Iphigenia At Aulis
dost not shame thy ancestry.
AGAMEMNON I thank thee, Menelaus, for this unexpected suggestion;
'tis an honourable proposal, worthy of thee.
MENELAUS Sometimes love, sometimes the selfishness of their families
causes a quarrel between brothers; I loathe a relationship of this
kind which is bitterness to both.
AGAMEMNON 'Tis useless, for circumstances compel me to carry out
the murderous sacrifice of my daughter.
MENELAUS How so? who will compel thee to slay thine own child?
AGAMEMNON The whole Achaean army here assembled.
MENELAUS Not if thou send her back to Argos.
AGAMEMNON I might do that unnoticed, but there will be another thing
MENELAUS What is that? Thou must not fear the mob too much.
AGAMEMNON Calchas will tell the Argive host his oracles.
MENELAUS Not if he be killed ere that-an easy matter.
AGAMEMNON The whole tribe of seers is a curse with its ambition.
MENELAUS Yes, and good for nothing and useless, when amongst us.
AGAMEMNON Has the thought, which is rising in my mind, no terrors
MENELAUS How can I understand thy meaning, unless thou declare it?
AGAMEMNON The son of Sisyphus knows all.
MENELAUS Odysseus cannot possibly hurt us.
AGAMEMNON He was ever shifty by nature, siding with the mob.
MENELAUS True, he is enslaved by the love of popularity, a fearful
AGAMEMNON Bethink thee then, will he not arise among the Argives
and tell them the oracles that Calchas delivered, saying of me that
I undertook to offer Artemis a victim, and after all am proving false?
Then, when he has carried the army away with him, he will bid the
Argives slay us and sacrifice the maiden; and if I escape to Argos,
they will come and destroy the place, razing it to the ground, Cyclopean
walls and all. That is my trouble. Woe is me! to what straits Heaven
has brought me at this pass! Take one precaution for me, Menelaus,
as thou goest through the host, that Clytemnestra learn this not,
till I have taken my child and devoted her to death, that my affliction
may be attended with the fewest tears. (Turning to the CHORUS) And
you, ye stranger dames, keep silence. (Exeunt AGAMEMNON and MENELAUS.)
CHORUS Happy they who find the goddess come in moderate might, sharing
with self-restraint in Aphrodite's gift of marriage and enjoying calm
and rest from frenzied passions, wilerein the Love-god, golden-haired,
stretches his charmed bow with arrows twain, and one is aimed at happiness,
the other at life's confusion. O lady Cypris, queen of beauty! far
from my bridal bower I ban the last. Be mine delight in moderation
and pure desires, and may I have a share in love, but shun excess
Men's natures vary, and their habits differ, but true virtue is always
manifest. Likewise the training that comes of education conduces greatly
to virtue; for not only is modesty wisdom, but it has also the rare
grace of seeing by its better judgment what is right; whereby glory,
ever young, is shed o'er life by reputation. A great thing it is to
follow virtue's footsteps-for women in their secret loves; while in
men again an inborn sense of order, shown in countless ways, adds
to a city's greatness.
Thou camest, O Paris, to the place where thou wert reared to herd
the kine amid the white heifers of Ida, piping in foreign strain and
breathing on thy reeds an echo of the Phrygian airs Olympus played.
Full-uddered cows were browsing at the spot where that verdict 'twixt
goddesses was awaiting thee the cause of thy going to Hellas to stand
before the ivory palace, kindling love in Helen's tranced eyes and
feeling its flutter in thine own breast; whence the fiend of strife
brought Hellas with her chivalry and ships to the towers of Troy.
Oh! great is the bliss the great enjoy. Behold Iphigenia, the king's
royal child, and Clytaemnestra, the daughter of Tyndareus; how proud