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Iphigenia in Tauris   


Lay levell'd by the conquering foe;
And, to their spears a prey, their oars
Brought me to these barbaric shores!
For gold exchanged, a traffic base,
No vulgar slave, the task is mine,
Here at Diana's awful shrine,
Who loves the woodland hind to chase,
The virgin priestess to attend,
Daughter of rich Mycenae's lord;
At other shrines her wish to bend,
Where bleeds the victim less abhorr'd:
No respite to her griefs she knows;
Not so the heart inured to woes,
As train'd to sorrow's rigid lore:
Now comes a change; it mourns no more:
But lo long bliss when ill succeeds,
The anguish'd heart for ever bleeds.
(strophe 2)
Thee, loved virgin, freed from fear
Home the Argive bark shall bear:
Mountain Pan, with thrilling strain,
To the oars that dash the main
In just cadence well agreed,
Shall accord his wax-join'd reed:
Phoebus, with a prophet's fire
Sweeping o'er his seven-string'd lyre,
And his voice attuning high
To the swelling harmony,
Thee shall guide the wild waves o'er
To the soft Athenian shore.
Leaving me, thy oars shall sweep
Eager o'er the foaming deep:
Thou shalt catch the rising gales
Swelling in thy firm-bound sails;
And thy bark in gallant pride
Light shall o'er the billows glide.
(antistrophe 2)
Might I through the lucid air
Fly where rolls yon flaming car,
O'er those loved and modest bowers,
Where I pass'd my youthful hours,
I would stay my weary flight,
Wave no more my pennons light,
But, amid the virgin band,
Once my loved companions, stand:
Once mid them my charms could move,
Blooming then, the flames of love;
When the mazy dance I trod,
While with joy my mother glow'd;
When to vie in grace was mine,
And in splendid robes to shine;
For, with radiant tints impress'd,
Glow'd for me the gorgeous vest;
And these tresses gave new grace,
As their ringlets shade my face. (THOAS and his retinue enter.)
THOAS Where is the Grecian lady, to whose charge
This temple is committed? Have her rites
Hallow'd the strangers? Do their bodies burn
In the recesses of the sacred shrine?
LEADER OF THE CHORUS She comes, and will inform thee, king, of all.
(IPHIGENIA comes out of the temple. She is carrying the sacred statue
of Diana.)

THOAS Daughter of Agamemnon, what means this?
The statue of the goddess in thine arms

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