Translated by E. D. A. Morshead


Orange Street Press Classics

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Aeschylus, agamemnon

Personae erso D r a m atis Per so nae
A WATCHMAN CHORUS OF ARGIVE ELDERS CLYTEMNESTRA, wife of AGAMEMNON A HERALD AGAMEMNON, King of Argos CASSANDRA, daughter of Priam, and slave of AGAMEMNON AEGISTHUS, son of Thyestes, cousin of AGAMEMNON Servants, Attendants, Soldiers

Scene Before the palace of AGAMEMNON in Argos. In front of the palace there are statues of the gods, and altars prepared for sacrifice. It is night. On the roof of the palace can be discerned a WATCHMAN. WATCHMAN I pray the gods to quit me of my toils, To close the watch I keep, this livelong year; For as a watch-dog lying, not at rest, Propped on one arm, upon the palace-roof Of Atreus' race, too long, too well I know The starry conclave of the midnight sky, Too well, the splendours of the firmament, The lords of light, whose kingly aspect showsWhat time they set or climb the sky in turnThe year's divisions, bringing frost or fire.


unvisited By dreams-ah me!-for in the place of sleep Stands Fear as my familiar. Bathed with the dews of night. and song. And if at whiles. All hail! A beacon-light is seen reddening the distant sky. whene'er the thick night glow With beacon-fire of hope deferred no more. and dance. 4 . and tell its Trojan taleTroy town is ta'en: such issue holds in hope She in whose woman's breast beats heart of man. that brings my spirit day. as ever. Fire of the night. agamemnon And now.Aeschylus. and repels The soft repose that would mine eyelids seal. Thus upon mine unrestful couch I lie. Wailing the woe that broods upon this home. am I set to mark When shall stream up the glow of signal-flame. I medicine my soul with melody Of trill or song-anon to tears I turn. The bale-fire bright. Not now by honour guided as of old- But now at last fair fall the welcome hour That sets me free. for the lost balm of sleep. Shedding on Argos light.

such fiery message gleams From yon high flame. nought remember nor discern. During their song CLYTEMNESTRA appears in the background. of set will. I. hail! Let my loud summons ring within the ears Of Agamemnon's queen. in loyal love. He withdraws. who rules our home: Home-but I say no more: upon my tongue Treads hard the ox o' the adage. The CHORUS OF ARGIVE ELDERS enters. before the rest. speak words the wise may learn. and I. The hand of him restored. To others. The home itself might soothliest tell its tale. Will foot the lightsome measure of our joy. Had it voice.Aeschylus. agamemnon Greetings to fortune. For Ilion's fall. each leaning on a staff. that she anon Start from her couch and with a shrill voice cry A joyous welcome to the beacon-blaze. 5 . My master's dice fell fairBehold! the triple sice. For I can say. the lucky flame! Now be my lot to clasp. kindling the altars.

agamemnon CHORUS singing Ten livelong years have rolled away. or Zeus.Aeschylus. Or Pan. That with a spirit stern and strong Went out to right the kingdom's wrongPealed. in airy rings. the wail forlorn. When o'er the eyrie. Wild as the vultures' cry. around. To plead with Priam. as they went. Around. Went forth of yore. but hear the cry. But not the eyas-brood behold. face to face. But let Apollo from the sky. Before the judgment-seat of War! A thousand ships from Argive land Put forth to bear the martial band. That called them to the nest of old. In wild bereaved agony. Since the twin lords of sceptred sway. The doughty chiefs of Atreus' race. By Zeus endowed with pride of place. soaring high. They wheel with oarage of their wings. the battle-song. The exile cry. 6 .

And we in grey dishonoured eld. Heaven sends the vengeful fiends of hell. agamemnon Of birds from whom their home is tornOn those who wrought the rapine fell. Speed Atreus' sons. Feeble of frame. must fallUnsoothed by tears or spilth of wine Poured forth too late. in vengeful ire. 'Gainst Paris-sends them forth on fire. by heaven ordained. Her to buy back. The last embrace of foes shall feel. Whom one did wed but many woo'd! And many. many. And splintered spears on shields ring loud.Aeschylus. the jealous lord And guardian of the hearth and board. Of Trojan and of Greek. in war and blood. And many a knee in dust be bowed. unfit were held 7 . before That iron bridal-feast be o'er! But as he willed 'tis ordered all. by his will. And woes. the wrath divine Glares vengeance on the flameless shrine. Even so doth Zeus.

For while the sap of youth is green. The young are weakly as the old. And each alike unmeet to hold The vantage post of war! And ah! when flower and fruit are o'er. Age wendeth propped its journey drear. speak! and say What messenger of joy to-day Hath won thine ear? what welcome news. As forceless as a child. That thus in sacrificial wise E'en to the city's boundaries Thou biddest altar-fires arise? 8 . And. yet unripened.Aeschylus. leaps within. agamemnon To join the warrior array That then went forth unto the fray: And here at home we tarry. as light And fleeting as a dream of night Lost in the garish day! But thou. Each on his staff-so strength doth wane. Queen Clytemnestra. And turns to childishness again. And on life's tree the leaves are sere. O child of Tyndareus. fain Our feeble footsteps to sustain.

Conjur'd and charm'd and kindled well By pure oil's soft and guileless spell. And keeps o'er Argos watch and ward From heaven above. O queen. whatsoe'er. to scare From our rent hearts the vulture Care. from the altar. To each and all the altars glow. were well revealed. Known unto thee. anear. waxing to a presage fair. Dawns. agamemnon Each god who doth our city guard. 9 . Hid now no more Within the palace' secret store. Streams skyward many a beacon-star. That thou wilt trust it to our ear. And bid our anxious heart be healed! That waneth now unto despairNow. Piled for the sacrifice! And here and there.Aeschylus. we pray thee. The market's lesser deities. from earth belowThe mighty lords who rule the skies. afar.

twin lords of one command. that watched the parting hour. Then lit in sight of all.Aeschylus. By warrior-birds. to chant on high The chiefs' emprise. When on the right they soared across the sky. Led forth the youth of Hellas in their flower. the eagles seemed to cryAnd the sea-kings obeyed the sky-kings' word. with vengeful spear and brand. High o'er the palace were they seen to soar. the strength that omens gave! List! on my soul breathes yet a harmony. and strong to save! How brother kings. and rent and tare. agamemnon strophe 1 List! for the power is mine. Big with her unborn brood. Go forth to Troy. And one was black. a mother-hare. Urged on their way. From realms of ageless powers. Ah woe and well-a-day! but be the issue fair! 10 . one bore a white tail barred. Far from the fields that she should range no more.

Shall force hew down. The steel of vengeance. for good and in. the soldier-prophet true. and flock and herd. Who rend the unborn brood. Ah woe and well-a-day! but be the issue fair! 11 . and Priam's town shall fall. Go forth. In the twy-coloured eagles straight he knew. that roam before the wall. when Fate shall give the word. To dim the glowing battle-forge once more. he cried. And spake the omen forth.Aeschylus. agamemnon antistrophe 1 And one beheld. loathes their banquet on the quivering hare. The people's wealth. And the two chiefs. Yet long the time shall be. And mar the mighty curb of Trojan pride. unlike of soul and will. welded as for war! For virgin Artemis bears jealous hate Against the royal house. But O beware! lest wrath in Heaven abide. the eagle-pair. insatiateYea.

Aeschylus. and fell device. Biding its time. artificer of strife. but crossed with evil too!" Healer Apollo! be her wrath controll'd Nor weave the long delay of thwarting gales. 12 . The end be well. a wrath unreconciled. alas! to see a second life Shed forth. "Nay. Too weak to range-and well the sucking child Of every beast that roams by wood and wold. To war against the Danaans and withhold From the free ocean-waves their eager sails! She craves. At home there tarries like a lurking snake. So to the Lord of Heaven she prayeth still. be the omen true! Yet do the visioned eagles presage ill. agamemnon epode For well she loves-the goddess kind and mildThe tender new-born cubs of lions bold. A wily watcher. a curst unhallowed sacrifice'Twixt wedded souls. if it must be. And hate that knows not fear. passionate to slake.

13 . upon Thee I call. In strains like his. Were it but mine to cast away the load. such the word of fear. the Highest One. Save that which names thee Zeus. agamemnon In blood. but vain are all. The weary load. Such was the mighty warning.Aeschylus. Thro' the mind's every road I passed. In full-blown pride of place and valour bold. and Calchas read the omen clear. What time the fateful eagles hovered o'er The kings. pealed of yoreAmid good tidings. resentment for a murdered child. that weighs my spirit down. once more. antistrophe 2 He that was Lord of old. Sing woe and well-a-day! but be the issue fair! strophe 2 Zeus-if to The Unknown That name of many names seem goodZeus.

In visions of the night. Descend the many memories of pain Before the spirit's sight: through tears and dole Comes wisdom o'er the unwilling soulA boon. Men shall learn wisdom. even as an old tale told: And he that next held sway. 14 . by affliction schooled. like dropping rain. agamemnon Hath fallen and is gone. strophe 3 'Tis Zeus alone who shows the perfect way Of knowledge: He hath ruled. of all Divinity. That holds its sacred throne in strength.Aeschylus. above the sky! antistrophe 3 And then the elder chief. By stronger grasp o'erthrown Hath pass'd away! And whoso now shall bid the triumph-chant arise To Zeus. at whose command The fleet of Greece was manned. and Zeus alone. He shall be found the truly wise. I wot.

doubling with delay each weary hour. strophe 4 And rife with ill delay From northern Strymon blew the thwarting blastMother of famine fell. agamemnon Cast on the seer no word of hate. And. rotting on the sea. Did every store. rock. 15 .Aeschylus. ere they put forth sail. for bitter storm. fail. a deadlier relief. and sway. And heavier with ill to either chief. But when. weary while! for. Looking across to Chalcis and the coast Where refluent waters welter. While all the Achaean host At Aulis anchored lay. each minish'd vessel. Withered with hope deferred th' Achaeans' warlike flower. But veered before the sudden breath of Fate- Ah. That holds men wand'ring still Far from the haven where they fain would be!And pitiless did waste Each ship and cable.

