the battle, I passed the gates, just as the host had entered them.
ADRASTUS Are ye bringing the bodies, for the which the strife arose?
MESSENGER Ay, each of the seven chiefs who led their famous hosts.
ADRASTUS What sayest thou? the rest who fell-say, where are they?
MESSENGER They have found burial in the dells of Cithaeron.
ADRASTUS On this or that side of the mount? And who did bury them?
MESSENGER Theseus buried them 'neath the shadow of Eleutherae's cliff.
ADRASTUS Where didst thou leave the dead he hath not buried?
MESSENGER Not far away; earnest haste makes every goal look close.
ADRASTUS No doubt in sorrow slaves would gather them from the carnage.
MESSENGER Slaves! not one of them was set to do this toil.
(A speech belonging to ADRASTUS has been lost.)
MESSENGER Thou wouldst say so, hadst thou been there to see his loving
tendance of the dead.
ADRASTUS Did he himself wash the bloody wounds of the hapless youths?
MESSENGER Ay, and strewed their biers and wrapped them in their shrouds.
ADRASTUS An awful burden this, involving some disgrace.
MESSENGER Why, what disgrace to men are their fellows' sorrows?
ADRASTUS Ah me! how much rather had I died with them!
MESSENGER 'Tis vain to weep and move to tears these women.
ADRASTUS Methinks 'tis they who give the lesson. Enough of that!
My hands lift at meeting of the dead, and pour forth a tearful dirge
to Hades, calling on my friends, whose loss I mourn in wretched solitude;
for this one thing, when once 'tis spent, man cannot recover, the
breath of life, though he knoweth ways to get his wealth again.
CHORUS (singing, strophe)
Joy is here and sorrow too,-for the state fair fame, and for our
captains double meed of honour. Bitter for me it is to see the limbs
of my dead sons, and yet a welcome sight withal, because I shall behold
the unexpected day after sorrow's cup was full.
Would that Father Time had kept me unwed from my youth up e'en till
now when I am old! What need had I of children? Methinks I should
not have suffered overmuch, had I never borne the marriage-yoke; but
now I have my sorrow full in view, the loss of children dear.
Lo! I see the bodies of the fallen youths. Woe is me! would I could
join these children in their death and descend to Hades with them!
(THESEUS and his soldiers enter, carrying the corpses of the slain
chieftains. ADRASTUS and the CHORUS chant the lament responsively.)
ADRASTUS Mothers, raise the wail for the dead departed; cry in answer
when ye hear my note of woe.
CHORUS My sons, my sons! O bitter words for loving mothers to address
to you! To thee, my lifeless child, I call.
ADRASTUS Woe! woe!
CHORUS Ah me, my sufferings!
ADRASTUS Alas! We have endured, alas!-
CHORUS Sorrows most grievous.
ADRASTUS O citizens of Argos! do ye not behold my fate?
CHORUS They see thee, and me the hapless mother, reft of her children.
ADRASTUS Bring near the blood-boltered corpses of those hapless chiefs,
foully slain by foes unworthy, with whom lay the decision of the contest.
CHORUS Let me embrace and hold my children to my bosom in my enfolding
ADRASTUS There, there! thou hast-
CHORUS Sorrows heavy enough to bear.
ADRASTUS Ah me!
CHORUS Thy groans mingle with those of their parents.
ADRASTUS Hear me.
CHORUS O'er both of us thou dost lament.
ADRASTUS Would God the Theban ranks had laid me dead in the dust!
CHORUS Oh that I had ne'er been wedded to a husband!
ADRASTUS Ah! hapless mothers, behold this sea of troubles!
CHORUS Our nails have ploughed our cheeks in furrows, and o'er our
heads have we strewn ashes.