 131. Homer and the author of the Book of Genesis
agree in expressing natural things in a natural way, equally remote
(as healthy nature always is) from fastidiousness and from prudery.

 Note 26 (p. 228).

_King_. A question has evidently dropt here; but it is of no
consequence. The answer supplies the first link in the genealogical
chain deducing the Danaides from Io and Epaphus. See above, p. 400,
Note 44.

 Note 27 (p. 229).
 "Both this and that."

I have translated this difficult passage freely, according to the note
of SCHÜTZ., as being most comprehensive, and excluding neither the
one ground of objection nor the other, both of which seem to have
occupied the mind of the virgins. I am not, however, by any means sure
what the passage really means. E. P. Oxon. has--

  "Who would seek to obtain kindred as masters?"


  "And who would wish to make their friends their lord."

Where the real ground of objection is so darkly indicated, a translator
is at liberty to smuggle a sort of commentary into the text.


 Note 28 (p. 229).
 "The wrath of suppliant Jove."

_i.e._ Jove the protector of suppliants. See above, Note 1.

 Note 29 (p. 230).
 "Like a heifer young by the wolf pursued."

The scholar will recognize here a deviation from WELL.'s text
λευκόστικτον, and the adoption of Hermann's admirable emendation,
λυκοδίωκτον. PAL. has received this into his text, and LIN.,
generally a severe censor, approves.--_Class. Museum_, No. VII. p. 31.
Both on metrical and philological grounds, the reading demands

 Note 30 (p. 230).
 "Thou art the state, and the people art thou."

This is a very interesting passage in reference to the political
constitution--if the term constitution be here allowable--of the loose
political aggregates of the heroic ages. The Chorus, of course, speak
only their own feelings; but their feelings, in this case, are in
remarkable consistency with the usages of the ancient Greeks, as
described by Homer. The government of the heroic ages, as it appears in
the Iliad, was a monarchy, on common occasions absolute, but liable to
be limited by a circumambient atmosphere of oligarchy, and the
prospective possibility of resistance on the part of a people habitually
passive. Another remarkable circumstance, is the identity of church and
state, well indicated by Virgil, in that line--

  Rex Anius, rex idem hominum Phœbique sacerdos.
                                 ÆNEID III.

and concerning which, Ottfried Müller says--"In ancient Greece it may
be said, with almost equal truth, that the kings were priests, as that
the priests were kings" (Mythology, Leitch, p. 187). On this identity of
church and state were founded those laws against the worship of strange
gods, which formed so remarkable an exception to the comprehensive
spirit of toleration that Hume and Gibbon have not unjustly lauded as
one of the advantageous concomitants of Polytheism. The intolerance,
which is the necessary consequence of such an identity, has found its
thorough and consistent champions only among the Mahommedan and
Christian monotheists of modern times. Even the large-hearted and
liberal-minded Dr. Arnold was so far possessed by the ancient doctrine
of the identity of church and state, that he could not conceive of the
possibility of admitting Jews to deliberate in the senate of a Christian
state. In modern times, also, we have witnessed with wonder the full
development of a doctrine most characteristically Homeric, that the
absolute power of kings, whether in civil or in ecclesiastical matters,
is equally _of divine right_.

  Τιμὴ τ´ ἐκ Διός ἐστι, φιλεῖ δέ ἑ μητίετα Ζεύς.
                            IL. II. 197.

 "For from Jove the honor cometh, him the counsellor Jove doth love."

On this very interesting subject every page of Homer is pregnant with
instruction; but those who are not familiar with that bible of
classical scholars will find a bright reflection of the most important
truths in GROTE, Hist. Greece, P. I. c. XX.

 Note 31 (p. 231).
 "Without the people
 I cannot do this thing."

Æschylus makes the monarch of the heroic ages speak here with a strong
tincture of the democracy of the latter times of Greece, no doubt
securing {410} to himself thereby immense billows of applause from his
Athenian auditors, as the tragedians were fond of doing, by giving
utterance to liberal sentiments like that of Æmon in Sophocles--"πόλις
γὰρ ὀυκ ἒσθ ἣτις ἀνδρός ἐσθ᾽ ἑνός." But how little the people had to
say in the government of the heroic ages appears strikingly in that most
dramatic scene described in the second book of the Iliad, which GROTE
(II. 94) has, with admirable judgment, brought prominently forward in
his remarks on the power of the ἀγορά, or popular assembly, in the
heroic ages. Ulysses holds forth the orthodox doctrine in these terms--

  "Sit thee down, and cease thy murmurings: sit, and hear thy betters
  Thou unwarlike, not in battle known, in council all unheard!
  Soothly all who are Achæans are not kings, and cannot be;
  Evil is the sway of many; only one may bear the rule,
  One be king, to whom the deep-designing Kronos' mighty son
  Gave the sceptre and the right."--Il. II. 200.

 Note 32 (p. 233).
 ". . . possessory Jove."

Ζεύς κτήσιος.--An epithet characteristic of Jove, as the supreme
disposer of human affairs. KLAUSEN (Theolog. II. 15) compares the
epithet κλαριος from κλῆρος, _a lot_, which I have paraphrased in p.
230 above.

  "_The Jove that allotteth their lot to all._"

KLAUSEN quotes Pausanias (I. 31-4) to the effect that Ζευς κτησιος
was worshipped in Attica along with Ceres, Minerva, Cora, and the
awful Maids or Furies.

 Note 33 (p. 234).
 "The pillar-compassed seats divine."

From a conjecture of PAL., περιστύλους; the πυλισσόυχων being
evidently repeated by a wandering of the eye or ear of the
transcriber. Sophocles, I recollect, in the Antigone, has
ἀμφικίονας ναοὺς. Of course, in the case of such blunders, where
the true reading cannot be restored, the best that can be done is to
substitute an appropriate one.

 Note 34 (p. 235).
 ". . . the assembly of the people."

The word ἀγορά, _popular assembly_, does not occur here; but it is
plainly implied. It is to be distinguished from the βουλή, or _council
of the chiefs_.--See GROTE as above, and HOMER _passim_.

 Note 35 (p. 235).
 "All crowning Consummator."

As the opening words of this prayer generally are one of the finest
testimonies to the sovereignty of Jove to be found in the poet, so the
conjunction of words τελέων τελειὸτατον, κράτος is particularly to be
noted. The adjectives τέλειος, τελεος, παντελής, and the verb τελέω,
are often applied with a peculiar significancy to the king of the
gods, as he who alone can conduct to a happy end every undertaking,
under whatever auspices commenced. This doctrine is most reverently
announced by the Chorus of this play towards the end (p. 244), in
these comprehensive terms--

       τι δε ἄνευ σέθεν
  θνατοισι τελειον εστι.

"What thing to mortal men is completed without thee." And in this
sense Clytemnestra, in the Agamemnon (p. 69), prays--

  Ζεῦ Ζεῦ τέλειε τὰς εμὰς ἐυχὰς τὲλει.


On the over-ruling special providence of Jove generally the scholar
should read KLAUSEN, _Theol._ II., 15, and _Class. Mus._ No. XXVI.
pp. 429-433.

 Note 36 (p. 236).
 ". . . hence by the brize."

The reader will observe that the course of Io's wanderings here sketched
is something very different from that given in the Prometheus, and much
more intelligible. The geography is so familiar to the general reader
from the Acts of the Apostles, that comment is unnecessary.

 Note 37 (p. 236).
 "Divinely fretted with fitful oar she hies."

The partiality of Æschylus for sea-phrases has been often observed.
Here, however, Paley for the ἐρεσσομένα, of the vulgate has proposed
ἐρεθομένα, aptly for the sense and the metre; but LIN. (_Class.
Mus._ No. VII. 30) seems right in allowing the text to remain. I have
taken up both readings into my rendering.

 Note 38 (p. 236).
 "Nor dared to approach this thing of human face."

It is difficult to know what δυσχερὲς in the text refers. POT.
refers it to the mind of the maid--

  "Disdaining to be touched."

To me it seems more natural to refer the difficulty of touching to the
superstitious fears of the Egyptians; and to translate "_not safely to
be meddled with_." This is the feeling that my translation has
attempted to bring out.

 Note 39 (p. 237).
 "Jove's decided will."

I adopt Heath's emendation Βούλιος for δούλιος. WELL., with
superstitious reverence for the most corrupt text extant, retaining the
δούλίος, is forced to explain δούλιος φρην, "_dictum videtur de
hominibus qui Jovis auxilium imploraverunt;_" but this will never do.
The reader is requested to observe what a pious interpretation is, in
this passage, given to the connection of Jove and Io--how different
from that given by Prometheus, p. 202 above. We may be assured that
the orthodox Heathen view of this and other such matters lies in the
present beautifully-toned hymn, and not in the hostile taunts which
the poet, for purely dramatic purposes, puts into the mouth of the
enemy of Jove.

 Note 40 (p. 240).
 "Holy Hecate's aid avail thee."

Hecate is an epithet of Artemis, as Hecatos of Apollo, meaning _far_
or _distant_ (ἕκας). According to the prevalent opinion among
mythologists, both ancient and modern, this goddess is merely an
impersonation of the MOON, as PHOEBUS of the SUN. The term
"far-darting" applies to both equally; the rays of the great
luminaries being fitly represented as arrows of a far-shooting deity.
In the Strophe which follows, Phoebus, under the name of Λυκειος, is
called upon to be gracious to the youth of Argos.

  ἐυμενὴς δ᾽ (ο) Λύκειος
  ἔστω πάσᾳ νεολαίᾳ,

and in the translation I have taken the liberty, _pro hac vice_, as
the lawyers say, to suppose that this epithet, as some modern scholars
suggest, has nothing to do etymologically with λύκος, _a wolf_, but
rather with the root {412} λυκ, which we find in the substantive
λυκάβας, and in the Latin _luceo_. Æschylus, however, in the SEVEN
AGAINST THEBES (p. 266 above), adopts the derivation from λύκος, as
will be seen from my version. I have only to add that, if Artemis be
the Moon, her function as the patroness of parturition, alluded to in
the present passage, is the most natural thing in the world. On this
whole subject, KEIGHTLEY, c. viii. is very sensible.

 Note 41 (p. 241).
 "The bulging fence-work on each side."

(παράῤῥυσεις, more commonly παραῤῥύματα.) "The ancients, as early as
the time of Homer, had various preparations raised above the edge of
a vessel, made of skins and wicker-work, which were intended as a
protection against high waves, and also to serve as a kind of
breast-work behind which the men might be safe from the attacks of the
enemy."--DICT. ANTIQ _voce_ SHIPS.

 Note 42 (p. 241).
                           ". . . the prow
 Fronted with eyes to track its watery way."

"It is very common to represent an eye on each side of the prow of
ancient ships."--Do., and woodcuts there from Montfaucon. This custom,
PAL. remarks, still continues in the Mediterranean.

 Note 43 (p. 241).
 "To champion our need."

WELLAUER says that the "sense demands" a distribution of the
concluding part of this speech between Danaus and the Chorus; but I can
see no reason for disturbing the ancient order, which is retained by
BUT., though not by PAL. That the sense requires no change, the
translation should make evident.

 Note 44 (p. 242).
 ". . . their ships dark-fronted."

(κυανώπιδες.) The reader will call to mind the νῆες μέλαιναι, the
black ships in Homer.--See DICT. ANTIQ. _voce_ SHIPS.

 Note 45 (p. 242).
 "A strong-limbed race with noon-day sweats well hardened."

This sentiment must have awakened a hearty response in the minds of the
Greeks, who were superior to the moderns in nothing so much as in the
prominency which they gave to gymnastic exercises, and their contempt
for all sorts of σκιοτροφία--_rearing in the shade_--which our modern
bookish system tends to foster.

 Note 46 (p. 242).
 "No Mars is in her."

ὄυκ ἔνεστ Ἄρης, a proverbial expression for _pithless_, _nerveless_. The
same expression is used in the initiatory anapæsts of the Agamemnon.
Ἄρης δ ὄυκ ἔνι χώρᾳ.

 Note 47 (p. 242).
 "Good Greek corn is better than papyrus."

"Præter alios plurimos usus etiam in cibis recepta fuit
papyrus"--ABUL. FADI--"radix ejus pulcis est; quapropter eam
masticant et sugunt Ægyptii." --OLAUS CELSIUS, _Hierozoicon, Upsal_,
1745. I consulted this valuable work myself, but owe the original
reference to an excellent "Essay on the Papyrus of the Ancients, by W.
H. DE VRIESE," translated from the Dutch by W. B. MACDONALD, Esq. of
Rammerscales, in the _Class. Mus._ No. XVI. {413} p. 202, In that
article it is stated that "when Guilandinus was in Egypt in the year
1559-60, the pith was then used as food." HERODOTUS (Euterp. 92) says
that they eat the lower part, roasting it in an oven (κλιβάνῳ
πνίξαντες). PLINY (XIII. 11) says, "mandunt quoque, crudum
decoctumque succum tantum devorantes." In the text, of course, the
allusion is a sort of proverbial ground of superiority, on the part of
the Greeks, over the sons of the Nile, pretty much in the spirit of Dr.
Johnston's famous definition of oats--"_food for horses in England, and
for men in Scotland._" I have only further to add, that the papyrus
belongs to the natural family of the _Cyperaceæ_ or _Sedges_, and,
though not now common in Egypt, is a well-known plant, and to be seen in
most of our botanical gardens.

 Note 48 (p. 242).
 "The shepherds of the ships."

