THE PERSIANS by Aeschylus, Part 04
Have they sufficient treasures in their houses?
Their rich earth yields a copious fount of silver.
From the strong bow wing they the barbed shaft?
They grasp the stout spear, and the massy shield.
What monarch reigns, whose power commands their ranks?
Slaves to no lord, they own no kingly power.
How can they then resist the invading foe?
As to spread havoc through the numerous host,
That round Darius form'd their glitt'ring files.
Thy words strike deep, and wound the parent's breast
Whose sons are march'd to such a dangerous field.
But, if I judge aright, thou soon shalt hear
Each circumstance; for this way, mark him, speeds
A Persian messenger; he bears, be sure,
Tidings of high import, or good or ill.
(A MESSENGER enters.)
Wo to the towns through Asia's peopled realms!
Wo to the land of Persia, once the port
Of boundless wealth, how is thy glorious state
Vanish'd at once, and all thy spreading honours
Fall'n, lost! Ah me! unhappy is his task
That bears unhappy tidings: but constraint
Compels me to relate this tale of wo.
Persians, the whole barbaric host is fall'n.
O horror, horror! What a baleful train
Of recent ills! Ah, Persians, as he speaks
Of ruin, let your tears stream to the earth.
It is ev'n so, all ruin; and myself,
Beyond all hope returning, view this light.
How tedious and oppressive is the weight
Of age, reserved to hear these hopeless ills!
I speak not from report; but these mine eyes
Beheld the ruin which my tongue would utter.
Wo, wo is me! Then has the iron storm,
That darken'd from the realms of Asia, pour'd
In vain its arrowy shower on sacred Greece.
In heaps the unhappy dead lie on the strand
Of Salamis, and all the neighbouring shores.
Unhappy friends, sunk, perish'd in the sea;
Their bodies, mid the wreck of shatter'd ships,
Mangled, and rolling on the encumber'd waves!
Naught did their bows avail, but all the troops
In the first conflict of the ships were lost.
Raise the funereal cry, with dismal notes
Wailing the wretched Persians. Oh, how ill
They plann'd their measures, all their army perish'd!
O Salamis, how hateful is thy name!
And groans burst from me when I think of Athens.
How dreadful to her foes! Call to remembrance
How many Persian dames, wedded in vain,
Hath Athens of their noble husbands widow'd?
Astonied with these ills, my voice thus long
Hath wanted utterance: griefs like these exceed
The power of speech or question: yet ev'n such,
Inflicted by the gods, must mortal man
Constrain'd by hard necessity endure.
But tell me all, without distraction tell me,
All this calamity, though many a groan
Burst from thy labouring heart. Who is not fallen?
What LEADER must we wail? What sceptred chief
Dying hath left his troops without a lord?
Xerxes himself lives, and beholds the light.
That word beams comfort on my house, a ray
That brightens through the melancholy gloom.