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THE SUPPLIANTS by Aeschylus, Part XV

CHORUS (singing)
O godlike chief, God grant my prayer:
Fair blessings on thy proffers fair,
Lord of Pelasgia's race!
Yet, of thy grace, unto our side
Send thou the man of courage tried,
Of counsel deep and prudent thought
Be Danaus to his children brought;
For his it is to guide us well
And warn where it behoves to dwell-
What place shall guard and shelter us
From malice and tongues slanderous:
Swift always are the lips of blame
A stranger-maiden to defame-
But Fortune give us grace!
THE KING OF ARGOS
A stainless fame, a welcome kind
From all this people shall ye find:
Dwell therefore, damsels, loved of us,
Within our walls, as Danaus
Allots to each, in order due,
Her dower of ATTENDANTs true.
(DANAUS re-enters. A troop of soldiers accompanies him.)
DANAUS
High thanks, my children, unto Argos con,
And to this folk, as to Olympian gods,
Give offerings meet of sacrifice and wine;
For saviours are they in good sooth to you.
From me they heard, and bitter was their wrath,
How those your kinsmen strove to work you wrong,
And how of us were thwarted: then to me
This company of spearmen did they grant,
That honoured I might walk, nor unaware
Die by some secret thrust and on this land
Bring down the curse of death, that dieth not.
Such boons they gave me: it behoves me pay
A deeper reverence from a soul sincere.
Ye, to the many words of wariness
Spoken by me your father, add this word,
That, tried by time, our unknown company
Be held for honest: over-swift are tongues
To slander strangers, over-light is speech
To bring pollution on a stranger's name.
Therefore I rede you, bring no shame on me
Now when man's eye beholds your maiden prime.
Lovely is beauty's ripening harvest-field,
But ill to guard; and men and beasts, I wot,
And birds and creeping things make prey of it.
And when the fruit is ripe for love, the voice
Of Aphrodite bruiteth it abroad,
The while she guards the yet unripened growth.
On the fair richness of a maiden's bloom
Each passer looks, o'ercome with strong desire,
With eyes that waft the wistful dart of love.
Then be not such our hap, whose livelong toil
Did make our pinnace plough the mighty main:
Nor bring we shame upon ourselves, and joy
Unto my foes. Behold, a twofold home-
One of the king's and one the people's gift-
Unbought, 'tis yours to hold,-a gracious boon.
Go-but remember ye your sire's behest,
And hold your life less dear than chastity.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
The gods above grant that all else be well.
But fear not thou, O sire, lest aught befal
Of ill unto our ripened maidenhood.
So long as Heaven have no new ill devised,
From its chaste path my spirit shall not swerve.
(The members of the CHORUS divide into two groups, to sing the
final choral lyric responsively.)

SEMI-CHORUS
strophe 1

Pass and adore ye the Blessed, the gods of the city who dwell
Around Erasinus, the gush of the swift immemorial tide.
SEMI-CHORUS
Chant ye, O maidens; aloud let the praise of Pelasgia swell;
Hymn we no longer the shores where Nilus to ocean doth glide.

SEMI-CHORUS
antistrophe 1

Sing we the bounteous streams that ripple and gush through the
city;
Quickening flow they and fertile, the soft new life of the plain.
SEMI-CHORUS
Artemis, maiden most pure, look on us with grace and with pity-
Save us from forced embraces: such love hath no crown but a pain.

SEMI-CHORUS
strophe 2

Yet not in scorn we chant, but in honour of Aphrodite;
She truly and Hera alone have power with Zeus and control.
Holy the deeds of her rite, her craft is secret and mighty,
And high is her honour on earth, and subtle her sway of the soul.
SEMI-CHORUS
Yea, and her child is Desire: in the train of his mother he goeth-
Yea and Persuasion soft-lipped, whom none can deny or repel:
Cometh Harmonia too, on whom Aphrodite bestoweth
The whispering parley, the paths of the rapture that lovers love
well.

 

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