I have retained this phrase scrupulously--ποιμένες ναῶν--as an
interesting relique of the patriarchal age. So in the opening choral
chaunt of the Persians, Xerxes is "shepherd of many sheep," and a
little farther on in the same play, _Atossa_ asks the Chorus, "who is
shepherd of this (the Athenian) people?" It is in such small
peculiarities that the whole character and expression of a language

 Note 49 (p. 242).
 ". . . on this coast
 Harbours are few."

"Nauplia was almost the only harbour on the coast of Argolis."--PAL.,
from BOTH. I am not topographer enough to be able to confirm this.

 Note 50 (p. 243).
 "On a hanging cliff where lone winds sigh."

κρεμὰς. _Robortellus_: which WELL. might surely have adopted. The
description of wild mountain loneliness is here very fine. Let the
reader imagine such a region as that of BEN-MACDHUI in Aberdeenshire,
so well described in _Blackwood's Magazine_, August, 1847. ὀιόφρων is
more than ὄιος; and I have ventured on a periphrasis. Hermann's Latin
translation given by PAL. is--"_saxum praeruptum, capris inaccessum,
incommonstrabile, solitudine vastum, propendens, vulturibus

 Note 51 (p. 244).

CHORUS (_in separate voices, and short hurried exclamations_). I most
cordially agree with WELL. in attaching the ten verses 805-15 to what
follows, rather than making it stand as an Epode to what precedes. A
change of style is distinctly felt at the conclusion of the third
Antistrophe; the dim apprehension of approaching harm becomes a
distinct perception, and the choral music more turbid, sudden, and
exclamatory. This I have indicated by breaking up the general chaunt
into individual voices.--See p. 377, Note 19.

 Note 52 (p. 245).
 "Hence to the ships! to the good ships fare ye!"

"What follows is most corrupt, but so made up of short sentences,
commands, and exclamations, that if the whole passage were wanting, it
would not be much missed. It is very tasteless, and full of turgid
phraseology."--PALEY. All this is very true, if we look on the
Suppliants as a play written to be read; but, being an opera composed
for music, what appears to us tasteless and extravagant, without that
stimulating emotional atmosphere, {414} might have been, to the
Athenians who heard it, the grand floodtide and tempestuous triumph of
the piece. Compare, especially, the passionate Oriental coronach with
which "The Persians" concludes. We must never forget that we possess
only the skeleton of the sacred opera of the Greeks.

 Note 53 (p. 248).
 "To find stray goods the world all over, Hermes
 Is prince of patrons."

"_Rei furtivae_," as the civil law says, "_acterna est auctoritas_"; and
the Herald, being sent out on a mission to reclaim what was abstracted,
requires no credentials but the fact of the heraldship, which he
exercises under the patronage of the herald-god Hermes. It may be also,
as the commentators suggest--though I recollect no passage to prove
it--that Hermes, being a thief himself, and the patron of thieves, was
the most apt deity to whose intervention might be referred the recovery
of stolen goods. Something of this kind seems implied in the epithet
μαστηριῳ, _the searcher_, here given to Hermes.

 Note 54 (p. 250).
 "In the general view, and publishes their praise."

After these words I have missed out a line, of which I can make nothing

  κἄλωρα κωλύουσαν ὡς μένειν ἐρῶ.

A few lines below, for (ὀ)υν ἐκληρώθη δορὶ, I have followed PAL. in
adopting HEATH's εἵνεκ᾽ ἠρόθη δορὶ.

 Note 55 (p. 251).

CHORAL HYMN. This final Chorus of the Suppliants and the opening one
of the Persians are remarkable for the use of that peculiar rhythm,
technically called the _Ionic a minore_, of which a familiar example
exists in Horace, Ode III. 12. What the æsthetical or moral effect of
this measure was on an Athenian ear it is perhaps impossible for us, at
the present day, to know; but I have thought it right, in both cases,
when it occurs, to mark the peculiarity by the adoption of an English
rhythm, in some similar degree removed from the vulgar use, and not
without a certain cognate character. In modern music, at least, the
Ionic of the Greek text and the measure used in my translation are mere
varieties of the same rhythmical genus marked musically by ¾. As for
the structure of the Chorus, its division into two semi-choruses is
anticipative of the division of feeling among the sisters, which
afterwards arose when the conduct of their stern father forced them to
choose between filial and connubial duty. One thing also is plain, that
there is nothing of a real moral finale in this Chorus. Regarded as a
concluding ode, it were a most weak and impotent performance. The tone
of grateful jubilee with which it sets out, is, after the second
Strophe, suddenly changed into the original note of apprehension,
evil-foreboding, doubt, and anxiety, plainly pointing to the terrible
catastrophe to be unveiled in the immediately succeeding play.

 Note 56 (p. 251).
 "Yet, mighty praise be thine,
 Cyprian queen divine!"

The Chorus here are evidently moved by a religious apprehension that, in
placing themselves under the patronage of the goddess of chastity, they
may have treated lightly the power and the functions of the great
goddess of {415} love. To reconcile the claims of opposing deities was a
great problem of practical piety with all devout polytheists. The
introduction of Aphrodite here, as has been remarked, is also plainly
prophetic of the part which Hypermnestra is to play in the subsequent
piece, under the influence of the great Cyprian goddess preferring the
love of a husband to the command of a father.

 Note 57 (p. 252).
 "Lovely Harmonia."

"Hesiod says that Harmonia (ἁρμονία--order or arrangement) was the
daughter of Ares and Aphrodite. This has evidently all the appearance
of a physical myth; for from love and strife--_i.e._ attraction and
repulsion--arises the order or harmony of the universe."--KEIGHTLEY.

 Note 58 (p. 252).
 "Yet must I fear the chase."

φυγάδεσσιν δ ἒπιπλόιας. HAUPT adopted by PAL. An excellent



 Note 1 (p. 263).
 "Which may averting Jove from me avert."

The epithet ἀλεξητηριος or ἀλεξίκακος (Pausan. Att. III.) or the
averter, applied to the gods (see Odys. III. 346, is to be noted), as
characteristic of the grand fact in the history of mind, that with rude
nations the fear of evil is the dominant religious motive; so much so,
that in the accounts which we read of some savage, or semi-savage
nations, religion seems to consist altogether in a vague, dim fear of
some unknown power, either without moral attributes altogether, or even
positively malignant. In this historical sense, the famous maxim,
_primus in orbe deos fecit timor_--however insufficient as a principle
of general theology--is quite true. In the present passage, the
phraseology is remarkable.

       ὧν Ζεὺς ἀλεξητήριος
  Ἐπώνυμος γένοιτο--

literally, _of which evils may Jove be the averter, and in being so,
answer to his name_. This allusion to the names and epithets of the gods
occurs in Æschylus with a frequency which marks it as a point of
devotional propriety in the worship of the Greeks. I have expressed the
same thing in the text by the repetition of _avert_. So in the
_Choephoræ_, p. 103, _Herald Hermes, herald me in this,_ &c.

 Note 2 (p. 263).
 "In his ear and inward sense deep-pondered truths,
 By no false art, though without help from fire."

"Tiresias, the Theban seer, was blind, and could not divine by fire or
other visible signs; but he had received from Pallas a remarkably acute
hearing, and the faculty of understanding the voices of
birds."--_Apollodor_. III. 6.--STAN. WELL. objects to this, but
surely without good reason. Why are the ears--εν ὦσι--mentioned so
expressly, if not to make some contrast to the common method of
divining by the eye?

 Note 3 (p. 264).
 "By Mars, Enýo, and blood-loving Terror."

With Mars in Homer (Il. IV. 440) are coupled φόβος and Δ(ε)ιμος, _Fear_
and _Terror_, as in this passage of Æschylus, and Ἔρις, _Strife_.

  "FEAR and TERROR went with him, and STRIFE that rages without bound,
  STRIFE of Mars the man-destroyer, sister and companion dear."

And in Livy (I. 27), Tullus Hostilius being pressed in battle,
"_duodecim vovit Salios, fanaque_ PALLORI _et_ PAVORI."--Compare
Cic. de Nat. Deor. III. c. 25. ENÝO is coupled in Homer as a
war-goddess with ATHENA--

  "Well Tydides knew that Venus was no goddess made for war,
  Not Athena, not Eýno city-sacking."

In our language, we have naturalized her Roman counterpart BELLONA.


 Note 4 (p. 264).
 ". . . the chariot of Adrastus."

"Because it had been predicted that Adrastus alone should survive the

 Note 5 (p. 265).

CHORUS. This Chorus, SCHNEIDER remarks, naturally divides itself
into four, or, as I think, rather into five distinct parts, (1) The
Chorus enter the stage in great hurry and agitation, indicated by the
Dochmiac verse--σποράδην, according to the analogy of the
Eumenides--(see the βιος Αισχύλου)--in scattered array, and, perhaps
in the person of their Coryphæus, describe generally the arrival of the
Theban host, and their march against the walls of Thebes. (2) But as the
agitation increases, continuity of description becomes impossible, and a
series of broken and irregular exclamations and invocations by
individual voices follows. (3) Then a more regular prayer, or the
chaunting of the Theban litany begins, in which we must suppose the
whole band to join. (4) This is interrupted, however, by the near terror
of the assault, and the chaunt is again broken into hurried exclamations
of individual voices. (5) The litany is then wound up by the whole band.
Of course no absolute external proof of matters of this kind can be
offered; but the internal evidence is sufficiently strong to warrant the
translator in marking the peculiar character of the Chorus in some such
manner as I have done. For dramatic effect, this is of the utmost
consequence. Nothing has more hurt the dramatic character of Æschylus,
than the practice of throwing into the form of a continuous ode what was
written for a series of well-arranged individual voices. Whoever he was
among more recent scholars that first analyzed the Choruses with a
special view to separate the exclamatory parts from the continuous
chaunt deserves my best thanks.--See Note 19 to the EUMENIDES, p. 377.

 Note 6 (p. 265).
 "With clattering hoofs, on and on still they ride."

πεδιοπλόκτυπος. Before this word, another epithet ελεδεμνας occurs,
which the intelligent scholar will readily excuse me for having
omitted altogether.

 Note 7 (p. 265).
 ". . . the white-shielded host."

The epithet λεύκασπις seems characteristic of the Argive host in the
Bœotian legend. SOPHOCLES, in the beautiful opening Chorus of the
_Antigone_, and EURIPIDES in the _Phœnissæ_, has it. Such traits
were of course adopted by the tragedians from the old local legends
always with conscientious fidelity. STAN. refers it to the general
white or shining aspect of the shields of the common soldiers,
distinguished by no various-coloured blazonry; which may be the true

 Note 8 (p. 265).
 "With chaplet and stole."

In modern times, the mightiest monarchs have not thought it beneath
their dignity to present, and sometimes, even, to work a petticoat
to the Virgin Mary. In ancient times, the presentation of a πέπλος
to the maiden goddess of Athens was no less famous--

  "Take the largest and the finest robe that in thy chamber lies--
  Take the robe to thee so dear, and place it duly on the knees
  Of the beautiful-haired Athena."--IL. VI. 273.


VIRGIL has not forgotten this--_Æneid_ I. 480. The _peplos_ was a large
upper dress, often reaching to the feet. YATES, in the _Dict. Antiq._,
translates it "shawl," which may be the most accurate word, but, from
its modern associations, of course, unsuitable for poetry.--See the

 Note 9 (p. 265).
 "O Ares, that shines in the helmet of gold."

Mars was one of the native ὲπιχώριοι gods of Thebes, as the old legend
of the dragon and the sown-teeth sufficiently testifies. The dragon
was the offspring of Mars; and the fountain which it guarded, when it
was slain by the Phœnician wanderer, was sacred to that god.
APOLLODOR. III. 4; UNGER. _de fonte Aret_. p. 103.

 Note 10 (p. 266)
 "And their steeds with ringing bridles."

Bells were often used on the harness of horses, and on different parts
of the armour, to increase the war-alarm--the κλαγγή τε ἐνοπή τε (Il.
III. 2), which is so essential a part of the instinct of assault. See
the description of Tydeus below, and Dict. Antiq. _tintinnabulum_,
where is represented a fragment of ancient sculpture, showing the
manner in which bells were attached to the collars of war-horses. Dio
Cassius (Lib. LXXVI. 12) mentions that "the arms of the Britons are a
shield and short spear, in the upper part whereof is an apple of
brass, which, being shaken, terrifies the enemy with the sound."
Compare κωδωνο, φαλαραπωλους. _Aristoph. Ran._ 963.

 Note 11 (p. 266).
 "God of pawing steeds, Poseidon."

Neptune is called equestrian or ἱππίος, no doubt, from the analogy of
the swift waves, over which his car rides, to the fleet ambling of
horses. In the mythical contest with Pallas, accordingly, while the
Athenian maid produces the olive tree, the god of waves sends forth a

 Note 12 (p. 266).
 "Save us, Cypris, mother of Thebans."

"Harmonia, whom Cadmus married, was the daughter of Mars and

 Note 13 (p. 266).
 "Save us, save us, Wolf-Apollo."

Here is one of those pious puns upon the epithets of the gods, which
were alluded to in Note 1 above. With regard to this epithet of Apollo,
who, in the Electra of SOPHOCLES, v. 6, is called distinctly
_wolf-slayer_ (λυκοκτόνος), there seems to me little doubt that the
Scholiast on that passage is right in referring this function to
Apollo, as the god of a pastoral people (νὸμιος). PASSOW (_Dict. in
voce_), compare _Pausan_. (Cor. II. 19).

 Note 14 (p. 267).
 "O Onca, blest Onca."

Onca, says the Scholiast, was a name of Athena, a Phœnician epithet,
brought by Cadmus from his native country. The Oncan gate was the same
as the Ogygian gate of Thebes mentioned by other writers, and the most
ancient of all the seven.--UNGER. p. 267; Pausan. IX. 8.

