Open main menu

Dramas of Aeschylus (Swanwick)/Suppliants

< Dramas of Aeschylus (Swanwick)
For other English-language translations of this work, see Suppliants (Aeschylus).

 

THE SUPPLIANTS.

 

 

DRAMATIS PERSONÆ.

Chorus, the Daughters of Danaos.
Danaos.
Pelasgos, King of Argos.
Herald.




[Scene.—The sea-shore: on one side the sea, on the other the gates of Argos. The Thymele is adorned with statues of Apollo, Artemis, Hermes, and other divinities. Enter from the shore the fifty daughters of Danaos, accompanied by their father—they are arrayed in Egyptian costume, and bear in their hands the suppliant bough, wreathed with wool. They form the Chorus, and as they advance twelve of their number chant the following ode.]

 

 

INTRODUCTION.

The trilogy to which this drama belonged, like that of which "The Seven against Thebes" formed the concluding member, was founded upon an ancient epic, by an unknown author. Of this poem little is known, except that it contained five thousand five hundred verses, and bore the title of "The Danaides."

The story which it embodied appealed powerfully to that passion for legendary genealogies which formed such a striking feature of the Grecian character. Alleged descent from a common ancestor was the bond of union between the members of every Grecian community, great or small; and as this legendary personage was usually of divine or semi-divine origin, even the humblest citizen thus felt himself brought into more or less direct filiation with the gods. The divine element thus, according to the popular conception, incarnated in humanity, culminated in the great national hero, Herakles, "the most renowned and ubiquitous of all the semi-divine personages worshipped by the Hellenes"—the only mortal who, from a life of toil and suffering on earth, was admitted to the godhead, and received into the society of Olympos. His descendants, moreover, the Herakleids, associated with the Dorians in the conquest of the Peloponnesus, were glorified in the popular imagination as the founders of the great Dorian cities of Argos, Sparta, and Messenia, and as the introducers in those localities of a new social order. Peculiar interest thus attaches to Io, the progenitrix of Herakles, and to the birth of her offspring, Epaphos, an event celebrated in such glowing strains by the chorus of Suppliants (v. 580).[1]

In thus veiling the grosser features of the Io legend, as popularly conceived, while, at the same time, investing it with a more spiritual meaning, Æschylus appears not only as the great creative poet, but also as the true prophet of his generation. The numerous legends of which the story of Io may be regarded as a typical example embodied, in a vulgar form, the idea that it was only through association with the divine principle that man could rise to his true ideal as man. The poet seizes upon this idea, separates it from the grosser elements of the popular symbol, and extols the benignity of Zeus in thus seeking fellowship with mortals—giving prominence to the idea that through this agency alone the human race was raised to a higher level, physical and moral, than it could otherwise have attained.

The introductory character of "The Suppliants" has been inferred from the extreme simplicity of the plot, and from other considerations; accordingly, it is now generally regarded as forming the first member of a trilogy of which the succeeding dramas were "The Egyptians," and "The Danaides," both of which have been lost. Though deficient in dramatic interest, this piece is characterized by the remarkable beauty of the choral odes, which, from their sublime simplicity, and from the high conception which they embody of Zeus, as the supreme and omnipotent ruler, remind us occasionally of the Hebrew psalms.

It must be remembered, moreover, that, at the time of Æschylus, the national legends had not yet lost their hold upon the popular belief, and accordingly mythical events, such as the arrival of the Danaides in Argos, were considered not only as having influenced the subsequent destinies of Greece, but also as having been brought about by the inscrutable counsels of Zeus; the unfolding of whose designs, through the medium of tragedy, was regarded as the highest function of the poet.

The ancient legend tells of the strife between the sons of Belos; how Danaos was driven from his home by Ægyptos, who usurped his throne; how the latter sought to force the Danaides to marry his sons, and how Athena herself exhorted Danaos to flee with his daughters to the land of Io.

The introductory drama opens with their arrival, in tne character of suppliants, at Argos, and is founded upon the protection accorded to them by the Argives and their king, Pelasgos: the appearance of the Egyptian herald, at the conclusion of the play, together with his forcible attempt to carry off the suppliants, prepares the spectator for the arrival of the Egyptian pursuers in the succeeding drama. Attention has been called to the picturesque beauty of the opening scene, where, holding in their hands their wool-wreathed myrtle boughs, and arrayed in white apparel, which formed a striking contrast to their swarthy limbs, the suppliants grouped themselves under the statues of the gods: they would, moreover, be regarded with peculiar interest as wanderers from the valley of the Nile, "the wondrous river fed with snow," upon whose fountains no human eye had been permitted to gaze.

Of "The Egyptians," unfortunately, no fragments remain; it doubtless embodied the main incident in the tragic story of the Danaides. It is related in the legend that Danaos was elected king by the Argives, in place of Pelasgos; being unable to cope with Ægyptos and his sons, who still press their suit, he is compelled to yield to their demand, and promises to give his daughters in marriage to their detested suitors. In secret, however, he furnishes each with a dagger, enjoining her, at the same time, to slay her lord during the nuptial night. The terrible deed was executed. Hypermnestra alone, soothed by love, and preferring the reputation of cowardice to that of blood-guiltiness (Pro. 887), spared Lynceus, the partner of her couch. Here one duty could not be observed without violating another, and thus was brought about that collision between two primary principles of human nature, the reconciliation of which constitutes the essence of the Æschylean drama. The remark of Grote with reference to this feature of Grecian tragedy will be perused with interest: "The tragedian," he says, "not only appeals more powerfully to the ethical sentiments than poetry had ever done before, but also, by raising these grave and touching questions, addresses a stimulus and challenge to the intellect, spurring it on to ethical speculation."

From the Hellenic point of view, Hypermnestra was regarded as a criminal, while the bloody deed of her sisters was extolled as an act of heroism, enjoined not only by their father, but by the gods themselves.

The suitors, moreover, are represented from the first as in the highest degree insolent and overbearing: barbarians, they had dared to invade the sacred soil of Hellas, and the vengeance which had overtaken them would ally itself in the popular imagination with the destruction of the Oriental hosts which had so recently crowned the grand contemporary conflict between Persia and Hellas. This feeling would be heightened by the war between Egypt and Athens, which began B.C. 462.

The trial of Hypermnestra most probably formed the principal subject of "The Danaides," the concluding member of the trilogy. From a fragment of the prologue which has been preserved, we learn that the drama opened with the hymn with which it was customary to awaken the newly-married pair:

"Since now arises the bright lamp of day,
The bridegrooms I awake with friendly lay,
Chanted by choral bands of youths and maids."

The horrors of the bridal night would thus be revealed, together with what was regarded as the treacherous clemency of Hypermnestra. According to the ancient story, she was cast by her father into prison, and subsequently brought to trial before a court with the constitution of which we are not acquainted. The goddess Aphrodite herself appears to plead her cause, reminding us of the trial of Orestes before the court of Areopagus, when Pallas Athena, as president, gave her casting vote in his favour.

One fragment from the address of Aphrodite has been preserved:

"Longs the pure sky to blend with Earth, and Love
Doth Earth impel to yield to his embrace;
The rain-shower, falling from the slumberous heaven,
Kisses the Earth; and Earth brings forth for mortals
Pasture for sheep-flocks and Demeter's grain.
The woods in spring their dewy nuptials hold;
And of all these I am in part the cause."

Hypermnestra was acquitted, and from her union with Lynceus sprang in course of time the demigod Herakles. The remaining daughters of Danaos were purified from the stain of blood by Athena and Hermes, or, according to another form of the legend, by Zeus himself.

 

 

THE SUPPLIANTS.

MAY Zeus, by Suppliants revered,
Propitious view our naval train,
From Nile's fine-sanded mouths who steered
Across the billowy main.
The heavenly region left behind
Whose fields with Syria's fields unite,
Guiltless we roam, not blood-defiled
And by the state's decree exiled,
But wedlock with abhorrent mind
Shunning; for by Ægyptos' brood,
Kin of our blood, to marriage woo'd,
We flee the unhallowed rite. 10
Danaos, our father and our guide,[2]
Prime councillor of wisdom tried,
Casting for these affairs the die,
Of ills the noblest chose, to fly,
Free from constraint, the sea-wave o'er,
And anchor drop on Argos' shore,
Whence, boasting its descent, our line,
From her, the heifer hornet-stung,
Through breathing and through touch divine
Of Zeus, hath whilom sprung.
Wherefore, on what more friendly land
Than this, a refuge could we find, 20
These sacred branches, wool-entwined,
Bearing with suppliant hand?
O city! Earth! O waters clear!
Supernal gods, and powers severe
Guarding the tombs who hold your reign,
And Zeus, third saviour, (guardian thou
Of righteous men,) our suppliant train
Tender of sex, receive ye now,
With kindly reverence native here.
But for Ægyptos' haughty brood, 30
Swarm of rude males, or e'er they gain
Firm footing on this marshy coast,
Their swift-oared galley and their host
Sweep seaward; there by hurricane,
By thunder, lightning, and by rain
Tempestuous driving,—ere, as prize,
They seize this kindred sisterhood,
And our unwilling beds profane,
Trampling time-honoured sanctities,—
O'erwhelm them in the savage flood.


