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Iphigenia in Tauris   


I might appease the vengeful powers, whose names
May not be utter'd: the tribunal there
Is holy, which for Mars, when stain'd with blood,
Jove in old times establish'd. There arrived,
None willingly received me, by the gods
As one abhorr'd; and they, who felt the touch
Of shame, the hospitable board alone
Yielded; and though one common roof beneath,
Their silence showing they disdain'd to hold
Converse with me, I took from them apart
A lone repast; to each was placed a bowl
Of the same measure; this they filled with wine,
And bathed their spirits in delight. Unmeet
I deem'd it to express offence at those
Who entertain'd me, but in silence grieved,
Showing a cheer as though I mark'd it not,
And sigh'd for that I shed my mother's blood.
A feast, I hear, at Athens is ordain'd
From this my evil plight, ev'n yet observed,
In which the equal-measured bowl then used
Is by that people held in honour high.
But when to the tribunal on the mount
Of Mars I came, one stand I took, and one
The eldest of the Furies opposite:
The cause was heard touching my mother's blood,
And Phoebus saved me by his evidence:
Equal, by Pallas number'd, were the votes
And I from doom of blood victorious freed
Such of the Furies as there sat, appeased
By the just sentence, nigh the court resolved
To fix their seat; but others, whom the law
Appeased not, with relentless tortures still
Pursued me, till I reach'd the hallow'd soil
Of Phoebus: stretch'd before his shrine, I swore
Foodless to waste my wretched life away,
Unless the god, by whom I was undone,
Would save me: from the golden tripod burst
The voice divine, and sent me to this shore,
Commanding me to bear the image hence,
Which fell from Jove, and in the Athenian land
To fix it. What the oracular voice assign'd
My safety, do thou aid: if we obtain
The statue of the goddess, I no more
With madness shall be tortured, but this arm
Shall place thee in my bark, which ploughs the waves
With many an oar, and to Mycenae safe
Bear thee again. Show then a sister's love,
O thou most dear; preserve thy father's house,
Preserve me too; for me destruction waits,
And all the race of Pelops, if we bear not
This heaven-descended image from the shrine.
LEADER The anger of the gods hath raged severe,
And plunged the race of Tantalus in woes.
IPHIGENIA Ere thy arrival here, a fond desire
To be again at Argos, and to see
Thee, my loved brother, fill'd my soul. Thy wish
Is my warm wish, to free thee from thy toils,
And from its ruins raise my father's house;
Nor harbour I 'gainst him, that slew me, thought
Of harsh resentment: from thy blood my hands
Would I keep pure, thy house I would preserve.
But from the goddess how may this be hid?
The tyrant too I fear, when he shall find
The statue on its marble base no more.

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