Dramas of Aeschylus (Swanwick)/Agamemnon
[The Watchman is discovered reclining on the flat roof of the palace.]
I PRAY the gods deliverance from these toils,
Release from year-long watch, which, couch'd aloft
On these Atreidan roofs, dog-like, I keep,
Marking the stars which nightly congregate;
And those bright potentates who bring to mortals
Winter and summer, signal in the sky,
†What time they wane I note, their risings too.
And for the beacon's token now I watch,
The blaze of fire, bearing from Troy a tale,
†Tidings of capture; for so proudly hopes 10
A woman's heart, with manly counsel fraught.
Dew-drenched and restless is my nightly couch,
By dreams unvisited, for at my side,
Fear stands, in place of sleep, nor suffers me
Soundly, in slumberous rest, my lids to close.
Then when I think to chant a strain, or hum,
(Such against sleep my tuneful counter-charm,)
Moaning, I wail the sorrows of this house,
Not wisely governed as in days of old.
But may glad respite from these toils be mine, 20
When fire, joy's herald, through the darkness gleams.
[He suddenly beholds the beacon-light and starts to his feet.]
Hail lamp of night, forth shining like the day,
Of many a festive dance in Argos' land,
Through joy at this event, the harbinger.
Hurrah! Hurrah! To Agamemnon's queen,
Thus with shrill cry I give th' appointed sign,
That from her couch up-rising with all speed,
She in the palace jubilant may lift
The joyous shout, to gratulate this torch,
If Ilion's citadel in truth is ta'en,
As, shining forth, this beacon-fire proclaims. 30
The joyous prelude I myself will dance,
For to my lords good fortune I shall score,
Now that this torch hath cast me triple six.
Well! be it mine, when comes this mansion's lord,
In this my hand his much-loved hand to hold!
The rest I speak not; o'er my tongue hath passed
An ox with heavy tread: the house itself,
Had it a voice, would tell the tale full clear;
And I, with those who know, am fain to speak,
With others, who know nothing, I forget.
Lo the tenth year rolls apace 40
Since Priam's mighty challenger,
Lord Menelas and Atreus' heir,
Stalwart Atridæ,—by heaven's grace
Twin-throned, twin-sceptered,—from this land
A thousand sail, with Argives manned,
Unmoor'd,—a martial armament,
Warriors on just reprisal bent,
Fierce battle clanging from their breast,
Like vultures of their young bereaved,
Who, for their nestlings sorely grieved,
Wheel, eddying high above their nest,
By oarage of strong pennons driven, 50
Missing the eyrie-watching care
Of callow fledglings; but from heaven,
Some guilt-avenging deity,
Or all-retrieving Zeus, doth lend
An ear attentive to the cry
Of birds, shrill-wailing, sore-distrest,
And doth upon the guilty send
Erinys, late-avenging pest.
So for the dame, by many wooed,
Doth mighty Zeus, who shields the guest,
'Gainst Paris send th' Atridan brood; 60
Struggles limb-wearing, knees earth-pressed
The spear-shaft, rudely snapt in twain
In war's initial battle,—these
For Danaoi as for Trojans he decrees.
As matters stand, they stand; the yet to be
Must issue as ordained by destiny.
Nor altar fires, nor lustral rain
Poured forth, nor tear-drops shed in vain,
The wrath relentless can appease
Of violated sanctities. 70
But we, unhonoured, weak of frame,
Excluded from that proud array,
Tarry at home, and, age-oppressed,
On staves our child-like strength we lean;
In tender years and age, the same,
Life's current feebly sways the breast;
His station Ares holds no more;
Decrepid Eld, with leafage hoar,
No stronger than a child for war,
Treadeth his triple-footed way,
Like dream in daylight seen. 80
[Enter Clytemnestra, followed by a female train. The Chorus sings the following Ode as it advances to take up its usual position round the altar of Zeus, adorned with a statue of the god.]
But Clytemnestra, thou,
Tyndareus' daughter, Argos queen,
What hath befallen? What hast heard?
Confiding in what tidings now
Sendest thou round the altar-kindling word?
Of all the gods who guard the state,
Supernal, or of realms below,
In heaven, or in the mart who wait,
With gifts the altars glow. 90
Now here, now yonder, doth a torch arise,
Streaming aloft to reach the skies,
Charmed with pure unguent's soothing spell,
Guileless and suasive, from the royal cell.
What here 'tis lawful to declare,
What may be told proclaim;
Be healer of this care
Which now a lowering form doth wear, 100
Till fawning Hope, from out the flame
Of sacrifice, with gentle smile
Doth sateless grief's soul-gnawing pang beguile.
[While Clytemnestra offers sacrifice, the following Ode is sung by the Chorus from the altar of Zeus.]
The way-side omen mine it is to sing,
The leaders' prosperous might fore-shadowing,
For still my age, unquenched its natal power,
Doth suasive song inspire, a heaven-sent dower,
How the rapacious bird, the feathered king,
Sends forth against the Teucrid land,
With spear and with avenging hand,
Achaia's double-thronèd Might, 110
Accordant chiefs of Hellas' martial flower.
Toward spear-poising hand, the palace near,
On lofty station, manifest to sight,
The bird-kings to the navy-kings appear,
One black, and one with hinder plumage white;
A hare with embryo young, in evil hour,
Amerced of future courses, they devour.
Chant the dirge, uplift the wail!
But may the right prevail! 120
Then the sagacious army-seer, aware
How diverse-minded the Atridan kings,
In the hare-renders sees the martial pair,
And thus, the augury expounding, sings;—
"Priam's stronghold in time this martial raid
Captures, but first the city's store,
The people's wealth, shall fate destroy;
Now from no god may jealous ire
O'ercloud the mighty curb forged against Troy, 130
Marshalled for battle; for the holy Maid
Is angered at the house, since of her sire
The wingèd hounds the wretched trembler tare,
Mother and young unborn, her special care;
Therefore doth she the eagles' meal abhor.
Chant the dirge, uplift the wail!
But may the right prevail!
†For she, the beauteous goddess, loves
The tender whelps, new-dropped, of creatures rude,
Sparing the udder-loving brood
Of every beast through field or wood that roves,—
Hence with Apollo pleads the seer that he 140
From these events fair omens will fulfil,
Judging the way-side augury,
Partly auspicious, partly fraught with ill.
Oh! God of healing! thee I supplicate,
Let not the Huntress on the Danaï bring
Dire ship-detaining blasts and adverse skies,
Preluding other sacrifice,
Lawless, unfestive, natal spring
Of feudful jar and mortal hate,
By husband-fear unawed;
For child-avenging wrath, with fear and fraud,
Dread palace-warden, doth untiring wait." 150
Such woes, with high successes blent,
By Fate on the twain royal houses sent,
Did Calchas from the way-side auguries
Bodeful proclaim:—Then consonant with these,
Chant the dirge, uplift the wail!
But may the right prevail!
Zeus, whoe'er he be, this name
If it pleaseth him to claim,
This to him will I address;
Weighing all, no power I know
Save only Zeus, if I aside would throw 160
In sooth as vain this burthen of distress.
Nor doth he so great of yore,
With all-defying boldness rife,
†Longer avail; his reign is o'er.
The next, thrice vanquished in the strife,
Hath also passed; but who the victor-strain
To Zeus uplifts, true wisdom shall obtain.
To sober thought Zeus paves the way, 170
And wisdom links with pain.
In sleep the anguish of remembered ill
Drops on the troubled heart; against their will
Rebellious men are tutored to be wise;
†A grace I ween of the divinities,
Who mortals from their holy seats arraign.
E'en so the elder of the twain,
Achaia's fleet who swayed,
No seer upbraiding, bowed, with grief suppressed,
His soul to fortune's stroke; what time the host,
In front of Chalcis, tossing off the coast 180
Of wave-vexed Aulis, lingered, sore-distressed,
While store-exhausting gales their progress stayed.
Blasts, dire delay and famine in their train,
And evil-anchorage, from Strymon sweep,—
Ruin to mortals; with malignant power,
Ruthless to ships and cordage, they
Doubling the sojourn on the deep
Wither the Argive flower. 190
But to the chiefs of that array,
When, than the bitter storm, the seer
A cure shrieked forth, weighted with deadlier bane,—
In name of Artemis,—the Atridan twain,
Smiting on earth their sceptres, strove in vain
To quell the rising tear.
Then thus aloud the elder chieftain cried:—
"Grievous, in sooth, the doom to disobey,
But grievous too if I my child must slay, 200
My home's fair ornament, my pride,
Defiling these paternal hands,
E'en at the altar's side,
With virgin-slaughter's gory tide.
What course exempt from evil? Say,
The fleet can I desert, the leaguèd bands
Failing? With hot desire to crave the spell
Of virgin blood, the storm that shall allay,
Is just. May all be well!" 210
Then harnessed in Necessity's stern yoke
An impious change-wind in his bosom woke,
Profane, unhallowed, with dire evil fraught,
His soul perverting to all daring thought.
For frenzy, that from primal guilt doth spring,
Emboldens mortals, prompting deeds of ill;
Thus, armed a woman to avenge, the king
In sacrifice his daughter dared to kill;
The fleet's initial rite accomplishing.
Her prayers, her cries of "Father," her young life 220
Were nought to those stern umpires, breathing strife:
So, after prayer, her sire the servants bade,
†Stooping, with steeled hearts, to lift the maid
Robe-tangled, kid-like, as for sacrifice,
High o'er the altar; them he also bade,
Guarding her lovely mouth, her bodeful cries,
Stern curse entailing on their houses twain,
With voiceless muzzles forceful to restrain.
