If at the gate the honey'd cake be offer'd,
Would you consult the oracle, advance
To the altar: till the hallow'd lamb has bled
In sacrifice, approach not the recess.
I am instructed: what the god appoints
As laws, we wish not to transgress: without
Enough of ornament delights our eyes.
Take a full view of all; that is allow'd. CHORUS
To view the inmost shrine was our lord's order. ION
Who are you call'd? Attendants on what house? CHORUS
Our lords inhabit the magnific domes
Of Pallas.-But she comes, of whom thou askest.
CREUSA and attendants enter.
Lady, whoe'er thou art, that liberal air
Speaks an exalted mind: there is a grace,
A dignity in those of noble birth,
That marks their high rank. Yet I marvel much
That from thy closed lids the trickling tear
Water'd thy beauteous cheeks, soon as thine eye
Beheld this chaste oracular seat of Phoebus.
What brings this sorrow, lady? All besides,
Viewing the temple of the god, are struck
With joy; thy melting eye o'erflows with tears. CREUSA
Not without reason, stranger, art thou seized
With wonder at my tears: this sacred dome
Awakes the sad remembrance of things past.
I had my mind at home, though present here.
How wretched is our sex! And, O ye gods,
What deeds are yours! Where may we hope for right,
If by the injustice of your power undone?
Why, lady, this inexplicable grief?
It matters not; my mind resumes its firmless:
I say no more; cease thy concern for me.
But say, who art thou? whence? what country boasts
Thy birth? and by what name may we address thee? CREUSA
Creusa is my name, drawn from Erechtheus
My high-born lineage; Athens gave me birth.
Illustrious is thy state; thy ancestry
So noble that I look with reverence on thee.
Happy indeed is this, in nothing farther. ION
But tell me, is it true what fame has blazon'd? CREUSA
What wouldst thou ask? Stranger, I wish to know. ION
Sprung the first author of thy line from the earth? CREUSA
Ay, Erichthonius; but my race avails not. ION
And did Minerva raise him from the earth? CREUSA
Held in her virgin hands: she bore him not. ION
And gave him as the picture represents? CREUSA
Daughters of Cecrops these, charged not to see him. ION
The virgins ope'd the interdicted chest? CREUSA
And died, distaining with their blood the rock. ION
But tell me, is this truth, or a vain rumour? CREUSA
What wouldst thou ask? I am not scant of time. ION
Thy sisters did Erechtheus sacrifice?
He slew the virgins, victims for their country. ION
And thou of all thy sisters saved alone? CREUSA
I was an infant in my mother's arms.