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Myths and Legends of All Nations Famous Stories from the Greek, German, English, Spanish, Scandinavian, Danish, French, Russian, Bohemian, Italian and other sources

Page: 80

Then there befell a marvelous thing. For suddenly the maiden was not there. Whither she had gone no one knew; but in her stead there lay gasping a great hind, and all the altar was red with the blood thereof.

And Calchas said, "See ye this, men of Greece, how the goddess hath provided this offering in the place of the maiden, for she would not that her altar should be defiled with innocent blood. Be of good courage, therefore, and depart every man to his ship, for this day ye shall sail across the sea to the land of Troy."

Then the goddess carried away the maiden to the land of the Taurians, where she had a temple and an altar. Now on this altar the king of the land was wont to sacrifice any stranger, being Greek by nation, who was driven by stress of weather to the place, for none went thither willingly. AndTwo <strong><a href=figures raise their arms, while a third kneels, before an altar standing between two pillars. A fourth person stands watching in the background." title="IPHIGENIA ABOUT TO BE SACRIFICED" /> IPHIGENIA ABOUT TO BE SACRIFICED

Now when the maiden had been there many years she dreamed a dream. And in the dream she seemed to have departed from the land of the Taurians and to dwell in the city of Argos, wherein she had been born. And as she slept in the women's chamber there befell a great earthquake, and cast to the ground the palace of her fathers, so that there was left one pillar only which stood upright. And as she looked on this pillar, yellow hair seemed to grow upon it as the hair of a man, and it spake with a man's voice. And she did to it as she was wont to do to the strangers that were sacrificed upon the altar, purifying it with water and weeping the while. And the interpretation of the dream she judged to be that her brother Orestes was dead, for that male children are the pillars of a house, and that she only was left to the house of her father.

Now it chanced that at this same time Orestes, with Pylades that was his friend, came in a ship to the land of the Taurians. And the cause of his coming was this. After that he had slain his mother, taking vengeance for the death of King Agamemnon his father, the Furies pursued him. Then Apollo, who had commanded him to do this deed, bade him go to the land of Athens that he might be judged. And when he had been judged and loosed, yet the Furies left him not. Wherefore Apollo commanded that he should sail for the land of the Taurians and carry thence the image of Artemis and bring it to the land of the Athenians, and that after this he should have rest. Now when the two were come to the place, they saw the altar that it was red with the blood of them that had been slain thereon. And Orestes doubted how they might accomplish the things for the which he was come, for the walls of the temple were high and the gates not easy to be broken through. Therefore he would have fled to the ship, but[Pg 142] Pylades consented not, seeing that they were not wont to go back from that to which they had set their hand, but counseled that they should hide themselves during the day in a cave that was hard by the seashore, not near to the ship, lest search should be made for them, and that by night they should creep into the temple by a space that there was between the pillars, and carry off the image, and so depart.


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