And leave the league of ships. in the counter-gale of will abhorr'd. Then. The virgin's blood. accursed. with eager fiery mind. the seer avowed. The two Atreidae smote their sceptres on the plain. And. shed forth to lull the adverse windGod send the deed be well! strophe 5 Thus on his neck he took Fate's hard compelling yoke. to smite my child. my household's love and pride! To stain with virgin blood a father's hands.Aeschylus. 16 . to disobey! And ill. could not their tears restrain! antistrophe 4 And then the elder monarch spake aloudIll lot were mine. and slay My daughter. To recklessness his shifting spirit veeredAlas! that Frenzy. by the altar's side! 'Twixt woe and woe I dwellI dare not like a recreant fly. agamemnon Pleading the ire of Artemis. first of ills and worst. For rightfully they crave. and fail each true ally. striving hard.

Father! nor her prayers. as with the bit that mutely tames the steed. And with her spilt blood make An offering. agamemnon With evil craft men's souls to sin hath ever stirred! And so he steeled his heart-ah. His child to slay. 17 . to speed the ships upon their way! antistrophe 5 Lusting for war. when the chant of sacrifice was done. Lest she should speak a curse on Atreus' home and seed. like some poor kid. So. Her fair lips' speech refrain. the bloody arbiters Closed heart and ears. above the altar-stone. From where amid her robes she lay Sunk all in swoon awayBade them. and would nor hear nor heed The girl-voice plead. well-a-dayAiding a war for one false woman's sake. Her father bade the youthful priestly train Raise her. Pity me. Nor tender. virgin years.Aeschylus.

nor can tell. Rang to the virginal soft strain. Sang of my sire. This wage from justice' hand do sufferers earn. What further fate befell: But this is sure. agamemnon strophe 6 So. Wherein my sire high feast did hold. When I. and all His honoured life. With one last piteous dart from her beseeching eye. Sang from pure lips and undefiled. The future to discern: And yet-farewell.Aeschylus. as a pictur'd form. Is all forgot? How oft those halls of old. silent. a stainless child. trailing on the earth her robe of saffron dye. that Calchas' boding strain Can ne'er be void or vain. and how on him should fall Heaven's highest gift and gain! antistrophe 6 And then-but I beheld not. Those that should smite she smote Fair. but fain To plead. O secret of To-morrow! 18 .

The loyal heart before his consort bends. agamemnon Fore-knowledge is fore-sorrow. Now-be it sure and certain news of good. yet grudge not if thou hide. I. the young child Light. with promise fair. That bids thee spread the light from shrine to shrine. From the womb of Night Spring forth. Clear with the clear beams of the morrow's sun. fain to hear. Ay-fairer even than all hope my newsBy Grecian hands is Priam's city ta'en! 19 . let the house's tale. CLYTEMNESTRA As saith the adage. Now. The future presseth on. I come in reverence of thy swayFor. how dark soe'er. who leaves the altars and comes forward. while the ruler's kingly seat is void. Or the fair tidings of a flatt'ring hope. LEADER OF THE CHORUS O queen. They turn to CLYTEMNESTRA. Find yet an issue fair!So prays the loyal. solitary band That guards the Apian land.Aeschylus.

I have-unless the god has lied. and plainly-Troy is ours! LEADER Thrills thro' heart such joy as wakens tears. LEADER Hath some night-vision won thee to belief ? CLYTEMNESTRA Out on all presage of a slumb'rous soul! LEADER But wert thou cheered by Rumour's wingless word? 20 . CLYTEMNESTRA Ay. agamemnon LEADER What say'st thou? doubtful heart makes treach'rous ear. LEADER But hast thou proof. to make assurance sure? CLYTEMNESTRA Go to. thro' those tears thine eye looks loyalty.Aeschylus. CLYTEMNESTRA Hear then again.

with no dull delay nor heedless sleep. raised aloft to shoot across the sea. Onward. agamemnon CLYTEMNESTRA Peace-thou dost chide me as a credulous girl. the broad blaze flared. LEADER Say then. that Hermes loves. and ever on. Until the guard upon Messapius' peak Saw the far flame gleam on Euripus' tide. From Ida to the crag. how long ago the city fell? CLYTEMNESTRA Even in this night that now brings forth the dawn. Thence. Of Lemnos. Beacon to beacon sped the courier-flame.Aeschylus. lord of fire. thence unto the steep sublime Of Athos. and reached Macistus' watching heights. And from the high-piled heap of withered furze 21 . Sent forth his sign. rejoicing in its strength. LEADER Yet who so swift could speed the message here? CLYTEMNESTRA From Ida's top Hephaestus. The moving light. The watcher sped the tidings on in turn. and on. and urged its way. There. like some strange new sun. throne of Zeus. In golden glory. Sped from the pyre of pine.

and ye have learned my word. Then the strong light. And onward flaring. roared and rose the blaze. Bright as the moon. 22 . Full-fed with fuel. Thence to th' Atreides' roof-in lineage fair. Beneath which shimmers the Saronic bay. the hest of flame Swift shot the light. To Aegiplanctus' mount. and glows unto the goal. And lo! the last to speed upon its way Sights the end first. along the course ordained. agamemnon Lit the new sign and bade the message on. Flame after flame. The mountain watch that looks upon our town. So sped from stage to stage. and by this sign my lord Tells me the tale. and on Cithaeron's crag Aroused another watch of flying fire. Shot thro' the sky above Asopus' plain. gleamed above the cape.Aeschylus. And like a long beard streaming in the wind. A bright posterity of Ida's fire. fulfilled in turn. And there the sentinels no whit disowned. And Troy is ta'en. And thence leapt light unto Arachne's peak. far-flown and yet undimmed. and bade the peak Fail not the onward ordinance of fire. But sent redoubled on. above Gorgopis' bay.

So in the twofold issue of the strife Mingle the victor's shout. And look! unblent. to snatch Such victual and such rest as chance may give Within the captive halls that once were TroyJoyful to rid them of the frost and dew. far and wide Range all disordered thro' the town. Goaded by restless hunger.Aeschylus. And loud therein the voice of utter wail! Within one cup pour vinegar and oil. I fain would hear From first to last the marvel of the tale. For all the conquered whom the sword has spared Cling weeping-some unto a brother slain. wouldst thou speak once more. now the fight is done. they war. the captives' moan. And wail the loved and lost. O queen. CLYTEMNESTRA Think you-this very morn-the Greeks in Troy. Some childlike to a nursing father's form. Wherein they couched upon the plain of oldJoyful to sleep the gracious night all through. unreconciled. 23 . the while their neck Bows down already 'neath the captive's chain. And lo! the victors. will I upraise new song: But. agamemnon LEADER To heaven.

So shall the spoilers not in turn be spoiled. For we need yet. For should the host wax wanton ere it come. Luck sway the scale. agamemnon Unsummoned of the watching sentinel. and her shrines. tho' fallen. tho'the sudden blow of fate be spared. pray with me. Yet in the sight of gods shall rise once more The great wrong of the slain. Yea. Homewards. Then. Now. Yet let them reverence well the city's gods. hearing from this woman's mouth of mine. before the race be won. The tale and eke its warning. 24 . O my queen. to round the course once more. let no craving for forbidden gain Bid conquerors yield before the darts of greed. For my fair hopes are changed to fairer joys. Worthy a wise man's utterance. Who bring us bliss to counterpoise our pain. CLYTEMNESTRA goes into the palace.Aeschylus. Now with clear trust in thy convincing tale I set me to salute the gods with song. to claim revenge. with no uncertain poise. unharmed. LEADER A gracious word thy woman's lips have told. The lords of Troy.

uncontrolled And loosed too soon or launched too high. agamemnon CHORUS singing Zeus. Lord of hospitality. Nor stripling lightly overleap The trammels as they close. which. long ago. Till neither warrior may 'scape. We marked thee bend thy vengeful bow. But long and warily withhold The eager shaft. Had wandered bloodless through the sky. 25 . and close. And closely girt them round. In grateful awe I bend to thee'Tis thou hast struck the blow! At Alexander. Till with the grip of doom our foes In slavery's coil are bound! Zeus. Hast flung the mighty mesh of war. free no more. Lord of heaven! and welcome night Of victory.Aeschylus. that hast our might With all the glories crowned! On towers of Ilion.

Where all things are forgot. This can our thought track outThe blow that fells the sinner is of God. And therewithal. the rod Of vengeance smiteth sore. And as he wills. The gods list not to hold A reckoning with him whose feet oppress The grace of holinessAn impious word! for whenso'er the sire Breathed forth rebellious fireWhat time his household overflowed the measure Of bliss and health and treasureHis children's children read the reckoning plain. At last. One said of old. 26 . in tears and pain. To guard him from the gulf: there lies his lot.Aeschylus. nor wealth nor power Shall be to him a tower. the high God!-whate'er be dim in doubt. On me let weal that brings no woe be sent. content! Who spurns the shrine of Right. agamemnon strophe 1 Zeus.

Fair Pleasure flits. And thence. he pours forth fruitless prayer To powers that will not hear. and lures him childlike on. with sin and shame his welcome to repay. desperate and wild. Till. Ravished the wife away- strophe 2 And she. While home and kin make moan Beneath the grinding burden of his crime. Fate's sin-contriving childAnd cure is none. Cast down of heaven. As an ill coin beneath the wearing touch Betrays by stain and smutch Its metal false-such is the sinful wight.Aeschylus. And such did Paris come Unto Atreides' home. Before. beyond concealment clear. Kindles sin's baleful glare. unto her country and her kin 27 . agamemnon antistrophe 1 Lust drives him on-lust. on pinions light. in the end of time.

Seen blankly by forlorn and hungering eyes! 28 . stretching hands That find her not. yearning o'er the sea. And bearing unto Troy destruction for a dower. woe! Woe for the bride-bed. the home! and for the chieftains. That she is far away! And his sad fancy. agamemnon Leaving the clash of shields and spears and arming ships. once more to queen it in his hall. warm Yet from the lovely limbs. And overbold in sin. yet will not see. silent. Oft from the prophets' lips Moaned out the warning and the wail-Ah woe! Woe for the home. Shall summon and recall Her wraith. And sad with many memories. at midnight hour. and sees. the impress of the form Of her who loved her lord.Aeschylus. The fair cold beauty of each sculptured faceAnd all to hatefulness is turned their grace. awhile ago And woe! for him who stands Shamed. Went fleetly thro' the gates. unreproachful.

