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Aeschylus Index


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THE PERSIANS by Aeschylus, Part 09

GHOST OF DARIUS
Ye faithful Persians, honour'd now in age,
Once the companions of my youth, what ills
Afflict the state? The firm earth groans, it opes,
Disclosing its vast deeps; and near my tomb
I see my wife: this shakes my troubled soul
With fearful apprehensions; yet her off'rings
Pleased I receive. And you around my tomb
Chanting the lofty strain, whose solemn air
Draws forth the dead, with grief-attemper'd notes
Mournfully call me: not with ease the way
Leads to this upper air; and the stern gods,
Prompt to admit, yield not a passage back
But with reluctance: much with them my power
Availing, with no tardy step I come.
Say then, with what new ill doth Persia groan?
CHORUS (chanting)
My wonted awe o'ercomes me; in thy presence
I dare not raise my eyes, I dare not speak.
GHOST OF DARIUS
Since from the realms below, by thy sad strains
Adjured, I come, speak; let thy words be brief;
Say whence thy grief, tell me unawed by fear.
I dread to forge a flattering tale, I dread
To grieve thee with a harsh offensive truth.
GHOST OF DARIUS
Since fear hath chained his tongue, high-honour'd dame,
Once my imperial consort, check thy tears,
Thy griefs, and speak distinctly. Mortal man
Must bear his lot of wo; afflictions rise
Many from sea, many from land, if life
Be haply measured through a lengthen'd course.
ATOSSA
O thou that graced with Fortune's choicest gifts
Surpassing mortals, while thine eye beheld
Yon sun's ethereal rays, lived'st like a god
Bless'd amid thy Persians; bless'd I deem thee now
In death, ere sunk in this abyss of ills,
Darius, hear at once our sum of wo;
Ruin through all her states hath crush'd thy Persia.
GHOST OF DARIUS
By pestilence, or faction's furious storms?
ATOSSA
Not so: near Athens perish'd all our troops.
GHOST OF DARIUS
Say, of my sons, which led the forces thither?
ATOSSA
The impetuous Xerxes, thinning all the land.
GHOST OF DARIUS
By sea or land dared he this rash attempt?
ATOSSA
By both: a double front the war presented.
GHOST OF DARIUS
A host so vast what march conducted o'er?
ATOSSA
From shore to shore he bridged the Hellespont.
GHOST OF DARIUS
What! could he chain the mighty Bosphorus?
ATOSSA
Ev'n so, some god assisting his design.
GHOST OF DARIUS
Some god of power to cloud his better sense.
ATOSSA
The event now shows what mischiefs he achieved.
GHOST OF DARIUS
What suffer'd they, for whom your sorrows flow?
ATOSSA
His navy sunk spreads ruin through the camp.
GHOST OF DARIUS
Fell all his host beneath the slaught'ring spear?
ATOSSA
Susa, through all her streets, mourns her lost sons.
GHOST OF DARIUS
How vain the succour, the defence of arms?
ATOSSA
In Bactra age and grief are only left.
GHOST OF DARIUS
Ah, what a train of warlike youth is lost!
ATOSSA
Xerxes, astonished, desolate, alone-
GHOST OF DARIUS
How will this end? Nay, pause not. Is he safe?
ATOSSA
Fled o'er the bridge, that join'd the adverse strands.
GHOST OF DARIUS
And reach'd this shore in safety? Is this true?
ATOSSA
True are thy words, and not to be gainsay'd.

 

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