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- The Iphigenia in Tauris - 6/17 -


ORESTES. In Sparta! Once more happy with her lord!

IPHIGENIA. Oh. hated of all Greece, not only me!

ORESTES. I too have tasted of her wizardry.

IPHIGENIA. And came the armies home, as the tales run?

ORESTES. To answer that were many tales in one.

IPHIGENIA. Oh, give me this hour full! Thou wilt soon die.

ORESTES. Ask, if such longing holds thee. I will try.

IPHIGENIA. A seer called Calchas! Did he ever come ...?

ORESTES.

Calchas is dead, as the news went at home.

IPHIGENIA.

Good news, ye gods!--Odysseus, what of him?

ORESTES.

Not home yet, but still living, as men deem.

IPHIGENIA.

Curse him! And may he see his home no more.

ORESTES.

Why curse him? All his house is stricken sore.

IPHIGENIA.

How hath the Nereid's son, Achilles, sped?

ORESTES.

Small help his bridal brought him! He is dead.

IPHIGENIA.

A fierce bridal, so the sufferers tell!

ORESTES.

Who art thou, questioning of Greece so well?

IPHIGENIA.

I was Greek. Evil caught me long ago.

ORESTES. Small wonder, then, thou hast such wish to know.

IPHIGENIA. That war-lord, whom they call so high in bliss...

ORESTES. None such is known to me. What name was his?

IPHIGENIA. They called him Agamemnon, Atreus' son.

ORESTES. I know not. Cease.--My questioning is done.

IPHIGENIA. 'Twill be such joy to me! How fares he? Tell!

ORESTES. Dead. And hath wrecked another's life as well.

IPHIGENIA. Dead? By what dreadful fortune? Woe is me!

ORESTES. Why sighst thou? Had he any link with thee?

IPHIGENIA. I did but think of his old joy and pride.

ORESTES. His own wife foully stabbed him, and he died.

IPHIGENIA. O God! I pity her that slew ... and him that slew.

ORESTES. Now cease thy questions. Add no word thereto.

IPHIGENIA. But one word. Lives she still, that hapless wife?

ORESTES. No. Her own son, her first-born, took her life.

IPHIGENIA. O shipwrecked house! What thought was in his brain?

ORESTES. Justice on her, to avenge his father slain.

IPHIGENIA. Alas! A bad false duty bravely hath he wrought.

ORESTES. Yet God, for all his duty, helps him not.

IPHIGENIA. And not one branch of Atreus' tree lives on?

ORESTES. Electra lives, unmated and alone.

IPHIGENIA. The child they slaughtered ... is there word of her?

ORESTES. Why, no, save that she died in Aulis there.

IPHIGENIA. Poor child! Poor father, too, who killed and lied!

ORESTES. For a bad woman's worthless sake she died.

IPHIGENIA. The dead king's son, lives he in Argos still?

ORESTES. He lives, now here, now nowhere, bent with ill.

IPHIGENIA. O dreams, light dreams, farewell! Ye too were lies.

ORESTES. Aye; the gods too, whom mortals deem so wise, Are nothing clearer than some winged dream; And all their ways, like man's ways, but a stream Of turmoil. He who cares to suffer least, Not blind, as fools are blinded, by a priest, Goes straight... to what death, those who know him know.

LEADER. We too have kinsmen dear, but, being low, None heedeth, live they still or live they not.

IPHIGENIA (WITH SUDDEN IMPULSE). Listen! For I am fallen upon a thought, Strangers, of some good use to you and me, Both. And 'tis thus most good things come to be, When different eyes hold the same for fair.

Stranger, if I can save thee, wilt thou bear To Argos and the friends who loved my youth Some word? There is a tablet which, in truth For me and mine ill works, a prisoner wrote, Ta'en by the king in war. He knew 'twas not My will that craved for blood, but One on high Who holds it righteous her due prey shall die. And since that day no Greek hath ever come Whom I could save and send to Argos home With prayer for help to any friend: but thou, I think, dost loathe me not; and thou dost know Mycenae and the names that fill my heart. Help me! Be saved! Thou also hast thy part, Sending Completed Page, Please Wait ...

IPHIGENIA. 'Tis I. This altar's spell is over me.

ORESTES. A grievous office and unblest, O maid.

IPHIGENIA. What dare I do? The law must be obeyed.

ORESTES. A girl to hold a sword and stab men dead!

IPHIGENIA. I shall but sign the water on thy head.

ORESTES. And who shall strike me, if I needs must ask?


The Iphigenia in Tauris - 6/17

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