Iphigenia At Aulis
after the army was gathered and come together, we still remained at
Aulis weather-bound; and Calchas, the seer, bade us in our perplexity
sacrifice my own begotten child Iphigenia to Artemis, whose home is
in this land, declaring that if we offered her, we should sail and
sack the Phrygians' capital, but if we forbore, this was not for us.
When I heard this, I commanded Talthybius with loud proclamation to
disband the whole host, as I could never bear to slay daughter of
mine. Whereupon my brother, bringing every argument to bear, persuaded
me at last to face the crime; so I wrote in a folded scroll and sent
to my wife, bidding her despatch our daughter to me on the pretence
of wedding Achilles, it the same time magnifying his exalted rank
and saying that he refused to sail with the Achaeans, unless a bride
of our lineage should go to Phthia. Yes, this was the inducement I
offered my wife, inventing, as I did, a sham marriage for the maiden.
Of all the Achaeans we alone know the real truth, Calchas, Odysseus,
Menelaus and myself; but that which I then decided wrongly, I now
rightly countermand again in this scroll, which thou, old man, hast
found me opening and resealing beneath the shade of night. Up now
and away with this missive to Argos, and I will tell thee by word
of mouth all that is written herein, the contents of the folded scroll,
for thou art loyal to my wife and house.
ATTENDANT Say on and make it plain, that what my tongue utters may
accord with what thou hast written.
AGAMEMNON "Daughter of Leda, in addition to my first letter I now
send thee word not to despatch thy daughter to Euboea's embosomed
wing, to the to the waveless bay of Aulis; for after all we wiltlelebrate
our child's wedding at another time."
ATTENDANT And how will Achilles, cheated of his bride, curb the fury
of his indignation against thee and thy wife?
AGAMEMNON Here also is a danger.
ATTENDANT Tell me what thou meanest.
AGAMEMNON It is but his name, not himself, that Achilles is lending,
knowing nothing of the marriage or of my scheming or my professed
readiness to betroth my daughter to him for a husband's embrace.
ATTENDANT A dreadful venture thine king Agamemnon! thou that, by
promise of thy daughter's hand to the son of the goddess, wert for
bringing the maid hither to be sacrificed for the Danai.
AGAMEMNON Woe is me! ah woe! I am utterly distraught; bewilderment
comes o'er me. Away hurry thy steps, yielding nothing to old age.
ATTENDANT In haste I go, my liege.
AGAMEMNON Sit not down by woodland founts; scorn the witcheries of
AGAMEMNON And when thou passest any place where roads diverge, cast
thine eyes all round,-taking heed that no mule-wain pass by on rolling
wheels, bearing my daughter hither to the ships of the Danai, and
thou see it not.
ATTENDANT It shall be so.
AGAMEMNON Start then from the bolted gates, and if thou meet the
escort, start them back again, and drive at full speed to the abodes
of the Cyclopes.
ATTENDANT But tell me, how shall my message find credit with thy
wife or child?
AGAMEMNON Preserve the seal which thou bearest on this scroll. Away!
already the dawn is growing grey, lighting the lamp of day yonder
and the fire of the sun's four steeds; help me in my trouble. (Exit
ATTENDANT.) None of mortals is prosperous or happy to the last, for
none was ever born to a painless life. (Exit AGAMEMNON., Enter
CHORUS OF WOMEN OF CHALCIS.)
CHORUS To the sandy beach of sea-coast Aulis I came after a voyage
through the tides of Euripus, leaving Chalcis on its narrow firth,
my city which feedeth the waters of far-famed Arethusa near the sea,
that I might behold the army of the Achaeans and the ships rowed by
those god-like heroes; for our husbands tell us that fair-haired Menelaus