Strophe I.

Him I invoke, beyond the sea 40
Our champion, progeny divine[3]
Of her who browsed the flowery lea,
Ancestral mother of our line
Through breath and touch of Zeus. For time,
When to full plenitude it came,
Brought Epaphos to light, whose name
Showed forth the touch sublime.


Antistrophe I.

His name rehearsing, where of old
His mother trod the grassy wold,— 50
Recalling now her ancient toil,
I to the holders of this soil
Sure tokens of my birth will show;
Ay, of my words shall proofs appear
In season due, unlooked-for, clear,
That all their truth may know.


Strophe II.

And should there chance to linger near
Some native augur, on his ear
When falls our plaintive wail;
Will he not deem the anguished note
Of Tereus' bride[4] around doth float,
The hawk-chased nightingale? 60

 

Antistrophe II.

Driven from her streams and woodlands green,
Lamenting the familiar scene,
She pours a strange wild strain.
Her child she mourns in tuneful breath,
By her own hand consigned to death,
Through rage maternal slain.


Strophe III.

Thus in Ionian strain,
Of plaint enamoured, I complain,
The while my soft, Nile-mellowed cheek I rend,
And heart aflood with tears.
Blossoms I cull of grief, while fears
Possess me, lest our suppliant band, 70
Escaped from that mist-shrouded land,
Find here no guardian friend.


Antistrophe III.

But natal gods, whose eye
Justice regardeth, hear our cry,
Nor, beyond right, let youth its goal attain;
Abhorring haughty wrong,
Let sacred law o'er wedlock reign.
From bale, in war who worsted fly
The altar shieldeth,—bulwark strong,—
Dread awe of gods on high.


Strophe IV.

Though Zeus plan all things right,[5] 80
Yet is his heart's desire full hard to trace;
Nathless in every place
Brightly it gleameth, e'en in darkest night,
Fraught with black fate to man's speech-gifted race.


Antistrophe IV.

Stedfast, ne'er thrown in fight,[6]
The deed in brow of Zeus to ripeness brought;
For wrapt in shadowy night,
Tangled, unscanned by mortal sight,
Extend the pathways of his secret thought.


Strophe V.

From towering hopes mortals he hurleth prone 90
To utter doom; but for their fall
No force arrayeth he; for all
That gods devise is without effort wrought.
Seated aloft upon his holy throne,
He from afar works out his secret thought.


Antistrophe V.

But let him mortal insolence behold;—
How with proud contumacy rife,
Wantons the stem in lusty life 100
My marriage craving;—phrenzy over-bold,
Spur ever-pricking, goads them on to fate,
By ruin taught their folly all too late.

 

Strophe VI.

Thus I complain, in piteous strain,
Grief-laden, tear-evoking, shrill;
Ah woe is me! woe! woe!
Dirge-like it sounds: mine own death-trill
I pour, yet breathing vital air.
Hear, hill-crowned Apia, hear my prayer!
Full well, O land, 110
My voice barbaric thou canst understand;
While oft with rendings I assail
My byssine vesture and Sidonian veil.


Antistrophe VI.

My nuptial rite in heaven's pure sight
Pollution were, death-laden, rude;
Ah woe is me! woe! woe!
Alas for sorrow's murky brood!
Where will this billow hurl me? Where?
Hear, hill-crowned Apia, hear my prayer; 120
Full well, O land,
My voice barbaric thou canst understand,
While oft with rendings I assail
My byssine vesture and Sidonian veil.


Strophe VII.

The oar indeed and home with sails
Flax-tissued, swelled with favouring gales,
Staunch to the wave, from spear-storm free,
Have to this shore escorted me,
Nor so far blame I destiny.
But may the all-seeing Father send 130
In fitting time propitious end;
So our dread Mother's mighty brood,
The lordly couch may 'scape, ah me,
Unwedded, unsubdued!


Antistrophe VII.

Meeting my will with will divine,
Daughter of Zeus who here dost hold
Stedfast thy sacred shrine,—
Me, Artemis unstained, behold.
Do thou, who sovereign might dost wield,
Virgin thyself, a virgin shield; 140
So our dread Mother's mighty brood,
The lordly couch may 'scape, ah me,
Unwedded, unsubdued!


Strophe VIII.

But if she hide her face
Our swart, sun-smitten race,
Bearing our wool-wreathed boughs, to Zeus will go,
Lord of the dead below,
Hailer of many a guest.
To him our suppliant train
Will wend, by nooses slain, 150
If gods Olympian heed not our request.
Oh Zeus, for Io's sake,
The wrath of heav'n, alas, doth us o'ertake;
The vengeful ire I recognize
Of thy dread consort who subdues the skies.
For still the tempest raves amain
After the hurricane.


Antistrophe VIII.

Then how may Zeus be free
From righteous obloquy,
The offspring slighting, scion of his race, 160
Whom erst the heifer bare,
If now he hide his face
From us who seek his grace?
Nay, but on high may he attend our prayer!
Oh Zeus, for Io's sake
The wrath of heaven, alas, doth us o'ertake;
The vengeful ire I recognize
Of thy dread consort who subdues the skies.
For still the tempest raves amain 170
After the hurricane.


Danaos.

Needful is prudence, children.—Ye have come
With prudent sire, this trusty pilot old,
And taking forethought also here ashore
I charge you guard my words, well tableted.—
Dust, voiceless herald of a host, I see;—
The wheel-naves keep not silence, axle-driven;—
And now a shielded band with brandished spears,
With steeds and curved chariots, I descry.—
Perchance the rulers of this land, apprized 180
By messengers, to eye us hither come.
But whether harmless, or, with ruthless ire
Whetted, some leader urges on the host,—
Whate'er betide, damsels, 'tis best to take
Seats on the mound of these Agonian gods.
Stronger than tower an altar is; a shield
Inviolate; hence with all speed advance,
And holding in left hand, with reverent grasp,
Your suppliant boughs, white wreathed, ensigns of Zeus,
The god of mercy, with respectful words, 190
Urgent and sad, befitting aliens here,
Answer these strangers, setting plainly forth
That this your flight by blood is undefiled.
Let naught unseemly wait upon your voice;
And from your sober brow and quiet eye
Let no vain glance proceed; in your discourse
Nor voluble, nor over-tedious be;
Jealous of such this race. Be prompt to yield,
For foreign art thou, fugitive and poor;
Boldness of speech beseemeth not the weak.


Chorus.

Well thou advisest, sire, the well-advised. 200
I thy wise bests will in remembrance guard;
And may ancestral Zeus our cause behold!


Danaos.

May he behold it with propitious eye!


Chorus.

Beside thee now my seat I fain would take.

 

Danaos.

Then dally not; be your design achieved.


[The Chorus place themselves near Danaos.]


Chorus.

O Zeus! my sorrows pity ere I die.


Danaos.

If He be gracious, all may yet be well.


Chorus.

******


Danaos.

Now do ye invocate this bird of Zeus.[7]


Chorus.

Lo! we invoke the Sun's sustaining beams.


Danaos.

Apollo too, pure god, exile from heaven. 210


Chorus.

Knowing this lot, he can for mortals feel.


Danaos.

So may he now, and stand our prompt ally.

 

Chorus.

Whom next of all these gods shall I invoke?


Danaos.

This trident see I, ensign of the god.


Chorus.

Well hath he sped us, well may he receive!


Danaos.

Here Hermes also after Hellas' rites.


Chorus.

May he good tidings herald to the free!


Danaos.

Of all these gods the common shrine revere,
And in these holy precincts take your seats,
Like flock of doves scared by like-feathered hawks, 220
Our kin, yet foes, polluters of the race.
Can bird, devouring bird, be undefiled?
Who takes in marriage an unwilling bride,
From sire unwilling, how can he be pure?
Not e'en in realm of Hades, after death,
Shall one so reckless fail to be arraigned.
For there, among the shades, another Zeus,
'Tis said, offence by final verdict dooms.
Look out, and on this place your station take,
So happy issue your emprize shall crown.