Then letting fall her veil of saffron dye, 230
She smote, with piteous arrow from her eye,
Each murderer; while, passing fair,
†Like to a pictured image, voiceless there,
Strove she to speak; for oft in other days,
She in her father's hospitable halls,
With her chaste voice had carolled forth his praise,
What time the walls
Rang to the Pæan's sound,
Gracing her sire, with third libation crowned.
What next befel I know not, nor relate;
Not unfulfill'd were Calchas' words of fate. 240
For justice doth for sufferers ordain
To purchase wisdom at the cost of pain.
Why seek to read the future? Let it go!
Since dawns the issue clear with dawning day,
What boots it to forestal our date of woe?
Come weal at last!
So prays, these mischiefs past,
Of Apia's land this one sole guard and stay.
Hail Clytemnestra! Hither am I come
Thy majesty revering. For 'tis meet
When the male throne is empty, that we pay 250
To our high captain's consort honour due.
If thou hast heard auspicious news, or not,
That with joy-vouching hope thou lightest up
The altar fires, I, as a friend, would know,—
Yet shall thy silence nought unkind be deemed.
Joy's harbinger, be radiant Morning born
From kindly, mother Night! So runs the saw.
But thou of joy beyond all hope shalt hear,
For Priam's city have the Argives won.
How queen I through unbelief I miss thy word.
Troy is in Argive hands; now speak I plain? 260
Joy, stealing o'er my heart, calls forth the tear.
'Tis true, thine eye thy loyalty bewrays.
Of these great tidings what the certain proof?
Warrant I have;—how not? or Heaven deceives me.
Trusting the suasive augury of dreams?
The fancies of the sleep-bound soul I heed not.
But hath some wingless rumour buoy'd thee up?
Thou chidest me as were I a young girl.
But since what time was Priam's city spoiled?
This very night now bringing forth the day. 270
What messenger could travel with such speed?
Hephaestos, a bright flash from Ida sending.
Hither through swift relays of courier-flame,
Beacon transmitted beacon. Ida first
To the Hermaean rock on Lemnos' Isle;
Thence Athos' summit, dedicate to Zeus,
The third in order, caught the mighty glow.
Upsoaring, bridging in its might the sea,
With gathered strength, the onward speeding torch,
In golden splendour, like another sun,
Its message to Makistos' watch-tower sends,
Who, nor delaying, nor by Sleep o'erpowered,
The courier's duty faithfully discharged.
The torch, far-gleaming to Euripos' stream,
Gives signal to Messapios' sentinels.
Firing of withered heath a giant pile,
With answering blaze, they pass the message on.
The stalwart flame, unwearied and undimm'd,
Like a bright moon, o'erleaps Asopos' plain,
And wakens, on Cithaeron's lofty crag,
Another speeder of the fiery post. 290
The warder hailing the far-journeying fire,
Kindles a beacon of surpassing glow;
Bounded the radiance o'er Gorgopis' lake,
And reaching Aegiplanctos' mountain peak
Urged on without delay the fiery chain.
With vigour unimpaired they onward send,
Kindled anew, a mighty beard of flame,
That, flaring from afar, the headland crossed
†O'erlooking Saron's gulf, Down shooting then,
The blaze, alighting on Arachnæ's height, 300
The city's nearest watch-tower, reached its goal;
Thence to the roof of Atreus' son this light
Darted,—true scion of Idaian fire.
Thus in succession, flame awakening flame
Fulfilled the order of the fiery course:
The first and last are victors in the race.
Such is the proof, the warrant that I give
Of tidings sent me by my Lord from Troy.
The gods, queen, will I invoke hereafter.
But now I fain would marvel at thy words,
Heard more at large so thou wouldst speak again. 310
Troy on this very day th' Achaians hold.
I ween ill-blending clamour fills the town:
Pour in one vessel vinegar and oil,
They will not lovingly consort, I trow;
So now from captives and from captors rise
Two voices, telling of their two-fold fate.
For those, flung prostrate on the lifeless forms
Of husbands and of brothers, children too,
Prone on their aged sires, lamenting wail;
While these, night-stragglers after toilsome fight,
Keen for all viands that the city yields,
Upon no order standing, but as each
Hath snatched the lot of fortune, take their fill.
At length from frost and skiey dews set free,
They dwell in Ilion's spear-won halls, and sleep
†The live-long night, unsentinelled like gods.
If now the tutelary powers they fear,
Who hold the conquered land, and spare their shrines, 330
Captors, they shall not captured be in turn.
But may no greedy passion seize the host
To plunder things unlawful, smit with gain.
A safe return has yet to be secured,
And half the double course is yet to run.
But guilty to the gods if come the host,
Wakeful may rise the sorrows of the slain
For vengeance, though no sudden ill befal.
These words from me, a woman thou hast heard;
But may the good in overpoise prevail! 340
For I of many blessings choose this joy.
Like prudent man well hast thou spoken, lady.—
But I, on hearing of thy certain proofs,
Forthwith prepare me to salute the gods,
For no unworthy meed requites our toil.
Hail, sovereign Zeus, and friendly Night,
Mistress of mighty glories, hail!
Thou who o'er Troia's tower-crowned height,
A snare so closely meshed hast flung,
That none, or fully grown or young,
Thraldom's huge drag-net may avail
To overleap. Vast ruin captures all.
Great guardian of the guest,
Thee I adore;—
Wrought were those deeds at thy behest:
The bow thou didst of yore
'Gainst Alexander strain,
That nor the destined hour before,
Nor shooting o'er the stars, in vain
The shaft might fall.
'Tis Zeus who smote them, this we may aver,
For easy 'tis to trace;
The end he shaped as he decreed. 360
Yet gods supernal, some declare,
To sinful mortals give no heed
Who trample under foot the grace
Of sacred things. But such are reprobate;—
Kindred they claim with those, in heaven's despite,
†Who rebel war breathe forth, transgressing right.
Wealth in excess breeds mischief, and o'erturns
The balance of the constant mind; 370
No bulwark 'gainst destructive fate
In riches shall that mortal find
Who Justice' mighty altar rudely spurns.
Frenzy's unhappy suasion, fraught with bane
To hapless children, sways the will;
Against the mischief cure is vain;
Not hidden is the flagrant ill;—
Baleful it bursts upon the sight; 380
Like spurious coin, his metal base
Use and the touchstone bring to light,
Who, boy-like, to a wingèd bird gives chase,
And whelms his native soil in hopeless night.
His orisons the heavenly powers disclaim,
But sweep to doom the sinful wight
Practised in guile;—thus Paris came
To Atreus' halls;—the friendly board 390
He shamed, the consort luring from her lord.
Bequeathing to her people deadly stour
Of shielded hosts, of spears, and ships' array,
And Ilion's ruin bearing as her dower,
She through the portal swiftly took her way,
Daring what none may dare;—with many a wail,
The palace seers peal'd forth the tale.
"Woe for the house, the house and chieftains, woe! 400
Woe for the couch, the trace of her once true!"
Wronged, yet without reproach, in speechless woe
There stands he, yearning still her form to view
Lost o'er the far sea-wave: his dreamy pain
Conjures her phantom in his home to reign.
He loathes the sculptor's plastic skill
Which living grace belies;
Not Aphroditè's self can still
The hunger of his eyes.
And dreamy fancies, coinage of the brain, 410
Come o'er the troubled heart with vain delight;
For vain the rapture, the illusion vain,
When forms beloved in visions of the night,
With changeful aspect, mock our grasp, and sweep
On noiseless wing adown the paths of sleep.
Such sorrows o'er the hearth brood evermore,
And woes o'ertowering these. The warrior train
Comrades in danger, steered from Hellas' shore,
Leaving in Hellas' homes heart-withering pain;
Full many sorrows rankle at the core. 420
Those whom he sent each holds in ken,
But to their homes return
Armour and in the funeral urn,
Ashes instead of men.
For Ares, bartering for gold
The flesh of men, the scales doth hold
In battle of the spear.
From Ilion, back to sorrowing friends,
Rich dust, fire-purified, he sends,
Wash'd with full many a tear.
No living warriors greet them, but instead
Urns filled with ashes smoothly spread. 430
Groaning, each hero's praise they tell;
How this excelled in martial strife;
And that in fields of carnage fell,
Right nobly for another's wife.
Breathing such murmurs, jealous hate
Doth on the Atridan champions wait.
Achaians, cast in fairest mould,
Ensépulchred 'neath Ilion's wall,
The foughten shore now firmly hold, 440
The hostile sod their pall.
Direful the people's voice, to hate
Attuned, which worketh soon or late
As ban of public doom.
Now o'er my spirit anxious fear
Broodeth, lest tidings I should hear
That night still shrouds in gloom;
For blind to deeds of blood the gods are not.
In Time the swarthy brood of Night
With slow eclipse reverse his lot,
Who Fortune reareth in despite
Of Justice. Reft of succour lies 450
The wretch once prone. Excessive praise
Is bodeful ever; 'gainst men's eyes
Zeus hurls his blinding rays.
But may ungrudged success be mine!
No city-spoiler let me be!
Nor, subject to another, pine
Myself in slavery.
Borne by the joy-announcing flame
Swift through the town the tidings fly; 460
But whether true who may proclaim,
Or not a heavenly lie?
For who so childish, so distraught,
To warm his spirit at the beacon's glow,
When other news, with evil fraught,
His joy may change to woe?
'Tis woman's way the boon, ere seen, to prize;
Too credulous, her fancy open lies
To rumour's rapid inroad, but the fame 470
Published by women quickly dies.
Soon shall we know whether the signal fires,
The swift relays of courier-light be true,
Or whether, dreamlike, they beguiled our minds
With grateful splendour;—Yonder, from the coast,
A herald comes, shaded with laurel boughs;
While Clay's twin-brother, thirsty Dust, attests
That neither voiceless, nor of mountain wood
Kindling the blaze, will he report in smoke; 480
No,—either will his voice announce more joy,
Or,—but ill-omened words I deprecate.
