of Argos approach our frontier, for exceeding fierce are the warriors
of Mycenae, and in the present case still more than heretofore. For
all heralds observe this custom, to exaggerate what happened twofold.
Bethink the what a tale he will tell his master of his dreadful treatment,
how he came near losing his life altogether.
IOLAUS Children have no fairer prize than this, the being born of
a good and noble sire, and the power to wed from noble families; but
whoso is enslaved by passion and makes a lowborn match, I cannot praise
for leaving to his children a legacy of shame, to gratify himself.
For noble birth offers a stouter resistance to adversity than base
parentage; for we, in the last extremity of woe, have found friends
and kinsmen here, the only champions of these children through all
the length and breadth of this Hellenic world. Give, children, give
to them your hand, and they the same to you; draw near to them. Ah!
children, we have made trial of our friends, and if ever ye see the
path that leads you back to your native land, and possess your home
and the honours of your father, count them ever as your friends and
saviours, and never lift against their land the foeman's spear, in
memory of this, but hold this city first midst those ye love. Yea,
they well deserve your warm regard, in that they have shifted from
our shoulders to their own the enmity of so mighty a land as Argos
and its people, though they saw we were vagabonds and beggars; still
they did not give us up nor drive us forth. So while I live, and after
death,-come when it will,-loudly will I sing thy praise, good friend,
and will extol thee as I stand at Theseus' side, and cheer his heart,
as I tell how thou didst give kind welcome and protection to the sons
of Heracles, and how nobly thou dost preserve thy father's fame through
the length of Hellas, and hast not fallen from the high estate to
which thy father brought thee, a lot which few others can boast; for
'mongst the many wilt thou find one maybe, that is not degenerate
from his sire.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS This land is ever ready in an honest cause to
aid the helpless. Wherefore ere now it hath endured troubles numberless
for friends, and now in this I see a struggle nigh at hand.
DEMOPHON Thou hast spoken well, and I feel confident their conduct
will be such; our kindness will they not forget. Now will I muster
the citizens and set them in array, that I may receive Mycenae's host
with serried ranks. But first will I send scouts to meet them, lest
they fall upon me unawares; for at Argos every man is prompt to answer
to the call, and I will assemble prophets and ordain a sacrifice.
But do thou leave the altar of Zeus and go with the children into
the house; for there are those who will care for thee, even though
I be abroad. Enter then my house, old man.
IOLAUS I will not leave the altar. Let us sit here still, praying
for the city's fair success, and when thou hast made a glorious end
of this struggle, will we go unto the house; nor are the gods who
champion us weaker than the gods of Argos, O king; Hera, wife of Zeus,
is their leader; Athena ours. And this I say is an omen of success,
that we have the stronger deity, for Pallas will not brook defeat.
(DEMOPHON and his retinue go out.)
CHORUS (singing, strophe)
Though loud thy boasts, there be others care no more for thee for
that, O stranger from the land of Argos; nor wilt thou scare my soul
with swelling words. Not yet be this the fate of mighty Athens, beauteous
town! But thou art void of sense, and so is he, who lords it o'er
Argos, the son of Sthenelus,
thou that comest to another state, in no wise weaker than Argos,
and, stranger that thou art, wouldst drag away by force suppliants
of the gods, wanderers that cling to my land for help, refusing to
yield to our king, nor yet having any honest plea to urge. How can
such conduct count as honourable, at least in wise men's judgment?
I am for peace myself; yet I tell thee, wicked king, although thou