Iphigenia in Tauris
IPHIGENIA Wilt thou not say a native of what state?
ORESTES The question naught avails, since I must die.
IPHIGENIA What hinders thee from granting me this grace?
ORESTES The illustrious Argos I my country boast.
IPHIGENIA By the gods, stranger, is thy birth from thence?
ORESTES My birth is from Mycenae, once the bless'd.
IPHIGENIA Dost thou an exile fly, or by what fate?
ORESTES Of my free will, in part not free, I fly.
IPHIGENIA Wilt thou then tell me what I wish to know?
ORESTES Whate'er is foreign to my private griefs.
IPHIGENIA To my dear wish from Argos art thou come.
ORESTES Not to my wish; but if to thine, enjoy it.
IPHIGENIA Troy, whose fame spreads so wide, perchance thou know'st.
ORESTES O that I ne'er had known her, ev'n in dreams!
IPHIGENIA They say she is no more, by war destroy'd.
ORESTES It is so: you have heard no false reports.
IPHIGENIA Is Helena with Menelaus return'd?
ORESTES She is; and one I love her coming rues.
IPHIGENIA Where is she? Me too she of old hath wrong'd.
ORESTES At Sparta with her former lord she dwells.
IPHIGENIA By Greece, and not by me alone abhorr'd!
ORESTES I from her nuptials have my share of grief.
IPHIGENIA And are the Greeks, as Fame reports, return'd?
ORESTES How briefly all things dost thou ask at once!
IPHIGENIA This favour, ere thou die, I wish to obtain.
ORESTES Ask, then: since such thy wish, I will inform thee.
IPHIGENIA Calchas, a prophet,-came he back from Troy?
ORESTES He perish'd at Mycenae such the fame.
IPHIGENIA Goddess revered! But doth Ulysses live?
ORESTES He lives, they say, but is not yet return'd.
IPHIGENIA Perish the wretch, nor see his country more!
ORESTES Wish him not ill, for all with him is ill.
IPHIGENIA But doth the son of sea-born Thetis live?
ORESTES He lives not: vain his nuptial rites at Aulis.
IPHIGENIA That all was fraud, as those who felt it say.
ORESTES But who art thou, inquiring thus of Greece?
IPHIGENIA I am from thence, in early youth undone.
ORESTES Thou hast a right to inquire what there hath pass'd.
IPHIGENIA What know'st thou of the chief, men call the bless'd?
ORESTES Who? Of the bless'd was not the chief I knew.
IPHIGENIA The royal Agamemnon, son of Atreus.
ORESTES Of him I know not, lady; cease to ask.
IPHIGENIA Nay, by the gods, tell me, and cheer my soul.
ORESTES He's dead, the unhappy chief: no single ill.
IPHIGENIA Dead! By what adverse fate? O wretched me!
ORESTES Why mourn for this? How doth it touch thy breast?
IPHIGENIA The glories of his former state I mourn.
ORESTES Dreadfully murdered by a woman's hand.
IPHIGENIA How wretched she that slew him, he thus slain!
ORESTES Now then forbear: of him inquire no more.
IPHIGENIA This only: lives the unhappy monarch's wife?
ORESTES She, lady, is no more, slain by her son.
IPHIGENIA Alas, the ruin'd house! What his intent?
ORESTES To avenge on her his noble father slain.
IPHIGENIA An ill, but righteous deed, how justly done!
ORESTES Though righteous, by the gods be is not bless'd.
IPHIGENIA Hath Agamemnon other offspring left?
ORESTES He left one virgin daughter, named Electra.
IPHIGENIA Of her that died a victim is aught said?
ORESTES This only, dead, she sees the light no more.
IPHIGENIA Unhappy she! the father too who slew her!
ORESTES For a bad woman she unseemly died.
IPHIGENIA At Argos lives the murdered father's son?
ORESTES Nowhere he lives, poor wretch! and everywhere.