The touch of bitter death is manifold! Familiar was each face. Each home that sent its master far away From Hellas' shore. and bearing pain Of hopings vainVoid. But. the pang of loss. truth to say. Such are the sights. sweet and sad. whereof I may not tell. to-day. the sorrows fell. But thither.Aeschylus. agamemnon antistrophe 2 And when the night is deep. When thro' the grasps of love that bid it stay It vanishes away On silent wings that roam adown the ways of sleep. Come visions. That went unto the war. For. void and vain. Doth nought returnOnly a spear and sword. About our hearth-and worse. Feels the keen thrill of heart. all the wide town o'er. whence a warrior went of old. and dear as life. for scarce the sleeping sight Has seen its old delight. and ashes in an urn! 29 .

And hath not left his peer! Ah woe! another moans-my spouse is slain. lord of strife. Light to the band. War's money-changer. whereon they gave 30 . Slain for a woman's sin. Yea. to hearts that held them dear. The death of honour. a false wife's shame! Such muttered words of bitter mood Rise against those who went forth to reclaim. jealous wrath creeps on against th' Atreides' name. fills the light urn full With what survived the flameDeath's dusty measure of a hero's frame! Alas! one cries. And others. wept with many a tear. Couched in the foeman's land. agamemnon strophe 3 For Ares. Who doth the swaying scales of battle hold. and yet alas again! Our chief is gone. Yea. Sends back.Aeschylus. but heavy to the soul. Scant ash of warriors. the hero of the spear. far beneath the Ilian wall. Sleep their last sleep-the goodly chiefs and tall. rolled in dust and blood. giving dust for gold.

Down into dim obstruction-he is gone. And help and hope. The vengeful bolt upon his eyes doth flame. And smite with stern reversal all his home. doth my soul await Tidings of coming fate. agamemnon Their breath. Sped from the hand divine. is none! O'er him who vaunteth an exceeding fame. ungrudged of God. Till the dark Furies come. brooding deeply. among the lost. and lords of Troy. As deeply and deadly as a curse more loud Flung by the common crowd: And. Buried as yet in darkness' womb. antistrophe 3 Therefore for each and all the city's breast Is heavy with a wrath supprest. For not forgetful is the high gods' doom Against the sons of carnage: all too long Seems the unjust to prosper and be strong. each in his Trojan grave.Aeschylus. This bliss be mine. Impends a woe condign. to feel- 31 .

Who let his heart with joy be stirred. as lightly dies The tale that springs of her surmise. But. throughout the city wide Have the swift feet of Rumour hied. The edge of woman's insight still Good news from true divideth ill. lightly born. agamemnon To tread no city to the dust. Roused by the joyful flame: But is the news they scatter. Light rumours leap within the bound Then fences female credence round. sooth? Or haply do they give for truth Some cheat which heaven doth frame? A child were he and all unwise. Several days are assumed to have elapsed. To see the beacon-fires arise. 32 . beneath some thwarting word. And then. Nor see my own life thrust Down to a glave's estate beneath another's heel! epode Behold. Sicken anon with hope deferred.Aeschylus.

My feet return. He is an advance messenger from AGAMEMNON'S forces. For lo! I see a herald from the shore Draw hither. agamemnon LEADER OF THE CHORUS Soon shall we know whereof the bale-fires tell. as well I deem. the bark of my emprise. Or-but away. And on fair promise fair fulfilment come! And whoso for the state prays otherwise. now. Speaks plain of travel far and truthful newsNo dumb surmise. fatherland of mine! To thee at last. Tho' one by one hope's anchors broke away. forebodings adverse.Aeschylus. Himself reap harvest of his ill desire! A HERALD enters. which have just landed. 33 . kindled with transmitted flame. their tale is true. HERALD O land of Argos. The beacons. nor tongue of flame in smoke. shadowed with the olive-wreathAnd thirsty dust. twin-brother of the clay. All is well. Whether. Or whether like some dream delusive came The welcome blaze but to befool our soul. Fitfully kindled from the mountain pyre. beneath the tenth year's sun. But plainlier shall his voice say.

For as from night flash out the beams of day. healer. So out of darkness dawns a light. the Pythian lord. agamemnon Held by the last. and now rides safely here. in death. and lord of heralds here! And Heroes. and hail to thee. Receive again With grace such Argives as the spear has spared. New-risen sun! and hail our country's God. now And hail. and thou. ye who sped us on our wayTo one and all I cry. all gods who rule the street and mart And Hermes hail! my patron and my pride. be saviour. Long. High-ruling Zeus.Aeschylus. be turned. Ah. O earth. home of royalty. Its longed-for rest within our Argive land: And now all hail. a king. on Argos-Agamemnon comes. by Scamander's side? Turn thou. And solemn shrines. Whose arrows smote us once-smite thou no morel Was not thy wrath wreaked full upon our heads. with sun-flushed aspect greet The king returning after many days. 34 . O king Apollo. and gods that front the morn! Benign as erst. beloved halls. On you. Herald of heaven. long my soul despaired to win.

new-come from war. every shrine. smote down to nothingness Each altar. Atreus' elder son.Aeschylus. HERALD All hail! not death itself can fright me now. and by his deed is reaped A bloody harvest of his home and land Gone down to death. And comes at last with blissful honour home. But at Fate's judgment-seat the robber stands Condemned of rapine. can boast. 35 . agamemnon Then hail and greet him well I such meed befits Him whose right hand hewed down the towers of Troy With the great axe of Zeus who righteth wrongAnd smote the plain. LEADER Hail. Such mighty yoke of fate he set on TroyOur lord and monarch. The guerdon we have won outweighs it all. and his prey is torn Forth from his hands. herald of the Greeks. and far and wide Dies from the whole land's face its offspring fair. Highest of all who walk on earth to-dayNot Paris nor the city's self that paid Sin's price with him. and for his guilt and lust His father's race pays double in the dust. Whate'er befall.

Aeschylus. that mars the army's joy? LEADER Sole cure of wrong is silence. love for love? LEADER Yea. LEADER On you too then this sweet distress did fallHERALD How say'st thou? make me master of thy word. 36 . saith the saw. agamemnon LEADER Was thine heart wrung with longing for thy land? HERALD So that this joy doth brim mine eyes with tears. LEADER You longed for us who pined for you again. HERALD Whence thy despair. till my brooding heart moaned out with pain. HERALD Craved the land us who craved it.

These many years. And some. All pains. scant landings on a shore rock-strewn. But who. Throughout our toil. for our daily doom. exuded from the earth. were chequered with a curse. some chances issued fair. Why tell the woes of winter. couldst thou fear other men? LEADER Death had been sweet. all sorrows. Dropped from the sky. agamemnon HERALD Thy kings afar. For where we couched. what time the stirless wave Sank to its sleep beneath the noon-day sun? 37 . when the birds Lay stark and stiff. as thou didst say but now. so stern was Ida's snow? Or summer's scorch. Ill rest. And hair as horrent as a wild beast's fell. on earth.Aeschylus. close by the foeman's wall. And worse and hatefuller our woes on land. Fate smiles at last. hath won the bliss of heaven. Thro' time's whole tenor an unbroken weal? I could a tale unfold of toiling oars. A curse that clung unto our sodden garb. HERALD 'Tis true. The river-plain was ever dank with dews. I wot.

Like him far-fleeted over sea and land. from those who fell. and render thanks For life by moaning over fate malign? Farewell.Aeschylus. The ear of age hath ever youth enow: But those within and Clytemnestra's self Would fain hear all. Comes weal beyond all counterpoise of woe. So stands the tale fulfilled. The Argive host prevailed to conquer Troy. CLYTEMNESTRA enters from the palace. all care. Let those who learn this legend bless aright The city and its chieftains. For evermore. to rise and live again. Why sum the count of death. Thus boast we rightfully to yonder sun. agamemnon Why mourn old woes? their pain has passed away. And passed away. and repay The meed of gratitude to Zeus who willed And wrought the deed. glad thou their ears and mine. the remnant of the host of Greece. a shining sign to Time. 38 . And in the temples of the gods of Greece Hung up these spoils. LEADER Thy words o'erbear my doubt: for news of good. a long farewell to all our woes! To us.

misled of hope. to and fro. With voice of loud proclaim. the majesty of Argos.Aeschylus. home from war? This to my husband. In sign that Troy is ta'en and razed to earth. And. That I was chidden-Hath the beacon watch Made sure unto thy soul the sack of Troy? A very woman thou. To hail her lord. heaven-shielded. What day beams fairer on a woman's eyes Than this. Yet on each shrine I set the sacrifice. in the strain they held for feminine. whose heart leaps light At wandering rumours!-and with words like these They showed me how I strayed. All is fulfilled: I spare your longer taleThe king himself anon shall tell me all. 39 . announcing joy. Went heralds thro' the city. whereon she flings the portal wide. And in each fane they lit and quenched with wine The spicy perfumes fading in the flame. agamemnon CLYTEMNESTRA That night. home. that he tarry not. Remains to think what honour best may greet My lord. So wild a cry of joy my lips gave out. when first the fiery courier came.

His foemen's foe. true And faithful as a watch-dog to his home. LEADER So has she spoken-be it yours to learn By clear interpreters her specious word. in me! HERALD 'Tis fairly said: thus speaks a noble dame. CLYTEMNESTRA withdraws again into the palace. and coming may he find A wife no other than he left her. Trusty to keep for ten long years unmarred The store whereon he set his master-seal. Be steel deep-dyed. 40 . Turn to me. Nor speaks amiss. agamemnon But turn the city's longing into joy! Yea. before ye look to see Ill joy. let him come. ill fame. when truth informs the boast.Aeschylus. from other wight. in all her duties leal. herald-tell me if anon The second well-loved lord of Argos comes? Hath Menelaus safely sped with you? HERALD Alas-brief boon unto my friends it were.

with falsehoods fair! LEADER Speak joy. all-surveying Sun. if truth be joy. of his life or death? HERALD Ask me no more: the truth is known to none. 'tis truth I say. what now of him each comrade saith? What their forebodings. Or from the fleet by stress of weather torn? HERALD Full on the mark thy shaft of speech doth light. 41 . LEADER But say. HERALD The hero and his bark were rapt away Far from the Grecian fleet.Aeschylus. Save the earth-fostering. LEADER Whether in all men's sight from Ilion borne. for truth. truth and joy are here divorced. at worstToo plainly. And one short word hath told long woes aright. agamemnon To flatter them. but truth.

and issues fair. But-coming as he comes who bringeth news Of safe return from toil. To men rejoicing in a weal restoredDare I to dash good words with ill.Aeschylus. If one as herald came with rueful face To say. ill it were to mar with sorrow's tale The day of blissful news. and say For fire and sea. Beneath the double scourge. Now swore conspiracy and pledged their faith. and the host Gone down to death. 'Twere fit to speak such words as gladden fiends. and out of many homes Many are cast and consecrate to death. that erst held bitter feud. the wrath of heaven? HERALD Nay. agamemnon LEADER Say. The gods demand Thanksgiving sundered from solicitude. The bloody pair. by what doom the fleet of Greece was driven? How rose. the fire and sword of doomIf such sore burden weighed upon my tongue. 42 . and one wide wound has reached The city's heart. how sank the storm. Wasting the Argives worn with toil and war. The curse has fallen. that Ares loves.

