Iphigenia in Tauris
By the laurel's branches made,
Where the enormous dragon lies,
Brass his scales, and flame his eyes,
Earth-born monster, that around
Rolling guards the oracular ground;
Him, while yet a sportive child,
In his mother's arms that smiled,
Phoebus slew, and seized the shrine
Whence proceeds the voice divine:
On the golden tripod placed,
Throne by falsehood ne'er disgraced,
Where Castalia's pure stream flows,
He the fates to mortal shows.
But when Themis, whom of yore
Earth, her fruitful mother, bore,
From her hallow'd seat he drove,
Earth to avenge her daughter strove,
Forming visions of the night,
Which, in rapt dreams hovering light,
All that Time's dark volumes hold
Might to mortal sense unfold,
When in midnight's sable shades
Sleep the silent couch invades:
Thus did Earth her vengeance boast.
His prophetic honours lost,
Royal Phoebus speeds his flight
To Olympus, on whose height
At the throne of Jove he stands,
Stretching forth his little hands,
Suppliant that the Pythian shrine
Feel no more the wrath divine;
That the goddess he appease;
That her nightly visions cease.
Jove with smiles beheld his son
Early thus address his throne,
Suing with ambitious pride
O'er the rich shrine to preside;
He, assenting, bow'd his head.
Straight the nightly visions fled;
And prophetic dreams no more
Hover'd slumbering mortals o'er:
Now to Phoebus given again,
All his honours pure remain;
Votaries distant regions send
His frequented throne to attend:
And the firm decrees of fate
On his faithful voice await. (A MESSENGER enters.)
MESSENGER Say you, that keep the temple, and attend
The altar, where is Thoas, Scythia's king?
Open these strong-compacted gates, and cal
Forth from the shrine the monarch of the land.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS Wherefore? at thy command if I must speak.
MESSENGER The two young men are gone, through the device
Of Agamemnon's daughter: from this land
They fly; and, in their Grecian galley placed,
The sacred image of the goddess bear.
LEADER Incredible thy tale: but whom thou seek'st,
The monarch, from the temple went in haste.
MESSENGER Whither? for what is doing he should know.
LEADER We know not: but go thou, and seek for him:
Where'er thou find him, thou wilt tell him this.
MESSENGER See, what a faithless race you women are!
In all that hath been done you have a part.