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Iphigenia in Tauris   


Castor and Pollux? Or the glorious boast
Of Nereus, father of the noble choir
Of fifty Nereids?" One, whose untaught mind
Audacious folly harden'd 'gainst the sense
Of holy awe, scoff'd at his prayers, and said,-
"These are wreck'd mariners, that take their seat
In the cleft rock through fear, as they have heard
Our prescribed rite, that here we sacrifice
The stranger." To the greater part he seem'd
Well to have spoken, and we judged it meet
To seize the victims, by our country's law
Due to the goddess. Of the stranger youths,
One at this instant started from the rock:
Awhile he stood, and wildly toss'd his head,
And groan'd, his loose arms trembling all their length,
Convulsed with madness; and a hunter loud
Then cried,-"Dost thou behold her, Pylades?
Dost thou not see this dragon fierce from hell
Rushing to kill me, and against me rousing
Her horrid vipers? See this other here,
Emitting fire and slaughter from her vests,
Sails on her wings, my mother in her arms
Bearing, to hurl this mass of rock upon me!
Ah, she will kill me! Whither shall I fly?"
His visage might we see no more the same,
And his voice varied; now the roar of bulls,
The howl of dogs now uttering, mimic sounds
Sent by the maddening Furies, as they say.
Together thronging, as of death assured,
We sit in silence; but he drew his sword,
And, like a lion rushing mid our herds,
Plunged in their sides the weapon, weening thus
To drive the Furies, till the briny wave
Foam'd with their blood. But when among our herds
We saw this havoc made, we all 'gan rouse
To arms, and blew our sounding shells to alarm
The neighbouring peasants; for we thought in fight
Rude herdsmen to these youthful strangers, train'd
To arms, ill match'd; and forthwith to our aid
Flock'd numbers. But, his frenzy of its force
Abating, on the earth the stranger falls,
Foam bursting from his mouth: but when he saw
The advantage, each adventured on and hurl'd
What might annoy him fallen: the other youth
Wiped off the foam, took of his person care,
His fine-wrought robe spread over him; with heed
The flying stones observing, warded of
The wounds, and each kind office to his friend
Attentively perform'd. His sense return'd;
The stranger started up, and soon perceived
The tide of foes that roll'd impetuous on,
The danger and distress that closed them round.
He heaved a sigh; an unremitting storm
Of stones we pour'd, and each incited each:
Then we his dreadful exhortation heard:-
"Pylades, we shall die; but let us die
With glory: draw thy sword, and follow me."
But when we saw the enemies advance
With brandish'd swords, the steep heights crown'd with wood
We fell in flight: but others, if one flies,
Press on them; if again they drive these back,
What before fled turns, with a storm of stones
Assaulting them; but, what exceeds belief,
Hurl'd by a thousand hands, not one could hit

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