Be omens fair with fair assurance crown'd!
May he who 'gainst the state breathes other prayer,
First reap the fruit of his malignant thought.
Oh soil of Argos, oh my native land,
In light of this tenth year to thee I come;
While many a hope hath snapt, this one still holds,
For ne'er I counted, dying here, to share
Beloved sepulture in Argive soil. 490
Now hail, O earth, bright sunlight hail, and Zeus,
Supreme o'er Argos.
[Here the Herald salutes the statues of the gods in the orchestra.]
Thou too, Pythian king,
With thy fell darts assailing us no more;
Let it suffice that on Scamander's banks
Thy mien was hostile;—now, Apollo, lord,
Be thou the Saviour,—be the Healer thou!
Ye Gods of Council, all I now invoke,
Thee, my protector Hermes, Herald dear,
Whom Heralds venerate,—and Heroes, ye
Who sent us forth, now kindly welcome back
The Argive host, poor remnant of the spear. 500
[He turns to the stage.]
Hail royal palace! roofs beloved, hail!
Ye seats august, ye powers that front the sun,
If e'er of yore, now, with those cheerful eyes
Receive in state the monarch absent long,
For he returns bringing in darkness light
Common to you and all assembled here,
King Agamemnon. Welcome, as beseems,
Him who with mattock of avenging Zeus
Hath Ilion razed, her under-soil uptorn.
Quenched are the fanes, the altars of the gods, 510
And of the land entire the seed is crushed.
Such yoke round Troy hath Atreus' elder son
Fastened: and lo! blest by the gods, he comes
Of living men most worthy of renown.
Nor Paris now nor his associate town
Their deed may vaunt as greater than their woe
Cast in a suit for rapine and for theft,
His surety forfeit, he to utter doom
Hath mowed his natal home. Thus Priam's sons
With twofold forfeit have atoned their crime. 520
Hail, herald of Achaia's host!
So please the gods, I grudge not now to die.
Love for thy father-land thy heart hath wrung!
So wrung that from mine eyes fall tears of joy.
Sweet the heart-sickness that o'ercame you thus.
The key I lack which may thy words unlock.
Smit with desire for those who longed for you.
Hath Argos yearned then for the yearning host?
Ay, so that oft from darken'd soul I groaned.
Whence this sad gloom, abhorrent to the host? 530
Silence I long have held bale's safest cure.
How! Aught didst fear in absence of thy lords?
To die was oft my wish as whilom thine.
Well ended, all is well. But, in long years,
Some chances, one might say, fell happily,
While others adverse were. For who, save gods,
Lives through the whole of life by grief unscathed?
For should I tell of toils, of lodgment rude,
Infrequent landings, vexed by dangerous surf,
†What portion of the day exempt from groans? 540
Still more abhorrent was our life ashore;—
For close to hostile walls our beds were strewn;
Dank vapours fell from heaven, while from the earth
Drizzled the meadow dews,—our raiment's canker,
Matting, like savage beast's, our shaggy hair.
Or spake I of bird-killing winter's cold,
Unbearable, from snows of Ida born;
Or summer's heat, when, stretched on noonday couch,
By breeze unruffled, slept the waveless sea?
But why lament these hardships? Past the toil!
Past now and gone,—past also for the dead, 550
Who ne'er will trouble them again to rise.
Why call the spectral army-roll? and why,
Living, bemoan reverses? Nay, I claim
With many a farewell to salute mischance.
For us, the remnant of the Argive host,
Joy triumphs, nor can Sorrow tilt the scale.
Winging o'er land and sea our homeward flight,
We to the sun-light well may make this boast,
"The Argive host, captors at length of Troy, 560
These spoils, an off'ring to Achaia's gods,
Hang up, bright glory of their ancient shrines."
Whoso these tidings hears must needs extol
The city and the leaders of the host;
Also the consummating grace of Zeus
Due honour shall attain. My tale is told.
Ungrudged surrender yield I to thy words.
Age still is young enough for grateful lore.
But Atreus' halls and Clytemnestra most
These news concern; me also they enrich.
The shout of jubilee erewhile I raised, 570
When first by night the fiery herald came,
Telling of Ilion captured and o'erthrown.
Then some one spake and taunting asked, "Dost think,
Trusting the beacon-light, that Troy is sacked?
'Tis woman's way to be elate of heart."
By such bold utt'rance was my wit misprised:
Yet still I sacrificed: and through the town
With woman's note they tuned the joyous trill,
Pæans uplifting in the gods' abodes,
The while they lulled the fragrant incense-flames. 580
And now, what need that thou shouldst tell me more?
I from the king himself the tale shall hear.
With honour due, my venerated lord
To welcome home, myself will hasten: for—
What sight for woman sweeter than the day
Which to her spouse, Heaven-shielded from the fight,
Throws wide the gates? Thou hither bid my lord,
Beloved of Argos, to return with speed.
Arriving, may he find a faithful wife,
Such as he left her, watch-dog of his house, 590
To him devoted, hostile to his foes,
In all points like herself, no single seal
Through these long years invaded by her hand.
Pleasure, or blameful word from other man,
Foreign to me as dyer's hue to brass.
A boast like this, fraught as it is with truth,
The lip misseems not of a high-born dame.
Behold! The queen herself hath tutored thee;
Decorous words her clear interpreters.
But tell me, Herald, touching Menelas, 600
Doth he in safety homeward with the host
Hither return, prince to his country dear?
False news were I to tell, in flatt'ring terms,
Not long would friends enjoy the fair deceit.
Oh, could'st thou speak auspicious words yet true!
That here they sundered are is all too plain.
The man is vanished from th' Achaian host;
Himself and galley. No untruth I tell.
Steering ahead from Troy? or hath a storm,
A common terror, snatched him from the host? 610
Like skilful archer thou hast hit the mark;
And hast in brief a mighty woe declared.
Say, doth the voice of other mariners
Report of him as living, or as dead?
Not one so knoweth as to speak his doom,
Save the bright Sun, feeder of teeming earth.
How! Burst the tempest on the naval host
Through anger of the gods? say, what the end?
Auspicious day with ill-announcing tongue
Beseems not to defile. In weal and woe 620
Diverse the honour due unto the gods.
When messenger, sad-visaged, tidings dire
Of routed armies to the city bears,
A common wound inflicting on the state,
While many men from many homes are banned,
Smit by the twofold scourge which Ares loves,
Twin-speared Calamity, a gory pair:—
Whoso is laden with such woes as these
The pæan of the Furies well may raise.
But coming to a town in jubilee, 630
Glad messenger of safety and success,
How shall I tidings mingle fair and foul,
The tale unfolding of the storm that smote
The Achaian host, not without wrath of Heaven?
For fire and ocean, bitter foes of yore,
Sware true alliance and redeemed their pledge,
Whelming Achaia's luckless armament.
Then in the night foul-surging mischiefs rose:
Beneath the Thracian blasts ship against ship
Dashed wildly; they, sore-butted by the storm,
With furious wind and stress of pelting rain,
Vanished from sight, 'neath whirl of shepherd dire. 640
And when uprose the sun's fair light, behold,
The Ægean sea with flowerage overstrewn,—
Corpses of Grecian men and wrecks of ships.
Us, and our vessel with undamaged hull,
Some god, I ween, (not mortal was the power,)
Ruling the helm, hath saved, by stealth or prayer.
But Saviour Fortune lighting on our ship,
At moorage she nor felt the billows' strain,
Nor drave against the iron-girded coast.
Then safe at last, from watery Hades snatch'd, 650
In genial daylight, still mistrusting chance,
With anxious thought o'er this new grief we brooded,—
Our host sore wearied, and in evil plight.
And doubtless now, if any still survive,
They speak of us as dead. Why should they not?
As we imagine a like fate for them.
But may the best befal! For Menelas,
Foremost and chief, expect him to arrive;
If any sunbeam knows of him as safe,
Rejoicing in the light, (through the device 660
Of Zeus, not willing yet the race to whelm,)
Good hope there is that he may yet return.
Hearing this tale, know, thou the truth hast heard.
Chorus. Strophe I.
Who, oh who, with truest aim,
Did the battle-wedded dame,
Prize of conflict, Helen name?
Was it not one, unseen, in happy hour,
Guiding his tongue with Fate-presaging power?
Helen, the captor;—titled fittingly,— 670
Captor of ships, of men, of cities, she
From dainty curtained bower hath fled,
By Titan zephyr borne along;
Straight in her quarrel mustered strong
The shielded hunters' mighty throng,
Marshalled for battle;—forth they sped,
Swift on their track whose viewless oar
Harbour had found on Simois' leafy shore. 680
Wrath, with direful issue fraught,
Thus to hapless Ilion brought
Dear alliance, dearly bought:
Requiter of the outraged festal board,
And of high Zeus, the hearth's presiding Lord;
Late vengeance wreaking on the guilty throng,
Who carol jubilant the bridal song,
Which, fate-impelled, the bridegroom's kin prolong.
But aged Priam's city hoar 690
A novel hymn doth now intone,
From many a voice; with mighty groan,
Woe upon Paris' bridal bed
She utters;—she who long before
A dirgeful life, alas! had led,
Weeping her sons in wretched slaughter sped.
So once did wight incautious rear
A suckling lion, for the breast
Still yearning, to the house a pest.
Tame in life's early morning, dear 700
To childhood, and by Eld caressed.
Carried full oft in fondling play,
Like to a babe in arms he lay;
The hand with winning glances wooed,
And, smit with pangs of hunger, fawned for food.
But time the temper doth bewray
Inherent in his race. Due meed
Of gentle nurture to repay,
Rending the flocks with cruel greed,
Unbidden he prepares the feast, 710
And mars with gory stain the halls.
Resistless, dire, athirst for prey,
The pest the menial train appals,
Reared for the house by Heaven, fell Atè's priest.
