Page:Ten Tragedies of Seneca (1902).djvu/147

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THYESTES.

victim, and holding it tightly he stabbed him with the sword, which he thrust into me wound as far as the hilt, and when the weapon was withdrawn, the body stood upright for several seconds, as it were, doubting for a long time, whether it should fall here or there; it then fell upon the Uncle. Then with unabated wrath he drags Plisthenes towards the altar and places him by the side of his brother, he severs his head from his body with a well-directed blow—his headless trunk falls to the earth, and the head gives forth something like a mumbling, undefinable whispering!

CHOR. What did he do after he had finished with this double slaughter? did he not spare one of the boys? Oh! What crime upon crime, he has heaped up!

MESS. As the maned lion of the Armenian forest contemplates with satisfaction his triumphs over the herds and flocks, after much slaughter, his jaws still dripping with their blood, although his hunger is fully appeased, does not lay aside his savage nature! From all sides he terrifies the bulls, whilst he is chasing the calves, although his teeth are tired out, with their recent dental labors! Not unlike this, Atreus maintains his rage at its maximum, and fairly swells with his wrath, and still holding his sword, sprinkled with the blood of his nephews, not knowing whither he was rushing—He evidently was thirsting with his cruel hand, for another victim, and darting upon the third son, he forthwith stabbed him in the chest, and the sword, passing through his body, emerged at the back—He falls, and his blood extinguished the fire at the altar—he thus dies from his double wound! (wound at point of entry and that made by its exit.)

CHOR. Oh! What horrible wickedness!

MESS. Why art thou so horrified? if the crime rested at this point, the piety of Atreus would have been an established fact?

CHOR. Can human nature, dost thou tell us, devise anything more cruel or more atrocious (than what thou hast told us)?

MESS. Now, dost thou suppose, that what I have related is the finale of my story? it is only a link in the chain.

CHOR. What more could he do, we ask, perhaps it is, that he has handed over the bodies to be devoured by the wild beasts, and has deprived them of the ceremonial flames of the funeral pile (that is dishonoring their remains).