had not thrown o'er thee, my son, Hermione's deadly net! that the
thunderbolt had slain her sooner! and that thou, rash mortal, hadst
never charged the great god Phoebus with aiming that murderous shaft
that spilt thy hero-father's blood!
CHORUS Woe! woe! alas! With due observance of funeral rites will
I begin the mourning for my dead master.
PELEUS Alack and well-a-day! I take up the tearful dirge, ah me!
old and wretched as I am.
CHORUS 'Tis Heaven's decree; God willed this heavy stroke.
PELEUS O darling child, thou hast left me all alone in my halls,
old and childless by thy loss.
CHORUS Thou shouldst have died, old sire, before thy children.
PELEUS Shall I not tear my hair, and smite upon my head with grievous
blows? O city! of both my children hath Phoebus robbed me.
CHORUS What evils thou hast suffered, what sorrows thou hast seen,
thou poor old man! what shall be thy life hereafter?
PELEUS Childless, desolate, with no limit to my grief, I must drain
the cup of woe, until I die.
CHORUS 'Twas all in vain the gods wished thee joy on thy wedding
PELEUS All my hopes have flown away, fallen short of my high boasts.
CHORUS A lonely dweller in a lonely home art thou.
PELEUS I have no city any longer; there! on the ground my sceptre
do cast; and thou, daughter of Nereus, 'neath thy dim grotto, shalt
see me grovelling in the dust, a ruined king.
CHORUS Look, look! (A dim form of divine appearance is seen hovering
mid air.) What is that moving? what influence divine am I conscious
of? Look, maidens, mark it well; see, yonder is some deity, wafted
through the lustrous air and alighting on the plains of Phthia, home
THETIS (from above) O Peleus! because of my wedded days with thee
now long agone, I Thetis am come from the halls of Nereus. And first
I counsel thee not to grieve to excess in thy present distress, for
I too who need ne'er have borne children to my sorrow, have lost the
child of our love, Achilles swift of foot, foremost of the sons of
Hellas. Next will I declare why I am come, and do thou give ear. Carry
yonder corpse, Achilles' son, to the Pythian altar and there bury
it, a reproach to Delphi, that his tomb may proclaim the violent death
he met at the hand of Orestes. And for his captive wife Andromache,-she
must dwell in the Molossian land, united in honourable wedlock with
Helenus, and with her this babe, the sole survivor as he is of all
the line of Aeacus, for from him a succession of prosperous kings
of Molossia is to go on unbroken; for the race that springs from thee
and me, my aged lord, must not thus be brought to naught; no! nor
Troy's line either; for her fate too is cared for by the gods, albeit
her fall was due to the eager wish of Pallas. Thee too, that thou
mayst know the saving grace of wedding me, will I, a goddess born
and daughter of a god, release from all the ills that flesh is heir
to and make a deity to know not death nor decay. From henceforth in
the halls of Nereus shalt thou dwell with me, god and goddess together;
thence shalt thou rise dry-shod from out the main and see Achilles,
our dear son, settled in his island-home by the strand of Leuce, that
is girdled by the Euxine sea. But get thee to Delphi's god-built town,
carrying this corpse with thee, and, after thou hast buried him, return
and settle in the cave which time hath hollowed in the Sepian rock
and there abide, till from the sea I come with choir of fifty Nereids
to be thy escort thence; for fate's decree thou must fulfil; such
is the pleasure of Zeus. Cease then to mourn the dead; this is the
lot which heaven assigns to all, and all must pay their debt to death.
PELEUS Great queen, my honoured wife, from Nereus sprung, all hail!
thou art acting herein as befits thyself and thy children. So I will
stay my grief at thy bidding, goddess, and, when I have buried the
dead, will seek the glens of Pelion, even the place where I took thy
beauteous form to my embrace. Surely after this every prudent man