So came to Troia's walls, in evil hour,
Spirit of breathless calm, fair pride
Of riches, love's soul-piercing flower, 720
The eyes' soft dart; but from her course aside
Swerving, to wedlock bitter end she wrought.
To Priam's offspring came she, mischief fraught,
Evil companion, bringing evil dower.
By Zeus escorted, guardian of the guest,
She sped, dire Fury, bridal pest.
Lives among men this saw, voiced long ago;
"Success consummate breeds apace,
Nor childless dies, but to the race 730
From prosperous Fortune springeth cureless Woe."
Apart I hold my solitary creed.
Prolific truly is the impious deed;
Like to the evil stock, the evil seed;
But fate ordains that righteous homes shall aye
Rejoice in goodly progeny.
†But ancient Arrogance, or soon or late,
When strikes the hour ordained by Fate, 740
Breedeth new Arrogance, which still
Revels, wild wantoner in human ill;
And the new birth another brood
Unhallowed, in the house doth bear;—
Gorged Insolence, and, not to be withstood,
Defiant Boldness, demon unsubdued;—
Swart curses twain, their parents' mien that wear.
But Justice doth the smoke-begrimèd cell
Illumine with celestial sheen,
And loves with honest worth to dwell.
Gold-spangled palaces with hands unclean, 750
Forsaking with averted eyes,
To holy Innocence she flies.
The power of wealth, if falsely stamped with praise,
With homage she disdains to recognize,
And to their fated issue all things sways.
[Enter warriors and captives; at last Agamemnon appears, seated on a chariot, with Cassandra at his side; soon after Clytemnestra, accompanied by female attendants, issues from the palace.]
Hail, royal lord! Stormer of Ilion, hail!
Scion of Atreus! How compose my speech,
How due obeisance render thee,
Yet neither overshoot the mark, nor fail
The goal of fitting compliment to reach? 760
For many men, transgressing right, there be
Semblance who place above reality.
To him who groans beneath affliction's smart,
All men have prompt condolence; but the sting
Of feignèd sorrow reaches not the heart.
So men with others' joy rejoicing, bring
Over their visage an enforcèd smile:
But the discerning shepherd knows his flock,
And his unerring glance detects their guile,
Who simulating love, with glozing art 770
And watery kindness fawn, but inly mock.
But thou, O King, (I speak without disguise,)
In Helen's quarrel busking war's array,
A mien didst wear unseemly in mine eyes.
Guiding not well the rudder of thy mind,
Who didst, on death-devoted men, essay
Courage to urge, by sacrifice.
But those who have achieved the great emprize,
Not from the surface of my mind alone,
I welcome now, with feelings not unkind;
And inquest made, in time shall it be known, 780
Who of thy citizens at home the while
Guarded thy state with truth, and who with guile.
Agamemnon, speaking from the chariot.
First Argos and her tutelary gods,
Who with me wrought to compass my return,
And visit Priam's town with vengeance due,
Justly I hail. For in this cause the gods,
Swayed by no hearsay, in the bloody urn
Without dissentient voice the pebbles cast,
Sealing the doom of Ilion and her sons.
But to the rival urn, by no hand filled, 790
Hope only came. Smoke still uprising marks
The captured city; Atè's incense-fires
Are living still, but, dying as they die,
The ash sends upward costly fumes of wealth.
Wherefore 'tis meet to render to the gods
Memorial thanks; since round them we have cast
Our vengeful toils, and in a woman's cause
The Argive monster, offspring of the horse,
Host shield-accoutred, made its deadly leap,
And Priam's city levelled to the dust,
What time the Pleiades in ocean waned;
So, bounding o'er the towers, of princely blood 800
The raw-devouring lion lapped his fill.
This lengthened prelude to the gods! and now
Weighing the judgment ye erewhile expressed,
I say the same, and am with you agreed.
To few is it congenial, envy-free,
To venerate the friend whom Fortune crowns.
The jealous poison, lodged within the heart,
Tortures with twofold pang whom it infects;
By his own griefs oppressed, the envious man
Groans also to behold another's joy. 810
Out of my proof I speak, for, well I wot,
Who friendship most pretended, only were
Its mirrored image, shadow of a shade.
None but Odysseus, who unwilling sailed,
Once harnessed, was my trusty yoke-fellow;
This I affirm, be he alive or dead.
But for the rest, what to the state pertains,
And to the gods, a full assembly called,
We'll weigh in free debate. Counsel we need.
That where the state is sound, we keep it so; 820
But where disease the healer's art requires,
By kind excision, or by cautery,
We shall attempt to remedy the harm.
Now to my palace and my household hearth
Returning, first will I the gods salute,
Who forward sped me, and who lead me home;
Since victory so far hath followed me,
Here may she henceforth stedfastly abide!
Men of our city, Argive elders here,
I shame not in your presence to avow
My wifely temper; bashful Fear in time 830
From mortals dieth: not by others taught,
But from myself, the wretched life I'll tell
'Twas mine to lead while this man was at Troy.
First, for a woman severed from her mate,
To sit forlorn at home is grievous woe,
Hearing malignant murmurs manifold.
One courier comes, another in his train
Worse tidings brings to echo through the house;
And as for wounds, had my dear lord received
As many as report kept pouring in, 840
A net methinks had not been more transpierced.
Or had he died oft as reported then,
A second triple-bodied Geryon,
†A threefold cloak of earth he must have donned,
Enduring death in every form he wore.
Thus harassed by these ever-rife reports,
Full often from my neck have forceful hands
Seized and untied the beam-suspended noose.
And for this cause our son, pledge of our troth,
Of mine and thine, stands not beside me now,
As stand he should, Orestes. Marvel not,
For him thy trusty spear-guest nourisheth;
Strophius, the Phocian, who hath me forewarned
Of twofold peril, thine 'neath Ilion's wall,
And next lest clamour-fostered Anarchy
Hazard the plot, for 'tis with men inborn
To trample further him already down.
This pretext, trust me, carries no deceit.
But for myself the gushing founts of grief 860
Are all dried up, no single tear is left;
Sore with late watching are my weary eyes,
Weeping the fiery beacons set for thee
Neglected ever. Often from my dreams
Was I awakened by the tiny hum
Of buzzing gnat, seeing, endured by thee,
More woes than could have filled mine hour of sleep.
These sorrows past, now with a heart unwrung
I hail my husband, watchdog of the fold,
Sure forestay of the ship; of lofty roof 870
Pillar firm based; Sire's sole-begotten child;
Land beyond hope looming to mariners;
Day after storm most brilliant to behold;
To thirsty wayfarer clear gushing spring.
Sooth, sweet it is to 'scape from harsh constraint;
With such addresses do I honour him.
Let Envy stand aloof! for we have borne
Ere this full many a woe. Now dear my lord
Come from thy car; but on the ground, O King,
Plant not the foot that trampled Ilion. 880
Maidens, why tarry ye, whose duty 'tis
With carpets to bespread his stepping-floor?
Swift, purple-strew his passage to a home
Unlooked for, e'en as Justice may conduct;
What further she decreeth with the gods,
Thought, not by sleep o'ermastered, shall dispose.
Daughter of Leda! Guardian of my home!
Such as my absence was, is now thy speech,
Drawn out to ample length. With better grace
My praise had come from others than from thee. 890
And for the rest, seek not in woman's guise
To pamper me, nor, gaping forth loud cries,
Bow down to me, as to barbaric wight.
Make not my path with tapestries bestrewn
A mark for envy. To the gods belong
Such signal honours; but for mortal man,
On bright-hued broidery to plant his foot,
I own it, is to me not free from dread;
As mortal honour me, but not as god;
Without foot-carpeting or gorgeous web,
Glory resounds; a constant mind to keep 900
Is Heaven's best gift; him only call we blest
Who ends in fair prosperity his days.
If thus I bear myself I need not fear.
Against my settled purpose speak not thus.
Deem not my sober purpose I will mar.
Haply thou thus to act hast vowed in fear.
Final and sure my word as man e'er spake.
What, thinkest thou, had Priam done if victor?
Purples, I ween, he verily had trod.
Then stand not thou in fear of human blame. 910
Yet hath the people's rumour mighty power.
Life envy-free is life unenviable.
'Tis not for woman to be fond of strife.
But it becomes the fortunate to yield.
Does conquest in this struggle rate so high?
Yield thee; thy will bend willingly to mine.
If thou wilt have it so, let one with speed
These buskins loosen, vassals of the foot;
Lest, if with them sea-tinctured robes I tread,
Some jealous eye of gods smite me from far. 920
For much it shameth me, with wanton feet
To mar this wealth of silver-purchased web.
Of this enough. This stranger damsel now
Kindly receive. Zeus, with propitious eye,
Beholds the victor's sway with mercy crowned.
For willingly none bears the captive yoke;
But she, the chosen flower of many a spoil,
Fair present from the host, hath followed me.
But since herein I yield me to thy will,
Treading on purple to my halls I go. 930
A sea there is (which who may drain?) that breeds
Abundant purple, fresh from many a shell,
Precious as silver, brilliant dye of robes,
Whereof, through favour of the gods, these halls
May boast, O King, a store right plentiful;
And poverty is stranger to our house
Trampling of many garments had I vowed,
Had thus the oracles our house enjoined,
Ransom devising for this precious life.
For while the root lives on, the leafage spreads,
Screening the mansion from the dog-star's ray. 940
So now, returning to thy household hearth,
As warmth in winter doth thy presence show.
And when Zeus breweth from the acrid grape
Rich wine, then coolness thro' the halls is shed,
Where, crowner of the home, the husband dwells.
Zeus, Zeus, all-crowner, my petitions crown:
Thine be the care of that which crown thou wilt.
[Exeunt Clytemnestra and Agamemnon into the palace.]
