Iphigenia At Aulis
CLYTAEMNESTRA Wilt thou really fight them single-handed?
ACHILLES Dost see these warriors here, carrying my arms?
CLYTAEMNESTRA Bless thee for thy kind intent!
ACHILLES Well, I shall be blessed.
CLYTAEMNESTRA Then my child will not be slaughtered now?
ACHILLES No, not with my consent at any rate.
CLYTAEMNESTRA But will any of them come to lay hands on the maid?
ACHILLES Thousands of them, with Odysseus at their head.
CLYTAEMNESTRA The son of Sisyphus?
ACHILLES The very same.
CLYTAEMNESTRA Acting for himself or by the army's order?
ACHILLES By their choice-and his own.
CLYTAEMNESTRA An evil choice indeed, to stain his hands in blood!
ACHILLES But I will hold him back.
CLYTAEMNESTRA Will he seize and bear her hence against her will?
ACHILLES Aye, by her golden hair no doubt.
CLYTAEMNESTRA What must I do, when it comes to that?
ACHILLES Keep hold of thy daughter.
CLYTAEMNESTRA Be sure that she shall not be slain, as far as that
can help her.
ACHILLES Believe me, it will come to this.
IPHIGENIA Mother, hear me while I speak, for I see that thou art
wroth with thy husband to no purpose; 'tis hard for us to persist
in impossibilities. Our thanks are due to this stranger for his ready
help; but thou must also see to it that he is not reproached by the
army, leaving us no better off and himself involved in trouble. Listen,
mother; hear what thoughts have passed across my mind. I am resolved
to die; and this I fain would do with honour, dismissing from me what
is mean. Towards this now, mother, turn thy thoughts, and with me
weigh how well I speak; to me the whole of mighty Hellas looks; on
me the passage o'er the sea depends; on me the sack of Troy; and in
my power it lies to check henceforth barbarian raids on happy Hellas,
if ever in the days to come they seek to seize her daughters, when
once they have atoned by death for the violation of Helen's marriage
by Paris. All this deliverance will my death insure, and my fame for
setting Hellas free will be a happy one. Besides, I have no right
at all to cling too fondly to my life; for thou didst not bear me
for myself alone, but as a public blessing to all Hellas. What! shall
countless warriors, armed with shields, those myriads sitting at the
oar, find courage to attack the foe and die for Hellas, because their
fatherland is wronged, and my one life prevent all this? What kind
of justice is that? could I find a word in answer? Now turn we to
that other point. It is not right that this man should enter the lists
with all Argos or be slain fox a woman's sake. Better a single man
should see the light than ten thousand women. If Artemis is minded
to take this body, am I, a weak mortal, to thwart the goddess? Nay,
that were impossible. To Hellas I resign it; offer this sacrifice
and make an utter end of Troy. This is my enduring monument; marriage,
motherhood, and fame-all these is it to me. And it is but right, mother,
that Hellenes should rule barbarians, but not barbarians Hellenes,
those being slaves, while these are free.
CHORUS Thou playest a noble part, maiden; but sickly are the whims
of Fate and the goddess.
ACHILLES Daughter of Agamemnon I some god was bent on blessing me,
could I but have won thee for my wife. In thee I reckon Hellas happy,
and thee in Hellas; for this that thou hast said is good and worthy
of thy fatherland; since thou, abandoning a strife with heavenly powers,
which are too strong for thee, has fairly weighed advantages and needs.
But now that I have looked into thy noble nature, I feel still more
a fond desire to win thee for my bride. Look to it; for I would fain
serve thee and receive thee in my halls; and witness Thetis, how I
grieve to think I shall not save thy life by doing battle with the
Danai. Reflect, I say; a dreadful ill is death.
IPHIGENIA This I say, without regard to anyone. Enough that the daughter