Iphigenia At Aulis
being stripped of thy command and losing thy fair fame. Next when
Calchas bade thee offer thy daughter in sacrifice to Artemis, declaring
that the Danai should then sail, thou wert overjoyed, and didst gladly
undertake to offer the maid, and of thine own accord-never allege
compulsion!-thou art sending word to thy wife to despatch thy daughter
hither on pretence of wedding Achilles. This is the same air that
heard thee say it; and after all thou turnest round and hast been
caught recasting thy letter to this effect, "I will no longer be my
daughter's murderer." Exactly so! Countless others have gone through
this phase in their conduct of public affairs; they make an effort
while in power, and then retire dishonourably, sometimes owing to
the senselessness of the citizens, sometimes deservedly, because they
are too feeble of themselves to maintain their watch upon the state.
For my part, I am more sorry for our unhappy Hellas, whose purpose
was to read these worthless foreigners a lesson, while now she will
let them escape and mock her, thanks to thee and thy daughter. May
I never then appoint a man to rule my country or lead its warriors
because his kinship! Ability what the general must have; since any
man, with ordinary intelligence, can govern a state.
CHORUS For brethren to come to words and blows, whene'er they disagree,
AGAMEMNON I wish to rebuke thee in turn, briefly, not lifting mine
eyes too high in shameless wise, but in more sober fashion, as a brother;
for it is a good man's way to be considerate. Prithee, why this burst
of fury, these bloodshot eyes? who wrongs thee? what is it thou wantest?
Thou art fain to win a virtuous bride. Well, I cannot supply thee;
for she, whom thou once hadst, was ill controlled by thee. Am I then,
a man who never went astray, to suffer for thy sins? or is it my popularity
that galls thee? No! it is the longing thou hast to keep a fair wife
in thy embrace, casting reason and honour to the winds. A bad man's
pleasures are like himself Am I mad, if I change to wiser counsels,
after previously deciding amiss? Thine is the madness rather in wishing
to recover a wicked wife, once thou hadst lost her-a stroke of Heaven-sent
luck. Those foolish suitors swore that oath to Tyndareus in their
longing to wed; but Hope was the goddess that led them on, I trow,
and she it was that brought it about rather then thou and thy mightiness.
So take the field with them; they are ready for it in the folly of
their hearts; for the deity is not without insight, but is able to
discern where oaths have been wrongly pledged or forcibly extorted.
I will not slay my children, nor shall thy interests be prospered
by justice in thy vengeance for a worthless wife, while I am left
wasting, night and day, in sorrow for what I did to one of my own
flesh and blood, contrary to all law and justice. There is thy answer
shortly' given, clear and easy to understand; and if thou wilt not
come to thy senses, I shall do the best for myself.
CHORUS This differs from thy previous declaration, but there is good
in it-thy child's reprieve.
MENELAUS Ah me, how sad my lot! I have no friends then after all.
AGAMEMNON Friends thou hast, if thou seek not their destruction.
MENELAUS Where wilt thou find any proof that thou art sprung from
the same sire as I?
AGAMEMNON Thy moderation, not thy madness do I share by nature.
MENELAUS Friends should sympathize with friends in sorrow.
AGAMEMNON Claim my help by kindly service, not by paining me.
MENELAUS So thou hast no mind to share this trouble with Hellas?
AGAMEMNON No, Hellas is diseased like thee according to some god's
MENELAUS Go vaunt thee then on thy sceptre, after betraying thine
own brother! while seek some different means and other friends. (Enter
MESSENGER Agamemnon, lord of all Hellenes! I am come and bring thee
thy daughter, whom thou didst call Iphigenia in thy home; and her
mother, thy wife Clytemnestra, is with her, and the child Orestes,
a sight to gladden thee after thy long absence from thy palace; but,