 Note 15 (p. 267).
 "The seven-gated city deliver, deliver."

The current traditional epithet of Thebes, whose seven gates were as
famous as the seven mouths of the Nile--


  "Rari quippe boni: numerus vix est totidem quot
  Thebarum portæ vel divitis ostia Nili."--JUV. Sat. XIII. 26.

And _Homer_, in the Odyssey XI. 263, talks of--

                                             "Amphion and Zethus,
  First who founded and uptowered the seat of seven-gated Thebes."

These may suffice from a whole host of citations in UNGER. Vol. I.
p. 254-6, and Pausan. IX. 8. 3.

 Note 16 (p. 267).
 ". . . a foreign-speaking foe!"

This appears strange, as both besieged and besiegers were Greeks,
differing no more in dialect than the Prussians and the Austrians, or
we Scotch from our English neighbours. I agree with E. P. that it
is better not to be over-curious in such matters, and that Butler is
right when he says that ἐτερόφωνος is only _paullo gravius dictum ad
miserationem_--that is, only a little tragic exaggeration for
_hostile_ or _foreign_.

 Note 17 (p. 268).
 ". . . the painted gods upon the prow."

The general practice was, that the tutelary gods were on the poop, and
only the figure-head on the prow (Dict. Antiq., _Ships_ and _Insigne_),
but, as there was nothing to prevent the figure-head being itself a
god, the case alluded to by Æschylus might often occur.--See the long
note in STAN.

 Note 18 (p 268).
                                   "Who knows not
 That, when a city falls, they pass to the Victor"

The Roman custom of evoking the gods of a conquered city to come out
of the subject shrines, and take up their dwelling with the conqueror,
is well known. In LIVY, V. 21, there is a remarkable instance of
this in the case of Veii--"Tuo ductu," says CAMILLUS, "Pythice
Apollo, tuoque numine instinctus pergo ad delendam urbem Veios:
tibique hinc decumam partem prædæ voveo. Te simul, JUNO REGINA, quæ
nunc Veios colis, precor ut nos victores in nostram tuamque mox
futuram urbem sequare; ubi te dignum amplitudine tua templum

 Note 19 (p. 269).
 "For blood of mortals is the common food."

I read φόνῳ, not φόβῳ, principally for the sake of the sentiment, as
the other idea which φοβῳ gives, has been already expressed. Certainly
WELL. is too positive in saying that φόβῳ is "_prorsus necessarium_."
Both readings give an equally appropriate sense: that in the text,
which POT. also gives; or this other--

  "Your fear but heaps the fuel of hot war
  I' the hearts o' the foe."

 Note 20 (p. 270).
 "Dirce and Ismenus' sacred stream."

These were waters in Theban legend no less famous than INACHUS and
ERASINUS in that of Argos. The waters of Dirce, in particular, were
famous for their clearness and pleasantness to drink. "Dirce, flowing
with a pure and sweet stream," says AELIAN, _Var. Hist._ XII. 57,
quoted by UNGER. p. 187, and Æschylus in the Chorus immediately
following, equals its praise to that of the Nile, sung so magnificently
in the Suppliants."


 Note 21 (p. 271).
 "From Poseidon earth-embracing,
 And from Tethys' winding sons."

Γαιήοχος--the "_Earth-holder_" or "_Earth-embracer_," is a designation
of Poseidon, stamped to the Greek ear with the familiar authority of
Homer. According to Hesiod, and the Greek mythology generally, the
fountains were the sons of Ocean either directly or indirectly,
through the rivers, who owned the same fatherhood. Tethys is the
primeval Amphitrite.--See Note 13 to Prometheus, p. 390 above.

 Note 22 (p. 273).
 ". . . at the Prœtian portal Tydeus stands."

"A gate of doubtful parentage, from which the road went out from Thebes
direct to Chalcis in Eubœa."--UNGER. p. 297. "Here, by the wayside,
was the tomb of Melanippus, the champion of this gate, who slew his
adversary Tydeus."--PAUSAN. IX. 8. This Tydeus is the father of
Diomedes, whose exploits against men and gods are so nobly sung in Iliad
V. From the frequency of the words βοᾶν, βοὴν, βρέμειν, etc. in this
fine description, one might almost think that Æschylus had wished to
paint the father after the Homeric likeness of the son, who, like
Menelaus, was βοὴν ἀγαθός. In the heroic ages, a pair of brazen lungs
was not the least useful accomplishment of a warrior. The great fame of
the father of Diomedes as a warrior appears strikingly from that passage
of the Iliad (IV. 370), where Agamemnon uses it as a strong goad to
prick the valorous purpose of the son.

 Note 23 (p. 273).
 ". . . the wise Oiclidan seer."

"Amphiaraus, the son of Oicles, being a prophet, and foreseeing that all
who should join in the expedition against Thebes would perish, refused
to go himself, and dissuaded others. Polynices, however, coming to
Iphis, the son of Alector, inquired how Amphiaraus might be forced to
join the expedition, and was told that this would take place if his wife
Eriphyle should obtain the necklace of Harmonia. This, accordingly,
Polynices gave her, she receiving the gift in the face of an interdict
in that matter laid on her by her husband. Induced by this bribe, she
persuaded her husband to march against his will, he having beforehand
promised to refer any matter in dispute between him and Adrastus to the
decision of his wife.--APOLLODOR. III. 6; Confr. Hor. III. 16, 11.

 Note 24 (p. 273).
 "The brazen bells ring fear."

A Scottish knight, in an old ballad, has these warlike bells on his
horse's mane--

  "At ilk tail o' his horse's mane,
   There hung a siller bell:
  The wind was loud, the steed was proud,
   And they gied a sindry knell."--YOUNG WATERS.

And one of SOUTHEY's Mexican heroes has them on his helmet--

                               "Bells of gold
  Embossed his glittering helmet, and where'er
  Their sound was heard, there lay the press of war,
  And Death was busiest there."--MADOC. II. 18.

 Note 25 (p. 274).
 "His race from those whom Ares spared he draws."

That is to say, he belonged to one of the oldest originally Theban
families--was one of the children of the soil, sprung from the teeth of
the {421} old Theban dragon, which Cadmus, by the advice of Athena,
sowed in the Earth; and from that act, the old race of Thebans were
called σπαρτόι, or the _Sown_. See STAN.'s note.

 Note 26 (p. 274).
 "Proud Capaneus before the Electran gate."

This gate was so called from Electra, the sister of Cadmus. _Pausan_.
IX. 8-3. And was the gate which led to Platæa and Athens. _Unger_. p.

 Note 27 (p. 275).
    ". . . The third lot to Eteocles
 Leapt from the upturned brazen helm."

The custom of using the helmet, for the _situla_ or urn, when lots were
taken in war, must have been noted by the most superficial student of
Homer. STAN. has collected many instances, of which one may suffice--

  "Quickly, in the brazen helm, we shake the lot; and first of all,
  Of Eurylochus, mighty-hearted, leapt the lot."--ODYSSEY X. 206.

 Note 28 (p. 275).
 "At the Netaean gate."

So called from Neis, a son of Zethus, the brother of Amphion. _Pausan_.
IX. 8; _Unger_. p. 313.

 Note 29 (p. 276).
 "Black smoke, the volumed sister of the flame."

Just as Homer, in a familiar passage, calls "sleep the mother of death"
(Il. XIV. 231), adopted by SHELLEY in the exquisite exordium of Queen

  "How beautiful is Death,
  Death and his brother Sleep!"

MITCHELL, in a note on the metaphors of Æschylus (Aristoph. Ran. 871),
mentions this as being one of those tropes, where the high-vaulting
tragedian has jerked himself over from the sublime into the
closely-bordering territory of the ridiculous; but neither here nor in
διαδρομᾶν (ο)μαίμονες, which he quarrels with, is there anything
offensive to the laws of good taste. It sounds, indeed, a little queer
to translate literally, _Rapine near akin to running hither and
thither_; but, as a matter of plain fact, it is true that, when in the
confusion of the taking of a city, men run hither and thither, rapine
is the result. In my version, _Plunder, daughter of Confusion_ (p. 272
above), expresses the idea intelligibly enough, I hope, to an English

 Note 30 (p. 276).
 "Round its hollow belly was embossed
 A ring of knotted snakes."

The old Argolic shield, round as the sun--

  "Argolici clypei aut Phœbæœ lampadis instar."

See Dict. Antiq. _Clypeus_. The kind described in the text finds its
modern counterpart in those hollow Burmese shields often found in our
museums, only larger.

 Note 31 (p. 276).
 ". . . by the god of war

ἔνθεος δ᾽ Αρει, literally, "ingodded by Mars," or having the god of
war dwelling in him. This phrase shows the meaning of that reproach
cast by the Pharisees in the teeth of Christ--ἔχει δαιμόνιον--_he hath
a devil_, or, as the Greeks would have said, _a god--i.e._ he is
possessed by a moral power {422} so far removed from the common, that
we must attribute it to the indwelling might of a god or devil.

 Note 32 (p. 276).
  ". . . a hostile pair
 Well matched by Hermes."

The Greeks ascribed to Hermes every thing that they met with on the
road, and every thing accidentally found, and whatever happens by
chance--and so two adversaries well matched in battle were said to have
been brought together by the happy contrivance of that god."--SCHOL.;
and see Note 59 to the Eumenides, p. 386.

 Note 33 (p. 278).
 "The sixth a sober man, a seer of might,
 Before the Homoloidian gate stands forth."

_i.e._ AMPHIARAUS--see above, Note 23, p. 420. Homer (Odys. XV. 244)
speaks of him as beloved by Jove and Apollo. The Homoloidian gates
were so called either from mount Homole in Thessaly (Pausan. IX. 8),
or from Homolois, a daughter of Niobe and Amphion.--UNGER. p. 324.

 Note 34 (p. 278).
  "With bitter taunts his evil-omened name,
 Making it spell his ugly sin that owns it."

The name Polynices means literally _much strife_; and there can be no
question that the prophet in this place is described as taunting the Son
of Oedipus with the evil omen of his name after the fashion so familiar
with the Greek writers. See _Prometheus_, Note 8, p. 388. The text,
however, is in more places than one extremely corrupt; and, in present
circumstances, I quite agree with WELL. and LIN. that we are not
warranted in introducing the conjectural reading of ὄμμα for ὄνομα,
though there can be no question that the reading ὄμμα admits of a
sufficiently appropriate sense.--See DUNBAR, _Class. Museum_, No.
XII. p. 206.

 Note 35 (p. 278).
 "The wise man is what fools but seem to be."

"When this tragedy was first acted, ARISTIDES, surnamed the JUST,
was present. At the declamation of these words--

  ὀυ γὰρ δοκ(ε)ιν ἄριστος ἀλλ᾽ (ἐ)ίναι θέλει,

the whole audience, by an instantaneous instinct, directed their eyes
to him."--PLUTARCH, _Apoth. Reg. et duc._ SALLUST describes Cato
in the same language--"_Esse quam videri bonus malebat._"--STAN.

 Note 36 (p. 280).
 "O god-detested! god-bemadded race!"

In modern theological language we are not accustomed to impute mental
infatuation, insanity, or desperate impulses of any kind to the
Supreme Being; but in the olden time such language as that of the text
was familiarly in the mouth of Jew and Gentile. "_The Lord hardened
Pharaoh's heart_," is a sentence which we all remember, perhaps with
a strange sensation of mysterious terror, from our juvenile lessons;
and "_quos Deus vult perdere prius dementat_," is a common maxim in
our mouths, though we scarcely half believe it. In Homer and the
tragedians instances of this kind occur everywhere; and in the
Persians of our author the gods are addressed in a style of the most
unmitigated accusation. In such cases, modern translators are often
inclined {423} to soften down the apparent impiety of the expression
into some polite modern generality; but I have scrupulously retained
the original phraseology. I leave it to the intelligent reader to work
out the philosophy of this matter for himself.

 Note 37 (p. 281).
 ". . . the god will have it so."

This is one of the cases so frequent in the ancient poets (Note 76 to
Choephoræ, p. 372) where θεός is used in the singular without the
article. In the present case the translators seem agreed in supplying
the definite particle, as Phœbus, mentioned in the next line, may
naturally be understood. In modern language, where a man is urged on to
his destruction by a violent unreasoning passion, reference is generally
made to an overruling decree or destiny, rather than directly to the
author of all destiny. "But my ill-fate pushed me on with an obstinacy
that nothing could resist; and, though I had several times loud calls
from my reason and my more composed judgment to go home, yet I had no
power to do it. _I know not what to call this, nor will I urge that it
is a secret overruling decree that hurries us on to be the instruments
of our own destruction, even though it be before us, and that we rush
upon as with our eyes open_. Certainly nothing but some such decreed
unavoidable misery attending, and which it was impossible for me to
escape, could have pushed me forward against the calm reasonings and
persuasions of my most retired thoughts."--_Robinson Crusoe_. On this
subject see my _Homeric Theology_. _Class. Mus._ No. XXVI. Propositions
5, 12, and 18 compared.

 Note 38 (p. 281).
 "Death is thy only gain, and death to-day
 Is better than to-morrow!"

