Iphigenia in Tauris
IPHIGENIA False dreams, farewell; for nothing you import.
ORESTES Nor are those gods, that have the name of wise,
Less false than fleeting dreams. In things divine,
And in things human, great confusion reigns.
One thing is left; that, not unwise of soul,
Obedient to the prophet's voice he perish'd;
For that he perish'd, they who know report.
LEADER What shall we know, what of our parents know?
If yet they live or not, who can inform us?
IPHIGENIA Hear me: this converse prompts a thought, which gives
Promise of good, ye youths of Greece, to you,
To these, and me: thus may it well be done,
If, willing to my purpose, all assent.
Wilt thou, if I shall save thee, go for me
A messenger to Argos, to my friends
Charged with a letter, which a captive wrote,
Who pitied me, nor murderous thought my hand,
But that he died beneath the law, these rites
The goddess deeming just? for from that hour
I have not found who might to Argos bear
Himself my message, back with life return'd,
Or send to any of my friends my letter.
Thou, therefore, since it seems thou dost not bear
Ill-will to me, and dost Mycenae know,
And those I wish to address, be safe, and live,
No base reward for a light letter, life
Receiving; and let him, since thus the state
Requires, without thee to the goddess bleed.
ORESTES Virgin unknown, well hast thou said in all
Save this, that to the goddess he should bleed
A victim; that were heavy grief indeed.
I steer'd the vessel to these ills; he sail'd
Attendant on my toils: to gain thy grace
By his destruction, and withdraw myself
From sufferings, were unjust: thus let it be:
Give him the letter; to fulfil thy wish,
To Argos he will bear it: me let him
Who claims that office, slay: base is his soul,
Who in calamities involves his friends,
And saves himself; this is a friend, whose life,
Dear to me as my own, I would preserve.
IPHIGENIA Excellent spirit! from some noble root
It shows thee sprung, and to thy friends a friend
Sincere; of those that share my blood if one
Remains, such may he be! for I am not
Without a brother, strangers, from my sight
Though distant now. Since then thy wish is such,
Him will I send to Argos; he shall bear
My letter; thou shalt die; for this desire
Hath strong possession of thy noble soul.
ORESTES Who then shall do the dreadful deed, and slay me?
IPHIGENIA I: to atone the goddess is my charge.
ORESTES A charge unenvied, virgin, and unbless'd.
IPHIGENIA Necessity constrains: I must obey.
ORESTES Wilt thou, a woman, plunge the sword in men?
IPHIGENIA No: but thy locks to sprinkle round is mine.
ORESTES Whose then, if I may ask, the bloody deed?
IPHIGENIA To some within the temple this belongs.
ORESTES What tomb is destined to receive my corse?
IPHIGENIA The hallow'd fire within, and a dark cave.
ORESTES O, that a sister's hand might wrap these limbs!
IPHIGENIA Vain wish, unhappy youth, whoe'er thou art,
Hast thou conceived; for from this barbarous land
Far is her dwelling. Yet, of what my power