Iphigenia At Aulis
him, the herdsman reared amid the herds, beside that water crystal-clear,
where are fountains of the Nymphs and their meadow rich with blooming
flowers, where hyacinths and rose-buds blow for goddesses to gather!
Hither one day came Pallas and Cypris of the subtle heart, Hera too
and Hermes messenger of Zeus-Cypris, proud of the longing she causes;
Pallas of her prowess; and Hera of her royal marriage with king Zeus-to
decide a hateful strife about their beauty; but it is my death, maidens-fraught,
'tis true, with glory to the Danai-that Artemis has received as an
offering, before they begin the voyage to Ilium.
O mother, mother! he that begat me to this life of sorrow has gone
and left me all alone. Ah! woe is me! a bitter, bitter sight for me
was Helen, evil Helen! to me now doomed to bleed and die, slaughtered
by an impious sire.
I would this Aulis had never received in its havens here the sterns
of their bronze-beaked ships, the fleet which was speeding them to
Troy; and would that Zeus had never breathed on the Euripus a wind
to stop the expedition, tempering, as he doth, a different breeze
to different men, so that some have joy in setting sail, and sorrow
some, and others hard constraint, to make some start and others stay
and others furl their sails! Full of trouble then, it seems, is the
race of mortals, full of trouble verily; and 'tis ever Fate's decree
that man should find distress.
Woe! woe to thee, thou child of Tyndareus, for the suffering and anguish
sore, which thou art causing the Danai!
CHORUS I pity thee for thy cruel fate-a fate I would thou ne'er hadst
IPHIGENIA O mother that bare me! I see a throng of men approaching.
CLYTAEMNESTRA It is the goddess-born thou seest, child, for whom
thou camest hither.
IPHIGENIA (Calling into the tent) Open the tent-door to me, servants,
that I may hide myself.
CLYTAEMNESTRA Why seek to fly, my child?
IPHIGENIA I am ashamed to face Achilles.
IPHIGENIA The luckless ending to our marriage causes me to feel abashed.
CLYTAEMNESTRA No time for affectation now in face of what has chanced.
Stay then; reserve will do no good, if only we can- (Enter ACHILLES.)
ACHILLES Daughter of Leda, lady of sorrows!
CLYTAEMNESTRA No misnomer that.
ACHILLES A fearful cry is heard among the Argives.
CLYTAEMNESTRA What is it? tell me.
ACHILLES It concerns thy child.
CLYTAEMNESTRA An evil omen for thy words.
ACHILLES They say her sacrifice is necessary.
CLYTAEMNESTRA And is there no one to say a word against them?
ACHILLES Indeed I was in some danger myself from the tumult.
CLYTAEMNESTRA In danger of what? kind sir.
ACHILLES Of being stoned.
CLYTAEMNESTRA Surely not for trying to save my daughter?
ACHILLES The very reason.
CLYTAEMNESTRA Who would have dared to lay a finger on thee?
ACHILLES The men of Hellas, one and all.
CLYTAEMNESTRA Were not thy Myrmidon warriors at thy side?
ACHILLES They were the first who turned against me.
CLYTAEMNESTRA My child! we are lost, undone, it seems.
ACHILLES They taunted me as the man whom marriage had enslaved.
CLYTAEMNESTRA And what didst thou answer them?
ACHILLES I craved the life of her I meant to wed-
CLYTAEMNESTRA Justly so.
ACHILLES The wife her father promised me.
CLYTAEMNESTRA Aye, and sent to fetch from Argos.
ACHILLES But I was overcome by clamorous cries.
CLYTAEMNESTRA Truly the mob is a dire mischief.
ACHILLES But I will help thee for all that.