λέγουσα κέρδος πρότερον ὑστερου μόρου--_mentioning to me an advantage_
(viz., in my dying now) _preferable to a death at a later period;_ as
his good genius might have whispered to Napoleon Bonaparte at
Waterloo. In translating thus a confessedly difficult passage I have
WELCKER (Trilog. 363), BUTLER, BLOM., and SCHÜTZ., and E. P.
Oxon., on my side, also the simple comment of Scholiast II.--κερδ(ο)ς,
_i.e._ τὸ νῦν τεθνᾶναι πρότερον, _i.e._ τιμιώτερον. LIN. agreeing with
WELL. translates "urging the glory of the victory which precedes the
death which follows after it." CONZ. is singular, and certainly not
to be imitated in translating with Schol. I.--

          "_Wer der erste tödlet gewinnt den Sieg._"
  "He who inflicts the first lethal blow gains the victory."

POT. has not grappled with the passage. If LIN.'s interpretation be
preferred, I should render--

                                "Beside me sits
  The Fury with dry tearless eye, and points to
  One glimpse of glory heralding black death."


  "The glorious gain that shall precede the death."

It will be observed that if πρότερον be taken in the sense of
τιμιώτερον, with the Scholiast, and το νῦν τεθναναι understood to
κέρδος, Wellauer's objection falls that μαλλον or μειζον must be
understood to render the rendering in my text admissible.

 Note 39 (p. 282).
 ". . . goddess most ungodlike."

I have remarked, in a Note above, that the Greeks, so far from having
any objection to the idea that the gods were the authors of evil, rather
{424} encouraged it; and accordingly, in their theology, they had no
need for a devil or devils in any shape. This truth, however, must be
received with the qualification, arising from the general preponderating
character of the Greek deities, which was unquestionably benign, and
coloured more from the sunshine than the cloud; in reference to which
general character, it might well be said that certain deities, whose
function was purely to induce misery, were ὀυ θεοῖς ὅμοιοι--_nothing
like the gods_.

 Note 40 (p. 282).
 "O son of Scythia, must we ask thine aid?
 Chalybian stranger thine."

We see here how loosely the ancients used Certain geographical terms,
and especially this word SCYTHIA; for the CHALYBES or CHALDAEI, as
they were afterwards called, were a people of PONTUS. Their country
produced, in the most ancient times, silver also; but, in the days of
Strabo, iron only.--STRABO, Lib. XII. p. 549.

 Note. 41 (p. 284).
 ". . . for sorry tendance wrathful."

I read ἐπίκοτος τροφᾶς with HEATH., BLOM., and PAL. For the
common reading, ἐπικότους τροφάς, WELL., with his usual conservative
ingenuity, finds a sort of meaning; but the change which the new
reading requires is very slight, and gives a much more obvious sense;
besides that it enables us to understand the allusion to Æschylus in
Schol. Oedip. Col. 1375.--See Introductory Remarks, WELCKER's
_Trilogie_, p. 358, and PAL.'s Note.

 Note 42 (p. 284).
 ". . . (for still in four and three
 The god delights)."

These words are a sort of comment on the epithet ἑβδομαγέτας given to
Apollo in the text, of which PAPE, in his Dictionary, gives the
following account: "Surname of Apollo, because sacrifice was offered to
him on the seventh day of every month, or as LOBECK says (Aglaoph. p.
434), because seven boys and seven girls led the procession at his
feasts.--Herod. VI. 57. The ancients were not agreed in the
interpretation of this epithet." It is not _necessary_, however, I must
admit with SCHNEIDER, to suppose any reference to this religious
arithmetic here. Phœbus receives the seventh gate, because, as the
prophet of the doom, it was his special business to see it fulfilled;
and this he could do only there, where the devoted heads of Eteocles and
Polynices stood.

 Note 43 (P. 285).
 "And I for plaints no less than pæans bring thee."

I see no sufficient case made out for giving these words from τοιᾶυτα
down to φορουμενοι to the Chorus. The Messenger, surely, may be allowed
his moral reflections without stint in the first place, as the Chorus
is to enlarge on the same theme in the chaunt which immediately
follows. It strikes me also, that the tone of the passage is not
sufficiently passionate for the Chorus.

 Note 44 (p. 289).
 "Ay, drenched in gore, in brothered gore."

In the old editions, and in POT. and GLASG. these words are given to
Ismene; but never was a scenic change made with greater propriety than
that of BRUNCK, when he continued these speeches down to the end of
Antistrophe IV. to the Chorus. Nothing could be more unnatural than that
the {425} afflicted sisters, under such a load of woe, should open their
mouths with long speeches--long, assuredly, in comparison of what they
afterwards say. They are properly silent, till the Chorus has finished
the wail; and then they speak only in short exclamations--articulated
sobs--nothing more. For the same reason, deserting WELL., I have given
the repeated burden Ἰὼ Μοιρα, etc. to the Chorus. The principal mourners
in this dirge should sing only in short and broken cries.

 Note 45 (p. 290).
 "Moera, baneful gifts dispensing."

The word μοῖρα originally means _lot, portion, part, that which is
dealt or divided out to one_. In this sense it occurs frequently in
Homer, and is there regarded as proceeding from the gods, and specially
from Jove. But with an inconsistency natural enough in popular poetry,
we sometimes find μοῖρα in Homer, like ἀτη, elevated to the rank of a
separate divine personage. "Not I," says Agamemnon, in the Iliad (XIX.
86), "was to blame for the quarrel with Achilles,

  _But_ JOVE _and_ MOERA _and the_ FURY, _walking through the darkness

The three Fates, CLOTHO, LACHESIS, and ATROPOS, like the three
FURIES, were a post-Homeric birth. We thus see how, under the
influence of the Polytheistic system, new gods were continually created
from what were originally mere functions of the divine mind, or results
of the divine activity.

 Note 46 (p. 292).
 "Due burial in its friendly bosom."

θάπτειν ἔδοξε γῆς φιλαις κατασκφαῖς. The words here used seem to imply
interment in the modern fashion, without burning, but they may also
refer to the depositing of the urns in subterranean chambers. Ancient
remains, as well as the testimony of classical authors, prove that both
practices existed among the ancients, though cremation was latterly the
more common. The reader will be instructed by the following extract on
this subject from Dr. Smith's admirable Dictionary of Antiquities,
article _Funus_: "The body was either buried or burnt. Lucian, _de
luctu_, says that the Greeks burn, and the Persians bury, their dead;
but modern writers are greatly divided in opinion as to which was the
usual practice. Wachsmuth (_Hell. Alt._ II. 2, p. 79) says that, in
historical times, the dead were always buried; but this statement is not
strictly correct. Thus we find that Socrates (Plut. Phædon) speaks of
his body being either burnt or buried; the body of Timoleon was burnt;
and so was that of Philopæmon (Plutarch). The word θάπτειν is used in
connection with either mode; it is applied to the collection of the
ashes after burning; and accordingly we find the words κάιειν and
θάπτειν used together (Dionys. Archæolog. Rom. V. 48). The proper
expression for interment in the earth is κατορύττειν; whereas we find
Socrates speaking of το σῶμα η καόμενον, ἠ κατορυττόμενον. In Homer,
the bodies of the dead are burnt; but interment was also used in very
ancient times. Cicero (_de leg._ II. 25) says that the dead were buried
at Athens in the time of Cecrops; and we also read of the bones of
Orestes being found in a coffin at Tegea (Herod. I. 68). The dead were
commonly buried among the Spartans (Plut. Lycurg. 27) and the Sicyonians
(Paus. II. 7); and the prevalence of this practice is proved by the
great number of skeletons found in coffins in modern times, which have
evidently not been exposed to the action of fire. Both burning and
burying appear to have been always used, to a greater or less extent, at
different periods; till the spread of Christianity at length put an end
to the former practice."


 Note 47 (p. 293).
 "Mighty Furies that triumphant
 Ride on ruin's baleful wings."

I have here, by a paraphrase, endeavoured to express the remarkably
pregnant expression of the original κῆρες Εριννύες--combining, as it
does, in grammatical apposition, two terrible divine powers, that the
ancient poets generally keep separate. The κῆρες, or goddesses of
destruction and violent death, occur frequently in Homer. Strictly
speaking, they represent only one of the methods by which the
retributive Furies may operate; but, in a loose way of talking, they
are sometimes identified with them. Schoemann, in a note to the
Eumenides, p. 62, has quoted to this effect, Hesiod v. 217, and Eurip.
Elect, v. 1252:--

  "The terrible Kerés, blushless persecutors,
  Will chase thee wandering frenzied o'er the earth."



 Note 1 (p. 301).
 "Forth they went with arrow and bow."

The bow was as characteristic of Persian as the spear of Hellenic
warfare; and, accordingly, they are contrasted below, p. 305. The
Persian Darics bore the figure of an archer. DICT. ANTIQ _voci_
DARIC. "The army of Xerxes, generally," says GROTE, "was armed with
missile weapons, and light shields, or no shield at all; not properly
equipped either for fighting in regular order, or for resisting the line
of spears and shields which the Grecian heavy-armed infantry brought to
bear upon them."--Vol. V. p. 43. This was seen with striking evidence
when an engagement took place on confined ground as at Thermopylæ, Do.
p. 117.

 Note 2 (p. 302).
 ". . . golden Sardes."

So Creon, in the Antigone of Sophocles, in wrathful suspicion that
Tiresias is in conspiracy to prophesy against him for filthy lucre,
is made to exclaim (v. 1037)--

                     "Traffic as ye will
  In the amber-ore that opulent Sardes sends,
  And Indian gold."

So also, "golden Babylon," below; which will recall to the Christian
reader the famous words, "Thou shalt take up this proverb against the
king of Babylon, and say, How hath the oppressor ceased, the golden city
ceased!"--Isaiah xiv. 4. In the same way XERXES is called "the
god-like son of a golden race," in the choral hymn which immediately
follows the present introductory chaunt. SOUTHEY, the most learned of
our poets, has not forgotten this orientalism when he says--

  "Hark! at the golden palaces
  The Brahmin strikes the hour."
            --CURSE OF KEHAMA V.

where see the note.

 Note 3 (p. 302).
 "The well-poised dart."

The Mysians had on their heads a peculiar sort of helmet belonging to
the country, small shields, and javelins burnt at the point.--HERODOT.
VII. 74.--STAN.

 Note 4 (p. 302).
 "The Asian tribes that wear the sword."

The μάχαιρα here is the _acinaces_, or short scimitar, of which the
fashion may be seen in the _Dict. Antiq._ under that word.

 Note 5 (p. 303).
 "Shepherd of many sheep."

A phraseology inherited from the times when "Mesha, king of Moab, was a
_sheepmaster_, and rendered unto the king of Israel 100,000 lambs, and
100,000 rams, with the wool."--2 Kings iii. 4. So Agamemnon, in Homer
(Od. III. 156), is called ποιμήν λάων--the shepherd of the people. See
above, p. 413, Note 48.


 Note 6 (p. 304).
 "But, when the gods deceive."

The sudden change of tone here from unlimited confidence in the strength
of their own armament, to a pious doubt arising from the consideration
that the gods often disappoint "the best laid schemes of men and mice,"
and that "the race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the
strong"; this is at once extremely characteristic of ancient Hellenic
piety (see the Note on ὕβρις, p. 348), and serves here the dramatic
purpose of making the over-weening pride of Xerxes, by contrast, appear
more sinful. With regard to the style of religious conception here, and
the general doctrine that the gods deceive mortal men, especially at
moments of extraordinary prosperity and on the point of some sudden
reversal, the student will read GROTE's Greece, Vol. V. p. 13.

 Note 7 (p. 306).
 "Let us fall down before her with humble prostration."

This very humble way of expressing respect was quite oriental, and
altogether abhorrent to the feelings of the erect Greek, boasting of his
liberty. The reader of history may call to mind how this was one of the
points of oriental court state, the mooting of which in his later years
caused a breach between Alexander the Great and his captains. For
references, see STAN.

 Note 8 (p. 307).
 "And dipped my hands in the fair-flowing fount."

This purification, as STAN. has noted, was customary among the
ancients, after an ill-omened dream. He quotes ARISTOPHANES, Ran.

  "But come, attendants, light a lamp
  And take a pail, and from the stream
  Water bring, and warm it well,
  To wash away the god-sent dream"--

and other passages.

 Note 9 (p. 307).
 "I saw an eagle flying to the altar."

The sight in reality, or in vision, of one bird plucking another under
various modifications, was familiar to the ancient divination, as the
natural expression of conquest and subjugation. So in the Odyssey
shortly before the opening of the catastrophe--

  "Thus as he spake, on his right hand a bird of omen flew,
  A hawk, Apollo's messenger swift, and held within its claws
  A pigeon, which it rudely plucked, and scattered on the ground
  Its feathery plumes, between the skies and where Telemachus
    stood."--XV. 525.

In such matters, the ancients did not strain after originality, as a
modern would do, but held closely by the most natural, obvious, and
most significant types.

 Note 10 (p. 308).
 "Where, O friends, is famous Athens on the broad face of the earth?"

Here commences a series of questions with regard to Attic geography,
topography, and statistics, which to the most inexperienced reader will
appear to come in here not in the most natural way. That the mother of
Xerxes should have actually been so ignorant of the state of Athens, as
she is here dramatically represented, seems scarcely supposable. But
that she {429} and the mighty persons of the East generally were grossly
ignorant of, and greatly underrated the resources of the small state
that was rising in the West, is plain, both from the general habit of
the oriental mind, and from what Herodotus (V. 105, quoted by PAL.)
narrates of Darius, that, when he heard of the burning of Sardes by the
Athenians and the Ionians, he asked "_who the Athenians were_." On this
foundation, a dramatic poet, willing "to pay a pleasant compliment to
Athenian vanity" (BUCK.), might well erect such a series of
interrogatories as we have in the text, though it may be doubted whether
he has done it with that tact which a more perfect master of the
dramatic art--Shakespere, for instance--would have displayed. There are
not a few other passages in the Greek drama where this formal style of
questioning _ab ovo_ assumes somewhat of a ludicrous aspect.

