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THE SUPPLIANTS by Aeschylus, Part IX

THE KING OF ARGOS
Not long thy sire shall leave thee desolate.
But I will call the country's indwellers,
And with soft words th' assembly will persuade,
And warn your sire what pleadings will avail.
Therefore abide ye, and with prayer entreat
The country's gods to compass your desire;
The while I go, this matter to provide,
Persuasion and fair fortune at my side.
(The KING OF ARGOS departs with his retinue. The CHORUS forms
to sing its prayer to Zeus.)

CHORUS
strophe 1

O King of Kings, among the blest
Thou highest and thou happiest,
Listen and grant our prayer,
And, deeply loathing, thrust
Away from us the young men's lust,
And deeply drown
In azure waters, down and ever down,
Benches and rowers dark,
The fatal and perfidious bark!

antistrophe 1

Unto the maidens turn thy gracious care;
Think yet again upon the tale of fame,
How from the maiden loved of thee there sprung
Mine ancient line, long since in many a legend sung!
Remember, O remember, thou whose hand
Did Io by a touch to human shape reclaim.
For from this Argos erst our mother came
Driven hence to Egypt's land,
Yet sprung of Zeus we were, and hence our birth we claim.

strophe 2

And now have I roamed back
Unto the ancient track
Where Io roamed and pastured among flowers,
Watched o'er by Argus' eyes,
Through the lush grasses and the meadow bowers.
Thence, by the gadfly maddened, forth she flies
Unto far lands and alien peoples driven
And, following fate, through paths of foam and surge,
Sees, as she goes, the cleaving strait divide
Greece, from the Eastland riven.

antistrophe 2

And swift through Asian borders doth she urge
Her course, o'er Phrygian mountains' sheep-clipt side;
Thence, where the Mysian realm of Teuthras lies,
Towards Lydian lowlands hies,
And o'er Cilician and Pamphylian hills
And ever-flowing rills,
And thence to Aphrodite's fertile shore,
The land of garnered wheat and wealthy store.

strophe 3

And thence, deep-stung by wild unrest,
By the winged fly that goaded her and drave,
Unto the fertile land, the god-possest
(Where, fed from far-off snows,
Life-giving Nilus flows,
Urged on by Typho's strength, a fertilizing wave),
She roves, in harassed and dishonoured flight,
Scathed by the blasting pangs of Hera's dread despite.

antistrophe 3

And they within the land
With terror shook and wanned,
So strange the sight they saw, and were afraid-
A wild twy-natured thing, half heifer and half maid.

Whose hand was laid at last on Io, thus forlorn,
With many roamings worn?
Who bade the harassed maiden's peace return?

strophe 4

Zeus, lord of time eterne.
Yea, by his breath divine, by his unscathing strength,
She lays aside her bane,
And softened back to womanhood at length
Sheds human tears again.
Then, quickened with Zeus' veritable seed,
A progeny she bare,
A stainless babe, a child of heavenly breed.

antistrophe 4

Of life and fortune fair.
His is the life of life-so all men say,-
His is the seed of Zeus.
Who else had power stern Hera's craft to stay,
Her vengeful curse to loose?

Yea, all from Zeus befel!
And rightly wouldst thou tell
That we from Epaphus, his child, were born:
Justly his deed was done;

 

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