Chorus. Strophe I.
Whence this dread portent, that untired
Before my bodeful spirit floats? 950
Wherefore, unbidden and unhired,
Waken these dark prophetic notes?
Why sits not on my bosom's throne
The direful presage to disown
As riddling dream, assurance strong?
Time's youth hath flown
Since the stern-cables from the boats
Were flung, what time the ship-borne host
Marched on to Ilion from the sandy coast.
After long absence their return 960
With self-informing eyes I learn;
Yet in its depths my soul, self-taught,
Chanteth Erinys' lyreless strains;
My hopes, of courage reft, depart;
Not vainly throb my inmost reins;
Whirleth on eddies of dark thought
My bodeful heart;
Yet, against hope, the gods I pray,
That, false to augury, my lay 970
Futile may fall, with vain foreboding fraught.
Never will perfect health confess
Her limit sated; though disease,
Neighbour, with party-wall, against her press.
Sailing with prosperous course elate,
Strikes on the hidden reef man's proud estate.
Then if reluctant Fear, with well-poised sling, 980
His bales doth into ocean fling,
Riseth once more the bark; and though
With evil freighted to the full,
Floateth secure the lightened hull.
So likewise, gift of ample worth
From Zeus, the year's increase,
Whose teeming harvests in the furrows grow,
Quells the disease of dearth.
But when on earth the crimson gore
Of man hath fallen, never more
May charm or spell the vanished life evoke;
Hence he of old, whose mystic lore 990
Was skilled the dead from Hades to restore,
Fell, blasted by the Thunderer's warning stroke.
†Now did not Fate—a heaven-sent Fate—
Baffle my impulse, ere too late,
Leaving behind the lagging tongue,
My heart its bodeful strain had sung.
But now it raves; no cheering rays
My anguished spirit knows,
And hopeless to unravel Fate's dark maze 1000
With fiery ardour glows.
[Enter Clytemnestra, stepping hastily out of the palace.]
Come thou too in, Cassandra, thee I mean;
For not in wrath Zeus placed thee in our house
A sharer in our lustral rites to stand,
With many slaves beside his household altar.
Now from this car descend; be not too proud,
For e'en Alcmena's son,—so runs the tale,—
Sold as a slave, endured the forceful yoke;
But if such fate befal thee, great the boon
Heirs of ancestral wealth to own as lords; 1010
For upstarts, beyond hope who fortune reap,—
These reckless are and cruel to their slaves.
From us thou hast what usuage warranteth.
Thee in clear words she hath addressed, and thou,
Meshed as thou art within the toils of Fate,
Yield if thou canst; mayhap thou wilt not yield.
Nay, an she be not, swallow-like, possessed
Of an unknown, barbaric tongue, my words,
Beaching her mind, must move her to comply.
Follow! She counsels for thy need the best: 1020
Be thou persuaded;—leave thy chariot-seat.
No leisure have I here before the gates
To linger; for, beside the central hearth,
The victims wait the sacrificial fire;
A favour that our fondest hope transcends.
But thou, if aught wilt do of what I say,
Make no delay; but if, of sense bereft,
Thou canst not catch the meaning of my words,
In lieu of voice, speak with barbarian hand.
A clear interpreter the stranger needs: 1030
Distraught she seems, like creature newly caught.
Nay, she is mad; to her distempered thoughts
She listens; from a newly-captured town
She cometh here, nor knows the yoke to bear,
Till quelled in foam the passion of her blood.
But words I'll waste no more, thus to be scorned.
But I, by pity moved, will not be wroth;
Come, wretched sufferer, this car forsake;
To Fortune yielding, hansel this new yoke.
Cassandra. Strophe I.
Ah me! alas! Gods, Earth!
Apollo, O Apollo!1040
Why raise for Loxias these cries of bale?
Not he the god to need the mourner's wail.
Cassandra. Antistrophe I.
Ah me! alas! Gods, Earth!
Apollo, O Apollo!
Once more she calleth with ill-omened cry,
The god who hath no part in misery.
Cassandra. Strophe II.
Apollo, O Apollo!
Thou way-god! my destroyer!
Once more thou hast destroyed me utterly.
She seems about to augur her own ills; 1050
Heaven's breathing e'en in bonds her spirit fills.
Cassandra. Antistrophe II.
Apollo, O Apollo!
Thou way-god! my destroyer!
Ah, whither hast thou led me? to what roof?
To the Atreidan; an thou dost not know
I tell thee; thou'lt not say it is not so.
Cassandra. Strophe III.
A heaven-detested house, whose walls of yore
Halters have seen, and streams of kindred gore;
A human shambles with blood-reeking floor. 1060
Keen scented seems the stranger, like a hound;
Ay, and the blood she's tracking will be found.
Cassandra. Antistrophe III.
Lo! witnesses trust-worthy! Vouchers dire!
These babes, who weep their death-wound, faith inspire,
Their roasted members eaten by their sire!
Thy fame oracular hath reached our ear;
But certes seek we now no prophet here.
Cassandra. Strophe IV.
Alas! ye gods!
What is she plotting? what new blow?
A mighty mischief plots she 'neath this roof; 1070
An unimaginable cureless woe,
Unbearable to friends. Help stands aloof.
Dark are these oracles; the first I knew;
For, them the city voucheth wholly true.
Cassandra. Antistrophe IV.
Ah wretched one!
The deed wilt consummate? With guile
Wilt in the bath thy wedded consort cheer?
How speak the issue? Soon it will be here;—
Hand after hand is lifted. Woe the while! 1080
I comprehend her not; this mystic lore,
These blear-eyed oracles perplex me sore.
Cassandra. Strophe V.
Woe! woe! Look! look! What see I there?
Is it, ye gods, a net of hell?
The wife herself, joint-slayer, is the snare.
Now o'er the accursed rite
Let the dread brood of Night,
Unglutted with the race, their chorus swell!
Chorus. Strophe VI.
What Fury 'gainst this house doth summon? What,
The shriek to raise? Such utt'rance cheers me not.
Pallid through every vein 1090
Blood to my heart doth run,
Which to the battle-slain
Quencheth life's sun;
But Atè comes amain.
Cassandra. Antistrophe V.
Hold! hold! Woe! woe! The heifer there
Keep from the bull. In meshes fell
†Of black-woofed garb entangled,—guileful snare,—
Catching,—she smites him dead;—
Prone in his watery bed
He falls. The laver's guileful doom I tell.
Chorus. Antistrophe VI.
I boast not to be skilled in auguries,
Yet mischief here I cannot but surmise. 1100
Through spells, say, if ye know,
To mortals here below,
What grateful cheer is sent?
Their wordy arts from human woe
Breed dark presentiment.
Cassandra. Strophe VII.
Woe! woe! my wretched ill-starred lot!
Wailing another's fate mine own I mourn;
Why hast thou led me hither, all forlorn,
Unless with thee to perish? Wherefore not?
Chorus. Strophe VIII.
Thou'rt frenzied, by some god possest,
And tuneless quirest forth thy doom, 1110
Like nightingale, with dusky plume
Sateless of song. From heart opprest,
Ceaseless her Itys, Itys, flows,
Her life bewailing, rich alone in woes.
Cassandra. Antistrophe VII.
Woe! woe! Clear-voicèd bird, arrayed
In plumèd shape, by powers divine;
Sweet life, unmarred by tears, is thine:
But me awaits the double-edgèd blade.
Chorus. Antistrophe VIII.
Whence hast thou these prophetic throes,
Rushing athwart thy soul, in vain? 1120
Why body forth in dismal strain,
Blent with shrill cries, these direful woes?
Whence cometh thus to vex thy soul
Of prophecy the dark, ill-omened goal?
Cassandra. Strophe IX.
Oh, nuptial rite, oh, nuptial rite,
Of Paris, fraught with doom!
Scamander! whence my fathers drank,
Nourished of yore upon thy bank,
I throve in youthful bloom.
Me now Cocytos and the streams of night 1130
To augur on their dismal shores invite.
Chorus. Strophe X.
What thought hast uttered all too clear?
An infant might interpret here.
Smitten within am I with gory sting,
The while thy bird-like cry to hear
My heart doth wring.
Cassandra. Antistrophe IX.
Oh deadly coil, oh, deadly coil
Of Ilion, doomed to fall!
Alas, the flower-cropping kine
Slain by my father at the shrine
To save her sacred wall! 1140
But cure was none: she perished; vain the toil!
I too, soul-kindled, soon shall press the soil.
Chorus. Antistrophe X.
This tallies with thy former strain;
Sure some ill demon smites thy brain,
And falling on thee moves thee thus to tell
In piteous chant thy doleful pain.
The end I cannot spell.
In sooth the oracle no more shall peer
Forth from a veil, like newly wedded bride; 1150
But flushing on the soul, like wind that blows
Sunward, it dasheth 'gainst the orient beams
A mighty surge that doth this grief o'ertop.
No more through dark enigmas will I teach!
And bear me witness, how in eager chase
The track I scent of crimes wrought long ago.
For from this roof departeth never more
A choir, concordant but unmusical,
To evil tuned. Ay, drunk with human blood,
And by the draught made bold, within these halls 1160
Abides a rout, not easy to eject,
Of sister Furies; lodged within these walls
They chant in chorus the primeval curse.
Hostile to him his brother's couch who trod,
In turn they tell their loathing. Have I missed,
Or, like true archer, have I hit the mark?
Or strolling cheat, or lying prophet am I?
Before I die, attest ye now on oath
That of these halls the hoary crimes I know.
And how can oath be healer of a woe
Inherent in the race? Yet marvel I 1170
That, nurtured o'er the sea, thou know'st to speak
Of foreign city as though native there.
Loxias, the seer, me with this grace endowed.
How! passion-smitten was he, though a god?