 Note 11 (p. 309).
 "Slaves are they to no man living, subject to no earthly name."

As in the quickness of their spirits, the sharpness of their wits, and
their love of glory, so particularly in the forward boast of freedom,
the ancient Hellenes were very like the modern French. 'Twere a curious
parallel to carry out; and that other one also, which would prove even
more fertile in curious results, between the ancient Romans and the
modern English.

 Note 12 (p. 310).
 "The sundered planks, and the drifted dead."

I do not think there can be any doubt as to the meaning of the original
here, πλαγκτοῖς (ε)ν διπλάκεσσιν--_among the wandering planks_--δίπλαξ
can mean nothing but a double or very strong plank, plate, or (if
applied to a dress, as in HOMER) _fold_. There is no need of
supposing any "clinging to the planks," as LIN., following BUTLER,
does. Nevertheless, I have given, likewise, in my translation, the full
force of BLOM.'s idea that δίπλαξ means the _ebb and flow of the
sea_. This, indeed, lies already in φέρεσθαι. CONZ. agrees with my
version. "_Wie treiben stürmend umher sie die Planken!_"

 Note 13 (p. 311).
 ". . . There Amestris."

PAL. asserts confidently that the three following verses are corrupt.
One of them sins against Porson's canon of the Cretic ending, and (what
is of much more consequence) connects the name of Ariomardus with
Sardes, which we found above (p. 302), connected with Thebes. For the
sake of consistency, I have taken PORSON's hint, and introduced
Metragathus here, from v. 43.

 Note 14 (p. 312).
 ". . . Pallas saves her city."

The apportionment of the last clause of this, and the whole of the
following lines, I give according to WELL. and PAL., which BUCK.
also approves in his note. The translation, in such a case, is its own
best vindication.

 Note 15 (p. 312).
 "There came a Greek."

The sending of this person was a device of Themistocles, to hasten on
a battle, and keep the Greeks from quarrelling amongst themselves. The
person sent was Sicinnus his slave, "seemingly an Asiatic Greek, who
understood Persian, and had perhaps been sold during the late Ionic
revolt, {430} but whose superior qualities are marked by the fact,
that he had the care and teaching of the children of his

 Note 16 (p. 312).
 "And darkness filled the temple of the sky."

The word τέμενος, says Passow, in the post-Homeric writers of the
classical age was used almost exclusively in reference to sacred, or, as
we should say, consecrated property. I do not think, therefore, that
LIN. does full justice to this word when he translates it merely "the
_region of the air_"; as little can I be content with CONZ.'s
"_Hallen_." DROYSEN preserves the religious association to
well-instructed readers, by using the word _Hain_; but surely _temple_
is better in the present connection and to a modern ear. Lucretius (Lib.
I. near the end) has "_Coeli tonitralia templa._"

 Note 17 (p. 314).
 ". . . dance-loving Pan."

PAN, "the simple shepherd's awe-inspiring god" (Wordsworth, Exc. IV.),
was in the mind of the Athenians intimately associated with the glory of
the Persian wars, and regarded as one of their chief patrons at Marathon
(Herod. VI. 105). This god was the natural patron of all wild and
solitary places, such as are seldom disturbed by any human foot save
that of the Arcadian shepherds, whose imagination first produced this
half-solemn half-freakish creation; and in this view no place could be
more appropriate to him than "the barren and rocky Psyttaleia"
(STRABO, 395). That he was actually worshipped there, we have, besides
the present passage of our poet, the express testimony of Pausanias (I.
36)--"What are called Panic terrors were ascribed to Pan; for loud
noises whose cause could not be easily traced were not unfrequently
heard in mountainous regions; and the gloom and loneliness of forests
and mountains fill the mind with a secret horror, and dispose it to
superstitious apprehensions."--KEIGHTLEY.

 Note 18 (p. 315).
 ". . . slowly with much hard toil."

The verse in the original--

  Θρῄκην περάσαντες μόγις πολλῷ πονῳ

--is remarkable for being divided into two equal halves, in violation of
the common cæsuras, the laws of which Porson has pointed out so
curiously. Whether there was a special cause for this in the present
case--the wish, namely, on the part of the poet to make a harsh line
suit a harsh subject, I shall not assert, as the line does not fall
particularly harsh on my ear; I have at least done something, by the
help of rough consonants and monosyllables, to make my English line come
up to the great metrician's idea of the Greek.

 Note 19 (p. 317).
 "By the mute sea-monsters riven."

It needs hardly be mentioned here that the restless state of the dead
body in death by drowning, implied, according to the sensuous
metaphysics of the vulgar Greeks, an equally restless condition of the
soul in Hades. Hence the point of Achilles' wrath against Lycaon, in
Iliad XXI. 122--

  "Go, and with the fishes lay thee; they shall lick thy bloody wound
  With a greedy unconcern; thy mother shall not weep for thee
  There, nor dew thy bier with sorrow; but Scamander's whirling flood
  To the bosom deep shall bear thee of the broad and briny sea."


And, in the same book, of another victim of the same inexorable wrath
it is said--

  "To the eels and to the fishes, occupation meet he gave,
  As they gnawed his flesh, and nicely picked the fat from off his
    bones."--v. 203.

 Note 20 (p. 318).
 "Of the pale green olive, ever leafy-fair."

I think it right so to translate, because such is actually the colour of
the olive; but I must state, at the same time, that the word in the
original is ξανθῆς, which has been imitated by Virgil, Æn. V. 309. How
the same word should mean both _yellow_ and _green_, I cannot
understand. No doubt the light green of many trees, when the leafage
first comes out in spring, has a yellowish appearance; but the
ever-green olive is always γλαυκός, as Sophocles has it (O. C. 701).
What we call _olive-coloured_ is a mixture of green and yellow; does
this come from the colour of the fruit or the oil?

 Note 21 (p. 318).
 "The god Darius."

The word δαίμονα here used is that by which both Homer and Æschylus
designate the highest celestial beings, from which practice we see what
an easy transition there was in the minds of the early Christians to
the deification of the martyrs, and the canonization of the saints.
Compare Æn. V. v. 47. There is nothing in Popery which is not seated
in the deepest roots of human nature.

 Note 22 (p. 319).
 "O Aïdóneus, thy charge release."

_i.e._ Pluto. The reader must not be surprised to see Æschylus putting
the names of Greek gods and Greek feelings and ideas generally into the
mouths of Persian characters. His excuse lies partly in the fact, that
these divine powers and human feelings, though in a Greek form, belonged
to the universal heart of man, and partly in the extreme nationality of
the old Hellenic culture, which was not apt to go abroad with curiously
inquiring eyes into the regions of the barbarian. A national poet,
moreover, addressing the masses, must beware of being too learned.
Shakespere, in his foreign dramas, though less erudite, is much more
effective than Southey in his Epics.

 Note 23 (p. 319).
 "Come, dread lord!"

The word in the original here is βαλὴν, a Phœnician word, the same as
_Baal_ and _Belus_, meaning _lord_.--See Gesenius, _voce Baal_. This
root appears significantly in some Carthaginian names, as HANNIBAL,

 Note 24 (p. 319).
 "The disc of thy regal tiara showing."

This word belongs as characteristically to the ancient kings of the
East, in respect of their head-gear, as the _triregno_ or triple crown,
in modern language, belongs to the Pope, and the iron crown to the
sovereigns of Lombardy. Accordingly we find Virgil giving it to Priam--

  "Sceptrumque sacerque tiaras."--ÆNEID VII. 247.

See further, Dr. Smith's Dict. Antiq. _in voce tiara_, and also
φάλαρον, which I translate _disc_. As for the _sandals_, the reader
will observe that _saffron_ is a colour, like _purple_, peculiarly
regal and luxurious--στολίδα κροκόεσσαν ἀνεῖσα τρυφᾶς.--Eurip.
Phœniss. 1491.--_Matth_.


 Note 25 (p. 320).
 "Why should'st thou die, and leave the land,
 Thou master of the mighty hand?
 Why should thy son with foolish venture
 Shake thy sure Empire to its centre?"

Here I may say with BUCK., "I have given the best sense I can to the
text, but nothing is here certain but the uncertainty of the reading."
For a translator, δι ἄνοιαν, proposed by BLOM., is convenient enough.

 Note 26 (p. 320).
 "Triremes no more?"

ναες ἄναες (α)ναες--A phraseology of which we have found many
instances, and of which the Greeks are very fond. So in Homer, before
the fight between Ulysses and Irus, one of the spectators foreseeing
the discomfiture of the latter, says--

  Ἠ τάχα ῏Ιρος (α)Ιρος ἐπίσπαστον κακον ἔξει
  ὁιην ἐκ ρακέων ὁ γέρων ἐπιγουνίδα φαινει.

  "Irus soon shall be no Irus, crushed by such dire weight of woes,
  Self-incurred; beneath his tatters what a thigh the old man shows!"

 Note 27 (p. 322).
 "But when man to run is eager, swift is the god to add a spur."

This is sound morality and orthodox theology, even at the present hour.
_Quos Deus vult perdere prius dementat_. Observe here how high Æschylus
rises in moral tone above Herodotus, who, in the style that offends us
so much in Homer, represents Xerxes, after yielding to the sensible
advice of his father's counsellor Artabanus, as urged on to his ruin by
a god-sent vision thrice repeated (VII. 12-18). The whole expedition,
according to the historian, is as much a matter of divine planning as
the death of Hector by Athena's cruel deceit in Iliad XXII. 299. Even
Artabanus is carried along by the stream of evil counsel, confessing
that δαιμονίη τις γίνεται ὁρμὴ, _there is an impulse from the gods_ in
the matter which a man may not resist.--See GROTE.

 Note 28 (p. 323).
 "Converse with the sons of folly taught thy eager son to err."

The original word for _eager_ here is the same as that translated above
_impetuous_--θούριος, and had a peculiar significancy to a Greek
ear, as being that epithet by which Mars is constantly designated in the
Iliad; and this god, as the readers of that poem well know, signifies
only the wild, unreasoning hurricane power of battle, as distinguished
from the calmly-calculated, surely-guided hostility of the wise Athena.
With regard to the matter of fact asserted in this line, it is literally
true that the son of Darius was not of himself originally much inclined
to the Greek expedition (ὲπὶ μεν τὴν Ἑλλάδα ὀυδαμῶς πρόθυμος ᾖν κατ
ἀρχὰς στρατέυεσθαι.--Herod. VII. 5), but, like all weaklings in high
places, was wrought upon by others; in this case, specially, by his
cousin Mardonius, according to the account of Herodotus.--See GROTE,
Vol. V. p. 4.


 Note 29 (p. 323).
 ". . . First the Mede was king
 Of the vast host of people."

Two peculiarities in this enumeration of the early Persian kings will
strike the reader. _First_, Two of the Median kings--ASTYAGES and
CYAXARES, according to the common account, are named before CYRUS
the Great, who, as being the first native Persian sovereign, is commonly
regarded as the founder of the later Persian empire. _Second_, Between
MARDUS (commonly called SMERDIS), and Darius, the father of Xerxes,
two intermediate names--contrary to common account--are introduced. I do
not believe our historical materials are such as entitle us curiously to
scrutinize these matters.

 Note 30 (p. 328).
 "A Maryandine wailer."

The _Maryandini_ were a Bithynian people, near the Greek city of
Heraclea, Xenoph. Anab. vi. 2; Strabo xii. p. 542. The peasants in
that quarter were famous for singing a rustic wail, which is alluded
to in the text. See POLLUX, Lib. iv. περὶ ᾳσμάτων ἐθνικῶν. The
_Mysians_ mentioned, p. 331, below, were their next door neighbours;
and the Phrygians generally, who in a large sense include the Mysians
and Bithynians, were famous for their violent and passionate music,
displayed principally in the worship of Cybele. So the Phrygian in
Euripides (Orest. 1384) is introduced wailing ἁρμάτειον μέλος βαρβαρῳ
βοᾳ. The critics who have considered this last scene of the cantata
ridiculous, have not attended either to human nature or to the customs
of the Persians, as STAN. quotes them from HEROD. ix. 24, and
CURTIUS iii. 12.

 Note 31 (p. 328).

_Leader of the Chorus_. I have here adopted LIN.'s view, that the
Leader of the Chorus here addresses the whole body; and, for the sake
of symmetry, have repeated the couplet in the Antistrophe. No violence
is thus done to the meaning of ἐκπεύθου. Another way is, with PAL.,
to put the line into the mouth of Xerxes--"_Cry out and ask me!_"

 Note 32 (p. 331).
 "Oaring with the oars of woe!"

I have carefully retained the original phraseology here, as being
characteristic of the Greek tragedians, perhaps of the maritime
propensities of the Athenians. See in SEVEN AGAINST THEBES, p. 286
above, and CHŒOPHORÆ, p. 112, Strophe VII. Euripides, in Iphig. Aul.
131, applies the same verb to the lower extremities, making Agamemnon
say to his old servant ερέσσον σὸν πόδα--as if one of our jolly tars
should say in his pleasant slang, "_Come along, my boy, put the oars
to your old hull, and move off!_"

 Note 33 (p. 332).
 "Sons of Susa, with delicate feet."

I should be most happy for the sake of Æschylus, and my translation,
to think there was nothing in the ἁβροβάται. of this passage but the
natural expression of grief so simply given in the scriptural
narrative, I Kings xxi. 27; and in that stanza of one of Mr.
Tennyson's most beautiful poems--

   "Full knee-deep lies the wintry snow,
  And the winter winds are wearily sighing;
  Toll ye the church bell sad and slow,
  And _tread softly_ and speak low,
   For the old year lies a-dying."

