Be wary, wise for all;
Nor honour in dishonour hold,
But-ere the voice of war be bold-
Let them to stranger peoples grant
Fair and unbloody covenant-
Justice and peace withal;
And to the Argive powers divine
The sacrifice of laurelled kine,
By rite ancestral, pay.
Among three words of power and awe,
Stands this, the third, the mighty law-
Your gods, your fathers deified,
Ye shall adore. Let this abide
For ever and for aye.
Dear children, well and wisely have ye prayed;
I bid you now not shudder, though ye hear
New and alarming tidings from your sire.
From this high place beside the suppliants' shrine
The bark of our pursuers I behold,
By divers tokens recognized too well.
Lo, the spread canvas and the hides that screen
The gunwale; lo, the prow, with painted eyes
That seem her onward pathway to descry,
Heeding too well the rudder at the stern
That rules her, coming for no friendly end.
And look, the seamen-all too plain their race-
Their dark limbs gleam from out their snow-white garb;
Plain too the other barks, a fleet that comes
All swift to aid the purpose of the first,
That now, with furled sail and with pulse of oars
Which smite the wave together, comes aland.
But ye, be calm, and, schooled not scared by fear,
Confront this chance, be mindful of your trust
In these protecting gods. And I will hence,
And champions who shall plead your cause aright
Will bring unto your side. There come perchance
Heralds or envoys, eager to lay hand
And drag you captive hence; yet fear them not;
Foiled shall they be. Yet well it were for you
(If, ere with aid I come, I tarry long)
Not by one step this sanctuary to leave.
Farewell, fear nought: soon shall the hour be born
When he that scorns the gods shall rue his scorn.
Ah, but I shudder, father!-ah, even now,
Even as I speak, the swift-winged ships draw nigh!
I shudder, I shiver, I perish with fear:
Overseas though I fled,
Yet nought it avails; my pursuers are near!
Children, take heart; they who decreed to aid
Thy cause will arm for battle, well I ween.
But desperate is Aegyptus' ravening race,
With fight unsated; thou too know'st it well.