[Enter King, followed by attendants.]

 

King.

As from what soil this troop may we salute, 230
Band un-Hellenic, in barbaric robes
And folds luxuriant? This female gear
Nor Argos knows, nor any tract of Hellas.
How without heralds, without public hosts,
E'en destitute of guides, ye to this land
Fearless have dared to come, is marvellous!
Branches, indeed, as is the suppliant's wont,
Lie near you, hard by these Agonian gods;
By this alone may Hellas form surmise;
And many other things to guess were just, 240
Were none at hand by living voice to tell.


Chorus.

Touching my garb not falsely hast thou spoken;
But whom do I address? A citizen,
Or temple-guard, or leader of the state?


King.

In that regard speak thou and answer make
Fearless; earth-born Palaechthon's son am I,
Of this Pelasgic country potentate.
And they this soil who reap, from me, their lord,
Race of Pelasgi rightfully are named.
For all the land through which clear Strymon flows, 250
Towards the setting sun, my sway doth own.
My realm the lands of the Perrhæbi gird,
Those beyond Pindus to Paeonia near,
And high Dodona; ocean's watery bourne
Cuts it sheer off; within these bounds I rule.
This plain itself, this Apian land, of old
In wise physician's honour gained its name.
For Apis, prophet-leech, Apollo's son,
Arriving from Naupactos, o'er the sea,
This land from man-destroying monsters purged, 260
Whom earth, by stains of ancient blood defiled,
Sent up in anger, dragon-progeny,
Co-dwellers fierce. Apis, as leech and seer,
Blameless, for Argive land these ills hath cured,
And for reward hath mention in our prayers.
Having from me these tokens, in return
Show forth your lineage, and further speak.
Yet long discourse this city brooketh not.


Chorus.

Brief be my tale and clear. Of Argive race,— 270
Seed of the heifer in her offspring blest,
We boast ourselves. All this will I confirm.


King.

Incredible, O strangers, sounds your tale,
That this your race from Argos is derived;
For Libya's daughters ye resemble most,
In no wise like to women native here;
Such progeny might Neilos rear perchance;
Such too the Cyprian character impressed
In female moulds by male artificers.
Of nomad Indian women too I hear, 280
Who, pannier-borne, on steed-like camels ride,
Dwellers in land hard by the Æthiops' home.
Haply, if armed with bows, I you had deemed
Unlorded flesh-devouring Amazons.
Instructed, I shall better understand
How ye descent and race from Argos claim.


Chorus.

They say that Io, in this Argive land,
Of Hera's temple bare of yore the keys.


King.

True, certes;—widely the report prevails.—
Runs not the tale that Zeus a mortal loved? 290


Chorus.

Ay, and with dalliance not from Hera veiled.


King.

How ended then these royal jealousies?


Chorus.

The goddess to a heifer changed the maid.


King.

Zeus surely ne'er would touch a fair-horned heifer.


Chorus.

In fashion of a bull they say he came.


King.

What further wrought the mighty spouse of Zeus?

 

Chorus.

She o'er the heifer placed th' all-seeing guard.


King.

What heifer-guard all-seeing meanest thou?


Chorus.

Argos, the son of earth, whom Hermes slew. 300


King.

What else devised she 'gainst the ill-starred heifer?


Chorus.

The herd-tormenting brize, relentless pest.—
Oestros those call it who near Neilos dwell.


King.

That from the land drave her in lengthened course?


Chorus.

This too thou speakest consonant with me.


King.

And to Canôbos came she and to Memphis?


Chorus.

There Zeus, with soothing hand, a race did plant.


King.

Who boasts himself the heifer's seed divine?


Chorus.

He by the liberating touch of Zeus
Distinguished rightfully as Epaphos.

 

King.

[What offspring then had Zeus-born Epaphos?[8]] 310


Chorus.

Libya, with name adorned of mightiest land.


King.

What other scion of this stock dost name?


Chorus.

Sire of two sons, Belos, my father's father.

[Pointing to Danaos.]


King.

Tell me, I pray, his name with wisdom fraught!


Chorus.

Danaos, whose brother boasteth fifty sons.


King.

Of him too grudge not to declare the name.


Chorus.

Ægyptos.—Knowing now mine ancient race
'Tis thine an Argive train from dust to raise.


King.

To me some ancient tie ye seem to hold
With this our soil. But your parental home 320
How have ye dared to leave? What chance befel?


Chorus.

Pelasgic king, chequered are human ills;
Sorrows like-feathered never wilt thou see.
For who might guess that, in unhoped-for flight,
Thine ancient kindred should to Argos drift,
Cowering through horror of the nuptial couch.


King.

From these Agonian gods what your request,
Holding these white-wreathed branches newly-culled?


Chorus.

That to Ægyptos' sons I be not slave.


King.

Speakest from hate or fearing tie unlawful? 330


Chorus.

One's kinsmen who would wish to buy as lords?[9]


King.

By such alliance waxeth strength to mortals.


Chorus.

Ay, and the wretched to desert is easy.


King.

How then towards you pious may I prove?

 

Chorus.

Us yield not, when Ægyptos' sons demand.


King.

Grave the request new war to undertake.


Chorus.

But patron to her champion Justice stands.


King.

True, if at first I had a party been.


Chorus.

Revere the city's stern thus garlanded.[10]


King.

With awe these seats I mark shaded with boughs. 340


Chorus.

Grievous the wrath of Zeus, the suppliant's god.


Chorus. Strophe I.

Son of Palaechthon, hear!
With heart benign hear me, Pelasgic king.
Me suppliant mark, exile lone-wandering;
Like heifer, wolf-chased, that on rocky height
Loweth, confiding in assistance near,
The herdsman warning of her dismal plight.


King.

By boughs new-culled o'ershadow'd, I behold
[11]This bright assembly of Agonian gods.
No mischief may this claim as town-guests breed; 350
Nor from event unlooked for, unprepared,
Be quarrel born; unwelcome to the state.


Chorus. Antistrophe I.

That mischief on our flight
Wait not, may she, Goddess of Suppliants, grant,
Themis, from Zeus, supreme Allotter, sprung!
Thou, elder-minded, learn from me more young;—
The suppliant aiding, never shalt thou want,
Nor will the gods the good man's offering slight.


King.

Not at my private hearth suppliant ye sit.
But if some common guilt the state pollute, 360
In common let the people work the cure.
No pledge I give, till, touching these events,
Counsel I hold with all my citizens.


Chorus. Strophe II.

Thou art the state, the people, thou alone:—
Ruler accountable to none;
With sovereign nod, the altar-stone,
The hearth, thou swayest, of the land,—
And from sole-sceptred throne,
All issues canst command.
Oh then pollution shun.


King.

Pollution rest upon mine enemies! 370
But you I cannot succour without bale,
Nor gracious is it to despise these prayers.
Perplexed I am and fear my heart distracts,
To act or not to act, and bide my chance.


Chorus. Antistrophe II.

The jealous watcher mark enthroned on high,
Guardian of mortals travail-worn,
Who to those near for aid apply,
And find their lawful claims denied.
At suppliants' wail forlorn
The wrath of Zeus doth bide
Implacable for aye. 380


King.

But if Ægyptos' sons have power o'er thee,
As next of kin, pleading their city's laws,
Who would desire such pleading to withstand?
To native customs thou must make appeal,
That legal rights against thee they have none.


Chorus. Strophe III.

Ne'er may I subject be to men's rude might;
Escape from baleful marriage-tie,
Star-guided, I mark out in flight.
But Justice' self now taking for ally,
Side with the holy gods and judge the right. 390


King.

Judgment not easy: choose me not for judge.
Before I told you, I, though chief in sway,
Cannot herein without my people act.—
Ne'er shall the throng aver, should ill befal,—
"Strangers revering, thou the state hast wrecked."


Chorus. Antistrophe III.

Allied to both, Zeus, with impartial ken,
These things beholdeth; evil men
Fitly with bale doth he requite,
The good with blessing: wherefore fearest then,
Since fair the balance, to uphold the right? 400


King.

Deep salutary counsel need we here,
An eye clear-sighted, not with wine surcharged,
To plunge like diver to the lowest deep,
That these events, first, harmless to the state
May prove, and next bring vantage to ourselves.
So may not ye be booty of the strife,
Nor we, by yielding you, near holy seats
Of gods established, bring, to haunt our land,
The all-destroying Might, Avenger stern,
Who e'en in Hades' realm frees not the dead. 410
Seems there not need of salutary thought?


Chorus. Strophe I.

