Iphigenia in Tauris
Permits (since thou from Argos draw'st thy birth,)
No grace will I omit: for in the tomb
I will place much of ornament, and pour
The dulcet labour of the yellow bee,
From mountain flowers extracted, on thy pyre.
But I will go, and from the temple bring
The letter; yet 'gainst me no hostile thought
Conceive. You, that attend here, guard them well,
But without chains. To one, whom most I love
Of all my friends, to Argos I shall send
Tidings perchance unlook'd for; and this letter,
Declaring those whom he thought dead alive,
Shall bear him an assured and solid joy. (She enters the temple.)
CHORUS (chanting) Thee, o'er whose limbs the bloody drops shall
Be from the lavers sprinkled, I lament.
ORESTES This asks no pity, strangers: but farewell.
CHORUS (chanting) Thee for thy happy fate we reverence, youth
Who to thy country shall again return.
PYLADES To friends unwish'd, who leave their friends to die.
CHORUS (chanting) Painful dismission! Which shall I esteem
Most lost, alas, alas! which most undone?
For doubts my wavering judgment yet divide,
If chief for thee my sighs should swell, or thee.
ORESTES By the gods, Pylades, is thy mind touch'd
In manner like as mine?
PYLADES I cannot tell;
Nor to thy question have I to reply.
ORESTES Who is this virgin? With what zeal for Greece
Made she inquiries of us what the toils
At Troy, if yet the Grecians were return'd,
And Calchas, from the flight of birds who form'd
Presages of the future. And she named
Achilles: with what tenderness bewail'd
The unhappy Agamemnon! Of his wife
She ask'd me,-of his children: thence her race
This unknown virgin draws, an Argive; else
Ne'er would she send this letter, nor have wish'd
To know these things, as if she bore a share
(If Argos flourish) in its prosperous state.
PYLADES Such were my thoughts (but thou hast given them words, Preventing
me) of every circumstance,
Save one: the fate of kings all know, whose state
Holds aught of rank. But pass to other thoughts.
ORESTES What? Share them; so thou best mayst be inform'd.
PYLADES That thou shouldst die, and I behold this light,
Were base: with thee I sail'd, with thee to die
Becomes me; else shall I obtain the name
Of a vile coward through the Argive state,
And the deep vales of Phocis. Most will think
(For most think ill) that by betraying the
I saved myself, home to return alone;
Or haply that I slew thee, and thy death
Contrived, that in the ruin of thy house
Thy empire I might grasp, to me devolved
As wedded to thy sister, now sole heir.
These things I fear, and hold them infamous.
Behooves me then with thee to die, with the
To bleed a victim, on the pyre with thine
To give my body to the flames; for this
Becomes me as thy friend. who dreads reproach.
ORESTES Speak more auspicious words: 'tis mine to bear
Ills that are mine; and single when the wo,
I would not bear it double. What thou say'st