THE SUPPLIANTS by Aeschylus, Part VII
Let me not fall, O nevermore,
A prey into the young men's hand;
Rather than wed whom I abhor,
By pilot-stars I flee this land;
O king, take justice to thy side,
And with the righteous powers decide!
THE KING OF ARGOS
Hard is the cause-make me not judge thereof.
Already I have vowed it, to do nought
Save after counsel with my people ta'en,
King though I be; that ne'er in after time,
If ill fate chance, my people then may say-
In aid of strangers thou the State hast slain.
Zeus, lord of kinship, rules at will
The swaying balance, and surveys
Evil and good; to men of ill
Gives evil, and to good men praise,
And thou-since true those scales do sway-
Shalt thou from justice shrink away?
THE KING OF ARGOS
A deep, a saving counsel here there needs-
An eye that like a diver to the depth
Of dark perplexity can pass and see,
Undizzied, unconfused. First must we care
That to the State and to ourselves this thing
Shall bring no ruin; next, that wrangling hands
Shall grasp you not as prey, nor we ourselves
Betray you thus embracing sacred shrines,
Nor make the avenging all-destroying god,
Who not in hell itself sets dead men free,
A grievous inmate, an abiding bane.
-Spake I not right, of saving counsel's need?
Yea, counsel take and stand to aid
At justice' side and mine.
Betray not me, the timorous maid
Whom far beyond the brine
A godless violence cast forth forlorn.
O King, wilt thou behold-
Lord of this land, wilt thou behold me torn
From altars manifold?
Bethink thee of the young men's wrath and lust,
Hold off their evil pride;
Steel not thyself to see the suppliant thrust
From hallowed statues' side,
Haled by the frontlet on my forehead bound,
As steeds are led, and drawn
By hands that drag from shrine and altar-mound
My vesture's fringed lawn.
Know thou that whether for Aegyptus' race
Thou dost their wish fulfil,
Or for the gods and for each holy place-
Be thy choice good or ill,
Blow is with blow requited, grace with grace.
Such is Zeus' righteous will.
THE KING OF ARGOS
Yea, I have pondered: from the sea of doubt
Here drives at length the bark of thought ashore;
Landward with screw and windlass haled, and firm,
Clamped to her props, she lies. The need is stern;
With men or gods a mighty strife we strive
Perforce, and either hap in grief concludes.
For, if a house be sacked, new wealth for old
Not hard it is to win-if Zeus the lord
Of treasure favour-more than quits the loss,
Enough to pile the store of wealth full high;
Or if a tongue shoot forth untimely speech,
Bitter and strong to goad a man to wrath,
Soft words there be to soothe that wrath away:
But what device shall make the war of kin
Bloodless? that woe, the blood of many beasts,
And victims manifold to many gods,
Alone can cure. Right glad I were to shun
This strife, and am more fain of ignorance
Than of the wisdom of a woe endured.
The gods send better than my soul foretells!
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