Page:Ten Tragedies of Seneca (1902).djvu/119

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THYESTES.

king of the house of Tantalus dons, when he ascends the throne. The possessor of this valuable heir-loom is the man who rules the kingdom; the destinies of the house, therefore, are indissolubly connected with it. This sacred animal, therefore, in a spot set apart for that object, is allowed to browse without molestation in a soft meadow, which a stone wall shuts in, protecting with its stony defence, the feeding ground of this golden ram, which directs the fate of the kingdom. My brother has been so daring, in his unparalleled wickedness, that he has perfidiously carried it away, my wife being accessory to this deed, as well as being a partner in ms guilt, that of fouling my marriage bed! Hence, every misfortune which has befallen me has been intermingled with the results of this terrible blow. Throughout my own kingdom, I have tramped as a trembling outcast! Not a single part of that kingdom, claims exemption from the traces of her insidious treatment! With a dishonored wife, the strength of my authority crushed, my lineage impaired, my very offspring of doubtful paternity: is there—can there be anything of which I can now be certain, except that it is the hostility of Thyestes? Why, then, Atreus, why shouldst thou hesitate as to what thou shouldst do? Begin at once, inoculate thy mind with some of the temper of Tantalus, and seek out Pelops as a fitting model for thy operations, they are properly requisitioned (in thy case). But say, Atreus, how wilt thou immolate that dreadful monster?

GU. I suppose, thou meanest, that his death by the sword will be the only means of effectually rooting out finally and for ever his hostile spirit towards thyself.

ATR. Thou wishest to speak of the mode of his punishment—death. I wish to discuss the punishment itself, which I shall carry out. It is only a meek sort of king, who merely kills in my kingdom, simple death is a luxury sought after!

GU. Does no piety rule thy heart?

ATR. Get away with thee! Religion indeed! If thou hast never been in our house, thou shalt enter now! The dreadful troop of Furies—harsh Erinnys will be there, and Megæra, shaking in her hand torches, doubled on my account. My breast does not sufficiently burn with the great rage within me, it would please me to be filled with greater monstrosities!

GU. What new idea does thy infuriated mind present to thy thoughts?