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THE SUPPLIANTS by Aeschylus, Part XIV

CHORUS
Alack, O father! from the shrine
Not aid but agony is mine.
As a spider he creeps and he clutches his prey,
And he hales me away.
A spectre of darkness, of darkness. Alas and alas! well-a-day!
O Earth, O my mother! O Zeus, thou king of the earth, and her
child!
Turn back, we pray thee, from us his clamour and threatenings
wild!
HeraLD OF AEGYPTUS
Peace! I fear not this country's deities.
They fostered not my childhood nor mine age.
CHORUS
Like a snake that is human he comes, he shudders and crawls to my
side:
As an adder that biteth the foot, his clutch on my flesh doth
abide.
O Earth, O my mother! O Zeus, thou king of the earth, and her
child!
Turn back, we pray thee, from us his clamour and threatenings
wild!
HeraLD OF AEGYPTUS
Swift each unto the ship; repine no more,
Or my hand shall not spare to rend your robe.
CHORUS
O chiefs, O LEADERs, aid me, or I yield!
HeraLD OF AEGYPTUS
Peace! if ye have not ears to hear my words,
Lo, by these tresses must I hale you hence.
CHORUS
Undone we are, O king! all hope is gone.
HeraLD OF AEGYPTUS
Ay, kings enow ye shall behold anon,
Aegyptus' sons-Ye shall not want for kings.
(The KING OF ARGOS enters with his retinue.)
THE KING OF ARGOS
Sirrah, what dost thou? in what arrogance
Darest thou thus insult Pelasgia's realm?
Deemest thou this a woman-hearted town?
Thou art too full of thy barbarian scorn
For us of Grecian blood, and, erring thus,
Thou dost bewray thyself a fool in all!
HeraLD OF AEGYPTUS
Say thou wherein my deeds transgress my right.
THE KING OF ARGOS
First, that thou play'st a stranger's part amiss.
HeraLD OF AEGYPTUS
Wherein? I do but search and claim mine own.
THE KING OF ARGOS
To whom of our guest-champions hast appealed?
HeraLD OF AEGYPTUS
To Hermes, HeraLD's champion, lord of search.
THE KING OF ARGOS
Yea, to a god-yet dost thou wrong the gods!
HeraLD OF AEGYPTUS
The gods that rule by Nilus I revere.
THE KING OF ARGOS
Hear I aright? our Argive gods are nought?
HeraLD OF AEGYPTUS
The prey is mine, unless force rend it from me.
THE KING OF ARGOS
At thine own peril touch them-'ware, and soon!
HeraLD OF AEGYPTUS
I hear thy speech, no hospitable word.
THE KING OF ARGOS
I am no host for sacrilegious hands.
HeraLD OF AEGYPTUS
I will go tell this to Aegyptus' sons.
THE KING OF ARGOS
Well it I my pride will ponder not thy word.
HeraLD OF AEGYPTUS
Yet, that I have my message clear to say
(For it behoves that HeraLDs' words be clear,
Be they or ill or good), how art thou named?
By whom despoiled of this sister-band
Of maidens pass I homeward?-speak and say!
For lo, henceforth in Ares' court we stand,
Who judges not by witness but by war:
No pledge of silver now can bring the cause
To issue: ere this thing end, there must be
Corpse piled on corpse and many lives gasped forth.
THE KING OF ARGOS
What skills it that I tell my name to thee?
Thou and thy mates shall learn it ere THE END.
Know that if words unstained by violence
Can change these maidens' choice, then mayest thou,
With full consent of theirs, conduct them hence.
But thus the city with one voice ordained-
No force shall bear away the maiden band.
Firmly this word upon the temple wall
Is by a rivet clenched, and shall abide:
Not upon wax inscribed and delible,
Nor upon parchment sealed and stored away.-
Lo, thou hast heard our free mouths speak their will:
Out from our presence-tarry not, but go!
HeraLD OF AEGYPTUS
Methinks we stand on some new edge of war:
Be strength and triumph on the young men's side!
THE KING OF ARGOS
Nay but here also shall ye find young men,
Unsodden with the juices oozed from grain.
(The HeraLD OF AEGYPTUS and his followers withdraw.)
But ye, O maids, with vour ATTENDANTs true,
Pass hence with trust into the fenced town,
Ringed with a wide confine of guarding towers.
Therein are many dwellings for such guests
As the State honours; there myself am housed
Within a palace neither scant nor strait.
There dwell ye, if ye will to lodge at ease
In halls well-thronged: yet, if your soul prefer,
Tarry secluded in a separate home.
Choose ye and cull, from these our proffered gifts,
Whiche'er is best and sweetest to your will:
And I and all these citizens whose vote
Stands thus decreed, will your protectors be.
Look not to find elsewhere more loyal guard.

 

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