Iphigenia in Tauris
I hold my dreary, joyless seat,
Far distant from my native land,
Nor nuptial bed is mine, nor child, nor friend.
At Argos now no more I raise
The festal song in Juno's praise;
Nor o'er the loom sweet-sounding bend,
As the creative shuttle flies;
Give forms of Titans fierce to rise;
And, dreadful with her purple spear,
Image Athenian Pallas there:
But on this barbarous shore
The unhappy stranger's fate I moan,
The ruthless altar stain'd with gore,
His deep and dying groan;
And, for each tear that weeps his woes,
From me a tear of pity flows.
Of these the sad remembrance now must sleep:
A brother dead, ah me! I weep:
At Argos him, by fate oppress'd,
I left an infant at the breast,
A beauteous bud, whose opening charms
Then blossom'd in his mother's arms;
Orestes, born to high command,
The imperial sceptre of the Argive land.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS Leaving the sea-wash'd shore a herdsman comes
Speeding, with some fresh tidings to thee fraught. (A HERDSMAN enters.)
HERDSMAN Daughter of Agamemnon, and bright gem
Of Clytemnestra, hear strange things from me.
IPHIGENIA And what of terror doth thy tale import?
HERDSMAN Two youths, swift-rowing 'twixt the clashing rocks
Of our wild sea, are landed on the beach,
A grateful offering at Diana's shrine,
And victims to the goddess. Haste, prepare
The sacred lavers, and the previous rites.
IPHIGENIA Whence are the strangers? from what country named?
HERDSMAN From Greece: this only, nothing more, I know.
IPHIGENIA Didst thou not hear what names the strangers bear?
HERDSMAN One by the other was call'd Pylades.
IPHIGENIA How is the stranger, his companion, named?
HERDSMAN This none of us can tell: we heard it not.
IPHIGENIA How saw you them? how seized them? by what chance?
HERDSMAN Mid the rude cliffs that o'er the Euxine hang-
IPHIGENIA And what concern have herdsmen with the sea?
HERDSMAN To wash our herds in the salt wave we came.
IPHIGENIA To what I ask'd return: how seized you them?
Tell me the manner; this I wish to know:
For slow the victims come, nor hath some while
The altar of the goddess, as was wont,
Been crimson'd with the streams of Grecian blood.
HERDSMAN Our herds, which in the forest feed, we drove
Amid the tide that rushes to the shore,
'Twixt the Symplegades: it was the place,
Where in the rifted rock the chafing surge
Hath hallow'd a rude cave, the haunt of those
Whose quest is purple. Of our number there
A herdsman saw two youths, and back return'd
With soft and silent step; then pointing, said,
"Do you not see them? These are deities
That sit there." One, who with religious awe
Revered the gods, with hands uplifted pray'd,
His eyes fix'd on them,-"Son of the sea-nymph
Leucothoe, guardian of the labouring bark,
Our lord Palaemon, be propitious to us!
Or sit you on our shores, bright sons of Jove,