So 'scaped we death that lurks beneath the sea. Snatched us or prayed us from the powers of air. some god. under day's white light. mistrustful all Of fortune's smile. agamemnon Night and great horror of the rising wave Came o'er us. Corpses of Grecian men and shattered hulls. But. 43 . So that no surge should gulf us deep in brine. we saw Th' Aegaean sea-field flecked with flowers of death. No human power. as strays by some ill shepherd driven.Aeschylus. we sat and brooded deep. as well I deem. Nor grind our keel upon a rocky shore. Shepherds forlorn of thoughts that wandered wild O'er this new woe. And lost as ashes scattered from the pyre. And when at length the sun rose bright. and some with plunging prow Thro' scudding drifts of spray and raving storm Vanished. Be well assured. for smitten was our host. he deems of us as dead. laid hand upon our helm. unharmed in hull: And saving Fortune sat and steered us fair. Of whom if any draw his life-breath yet. For us indeed. And brought our bark thro'all. and the blasts that blow from Thrace Clashed ship with ship.

and death did lour.Aeschylus. CHORUS singing strophe 1 Say. preserved by Zeus. the bride with war for dower 'Twas one of the Invisible. Enough-thou hast the truth unto the end. The HERALD departs. On fleet. Who wills not yet to wipe his race away. When from the bride-bed's fine-spun veil She to the Zephyr spread her sail. Guiding his tongue with prescient power. And named her. But while she fled. 44 . War. and citadel. agamemnon As we of him no other fate forebode. from whose lips the presage fell? Who read the future all too well. in her natal hour. Strong blew the breeze-the surge closed oer The cloven track of keel and oar. Hope still there is that homeward he may wend. Helen. He will not tarry. sprung from her. But heaven save all! If Menelaus live. there drove along. but will surely come: Therefore if anywhere the high sun's ray Descries him upon earth. and host.

Even now. agamemnon Fast in her wake. brooks not to see Its outraged hospitality. Troy chants her dirge of mighty moan. that works its will. Zeus tarries.Aeschylus. and in far other tone. The leafy coppices amongNo rangers. athirst for war. they. woe and hate! 45 . But they to whom that song befell Did turn anon to tears again. Sped thus on Troy its destined ill. Forward in fell pursuit they sprung. a mighty throngAthirst for blood. the hearth's lord. the household's stain! He. Woe upon Paris. of wood and field. but avenges still The husband's wrong. Then leapt on Simois' bank ashore. antistrophe 1 Heaven's jealousy. Well named. And loud rang out the bridal strain. the Bride and Bane. But huntsmen of the sword and shield. at once.

The hand that will assuage its pain. upon the breast.Aeschylus. and oft caressed. Within the arms. to fend her fate. 46 . by hunger pressed. Troy! thou hast fed and freed to roam A lion-cub within thy home! strophe 2 A suckling creature. A fondling for the children's play. A joy unto the old and grey. Or fawns and licks. Wherewith she wails disconsolate The blood. a well-loved guest. so many of her own Have poured in vain. antistrophe 2 But waxing time and growth betrays The blood-thirst of the lion-race. has it lain. In life's young dawn. Even as an infant. newly ta'en From mother's teat. still fully fain Of nursing care. agamemnon Who wooed his country's doom for mateThis is the burthen of the groan.

With love's soft arrows speeding from its eyesLove's rose.Aeschylus. well-a-day! the bitter bridal-bed. whose thorn doth pierce the soul in subtle wise. By angered Zeus! what tears of many a widowed bride! 47 . When the fair mischief lay by Paris' side! What curse on palace and on people sped With her. and slays. it revels there. And bloody recompense repaysRent flesh of kine. Ah. A God-sent pest invincible. And mars with blood the household fair. Unbidden all. strophe 3 Even so to Ilion's city came by stealth A spirit as of windless seas and skies. that slays. agamemnon And. A minister of fate and hell. the Fury sent on Priam's pride. A gentle phantom-form of joy and wealth. for the house's fostering care. its talons tare: A mighty beast.

that wantons in our ill. that wears its parents' face. From which that after-growth of ill doth rise! Woe springs from wrong. some grey old crime. Early or late. invincible. strophe 4 Some past impiety. A master-fiend. A pride accursed. agamemnon antistrophe 3 Long. alone. in honour's house.Aeschylus. the plant is like the seedWhile Right. that broods upon the race And home in which dark Ate holds her swaySin's child and Woe's. when haps th'appointed timeAnd out of light brings power of darkness still. Not bliss nor wealth it is. Alone. but impious deed. doth its own likeness breed. a foe. long ago to mortals this was told. I deem far otherwise. Breeds the young curse. 48 . unseen. How sweet security and blissful state Have curses for their children-so men holdAnd for the man of all-too prosperous fate Springs from a bitter seed some woe insatiate.

Nor stint the meed of gratitude? For mortal men who fall to ill Take little heed of open truth. And of the wealth. But. The CHORUS sings its welcome. who walks the righteous way. chief of Atreus' race. CASSANDRA follows in another chariot. Right turns away with proud averted eyes. And decks with weal his life. agamemnon antistrophe 4 While Right in smoky cribs shines clear as day. of the grief their eyes display. holier temples hies. From gilded halls. AGAMEMNON enters. Returning proud from Troy subdued! How shall I greet thy conquering face? How nor a fulsome praise obtrude. in its appointed wise. men stamp amiss with praise. Heedless. riding in a chariot and accompanied by a great procession. 49 .Aeschylus. that hands polluted raise. And to Fate's goal guides all. Hail to thee. But seek unto its semblance still: The show of weeping and of ruth To the forlorn will all men pay. to poorer.

with the joyous. I held thee for a pilot ill. can ne'er misread Truth in the falsehood of his eyes. ungrudgingly. O king. our leader-when of yore Thou badest Greece go forth to war For Helen's sake-I dare avow That then I held thee not as now. this word be saidWell fall the labour ye have spedLet time and search. To those that wrought. declare What men within thy city's bound 50 . Who veils beneath a kindly guise A lukewarm love in deed. But he who as a shepherd wise Doth know his flock. agamemnon Nought to the heart doth pierce its way. And thou. unfelt the while. And force a joy. And reckless. And. Endowing others doomed to die With vain and forced audacity! Now from my heart.Aeschylus. That to my vision thou didst seem Dyed in the hues of disesteem. of thy proper will. they beguile Their lips unto a feigned smile.

Rise the rich fumes of pomp and wealth consumed For this must all men pay unto the gods The meed of mindful hearts and gratitude: For by our hands the meshes of revenge Closed on the prey. And where the towers in dusty ashes sink. as is meet. Not from a pleader's tongue. And who were faithless found. and for one woman's sake 51 . and the gods that guard the landGods who with me availed to speed us home. In the court of heaven The gods in conclave sat and judged the cause. Unanimous into the urn of doom This sentence gave. With me availed to wring from Priam's town The due of justice. and the flame Of Ate's hecatomb is living yet.Aeschylus. AGAMEMNON still standing in the chariot First. Death: and where hope drew nigh to pardon's urn No hand there was to cast a vote therein. On Ilion and her men. agamemnon Were loyal to the kingdom's care. a king's All-hail be said To Argos. And still the smoke of fallen Ilion Rises in sight of all men. and at the close.

Aeschylus, agamemnon

Troy trodden by the Argive monster liesThe foal, the shielded band that leapt the wall, What time with autumn sank the Pleiades. Yea, o'er the fencing wall a lion sprang Ravening, and lapped his fill of blood of kings.

Such prelude spoken to the gods in full, To you I turn, and to the hidden thing Whereof ye spake but now: and in that thought I am as you, and what ye say, say I. For few are they who have such inborn grace, As to look up with love, and envy not, When stands another on the height of weal. Deep in his heart, whom jealousy hath seized, Her poison lurking doth enhance his load; For now beneath his proper woes he chafes, And sighs withal to see another's weal.

I speak not idly, but from knowledge sureThere be who vaunt an utter loyalty, That is but as the ghost of friendship dead, A shadow in a glass, of faith gone by. One only-he who went reluctant forth Across the seas with me-Odysseus-he


Aeschylus, agamemnon

Was loyal unto me with strength and will, A trusty trace-horse bound unto my car. Thus-be he yet beneath the light of day, Or dead, as well I fear-I speak his praise. Lastly, whate'er be due to men or gods,

With joint debate, in public council held, We will decide, and warily contrive That all which now is well may so abide: For that which haply needs the healer's art, That will we medicine, discerning well If cautery or knife befit the time.

Now, to my palace and the shrines of home, I will pass in, and greet you first and fair, Ye gods, who bade me forth, and home againAnd long may Victory tarry in my train!
CLYTEMNESTRA enters from the palace, followed by maidens bearing crimson robes.

CLYTEMNESTRA Old men of Argos, lieges of our realm, Shame shall not bid me shrink lest ye should see The love I bear my lord. Such blushing fear


Aeschylus, agamemnon

Dies at the last from hearts of human kind. From mine own soul and from no alien lips, I know and will reveal the life I bore. Reluctant, through the lingering livelong years, The while my lord beleaguered Ilion's wall.

First, that a wife sat sundered from her lord, In widowed solitude, was utter woe And woe, to hear how rumour's many tongues All boded evil-woe, when he who came And he who followed spake of ill on ill, Keening Lost, lost, all lost! thro' hall and bower. Had this my husband met so many wounds, As by a thousand channels rumour told, No network e'er was full of holes as he. Had he been slain, as oft as tidings came That he was dead, he well might boast him now A second Geryon of triple frame, With triple robe of earth above him laidFor that below, no matter-triply dead, Dead by one death for every form he bore. And thus distraught by news of wrath and woe, Oft for self-slaughter had I slung the noose, But others wrenched it from my neck away.


