Iphigenia in Tauris
Leda's loved daughter, fatal fair
(The royal virgin's vows are mine)
That her bright tresses roll'd in crimson dew,
Her warm blood flowing at this shrine
The altar of the goddess might imbrue;
And Vengeance, righteous to repay
Her former mischiefs, seize her prey!
But with what rapture should I hear his voice,
If one this shore should reach from Greece,
And bid the toils of slavery cease!
Or might I in the hour of rest
With pleasing dreams of Greece be bless'd;
So in my house, my native land rejoice;
In sleep enjoy the pleasing strain
For happiness restored again (IPHIGENIA enters from the temple.)
IPHIGENIA But the two youths, their hands fast bound in chains,
The late-seized victims to the goddess, come.
Silence, my friends; for, destined at the shrine
To bleed, the Grecian strangers near approach;
And no false tidings did the herdsman bring.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS Goddess revered, if grateful to thy soul
This state presents such sacrifice, accept
The victims, which the custom of this land
Gives thee, but deem'd unholy by the Greeks. (Guards lead in ORESTES
and PYLADES, bound.)
IPHIGENIA No more; that to the goddess each due rite
Be well perform'd shall be my care. Unchain
The strangers' hands; that, hallow'd as they are,
They may no more be bound. (The guards release ORESTES and PYLADES.)
Go you, prepare
Within the temple what the rites require.
Unhappy youths, what mother brought you forth,
Your father who? Your sister, if perchance
Ye have a sister, of what youths deprived?
For brother she shall have no more. Who knows
Whom such misfortunes may attend? For dark
What the gods will creeps on; and none can tell
The ills to come: this fortune from the sight
Obscures. But, O unhappy strangers, say,
Whence came you? Sail'd you long since for this land?
But long will be your absence from your homes,
For ever, in the dreary realms below.
ORESTES Lady, whoe'er thou art, why for these things
Dost thou lament? why mourn for ills, which soon
Will fall on us? Him I esteem unwise,
Who, when he sees death near, tries to o'ercome
Its terrors with bewailings, without hope
Of safety: ill he adds to ill, and makes
His folly known, yet dies. We must give way
To fortune; therefore mourn not thou for us:
We know, we are acquainted with your rites.
IPHIGENIA Which of you by the name of Pylades
Is call'd? This first it is my wish to know.
ORESTES If aught of pleasure that may give thee, he.
IPHIGENIA A native of what Grecian state, declare.
ORESTES What profit knowing this wouldst thou obtain?
IPHIGENIA And are you brothers, of one mother born?
ORESTES Brothers by friendship, lady, not by birth.
IPHIGENIA To thee what name was by thy father given?
ORESTES With just cause I Unhappy might be call'd.
IPHIGENIA I ask not that; to fortune that ascribe.
ORESTES Dying unknown, rude scoffs I shall avoid.
IPHIGENIA Wilt thou refuse? Why are thy thoughts so high?
ORESTES My body thou mayst kill, but not my name.