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Iphigenia At Aulis   


be wise.
CHORUS Hearken to her Agamemnon, for to join in saving thy children's
lives is surely a noble deed; none would gainsay this.
IPHIGENIA Had I the eloquence of Orpheus, my father, to move the
rocks by chanted spells to follow me, or to charm by speaking whom
I would, I had resorted to it. But as it is, I'll bring my tears-the
only art I know; for that I might attempt. And about thy knees, in
suppliant wise, I twine my limbs these limbs thy wife here bore. Destroy
me not before my time, for sweet is to look upon the light, and force
me not to visit scenes below. I was the first to call thee father,
thou the first to call me child; the first was I to sit upon thy knee
and give and take the fond caress. And this was what thou then wouldst
say, "Shall I see thee, my child, living a happy prosperous life in
a husband's home one day, in a manner worthy of myself?" And I in
my turn would ask, as I hung about thy beard, whereto I now am clinging,
"How shall I see thee? Shall I be giving thee a glad reception in
my halls, father, in thy old age, repaying all thy anxious care in
rearing me?
I remember all we said, 'tis thou who hast forgotten and now wouldst
take my life. By Pelops, I entreat thee spare me, by thy father Atreus
and my mother here, who suffers now a second time the pangs she felt
before when bearing me! What have I to do with the marriage of Paris
and Helen? why is his coming to prove my ruin, father? Look upon me;
one glance, one kiss bestow, that this at least I may carry to my
death as a memorial of thee, though thou heed not my pleading. (Holding
up the babe to ORESTES)
Feeble ally though thou art, brother, to
thy loved ones, yet add thy tears to mine and entreat our father for
thy sister's life; even in babes there is a natural sense of ill.
O father, see this speechless supplication made to thee; pity me;
have mercy on my tender years! Yea, by thy beard we two fond hearts
implore thy pity, the one a babe, a full-grown maid the other. By
summing all my pleas in one, I will prevail in what I say. To gaze
upon yon light is man's most cherished gift; that life below is nothingness,
and whoso longs for death is mad. Better live a life of woe than die
a death of glory!
CHORUS Ah, wretched Helen! Awful the struggle that has come to the
sons of Atreus and their children, thanks to thee and those marriages
of thine.
AGAMEMNON While loving my own children, I yet understand what should
move my pity and what should not; I were a madman else. 'Tis terrible
for me to bring myself to this, nor less terrible is it to refuse,
daughter; for I must fare the same. Ye see the vastness of von naval
host, and the numbers of bronze clad warriors from Hellas, who can
neither make their way to Ilium's towers nor raze the far-famed citadel
of Troy, unless I offer thee according to the word of Calchas the
seer. Some mad desire possesses the host of Hellas to sail forthwith
to the land of the barbarians, and put a stop to the rape of wives
from Hellas, and they will slay my daughters in Argos as well as you
and me, if I disregard the goddess's behests. It is not Menelaus who
hath enslaved me to him, child, nor have I followed wish of his; nay,
'tis Hellas, for whom I must sacrifice thee whether I will or no;
to this necessity I bow my head; for her freedom must be preserved,
as far as any help of thine, daughter, or mine can go; nor must they,
who are the sons Hellas, be pillaged of their wives by barbarian robbery.
AGAMEMNON rushes from the stage,
CLYTAEMNESTRA My child Ye stranger ladies!
Woe is me for this thy death! Thy father flies, surrendering thee
to Hades.
IPHIGENIA Woe is me, O mother mine! for the same strain hath fallen
to both of us in our fortune. No more for me the light of day! no
more the beams of yonder sun! Woe for that snow-beat glen in Phrygia
and the hills of Ida, where Priam once exposed a tender babe, torn
from his mother's arms to meet a deadly doom, e'en Paris, called the
child of Ida in the Phrygians' town. Would Priam ne'er had settled

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