Iphigenia in Tauris
Drives from her altars; yet herself delights
In human victims bleeding at her shrine.
Ne'er did Latona from the embrace of Jove
Bring forth such inconsistence: I then deem
The feast of Tantalus, where gods were guests,
Unworthy of belief, as that they fed
On his son's flesh delighted; and I think
These people, who themselves have a wild joy
In shedding human blood, their savage guilt
Charge on the goddess: for this truth I hold;
None of the gods is evil, or doth wrong. (She enters the temple.)
CHORUS (singing, strophe 1)
Ye rocks, ye dashing rocks, whose brow
Frowns o'er the darken'd deeps below;
Whose wild, inhospitable wave,
From Argos flying and her native spring,
The virgin once was known to brave,
Tormented with the brize's maddening sting,
From Europe when the rude sea o'er
She pass'd to Asia's adverse shore;
Who are these hapless youths, that dare to land,
Leaving those soft, irriguous meads,
Where, his green margin fringed with reeds,
Eurotas rolls his ample tide,
Or Dirce's hallow'd waters glide,
And touch this barbarous, stranger-hating strand,
The altars where a virgin dews,
And blood the pillar'd shrine imbrues?
Did they with oars impetuous sweep
(Rank answering rank) the foamy deep,
And wing their bark with flying sails,
To raise their humble fortune their desire;
Eager to catch the rising gales,
Their bosoms with the love of gain on fire?
For sweet is hope to man's fond breast;
The hope of gain, insatiate guest,
Though on her oft attends Misfortune's train;
For daring man she tempts to brave
The dangers of the boisterous wave,
And leads him heedless of his fate
Through many a distant barbarous state.
Vain his opinions, his pursuits are vain!
Boundless o'er some her power is shown,
But some her temperate influence own.
How did they pass the dangerous rocks
Clashing with rude, tremendous shocks?
How pass the savage-howling shore,
Where once the unhappy Phineus held his reign,
And sleep affrighted flies its roar,
Steering their rough course o'er this boisterous main,
Form'd in a ring, beneath whose waves
The Nereid train in high arch'd caves
Weave the light dance, and raise the sprightly song,
While, whispering in their swelling sails,
Soft Zephyrs breathe, or southern gales
Piping amid their tackling play,
As their bark ploughs its watery way
Those hoary cliffs, the haunts of birds, along,
To that wild strand, the rapid race
Where once Achilles deign'd to grace?
O that from Troy some chance would bear