Till now it shamed me to speak of this.
True; for who fareth well grows over-nice.
Love-wrestler was he, warm his favour breathed.
Came ye in course to rite conjugial?
Consent I gave, but cheated Loxias.
Mistress already of presaging art? 1180
Ay, to the townsmen all their woes I spelled.
How then by wrath of Loxias unharmed?
No credence won I after this offence.
To us thy oracles seem all too true.
Woe! woe! alas! alas! ye miseries!
Of faithful augury the direful toil
Racks me once more, with bodeful preludings
Vexing my soul.—Seated within these halls,
See, tender boys, like dreamy phantoms; children, 1190
As by their dear ones done to death, their hands
Filled with their proper flesh, for nutriment;
Their heart and vitals,—loathsome, piteous, meal,—
Look, how they hold,—their sire has tasted, look!
For these, I say, vengeance devising, waits
A dastard lion, wallowing in bed;
House-warden, sooth, to him that's come, my master,
For the slave's yoke, alas! I needs must bear.
The naval leader, leveller of Troy,
He knows not that the fell she-dog, whose tongue
Spoke words of guileful welcome, long drawn out,
Like lurking Atè, will achieve his doom. 1200
Such things she dares; the female slays the male!
Her,—what detested monster may I name
And hit the mark?—Some basilisk, or Scylla
Housing in rocks, deadly to mariners,
Infuriate dam of Hades, breathing forth,
Against her dearest, curse implacable?
What triumph-notes exultantly she raised,
All daring one, as in the turn of fight,
Feigning to gratulate his safe return!
What boots it whether I persuade or no? 1210
The doomed must come; ere long to pity moved,
Me thou wilt own a prophet all too true.
Thyestes' banquet of his children's flesh
I knew and shudder at; fear takes my soul,
Hearing the truth, no imaged counterfeit.
The rest I heard, but follow not the track.
On Agamemnon dead, I say, thou'lt look.
Lull, poor forlorn one, thy ill-omened tongue.
Yet o'er this speech no healing god presides.
If be it must; but may it never be; 1220
The while thou prayest, theirs it is to slay.
What man deviseth this accursèd deed?
Widely thy glance hath missed mine oracles.
Ay, for the plotter's scheme to me is dark.
Yet in Hellenic speech my words are couched.
So too are Pythian chants, yet hard to spell.
Alas! what fire is this! It seizes me.
Woe! woe! Lykeian god! Apollo! Woe!
The biped lioness, that with the wolf
In absence of the noble lion couched, 1230
Will me, her victim, slaughter, and as one
Poison who mixeth, she my doom will add
To crown her vengeance; whetting 'gainst her lord
The murderous knife, she boasteth to exact
His death, as payment for escorting me.
Why longer wear this scorn-provoking gear,
This wand, these wreaths prophetic round my neck?
Thee I will shatter ere myself am doomed.
Hence to destruction: I will follow soon;
Another, in my place, enrich with woes.
Behold, Apollo's self doth strip me bare 1240
Of the prophetic robe; coldly he gazed,
What time, in these adornments vainly tricked,
To friends and enemies, with one consent,
All undeserved, a laughter I became:
Vagrant yclept, poor hunger-stricken wretch,
A strolling mountebank, I bare it all;
And now the seer (his vengeance wreaked on me
The seeress) calls me to this deadly fate.
My father at the altar fell, but me
The slaughter-block awaiteth, smitten down
By stroke relentless, reeking with hot gore.
Yet not unhonoured of the gods we fall; 1250
For other champion of our cause shall come,
Seed matricidal, venger of his sire.
An exiled wanderer, from this land estranged,
Returns, this vengeance for his friends to crown.
For, lo, the gods a mighty oath have sworn,
His father's prostrate form shall lead him home.
But why, an alien here, pour I my wail?
When that I first have seen my Ilion fare
As fared it hath, and they who won the town
In sorry plight, through judgment of the gods. 1260
I'll do! I'll suffer! I will dare to die.
These gates, as gates of Hades, I adjure,
One prayer I offer, "mortal be the stroke;"
Free from convulsive throes, in easy death,
While ebbs my life-blood, may I close mine eyes.
Oh woman, thou most wretched and most wise;
Lengthy thy speech hath been; but if thou knowest
Truly thine own sad doom, how walkest thou
Like heaven-led victim, boldly to the altar?
There's no escape; brief respite, nothing more. 1270
Yet to be last is gain at least of time.
The day is come, small were my gain by flight.
Enduring art thou, and of dauntless mind.
Yet dear to mortals is a glorious death.
Such words none heareth from the fortunate.
Alas, my sire, for thee and thy brave sons!
[She suddenly starts back.
What may this mean? What terror drives thee back?
Why this alas, unless some horror scare thee?
Blood-reeking murder breatheth from these halls. 1280
'Tis but the scent of victims at the hearth.
Nay, but such breath as issues from a tomb.
No Syrian odour tell'st thou for the house.
Well! I will go, within these palace halls
To wail mine own and Agamemnon's doom.
Enough of life! Strangers! Alas! Alas!
Yet quail I not, as birdé at the brake,
Idly; in death my vouchers be in this,
When, in my place, woman for woman dies,
And when for man ill-wedded, man shall fall. 1290
Dying, this hospitable grace I crave.
Poor wretch; Thy fateful doom my pity moves.
Once more I fain would speak, but not to pour
Mine own funereal wail; but to the Sun,
Looking my last upon his beams, I pray
That my avengers pay my murderers back,
Requiting me, poor slave, their easy prey.
Alas, for man's estate! If Fortune smile,
A shadow may o'erturn it; should she frown,
A moistened sponge the picture doth destroy. 1300
More than the first this doom my pity moves.
[Exit into the palace.
All are of boundless weal insatiate;—
None warneth from his halls
Him at whom Envy points, as rich or great,
Saying, "Come here no more."—
So to this man the Blessed Ones have given
To capture Priam's walls;—
Home he returns, beloved of Heaven;—
But must he now the blood repay
Of ancient murder; must he die,
And dying expiate, 1310
With his own death, their deaths who died of yore;
Who, being mortal, this can hear, nor pray,
That he were born to scathless destiny?
[In the palace.
Woe's me! I'm smitten with a deadly blow!
Hush! Wounded unto death; who lifts this cry.
Woe's me! Again! a second time I'm struck.
By the groaning of the monarch, wrought methinks is now the deed;
But together taking counsel, weave we now some prudent scheme.
I.To you my counsel is to raise the cry,
And to the palace call the citizens. 1320
II.To me seems best, at quickest, breaking in,
To prove the deed by newly-dripping blade.
III.I, this opinion sharing, give my vote
For action;—not to dally is the point.
IV.'Tis manifest; for they, thus preluding,
Give to the city signs of tyranny.
V.Ay, we delay;—they, treading under foot
All thoughts of dalliance, sleep not with the hand.
VI.No plan I know to fashion or propose;
Against the guilty doer we must plot. 1330
VII.That view I share, for no device I know,
By words, the dead man to restore to life.
VIII.What! dragging on our lives, shall we obey
These home-polluters? Them our leaders make?
IX.That were past hearing, better far to die;
For milder doom were death than tyranny.
X.How! may we not on evidence of groans
Augur full surely that the man is dead?
XI.Ere we can argue, we must know the facts;
Assurance differs widely from surmise. 1340
XII.This I commend, taking the general vote,
Plainly to know how fareth Atreus' son.
[The doors of the royal palace are thrown open; Clytemnestra is discovered standing with the axe over her shoulder. Behind her, under a cover, are the bodies of Agamemnon and Cassandra.]
Though much to suit the times before was said,
It shames me not the opposite to speak:
For, plotting against foes,—our seeming friends,—
How else contrive with Ruin's wily snare,
Too high to overleap, to fence them round?
To me, not mindless of an ancient feud,
Hath come at last this contest;—late indeed.
The deed achieved, here stand I, where I slew. 1350
So was it wrought (and this I'll not deny),
That he could neither 'scape, nor ward his doom;
Around him, like a fish-encircling net,
This garment's deadly splendour did I cast;—
Him twice I smote, and he, with twofold groan,
His limbs relaxed;—then, prostrate where he lay,
Him with third blow I dowered, votive gift
To nether Hades, saviour of the dead.
Thus as he fell he chafed his soul away;
And gurgling forth the swift death-tide of blood, 1360
He smites me with black drops of gory dew,
Not less exultant than, with heaven-sent joy
The corn-sown land, in birth-hour of the ear.
For this great issue, Argive Senators,
Joy ye, if joy ye can, but I exult.
Nay, o'er the slain were off'rings meet,—with right
Here were they poured,—with emphasis of right.
Such goblet having filled with cursed ills
At home,—himself on his return drains off.
We marvel at thy tongue, how bold thy speech, 1370
Who o'er thy husband makest so thy vaunt.
As witless woman are ye proving me;
But I with steadfast heart, to you who know,
Proclaim,—and whether ye will praise or blame,
It recks me not,—this man is Agamemnon,—
My husband, dead, the work of this right hand,
Doer of righteous deed;—so stands the case.
O woman, what earth-nurtured bane,
What potion, upsent from the wind-ruffled sea,
Hast tasted, that on thine own head dost heap 1380
Curses, for incense, folk-mutter'd and deep!
Hast cast off, hast slain;—
Out-cast, uncitied, thyself shalt be,
Huge hate of the townsmen blasting thee.
Me thou dost doom to exile,—to endure
The people's hate, their curse deep-muttered,—thou,
Who 'gainst this man of yore hadst naught to urge.
He, all unmoved, as though brute life he quenched,
The while his fleecy pastures teem'd with flocks,
His own child slaughtered,—of my travail throes 1390
To me the dearest,—charm for Thracian blasts.