But there is more in ἁβρός than mere _gentleness_, and to the Greek
ear it would no doubt speak of the general luxuriance and effeminacy of
the Persian manners. To put such an allusion into the mouth of Xerxes on
the present occasion is no doubt in the worst possible taste; but the
Greeks were too intensely national in their feelings to take a curious
account of such matters.

[End of Notes]



_Editions of the whole Plays._

Aldus: Venet, 1518.

Victorius: ex officina Stephani; 1557.

Foulis: Glasguæ; 1746.

Schütz: 2 vols. Oxon.; 1810.

Butler: Cantab.; 1809-16, ex editione Stanleii; 4 vols. 4to.

Wellauer: cum. Lexico. Lipsiæ; 1823-31.

Scholefield: Cantab.; 1828.

Paley: Cantab.; 1844-47. 2 vols. 8vo.

_Editions of the Separate Plays._


Blomfield: Cantab.; 1822.

Kennedy (with an English version, and Voss, German one). Dublin; 1829.

Klausen: Gothæ et Erfordiæ; 1833.

Peile. London: Murray; 1839.

Connington (with an English poetical version). London; 1848.

Franz: with the Choephoræ and the Eumenides, and a German metrical
translation. Leipzig; 1849.


Schwenk: Trajecti ad Rhenum; 1819.

Klausen: Gothæ et Erfordiæ; 1835.

Peile. London: Murray; 1844.


K. O. Müller (with a German translation). Göttingen; 1833: and Anhang;

Linwood: Oxon.; 1844.


Bothe: Lipsiæ; 1830.

G. C. W. Schneider. Weimar; 1834.

Schoemann (with a German translation). Greifswald; 1844.


Blomfield. Cantab.; 1817.

G. C. W. Schneider. Weimar; 1834.

Griffith. Oxford.


Blomfield. Cantab; 1815.

G. C. W. Schneider. Weimar; 1837.

_Commentaries, Dissertations, Monograms, &c._

Apparatus Criticus et Exegeticus in Æschyli tragædias; continens
STANLEII commentarium, ABRESCHII animadersiones, et REISIGII
emendationes in Prometheum. 2 vols. 8vo. Halis Saxonum; 1832.

Linwood: lexicon to Æschylus, 2nd edition. London; 1847.

Blümner: Weber die Idee des Schicksals in den Tragoedien des
Æschylus. Leipzig; 1814.

Welcker: Die Æschyleische Trilogie. Darmstadt; 1824.

Hermanni Opuscula: 6 vols. 8vo., Latin and German. Leipzig;

Unger: Thebana Paradoxa. Halis; 1839.

Klausen: Theologoumena Æschyli. Berolini; 1829.

Toepelmann: Commentatio de Æschyli Prometheo (with a German
translation). Lipsiæ; 1829.

B. G. Weiske: Prometheus und sein Mythenkreis. Leipzig; 1842.

Schoemann: Vindiciæ Jovis Æeschylei. Gryphiswaldiæ; 1846.


Potter: English verse, 4to. Norwich; 1777.

Anon.: English prose (marked in my notes E. P. Oxon), 3rd edition.
Oxford; 1840.

Droysen: German verse, 2nd edition. Berlin; 1842.

T. A. Buckley: English prose. London: 1849.

Wilhelm von Humboldt: Agamemnon metrisch übersetzt. Leipzig; 1816.

Symmons: the Agamemnon in English verse. London; 1824.

Harford: the Agamemnon in English verse. London; 1831.

Th. Medwyn: the Agamemnon in English verse. London; 1832.

Sewell: the Agamemnon in English verse. London; 1846.


Schoemann: die Eumeniden, German verse. Greifswald; 1845.

Th. Medwyn: the Prometheus, in English verse. London; 1832.

Prowett: the Prometheus, in English verse. Cambridge; 1846.

Swayne: the Prometheus, in English verse. London; 1846.

C. P. Conz: die Perser, and die Sieben vor Tüebae. Tübingen; 1817.



Life, Vol. I. p. 192.

SOUTHEY requested a Frenchman ambitious of translating his Roderick,
to do so in prose, not because he preferred that method in general, but
because he believed that "_poetry of the higher order is as impossible
in French, as it is in Chinese!_"--Life, Vol. IV. p. 100.

Life, Vol. III. p. 44.

SOUTHEY--Preface to _A Vision of Judgment_.

As for Klopstock's Odes, written mostly in classical metres, Zelter, the
Berlin musician, said significantly that, when reading them, _he felt as
if he were eating stones!_--See _Briefwechsel mit_ GOETHE.

 Τὸ μὲν γὰρ πρῶτον τετραμετρῳ εχρῶντο διὰ τὸ σατυρικὴν καὶ ὀρχηστκωτέραν
 (ἐ)ιναι τὴν ποίησιν.
                                                              POET. 4.

As in the conclusion of the Agamemnon, when the passion of the interested
parties has wrought itself up to a climax. So in the passionate dialogue
between Eteocles and Polynices, in Eurip. Phœnis. 591. The use of the
Trochees in these passages is thus precisely the same as that of the
Anapæsts in the finale of the PROMETHEUS. In the PERSIANS, they serve
to give an increased dignity to the person of Atossa, and the Shade of the
royal Darius.

"Take our blank verse for all in all, in all its gradations from the
elaborate rhythm of Milton, down to its lowest structure in the early
dramatists, and I believe that there is no measure comparable to it,
either in our own or in any other language, for might and majesty,
flexibility and compass."--SOUTHEY, Preface to the _Vision of
Judgment_. What BULWER says to the contrary (Athens and the Athenians,
vol. II. p. 43), was crudely thought, or idly spoken, and unworthy of
so great a genius.

Eumenides, § 16.

See Aristides and the musical writers; also Dionysius. Consider, also,
what a solemnity Plutarch attributes to the ἐμβατηριος παιων of the
Spartans (Lycurg. 22), which, of course, was either Dactylic or Anapæstic
verse. Altogether, there can be no greater mistake than to imagine that
our Dactylic and Anapæstic verse are the æsthetical equivalents of the
ancient measures from which their names are borrowed. They are, in many
parts of my translation, rather the equivalent of Dochmiac verse; and
this, in obedience to the uniform practice of our highest poets, in
passages of high passion and excitement.

MITCHELL (Aristoph. Ran. v. 1083) has remarked, with justice, that
Æschylus is particularly fond of this verse. I was prevented from using
it so often as might have been desirable in the choric odes, from having
made it the representative of the Anapæsts.

On the Dochmiacs, Ionic a minori, and other rhythmical details, the
reader will find occasional observations in the Notes; and those who
are curious in those matters will find my views on some points more
fully stated in _Classical Museum_, No. III. p. 338; No. XIII. p. 319,
and No. XXII. p. 432. The Dochmiac verse was, in fact, equivalent to
a bar of 9/8 in modern music.--See _Apel's Metrik_.

The corrupt state of the Æschylean text is no doubt to be attributed
mainly to the rhetorical taste which, in the ages of the decadence,
prevailed so long at Rome, Athens, Alexandria, and Byzantium, and which
naturally directed the attention of transcribers to the text of
Euripides, the great master of tongue-fence and the model-poet of the
schools.--See QUINCTIL. X. 1.


There is a prevalent idea that the modern Greek language, or Romaic, as
it is called, is a different language from the ancient Greek, pretty much
in the same way that Italian is different from Latin. But this is a gross
mistake. Greek was and is one unbroken living language, and ought to be
taught as such.

WHISTON, Article TRAGEDY in SMITH's Dictionary of Antiquities,
Second Edition; and DONALDSON in the GREEK THEATRE, Sixth Edition.
London: 1849. P. 30.

Γενομένη ἀπ ἀρχῆς ἀυτοσχεδιαστικὴ ἡ τραγῳδία ἀπὸ τῶν ἐξαρχόντων τὸν
διθύραμβον κατὰ μικρον ἠυξήθη.--ARISTOT. poet. 4.--Compare the words
of the old Iambic poet Archilochus, given by Athenaeus (XIV. p. 628)--"_I
know well how to dance the Dithyramb when the wine thunders dizzily
through my brain!_" The word _Dithyramb_, according to the best etymology
which has come in my way (DONALDSON & HARTUNG), means the _revel
of the god_.

Αρίον τὸν Μηθυμναῖον πρῶτον ἀνθρώπων τῶν ἡμεῖς ἴδμεν ποιήσαντα τε καὶ
ὀνομάσαντα και διδάξαντα τὸν διθύραμβον ἐν Κορίνθῳ.--HEROD. I. 23.
Compare SUIDAS _in voce_ ARION, and _Schol_. PINDAR., Olymp. XIII.

Διθύραμβος (ο)ς ᾖν κύκλιος χορός.--Schol., Pindar, as above.

χορὸς ᾿εστὼς κυκλικῶς.--Tzetzes. Proleg. to Lycophron.

HARTUNG, on the Dithyramb.--Classical Museum, No. XVIII. p. 373.
MURE's literature of ancient Greece.--Vol. III., p. 85.

The number fifty is mentioned in the Epigram of SIMONIDES, beginning
ἠρχεν Αδείμαντος, in the above-mentioned prologue of TZETZES, and in
POLLUX, Lib. iv., 15, who says that this number of the Chorus was used
even by Æschylus up to the time when the Eumenides was represented. The
number _twelve_ is commonly mentioned by other authorities as having
been used by Æschylus, while Sophocles is said to have increased it to
fifteen, which afterwards became the standard number. Müller
(Eumenides) ingeniously supposes that the tragic poets, so long as the
exhibition by tetralogies lasted, got the original number of _fifty_
from the public authorities, and divided it among the different pieces
of the tetralogy. Blomfield's notion (Preface to the PERSAE) that the
Chorus to the Eumenides consisted of only three persons, though a kind
word has been said in its favour lately (MASON in Smith's Dict. of
Antiq. _voce_ CHORUS), deserves, in my opinion, not a moment's
consideration, either on philological or æsthetical grounds. I may
mention here further, for the sake of those to whom these matters are
strange, that the Chorus holds communication with the other characters
in a Greek play generally by means of its Coryphaeus or Leader, which is
the reason why it is often addressed in the singular and not in the
plural number.

_Vit. Philos._ III. 34. It will be observed that, if a third actor
appears on the stage in some parts of the Orestean trilogy, this is to
be accounted for by the supposition that, in his later plays, the poet
adopted the improvements which his young rival had first introduced. The
number of actors here spoken of does not, of course, take into account
mutes or supernumeraries, such as we find in great numbers in the
Eumenides, and more or less almost in every extant piece of Æschylus.

Poetics, c. xiii.

Wilson, Vol. I. p. xxvi.

Twining; but the meaning of the Greek is disputed.

"ἡ μελοποίια, μέγιστον τῶν ἡδυσμάτων."--Poetics, c. vi. The success of
the modern _Italian_ opera in England, proves this in a style of which
Aristotle could have had no conception.

The position of the old Theban senators, who form the Chorus in this
play, has called forth not a little learned gladiatorship lately;
BÖCKH (whose opinion on all such matters is entitled to the
profoundest respect) maintaining that the Chorus is the impersonated
wisdom of the play as conceived in the poet's mind, while some of his
critics (_Dyer_ in _Class. Mus._ Vol. II. p. 69) represent them as a
pack of cowardly sneaking Thebans, whom it was the express object of the
poet to make ridiculous. This latter opinion is no more tenable than it
would be to say that it was the object of Æschylus to make his Chorus
of old men in that noted scene of the Agamemnon ridiculous; but so much
truth there certainly is in it, that from the inherent defect of
structure in the Greek tragedy, consisting in the constant presence of
the Chorus in the double capacity of impartial moralizers and actors
after a sort, there could not but arise this awkwardness to the poet
that, while he always contrived to make them speak wisely, he sometimes
could not prevent them from acting weakly, and even contemptibly.

On the dramatic imbecility of EURIPIDES, see my article in the _Foreign
Quarterly Review_, No. XLVIII. His success as a dramatist is the
strongest possible proof of the undramatic nature of the stage for which
he wrote.

See the article DIONYSIA, by Dr. SCHMITZ, in SMITH's Dictionary of

The same doctrine, I am sorry to see, has been repeated with special
reference to Æschylus, and with very little qualification, by WHISTON
in the article _Tragædia_ in Dr. Smith's Dict. Antiq., 2d Edit., p.
1146. SCHLEGEL is quite wrong, when he says "the Greek gods are mere
_Naturmächte_"--physical or elemental powers. CONNINGTON, however, in
the preface to his Agamemnon, expresses exactly my sentiments, when he
protests against a "crystallization of destiny" being set up "as the
presiding genius of the national dramatic literature of the Greeks."

See the works of KLAUSEN and BLUMNER in the List of Editions. And our
English SEWELL recognizes, in the works of Æschylus, "the voice of a
self-constituted Heathen Church protesting against the vices and follies
that surrounded her."--Preface to the Agamemnon, p. 15.

Cicero pro Muræna, 13.

Αισχύλος πολλὰ σχήματα ὸρχηστικὰ ἀυτος ὲξευρίσκων, ἀνεδίδου τοῖς
χορευταῖς.--Lib. I. p. 22.

See DYER, on the Choral Dancing of the Greeks,--_Classical Museum_,
No. IX. p. 229.

BÖCKH and DONALDSON, in their editions of the ANTIGONE. Berlin,
1843, p. 280. London, 1848. Introduction, p. xxix.

