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Iphigenia in Tauris   


The victims of the goddess: scarce at length,
Not by brave daring seized we them, but round
We closed upon them, and their swords with stones
Beat, wily, from their hands; for on their knees
They through fatigue had sunk upon the ground:
We bare them to the monarch of this land:
He view'd them, and without delay to the
Sent them devoted to the cleansing vase,
And to the altar. Victims such as these,
O virgin, wish to find; for if such youths
Thou offer, for thy slaughter Greece will pay,
Her wrongs to thee at Aulis well avenged.
LEADER These things are wonderful, which thou hast told
Of him, whoe'er he be, the youth from Greece
Arrived on this inhospitable shore.
IPHIGENIA 'Tis well: go thou, and bring the strangers hither:
What here is to be done shall be our care. (The HERDSMAN departs.)
O my unhappy heart! before this hour
To strangers thou wast gentle, always touch'd
With pity, and with tears their tears repaid,
When Grecians, natives of my country, came
Into my hands: but from the dreams, which prompt
To deeds ungentle, showing that no more
Orestes views the sun's fair light, whoe'er
Ye are that hither come, me will you find
Relentless now. This is the truth, my friends:
My heart is rent; and never will the wretch,
Who feels affliction's cruel tortures, bear
Good-will to those that are more fortunate.
Never came gale from Jove, nor flying bark,
Which 'twixt the dangerous rocks of the Euxine sea
Brought Helen hither, who my ruin wrought,
Nor Menelaus; that on them my foul wrongs
I might repay, and with an Aulis here
Requite the Aulis there, where I was seized,
And, as a heifer, by the Grecians slain:
My father too, who gave me birth, was priest.
Ah me! the sad remembrance of those ills
Yet lives: how often did I stroke thy cheek,
And, hanging on thy knees, address thee thus:-
"Alas, my father! I by thee am led
A bride to bridal rites unbless'd and base:
Them, while by thee I bleed, my mother hymns,
And the Argive dames, with hymeneal strains,
And with the jocund pipe the house resounds:
But at the altar I by thee am slain;
For Pluto was the Achilles, not the son
Of Peleus, whom to me thou didst announce
The affianced bridegroom, and by guile didst bring
To bloody nuptials in the rolling car."
But, o'er mine eyes the veil's fine texture spread,
This brother in my hands who now is lost,
I clasp'd not, though his sister; did not press
My lips to his, through virgin modesty,
As going to the house of Peleus: then
Each fond embrace I to another time
Deferr'd, as soon to Argos to return.
If, O unhappy brother, thou art dead,
From what a state, thy father's envied height
Of glory, loved Orestes, art thou torn!-
These false rules of the goddess much I blame:
Whoe'er of mortals is with slaughter stain'd,
Or hath at childbirth given assisting hands,
Or chanced to touch aught dead, she as impure

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