Him shouldst thou not have chased from land and home
Just guerdon for foul deed? Stern judge thou art
When me thou dost arraign;—but, mark my words,
(Nerved as I am to threat on equal terms,)
If with strong hand ye conquer me, then rule;—
But should the god decree the opposite,
Though late, to sober sense shalt thou be schooled.
O haughty of council art thou;—
And haughtily-minded thou vauntest amain, 1400
As raveth thy mind neath blood-reeking fate.
Calling for vengeance, glares forth on thy brow
Of blood the foul stain;—
Forsaken of friends, the common hate,
Death-blow with death-blow shalt expiate.
This solemn sanction of mine oaths thou hearest;—
By the accomplished vengeance of my child,
By Até, by Erinyes, unto whom
I slew this man,—Expectancy for me
Treads not the halls of Fear, while on my hearth, 1410
Ægisthos, kind as heretofore, burns fire;—
For he of boldness is no puny shield.
There prostrate lies this woman's outrager,
Minion to each Chryseis under Troy.
There too, this captive slave, this auguress,
And this man's concubine,—this prophetess,
His faithful bedfellow, who shared with him
The sailor's bench. Not unrequited wrought they;
For he lies—thus. While she, in swan-like fashion,
Having breathed forth her last, her dying wail, 1420
Lies here, to him a paramour, and so
Adds keener relish to my sweet revenge.
Chorus. Strophe I.
Oh might some sudden Fate
Not tethered to a weight
Of couch-enchaining anguish, hither waft
The boon of endless sleep!
For our most gracious guardian slain we weep,
In woman's cause of yore
Full many a pang who bore,
And now lies smitten by a woman's craft.
Woe! frenzied Helen, woe! 1430
Through thee alone, through one,
How many souls, how many, were undone;
What havoc dire 'neath Troia thou hast wrought.
And now the cureless woe,
Heirloom of blood, shed long ago,
Through thee hath blossomed, causing strife
Unquenchable, with husband-murder rife.
Clytemnestra. Strophe IV.
Bowed beneath sorrow's weight,
Invoke not deadly Fate,
Nor in thine anger Helen thus arraign, 1440
As though through her, through one,
Fell many a Danaan son;—
She-man-destroyer, working cureless bane!
Chorus. Antistrophe I.
Demon, who now dost fall
Ruthless on Atreus' hall
Making the twin Tantalidæ thy prey,
†Through women's haughty reign,
Gnawing my heart, thou dost confirm thy sway.
Like bodeful raven hoarse,
She standeth o'er the corse,
And chants exulting her discordant strain. 1450
Clytemnestra. Antistrophe IV.
Ay now thy speech in sooth
Runs even with the truth,
Calling the thrice-dread demon of this race;
For in their veins is nursed,
By him, the quenchless thirst
For blood; ere pales the trace
Of ancient pang, new ichor flows apace.
Chorus. Strophe V.
Mighty the demon, dire his hate,
Whom here thou boastest to preside;
Woe! woe! ill-omened praise of Fate, 1460
Baneful and still unsatisfied!
Alas! 'Tis Zeus, in will, in deed,
Sole cause, sole fashioner; for say
What comes to mortals undecreed
By Zeus, what here, that owneth not his sway?
King! King! how thee shall I bewail?
How voice my heartfelt grief? Thou liest there
Entangled in the spider's guileful snare;
In impious death thy life thou dost exhale. 1470
Ah me! ah me! to death betrayed,
Sped by the two-edged blade,
On servile couch now ignominious laid.
Clytemnestra. Strophe VIII.
Dost boast as mine this deed?
Then wrongly thou dost read,
†To count me Agamemnon's wife;—not so;
Appearing in the mien
Of this dead monarch's queen,
The ancient fiend of Atreus dealt the blow;—
Requiting his grim feast, 1480
For the slain babes, as priest,
The full-grown victim now he layeth low.
Chorus. Antistrophe V.
That thou art guiltless of this blood
Who will attest? Yet by thy side,
Haply, as thy accomplice, stood
The Fury who doth here preside.
Through streams of kindred gore
Presseth grim Ares on to claim
Requital for the deed of shame;—
The clotted blood of babes devoured of yore. 1490
King! King! thee how shall I bewail?
How voice my heartfelt grief? Thou liest there
Entangled in the spider's guileful snare,
In impious death thy life thou dost exhale.
Ah me! ah me! to death betrayed,
Sped by the two-edged blade,
On servile couch now ignominious laid.
Clytemnestra. Antistrophe VIII.
By no unjust decree
Perished this man, for he 1500
Through guile hath household death enacted here:—
His proper child he slew,
Sweet bud from me that grew,
Iphigenia, wept with many a tear.
Foul quittance for foul deed;—
He reaped the sword's due meed,
Hence no proud boast from him let Hades hear!
Chorus. Strophe IX.
Perplexed I am, bewildered sore
Which way to turn; escape is vain; 1510
Totters the house; I dread the crimson rain
That with loud plashing shakes these walls; no more
Falleth in niggard droppings now the gore.
And bent on deed of mischief, Fate anew
On other whetstones, whetteth vengeance due.
Earth! Earth! oh hadst thou been
My shroud ere I my king
Prone in the silver-sided bath had seen!
Who will inter him? Who his dirge shall sing?
So hardy thou? Wilt thou who didst assail 1520
Thy husband's life, thyself uplift the wail?
Wilt to his shade, for the great deeds he wrought,
Render a graceless grace, with malice fraught?
With tears of honest grief
Weeping the godlike chief,
Above the tomb who now shall raise
The funeral hymn? Who speak the hero's praise?
Clytemnestra. Strophe X.
Not thine the task to counsel here.
By us he fell: this man we slew;
Ours be it to inurn him too; 1530
Borne from the palace, o'er the bier
Shall sound no notes of wailing;—no,
But him, with blandishments, shall meet
Iphigenia; by the rapid streams
Of Acheron, his daughter, as beseems,
Facing her father, shall around him throw
Her loving arms, and him with kisses greet.
Chorus. Antistrophe IX.
That taunt still answers taunt we see.
Here to adjudge is hard indeed.
Spoiled be the spoiler; who sheds blood must bleed.
While Zeus surviveth shall this law survive. 1540
Doer must suffer; 'tis the Fates' decree;
Who from the house the fated curse may drive?
The race is welded to calamity.
Clytemnestra. Antistrophe X.
Ay! now on Truth thou dost alight!
I with the demon of this race—
The Pleisthenid—an oath will plight.
My doom, though grievous, I embrace.
But for the rest, hence let him haste!
Leaving this house, let him another race 1550
Harass with kindred murders. For myself,
When from these halls blood-frenzy I have chased,
Small pittance shall I crave of worldly pelf.
[Enter Ægisthos, arrayed in royal robes, and with armed attendants.]
Hail, joyous light of justice-bearing day!
At length I can aver that Gods supernal,
Judges of men, look down on earthly woes,
Beholding, in the Erinyes' woven robes,
This man, thus prostrate, welcome sight to me,
The wiles atoning compassed by his sire. 1560
For Atreus, Argos' ruler, this man's father,
Did from the city and his home expel
Thyestes, rival in the sovereignty,—
My father, to be plain, and his own brother.
But coming back, a suppliant of the hearth,
Wretched Thyestes found a lot secure,
Not doomed his natal soil with blood to stain,
Here in his home: but this man's godless sire,
Atreus, with zeal officious more than kind,
Feigning a joyous banquet-day to hold, 1570
Served to my sire, for food, his children's flesh.
Their feet indeed, the members of their hands,—
Seated aloof, in higher place, he hides.
Partaking of the undistinguished parts,
In ignorance, Thyestes eats the food,
Curse-laden, as thou seest, to the race.
Discerning then the impious deed, he shrieked,
And back recoiling the foul slaughter spewed.
Spurning, with righteous curse, th' insulted board
Dread doom he vows to the Pelopidæ;— 1580
"So perish the whole race of Pleisthenes."
Hence is it that ye see this man laid low;
The righteous planner of his death am I.
For me, the thirteenth child, in swathing clothes,
He with my wretched sire, to exile drove.
But, grown to manhood, Justice led me back,
And I, although aloof, have reached this man,
The threads combining of the fatal plot.
Now for myself 'twere glorious to die,
Seeing this man entrapped in Justice' toils.
To honour insolence in guilt, Ægisthos, 1590
I know not;—that with purpose thou didst kill
This man, thou boastest; of his piteous doom
Sole author thou:—I tell thee thine own head
To Justice brought, be sure shall not escape
The curse of stoning by the people's hand.
Plying the lowest oar, dost menace us
Who from the upper benches sway the helm?
Being old thou know'st how bitter at thy years
Wisdom by stern necessity to learn.
But bonds and hunger-pangs, to cure the mind
Of stubborn eld, are skilful leeches found. 1600
Hast eyes, yet seest not this? Against the pricks
Kick not, lest stumbling, thou shouldst come to grief.
Woman, house-mate to him from recent war
Return'd,—defiler of thy husband's bed,
Death thou didst plot against this warrior chief.
These words will fountains be of bitter tears.
Thy tongue the opposite to Orpheus is;
For he drew all by rapture of his voice,
While thou, by idle bark, dost all things stir
†To hate;—when conquered, thou wilt tamer show. 1610
Shalt thou be ruler of the Argives, thou,
Who, when that thou hadst plotted this man's death,
Didst courage lack to strike the blow thyself?
To spread the snare was plainly woman's part,
For I, his ancient foeman, was suspect;
But armed with this man's treasure, be it mine
To rule the citizens. Th' unruly colt
That, barley-fed, turns restive, I will bind
†With heavier thong than yokes the trace-horse;—him,
Darkness' grim comrade, Famine, shall see tamed.
