Iphigenia in Tauris
What then from death will save me? What excuse
Shall I devise? Yet by one daring deed
Might these things be achieved: couldst thou bear hence
The image, me too in thy gallant bark
Placing secure, how glorious were the attempt!
Me if thou join not with thee, I am lost
Indeed; but thou, with prudent measures form'd,
Return. I fly no danger, not ev'n death,
Be death required, to save thee: no: the man
Dying is mourn'd, as to his house a loss;
But woman's weakness is of light esteem.
ORESTES I would not be the murderer of my mother,
And of thee too; sufficient is her blood.
No; I will share thy fortune, live with thee,
Or with thee die: to Argos I will lead thee,
If here I perish not; or dying, here
Remain with thee. But what my mind suggests,
Hear: if Diana were averse to this,
How could the voice of Phoebus from his shrine
Declare that to the state of Pallas hence
The statue of the goddess I should bear,
And see thy face? All this, together weigh'd,
Gives hope of fair success, and our return.
IPHIGENIA But how effect it, that we neither die,
And what we wish achieve? For our return
On this depends: this claims deliberate thought.
ORESTES Have we not means to work the tyrant's death?
IPHIGENIA For strangers full of peril were the attempt.
ORESTES Thee would it save and me, it must be dared.
IPHIGENIA I could not: yet thy promptness I approve.
ORESTES What if thou lodge me in the shrine conceal'd?
IPHIGENIA That in the shades of night we may escape?
ORESTES Night is a friend to frauds, the light to truth.
IPHIGENIA Within are sacred guards; we 'scape not them.
ORESTES Ruin then waits us: how can we be saved?
IPHIGENIA I think I have some new and safe device.
ORESTES What is it? Let me know: impart thy thought,
IPHIGENIA Thy sufferings for my purpose I will use,-
ORESTES To form devices quick is woman's wit.
IPHIGENIA And say, thy mother slain, thou fledd'st from Argos.
ORESTES If to aught good, avail thee of my ills.
IPHIGENIA Unmeet then at this shrine to offer thee.
ORESTES What cause alleged? I reach not thine intent.
IPHIGENIA As now impure: when hallow'd, I will slay thee.
ORESTES How is the image thus more promptly gain'd?
IPHIGENIA Thee I will hallow in the ocean waves.
ORESTES The statue we would gain is in the temple.
IPHIGENIA That, by thy touch polluted, I would cleanse.
ORESTES Where? On the watery margin of the main?
IPHIGENIA Where thy tall bark secured with cables rides.
ORESTES And who shall bear the image in his hands?
IPHIGENIA Myself; profaned by any touch, but mine.
ORESTES What of this blood shall on my friend be charged?
IPHIGENIA His hands, it shall be said, like thine are stain'd.
ORESTES In secret this, or to the king disclosed?
IPHIGENIA With his assent; I cannot hide it from him.
ORESTES My bark with ready oars attends thee near.
IPHIGENIA That all be well appointed, be thy charge.
ORESTES One thing alone remains; that these conceal
Our purpose: but address them, teach thy tongue
Persuasive words: a woman hath the power
To melt the heart to pity: thus perchance
All things may to our warmest wish succeed.
IPHIGENIA Ye train of females, to my soul most dear,