mind rush to join thee, seeking to share with thee the fire's bright
flame and the self-same tomb, to rid me of my weary life in Hades'
halls, and of the pains of life; yea, for 'tis the sweetest end to
share the death of those we love, if only fate will sanction it.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS Behold yon pyre, which thou art overlooking,
nigh thereto, set apart for Zeus! There is thy husband's body, vanquished
by the blazing bolt.
EVADNE (chanting) Life's goal I now behold from my station here;
may fortune aid me in my headlong leap from this rock in honour's
cause, down into the fire below. to mix my ashes in the ruddy blaze
with my husband's, to lay me side by side with him, there in the couch
of Persephone; for ne'er will to save my life, prove untrue to thee
where thou liest in thy grave. Away with life and marriage too! Oh!
may my children live to see the dawn of a fairer, happier wedding-day
in Argos! May loyalty inspire the husband's heart, his nature fusing
with his wife's!
LEADER Lo! the aged Iphis, thy father, draweth nigh to hear thy startling
speech, which yet he knows not and will grieve to learn. (IPHIS enters.)
IPHIS Unhappy child! lo! I am come, a poor old man, with twofold
sorrow in my house to mourn, that I may carry to his native land the
corpse of my son Eteoclus, slain by the Theban spear, and further
in quest of my daughter who rushed headlong from the house, for she
was the wife of Capaneus and longed with him to die. Ere this she
was well guarded in my house, but, when I took the watch away in the
present troubles, she escaped. But I feel sure that she is here; tell
me if ye have seen her.
EVADNE Why question them? Lo, here upon the rock, father, o'er the
pyre of Capaneus, like some bird I hover lightly, in my wretchedness.
IPHIS What wind hath blown thee hither, child? Whither thy journey?
Why didst thou pass the threshold of my house and seek this land?
EVADNE It would but anger thee to hear what I intend, and so I fain
would keep thee ignorant, my father.
IPHIS What hath not thy own father a right to know?
EVADNE Thou wouldst not wisely judge my purpose.
IPHIS Why dost thou deck thyself in that apparel?
EVADNE A purport strange this robe conveys, father.
IPHIS Thou hast no look of mourning for thy lord.
EVADNE No, the reason why I thus am decked is strange, maybe.
IPHIS Dost thou in such garb appear before a funeral-pyre?
EVADNE Yea, for hither it is I come to take the meed of victory.
IPHIS "Victory!" What victory? This would I learn of thee.
EVADNE A victory o'er all women on whom the sun looks down.
IPHIS In Athena's handiwork or in prudent counsel?
EVADNE In bravery; for I will lay me down and die with my lord.
IPHIS What dost thou say? What is this silly riddle thou propoundest?
EVADNE To yonder pyre where lies dead Capaneus, I will leap down.
IPHIS My daughter, speak not thus before the multitude!
EVADNE The very thing I wish, that every Argive should learn it.
IPHIS Nay, I will ne'er consent to let thee do this deed.
EVADNE 'Tis all one; thou shalt never catch me in thy grasp. Lo!
I cast me down, no joy to thee, but to myself and to my husband blazing
on the pyre with me. (She leaps into the pyre.)
CHORUS (chanting) O lady, thou hast done a fearful deed!
IPHIS Ah me! I am undone, ye dames of Argos!
CHORUS (chanting) Alack, alack! a cruel blow is this to thee, but
thou must yet witness, poor wretch, the full horror of this deed.
IPHIS A more unhappy wretch than me ye could not find.
CHORUS (chanting) Woe for thee, unhappy man! Thou, old sir, hast
been made partaker in the fortune of Oedipus, thou and my poor city
IPHIS Ah, why are mortal men denied this boon, to live their youth
twice o'er, and twice in turn to reach old age? If aught goes wrong
within our homes, we set it right by judgment more maturely formed,
but our life we may not so correct. Now if we had a second spell of