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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: 85

But Iphigenia answered, "Yet nothing shall hinder me from knowing how fareth my sister Electra."

"She is married," said Orestes, "to this Pylades, whom thou seest."

[Pg 149] "And of what country is he and who is his father?"

"His father is Strophius the Phocian; and he is a kinsman, for his mother was the daughter of Atreus and a friend also such as none other is to me."

Then Orestes set forth to his sister the cause of his coming to the land of the Taurians. And he said, "Now help me in this, my sister, that we may bear away the image of the goddess; for so doing I shall be quit of my madness, and thou wilt be brought to thy native country and the house of thy father shall prosper. But if we do it not, then shall we perish altogether."

And Iphigenia doubted much how this thing might be done. But at the last she said, "I have a device whereby I shall compass the matter. I will say that thou art come hither, having murdered thy mother, and that thou canst not be offered for a sacrifice till thou art purified with the water of the sea. Also that thou hast touched the image, and that this also must be purified in like manner. And the image I myself will bear to the sea; for, indeed, I only may touch it with my hands. And of this Pylades also I will say that he is polluted in like manner with thee. So shall we three win our way to the ship. And that this be ready it will be thy care to provide."

And when she had so said, she prayed to Artemis: "Great goddess, that didst bring me safe in days past from Aulis, bring me now also, and these that are with me, safe to the land of Greece, so that men may count thy brother Apollo to be a true prophet. Nor shouldst thou be unwilling to depart from this barbarous land and to dwell in the fair city of Athens."

After this came King Thoas, inquiring whether they had offered the strangers for sacrifice and had duly burnt their bodies with fire. To him Iphigenia made answer, "These were unclean sacrifices that thou broughtest to me, O King."

[Pg 150] "How didst thou learn this?"

"The image of the goddess turned upon her place of her own accord and covered also her face with her hands."

"What wickedness, then, had these strangers wrought?"

"They slew their mother and had been banished therefor from the land of Greece."

"O monstrous! Such deeds we barbarians never do. And now what dost thou purpose?"

"We must purify these strangers before we offer them for a sacrifice."

"With water from the river, or in the sea?"

"In the sea. The sea cleanseth away all that is evil among men."

"Well, thou hast it here, by the very walls of the temple."

"Aye, but I must seek a place apart from men."


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