THE CHOEPHORI by Aeschylus, Part 05
And if thou leave to death the brood of him
Whose altar blazed for thee, whose reverence
Was thine, all thine,-whence, in the after years,
Shall any hand like his adorn thy shrine
With sacrifice of flesh? the eaglets slain,
Thou wouldst not have a messenger to bear
Thine omens, once so clear, to mortal men;
So, if this kingly stock be withered all,
None on high festivals will fend thy shrine.
Stoop thou to raise us! strong the race shall grow,
Though puny now it seem, and fallen low.
O children, saviours of your father's home,
Beware ye of your words, lest one should hear
And bear them, for the tongue hath lust to tell,
Unto our masters-whom God grant to me
In pitchy reek of fun'ral flame to seel
Nay, mighty is Apollo's oracle
And shall not fail me, whom it bade to pass
Thro' all this peril; clear the voice rang out
With many warnings, sternly threatening
To my hot heart the wintry chill of pain,
Unless upon the slayers of my sire
I pressed for vengeance: this the god's command-
That I, in ire for home and wealth despoiled,
Should with a craft like theirs the slayers slay:
Else with my very life I should atone
This deed undone, in many a ghastly wise.
For he proclaimed unto the ears of men
That offerings, poured to angry powers of death,
Exude again, unless their will be done,
As grim disease on those that poured them forth-
As leprous ulcers mounting on the flesh
And with fell fangs corroding what of old
Wore natural form; and on the brow arise
White poisoned hairs, the crown of this disease.
He spake moreover of assailing fiends
Empowered to quit on me my father's blood,
Wreaking their wrath on me, what time in night
Beneath shut lids the spirit's eye sees clear.
The dart that flies in darkness, sped from hell
By spirits of the murdered dead who call
Unto their kin for vengeance, formless fear,
The night-tide's visitant, and madness' curse
Should drive and rack me; and my tortured frame
Should be chased forth from man's community
As with the brazen scorpions of the scourge.
For me and such as me no lustral bowl
Should stand, no spilth of wine be poured to God
For me, and wrath unseen of my dead sire
Should drive me from the shrine; no man should dare
To take me to his hearth, nor dwell with me:
Slow, friendless, cursed of all should be mine end,
And pitiless horror wind me for the grave.
This spake the god-this dare I disobey?
Yea, though I dared, the deed must yet be done;
For to that end diverse desires combine,-
The god's behest, deep grief for him who died,
And last, the grievous blank of wealth despoiled-
All these weigh on me, urge that Argive men,
Minions of valour, who with soul of fire
Did make of fenced Troy a ruinous heap,
Be not left slaves to two and each a woman!
For he, the man, wears woman's heart; if not,
Soon shall he know, confronted by a man.
(ORESTES , ELECTRA, and the CHORUS gather round the tomb of
AGAMEMNON. The following lines are chanted responsively.)
Mighty Fates, on you we call!
Bid the will of Zeus ordain
Power to those, to whom again
Justice turns with hand and aid!
Grievous was the prayer one made
Grievous let the answer fall!
Where the mighty doom is set,
Justice claims aloud her debt.
Who in blood hath dipped the steel,
Deep in blood her meed shall feel
List an immemorial word-
Whosoe'er shall take the sword
Shall perish by the sword.
Father, unblest in death, O father mine!
What breath of word or deed
Can I waft on thee from this far confine
Unto thy lowly bed,-
Waft upon thee, in midst of darkness lying,
Hope's counter-gleam of fire?
Yet the loud dirge of praise brings grace undying
Unto each parted sire.