Ponder, and with just heed,
To me in my sore need
God-fearing patron be! Surrender not
One, by unrighteous meed,
Who shares the exile's lot.

 

Antistrophe I.

See me not borne away,
Thou who the land dost sway
With might all-potent, from these gods' blest shrine.
Men's insolence survey, 420
And dread the wrath divine.


Strophe II.

Endure not to behold
Me from these statues, against right, impressed,
Thy suppliant, like steed in forceful hold,
Dragged by my tresses and embroidered vest.


Antistrophe II.

Whatever thy decree,
Know well, thy sons, ay, all thy house must pay
Like reckoning, by war's stern arbitry. 430
These just commands from Zeus, firm-thoughted weigh.


King.

Well have I weighed them. Hither drives my bark.
Escape is none, but mighty war to wage
Either with gods or men;[12] fixed is the hull,
As if by naval capstans hauled ashore.
Which way I turn, grief meets me everywhere.
For gear from plundered homesteads other gear,
More than the loss, though mighty freight the spoil,
By favour of Zeus Ktesios[13] may accrue;
So when the tongue hath shot untimely forth 440
The stinging phrase, provoking direful wrath,
The wound by word inflicted word may heal.
But to avert the stain of kindred blood,
la sacrifice must many a victim bleed,
To many gods,—for remedy of ill.
Sooth! from this fray fain would I keep aloof,
Unskilled in evils rather let me be
Than wise! Beyond my hope may good prevail!


Chorus.

Of many solemn words hear now the goal.


King.

I listen. Speak. Thy words shall 'scape me not. 450


Chorus.

Girdles and zones have I my robes to clasp.


King.

Such garniture beseems the woman's lot.


Chorus.

By means of these, know well, contrivance fair—


King.

Speak; what this word which thou wilt utter forth?


Chorus.

Unless some pledge thou givest to this train—


King.

What will device of zones for thee effect?

 

Chorus.

With tablets new these statues they shall grace.


King.

Thy words are riddles; plainer be thy speech!


Chorus.

We from these gods forthwith ourselves will hang.


King.

A word I hear piercing my very heart. 460


Chorus.

Thou hast it now, for I thine eyes have purged.


King.

Divers these troubles, hard to struggle with;
A host of ills bursts o'er me like a flood;
Ruin's unfathomed sea, full hard to cross,
This have I entered: harbour there is none,
For should I spurn your prayers, pollution dire
Thou namest, overtowering arrow's flight.
But if before the walls taking my stand,
I try the issue with Ægyptos' sons,
Thy kinsmen;—bitter is the cost to stain 470
With blood of men the soil, for women's sake.
Yet needs must I revere the wrath of Zeus,
The suppliants' god; for, among mortal men
No awe more dread. Do thou then, of these maids
The aged sire, these branches in thine arms
Taking, on other shrines of native gods
Lay them; that all the citizens may see
Tokens of this thy visit. Touching me
Let fall no random word; for ever prone
The people are to blame authority.
These things beholding, some, to pity stirred, 480
The insolence may hate of this male troop.
So with the folk more favour shall ye find.
For to the weaker side all bear good will.


Danaos.

A precious boon is this for us, to win
A patron so august, the reigning prince.[14]
But native escort and interpreters
Send thou with us; so may we surer find
The temple-fronting altars, and abodes,
Friendly to guests,[15] of city-guarding gods,
And may in safety pass amid thy town.
For we by nature are unlike in form; 490
Not the same race rear Nile and Inachos;
Beware, lest rashness slaughter breed;[16] ere now,
Hath friend, through ignorance, by friend been slain.


King.

March with him guards, for well the stranger speaks.
Lead to the city altars, seats of gods;
And changing watchwords, needless is much talk,
While ye this seaman guide, suppliant of gods.


[Exit Danaos, with attendants.]


Chorus.

He hath thy hest, thus tutored let him go;
But for myself,—how act? Where safety find?


King.

Leave here these branches, token of thy need. 500


Chorus.

Thy hand and voice obeying, them I leave.


King.

Now to this open grove betake thyself.


Chorus.

But how should grove unhallowed shelter me?


King.

As prey to birds we will not give thee up.


Chorus.

What if to men more dire than dragon-brood?


King.

A kindly answer give to kindly words.


Chorus.

No marvel if I anxious am, through fear.


King.

But fear to gentle blood unseemly is.

 

Chorus.

Cheer then by deeds, as by thy words, my heart.


King.

Thee no long time thy sire forlorn will leave. 510
But I, the people of the land convening,
Will in thy favour move the multitude,
And how to frame his speech instruct thy sire.
Wait therefore and our native gods entreat,
With orisons, thine heart's desire to grant,
But I to urge thy cause will now depart;
May suasion and effective fortune follow.


[Exeunt King and attendants.]


Chorus. Strophe I.

Hail, King of Kings! Most Blest
Among the blest! Of powers on high
Most perfect Power! Our prayerful cry 520
Hear, blissful Zeus, and hate-possest,
Of hateful men ward off the lawless pride;
Ay, deep beneath the purple tide
Whelm thou their dark-benched pest.


Antistrophe I.

Viewing with eye benign
Our woman's cause, our ancient race,
Her tale recall who shared thy grace,
Ancestral mother of our line.
Soother of Io, mindful be once more
Of her, through whom we from this shore 530
Our boasted lineage trace.

 

Strophe II.

Back where my mother trod the wold,
Her ancient haunts, flower-gendering meads,
Pastures where yet the heifer feeds,
I now betake me,—whence of old,
Brize-goaded, and distracted, speeds
Through many a tribe of mortal men,
Io;—and while she holds in ken[17]
The adverse shore, straight through the sea,
A path she cleaveth, led by Destiny. 540


Antistrophe II.

Through Asia's land in wild career,
Right o'er sheep-pasturing Phrygia's plain,
Till Teuthras' Mysian towers appear,
And Lydian vales,—she scours amain;
Cilicia's and Pamphylia's height
Leaving behind, she speeds her flight
O'er banks of ever-flowing streams,
To the fair land with corn that teems,
Region deep-soiled to Aphrodite dear.


Strophe III.

Pierced by her wingèd herdsman's sting, 550
The lea she gains all fostering,—
That heavenly meadow fed from snow,
O'erswept by Typhon's strength,
And by the bale-averting flow
Of Neilos' water;—there, at length,
Frenzied she comes by toils unseemly spent,
And goading pangs by jealous Hera sent.


Antistrophe III.

And mortals who the land possessed,
While pallid terror shook their breast, 560
Amazed a shape unwonted saw,—
Half heifer and half maid,
Mortal and brute, bi-formed. With awe,
The wondrous portent they surveyed.
Whó then was he who gently soothed to rest
Far-roaming Io, brize-stung, sore distrest?


Strophe IV.

Zeus, lord of ceaseless ages, thine,
Oh thine was that unharming might! 570
The breathing of thy love divine
Arrests at length her toilsome flight,
And gently, with the mournful tide
Of modest tears, her woes subside.
Then, as Fame truly tells, receiving there
Thy germ divine, her blameless child she bare,


Antistrophe IV.

From age to age supremely blest.
Hence the whole earth proclaims, "this seed
Life teeming, springs in very deed
From Zeus, for who but he the pest 580
Could stay, devised! by Hera's spite?"
Thine, Zeus, the gracious work was thine!
Hence, whoso speaketh of our race divine
From Epaphos as sprung, errs not from right.


Strophe V.

Whom of the gods more fitly now
May I invoke for deeds of grace?
Father, Creator, King art thou,
Whose forming hand begat our race;
Artificer supreme, ancient of days,
Zeus, the all-wise, whose breath each purpose sways.


Antistrophe V.

Nor seated upon lower throne
Wieldeth he delegated sway; 590
Nor doth as his superior own
Ruler whose word he must obey;—
No, on his sovereign fiat waits the deed,
To execute his minds deep-ponder'd rede.


[Re-enter Danaos.]


Danaos (to his daughters).

Take courage, with the natives all goes well.
Decrees all-perfect have the people passed.


Chorus.

Hail, sire revered; herald to me most dear;
But say what measure hath been ratified,
Whereto the people's hand out-numbering swayed?

 

Danaos.

