Iphigenia At Aulis
tresses till the tears flow? 'Tis all through thee, the offspring
of the long-necked swan; if indeed it be a true report that Leda bare
thee to a winged bird, when Zeus transformed himself thereto, or whether,
in the pages of the poets, fables have carried these tales to men's
ears idly, out of season." (Enter ACHILLES.)
ACHILLES Where in these tents is Achaea's general? Which of his servants
will announce to him that Achilles, the son of Peleus, is at his gates
seeking him? For this delay at the Euripus is not the same for all
of us; there be some, for instance, who, though still unwed, have
left their houses desolate and are idling here upon the beach, while
others are married and have children; so strange the longing for this
expedition that has fallen on their hearts by Heaven's will. My own
just plea must I declare, and whoso else hath any wish will speak
for himself. Though I have left Pharsalia and Peleus, still I linger
here by reason of these light breezes at the Euripus, restraining
my Myrmidons, while they are ever instant with me saying, "Why do
we tarry, Achilles? how much longer must we count the days to the
start for Ilium? do something, if thou art so minded; else lead home
thy men, and wait not for the tardy action of these Atridae." (Enter
CLYTAEMNESTRA Hail to thee, son of the Nereid goddess! I heard thy
voice from within the tent and therefore came forth.
ACHILLES O modesty revered! who can this lady be whom I behold, so
richly dowered with beauty's gifts?
CLYTAEMNESTRA No wonder thou knowest me not, seeing I am one thou
hast never before set eyes on; I praise thy reverent address to modesty.
ACHILLES Who art thou, and wherefore art thou come to the mustering
of the Danai-thou, a woman, to a fenced camp of men?
CLYTAEMNESTRA The daughter of Leda I; my name Clytaemnestra; and
my husband king Agamemnon.
ACHILLES Well and shortly answered on all important points! but it
ill befits that I should stand talking to women.
CLYTAEMNESTRA Stay; why seek to fly? Give me thy hand, a prelude
to a happy marriage.
ACHILLES What is it thou sayest? I give thee my hand? Were I to lay
a finger where I have no right, I could ne'er meet Agamemnon's eye.
CLYTAEMNESTRA The best of rights hast thou, seeing it is my child
thou wilt wed, O son of the sea-goddess, whom Nereus begat.
ACHILLES What wedding dost thou speak of? words fail me, lady; can
thy wits have gone astray and art thou inventing this?
CLYTAEMNESTRA All men are naturally shy in the presence of new relations,
when these remind them of their wedding.
ACHILLES Lady, I have never wooed daughter of thine, nor have the
sons of Atreus ever mentioned marriage to me.
CLYTAEMNESTRA What can it mean? thy turn now to marvel at my words,
for thine are passing strange to me.
ACHILLES Hazard a guess; that we can both do in this matter; for
it may be we are both correct in our statements.
CLYTAEMNESTRA What! have I suffered such indignity? The marriage
I am courting has no reality, it seems; I am ashamed of it.
ACHILLES Some one perhaps has made a mock of thee and me; pay no
heed thereto; make light of it.
CLYTAEMNESTRA Farewell; I can no longer face thee with unfaltering
eyes, after being made a liar and suffering this indignity.
ACHILLES 'Tis "farewell" too I bid thee, lady; and now I go within
the tent to seek thy husband.
ATTENDANT (Calling through the tent-door) Stranger of the race of
Aeacus, stay awhile! Ho there! thee I mean, O goddess-born, and thee,
daughter of Leda.
ACHILLES Who is it calling through the half-opened door? what fear
his voice betrays!
ATTENDANT A slave am I; of that I am not proud, for fortune permits
ACHILLES Whose slave art thou? not mine; for mine and Agamemnon's