victory. For their valour availeth men naught, unless they have the
god's goodwill. (THESEUS and his retinue depart. The following lines
between the SEMI-CHORUSES are chanted responsively.)
FIRST SEMI-CHORUS Unhappy mothers of those hapless chiefs! How wildly
in my heart pale fear stirs up alarm!
SECOND SEMI-CHORUS What is this new cry thou utterest?
FIRST SEMI-CHORUS I fear the issue of the strife, whereto the hosts
of Pallas march.
SECOND SEMI-CHORUS Dost speak of issues of the sword, or interchange
FIRST SEMI-CHORUS That last were gain indeed; but if the carnage
of battle, fighting, and the noise of beaten breasts again be heard
in the land, what, alas! will be said of me, who am the cause thereof?
SECOND SEMI-CHORUS Yet may fate again bring low the brilliant victor;
'tis this brave thought that twines about my heart.
FIRST SEMI-CHORUS Thou speak'st of the gods as if they were just.
SECOND SEMI-CHORUS For who but they allot whate'er betides?
FIRST SEMI-CHORUS I see much at variance in their dealings with men.
SECOND SEMI-CHORUS The former fear hath warped thy judgment. Vengeance
calls vengeance forth; slaughter calls for slaughter, but the gods
give respite from affliction, holding in their own hands each thing's
FIRST SEMI-CHORUS Would I could reach yon plains with turrets crowned,
leaving Callichorus, fountain of the goddess!
SECOND SEMI-CHORUS O that some god would give me wings to fly to
the city of rivers twain!
FIRST SEMI-CHORUS So might'st thou see and know the fortunes of thy
SECOND SEMI-CHORUS What fate, what issue there awaits the valiant
monarch of this land?
FIRST SEMI-CHORUS Once more do we invoke the gods we called upon
before; yea, in our fear this is our first and chiefest trust.
SECOND SEMI-CHORUS O Zeus, father to the child the heifer-mother
bore in days long past, that daughter of Inachus!
FIRST SEMI-CHORUS O be gracious, I pray, and champion this city!
SECOND SEMI-CHORUS 'Tis thy own darling, thy own settler in the city
of Argos that I am striving from outrage to rescue for the funeral
pyre. (A MESSENGER enters.)
MESSENGER Ladies, I bring you tidings of great joy, myself escaped-for
I was taken prisoner in the battle which cost those chieftains seven
their lives near Dirce's fount-to bear the news of Theseus' victory.
But I will save thee tedious questioning; I was the servant of Capaneus,
whom Zeus with scorching bolt to ashes burnt.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS Friend of friends, fair thy news of thy own
return, nor less the news about Theseus; and if the host of Athens,
too, is safe, welcome will all thy message be.
MESSENGER 'Tis safe, and all hath happened as I would it had befallen
Adrastus and his Argives, whom from Inachus he led, to march against
the city of the Cadmeans.
LEADER How did the son of Aegeus and his fellow-warriors raise their
trophy to Zeus? Tell us, for thou wert there and canst gladden us
who were not.
MESSENGER Bright shone the sun, one levelled line of light, upon
the world, as by Electra's gate I stood to watch, from a turret with
a far outlook. And lo! I saw the host in three divisions, deploying
its mail-clad warriors on the high ground by the banks of Ismenus;
this last I heard; and with them was the king himself, famous son
of Aegeus; his own men, natives of old Cecropia, were ranged upon
the right; while on the left, hard by the fountain of Ares, were the
dwellers by the sea, harnessed spearmen they; on either wing were
posted cavalry, in equal numbers, and chariots were stationed in the
shelter of Amphion's holy tomb. Meantime, the folk of Cadmus set themselves
before the walls, placing in the rear the bodies for which they fought.
Horse to horse, and car to car stood ranged. Then did the herald of