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THE SUPPLIANTS by Aeschylus, Part XIII

antistrophe 2

Yea, a prey to the dogs and the birds of the mount will I give me
to be,-
From wailing and curse and pollution it is death, only death, sets
me free:
Let death come upon me before to the ravisher's bed I am thrust;
What champion, what saviour but death can I find, or what refuge
from lust?

strophe 3

I will utter my shriek of entreaty, a prayer that shrills up to
the sky,
That calleth the gods to compassion, a tuneful, a pitiful cry,
That is loud to invoke the releaser. O father, look down on the
fight;
Look down in thy wrath on the wronger, with eyes that are eager
for right.
Zeus, thou that art lord of the world, whose kingdom is strong
over all,
Have mercy on us! At thine altar for refuge and safety we call.

antistrophe 3

For the race of Aegyptus is fierce, with greed and with malice
afire;
They cry as the questing hounds, they sweep with the speed of
desire.
But thine is the balance of fate, thou rulest the wavering scale,
And without thee no mortal emprise shall have strength to achieve
or prevail.
(The CHORUS rushes to the altar during the final part of the
song.)

Alack, alack! the ravisher-
He leaps from boat to beach, he draweth near!
Away, thou plunderer accurst!
Death seize thee first,
Or e'er thou touch me-off! God, hear our cry,
Our maiden agony!
Ah, ah, the touch, the prelude of my shame.
Alas, my maiden fame!
O sister, sister, sister, to the altar cling,
For he that seizeth me,
Grim is his wrath and stern, by land as on the sea.
Guard us, O king!

(The HeraLD OF AEGYPTUS enters with ATTENDANTs. The lines in
the following scene between the HeraLD and the CHORUS are
sung and are accompanied by a frenzied symbolic dance.)

HeraLD OF AEGYPTUS
Hence to my barge-step swiftly, tarry not.
CHORUS
Alack, he rends-he rends my hair! O wound on wound!
Help! my lopped head will fall, my blood gush o'er the ground!
HeraLD OF AEGYPTUS
Aboard, ye cursed-with a new curse, go!
CHORUS
Would God that on the wand'ring brine
Thou and this braggart tongue of thine
Had sunk beneath the main-
Thy mast and planks, made fast in vain!
Thee would I drive aboard once more,
A slayer and a dastard, from the shore!
HeraLD OF AEGYPTUS
Be still, thou vain demented soul;
My force thy craving shall control.
Away, aboard! What, clingest to the shrine?
Away! this city's gods I hold not for divine.
CHORUS
Aid me, ye gods, that never, never
I may again behold
The mighty, the life-giving river,
Nilus, the quickener of field and fold!
Alack, O sire, unto the shrine I cling-
Shrine of this land from which mine ancient line did spring!
HeraLD OF AEGYPTUS
Shrines, shrines, forsooth!-the ship, the ship be shrine
Aboard, perforce and will-ye nill-ye, go!
Or e'er from hands of mine
Ye suffer torments worse and blow on blow.
CHORUS
Alack, God grant those hands may strive in vain
With the salt-streaming wave,
When 'gainst the wide-blown blasts thy bark shall strain
To round Sarpedon's cape, the sandbank's treach'rous grave.
HeraLD OF AEGYPTUS
Shrill ye and shriek unto what gods ye may,
Ye shall not leap from out Aegyptus' bark,
How bitterly soe'er ye wail your woe.
CHORUS
Alack, alack my wrong!
Stern is thy voice, thy vaunting loud and strong.
Thy sire, the mighty Nilus, drive thee hence,
Turning to death and doom thy greedy violence!
HeraLD OF AEGYPTUS
Swift to the vessel of the double prow,
Go quickly! let none linger, else this hand
Ruthless will hale you by your tresses hence.

 

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