Not by division did the Argives vote,
But so as to make young mine aged heart. 600
For in full mote, with raised right-hands the air
Bristled, while this decree they ratified,
That we in Argive land might settle, free,
Not subject to arrest, inviolate;
That no one, native here or foreigner,
Should seize us;—but, should violence be used,
And any of these burghers fail to aid,
An outlaw should he be, to exile doomed.
Thus in our favour spake Pelasgia's king,
Persuasive, warning lest the mighty wrath 610
Of Zeus, the suppliant's god, in future time,
The city should weigh down, and two-fold wrong,
To us as strangers and as citizens,
Upon the state two-fold pollution bring,
Food of disaster irremediable.
Hearing such things the Argives, by their hands,
Confirmed, ere herald summoned, these decrees.
The orator's persuasive winding speech
Heard the Pelasgi, but Zeus wrought the end.


Chorus.

Come now for Argos' race
Chant we the gracious prayer 620
Requiting kindly grace.
May Zeus, the stranger's friend,
From strangers' lips regard with favour rare
The orisons, and crown with prosperous end.

 

Strophe I.

Ye gods, heaven-born, if e'er before,
Hear now the prayers that for this race we pour!
Never may this Pelasgic town,
Fire-wasted, lift the joyless cry
Of Ares, wanton deity,
Who men in other harvest-fields mows down!
For that a gracious law
They passed, to mercy stirred; 630
And for this pity-moving herd,
Thy supplicants, oh Zeus! felt righteous awe.


Antistrophe I.

Nor, voting on the side of men,
The women's cause did they disdainful slight;
But the dread watcher held in ken,
Full hard to cope with, vengeful Might,
Whom on its roofs what house could bear
Wrathful? For heavily he sitteth there.
Yea, sith their proper kin,
Suppliants of Zeus severe,
They venerate with pious fear;
Hence with pure altars they heaven's grace shall win. 640


Strophe II.

Therefore, in tuneful rivalry, lot vows
Ascend from lips shaded by olive boughs.
May pestilence ne'er drain
Of manly strength this town;
Nor discord's lawless reign
With native corpses strow
This land's ensanguined plain!
Still may youth's gracious flower
Unsickled blow;
Nor Aphrodite's spouse, man-slaying power,
Relentless Ares, mow its blossom down! 650


Antistrophe II.

May offerings blaze in every sacred fane,[18]
By foreign elders throng'd, an honoured train,
That well may fare the State!
Zeus let them hail, the Great,—
The stranger's god, who fate
By hoary law doth rein.
Fresh produce may the fields
For ever bear,
And may dread Artemis, her bow who wields,
View women's travail-pangs and kindly spare. 660


Strophe III.

And let no man-destroying mischief lay
This town in ruins, arming for the fray,
Ares, the source of tears, of ruthless mood,
Danceless and lyreless. May the brood
Of fell disease far from these burghers wing
Its joyless flight, and the Lykeian king
The nation's youth propitiously survey!


Antistrophe III.

With every season's wealth may Zeus benign 670
Crown the rich earth, and mightily increase
Before the city walls the pasturing kine!
Ne'er may the gods' rich blessing cease!
May the well-omened song from every shrine
Ascend, and from chaste lips the solemn strain,
Joy-laden, lyre-enamoured, sound amain!


Strophe IV.

Still may the people guard with constant zeal[19]
Their honours for the virtuous, while the sway 680
Of prudent councillors the city's weal
Makes stedfast; and, ere arming for the fray,
May they, unscathed, just pacts with strangers seal!


Antistrophe IV.

And let them, to the gods this land who hold,
With sacrifice and laurel bough draw near,
Jealous to keep their fathers' rites of old.
For venerable Justice hath enroll'd
This her third statute:—"Parents aye revere."[20]

 

Danaos.

These sober prayers, daughters beloved, I praise. 690
But though ye from your father tidings hear
New and unlooked for, keep a stedfast heart.
For from this suppliant-guarding eminence
The barque I see; well-marked it 'scapes me not;—
The swelling sails, the bulwarks on each side,
The prow in front, scanning its way with eyes,
And, as to us unfriendly, all too well
Hearing the guiding rudder at the stern.
Distinctly now the sailors may be seen,
Their swart limbs manifest in white attire. 700
Now ope to view the rest, the attendant ships;—
Meanwhile this one, the leader, with furled sails,
Towards the shore is rowed, with equal stroke.
You it behoves, calmly, with stedfast mind,
Viewing the danger, not to slight these gods.
With champions I'll return and advocates,
Should haply herald come or embassy,
Eager to seize you as the prize of war.
But thus it may not be; fear not the event.
Yet were it best, should we be slow to aid, 710
In no wise to forget your shelter here.
Courage! when strikes the appointed day and hour,
Due fine that man shall pay who slights the gods.


Chorus. Strophe I.

Father, afraid I am, since swift of wing
The ships advance; full soon will they be here.
My spirit fails me, scared by anxious fear,
Lest that my lengthened flight no profit bring.
Father, I faint through dread.


Danaos.

Children, since ratified the Argives' vote,
Take courage; well I know, for you they'll fight. 720


Chorus. Antistrophe I.

Insatiate of battle, fierce and lewd
Ægyptos' race;—to one who knows I speak.
In timbered ships, blue-prowed, their rage to wreak,
Hither with many a follower, sable-hued,
In prosperous wrath they sped.


Danaos.

Ay, but they here a numerous host will find,
With thews well hardened in the noon-tide heat.


Chorus. Strophe II.

Oh leave me not alone, father, I pray;
Woman abandoned to herself is nought.
In her no war-god dwells. Crafty are they 730
In mind and counsel; dissolute in thought,
Neither, like crows, for altars care they aught.


Danaos.

Our interest, children, it would much avail
Wore they to gods as hateful as to thee.


Chorus. Antistrophe II.

No awe of gods before whose shrines we stand,
Or of these sacred tridents, O my sire,
From us will hold their sacrilegious hand;
Too proud their hearts, mad with unhallowed fire,
Reckless as dogs, they scorn the gods' command.


Danaos.

But wolves o'ermaster dogs, so runs the rede; 740
And fruit of byblos is no match for corn.


Chorus.

Since they the tempers have of brutes unclean
And wanton, of their power we must beware.


Danaos.

No speedy task the manage of a fleet,
Nor yet to fix its moorings, nor ashore
Safely to bring the stern-ropes; nor at once
Are shepherds of swift galleys wont to trust
Their anchor-hold, the more when they approach
A region harbourless, what time the sun
Sinks into night; for anxious travail-throes 750
In wary pilot night is wont to breed.
Trust me, the army will not disembark,
Till in her moorings safe the galley rides;
Though fear-oppressed, beware, slight not the gods,
Who succour brought; nor shall the city blame
Your herald, old, but young in eloquence.[21]


Chorus. Strophe I.

O hilly land, which all revere,
What woe awaits us? where, oh where,
In land of Apia, shall we flee,
If refuge dark lurk anywhere?
As sable smoke, ah, might I be,
That to the clouds of Zeus draws near, 760
Or, soaring without wings, ah me,
Unseen, like viewless dust dissolve in air!


Antistrophe I.

Scapeless is now the threatened doom;
Throbbeth my spirit steeped in gloom;
Me hath thine out-look ruined, sire!
I faint with dread. Let me expire,
By twistings of the girdle slain,
Or e'er the man by me abhorred,
This form approach with touch profane! 770
Rather, in death, let Hades be my lord!


Strophe II.

Oh for a seat in upper air
Where the dank vapours turn to snow;—
Or might some beetling crag forlorn,
Smooth, steep, unfriendly, lonesome, bare,
The vultures' haunt, my plunge below
Witness, ere forceful I am torn,
Heart-piercing wedlock's dreaded yoke to share.


Antistrophe II.

That food of dogs I then should be, 780
Or gorge the prey-birds, native here,
Appals me not; for death is free
From ills that sorrow's plaint endear.
Yea, that its doom may come, I pray,
Ere I such nuptial couch ascend;—
Or other refuge is there, say,
From nuptial-bonds or other saviour friend?


Strophe III.

Lift to heaven the voice of wail,
Hymns and supplications sing;— 790
Prayers that may perchance avail
Rescue from the gods to wring.
View the conflict from the skies,
Great Father!—Violence behold
With righteous and not friendly eyes;
In dear regard do thou thy suppliants hold,—
Zeus, ruler of the earth, all-mighty king!


Antistrophe III.

For Ægyptos' haughty race,
Male of sex, a lawless brood,
Me, poor fugitive, still chase,
And with noiseful clamour rude,
Seek to capture. But thy beam 800
O'er all is poised,—Thou king supreme;
For say, to mortal men apart from thee,
Dread arbiter, what may accomplished be?


Chorus.

