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Ion   


Speak it: my service shall procure the rest. CREUSA
Hear then the tale: but Modesty restrains me. ION
Ah, let her not; her power avails not here. CREUSA
My friend then says that to the embrace of Phoebus- ION
A woman and a god! Say not so, stranger. CREUSA
She bore a son: her father knew it not. ION
Not so: a mortal's baseness he disdains. CREUSA
This she affirms; and this, poor wretch, she suffer'd. ION
What follow'd, if she knew the god's embrace? CREUSA
The child, which hence had birth, she straight exposed. ION
This exposed child, where is he? doth he live? CREUSA
This no one knows; this wish I to inquire. ION
If not alive, how probably destroyed?
CREUSA
Torn, she conjectures, by some beast of prey. ION
What ground hath she on which to build that thought? CREUSA
Returning to the place she found him not. ION
Observed she drops of blood distain the path? CREUSA
None, though with anxious heed she search'd around. ION
What time hath pass'd since thus the child was lost? CREUSA
Were he alive, his youth were such as thine. ION
The god hath done him wrong: the unhappy mother- CREUSA
Hath not to any child been mother since. ION
What if in secret Phoebus nurtures him! CREUSA
Unjust to enjoy alone a common right.
ION
Ah me! this cruel fate accords with mine. CREUSA
For thee too thy unhappy mother mourns. ION
Ah, melt me not to griefs I would forget! CREUSA
I will be silent: but impart thy aid.
ION
Seest thou what most the inquiry will suppress? CREUSA
And to my wretched friend what is not ill? ION
How shall the god what he would hide reveal? CREUSA
As placed on the oracular seat of Greece. ION
The deed must cause him shame: convict him not. CREUSA
To the poor sufferer 'tis the cause of grief. ION
It cannot be; for who shall dare to give
The oracle? With justice would the god,
In his own dome affronted, pour on him
Severest vengeance, who should answer thee.
Desist then, lady: it becomes us ill,
In opposition to the god, to make
Inquiries at his shrine; by sacrifice
Before their altars, or the flight of birds,
Should we attempt to force the unwilling gods
To utter what they wish not, 'twere the excess
Of rudeness; what with violence we urge
'Gainst their consent would to no good avail us:
What their spontaneous grace confers on us,
That, lady, as a blessing we esteem.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
How numberless the ills to mortal man,
And various in their form! One single blessing
By any one through life is scarcely found.
CREUSA
Nor here, nor there, O Phoebus, art thou just
To her; though absent, yet her words are present.
Nor didst thou save thy son, whom it became thee
To save; nor, though a prophet, wilt thou speak
To the sad mother who inquires of thee;
That, if he is no more, to him a tomb
May rise; but, if he lives, that he may bless
His mother's eyes. But even thus behooves us

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