Iphigenia in Tauris
LEADER Unhappy Iphigenia, thou must die,
Thy brother too must die, if thou again,
Seized in thy flight, to thy lord's hands shalt come.
THOAS Inhabitants of this barbaric land,
Will you not rein your steeds, will you not fly
Along the shore, to seize whate'er this skiff
Of Greece casts forth; and, for your goddess roused,
Hunt down these impious men? Will you not launch
Instant your swift-oar'd barks, by sea, by land
To catch them, from the rugged rock to hurl
Their bodies, or impale them on the stake?
But for you, women, in these dark designs
Accomplices, hereafter, as I find
Convenient leisure, I will punish you.
The occasion urges now, and gives no pause. (MINERVA appears above.)
MINERVA Whither, O royal Thoas, dost thou lead
This vengeful chase? Attend: Minerva speaks.
Cease thy pursuit, and stop this rushing flood
Of arms; for hither, by the fateful voice
Of Phoebus, came Orestes, warn'd to fly
The anger of the Furies, to convey
His sister to her native Argos back,
And to my land the sacred image bear.
Thoas, I speak to thee: him, whom thy rage
Would kill, Orestes, on the wild waves seized,
Neptune, to do me grace, already wafts
On the smooth sea, the swelling surges calm'd.
And thou, Orestes (for my voice thou hear'st,
Though distant far), to my commands attend:
Go, with the sacred image, which thou bear'st,
And with thy sister: but when thou shalt come
To Athens built by gods, there is a place
On the extreme borders of the Attic land,
Close neighbouring to Carystia's craggy height,
Sacred; my people call it Alae: there
A temple raise, and fix the statue there,
Which from the Tauric goddess shall receive
Its name, and from thy toils, which thou, through Greece
Driven by the Furies' maddening stings, hast borne;
And mortals shall in future times with hymns
The Tauric goddess there, Diana, hail.
And be this law establish'd; when the feast
For thy deliverance from this shrine is held,
To a man's throat that they apply the sword,
And draw the blood, in memory of these rites,
That of her honours naught the goddess lose.
Thou, Iphigenia, on the hallow'd heights
Of Brauron on this goddess shalt attend
Her priestess, dying shalt be there interr'd,
Graced with the honours of the gorgeous vests
Of finest texture, in their houses left
By matrons who in childbed pangs expired.
These Grecian dames back to their country lead,
I charge thee; justice this return demands,
For I saved thee, when on the mount of Mars
The votes were equal; and from that decree
The shells in number equal still absolve.
But, son of Agamemnon, from this land
Thy sister bear; nor, Thoas, be thou angry.
THOAS Royal Minerva, he that hears the gods
Commanding, and obeys not, is unwise.
My anger 'gainst Orestes flames no more,
Gone though he be, and bears with him away
The statue of the goddess, and his sister.