1st.Woe, woe! alas! ah me!
Lo the sea-robber nears the land.
2nd.Wrecked be the pirate ere his hand
On me lays forceful hold.
3rd.Loudly I raise the voice of wail.
4th.Preludes to insult I behold
That me will soon assail.
5th.Hasten, to shelter quickly flee, 810
6th.Cruel of heart are they, I trow;
Unbearable by land and sea.
7th.Our patron, King! be thou.


[Enter Herald of the Sons of Ægyptos.]


Herald.

Haste to the barque, away, away!


Chorus.

Rendings, ay rendings of the hair,
And cruel stripes I now must bear;
Lopping of heads will come amain,
And murder's gory rain. 820


Herald.

Plague on you, to the barque away.


Chorus. Strophe I.

Would that where surging billows rave,
Exulting in thy lordly pride,—
Thou and thy nail-clenched barque beside,
Had perished neath the wave!


Herald.

Like to a captured run-a-way,
Thee to my stocks I soon will bind.—
Hence, I advise thee, put away
The foolish phrenzy of thy mind.
Ho there! The altars quit, I say; 830
Hence to the barque;—I know no fear
For what is held in reverence here.


Chorus. Antistrophe I.

Never again, oh never more
May I the cattle-nurturing flood
Behold, whence life-sustaining blood
Through mortals doth more amply pour![22]


Herald.

Cling to the shrine with reverent hand,
Yet to the ship ye must away; 840
Willing or not, ye must obey;—
Off, off, ye wretches, to the strand,
Lest, forcefully, against your will,
Ye at my hands bear ruder ill.


Chorus. Strophe II.

Alas! ah me!
O may'st thou 'neath the billowy wave
Perish, with none to save,
Driven from thy course with adverse blast,
And on Sarpedon's sandy headland cast!


Herald.

Wail and lament and call upon the gods; 850
The Egyptian barque thou shalt not overleap,
E'en though a strain thou pour more bitter still.


Chorus.

Alas! ah me
For this pollution! Words of dread
Thou speakest, mad with pride;
May mighty Neilos, thee that bred,
O'erwhelm thee, and thy ruthless phrenzy hide!


Herald.

Off with you to the galley double-prowed,—
Such my command, full speed, let none delay;—
Who captives hale, hold not in awe their locks. 860


Strophe III.

From these altars, father dear,
With the spider's stealthy tread
Or like vision, vision dread,
Seaward now he draggeth me
Woe, alas, ah me!
Mother earth, O mother earth,
Turn aside the voice of fear!
Zeus! great king, thou son of earth!


Herald.

These gods of Argos fear I not, for they
Nor reared me up, nor nurtured me to eld. 870


Chorus. Antistrophe III.

Near me now he rageth, near,
Biped serpent, void of ruth;
Or like viper, whose fell tooth
Wounds the foot, he holdeth me.
Woe, alas, ah me!
Mother earth, O mother earth,
Turn aside the voice of fear!
Zeus! great king, thou son of earth!

 

Herald.

Unless, my mandate heeding, each one hies 880
Ship ward, her tunic shall no mercy know.


Chorus.

Ho! City-leaders, princes all,
Your suppliant they now enthrall.


Herald.

Force I must use and drag you by your locks,
Since to my words ye lend no ready ear.


Chorus.

We perish utterly, O king,
Unlooked-for outrage suffering.—


Herald.

Soon many kings, Ægyptos' sons, thou'lt see;—
Cheer up! that rulers fail, ye shall not say.


[Enter King with Attendants.]


King.

Sirrah, what doest thou? Through what conceit
This land dost outrage of Pelasgic men?
Or thinkest to a woman's town art come? 890
Thou, a barbarian,—too insolent
Thy dealing with Hellenes. Having erred
In many things, nought judgest thou aright.


Herald.

How in despite of justice have I erred?

 

King.

As stranger to behave, first, know'st thou not.


Herald.

How so? when I, thus finding what was lost . . . .


King.

What native patrons having first addressed?


Herald.

Hermes, chief patron, prime Inquisitor.


King.

Addressing gods, these gods thou honourest not.


Herald.

The deities of Neilos I revere.


King.

Those here are nought, as from thy lips I learn. 900


Herald.

[Pointing to the Suppliants.
These lead I hence if no one snatch them from me.


King.

Touch them, thou'lt rue it, and right speedily.


Herald.

Certes, no hospitable word I hear.


King.

Who spoil the gods find me inhospitable.

 

Herald.

Go to Ægyptos' sons and tell them this.


King.

Such utterance my spirit brooketh not.


Herald.

But that with knowledge I may speak more plainly,
(For it beseems a herald to report
Clearly each circumstance,) how, and by whom,
Shall I, on my return, declare myself
Robbed of this female train, as kindred claimed? 910
Ares such plea by voice of witnesses
Decideth not; neither by silver's worth
Compoundeth quarrel; but, ere comes the end,
With bitter wrench from life falls many a hero.


King.

Why tell to thee my name? Tutored by time,
Know it thou shalt and those who sail with thee.
As for these maids, provided they consent
With willing hearts,—if pious word prevail,—
Them thou may'st take; but by the public voice,
Unanimous, hath this decree been passed;—
Ne'er on compulsion to deliver up 920
A female train;—firmly through this resolve
The nail is driven, so to abide unmoved.
Neither inscribed on tablets nor sealed up
In folds of books these matters are, but them
Plainly thou hearest from free-spoken tongue.
Now, with all speed, betake thee from my sight.

 

Herald.

'Tis then thy pleasure to incur new war:—
May victory and strength be with the males!

[Exit.


King.

But in this land male dwellers ye shall find,
Drinking, I trow, no draughts of barley wine. 930
[To the Suppliants
But maidens, taking heart, repair ye all,
With friendly escort, to the well-fenced town,
Shut in with deep device of many a tower.
The State owns many mansions, and myself
A palace have, built with no grudging hand,
If 'tis your choice full happily to dwell
With many others; yet, if such your wish,
Make ye in separate abodes your home.
Choose of these offers that which seemeth best,
Most pleasing to your sisterhood; myself 940
Your patron am, and all these burghers here,
For you their vote who pledged,—Why wait ye then
For others armed with more authority?


Chorus.

In return for deeds of grace
May thy lot with grace be crowned,
Hero of Pelasgic race!
But hither send, with purpose kind,
Our sire, of brave and wary mind,
Danaos, prime councillor and guide.
His counsel will direct us here
Where we must dwell, and he decide
The place where malice may not reach.
For ready every one is found 950
Strangers to blame. But may the best betide!—
With fair repute and with unwrathful speech
Of citizens, handmaidens dear!
Your places take, as Danaos hath assigned,
A maid, as marriage portion, unto each.


[Enter Danaos, with Attendants.]


Danaos.

Ye to the Argives should with sacrifice,
As to Olympian gods, libations pour,
My daughters! for deliverers they have proved,
Beyond dispute. 'Gainst those assiduous friends, 960
Your cousins, all that had been done they heard,
Indignant, and forthwith, this body-guard,
As mark of honour they assigned to me,
Lest too, by secret spear-thrust slain, my death
Should curse undying bring upon the land.
Such favours reaping, justice bids us hold
In higher honour still their kindly grace.
These admonitions too ye shall inscribe
With many prudent maxims of your sire,
That Time this stranger company may test. 970
Each 'gainst the alien bears an evil tongue,
From which the slanderous word full lightly falls.
But, I exhort you, do me no disgrace,
Crowned as ye are with youth's attractive bloom.
Not easy tender ripeness is to guard;
Wild beasts despoil it,—mortals too no less,
And wingèd tribes and treaders on the earth.
Her gushing fruitage Kypris heraldeth,
Nay, the unripe scarce suffers she to stay;
And at the virgin's daintiness of form, 980
Each passer-by, o'ercome by fond desire,
Sends from his eye a shaft of suasive spell.
Forget we not then wherefore many a toil,
And breadth of sea was furrowed by our keel.—
Shame to ourselves, but triumph to our foes,
Let us not work. A two-fold dwelling here,
(One doth Pelasgos give, the city one,)
Awaits us, free of charge;—easy the terms.
This only,—guard the mandates of your sire.
And honour bold in more respect than life. 990


Chorus.

Be the Olympians gracious in all else!
Touching my youthful bloom take courage, father;—
For I, unless new plans the gods devise,
Will never from my mind's first pathway swerve.


Semi-chorus A. Strophe I.

Praise the blest gods, state-ruling powers supreme,
The city's tutelary guardians praise,
And those who haunt old Erasinos' stream.


Semi-chorus B.

Companions of our way, take up the theme; 1000
For this Pelasgic city let us pour
The song, nor Neilos' mouths henceforth adore
With choral lays.