This man why didst thou not, O base of soul,
Slaughter thyself? But him his wife, with thee,
The land polluting, and her country's gods,
Hath slain. Orestes, sees he still the light,
That, home-returning with auspicious Fate,
He may, with mighty stroke, deal death to both?
Since thou art minded thus to act, not talk alone, know quickly.
[To his attendants.
Come on, my faithful body-guard, the fray is not far distant.
Come on then, and with hand on hilt, his sword let each make ready.
Be well assured, with hand on hilt, to die I too refuse not.
To die,—thine utterance we accept, and take as thy death-omen.
Dearest of husbands let us not, I pray, work further mischief.
Already in our many woes reaped have we wretched harvests.
Of sorrow there hath been enough; let us forbear more bloodshed.
Go thou, and ye too aged men, seek your appointed mansions,
Ere aught ye do to work mischance. As fate enjoined we've acted.
If trouble is the lot of man, enough have we encountered;
Sore smitten by the heavy hoof of some avenging demon.
Thus ye a woman's counsel have, if any deign to hearken.
To think that their vain tongue 'gainst me into such speech should blossom;—
That they should hurl forth words like these, their proper doom thus tempting:
They against sober reason err, thus to insult their ruler.
Upon the evil man to fawn is not the wont of Argives.
But, be assured, some future day, I yet shall overtake you.
Not so if hither to return some god should guide Orestes.
Full well I know that exiles still on hopes are wont to batten.
Work as thou listest. Gorge thy fill. Stain justice. Thou canst do it.
Be sure that thou to me shalt pay the forfeit of thy folly.
Be boastful and be bold, like cock beside his partner strutting.
These senseless barkings heed not thou; thyself and I together,
Ruling within these royal halls, will all things wisely order.
- The figures correspond to the number of lines in the original.
† The obelisks refer to the conjectural emendations of the text at the end of each drama.
- The original being here in oracular style is purposely obscure, and cannot be fitly rendered otherwise in the translation.
- By a harsh metaphor the Greek army is called a curb forged against Troy.
- The combatants probably are Uranos, father of Kronos; and Kronos, father of Zeus.
- Geryon, a monster represented by the poets as having three bodies and three heads, and located by them in the fabulous island of Erytheia. The capture of the oxen of Geryon was one of the twelve labours of Heracles.
- [Πολλὴν ἄνωθεν, τὴν κάτω γὰρ οὐ λέγω.]
I agree with those critics who reject this line as spurious.
- Spear-guest. The Greek word δορύξενος is explained by Plutarch, whom Bishop Thirlwall follows, as expressing the relation established when a prisoner of war dismissed on parole has honourably paid his ransom.
- In the Odyssey (xix. 518) Penelope compares herself to Pandareos' child, the sylvan nightingale which, in the opening spring, perched amid the dense foliage of the trees, warbles beautifully, with frequent change of key, lamenting her boy, her beloved Itylos, son of King Zethus, whom, through insensate folly, she had slain. This is the oldest form of the legend.
NOTES TO THE AGAMEMNON.
[My friend the translator wishing to obviate the charge of arbitrarily departing from Æschylus, requests me to draw up a list of the conjectural emendations of the text which I have suggested. Space forbids my here justifying them. I will state them as briefly as I can.
Verse 7. Omit ἀστέρας as an interpretation of δυνάστας, and read ὅταν φθίνωσιν, ἀντολάς τε τῶνδ᾽, ὁρῶ.
‡ τόσσον ‡ γὰρ εὔφρων [Ἄρτεμις ἐστι] καλὰ
δρόσοισι λεπτοῖσιν ‡ μαλακῶν τε ‡ λαγῶν . . .
142. τερπνὰ [δὲ δαίμονα θέσπιν ὁ μάντις]
τούτων αἰτεῖ σύμβολα κρᾶναι,
δεξιὰ μὲν κατάμομφα δὲ φάσματα ‡ κρίνων.
"Ἰήϊον ‡ αὖ καλέω
Παιᾶνα [θεῖον], μήτινας ἀντιπνόους
Δαναοῖς χρονίας ἐχενῇδας
‡ Ἄγρεια τεύξῃ, σπευδομένα θυσίαν
ἐτέραν . . .
In 142, 146, such words as I insert seem to be deficient.
In 144 I have written κρίνων for the absurd στρούθων.
In 148 a nominative, expressive of Artemis, is deficient. I have changed ἀπλοίας, which can hardly bear the epithet ἀντιπνόους, into Ἄγρεια (huntress).
164. Read εὔξεται for the old λέξει. Οὐδεν εὔξεται πρὶν ὤν · "will not vaunt that he was aught of yore."
175. For δέ που read γέ που, and remove the stop after σωφρονεῖν. Join ἄκοντας with σωφρονεῖν, ἦλθε with βιαίως. "And to men, loath to learn sobriety, there cometh forcibly a grace (I trow) of deities, who sit on holy bench." The "grace" is the painful wisdom learned by suffering.
226. For προνωπῆ read προνωπεῖς.
233. After γραφαῖς insert [ποικίλαις]. In the antistrophe do not omit προκλύειν, but for ἐπεὶ read πῆ, and omit ἡ before λύσις. Τὸ μέλλον δὲ προκλύειν, πῆ γένοιτ᾽ | ἂν λύσις, προχαιρέτω.
278. For ἰσχὺς read ὄσχας or ὄσχους, "twigs" of flame; suggested by πεύκη, the pine. In the corrupt πρὸς ἡδονὴν a verb is concealed, such as προῄχμασεν, προήκρισεν, vibrated, perked forward. Προσήλασεν is possible, but was less likely to be corrupted than some rarer verb, as προσῃθρισεν, wafted.
299. Before φλέγουσαν a whole line seems to be lost, such as [αὐγὴν κελεύουσ᾽, ἀστραπαῖς εὐαγγέλοις] φλέγουσαν.
327. For ὡς δυσδαίμονες Blomfield well gave ὡς δ᾽ εὐδαίμονες.
365. Treading in Blomfield's steps, I attempt the corrupt passage thus—
πέφανται δ᾽ ‡ ἐγγενὴς
πνεόντων, μεῖζου ἢ δικαίως.
φλεόντων δωμάτων ὑπερφεῦ,
‡ οὐ τοὐτο βέλτιστόν ‡ ἐστ᾽
ὀυδ᾽ ἀπήμαντον . . . .
(Τοῦτο, the fact of excessive abundance.)
412.For πάρεστι σιγὰς ἄτιμος ἀλοίδορος
ἅδιστος ἀφεμένων ἰδεῖν:
read (until we get something better)—
πάρεστι σιγὰ κατ᾽ οἴμους, ἀλοίδορος,
αἴστους ἐφιεμένων ἰδεῖν.
Join σιγὰ ἐφιεμένων. "There is silence along (her) paths, while they long to view the viewless." I understand this of Helen's ὁμηλικίη. In antistrophe for Ἑλλάδος read Ἕλλανος.
541. For οὐ λαχόντες, which is nonsense, read ἀσχάλλοντες, and in 540, κακοῤῥοθους for κακοστρώτους.
741. This very corrupt passage admits of an approximate solution, thus—
ὕβριν, τότ᾽ ἢ τόθ᾽, ὅτε τὸ κύριον μόλῃ,
‡ νεαροῖς ‡ φανοῦσαν ‡ τόκοισι
δαίμονα ‡ παντομάχαν
ἀνίερον θράσος μελαι-
νας μελάθροισιν Ἄτας,
Vulgo, † νεὰ † φαόυς κότον | δαίμονά † τε † τὸν ἄμαχον ἀπόλεμον | ἀνίερον . . . . Θράσος Ἄτης is put for θράσεια Ἄτη, and εἰδομένη, fem., agrees with it. If μελαίνας is correct, it seems to mean "gloomy (funereal)," and is joined with the dative μελάθροις. Then the antistrophe is (omitting βίον in 749, and reading ἔδεθλα with Dindorf, &c.)—
τὰ χρυσόπαστα δ᾽ ἔδεθλα σὐν πίνῳ χερῶν
παλιντρόποις ὄμμασιν λιποῦσ᾽, Ὁσίαν προσέβα, . . . .
(for vulg., ὅσια).
776. Adapting from Franke ἐκ θυσιῶν for ἑκούσιον, read also θρήσκοισι for θνήσκουσι, which cannot be right. Then, we get
θράσος ἐκ θυσιῶν
ἄνδρασι θρήσκοισι κομίζων.
"infusing into religious men confidence from the sacrifices."
844. Πολλὴν . . . λέγω. Schütz, if I remember, regards the line as spurious, and with good reason.
957. παρήβησεν ought to be παρηύνησεν, they moored by εύνᾶιαι.
990. οὐδὲ τὸν ὀρθοδαῆ . . . . is quite unsatisfactory. I conjecture οὐχὶ . . .; has not Jupiter put a stop to it?
994. For μοῖρα μοῖραν, which is nonsense, read μοῖρ ἄμοιρά μ᾽; and compare νᾶες ἄναες, γάμος ἄγαμος.
1095. For μελαγκέρων, by all means read μελαγκρόκῳ, and for ἐν πέπλοισι perhaps ἐμπλακέντα.
1422. I think τῆς εμῆς ought to be τήνδ᾽ ἐμῆς, for ἐπήγαγεν must have Agamemnon as nominative. παροψύνημα, a delicate side dish, can only mean Cassandra. It cannot mean "a relish." Χλιδῇς cannot be right, but perhaps the participle χλιδῶν.
1446. For κράτος ἰσόψυχον (which is defective in metre as well as sense), read κράτος σινόψυχον, "thou establishest a soul-blighting sway by means of women." Hermann by inserting τ᾽ after κράτος did not improve the sense.
1610. For ἄξει read ἔχθει, thou art hated, in contrast to χαρᾷ.
1618. For σειραφόρον read σειραφόρων: "bands heavier than common harness."