EUMENDIDES by Aeschylus, Part 05
It may not be! a mother's blood, poured forth
Upon the stained earth,
None gathers up: it lies-bear witness, Hell!-
For aye indelible
And thou who sheddest it shalt give thine own
That shedding to atone!
Yea, from thy living limbs I suck it out,
Red, clotted, gout by gout,-
A draught abhorred of men and gods; but
Will drain it, suck thee dry;
Yea, I will waste thee living, nerve and vein;
Yea, for thy mother slain,
Will drag thee downward, there where thou shalt dree
The weird of agony!
And thou and whosoe'er of men hath sinned-
Hath wronged or God, or friend,
Or parent,-learn ye how to all and each
The arm of doom can reach!
Sternly requiteth, in the world beneath,
The judgment-seat of Death;
Yea, Death, beholding every man's endeavour,
Recordeth it for ever.
I, schooled in many miseries, have learnt
How many refuges of cleansing shrines
And when imposeth silence. Lo, I stand
Fixed now to speak, for he whose word is wise
Commands the same. Look, how the stain of blood
Is dull upon mine hand and wastes away,
And laved and lost therewith is the deep curse
Of matricide; for while the guilt was new,
'Twas banished from me at Apollo's hearth,
Atoned and purified by death of swine.
Long were my word if I should sum the tale,
How oft since then among my fellow-men
I stood and brought no curse. Time cleanses all-
Time, the coeval of all things that are.
Now from pure lips, in words of omen fair,
I call Athena, lady of this land,
To come, my champion: so, in aftertime,
She shall not fail of love and service leal,
Not won by war, from me and from my land
And all the folk of Argos, vowed to her.
Now, be she far away in Libyan land
Where flows from Triton's lake her natal wave,-
Stand she with planted feet, or in some hour
Of rest conceal them, champion of her friends
Where'er she be,-Or whether o'er the plain
Phlegraean she look forth, as warrior bold-
I cry to her to come, where'er she be,
(And she, as goddess, from afar can hear)
And aid and free me, set among my foes.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Thee not Apollo nor Athena's strength
Can save from perishing, a castaway
Amid the Lost, where no delight shall meet
Thy soul-a bloodless prey of nether powers,
A shadow among shadows. Answerest thou
Nothing? dost cast away my words with scorn,
Thou, prey prepared and dedicate to me?
Not as a victim slain upon the shrine,
But living shalt thou see thy flesh my food.
Hear now the binding chant that makes thee mine.
Weave the weird dance,-behold the hour
To utter forth the chant of hell,
Our sway among mankind to tell,
The guidance of our power.
Of justice are we ministers,
And whosoe'er of men may stand
Lifting a pure unsullied hand,
That man no doom of ours incurs,
And walks thro' all his mortal path
Untouched by woe, unharmed by wrath.
But if, as yonder man, he hath
Blood on the hands he strives to hide,
We stand avengers at his side,
Decreeing, Thou hast wronged the dead:
We are doom's witnesses to thee.
The price of blood, his hands have shed,
We wring from him; in life, in death,
Hard at his side are we!
Night, Mother Night, who brought me forth, a torment
To living men and dead,
Hear me, O hear! by Leto's stripling son
I am dishonoured:
He hath ta'en from me him who cowers in refuge,
To me made consecrates-
A rightful victim, him who slew his mother,
Given o'er to me and fate.