Each sound-the tiny humming of a gnat. 'Tis the world's way to set a harder heel On fallen power. long since the gushing fount of tears Is wept away. Nor marvel thou at this: he dwells with one Who guards him loyally. again. What woes of doubtful issue well may fall Thy lord in daily jeopardy at Troy. Night after night unkindled. saw thee slain. 55 . Bethink thee. Weeping. down!" bethink thee too. 'tis Phocis' king. who warned me erst. piled for thy return. no drop is left to shed.Aeschylus. For me. Thrice for each moment of mine hour of sleep. Roused me again. from fitful dreams Wherein I felt thee smitten. as he should stand. Strophius. For thy child's absence then Such mine excuse. agamemnon Hence haps it that Orestes. the bale-fires. no wily afterthought. If I slept. Dim are the eyes that ever watched till dawn. While here a populace uncurbed may cry. thine and mine. Stands not beside us now. "Down witk the council. The pledge and symbol of our wedded troth. queen.

As column stout that holds the roof aloft. With such salute I bid my husband hail Nor heaven be wroth therewith! for long and hard I bore that ire of old. As saving stay-rope of a storm-tossed ship. The attendant women spread the tapestry. Step from thy car. As gushing spring to thirsty wayfarer. Sweet lord. swift. released from woe. by crews forlorn.Aeschylus. As sunshine fair when tempest's wrath is past. past hope. I pray-nay. agamemnon All this I bore. and now. O king. step forth. As only child unto a sire bereaved. So sweet it is to 'scape the press of pain. not on earth Plant the proud foot. That justice lead him to a home. at last. Zeal unsubdued by sleep shall nerve my hand 56 . I hail my lord as watch-dog of a fold. whose task it is To spread your monarch's path with tapestry? Swift. As land beheld. For what remains. that trod down Troy! Women! why tarry ye. with purple strew his passage fair. He scarcely looked to see.

Best gift of heaven it is. in glory's hour. Fear not-such footcloths and all gauds apart. A mortal man to set his foot On these rich dyes? I hold such pride in fear. 'Tis said: I fain would fare unvexed by fear.Aeschylus. Call none blest Till peaceful death have crowned a life of weal. Not unto me. 57 . such pomp beseems the gods. AGAMEMNON still in the chariot Daughter of Leda. Know. Not me. as to some Eastern lord. Must come from others' lips. watcher o'er my home. To think thereon with soberness: and thouBethink thee of the adage. Strew not this purple that shall make each step An arrogance. agamemnon To work as right and as the gods command. not god. that the praise which honour bids us crave. And bid thee honour me as man. Loud from the trump of Fame my name is blown. For late and hardly has it reached its end. Bowing thyself to earth. Thy greeting well befits mine absence long. not from our own: See too that not in fashion feminine Thou make a warrior's pathway delicate. make homage loud.

CLYTEMNESTRA Shrink not from envy. CLYTEMNESTRA Was it fear made this meekness to the gods? AGAMEMNON If cause be cause. appanage of bliss. I have said. CLYTEMNESTRA What.Aeschylus. and will not mar my word. think'st thou. in thy place had Priam done? AGAMEMNON He surely would have walked on broidered robes. 'tis mine for this resolve. AGAMEMNON Yet mighty is the murmur of a crowd. CLYTEMNESTRA Then fear not thou the voice of human blame. agamemnon CLYTEMNESTRA Nay. 58 . but unsay it-thwart not thou my will! AGAMEMNON Know.

Aeschylus. but gently: God on high Looks graciously on him whom triumph's hour Has made not pitiless. Wasting the wealth of garments silver-worth. let some one stoop to loose Swiftly these sandals. comes hither in my train. slaves beneath my foot. nor war of words. agamemnon AGAMEMNON War is not woman's part. of thy grace permit me to prevail! AGAMEMNON Then. Enough hereof: and. CLYTEMNESTRA Yet happy victors well may yield therein. Let none among the gods look down With jealous eye on me-reluctant all. 59 . Lead her within. AGAMEMNON Dost crave for triumph in this petty strife? CLYTEMNESTRA Yield. if thou wilt. None willingly Wear the slave's yoke-and she. the prize and flower Of all we won. for the stranger maid. To trample thus and mar a thing of price. And stepping thus upon the sea's rich dye. I pray.

60 . (Had once the oracle such gift required) Contriving ransom for thy life preserved. He descends from the chariot. within thy halls There lies. but II would have gladly vowed unto the gods Cost of a thousand garments trodden thus. For while the stock is firm the foliage climbs.Aeschylus. Such boons and more doth bring into a home The present footstep of its proper lord. -Now. And thou. what time the dog-star glows. Art as a genial warmth in winter hours. Enough of such. returning to thine hearth and home. O king. and moves towards the palace. Or as a coolness. CLYTEMNESTRA A Sea there is-and who shall stay its springs? And deep within its breast. Precious as silver. when the lord of heaven Mellows the juice within the bitter grape. Whereby the dipped robe doth its tint renew. Spreading a shade. since in this my will bows down to thine. of the purple dye. I will pass in on purples to my home. a store that cannot fail. a mighty store. agamemnon Gift of the army to its chief and lord.

Not as of old upon my bosom's throne Sits Confidence. work forth thy will! She follows AGAMEMNON into the palace. Yet none the less in me The inner spirit sings a boding song. Fulfilment's lord! my vows fulfil. to spurn Such fears. old and grey long since the time has grown. when erst it came to Ilion's sandy shore. agamemnon Zeus. Oracular of pain. thrills mine ear. Which saw the linked cables moor The fleet. 61 . CHORUS singing strophe 1 Wherefore for ever on the wings of fear Hovers a vision drear Before my boding heart? a strain. Unbidden and unwelcome.Aeschylus. like dreams we know not to discern. Old. antistrophe 1 And now mine eyes and not another's see Their safe return. And whatsoe'er it be. Zeus.

that dwelleth hard beside. Are these wild throbbings of my heart and breastYea. a knell. Too fair they blow. 62 . lief I were.Aeschylus. lest all should sink below. The gales that waft our bark on Fortune's tide! Swiftly we sail. that all To unfulfilment's hidden realm might fall. To hope and to be strong! Ah! to some end of Fate. unseen. agamemnon Self-prompted. unguessed. From the deep death it saves the bark: even so. the reef of woe. too far our mortal spirits strive. Then if the hand of caution warily Sling forth into the sea Part of the freight. Thrust down the sundering wall. Grasping at utter weal. unsatisfiedTill the fell curse. the sooner an to drive Upon the hidden rock. of some doom they tellEach pulse. Lief. and seeks in vain. strophe 2 Too far. sings the Furies' strainAnd seeks.

and apartSwifter than speech my heart Had poured its presage out! Now. once more may rise His household. Helpless to us-ward. fretting. who is timely wise. the new year's yield! antistrophe 2 But blood of man once spilled. agamemnon Doom-laden though it be. ordained of old. How oft the famine-stricken field Is saved by God's large gift. So Zeus hath willed: Else had he spared the leech Asclepius.Aeschylus. skilled To bring man from the dead: the hand divine Did smite himself with death-a warning and a sign- Ah me! if Fate.Nor chant nor charm can call it back again. Held not the will of gods constrained. 'Tis hopeless to unfold 63 . controlled. and darkening the plain. Once at his feet shed forth. chafing in the dark of doubt.

Beside the altar of his guardianship. hard it is. 64 . from fear's tangled skein. Pass in: thou hearest what our ways will be. Alcmena's son. 'tis said. CLYTEMNESTRA Get thee within thou too. but. What. if such fate befall. yearning to proclaim Its thought. LEADER OF THE CHORUS Clear unto thee. immoderate in sway. agamemnon Truth. is her command. Is as a lion to his slaves. in all Exceeding fierce. But thou-within the toils of Fate thou artIf such thy will. An upstart lord. go! For Zeus to thee in gracious mercy grants To share the sprinklings of the lustral bowl. and. To whom wealth's harvest came beyond his hope. Ay. Was sold perforce and bore the yoke of old. who has remained motionless in her chariot. 'Tis a fair chance to serve within a home Of ancient wealth and power. haughty still? Step from the car. Cassandra. O maid.Aeschylus. my soul is prophecy and flame. Slave among many slaves. I urge thee to obey. CLYTEMNESTRA comes out of the palace and addresses CASSANDRA.

Step from the car's high seat and follow her. CLYTEMNESTRA Truce to this bootless waiting here without! I will not stay: beside the central shrine The victims stand. LEADER No native is she. 65 . behold! she shrinks and glares on thee. Thou-if thou reckest aught of my command. let thy barbarian hand Fulfil by gesture the default of speech. New-trapped. 'Twere well done soon: but if thy sense be shut From these my words.Aeschylus. thus to read thy words Unaided: like some wild thing of the wood. agamemnon Yet I misdoubt thou dost nor hear nor heed. CLYTEMNESTRA I wot-unless like swallows she doth use Some strange barbarian tongue from overseaMy words must speak persuasion to her soul. LEADER Obey: there is no gentler way than this. prepared for knife and fireOfferings from hearts beyond all hope made glad.

Aeschylus, agamemnon

CLYTEMNESTRA 'Tis madness and the rule of mind distraught, Since she beheld her city sink in fire, And hither comes, nor brooks the bit, until In foam and blood her wrath be champed away. See ye to her; unqueenly 'tis for me, Unheeded thus to cast away my words.
CLYTEMNESTRA enters the palace.

LEADER But with me pity sits in anger's place. Poor maiden, come thou from the car; no way There is but this-take up thy servitude. CASSANDRA chanting Woe, woe, alas! Earth, Mother Earth! and thou Apollo, Apollo! LEADER Peace! shriek not to the bright prophetic god, Who will not brook the suppliance of woe. CASSANDRA chanting Woe, woe, alas! Earth, Mother Earth! and thou Apollo, Apollo!

Aeschylus, agamemnon

LEADER Hark, with wild curse she calls anew on him, Who stands far off and loathes the voice of wail. CASSANDRA chanting Apollo, Apollo! God of all ways, but only Death's to me, Once and again, O thou, Destroyer named, Thou hast destroyed me, thou, my love of old! LEADER She grows presageful of her woes to come, Slave tho' she be, instinct with prophecy. CASSANDRA chanting Apollo, Apollo! God of all ways, but only Death's to me, O thou Apollo, thou Destroyer named! What way hast led me, to what evil home? LEADER Know'st thou it not? The home of Atreus' race: Take these my words for sooth and ask no more.


