Iphigenia in Tauris
Is vile and infamous, would light on me,
Should I cause thee to die, who in my toils
Hast borne a share: to me, who from the gods
Suffer afflictions which I suffer, death
Is not unwelcome: thou art happy, thine
An unpolluted and a prosperous house;
Mine impious and unbless'd: if thou art saved,
And from my sister (whom I gave to thee,
Betroth'd thy bride) art bless'd with sons, my name
May yet remain, nor all my father's house
In total ruin sink. Go then, and live:
Dwell in the mansion of thy ancestors:
And when thou comest to Greece, to Argos famed
For warrior-steeds, by this right hand I charge the
Raise a sepulchral mound, and on it place
A monument to me; and to my tomb
Her tears, her tresses let my sister give;
And say, that by an Argive woman's hand
I perish'd, to the altar's bloody rites
A hallow'd victim. Never let thy soul
Betray my sister, for thou seest her state,
Of friends how destitute, her father's house
How desolate. Farewell. Of all my friends,
Thee have I found most friendly, from my youth
Train'd up with me, in all my sylvan sports
Thou dear associate, and through many toils
Thou faithful partner of my miseries.
Me Phoebus, though a prophet, hath deceived,
And, meditating guile, hath driven me far
From Greece, of former oracles ashamed;
To him resign'd, obedient to his words,
I slew my mother, and my meed is death.
PYLADES Yes, I will raise thy tomb: thy sister's bed
I never will betray, unhappy youth,
For I will hold thee dearer when thou art dead,
Than while thou livest; nor hath yet the voice
Of Phoebus quite destroy'd thee, though thou stand
To sometimes mighty but sometimes mighty woes
Yield mighty changes, so when Fortune wills.
ORESTES Forbear: the words of Phoebus naught avail me;
For, passing from the shrine, the virgin comes. (IPHIGENIA enters
from the temple. She is carrying a letter.)
IPHIGENIA (to the guards) Go you away, and in the shrine prepare
What those, who o'er the rites preside, require. (The guards go into
the temple.) Here, strangers, is the letter folded close:
What I would further, hear. The mind of man
In dangers, and again, from fear relieved,
Of safety when assured, is not the same:
I therefore fear lest he, who should convey
To Argos this epistle, when return'd
Safe to his native country, will neglect
My letter, as a thing of little worth.
ORESTES What wouldst thou then? What is thy anxious thought?
IPHIGENIA This: let him give an oath that he will bear
To Argos this epistle to those friends,
To whom it is my ardent wish to send it.
ORESTES And wilt thou in return give him thy oath?
IPHIGENIA That I will do, or will not do, say what.
ORESTES To send him from this barbarous shore alive.
IPHIGENIA That's just: how should he bear my letter else?
ORESTES But will the monarch to these things assent?
IPHIGENIA By me induced. Him I will see embark'd.
ORESTES Swear then; and thou propose the righteous oath.
IPHIGENIA This, let him say, he to my friends will give.