EUMENDIDES by Aeschylus, Part 04
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
O king Apollo, in our turn hear us.
Thou hast not only part in these ill things,
But art chief cause and doer of the same.
How? stretch thy speech to tell this, and have done.
Thine oracle bade this man slay his mother.
I bade him quit his sire's death,-wherefore not?
Then didst thou aid and guard red-handed crime.
Yea, and I bade him to this temple flee.
And yet forsooth dost chide us following him!,
Ay-not for you it is, to near this fane.
Yet is such office ours, imposed by fate.
What office? vaunt the thing ye deem so fair.
From home to home we chase the matricide.
What? to avenge a wife who slays her lord?
That is not blood outpoured by kindred hands.
How darkly ye dishonour and annul
The troth to which the high accomplishers,
Hera and Zeus, do honour. Yea, and thus
Is Aphrodite to dishonour cast,
The queen of rapture unto mortal men.
Know, that above the marriage-bed ordained
For man and woman staddeth Right as guard,
Enhancing sanctity of trothplight sworn;
Therefore, if thou art placable to those
Who have their consort slain, nor will'st to turn
On them the eye of wrath, unjust art thou
In hounding to his doom the man who slew
His mother. Lo, I know thee full of wrath
Against one deed, but all too placable
Unto the other, minishing the crime.
But in this cause shall Pallas guard the right.
Deem not my quest shall ever quit that man.
Follow then, make thee, double toil in vain
Think not by speech mine office to curtail.
None hast thou, that I would accept of thee!
Yea, high thine honour by the throne of Zeus:
But I, drawn on by scent of mother's blood,
Seek vengeance on this man and hound him down.
(The CHORUS goes in pursuit of ORESTES .)
But I will stand beside him; 'tis for me
To guard my suppliant: gods and men alike
Do dread the curse of such an one betrayed,
And in me Fear and Will say Leave him not.
(He goes into the temple.)
(The scene changes to Athens. In the foreground is the Temple
of Athena on the Acropolis; her statue stands in the
centre; ORESTES is seen clinging to it.)
Look on me, queen Athena; lo, I come
By Loxias' behest; thou of thy grace
Receive me, driven of avenging powers-
Not now a red-hand slayer unannealed,
But with guilt fading, half-effaced, outworn
On many homes and paths of mortal men.
For to the limit of each land, each sea,
I roamed, obedient to Apollo's best,
And come at last, O Goddess, to thy fane,
And clinging to thine image, bide my doom.
(The CHORUS OF FURIES enters, questing like hounds.)
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Ho! clear is here the trace of him we seek:
Follow the track of blood, the silent sign!
Like to some hound that hunts a wounded fawn,
We snuff along the scent of dripping gore,
And inwardly we pant, for many a day
Toiling in chase that shall fordo the man;
For o'er and o'er the wide land have I ranged,
And o'er the wide sea, flying without wings,
Swift as a sail I pressed upon his track,
Who now hard by is crouching, well I wot,
For scent of mortal blood allures me here.
Follow, seek him-round and round
Scent and snuff and scan the ground,
Lest unharmed he slip away,
He who did his mother slay!
Hist-he is there! See him his arms entwine
Around the image of the maid divine-
Thus aided, for the deed he wrought
Unto the judgment wills he to be brought.