 

Semi-chorus A. Antristrophe I.

Nay, but those rivers whose glad waters lave,
With increase fraught, this region where they rise,
Soothing the earth with fertilizing wave.


Semi-chorus B.

View us, Chaste Artemis, with pitying eyes; 1010
On us may Kythereia ne'er impose
Wedlock, with forceful rites! No, may such prize
Reward our foes.


Semi-chorus A. Strophe II.

Not that this friendly hymn disdains her sway
Who empire wieldeth, Zeus and Hera near,
Goddess of guileful spells, Kypris, whose reign,
O'er solemn rites extending, all revere.


Semi-chorus B.

Sharing her honours, on their mother dear 1020
Desire attends and Suasion, who in vain,
Her plea ne'er urgeth; Loves with whispering play,
And sweet Harmonia, these too share her sway,
And wait on Aphrodite.


Semi-chorus A. Antistrophe II.

For us, poor fugitives, dire woes I dread,
Yea, bloody wars my bodeful heart appal;
Since hither sailing, eager in pursuit,
In swiftly-wafted ships our foes have sped. 1030


Semi-chorus B.

Whate'er is fated that must sure befal;
The will of Zeus, almighty, absolute,
None may transgress. May wedlock find at last,
As to full many women in the past,
For us a happy issue.


Semi-chorus A. Strophe III.

From marriage with Ægyptos' seed
Thy suppliants, mighty Zeus, defend!


Semi-chorus B.

All yet propitiously may end.


Semi-chorus A.

Cure seekest thou for cureless ill. 1040


Semi-chorus B.

But certes thou the future canst not read.


Semi-chorus A. Antistrophe III.

How search of Zeus the hidden will?
A fathomless abyss, I trow.


Semi-chorus B.

For modest blessings pour thy prayer.


Semi-chorus A.

What moderation urgest thou?


Semi-chorus B.

What Heaven ordaineth, that with patience bear. 1050


Semi-chorus A. Strophe IV.

From us this wedlock's hateful hostile rite
May sovereign Zeus avert, of old who freed
Io from bale,—the while her frenzied speed
With healing hand he checked, working with gracious might.


Semi-chorus B. Antistrophe IV.

May He with victory crown our woman's side!
The better part, though blent with ill, be mine!
O'er our just cause may Justice' self preside,
Responsive to my prayer, through saving-arts divine!

[Exeunt in procession.



  1. I have not alluded to the solar character of the Hellenic legends—a subject upon which so much light has been thrown by Professor Max Müller and Mr. Cox.
  2. στασίαρχος—party leader.
  3. δίον πόρτιν— literally, divine calf.
  4. Reference is here made to the story of Procne, daughter of Pandion, king of Attica, who, married to Tereus, king of Thrace, became by him the mother of Itys. Hearing of the outrage which her sister Philomela had suffered from Tereus, Procne slew her child, and, being pursued by her husband, was changed into a nightingale, and he into a hawk. There are other versions of the story of Procne.
  5. The text is corrupt.
  6. The metaphor, taken from the custom of the wrestling-school, changes to the tangled paths through a forest.
  7. "The bird of Zeus" is interpreted by the scholiast to mean the sun, for it arouses us from sleep as the cock does. Pausanias distinctly asserts that the cock was considered sacred to the sun (lib. v. 25, 5); and that the sun was worshipped by the Argives (lib. ii. 18, 3). Probably there was some fancied connection between ἀλέκτωρ and ἠλέκτωρ, the Homeric title of the sun (Il. xix. 398; Hymn. ad Apoll. 369).—Paley.
  8. This line is conjectural.
  9. The MS. gives ὤνοιτο, which I have retained, and which seems to me to give a more satisfactory meaning than ὄνοιτο, the correction of Boissonade. Paley adopts the latter, and translates the line thus: "Why, who would object to masters if they were friends?"
  10. Reference is made to the statues of the Agonian gods as pilots of the state.
  11. I accept Mr. Newman's emendation, γανῶνθ ὅμιλον τόνδε.
  12. Literally, "Either with these or those."
  13. Presiding over household property.
  14. I adopt ἐγκρέονταMr. Newman's emendation for εὖ ῥέοντα.
  15. For the second πολισσούχων, which is certainly corrupt, several adjectives are plausibly suggested; I have here adopted πολυξείνους.
  16. φόνον seems to me to give better sense than φόβον.
  17. It is difficult to determine how the words ought to be joined. I place the comma after κυματίαν, and interpret ὁρίζει, she fixes as her goal. If the comma is placed after διατέμνουσα, the passage may be translated thus: "And auspiciously dividing the two continents, she fixes the billowy strait as the limit between them."
  18. Another reading gives—
    "With gifts of honour may the altars blaze,
    Crowded with envoys, who shall sound the praise
    Of this well-ordered State.
    Zeus let them hail, the Great,
    The stranger's god, who fate
    By law primeval sways."
  19. Among the various emendations which have been proposed of this corrupt passage that of Mr. Newman, αἰσίμοισι τιμὰς for ἀτιμίας τιμὰς, appears to me to give the best sense.
  20. The laws of Draco, called θεσμοὶ, are alluded to, among which this triple precept occurred, borrowed, as was said, from Triptolemus: γονεῖς τιμᾶν· θεοὺς καρποῖς ἀχάλλειν· ζῷα μὴ σίνεσθαι.—Paley. In the text the triad of commandments seems completed by, Honour the national gods, and honour the national magistrates.
  21. εὐγλώσσῳ φρενί—literally, with well-tongued heart.
  22. βροτοῖσι is the text of the MSS.



 

NOTES.

The Suppliants.

7. For γνωσθεῖσαι I think should be read ἐξωσθεῖσαι, extruded.

8. αὐτογένητον φυξάνορα is the old text. The sense seems to require an epithet meaning voluntary, in contrast to legal expulsion. Perhaps the word αὐτάγρετος (Ionic for αὐθαίρετος) has been dropped out, from its similarity to αὐτογένητον. Then we obtain, with perfect sense and emphasis—

ἀλλ᾽ [αὐταγρέταις] αὐτογένητον
φυξανορ[ίαις] γάμον Αἰγυπτου
παίδων ἀσεβῆ τ᾽ ὀνοταζόμεναι.

In 27, 38, 40, it is difficult for me to believe that so careful a poet as Æschylus would write δέξαιθ᾽, σφετεριξάμενον, ἐπικεκλόμεναι; which make the syntax as loose as that of Thucydides. I believe in δέξαισθε (in apposition to πέμψατε), σφετεριξαμενους (plural, as ὄλοιντο) ἐπικεκλομένα (in apposition to ἐπιλεξαμένα).

45. ἔφαψιν has no satisfactory syntax; in 43 the old text was ἀνθονόμου τᾶς. Porson changed it to ἀνθονομούσας, which is not plausible to me.

52. The old text τά τε νῦν, should, I think, be γενετᾶν, which completes the splendid conjectural corrections of Hermann and others, who change τεκμήρια τά τ᾽ ἀνόμοι᾽ οἶδ᾽ to τεκμήρι᾽, ἃ γαιονόμοισιν. This one example may justly incite us in nonsensical passages to conjecture boldly.

62. ἀπὸ χώρων ποταμῶν τ᾽ is certainly wrong. A very simple correction will be ἀπὸ χόρτων ποταμῶν τ᾽, from her feeding-places and streams, or even from her crofts and streams. In Pindar we find χόρτος λέοντος: in Eur. Iph. T. 134, χόρτων εὐδένδρων. (Hermann's ἀπὸ χλωρῶν πετάλων ἐγρομένα is audacity out of place.)

70. If δειμαίνουσα be right, we have to join εἴτις with γόεδνα . . . in the sense of "I lament whether," which is certainly unnatural. Dindorf prints δεῖμα μένουσα, I suppose merely to show what the metre requires.

78. For the old reading βωμὸς Ἄρης φύγασιν, which is certainly wrong, an obvious correction is βωμὸς ἀρειφύγασιν, which would be unexceptionable if we found it in the text. But other possibilities occur: thus the poet may have written Ἀρησφύγετον in imitation of the word Κρησφύγετον.

80. Εἰ θείη Διὸς εὖ παναληθῶς! This is nonsense. To change Διὸς to θεὸς has no plausibility; all remains abrupt; θεὸς followed by Διὸς is scarcely possible. My present belief is that we get the poet's sense by Ἰθείᾳ Διὸς ἐν παναληθεῖ . . . . which means, "In the straight line of Jove, though drawn with perfect accuracy, the heart's desire of Jove is not easy to trace." Then the abruptness vanishes and the argument is solid. Moreover, in the next line τοι seems to introduce a general maxim. This suggests to me that πάντᾶ, which is weak, ought to be βροντά.