I read ἐισόδῳ, not (ε)ξόδῳ, as it is in Matthiae, which is either a
misprint, or a mistake in the writer, as the quotation immediately
following proves.

This is MÜLLER's view in Eumenides, § 21.

It may be as well here, for the sake of some readers, to remark that the
orchestra, or _dancing place_ (for so the word means), was that part of
the ancient theatre which corresponds to the modern PIT. For a minute
description of the ancient stage, the reader must consult DONALDSON's
Greek Theatre, c. VII.

One of the most striking proofs of this is the many instances that
occur in the tragedians of that most undramatic of all
mannerisms--_self-description_--as when a sorrowful Chorus describes the
tears on its cheek, the beating on its breast, and such like. True grief
never paints itself.

BULWER, in Athens and the Athenians.

From the limited number of actors arose necessarily this evil, that the
persons in a Greek dramatic fable appear not cotemporaneously, but in
succession, one actor necessarily playing several parts. Now, the
commonest fabricator of a novel for the circulating library knows how
necessary it is to keep up a sustained interest, that the character, when
once introduced, shall not be allowed to drop out of view, but be
dexterously intermingled with the whole complex progress of the story,
and be felt as necessary, or at least as agreeable, to the very end.

Writers on Belles Lettres, from TRAPP down to SCHLEGEL, have been
very severe on the modern opera, and indignantly repudiated all
comparison between it and the Greek tragedy. It is a common illusion of
mental optics with the learned to magnify the defects of what is near
and before their nose, while the peculiar excellencies of what is far
distant in time or space are in a corresponding degree exalted. So
SCHLEGEL, in his sublime German zeal against certain shallow judgments
of Voltaire and other French critics, worked himself up into an
idealized enthusiasm for some of the most glaring imperfections of the
Greek stage, while in the modern opera he only sees the absurdities of
the real. In assuming this tone he has, of course, been imitated by
certain persons of little speculation in this country, who have thought
it necessary slavishly to worship the Germans in all things, merely
because certain other persons of no speculation ignorantly despised
them. With regard to the opera, it is plain enough that it differs from
the ancient tragedy in the following points:--(1) In not being
essentially of a religious character; (2) in not varying the musical
with the declamatory element; (3) in dealing more in monody, and less in
choral singing; (4) in using the Chorus freely, according to the nature
of the action, and not being always encumbered with it; (5) in making
the mere musical element so predominate that poets of the first order
seldom condescend to employ their talents in writing the text for an
opera. All these special differences, however, do not mar the propriety
of the general comparison between an ancient "goat-song" and a modern
opera, justified, as it is, plainly by the common musical element which
both contain in different degrees of prominence. In point of high moral
tone, high poetic diction, and noble conception, the ancient lyrical
drama is no doubt vastly superior to the modern opera; but in some other
points, as in the more free and adroit use of the Chorus, the opera is
as much superior to the goat-song. With respect to the CHORUS in
particular, SCHLEGEL has said many things that look very wise, but are
simply not true. The Chorus is only half described (see above, p. 20),
when it is called the "ideal spectator." What he says about _publicity_
is mere talk. There is no other reason for the presence of the Chorus
than because it was originally the essential part of the performance,
and could not but be to the end the most popular.


"Æschylus used to say that his tragedies were only slices cut from the
great banquet of Homeric dainties."--Athenæus, VIII. p. 348.

In the FROGS (v. 886), Aristophanes makes him show at once the
religiousness of his character, and its source, in the two lines of

  "O thou that nourished my young soul, Demeter,
  Make thou me worthy of thy mysteries!"

From the διδασκαλία, or note of the year of representation  with the
name of the author, in the argument to that play. On the arguments from
internal evidence brought forward to prove that the SUPPLIANTS is the
oldest extant play, I place no value whatever. The simplicity of
structure proves nothing, because it proves too much. Several of the
extant plays are equally simple. For aught we know, it may have been the
practice of Æschylus to the very last, as we see in the case of the
Choephoræ, to give the middle piece of his trilogies less breadth and
variety than the opening and concluding ones; and it is almost certain
that the SUPPLIANTS was either the second or the first play of a

Schol. Aristoph. Ran. 1060, Welcker's Tril. p. 475, and the _Vit.
Robortel._ (which, however, I have not seen).

Mar. Par. ep. 53. Welcker's _Tril._ p. 116.

See Introduction to that piece.

Scholiast, Aristoph. Acharn. v. 10.

PHILOSTRATUS, Vit. Soph. I. 9; Vit. Apollon. VI. 11, p. 244.

The great comedian is particularly amusing in the contrast which he draws
between the rude instinctive grandeur of the Æschylean diction and the
elegant rhetorical decorations of Euripides:--

  "With high-sounding words he will make such a pother,
  With helmeted speeches he bravely will spout;
  With chippings and shavings of rhetoric the other
    All whirling and dancing about
  Will stand at bay; but the deep-thoughted bard,
  With equestrian harmonies, galloping hard,
      Will floor in the fight
      The glib-tongued wight.
  The stiff hair of his mane all alive for the fray,
  Bristling and big from the roots he will ruffle;
  His black brows he will knit, and terribly bray,
    Like a lion that roars for the scuffle.
  Huge words by rivets and spike-nails bound,
  Like plank on plank he will fling on the ground,
      Blasting so bold
      Like a Titan of old."

ARISTOTLE, Ethic. Nicom. III. 1. CLEMEN. ALEX., Strom II. 14, p.
461. POTT. Aelian, V.H.V. 19, and WELCKER, Trilog. p. 106.

The primary authorities for the life of Æschylus are the PARIAN
MARBLE, the Βίος Αισχύλου, the FROGS of ARISTOPHANES, the
arguments of the extant plays, and various incidental notices in
ATHENÆUS and other ancient authors, most of whom have been quoted or
mentioned in the text. With regard to secondary sources of information,
the present writer has been much assisted, and had his labour
essentially curtailed, by PETERSEN's _Vita Æschyli_, Havniae, 1812;
the article ÆSCHYLUS, by WHISTON, in Dr. SMITH's Dictionary of
Biography and Mythology; the admirable condensed summary in
BERNHARDY's _Grundriss der Griechischen Litteratur, 2ter, Theil_,
HALLE, 1845; and DONALDSON's Greek Theatre. In Chronology, I have
followed CLINTON.


Welcker, in the introductory remarks to his _Epischer Cyclus_ (§ 1), has
given what appear to me sufficient reasons for not confounding this
Proclus with the famous Platonist of the same name.

This and other curious fragments from the wreck of the old Hellenic epos,
will be found in Becker's Scholia to Homer (Berlin, 1825), or in the
second volume of Welcker's Epic Cycle (Bonn, 1849), in the Appendix.

See Thucydides, I. 9.

See Welcker's _Trilogie_, Darmstadt, 1824, p. 408, who, however, here,
as in other parts of the same learned work, expends much superfluity of
ingenious conjecture on subjects which, from their very nature, are
necessarily barren of any certain result.

Jove to Priam sent the eagle, of all flying things that be
Noblest made, his dark-winged hunter.

_i.e._ The right hand--the hand which brandishes the spear, χερὸς ἐκ
δοριπάλτου; right being the lucky side in Greek augury.--ILIAD,
xxiv. 320.

Calchas, the famous soothsayer of the Iliad.


This excellent version I took from an article in the _Quarterly
Review_.--Vol. lxx. p. 340.

The sacrifice of Iphigenia displeasing to Clytemnestra.

Chalcis, a city in Eubœa, opposite Aulis.

A river in Macedonia.

The epithet καλλιπρώρου, _beautiful fronted_, applied to στόματος being
contrary to the genius of the English language, the translator must
content himself with the simple epithet.

An old name for the Peloponnesus.



The Furies.


"My bosom's lord sits lightly on his throne."--SHAKESPEARE, quoted by


_Swallow jabber_.--"Barbarians are called swallows because their speech
cannot be understood any more than the twitter of swallows."--_Stanley,
from Hesychius_.

An epithet of Apollo from λοξὸς oblique, for which Macrobius (Sat. I. 17)
gives astronomical reasons; but it seems more obvious to say that the god
is so called from the obliqueness or obscurity of his oracles.

From the looseness of the laws of quantity in English versification, it
may be as well to state here that I wish these lines of seven syllables
to be read as vv--', v--', v--'. not --' v, --' v , --' v, --'.

The Furies.

Dun-plumed. ξουθὰ.

  "Because the poor brown bird, alas!
  Sings in the garden sweet and true."
                        MISS BARRETT.

"Most musical, most melancholy bird!
A melancholy bird? O idle thought!
In Nature there is nothing melancholy."

See Introductory Remarks.

The banquet of his own children, which Atreus offered to Thyestes.--See
Introductory Remarks.


πόρθμευμ ἀχέων, whence Acheron, so familiar to English ears; as in the
same way _Cocytus_, from κωκυω, to avail, and the other infernal streams,
with a like appropriateness.

The house of Atreus, so called from Pleisthenes, one of the ancestry of


See Niebuhr's Travels (§ 25, c. 4); Michaelis' Commentaries on the Laws
of Moses (Art. 135); and Southey's Thalaba.

_Dictionary_--voce GOEL, and Commentaries, § 131.

Die Thymele in der Orchestra ist durch ein Aschenkrug als Agamemnon's
Grab bezeichnet.--DROYSEN.

Hermes, or Mercury, in his capacity of guide of the dead (ψυχοπομπός) is
here called Χθόνιος, or subterranean.



See Note 64 to Agamemnon.

Hermes or Mercury. See Notes 55 and 56 above.

The Gorgon Medusa.

Agamemnon and Electra.

The Furies.--See next piece.


This original germ of the Furies is mentioned frequently in these plays,
as πολυκρατεῖς ἀρὰι φθιμενων, _Fell Curses of the Dead_, in the Choephoræ,
p. 111 in above. See also the words of Clytemnestra, _My curse beware_,
p. 126 above.

Wordsworth's "Athens and Attica," London, 1836, c. 11.

"Καὶ τὴν μὲν ἐν Ἀρείῳ πάγῳ βουλὴν Ἑφιάλτης ἐκόλουσε καὶ Περικλῆς. τὰ δὲ
δικαστήρια μισθοφόρα κατέστησε Περικλῆς."--ARISTOTLE, Pol. II. 9. 3.

"Τῆς ναναρχίας γὰρ ἐν τοῖς Μηδικοῖς ὁ δῆμος ἄιτιος γενόμενος
ἐφρονηματίσθη."--ARISTOTLE, _ibid_.

The progeny of Earth and Heaven were called Titans, among whom Phœbe is
numbered by Hesiod.--Theog. 136.


One of the waters that descend from Parnassus.


See note to Choephoræ, No. 73.

πομπᾶιος. Of the dead specially, but also of the living: as of Ulysses
in the Odyssey, Book X.

Literally the unseen world. Sometimes used for the King of the unseen

See Introductory Remarks.

_Lucidae sedes_.--HORACE III. 3.

See Introductory Remarks. They designate themselves here from their
origin, Ἀραὶ or _imprecations_.

That is, the Furies themselves.

Wer nie sein Brod mit Thränen ass,
Und durch die kummervollen Nächte
Auf seinem Bette weinend sass,
Er kennt Euch nicht, ihr hîmmlischen Mächte!--GOETHE.

"For strangers and the poor are from Jove."--HOMER.

See above, p. 141, Note 4.

That is, _Asia_. See Introduction to the Agamemnon.

Alluding to the well-known and beautiful allegoric myth that the goddess
of wisdom sprang, full-armed, into birth from the brain of the all-wise
Omnipotent, without the intervention of a mother.

See the Preliminary Remarks.

παρόρνιθας, as we say ill-starred--that is, _unfortunate_, _unlucky_,
the metaphor being varied, according to the changes of fashions in the
practice of divination.

Alii γελῶμαι--"fortasse non male."--PALEY.

The goddess of Persuasion--πειθὼ.

Like Erectheus (p. 167 above), one of the most ancient Earth-born kings
of Attica.

So the Greeks called anything very ancient, from Ogyges, an old Bœotian


Classical Museum, No. XV. p 1.

BUCK. (Introduction, p. xiii.) has very aptly compared here the
position of Antigone, in the well-known play of that name, and the
half-approving, half-condemning tone of the Chorus in that play.

The most remarkable passages of the ancients where reference is made to
the _Prometheus Unbound_ of Æschylus are:--CICERO, Tusc. II. 10;
ARRIAN. Periplus Pont. Eux. p. 19; STRABO, Lib. I. p. 33 and IV.
182-3; PLUTARCHUS. vit. Pompeii, init.; ATHENÆUS. XV. p. 672, Cas.

"Veniat Æschylus non poeta solum, sed etiam Pythagoreus. Sic enim
accepimus. Quo modo fert apud eum Prometheus dolorem, quern excipit _ob
furtum Lemnium_."--_Tusc. Quæst_. II. 10, _Welcker; Trilogie_, p. 7.

"_Chorus consilietur amicis._"--HORACE.

On the stage, of course, her transmutation can only be indicated by the
presence of a pair of ox horns on her virgin forehead.

ἡ ποικιλείμων νύξ. _Buntgewandige_--SCHOE. "_Various-vested
Night._"--COLERIDGE, in a Sonnet to the Autumnal Moon.

ἀιθέριον κίνυγμα.

Saturn the father of Jove.

"And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face
of the earth, both man and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls
of the air: for it repenteth me that I have made him."--GEN. vi. 7.

The Sea of Azof.

"Of all the things that breathe the air, and creep upon the Earth,
The weakest thing that breathes and creeps on nurturing Earth is Man."
                                            HOMER'S ODYS. xviii. 130.

