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THE SUPPLIANTS by Aeschylus, Part VIII

LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Of many cries for mercy, hear THE END.
THE KING OF ARGOS
Say on, then, for it shall not 'scape mine ear.
LEADER
Girdles we have, and bands that bind our robes.
THE KING OF ARGOS
Even so; such things beseem a woman's wear.
LEADER
Know, then, with these a fair device there is-
THE KING OF ARGOS
Speak, then: what utterance doth this foretell?
LEADER
Unless to us thou givest pledge secure
THE KING OF ARGOS
What can thy girdles' craft achieve for thee?
LEADER
Strange votive tablets shall these statues deck.
THE KING OF ARGOS
Mysterious thy resolve-avow it clear.
LEADER
Swiftly to hang me on these sculptured gods!
THE KING OF ARGOS
Thy word is as a lash to urge my heart.
LEADER
Thou seest truth, for I have cleared thine eyes.
THE KING OF ARGOS
Yea, and woes manifold, invincible,
A crowd of ills, sweep on me torrent-like.
My bark goes forth upon a sea of troubles
Unfathomed, ill to traverse, harbourless.
For if my deed shall match not your demand,
Dire, beyond shot of speech, shall be the bane
Your death's pollution leaves unto this land.
Yet if against your kin, Aegyptus' race,
Before our gates I front the doom of war,
Will not the city's loss be sore? Shall men
For women's sake incarnadine the ground?
But yet the wrath of Zeus, the suppliants' lord,
I needs must fear: most awful unto man
The terror of his anger. Thou, old man,
The father of these maidens, gather up
Within your arms these wands of suppliance,
And lay them at the altars manifold
Of all our country's gods, that all the town
Know, by this sign, that ye come here to sue.
Nor, in thy haste, do thou say aught of me.
Swift is this folk to censure those who rule;
But, if they see these signs of suppliance,
It well may chance that each will pity you,
And loathe the young men's violent pursuit;
And thus a fairer favour you may find:
For, to the helpless, each man's heart is kind.
DANAUS
To us, beyond gifts manifold it is
To find a champion thus compassionate;
Yet send with me ATTENDANTs, of thy folk,
Rightly to guide me, that I duly find
Each altar of your city's gods that stands
Before the fane, each dedicated shrine;
And that in safety through the city's ways
I may pass onwards: all unlike to yours
The outward semblance that I wear-the race
That Nilus rears is all dissimilar
To that of Inachus. Keep watch and ward
Lest heedlessness bring death: full oft, I ween,
Friend hath slain friend, not knowing whom he slew.
THE KING OF ARGOS
Go at his side, ATTENDANTs,-he saith well.
On to the city's consecrated shrines!
Nor be of many words to those ye meet,
The while this suppliant voyager ye lead.
(DANAUS departs with ATTENDANTs.)
LEADER
Let him go forward, thy command obeying.
But me how biddest, how assurest thou?
THE KING OF ARGOS
Leave there the new-plucked boughs, thy sorrow's sign.
LEADER
Thus beckoned forth, at thy behest I leave them.
THE KING OF ARGOS
Now to this level precinct turn thyself.
LEADER
Unconsecrate it is, and cannot shield me.
THE KING OF ARGOS
We will not yield thee to those falcons' greed.
LEADER
What help? more fierce they are than serpents fell.
THE KING OF ARGOS
We spake thee fair-speak thou them fair in turn.
LEADER
What marvel that we loathe them, scared in soul?
THE KING OF ARGOS
Awe towards a king should other fears transcend.
LEADER
Thus speak, thus act, and reassure my mind.

 

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