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AGAMEMNON by Aeschylus, Part 14

AGAMEMNON (still in the chariot)
Daughter of Leda, watcher o'er my home,
Thy greeting well befits mine absence long,
For late and hardly has it reached its end.
Know, that the praise which honour bids us crave,
Must come from others' lips, not from our own:
See too that not in fashion feminine
Thou make a warrior's pathway delicate;
Not unto me, as to some Eastern lord,
Bowing thyself to earth, make homage loud.
Strew not this purple that shall make each step
An arrogance; such pomp beseems the gods,
Not me. A mortal man to set his foot
On these rich dyes? I hold such pride in fear,
And bid thee honour me as man, not god.
Fear not-such footcloths and all gauds apart,
Loud from the trump of Fame my name is blown;
Best gift of heaven it is, in glory's hour,
To think thereon with soberness: and thou-
Bethink thee of the adage, Call none blest
Till peaceful death have crowned a life of weal.
'Tis said: I fain would fare unvexed by fear.
CLYTEMNESTRA
Nay, but unsay it-thwart not thou my will!
AGAMEMNON
Know, I have said, and will not mar my word.
CLYTEMNESTRA
Was it fear made this meekness to the gods?
AGAMEMNON
If cause be cause, 'tis mine for this resolve.
CLYTEMNESTRA
What, think'st thou, in thy place had Priam done?
AGAMEMNON
He surely would have walked on broidered robes.
CLYTEMNESTRA
Then fear not thou the voice of human blame.
AGAMEMNON
Yet mighty is the murmur of a crowd.
CLYTEMNESTRA
Shrink not from envy, appanage of bliss.
AGAMEMNON
War is not woman's part, nor war of words.
CLYTEMNESTRA
Yet happy victors well may yield therein.
AGAMEMNON
Dost crave for triumph in this petty strife?
CLYTEMNESTRA
Yield; of thy grace permit me to prevail!
AGAMEMNON
Then, if thou wilt, let some one stoop to loose
Swiftly these sandals, slaves beneath my foot;
And stepping thus upon the sea's rich dye,
I pray, Let none among the gods look down
With jealous eye on me-reluctant all,
To trample thus and mar a thing of price,
Wasting the wealth of garments silver-worth.
Enough hereof: and, for the stranger maid,
Lead her within, but gently: God on high
Looks graciously on him whom triumph's hour
Has made not pitiless. None willingly
Wear the slave's yoke-and she, the prize and flower
Of all we won, comes hither in my train,
Gift of the army to its chief and lord.
-Now, since in this my will bows down to thine,
I will pass in on purples to my home.

(He descends from the chariot, and moves towards the palace.)

CLYTEMNESTRA
A Sea there is-and who shall stay its springs?
And deep within its breast, a mighty store,
Precious as silver, of the purple dye,
Whereby the dipped robe doth its tint renew.
Enough of such, O king, within thy halls
There lies, a store that cannot fail; but I-
I would have gladly vowed unto the gods
Cost of a thousand garments trodden thus,
(Had once the oracle such gift required)
Contriving ransom for thy life preserved.
For while the stock is firm the foliage climbs,
Spreading a shade, what time the dog-star glows;
And thou, returning to thine hearth and home,
Art as a genial warmth in winter hours,
Or as a coolness, when the lord of heaven
Mellows the juice within the bitter grape.
Such boons and more doth bring into a home
The present footstep of its proper lord.
Zeus, Zeus, Fulfilment's lord! my vows fulfil,
And whatsoe'er it be, work forth thy will!
(She follows AGAMEMNON into the palace.)

CHORUS (singing)
strophe 1

Wherefore for ever on the wings of fear
Hovers a vision drear
Before my boding heart? a strain,
Unbidden and unwelcome, thrills mine ear,
Oracular of pain.
Not as of old upon my bosom's throne
Sits Confidence, to spurn
Such fears, like dreams we know not to discern.
Old, old and grey long since the time has grown,
Which saw the linked cables moor
The fleet, when erst it came to Ilion's sandy shore;

 

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