93. τὰν ἄποινον (the old text) is manifestly indefensible. Critics do not seem to have observed that in place of it we need the accusative after ἐξέπραξεν. Then we must put a full-stop after ἐξοπλίζει, and the sense needed will be given by Πάντα νόον δαιμονίων | μνῆμον ἄνω φρόνημά πως | αὐτόθεν ἐξέπραξεν . . .

104. The little word καὶ offends me, and suggests that καὶ διάνοιαν should possibly be παιδὸς ἄνοιαν. Is the spondee in the third foot satisfactory?

107. Remove the stop and join ἐμπρεπῆ with με.

115, 116. πελομένων καλῶς | ἐπιδρομῶς ὅθι θάνατος ἀπῇ. This is mere chaos. The general sense needed is, that "incestuous marriages involve the gods in guilt:" ἐναγέα must be the predicate. I propose to change πελομένων to πέλοι ἂν οὐ, which gives the sense excellently. On comparing the strophe, it seems likely that v. 116 contains epithets of τέλεα, as v. 105 of μέλεα. To read for v. 116 ἐπίδρομα, νόθα, θανατοσαγῆ, would be very close to the letters; but I think θανατοσαπῆ, "laden with death," more likely, and it is but Γ for Π. Ἐπίδρομα I render invasive.

118, 119. Punctuate with comma after πόνοι, and with full-stop after ἀπάξει, and interpret, "The distresses are indefinable, into what the wave is to carry us;" that is, "It is doubtful, into what ——"

127. I do not think that δόμος δορὸς can mean a house of timber, as Scholefield seems to join it, but δορὸς perhaps ought to be δοραῖς hides.

203–206, of Scholefield, but 207–10, of the Oxford pocket edition, seem to be out of order. The first two lines should change places, and the fourth should be first.

244. τηρὸν is difficult to justify and difficult to condemn; but I think ἱερόραβδον to be a fair and satisfactory correction of ἱεροῦ ῥάβδον.

309. It seems impossible that ῥυσίων can be correct. I suggest ψαυσέων, strokings, caresses, equivalent to ἐπαφησέων. The next line, which is lost, may have been τίς οὖν ἐς Ἔπαφον (or τίς δῆτα κείνῳ) κλεινὸν ἀναφέρει γένος.

394. μὴ τοῖον, for unlucky, evil, is not plausible, μὴ τερπνὸν may suggest itself; but there are too many other possibilities. I conjecture μεμπτέον.

485. For the unmeaning εὖ ῥέοντα I suggest ἐγκ ρέογτα, equivalent to ἐμβασιλεύοντα.

488. πολισσούχων all regard as wrongly repeated from the preceding line. One may suggest πολυλλίστους, or πολυξείνους ἕδρας. Paley's περιστυλους is also good.

492. The old φόβον seems to me quite right, and the change to φόνοῦ needless. "Beware lest too much confidence produce alarm."

510. Perhaps οὔτι should be οὔ σε, as the sense seems to require.

521. πιθοῦ τε καὶ γενέσθω. Obviously to me γενέσθω has supplanted some epithet of ἀνδρῶν. The nearest word that I think of is πανεχθῶν. This is in itself irreprovable: πιθοῦ τε, καὶ πανεχθῶν | ἄλευσον ἀνδρῶν ὕβριν.

528. γενοῦ πολυμνήστωρ cannot be right. Dindorf prints πολυμνήστορ metri causâ, I suppose, rightly regarding ὕβριν as a pyrrhic in the strophe. Apparently for πολυμνήστωρ we need an accusative epithet of αἶνον, and for γενοῦ a genitive or dative, such as γόνου or γονῇ (not γένους, for that occurs twice besides in the sentence). I doubtfully propose νέωσον εὔφρον᾽ αἶνον | γόνου πολύμνηστον. In the next line, τοι must be either interpreted σοὶ, I suppose, or changed into σοί. Ἔνοικοι seems to be for the prosaic ἔποικοι, settlers.

550. εἰσικνουμένου, after ἱκνεῖται, is hardly credible. Dindorfs εἰσικνουμένη does not remove this objection. Hermann's conjecture ἐγκεχριμένη seems to me quite justified.

555. Surely ὕδωρ τὸ Νείλου ought to be ὕδωρ τε Νείλου. The poet says that the wind of the desert (τυφῶ μένος) and the water of Nile come upon the snow-fed fields of Egypt. Like Herodotus, he supposed that snow, melting in the highlands of Abyssinia, kept the Nile full through the summer.

558. θείας is clearly wrong, yet it is hard to believe θυιὰς right. My last thought is δαλὴς ζαθέαισον.

572. I do not see how βία can be nominative to ἀποστάζει. Io must be nominative to ἀποστάζει, therefore βία is corrupt. I conjecture [ἡ δ᾽ αἰκίσματος αἰνοῦ] Διός τ᾽ ἀπημάντῳ κ.τ.λ.

574. I protest against rendering ἕρμα, ballast, as an utter monstrosity, and suggest that it means gem, germ. Compare Iliad, iv. 177, and ἕρματα for gems, ἕρμος, a necklace.

580. The logic of τίς γὰρ proves that the previous lines assert the progeny to have been Jupiter's; hence Ζηνὸς must be predicate, and τὸ δὴ cannot possibly be right. I propose to change it to τόδε.

628. ἀρότοις ἐν ἄλλοις implies that ἄροτος in a literal sense has been named in the previous lines: I think, therefore, that ἄχορον has somehow come in place of the word ἄροτος. In the antistrophe, for πράκτορά τε σκόπον, which is certainly wrong, I would suggest πράκτορ᾽ αὐτόσκοπον.

672. Paley well changes τὼς to γᾶς.

674. I like the Aldine reading ἐπιβώμαν better than ἐπὶ βωμῶν or βωμοῖς. We probably all adopt μοῦσαν θείατ, with Ahrens and Hermann, for μοῦσαι θεαί τε.

678–680. The common text is certainly wrong; yet it may be corrected in more ways than one. For τὸ πτόλιν κρατύναι I wish καὶ πόλιν κρατύνοι, which explains syntax and sentiment, so as to open the poet's meaning, probably, thus: φυλάσσοι τ᾽ αἰσίμοισι τιμὰς | τὸ δήμιον καὶ πόλιν κρατύνοι | προμαθίαις ξυνόμητις ἀρχά. This is the poet's ideal of a well-tempered free state. "Let the folk reserve honours (public offices) for the virtuous, and let a magistracy of common counsel stablish the city by previous deliberations." Προμάθιαι is poetical for προβουλεύματα. For αἰσίμοισι the old text has ἀτιμίας, which is manifestly wrong.

775. ἀπρόσδεικτος, a rock that "cannot be pointed at"! Rather, I think, ἀπρόσμικτος, inaccessible.

786. τίν᾽ ἀμφ᾽ αὐτᾶς ἔτι πόρον | τέμνω γάμου καί λυτήρια. This chaos would be desperate, only that the metre of the strophe guides us. (Dindorf there changes καρδίας to κάρζας, quite causelessly.) I see nothing for it but audacious conjecture, thus: ἐλθέτω μόρος πρὸ κοί | τας γαμηλίου, τυχὼν | τᾶνδ᾽ ὑφᾶν, τελεσφόρον | δεμνίων γάμου καλύπτραν. | Here τᾶνδ᾽ ὑφᾶν is the σάργαναι of v. 768, and καλύπτραν is accusative in apposition to the sentence, as in Ag. 218, where we supply λέγω with ἀρωγάν.

979. κἄλωρα κωλύουσαν ὡς μένειν ἐρῶ, is confessedly nonsense. The first word is corrected to κἄωρα, rather (I think) κἄνωρα, since Herodotus has ἄνωρος and ἀνωρία. Ἄνωρα, as less usual than ἄωρα, might get corrupted. Further, I suggest, κἄνωρα [or καὶ χλωρὰ] κωλύουσ᾽ κωλύουσα σᾶ μένειν ἐρᾷ: that is, ἐρᾷ (φιλεῖ) κωλύουσα, "she loves to hinder the unripe from abiding safe."

983. For μὴ πάθωμεν I think we need μὴ λαθώμεθ᾽ ("let us not forget"), unless a whole line is lost after δορί.

 

THE END.

 

LONDON: PRINTED BY WILLIAM CLOWES AND SONS, LIMITED,
STAMFORD STREET AND CHARING CROSS.