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THE SUPPLIANTS by Aeschylus, Part V

THE KING OF ARGOS
For that, take heart and answer without fear.
I am Pelasgus, ruler of this land,
Child of Palaichthon, whom the earth brought forth;
And, rightly named from me, the race who reap
This country's harvests are Pelasgian called.
And o'er the wide and westward-stretching land,
Through which the lucent wave of Strymon flows,
I rule; Perrhaebia's land my boundary is
Northward, and Pindus' further slopes, that watch
Paeonia, and Dodona's mountain ridge.
West, east, the limit of the washing seas
Restrains my rule-the interspace is mine.
But this whereon we stand is Apian land,
Styled so of old from the great healer's name;
For Apis, coming from Naupactus' shore
Beyond the strait, child of Apollo's self
And like him seer and healer, cleansed this land
From man-devouring monsters, whoin the earth,
Stained with pollution of old bloodshedding,
Brought forth in malice, beasts of ravening jaws,
A grisly throng of serpents manifold.
And healings of their hurt, by knife and charm,
Apis devised, unblamed of Argive men,
And in their prayers found honour, for reward.
-Lo, thou hast heard the tokens that I give:
Speak now thy race, and tell a forthright tale;
In sooth, this people loves not many words.
LEADER
Short is my word and clear. Of Argive race
We come, from her, the ox-horned maiden who
Erst bare the sacred child. My word shall give
Whate'er can stablish this my soothfast tale.
THE KING OF ARGOS
O stranger maids, I may not trust this word,
That ye have share in this our Argive race.
No likeness of our country do ye bear,
But semblance as of Libyan womankind.
Even such a stock by Nilus' banks might grow;
Yea, and the Cyprian stamp, in female forms,
Shows, to the life, what males impressed the same.
And, furthermore, of roving Indian maids
Whose camping-grounds by Aethiopia lie,
And camels burdened even as mules, and bearing
Riders, as horses bear, mine ears have heard;
And tales of flesh-devouring mateless maids
Called Amazons: to these, if bows ye bare,
I most had deemed you like. Speak further yet,
That of your Argive birth the truth I learn.
LEADER
Here in this Argive land-so runs the tale-
Io was priestess once of Hera's fane.
THE KING OF ARGOS
Yea, truth it is, and far this word prevails:
Is't said that Zeus with mortal mingled love?
LEADER
Ay, and that Hera that embrace surmised.
THE KING OF ARGOS
How issued then this strife of those on high?
LEADER
By Hera's will, a heifer she became.
THE KING OF ARGOS
Held Zeus aloof then from the horned beast?
LEADER
'Tis said, he loved, in semblance of a bull.
THE KING OF ARGOS
And his stern consort, did she aught thereon?
LEADER
One myriad-eyed she set, the heifer's guard.
THE KING OF ARGOS
How namest thou this herdsman many-eyed?
LEADER
Argus, the child of Earth, whom Hermes slew.
THE KING OF ARGOS
Still did the goddess vex the beast ill-starred?
LEADER
She wrought a gadfly with a goading sting.
THE KING OF ARGOS
Thus drave she Io hence, to roam afar?
LEADER
Yea-this thy word coheres exact with mine.
THE KING OF ARGOS
Then to Canopus and to Memphis came she?
LEADER
And by Zeus' hand was touched, and bare a child.
THE KING of ARGOS
Who vaunts him the Zeus-mated creature's son?
LEADER
Epaphus, named rightly from the saving touch.
THE KING OF ARGOS
And whom in turn did Epaphus beget?
LEADER
Libya, with name of a wide land endowed.
THE KING OF ARGOS
And who from her was born unto the race?
LEADER
Belus: from him two sons, my father one.
THE KING OF ARGOS
Speak now to me his name, this greybeard wise.
LEADER
Danaus; his brother fifty sons begat.
THE KING OF ARGOS
Grudge not, in telling, his name too to tell.
LEADER
Aegyptus: thou my lineage old hast heard-
Strive then to aid a kindred Argive band.

 

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