Iphigenia in Tauris
PYLADES Well, to thy friends this letter I will give.
IPHIGENIA Thee will I send safe through the darkening rocks.
PYLADES What god dost thou invoke to attest thy oath?
IPHIGENIA Diana, at whose shrine high charge I hold.
PYLADES And I heaven's potent king, the awful Jove.
IPHIGENIA But if thou slight thy oath, and do me wrong?
PYLADES Never may I return. But if thou fail,
And save me not?
IPHIGENIA Then never, while I live,
May I revisit my loved Argos more!
PYLADES One thing, not mention'd, thy attention claims.
IPHIGENIA If honour owes it, this will touch us both.
PYLADES Let me in this be pardon'd, if the bark
Be lost, and with it in the surging waves
Thy letter perish, and I naked gain
The shore; no longer binding be the oath.
IPHIGENIA Know'st thou what I will do? For various ills
Arise to those that plough the dangerous deep.
What in this letter is contain'd, what here
Is written, all I will repeat to thee,
That thou mayst bear my message to my friends.
'Gainst danger thus I guard: if thou preserve
The letter, that though silent will declare
My purport; if it perish in the sea,
Saving thyself, my words too thou wilt save.
PYLADES Well hast thou said touching the gods and me.
Say then to whom at Argos shall I bear
This letter? What relate as heard from thee?
IPHIGENIA (reading) This message to Orestes, to the son
Of Agamemnon, bear:-She, who was slain
At Aulis, Iphigenia, sends thee this:
She lives, but not to those who then were there.
ORESTES Where is she? From the dead return'd to life?
IPHIGENIA She whom thou seest: but interrupt me not.
To Argos, O my brother, ere I die,
Bear me from this barbaric land, and far
Remove me from this altar's bloody rites,
At which to slay the stranger is my charge.-
ORESTES What shall I say? Where are we, Pylades?
IPHIGENIA Or on thy house for vengeance will I call,
Orestes. Twice repeated, learn the name.
ORESTES Ye gods!
IPHIGENIA In my cause why invoke the gods?
ORESTES Nothing: proceed: my thoughts were wandering wide:
Strange things of thee unask'd I soon shall learn.
IPHIGENIA Tell him the goddess saved me, in exchange
A hind presenting, which my father slew
A victim, deeming that he plunged his sword
Deep in my breast: me in this land she placed.
Thou hast my charge: and this my letter speaks.
PYLADES O, thou hast bound me with an easy oath:
What I have sworn with honest purpose, long
Defer I not, but thus discharge mine oath.
To thee a letter from thy sister, lo,
I bear, Orestes; and I give it thee. (PYLADES hands the letter to
ORESTES I do receive it, but forbear to unclose its foldings, greater
pleasure first to enjoy
Than words can give. My sister, O most dear,
Astonish'd ev'n to disbelief, I throw
Mine arms around thee with a fond embrace,
In transport at the wondrous things I hear.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS Stranger, thou dost not well with hands profane
Thus to pollute the priestess of the shrine,