Iphigenia At Aulis
of slaughter, ere it reach Phrygia. Calm thyself then; as a god in
his might I appeared to thee, without being so, but such will I show
myself for all that.
CHORUS Son of Peleus, thy words are alike worthy of thee and that
sea-born deity, the holy goddess.
CLYTAEMNESTRA Ah! would I could find words to utter thy praise without
excess, and yet not lose the graciousness thereof by stinting it;
for when the good are praised, they have a feeling, as it were, of
hatred for those who in their praise exceed the mean. But I am ashamed
of intruding a tale of woe, since my affliction touches myself alone
and thou art not affected by troubles of mine; but still it looks
well for the man of worth to assist the unfortunate, even when he
is not connected with them. Wherefore pity us, for our sufferings
cry for pity; in the first place, I have harboured an idle hope in
thinking to have thee wed my daughter; and next, perhaps, the slaying
of my child will be to thee an evil omen in thy wooing hereafter,
against which thou must guard thyself. Thy words were good, both first
and last; for if thou will it so, my daughter will be saved. Wilt
have her clasp thy knees in suppliant wise? 'Tis no maid's part; yet
if it seem good to thee, why come she shall with the modest look of
free-born maid; but if I shall obtain the self-same end from thee
without ker coming, then let her abide within, for there is dignity
in her reserve; still reserve must only go as far as the case allows.
ACHILLES Bring not thou thy daughter out for me to see, lady, nor
let us incur the reproach of the ignorant; for an army, when gathered
together without domestic duties to employ it, loves the evil gossip
of malicious tongues. After all, should ye supplicate me, ye will
attain a like result as if I had ne'er been supplicated; for I am
myself engaged in a mighty struggle to rid you of your troubles. One
thing be sure thou hast heard; I will not tell a lie; if I do that
or idly mock thee, may I die, but live if I preserve the maid.
CLYTAEMNESTRA Bless thee for ever succouring the distressed!
ACHILLES Hearken then to me, that the matter may succeed.
CLYTAEMNESTRA What is thy proposal? for hear thee I must.
ACHILLES Let us once more urge her father to a better frame of mind.
CLYTAEMNESTRA He is something of a coward, and fears the army too
ACHILLES Still argument o'erthroweth argument.
CLYTAEMNESTRA Cold hope indeed; but tell me what I must do.
ACHILLES Entreat him first not to slay his children, and if he is
stubborn, come to me. Fir if he consents to thy request, my intervention
need go no further, since this consent insures thy safety. I too shall
show myself in a better light to my friend, and the army will not
blame me, if I arrange the matter by reason rather than force; while,
should things turn out well, the result will prove satisfactory both
to thee and thy friends, even without my interference.
CLYTAEMNESTRA How sensibly thou speakest! I must act as seemeth best
to thee; but should I fail of my object, where am I to see thee again?
whither must I turn my wretched steps and find thee ready to champion
ACHILLES I am keeping watch to guard thee, where occasion calls,
that none see thee passing through the host of Danai with that scared
look. Shame not thy father's house; for Tyndareus deserveth not to
be ill spoken of, being a mighty man in Hellas.
CLYTAEMNESTRA 'Tis even so. Command me; I must play the slave to
thee. If there are gods, thou for thy righteous dealing wilt find
them favourable; if there are none, what need to toil? (Exeunt ACHILLES
CHORUS What wedding-hymn was that which raised its strains to the
sound of Libyan flutes, to the music of the dancer's lyre, and the
note of the pipe of reeds?
'Twas in the day Pieria's fair-tressed choir came o'er the slopes
of Pelion to the marriage-feast of Peleus, beating the ground with
print of golden sandals at the banquet of the gods, and hymning in