Aeschylus, agamemnon

CASSANDRA chanting Home cursed of God! Bear witness unto me, Ye visioned woes withinThe blood-stained hands of them that smite their kinThe strangling noose, and, spattered o'er With human blood, the reeking floor! LEADER How like a sleuth-hound questing on the track, Keen-scented unto blood and death she hies! CASSANDRA chanting Ah! can the ghostly guidance fail, Whereby my prophet-soul is onwards led? Look! for their flesh the spectre-children wail, Their sodden limbs on which their father fed! LEADER Long since we knew of thy prophetic fame,But for those deeds we seek no prophet's tongueCASSANDRA chanting God! 'tis another crimeWorse than the storied woe of olden time, Cureless, abhorred, that one is plotting here-


a snare of hell. She smites him. CASSANDRA chanting O wretch. 69 . beyond my ken. for now. He that should help doth stand! LEADER I knew th' old tales. Set by her hand--herself a snare more fell A wedded wife. even now. in foreign land. she slays her lord. the city rings withalBut now thy speech is dark.Aeschylus. agamemnon A shaming death. for those that should be dear Alas! and far away. O purpose fell! Thou for thy wedded lord The cleansing wave hast pouredA treacherous welcome How the sequel tell? Too soon 'twill come. blow on blow! LEADER Riddles bcyond my rede--I peer in vain Thro' the dim films that screen the prophecy CASSANDRA chanting God! a new sight! a net. too soon.

70 . Yet something warns me that they tell of ill. some woe comes pressing on. away--keep him away-The monarch of the herd. the pasture's pride.The blood that round the wounding steel Ebbs slow. Shriek o'er the house? Thine is no cheering word.Aeschylus. Far from his mate! In treach'rous wrath. agamemnon Helped by another hand! Ye powers. Back to my heart in frozen fear I feel My wanning life-blood run-. with secret scathe She gores his fenceless side! Hark ! in the brimming bath. I know not whom. The heavy plash--the dying cry-Hark--in the laver--hark. whose hate Of Atreus' home no blood can satiate. CASSANDRA chanting Away. Muffling his swarthy horns. swift and sure. as sinks life's parting sun-Swift. Raise the wild cry above the sacrifice abhorred! CHORUS chanting Why biddest thou some hend. he falls by treachery! CHORUS chanting I read amiss dark sayings such as thine.

Ill tidings dost thou teach Ever. agamemnon O dark prophetic speech. foams with a draught for me Ah lord. Clothed thee with soft brown plumes. ah leader. and life apart from wail-But for my death is edged the double-biting sword! 71 . thou hast led me here-Was't but to die with thee whose doom is near? CHORUS chanting Distraught thou art. O shrill-voiced nightingale! Some solace for thy woes did Heaven afford. And wailest for thyself a tuneless lay. divinely stirred. to mortals here below! Ever some tale of awe and woe Thro' all thy windings manifold Do we unriddle and unfold! CASSANDRA chanting Ah well-a-day! the cup of agony. As piteous as the ceaseless tale Wherewith the brown melodious bird Doth ever Itys! Itys! wail. Deep-bowered in sorrow. Whereof I chant. all its little life-time's day! CASSANDRA chanting Ah for thy fate.Aeschylus.

Sent on thee from on high? Thou chantest terror's frantic strain. what fruitless pain. agamemnon CHORUS chanting What pangs are these. I grew in tender nursing care From childhood unto maidenhood! Now not by thine. but by Cocytus' stream And Acheron's banks shall ring my boding scream.Aeschylus. Deep in my heart their piercing fang Terror and sorrow set. How thus unerring canst thou sweep along The prophet's path of boding song? CASSANDRA chanting Woe. Paris. too plain! A child might read aright thy fateful strain. O river fair. low. tender word. Yet in shrill measured melody. the while I heard That piteous. CHORUS chanting Too plain is all. 72 . woe on thee! thy bridal joy Was death and fire upon thy race and Troy! And woe for thee. Yet to mine ear and heart a crushing pang. Scamander's flood! Beside thy banks.

But as the morning wind blows clear the east. More bright shall blow the wind of prophecy. deadlier woe. how oft with sanguine stain Streamed on thine altar-stone the blood of cattle.Aeschylus. CASSANDRA more calmly List! for no more the presage of my soul. And I--ah burning heart!--shall soon lie low as well. slain That heaven might guard our wall! But all was shed in vain. Low lie the shattered towers whereas they fell. 73 . CHORUS chanting Of sorrow is thy song. And as against the low bright line of dawn Heaves high and higher yet the rolling wave. woe for Ilion's fall! Father. what power of ill Sits heavy on thy heart and bids thee tell In tears of perfect moan thy deadly tale? Some woe--I know not what--must close thy pious wail. Bride-like. of sorrow still! Alas. agamemnon CASSANDRA chanting Woe for my city. shall peer from its secluding veil. So in the clearing skies of prescience Dawns on my soul a further.

the storied infamy. Bear witness. and follow at my side-I scent the trail of blood. Within this house a choir abidingly Chants in harsh unison the chant of ill. Man's blood for wine. the love incestuous That brought forth hatred to the ravisher. LEADER Yet how should oath--how loyally soe'er I swear it--aught avail thee? In good sooth. Yea. The prophetess of lies. they chant the primal curse. but in dark speech no more. the pest of every door-Attest ye now.Aeschylus. The brother's couch. Say. and revel in the halls. She knows in very sooth The house's curse. 74 . Departing never. The wandering hag. agamemnon And I will speak. Furies of the home. shed long ago. is my speech or wild and erring now. and they drink. Each spitting hatred on that crime of old. They sit within. My wonder meets thy claim: I stand amazed That thou. Or doth its arrow cleave the mark indeed? They called me once. ye. a maiden born beyond the seas. for more enhardened joy.

Aeschylus. agamemnon Dost as a native know and tell aright Tales of a city of an alien tongue. LEADER Came ye by compact unto bridal joys? CASSANDRA Nay--for I plighted troth. CASSANDRA He strove to win me. then foiled the god. LEADER God though he were. LEADER Wert thou already dowered with prescience? 75 . panting for my love. LEADER Such finer sense suits not with slavery. yearning for mortal maid? CASSANDRA Ay! what seemed shame of old is shame no more. CASSANDRA That is my power--a boon Apollo gave.

that a kinsman's hand Hath marked with murder. false to him. woe! Again the agony-Dread pain that sees the future all too well With ghastly preludes whirls and racks my soul. LEADER Not so--to us at least thy words seem sooth. Horrible shadows. CASSANDRA Woe for me. seemed prophet false to all. agamemnon CASSANDRA Yea--prophetess to Troy of all her doom. Behold ye--yonder on the palace roof The spectre-children sitting--look. I say there plots revenge A coward lion. they hold them up. and their arms are full-A rueful burden--see. for this. couching in the lair-- 76 .Aeschylus. LEADER How left thee then Apollo's wrath unscathed? CASSANDRA I. The entrails upon which their father fed! For this. such things As dreams are made on. phantoms as of babes.

And he. believe me not: what skills belief Or disbelief ? Fate works its will--and thou Wilt see and say in ruth. Girt round about with rocks? some hag of hell.Aeschylus. the seaman s bane. where she dwells. agamemnon Guarding the gate against my master's foot-My master--mine--I bear the slave's yoke now. Raving a truceless curse upon her kin? Hark even now she cries exultingly The vengeful cry that tells of battle turned-How fain. LEADER Ah--'tis Thyestes' feast on kindred flesh-I guess her meaning and with horror thrill. the lord of ships. O aweless soul! the woman slays her lord-Woman? what loathsome monster of the earth Were fit comparison? The double snake-Or Scylla. who trod down Troy. Moving like Ate to a secret end. to greet her chief restored! Nay then. Her tale was true. 77 . Knows not the fawning treachery of tongue Of this thing false and dog-like--how her speech Glozes and sleeks her purpose. forsooth. till she win By ill fate's favour the desired chance.

LEADER Ay-. to thy boding words! CASSANDRA Far from my speech stands he who sains and saves.which God forbid! CASSANDRA Thou prayest idly--these move swift to slay. 78 . CASSANDRA 'Tis Agamemnon's doom thou shalt behold. LEADER Peace hapless woman. Far from the track I roam. for the rest.were such a doom at hand-. LEADER What man prepares a deed of such despite? CASSANDRA Fool! thus to read amiss mine oracles.Aeschylus. and know no more. But its full hatefulness: yet. agamemnon Hearing no shadow'd hint of th' o'er-true tale.

LEADER Ay--but in thine. ye wreaths that cling around my neck. Apollo of the dawn! Lo. crown some other with a prophet's woe. 'tis for me. as in Apollo's strains. and edged the steel! Ye wands. like some witch. With double death--his recompense for me! Ay. CASSANDRA Dark! all too well I speak the Grecian tongue. nears me now-Woe. or e'er I die-Down. Familiar is the tongue. to destruction! Thus I stand revenged-Go. that slays her lord.Aeschylus. the prey he bore from Troy. how the woman-thing. ah the fire! it waxes. the lioness Couched with the wolf--her noble mate afar-Will slay me. agamemnon LEADER Deviser and device are dark to me. 79 . That she hath sworn his death. slave forlorn! Yea. woe for me. CASSANDRA Ah. Ye showed me prophetess yet scorned of all-I stamp you into death. but dark the thought. She drugs the cup of wrath.

