waste the town of Ilium, come pick up yon bull, the dead man's offering,
on your stout shoulders, as is the way in Hellas, and cast him into
the hold;" and as he spoke he drew his sword in readiness. Then they
at his command came and caught up the bull and carried him bodily
on to the deck. And Menelaus stroked the horse on neck and brow, coaxing
it to go aboard. At length, when the ship was fully freighted, Helen
climbed the ladder with graceful step and took her seat midway betwixt
the rowers' benches, and he sat by her side, even Menelaus who was
called dead; and the rest, equally divided on the right and left side
of the ship, sat them down, each beside his man, with swords concealed
beneath their cloaks, and the billows soon were echoing to the rowers'
song, as we heard the boatswain's note. Now when we were put out a
space, not very far nor very near, the helmsman asked, "Shall we,
sir stranger, sail yet further on our course, or will this serve?
For thine it is to command the ship." And he answered: "'Tis far enough
for me," while in his right hand he gripped his sword and stepped
on to the prow; then standing o'er the bull to slay it, never a word
said he of any dead man, but cut its throat and thus made prayer:
"Poseidon, lord of the sea, whose home is in the deep, and ye holy
daughters of Nereus, bring me and my wife safe and sound to Nauplia's
strand from hence! Anon a gush of blood, fair omen for the stranger,
spouted into the tide. One cried, "There is treachery in this voyage;
why should we now sail to Nauplia? Give the order, helmsman, turn
thy rudder." But the son of Atreus, standing where he slew the bull,
called to his comrades, "Why do ye, the pick of Hellas, delay to smite
and slay the barbarians and fling them from the ship into the waves?"
While to thy crew the boatswain cried the opposite command: "Ho! some
of you catch up chance spars, break up the benches, or snatch the
oar-blade from the thole, and beat out the brains of these our foreign
foes." Forthwith up sprang each man, the one part armed with poles
that sailors use, the other with swords. And the ship ran down with
blood; while Helen from her seat upon the stern thus cheered them
on: "Where is the fame ye won in Troy? show it against these barbarians."
Then as they hasted to the fray, some would fall and some rise up
again, while others hadst thou seen laid low in death. But Menelaus
in full armour, made his way, sword in hand, to any point where his
watchful eye perceived his comrades in distress; so we leapt from
the ship and swam, and he cleared the benches of thy rowers. Then
did the prince set himself to steer, and bade them make a straight
course to Hellas. So they set up the mast, and favouring breezes blew;
and they are clear away, while I, from death escaped, let myself down
by the anchor chain into the sea; and, just as I was spent, one threw
me a rope and rescued me, and drew me to land to bring to thee this
message. Ah! there is naught more serviceable to mankind than a prudent
LEADER OF THE CHORUS I would never have believed that Menelaus could
have eluded us and thee, O king, in the way he did on his coming.
THEOCLYMENUS Woe is me! cozened by a woman's tricks! My bride hath
escaped me. If the ship could have been pursued and overtaken, I would
have used every means forthwith to catch the strangers; as it is,
I will avenge myself upon my treacherous sister, in that she saw Menelaus
in my palace and did not tell me. Wherefore shall she nevermore deceive
another by her prophetic art. (A SERVANT comes out of the palace.)
SERVANT Ho, there! whither away so fast, my lord? on what bloody
THEOCLYMENUS Whither justice calls me. Out of my path!
SERVANT I will not loose thy robe, for on grievous mischief art thou
THEOCLYMENUS Shalt thou, a slave, control thy master?
SERVANT Yea, for I am in my senses.
THEOCLYMENUS I should not say so, if thou wilt not let me
SERVANT Nay, but that I never will.
THEOCLYMENUS Slay my sister most accursed.
SERVANT Say rather, most righteous.