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Iphigenia in Tauris   


Why dost thou bear, from its firm base removed?
IPHIGENIA There in the portal, monarch, stay thy step.
THOAS What of strange import in the shrine hath chanced?
IPHIGENIA Things ominous: that word I, holy, speak.
THOAS To what is tuned thy proem? Plainly speak.
IPHIGENIA Not pure the victims, king, you lately seized.
THOAS What showd thee this? Or speak'st thou but thy thought?
IPHIGENIA Back turn'd the sacred image on its base.
THOAS Spontaneous turn'd, or by an earthquake moved?
IPHIGENIA Spontaneous, and, averted, closed its eyes.
THOAS What was the cause? The blood-stain'd stranger's guilt?
IPHIGENIA That, and naught else; for horrible their deeds.
THOAS What, have they slain some Scythian on the shore?
IPHIGENIA They came polluted with domestic blood.
THOAS What blood? I have a strong desire to know.
IPHIGENIA They slew their mother with confederate swords.
THOAS O Phoebus! This hath no barbarian dared.
IPHIGENIA All Greece indignant chased them from her realms.
THOAS Bear'st thou for this the image from the shrine?
IPHIGENIA To the pure air, from stain of blood removed.
THOAS By what means didst thou know the stranger's guilt?
IPHIGENIA I learn'd it as the statue started back.
THOAS Greece train'd thee wise: this well hast thou discern'd.
IPHIGENIA Now with sweet blandishments they soothe my soul.
THOAS Some glozing tale from Argos telling thee?
IPHIGENIA I have one brother: he, they say, lives happy,-
THOAS That thou mayst save them for their pleasing news?
IPHIGENIA And that my father lives, by fortune bless'd.
THOAS But on the goddess well thy thoughts are turn'd.
IPHIGENIA I hate all Greece; for it hath ruin'd me.
THOAS What with the strangers, say then, should be done?
IPHIGENIA The law ordain'd in reverence we must hold.
THOAS Are then thy lavers ready, and the sword?
IPHIGENIA First I would cleanse them with ablutions pure.
THOAS In fountain waters, or the ocean wave?
IPHIGENIA All man's pollutions doth the salt sea cleanse.
THOAS More holy to the goddess will they bleed.
IPHIGENIA And better what I have in charge advance.
THOAS Doth not the wave ev'n 'gainst the temple beat?
IPHIGENIA This requires solitude: more must I do.
THOAS Lead where thou wilt: on secret rite I pry not.
IPHIGENIA The image of the goddess I must cleanse.
THOAS If it be stain'd with touch of mother's blood.
IPHIGENIA I could not else have borne it from its base.
THOAS Just is thy provident and pious thought;
For this by all the state thou art revered.
IPHIGENIA Know'st thou what next I would?
THOAS 'Tis thine thy will
To signify.
IPHIGENIA Give for these strangers chains.
THOAS To what place can they fly?
IPHIGENIA A Grecian knows
Naught faithful.
THOAS Of my train go some for chains. (Some attendants go out.)
IPHIGENIA Let them lead forth the strangers.
THOAS Be it so,
IPHIGENIA And veil their faces.
THOAS From the sun's bright beams?
IPHIGENIA Some of thy train send with me.
THOAS These shall go,
Attending thee.
IPHIGENIA One to the city send.
THOAS With what instructions charged?
IPHIGENIA That all remain

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