_i.e._ Delphi.--See Schol. to Iliad II. 519.

Rhea's bosomed sea--the Hadriatic.

The Ionian sea.

The Danaids, daughters of Danaus, who colonized Argos from Egypt. This
forms the subject of the next play--the Suppliants.

See the Agamemnon, Note 15.

Compare Odyssey, I. 32.


Vol. I., c. 3.

FAST., HELLEN., Introduc. pp. 6, 7.

See Introductory Remarks to the Eumenides.

The usual insignia of Suppliants. Wool was commonly used in the adornment
of insignia hallowed by religion.--See Dict. Antiq., _voc. infula_ and
_apex._; and Note 72 to the Choephoræ, and Clem. Alex. Prot. § 10.

Epaphus and Io.

Epaphus, from ἑπαφὴ. See Note 3 immediately above.

This is explained by what follows. An augur, of course, was the proper
person to recognise the notes of birds, or what resembled them.

See Note 76 to Agamemnon.

PAL. quotes from Massinger's _Emperor of the East_, "To a sad tune I
sing my own dirge," which I have adopted.

Artemis, or Diana.

τον πολυξενώτατον Ζῆνα, that is, PLUTO.

See Note 46 to the Eumenides.

See Iliad viii. 69, and other passages, describing the "golden scales of
Jove," in which the fates of men are weighed.

See the Agamemnon, Note 94.



See Prometheus Bound, p. 192 above.

See Prometheus Bound, p. 204 and Note 46.

In this very perplexed passage I follow PAL. BOTHE's conjecture,
Αργεῖος, is very happy.

A promontory in Cilicia.--STRABO, p. 670. PAL.

πρόξενοι.--See Note 19 to page 226 above.

"Potui humor ex hordeo aut frumento in quandam similitudinem
vini corruptus."--TACITUS de mor. Geom. c. 23.


This river and the Inachus flow into the Argolic gulf, both near the
city of Argos, taking their rise in the mountain ridge that separates
Argos from Arcadia.

The goddess of Persuasion.


Eurip. Phœnissae. Prolog., and Argument to the same from the Cod.
Guelpherbyt. in Matthiae.

πρῶτος ᾿εν ᾿ανθρώποις τὴν ἀῤῥενοφθορίαν ἑυρων.--Compare ROMANS i, 27.

Μὴ σπ(ε)ίρε τέκνων ἄλοκα δαιμόνων βίᾳ, κ.τ.λ.--Eurip. Phœnis. 19.

ὀιδέω to swell, and ποῦς a foot; literally _swell-foot_. Welcker remarks
that there is a peculiar significancy in the appellations connected with
this legend; even Λάϊος being connected with λαικάζω, λαισκαπρος, and
other similar words--(_Trilog_. p. 355)--but this is dangerous ground.

The σχιστή ὁδος.--See Wordsworth's Greece, p. 21.

It is particularly mentioned in the oldest form of the legend, that he
considered his sons had not sent him his due share of the flesh offered
in the family sacrifice.--Scholiast Soph. O. C. 1375. This is alluded to
in the fifth antistrophe of the third great choral chaunt of this play,
v. 768. WELL. See my Note.

The subject of "The Eleusinians" was the burial of the dead bodies of the
chiefs who had fallen before Thebes, through the mediation of
Theseus.--See Plutarch, Life of that hero, c. 29.

See Welcker's Trilogie, p. 359, etc.

Classical Museum, No. XXV. p. 312.

See PALEY's Note.

See Introductory Remarks.

See Note 35 to the Suppliants, p. 235 above.

CHANCE (Τύχη), it must be recollected, was a divine power among the

See Note 60 to the Choephoræ.

The name PARTHENOPAUS, from παρθένος, a virgin, and ὤψ the countenance.

See Note 60 to Agamemnon.

See Note 73 to the Choephoræ.

See PAPE. _in voce_ αλφηστής.

Maritime similes are very common in Æschylus, and specially
this.--Compare Agamemnon, p. 70, Strophe II.

Another pun on POLYNICES, see above, p. 278.

_i.e._ Raging flood, _Thyad_, from θύω, to rage.

See Note 67 to Agamemnon.


The play of Phrynichus, which celebrated the defeat of Xerxes, was called
_Phœnissæ_, from the Phœnician virgins who composed the chorus. How far
Æschylus may have borrowed from this work is now impossible to know.
Nothing certainly can be gained by pressing curiously the word
παραπεποιῆσθαι in the mouth of an old grammarian.

Chœrilus was a Samian, contemporary of Herodotus, but younger. His poem,
entitled περσικά, included the expedition of Darius as well as that of

By the praiseworthy exertions of Mr. Bohn, the English reader is now
supplied with translations of this, and other Classical writers, at a
very cheap rate.

Vol. V. p. 191. THIRLWALL had defended the statement of Æschylus.

Herodotus VII. 1-4.

Trilogie, p. 470; Ariadne, p. 81.

The last was a satiric piece, having no connection with the Prometheus
Bound, or the trilogy to which it belonged.

See LINWOOD--_voce_ βαΰζω.

"The people of Susa are also called Cissians."--STRABO, p. 728.

See p. 172, Note.

"They who dwell in the marshes are the most warlike of the
Egyptians."--Thucyd. I. 110. ABRESCH.

"Tmolus, a hill overhanging Sardes, from which the famous golden-flooded
Pactolus flows."--STRABO, p. 625. "Called sacred from Bacchus
worshipped there."--Eurip. Bacch. 65. PAL.

The Hellespont; so called from Helle, the daughter of Athamas, a
character famous in the Argonautic legend.

"As a dragon in a hollow fiercely waiteth for a man,
Eating venomed herbs, and darkly nursing anger in his breast,
Glaring with fierce looks of terror, as he winds him in his den."

"They who are called by the Greeks SYRIANS, are called ASSYRIANS by
the Barbarians."--HERODOT. VII. 63.

The bridge of boats built by Xerxes. The original ἀμφίζευκτον αλιον
πρῶνα ἀμφοτέρας κοινὸν ἄιας  seems intelligible no other way. So
BLOM., PAL., and BUCK., and LINW.--Compare Note 34 to the

See Note 63 to the Choephoræ.


θυμόμαντις.--See Note 67 to Agamemnon.

The mines of Laurium, near the Sunian promontory. On their importance to
the Athenians during this great struggle with Persia, see GROTE, V. p.

ἐπι σκηπτουχίᾳ ταχθεὶς. So the σκηπτουχοι βασιλεῖς of Homer.

Part of the shore of Salamis, called τροπάια ἄκρα.--SCHOL.

σκληρᾶς μέτοικος γῆς: inest amara ironia.--BLOM.



The captain of this ship was Ameinias, brother of Æschylus.--See GROTE,
V. 178.

A bold expression, but used also by Euripides.--νυκτὸς ὄμμα
λυγάιας--(Iphig. Taur., 110). To Polytheists such terms were the most
natural things in language.

"As soon as the Persian fleet was put to flight, Aristides arrived with
some Grecian hoplites at the island of Psyttaleia, overpowered the enemy,
and put them to death to a man."--GROTE.

"Having caused the land force to be drawn up along the shore opposite to
Salamis, Xerxes had erected for himself a lofty seat or throne upon one
of the projecting declivities of Mount Aegaleos, near the Heracleion,
immediately overhanging the sea."--GROTE.

θεὸς indefinitely; a common way of talking in Homer.

Facilis descensus Averni, etc.--VIRGIL, Æneid VI.

ὕβρις--See Note 61 to Agamemnon, and Note 41 Eumenides.

Salamis in Cyprus, from which the Grecian Salamis was a colony.

See p. 172, and compare p. 271.

See Note 63 to the Choephoræ.

See Ezra ix. 3.

[End of Footnotes]


The following passages included Greek characters that were not
supported by Unicode at the time this ebook was prepared. The
characters in question are surrounded by parentheses with the
proper character described below.


 ὀρχηστκωτέραν (ἐ)ιναι τὴν ποίησιν.
 Footnote 6, page 6.
 original: smooth epsilon with circumflex


 Διθύραμβος (ο)ς ᾖν κύκλιος χορός.
 Footnote 5, page 14.
 original: omicron with circumflex

 Τύριον (ὀ)ιδμα λιπῦσ ἔβαν.
 Page 24.
 original: smooth omicron with circumflex

 I read ἐισόδῳ, not (ε)ξόδῳ, as it is. . .
 Footnote 23, page 24.
 original: epsilon with circumflex



 Βρύει ἂυθ(ε)ι λευκῳ
 Note 19, page 339.
 original: epsilon with diaeresis

 ῶς (ε)υδαιμονες. . .
 Note 36, page 343.
 original: epsilon with circumflex

 Note 36, page 343.
 original: epsilon with circumflex

 ἁιρέω 2 aor (ἑ)ιλον.
 Note 57, page 348.
 original: rough epsilon with circumflex

 ὁρῶμεν ἀνθουν πέλαγος Ἀιγᾶιον νεκρ(ο)ις
 Note 77, page 353.
 original: omicron with circumflex

 ὰλλ ἐυκλεῶς τοι κατθαν(ε)ιν χάρις βροτῷ
 Note 82, page 354.
 original: epsilon with circumflex

 τίς ἀν ἔυξαιτο βροτῶν ἀσιν(ε)ι
 Note 85, page 354.
 original: epsilon with circumflex

 Τὰ μὲν ποδήρη και χ(ε)ρων ἄκρους κτένας
 Note 97, page 357.
 original: epsilon with circumflex


 το ἐυτυχ(ε)ίν
 Note 5, page 358.
 original: epsilon with circumflex

 Δ(ο)υλε δεσποτῶν ἄκουε καὶ δίκαια καὶ αδικα.
 Note 7, page 359.
 original: omicron with circumflex

 ὑφ (ε)ιμάτων
 Note 8, page 359.
 original: epsilon with circumflex

 ῏Ευ γὰρ πρὸς ἐυ φαν(ε)ισι προσθήκη πελοι.
 Note 19, page 361.
 original: epsilon with circumflex

 ὑπερ τοῦ δυσεντεύκτους ἀυτάς (ἐ)ιναι
 Note 61, page 370.
 original: smooth epsilon with circumflex

 Note 66, page 370.
 original: epsilon with circumflex

 Ἄλλοις ἄν ἐι δή. τουτ᾽ ἂρ (ο)ιδ ὃπη τελ(ε)ι.
 Note 71, page 371.
 first: smooth omicron with circumflex
 second: epsilon with circumflex

 (ε)᾽ σται καθαρμός
 Note 74, page 371.
 original: epsilon with circumflex


 κακοῦ τε χλ(ο)υνις
 Note 21, page 378.
 original: omicron with circumflex

 τίθησιν (ο)ρθὸν πόδα
 Note 27, page 378.
 original: omicron with circumflex

 αλα(ο)ισι και δεδορκόσι
 Note 30, page 379.
 original: omicron with circumflex

 Μάλα γὰρ (ὀ)υν
 Note 32, page 380.
 original: smooth omicron with circumflex

 (ε)πιφθόνοις ποδός
 Note 32, page 380.
 original: epsilon with circumflex

 into ἐμ(ο)ις. . .
 Note 37, page 381.
 original: omicron with circumflex

 μη ὐπερφρον(ε)ιν παρ ὃ δεῖ φρονεῖν
 Note 41, page 382.
 original: epsilon with circumflex


 (ο) λωφήσων γὰρ ὀυ πέφυκέ πω
 Note 5, page 387.
 original: omicron with circumflex

 Ἅπαντ ἐπράχθη πλὴν θε(ο)ισι κοιρανεῖν
 Note 7, page 388.
 original: omicron with circumflex

 ἢ χρημάτων γαρ δ(ο)υλος ἐστιν ἡ τύχης
 Note 7, page 388.
 original: omicron with circumflex

 μηδάμ θ(ε)ιτ᾽ εμᾀ γνώμᾶ κράτος ἀντίπαλον
 Note 36, page 397.
 original: epsilon with circumflex

 ᾽(ο)ιστρος or μύωψ.
 Note 38, page 398.
 original: omicron with circumflex

 Note 45, page 400.
 original: omicron with circumflex


 ἐυμενὴς δ᾽ (ο) Λύκειος
 Note 40, page 411.
 original: omicron with circumflex

 for (ὀ)υν ἐκληρώθη δορὶ
 Note 54, page 414
 original: smooth omicron with circumflex


 Μὴ σπ(ε)ίρε τέκνων ἄλοκα. . .
 Footnote 3, page 259.
 original: epsilon with circumflex

 φόβος and Δ(ε)ιμος
 Note 3, page 416.
 original: epsilon with circumflex

 διαδρομᾶν (ο)μαίμονες
 Note 29, page 421.
 original: omicron with circumflex

 ὀυ γὰρ δοκ(ε)ιν ἄριστος ἀλλ᾽ (ἐ)ίναι θέλει
 Note 35, page 422.
 first: epsilon with circumflex
 second: smooth epsilon with circumflex

 κερδ(ο)ς, i.e. τὸ νῦν τεθνᾶναι πρότερον,
 Note 38, page 423.
 original: omicron with circumflex


 πλαγκτοῖς (ε)ν διπλάκεσσιν
 Note 12, page 429.
 original: epsilon with circumflex

 ναες ἄναες (α)ναες
 Note 26, page 432.
 original: alpha with dialytika and varia

 Ἠ τάχα ῏Ιρος (α)Ιρος ἐπίσπαστον κακον ἔξει
 Note 26, page 432.
 original: alpha with diaeresis

[End of Greek Textual Notes]

[End of Book]

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