His hate unmakes me now: and I shall stand Not now before the altar of my home. And at this last the god hath brought me here Into death's toils. Shall smite and slay with matricidal hand. Since first mine Ilion has found its fate 80 .Aeschylus. For by their will shall one requite my doom. Called home to vengeance by his father's fall: Thus have the high gods sworn. And now why mourn I. poverty. a reeking sacrifice. He. A banished wanderer in a stranger's land-To crown his kindred's edifice of ill. and famine--all I bore. and what his love had made. an undivided scorn. he shall come--tho' far away he roam. to avenge his father's blood outpoured. God! while I wore it yet. The name alike and fate of witch and cheat-Woe. thou saw'st me mocked There at my home by each malicious mouth-To all and each. tarrying on earth. it is Apollo's self Rending from me the prophet-robe he gave. agamemnon Lookl it is he. and shall fulfil. Yet shall the gods have heed of me who die. But me a slaughter-house and block of blood Shall see hewn down. Ay.

heaven controlled? CASSANDRA Friends. As fronts the knife some victim.Aeschylus. LEADER Maid of mysterious woes. and those who won the wall Pass to such issue as the gods ordain? I too will pass and like them dare to die! She turns and looks upon the palace door. with ebbing blood Shed forth in quiet death. thus I bid thee hail! Grant me one boon--a swift and mortal stroke. thus unscared. his the gain. how. mysterious lore. Portal of Hades. Dost thou approach the altar of thy doom. Long was thy prophecy: but if aright Thou readest all thy fate. LEADER Yet who delays the longest. That all unwrung by pain. there is no avoidance in delay. I close mine eyes. CASSANDRA The day is come--flight were small gain to me! 81 . agamemnon And I beheld.

agamemnon LEADER O brave endurance of a soul resolved! CASSANDRA That were ill praise. for those of happier doom. then starts back.Aeschylus. famous once were ye! She moves to enter the house. LEADER What fear is this that scares thee from the house? CASSANDRA Pah! LEADER What is this cry? some dark despair of soul? CASSANDRA Pah! the house fumes with stench and spilth of blood. 82 . even famous death. LEADER All fame is happy. CASSANDRA Ah sire. ah brethren.

That not as birds that shun the bush and scream I moan in idle terror.Aeschylus. LEADER Thou canst not mean this scented Syrian nard? CASSANDRA Nay. Grant me this boon--the last before I die. for a man ill-wedded to his curse. 83 . This attest When for my death's revenge another dies. let me pass within to cry aloud The monarch's fate and mine-. since I fall in death. Ah friends! Bear to me witness. A woman for a woman. CASSANDRA 'Tis rank as charnel-scent from open graves.enough of life. LEADER Brave to the last! I mourn thy doom foreseen. and a man Falls. agamemnon LEADER How? 'tis the smell of household offerings.

old Priam's town. Though for my death--and then I speak no more. quit withal The death of me. CHORUS singing Too true it is! our mortal state With bliss is never satiate. of the twain. Sun! thou whose beam I shall not see again. Let those whom vengeance calls To slay their kindred's slayers.Aeschylus. By grace of heaven. One wet sponge-sweep wipes all our trace away-And this I deem less piteous. before the palace high And stately of prosperity. A line. Cries to us with a voice of fear. She enters the palace. a shadow! and if ill fate fall. the slave. agamemnon CASSANDRA Once more one utterance. To thee I cry. Ah state of mortal man! in time of weal. the fenceless prey. And praised as god he stands once more On Argos' shore! Yet now--if blood shed long ago 84 . And none. Away! 'tis ill to enter here! Lo! this our lord hath trodden down. but not of wail.

Aeschylus. another blow! LEADER The bloody act is over--I have heard the monarch's cry-Let us swiftly take some counsel. another. to pay again The stern requital of the slain-Peace to that braggart's vaunting vain. a mortal blow. his. aloud for aid to call. listen! who is screaming as in mortal agony? VOICE OF AGAMEMNON O! O! again. I judge. VOICE OF AGAMEMNON O I am sped--a deep. ourselves to bear the aid. "Ho! loyal Argives! to the palace. agamemnon Cries out that other blood shall flow-His life-blood. LEADER Listen. all!" ANOTHER Better. Who. ONE OF THE CHORUS 'Tis best. having heard the chieftain's tale. Yet boasts of bliss untouched by bale! A loud cry is heard from within. I deem. lest we too be doomed to die. 85 .

ANOTHER I know not what 'twere well to counsel now-Who wills to act. and what thou say'st I say: Swiftly to act! the time brooks no delay. for tis plain. ANOTHER What? e'en for life's sake. we tarry--but thy name. bow us to obey These house-defilers and their tyrant sway ? 86 . ANOTHER Behold. and press with sleepless hand to slay. while drips the blade. agamemnon And drag the deed to light. Delay. They spurn. this prelude of their song Foretells its close in tyranny and wrong. I have no words to bring his life again. ANOTHER Thy doubt is mine: for when a man is slain.Aeschylus. ANOTHER Ay. 'tis his to counsel how. ANOTHER Such will is mine.

Aeschylus. CLYTEMNESTRA Ho. LEADER I read one will from many a diverse word. The body of AGAMEMNON lies. the corpse of CASSANDRA is laid beside him. agamemnon ANOTHER Unmanly doom! 'twere better far to die-Death is a gentler lord than tyranny. She has blood smeared upon her forehead. ye who heard me speak so long and oft The glozing word that led me to my will-Hear how I shrink not to unsay it all! How else should one who willeth to requite Evil for evil to an enemy 87 . how stands it with our lord! The central doors of the palace open. To know aright. who comes forward. disclosing CLYTEMNESTRA. ANOTHER Think well--must cry or sign of woe or pain Fix our conclusion that the chief is slain? ANOTHER Such talk befits us when the deed we see-Conjecture dwells afar from certainty. muffled in a long robe. within a silver-sided laver.

Aeschylus. saviour of the dead. Once more I smote him. each dying breath Flung from his breast swift bubbling jets of gore. And the dark sprinklings of the rain of blood Fell upon me. Sacred to Hades. with the last third blow. Not to be overleaped. and I was fain to feel That dew-. once. Then smote him. again--and at each wound He cried aloud. a net of doom? This is the sum and issue of old strife. then as in death relaxed Each limb and sank to earth. The ill abundance of a baffling robe. I trapped him with inextricable toils. Even as the trammel hems the scaly shoal. and as he lay. And thus he fell. agamemnon Disguised as friend. 88 . when the green sheath teems with grain. and as he passed away. weave the mesh straitly round him.not sweeter is the rain of heaven To cornland. and as I smote I stand With foot set firm upon a finished thing! I turn not to denial: thus I wrought So that he could nor flee nor ward his doom. Elders of Argos--since the thing stands so. Spirit with body chafed. All is avowed. Of me deep-pondered and at length fulfilled.

And thus returned to drain the cup he filled. if such your will: Rejoice or not. weak of will. LEADER I marvel at thy tongue's audacity.on his corpse Who filled his home with curses as with wine. fashioned for his death.-. A right contriver. if seemly it could be. Albeit ye know its message. And strive to sway me: but my heart is stout. My husband once-.and him this hand of mine. 'Twere not ill done to pour libations here. I vaunt and praise the deed. 89 .I reck not of your words.ay. Justly-. more than justly-. To vaunt thus loudly o'er a husband slain. Behold the deed! CHORUS chanting Woman. Lo! at my feet lies Agamemnon slain.Aeschylus. CLYTEMNESTRA Ye hold me as a woman. And well I ween. agamemnon I bid you to rejoice. what deadly birth. Praise or blame. Nor fears to speak its uttermost to you. Even as ye list.

To thee such passion gave. But ye.they cry-. who then were dumb. Had rightly been atoned by banishment. Nerving thine hand To set upon thy brow this burning crown. The curses of thy land? Our king by thee cut off.Aeschylus.accurscd and forlorn. agamemnon What venomed essence of the earth Or dark distilment of the wave. when he held as light My daughter's life as that of sheep or goat. To lull and lay the gales that blew from Thrace. slew in sacrifice his child and mine. hewn down! Go forth-. 90 . To hate and scorn! CLYTEMNESTRA O ye just men. The city's hate. are stern to judge This deed of mine that doth afront your ears. the ban of all my realm! Ye had no voice of old to launch such doom On him. That deed of his. my husband. who speak my sentence now. that stain and shame. The well-loved issue of my travail-pangs. I say. One victim from the thronging fleecy fold! Yea.

by the Fury unto whom This man lies sacrificed by hand of mine. thy vaunting loud. and proud Thy confidence. Is all with blood elate-Maddened to know The blood not yet avenged. By Ate. the damn'ed spot Crimson upon thy brow. I do not look to tread the hall of Fear. Thy soul. To meet thine end! CLYTEMNESTRA Hear then the sanction of the oath I swear-By the great vengeance for my murdered child. without a friend. CHORUS chanting Bold is thy craft. to bow beneath your sway: If God say nay. yet knowing this for sooth. But Fate prepares for thee thy lot-Smitten as thou didst smite. That I am ready. it shall be yours to learn By chastisement a late humility. if your hand prevail As mine now doth.Aeschylus. agamemnon Storm out your threats. While in this hearth and home of mine there burns 91 . that chose a murd'ress' fate.

comfort of his bed. See. Wronging his wife with paramours at Troy.behold his captive prize. Close to his side. as erst she lay.Aeschylus. Full oft. Fresh from the kiss of each Chryseis there! Behold him dead-. strophe 1 CHORUS singing Ah woe and well-a-day! I would that Fate-Not bearing agony too great.I wot The sea-bench was not closer to the flesh. Seeress and harlot-. and lies. and to my couch has left A sweet new taste of joys that know no fear. of every rower. agamemnon The light of love--Aegisthus--as of old Loyal. a stalwart shield of confidence-As true to me as this slain man was false. than was she. true paramour-. True prophetess. Nor stretching me too long on couch of pain-Would bid mine eyelids keep The morningless and unawakening sleep! 92 . ill they did. and ill requites them now. His death ye know: she as a dying swan Sang her last dirge.

