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The Persians   



ATOSSA
In Bactra age and grief are only left.
GHOST OF DARIUS
Ah, what a train of warlike youth is lost!

ATOSSA
Xerxes, astonished, desolate, alone-
GHOST OF DARIUS
How will this end? Nay, pause not. Is he safe?

ATOSSA
Fled o'er the bridge, that join'd the adverse strands.

GHOST OF DARIUS
And reach'd this shore in safety? Is this true?

ATOSSA
True are thy words, and not to be gainsay'd.

GHOST OF DARIUS
With what a winged course the oracles
Haste their completion! With the lightning's speed
Jove on my son hath hurled his threaten'd vengeance:
Yet I implored the gods that it might fall
In time's late process: but when rashness drives
Impetuous on, the scourge of Heaven upraised
Lashes the Fury forward; hence these ills
Pour headlong on my friends. Not weighing this,
My son, with all the fiery pride of youth,
Hath quickened their arrival, while he hoped
To bind the sacred Hellespont, to hold
The raging Bosphorus, like a slave, in chains,
And dared the advent'rous passage, bridging firm
With links of solid iron his wondrous way,
To lead his numerous host; and swell'd with thoughts
Presumptuous, deem'd, vain mortal! that his power
Should rise above the gods, and Neptune's might.
And was riot this the phrensy of the soul?
But much I fear lest all my treasured wealth
Fall to some daring hand an easy prey.
ATOSSA
This from too frequent converse with bad men
The impetuous Xerxes learn'd; these caught his ear
With thy great deeds, as winning for thy sons
Vast riches with thy conquering spear, while he
Tim'rous and slothful, never, save in sport,
Lifted his lance, nor added to the wealth
Won by his noble fathers. This reproach
Oft by bad men repeated, urged his soul
To attempt this war, and lead his troops to Greece.

GHOST OF DARIUS
Great deeds have they achieved, and memorable
For ages: never hath this wasted state
Suffer'd such ruin, since heaven's awful king
Gave to one lord Asia's extended plains
White with innumerous flocks, and to his hands
Consign'd the imperial sceptre. Her brave hosts
A Mede first led; the virtues of his son
Fix'd firm the empire, for his temperate soul
Breathed prudence. Cyrus next, by fortune graced,
Adorn'd the throne, and bless'd his grateful friends
With peace: he to his mighty monarchy

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