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Helen   


rushed the mountain-goddess, mother of the gods, in frantic haste,
once long ago, yearning for her daughter lost, whose name men dare
not utter; loudly rattled the Bacchic castanets in shrill accord,
what time those maidens, swift as whirlwinds, sped forth with the
goddess on her chariot yoked to wild creatures, in quest of her that
was ravished from the circling choir of virgins; here was Artemis
with her bow, and there the grim-eyed goddess, sheathed in mail, and
spear in hand. But Zeus looked down from his throne in heaven, and
turned the issue otherwhither.
(antistrophe 1)
Soon as the mother ceased from her wild wandering toil, in seeking
her daughter stolen so subtly as to baffle all pursuit, she crossed
the snow-capped heights of Ida's nymphs; and in anguish cast her down
amongst the rocks and brushwood deep in snow; and, denying to man
all increase to his tillage from those barren fields, she wasted the
human race; nor would she let the leafy tendrils yield luxuriant fodder
for the cattle, wherefore many a beast lay dying; no sacrifice was
offered to the gods, and on the altars were no cakes to burn; yea,
and she made the dew-fed founts of crystal water to cease their flow,
in her insatiate sorrow for her child.
(strophe 2)
But when for gods and tribes of men alike she made an end to festal
cheer, Zeus spoke out, seeking to soothe the mother's moody soul,
"Ye stately Graces, go banish from Demeter's angry heart the grief
her wanderings bring upon her for her child, and go, ye Muses too,
with tuneful choir." Thereon did Cypris, fairest of the blessed gods,
first catch up the crashing cymbals, native to that land, and the
drum with tight-stretched skin, and then Demeter smiled, and in her
hand. did take the deep-toned flute, well pleased with its loud note.
(antistrophe 2)
Thou hast wedded as thou never shouldst have done in defiance of
all right, and thou hast incurred, my daughter, the wrath of the great
mother by disregarding her sacrifices. Oh! mighty is the virtue in
dress of dappled fawn-skin, in ivy green that twineth round a sacred
thyrsus, in whirling tambourines struck as they revolve in air in
tresses wildly streaming for the revelry of Bromius, and likewise
in the sleepless vigils of the goddess, when the moon looks down and
sheds her radiance o'er the scene. Thou wert confident in thy charms
alone. (HELEN comes out of the palace alone.)
HELEN My friends, within the palace all goes well for us; for the
daughter of Proteus, who is privy to our stealthy scheme, told her
brother nothing when questioned as to my husband's coming, but for
my sake declared him dead and buried. Most fortunate it is my lord
hath had the luck to get these weapons; for he is now himself clad
in the harness he was to plunge into the sea, his stalwart arm thrust
through the buckler's strap, and in his right hand a spear, on pretence
of joining in homage to the dead. He hath girded himself most serviceably
for the fray, as if to triumph o'er a host of barbarian foes when
once we are aboard yon oared ship; instead of his rags from the wreck
hath he donned the robes I gave for his attire, and I have bathed
his limbs in water from the stream, a bath he long hath wanted. But
I must be silent, for from the house comes forth the man who thinks
he has me in his power, prepared to be his bride; and thy goodwill
I also claim and thy strict silence, if haply, when we save ourselves,
we may save thee too some day. (THEOCLYMENUS and MENELAUS enter,
with a train of attendants bearing the offerings for the funeral rites.)

THEOCLYMENUS Advance in order, servants, as the stranger hath directed,
bearing the funeral gifts the sea demands. But thou, Helen, if thou
wilt not misconstrue my words, be persuaded and here abide; for thou
wilt do thy husband equal service whether thou art present or not.
For I am afraid that some sudden shock of fond regret may prompt thee
to plunge into the swollen tide, in an ecstasy of gratitude toward
thy former husband; for thy grief for him, though he is lost, is running
to excess.

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