The gracious among kings! Hard fate of old he bore and many grievous things. these halls within. Nor turn thy wrath aside to ban The name of Helen.Aeschylus. nor recall How she. O thou that erst. on Ilian land-Now is his life hewn down. agamemnon For life is weary. O'erwhelming thousands. And for a woman's sake. Who bad'st the tides of battle roll. now my lord is slain. and by a woman's hand. O Helen. 'Neath Ilion's wall! And now lies dead the lord of all. Wert unto all a rock of strife. The blossom of thy storied sin Bears blood's inexpiable stain. life on life. Sent down to death the Danaan lords. A husband's bane! CLYTEMNESTRA chanting Peace! pray not thou for death as though Thine heart was whelmed beneath this woe. one bane of many a man. O infatuate soul. 93 . To sleep at Troy the sleep of swords.

and imperious-A bitter sway to me! Thy very form I see. triply fell! From him it is that murder's thirst. Like some grim raven. inwardly is nursed-Ere time the ancient scar can sain. aloud. New blood comes welling forth again. Stern. in tuneless strain! CLYTEMNESTRA chanting Right was that word--thou namest well The brooding race-fiend. perched upon thc slain.Aeschylus. 94 . Exulting o'er the crime. Lording it o'er me by a woman's will. agamemnon And wrought the woe that shattered all. antistrophe 1 CHORUS Fiend of the race! that swoopest fell Upon the double stock of Tantalus. manful. Blood-lapping.

ah Zeus! from Zeus all things befall-Zeus the high cause and finisher of all!-Lord of our mortal state. by him are willed All things. Alas. impious wound Pant forth thv life and die! A death of shame--ah woe on woe! A treach'rous hand. And thro' a coward. thy life around. And lo! I see thee lie. my king no more! What words to say. an omened cry of woe unsatisfied. what tears to pour Can tell my love for thee? The spider-web of treachery She wove and wound. That fiend of whom thv voice has cried. by him fulfilled! refrain 1 Yet ah my king. a cleaving blow! 95 . agamemnon strophe 2 CHORUS Grim is his wrath and heavy on our home.Aeschylus. An all-devouring doom! Ah woe.

god of death. wroth for the parent's deed. Hath struck the lord of Atreus' house. agamemnon CLYTEMNESTRA chanting My guilt thou harpest. And in the semblance of his wife The king hath slain. for flesh on which their sire did feed. antistrophe 2 CHORUS Thou guiltless of this murder. A chieftain's in requital ta'en. For clotted blood. o'er and o'er! I bid thee reckon me no more As Agamemnon's spouse. Exacting the accompt for children dead. The old Avenger. stern of mood For Atreus and his feast of blood.Aeschylus. The fiend hath holpen thee to slay the son. is pressing on Thro' streams of blood by kindred shed.-Yea. Dark Ares. for the murdered children's life. thou! Who dares such thought avow? Yet it may be. 96 .

Nor be his vaunt too loud in hell. impious wound Pant forth thy life and die! A death of shame--ah woe on woe! A treach'rous hand. And by the sword himself is brought 97 . my king no more! What words to say. a cleaving blow! CLYTEMNESTRA chanting I deem not that the death he died Had overmuch of shame: For this was he who did provide Foul wrong unto his house and name: His daughter. And thro' a coward. even so he fares. thy life around. blossom of my womb.Aeschylus. what tears to pour Can tell my love for thee? The spider-web of treachery She wove and wound. He gave unto a deadly doom. agamemnon refrain 2 Yet ah my king. child of tears! And as he wrought. For by the sword his sin he wrought. And lo! I see thee lie. Iphigenia.

strophe 3 CHORUS Ah whither shall I fly? For all in ruin sinks the kingly hall. I stand distraught--a ghastly interval. 'tis thine no more! 98 . And who the wail of sorrow pour? Woman. Another death to deal. Even now fate whets the steel On whetstone new and deadlier than of old. A little while the gentler rain-drops fail. O Earth! that I had lain at rest And lapped for ever in thy breast. Till on the roof-tree rings the bursting hail Of blood and doom. To 'scape its fall. Ere I had seen my chieftain fall Within the laver's silver wall. Low-lying on dishonoured bier! And who shall give him sepulchre. in Justice' hold. Nor swift device nor shift of thought have I. agamemnon Among the dead to dwell.Aeschylus. The steel that smites.

by me he died. Ah. by his murd'ress paid! Strive not thus wrongly to atone The impious deed thy hand hath done. agamemnon A graceless gift unto his shade Such tribute. And in a daughter's loving wise Shall clasp and kiss him once again! CHORUS Lo! sin by sin and sorrow dogg'd by sorrow-And who the end can know? The slayer of to-day shall die to-morrow-The wage of wrong is woe.Aeschylus. And now his burial rites be mine! Yet from these halls no mourners' train Shall celebrate his obsequies. Only by Acheron's rolling tide His child shall spring unto his side. who above the god-like chief Shall weep the tears of loyal grief ? Who speak above his lowly grave The last sad praises of the brave? CLYTEMNESTRA chanting Peace! for such task is none of thine By me he fell. 99 .

agamemnon While Time shall be. There. For me 'tis all sufficient meed.Aeschylus. to wrong and slay The lives of men by kindred hands. 100 . His law is fixed and stern. CLYTEMNESTRA chanting Now walks thy word aright. With this last blood. The children of the curse abide within These halls of high estate-And none can wrench from off the home of sin The clinging grasp of fate. Tho' little wealth or power were won. I pray thee let thine anger cease! I pray thee pass from us away To some new race in other lands. On him that wrought shall vengeance be outpoured-The tides of doom return. But I with vows of sooth will pray To him. to tell This ancient truth of oracle. if thou wilt. while Zeus in heaven is lord. my hands have split. the power that holdeth sway O'er all the race of Pleisthenes-Tho' dark the deed and deep the guilt.

And drave him from his home to banishment. I who stand and thus exult to see This man lie wound in robes the Furies wove. 'Tis past and done. by my deed! AEGISTHUS and his armed attendants enter. Is ended. this welcome planned-101 . But Atreus. Brother with brother. Held with my sire Thyestes deep dispute. for the prize of sway. AEGISTHUS Dawn of the day of rightful vengeance. agamemnon So I can say.Aeschylus. The lord and monarch of this land of old. Take ye the truth. I. godless sire Of him who here lies dead. the lorn exile homeward stole And clung a suppliant to the hearth divine. Thereafter. hail! I dare at length aver that gods above Have care of men and heed of earthly wrongs. The bloody lust and murderous. that Atreus. Slain in the requital of his father's craft. And for himself won this immunity-Not with his own blood to defile the land That gave him birth. The inborn frenzy of our house. this man's sire.

He hid the fingers and the feet. agamemnon With zeal that was not love he feigned to hold In loyal joy a day of festal cheer. and ate: behold what curse That eating brought upon our race and name! For when he knew what all unhallowed thing He thus had wrought. My right hand reached unto the chieftain's life. So perish all the race of Pleisthenes! Thus by that curse fell he whom here ye see. grown now To manhood's years. and stranger tho' I was. with horror's bitter cry Back-starting. And bade my father to his board.Aeschylus. On Pelops' house a deadly curse he spake-As darkly as I spurn this damned food. but gave The rest--and readily Thyestes took What to his ignorance no semblance wore Of human flesh. Atreus sent To banishment by my sad father's side: But Justice brought me home once more. 102 . spewing forth the fragments foul. Of the three children youngest. and set Before him flesh that was his children once. And I--who else?--this murder wove and planned. First. sitting at the upper board alone. an infant yet in swaddling bands. For me.

submission at the word. when right prevails. ay. take my scorn. this word from one who rows Low at the oars beneath.Aeschylus. Beholding him in Justice' ambush ta'en. Of thine own will. AEGISTHUS This word frcm thee.kick not thus Against the pricks. by thine own unaided plot Devised the piteous death: I rede thee well. We of the upper tier ? Thou'lt know anon. By one so young. thou sayest. what time we rule. even in the old. Hast eyes and seest not this? Peace-. Think not thy head shall 'scape. LEADER Aegisthus. But iron of the chain and hunger's throes Can minister unto an o'erswoln pride Marvellous well. And death itself were honour now to me. The people's ban. the stones of death and doom. for this insolence of thine That vaunts itself in evil. 'Tis bitter to be taught again in age. agamemnon Plotting and planning all that malice bade. thou hast slain The chieftain. unto thy proper pain! 103 .

thou art one to hold an Argive down-Thou. waiting till war did cease. skilled to plan the murder of the king. agamemnon LEADER Thou womanish man. But whoso will not bear mv guiding hand. 104 . of Orpheus' tongue: He roused and led in ecstasy of joy All things that heard his voice melodious. whom deep suspicion from of old Would have debarred. Now by his treasure's aid My purpose holds to rule the citizens. But thou as with the futile cry of curs Wilt draw men wrathfully upon thee. And arch-deviser of the chieftain's doom! AEGISTHUS Bold words again! but they shall end in tears. 'The very converse.Aeschylus. But not with thine own hand to smite the blow! AEGISTHUS That fraudful force was woman's very part. LEADER Ay. Home-watcher and defiler of the couch. thine. Peace! Or strong subjection soon shall tame thy tongue. Not mine.

Availed to slay him? Ho. returning by some guardian fate. if anywhere The light of life smite on Orestes' eyes. Hew down with force her paramour and her! AEGISTHUS How thy word and act shall issue. Let him. Swift. But to the shafts with heaviest harness bound. was then thy strength too slight To deal in murder. hand on hilt for death or life. O my comrades! for the fight is hard at hand.Aeschylus. Staining and shaming Argos and its gods. light-caparisoned. thou shalt shortly understand. Famine. the grim mate of the dungeon dark. LEADER Up to action. 105 . Shall look on him and shall behold him tame. your right hands to the sword hilt! bare the weapon as for strife-AEGISTHUS Lo! I too am standing ready. LEADER Thou losel soul. agamemnon Him for his corn-fed mettle I will drive Not as a trace-horse. while a woman's hand.

now. And in hazard of their fortune cast upon me words of wrong. 'Tis a woman's word of warning. Peace. enough. old men! and pass away unto the homes by Fate decreed. agamemnon LEADER 'Twas thy word and we accept it: onward to the chance of war! CLYTEMNESTRA Nay. Already have we reaped enough the harvest-field of guilt: Enough of wrong and murder. enough. Lest ill valour meet our vengeance--'twas a necessary deed. and let who will list thereto. if ever. O Avenger. AEGISTHUS But that these should loose and lavish reckless blossoms of the tongue. And forget the law of subjects. let no other blood be spilt. Ere thy talon. deal another deadly blow. But enough of toils and troubles--be the end. and revile their ruler's word-LEADER Ruler? but 'tis not for Argives. thus to own a dastard lord! AEGISTHUS I will follow to chastise thee in my coming days of sway. 106 .Aeschylus. my champion! we will smite and slay no more.

AEGISTHUS Thou shalt pay. LEADER Fare and batten on pollution of the right. AEGISTHUS and CLYTEMNESTRA move towards the palace. his mate beside! CLYTEMNESTRA Heed not thou too highly of them--let the cur-pack growl and yell: I and thou will rule the palace and will order all things well. agamemnon LEADER Not if Fortune guide Orestes safely on his homeward way. well I know how exiles feed on hopes of their return. heavy quittance for thy pride. as the CHORUS sullenly withdraws. be w ell assured. AEGISTHUS Ah. LEADER Crow and strut. THE END 107 . while 'tis thy turn.Aeschylus. with her to watch thee. like a cock.

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