Iphigenia At Aulis
CLYTAEMNESTRA I have no other questions to put; give me no other
AGAMEMNON O fate revered, O destiny, and fortune mine!
CLYTAEMNESTRA Aye, and mine and this maid's too; the three share
one bad fortune.
AGAMEMNON Whom have I injured?
CLYTAEMNESTRA Dost thou ask me this question? A thought like that
itself amounts to thoughtlessness.
AGAMEMNON Ruined! my secret out!
CLYTAEMNESTRA I know all; I have heard what thou art bent on doing
to me. Thy very silence and those frequent groans are a confession;
tire not thyself by telling it.
AGAMEMNON Lo! I am silent; for, if I tell thee a falsehood, needs
must I add effrontery to misfortune.
CLYTAEMNESTRA Well, listen; for I will now unfold my meaning and
no longer employ dark riddles. In the first place-to reproach thee
first with this-it was not of my own free will but by force that thou
didst take and wed me, after slaying Tantalus, my former husband,
and dashing my babe on the ground alive, when thou hadst torn him
from my breast with brutal violence. Then, when those two sons of
Zeus, who were likewise my brothers, came flashing on horseback to
war with thee, Tyndareus, my aged sire, rescued thee because of thy
suppliant prayers, and thou in turn hadst me to wife. Once reconciled
to thee upon this footing, thou wilt bear me witness I have been a
blameless wife to thee and thy family, chaste in love, an honour to
thy house, that so thy coming in might be with joy and thy going out
with gladness. And 'tis seldom a man secures a wife like this, though
the getting of a worthless woman is no rarity.
Besides three daughters, of one of whom thou art heartlessly depriving
me, I am the mother of this son of thine. If anyone asks thee thy
reason for slaying her, tell me, what wilt thou say? or must say it
for thee? "It is that Menelaus may recover Helen." An honourable exchange,
indeed, to pay a wicked woman's price in children's lives! 'Tis buying
what we most detest with what we hold most dear. Again, if thou go
forth with the host, leaving me in thy halls, and art long absent
at Troy, what will my feelings be at home, dost think? when I behold
each vacant chair and her chamber now deserted, and then sit down
alone in tears, making ceaseless lamentation for her, "Ah! my child,
he that begat thee hath slain thee himself, he and no one else, nor
was it by another's hand...to thy home, after leaving such a price
to be paid; for it needs now but a trifling pretext for me and the
daughters remaining to give thee the reception it is right thou shouldst
receive. I adjure thee by the gods, compel me not to sin against thee,
nor sin thyself. Go to; suppose thou sacrifice the child; what prayer
wilt thou utter, when 'tis done? what will the blessing be that thou
wilt invoke upon thyself as thou art slaying our daughter? an ill
returning maybe, seeing the disgrace that speeds thy going forth.
Is it right that I should pray for any luck to attend thee? Surely
we should deem the gods devoid of sense, if we harboured a kindly
feeling towards murderers. Shalt thou embrace thy children on thy
coming back to Argos? Nay, thou hast no right. Will any child of thing
e'er face thee, if thou have surrendered one of them to death? Has
this ever entered into thy calculations, or does thy one duty consist
in carrying a sceptre about and marching at the head of an army? when
thou mightest have made this fair proposal among the Argives; "Is
it your wish, Achaeans, to sail for Phrygia's shores? Why then, cast
lots whose daughter has to die." For that would have been a fair course
for thee to pursue, instead of picking out thy own child for the victim
and presenting her to the Danai; or Menelaus, inasmuch as it was his
concern, should have slain Hermione for her mother. As it is, I, who
still am true to thee, must lose my child; while she, who went astray,
will return with her daughter, and live in happiness at Sparta. If
I am wrong in aught herein, answer me; but if my words have been fairly
urged, do not still slay thy child, who is mine too, and thou wilt