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THE SEVEN AGAINST THEBES by Aeschylus, Part 02

ETEOCLES
O Zeus and Earth and city-guarding gods,
And thou, my father's Curse, of baneful might,
Spare ye at least this town, nor root it up,
By violence of the foemen, stock and stem!
For here, from home and hearth, rings Hellas' tongue.
Forbid that e'er the yoke of slavery
Should bow this land of freedom, Cadmus' hold!
Be ye her help! your cause I plead with mine-
A city saved doth honour to her gods!
(ETEOCLES, his ATTENDANTs and most of the crowd go out. The
CHORUS OF THEBAN WOMEN enters. They appear terror-stricken.)
CHORUS (singing)
I wail in the stress of my terror, and shrill is my cry of
despair.
The foemen roll forth from their camp as a billow, and onward they
bear!
Their horsemen are swift in the forefront, the dust rises up to
the sky,
A signal, though speechless, of doom, a HeraLD more clear than a
cry!
Hoof-trampled, the land of my love bears onward the din to mine
ears.
As a torrent descending a mountain, it thunders and echoes and
nears!
The doom is unloosened and cometh! O kings and O queens of high
Heaven,
Prevail that it fall not upon us! the sign for their onset is
given-
They stream to the walls from without, white-shielded and keen for
the fray.
The rush of their feet? to what shrine shall I bow me in terror
and pray?
(They rush to pray to the gods.)
O gods high-throned in bliss, we must crouch at the shrines in
your home!
Not here must we tarry and wail: shield clashes on shield as they
come
And now, even now is the hour for the robes and the chaplets of
prayer!
Mine eyes feel the flash of the sword, the clang is instinct with
the spear!
Is thy hand set against us, O Ares, in ruin and wrath to o'erwhelm
Thine own immemorial land, O god of the golden helm?
Look down upon us, we beseech thee, on the land that thou lovest
of old.

strophe 1

And ye, O protecting gods, in pity your people behold!
Yea, save us, the maidenly troop, from the doom and despair of the
slave,
For the crests of the foemen come onward, their rush is the rush
of a wave
Rolled on by the War-god's breath! almighty one, hear us and save
From the grasp of the Argives' might! to the ramparts of Cadmus
they crowd,
And, clenched in the teeth of the steeds, the bits clink horror
aloud
And seven high chieftains of war, with spear and with panoply
bold,
Are set, by the law of the lot, to storm the seven gates of our
hold!

antistrophe 1

Be near and befriend us, O Pallas, the Zeus-born maiden of might!
O lord of the steed and the sea, be thy trident uplifted to smite
In eager desire of the fray, Poseidon! and Ares come down,
In fatherly presence revealed, to rescue Harmonia's town!
Thine too, Aphrodite, we are! thou art mother and queen of our
race,
To thee we cry out in our need, from thee let thy children have
grace!
Ye too, to scare back the foe, be your cry as a wolf's howl wild,
Thou, O the wolf-lord, and thou, of she-wolf Leto the child!

strophe 2

Woe and alack for the sound, for the rattle of cars to the wall,
And the creak of the griding axles! O Hera, to thee is our call!
Artemis, maiden beloved! the air is distraught with the spears,
And whither doth destiny drive us, and where is the goal of our
fears?

antistrophe 2

The blast of the terrible stones on the ridge of our wall is not
stayed,
At the gates is the brazen clash of the bucklers-Apollo to aid!
Thou too, O daughter of Zeus, who guidest the wavering fray
To the holy decision of fate, Athena! be with us to-day!
Come down to the sevenfold gates and harry the foemen away!

 

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Aeschylus Index

 



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