Iphigenia At Aulis
ATTENDANT Thou hadst no right to open a letter, which I was carrying.
MENELAUS No, nor thou to be carrying sorrow to all Hellas.
ATTENDANT Argue that point with others, but surrender that letter
MENELAUS I shall not let go.
ATTENDANT Nor yet will I let loose my hold.
MENELAUS Why then, this staff of mine will be dabbling thy head with
blood ere long.
ATTENDANT To die in my master's cause were a noble death.
MENELAUS Let go! thou art too wordy for a slave.
ATTENDANT (Seeing AGAMEMNON approaching) Master, he is wronging
me; he snatched thy letter violently from my grasp, Agamemnon, and
will not heed the claims of right. (Enter AGAMEMNON.)
AGAMEMNON How now? what means this uproar at the gates, this indecent
MENELAUS My tale, not his, has the better right to be spoken.
AGAMEMNON Thou, Menelaus! what quarrel hast thou with this man, why
art thou haling him hence? (Exit ATTENDANT.)
MENELAUS Look me in the face! Be that the prelude to my story.
AGAMEMNON Shall I, the son of Atreus, close my eyes from fear?
MENELAUS Seest thou this scroll, the bearer of a shameful message?
AGAMEMNON I see it, yes; and first of all surrender it.
MENELAUS No, not till I have shewn its contents to all the Danai.
AGAMEMNON What! hast thou broken the seal and dost know already what
thou shouldst never have known?
MENELAUS Yes, I opened it and know to thy sorrow the secret machinations
of thy heart.
AGAMEMNON Where didst thou catch my servant? Ye gods what a shameless
heart thou hast!
MENELAUS I was awaiting thy daughter's arrival at the camp from Argos.
AGAMEMNON What right hast thou to watch my doings? Is not this a
MENELAUS My wish to do it gave the spur, for I am no slave to thee.
AGAMEMNON Infamous! Am I not to be allowed the management of my own
MENELAUS No, for thou thinkest crooked thoughts, one thing now, another
formerly, and something different presently.
AGAMEMNON Most exquisite refining on evil themes! A hateful thing
the tongue of cleverness!
MENELAUS Aye, but a mind unstable is an unjust possession, disloyal
to friends. Now I am anxious to test thee, and seek not thou from
rage to turn aside from the truth, nor will I on my part overstrain
the case. Thou rememberest when thou wert all eagerness to captain
the Danai against Troy, making a pretence of declining, though eager
for it in thy heart; how humble thou wert then! taking each man by
the hand and keeping open doors for every fellow townsman who cared
to enter, affording each in turn a chance to speak with thee, even
though some desired it not, seeking by these methods to purchase popularity
from all bidders; then when thou hadst secured the command, there
came a change over thy manners; thou wert no longer so cordial before
to whilom friends, but hard of access, seldom to be found at home.
But the man of real worth ought not to change his manners in the hour
of prosperity, but should then show himself most staunch to friends,
when his own good fortune can help them most effectually. This was
the first cause I had to reprove thee, for it was here I first discovered
thy villainy; but afterwards, when thou camest to Aulis with all the
gathered hosts of Hellas, thou wert of no account; no! the want of
a favourable breeze filled thee with consternation at the chance dealt
out by Heaven. Anon the Danai began demanding that thou shouldst send
the fleet away instead of vainly toiling on at Aulis; what dismay
and confusion was then depicted in thy looks, to think that thou,
with a thousand ships at thy command, hadst not occupied the plains
of Priam with thy armies! And thou wouldst ask my counsel, "What am
I to do? what scheme can I devise. where find one?" to save thyself