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- The Iphigenia in Tauris - 8/17 -


The King, and set upon his ship thy friend.

ORESTES. Choose then what oath is best, and he will swear.

IPHIGENIA (to PYLADES, who has come up to her). Say: "To thy friend this tablet I will bear."

PYLADES (TAKING THE TABLET). Good. I will bear this tablet to thy friend.

IPHIGENIA. And I save thee beyond this kingdom's end.

PYLADES. What god dost thou invoke to witness this?

IPHIGENIA. Her in whose house I labour, Artemis.

PYLADES. And I the Lord of Heaven, eternal Zeus.

IPHIGENIA. And if thou fail me, or thine oath abuse ...?

PYLADES. May I see home no more. And thou, what then?

IPHIGENIA. May this foot never tread Greek earth again.

PYLADES. But stay: there is one chance we have forgot.

IPHIGENIA. A new oath can be sworn, if this serve not.

PYLADES. In one case set me free. Say I be crossed With shipwreck, and, with ship and tablet lost And all I bear, my life be saved alone: Let not this oath be held a thing undone, To curse me.

IPHIGENIA. Nay, then, many ways are best To many ends. The words thou carriest Enrolled and hid beneath that tablet's rim, I will repeat to thee, and thou to him I look for. Safer so. If the scrip sail Unhurt to Greece, itself will tell my tale Unaided: if it drown in some wide sea, Save but thyself, my words are saved with thee.

PYLADES. For thy sake and for mine 'tis fairer so. Now let me hear his name to whom I go In Argolis, and how my words should run.

IPHIGENIA (REPEATING THE WORDS BY HEART). Say: "To Orestes, Agamemnon's son She that was slain in Aulis, dead to Greece Yet quick, Iphigenia sendeth peace:"

ORESTES. Iphigenia! Where? Back from the dead?

IPHIGENIA. 'Tis I. But speak not, lest thou break my thread.-- "Take me to Argos, brother, ere I die, Back from the Friendless Peoples and the high Altar of Her whose bloody rites I wreak."

ORESTES (ASIDE). Where am I, Pylades? How shall I speak?

IPHIGENIA. "Else one in grief forsaken shall, like shame, Haunt thee."

PYLADES (aside). Orestes!

IPHIGENIA (overhearing him). Yes: that is the name.

PYLADES. Ye Gods above!

IPHIGENIA. Why callest thou on God For words of mine?

PYLADES. 'Tis nothing. 'Twas a road My thoughts had turned. Speak on.--No need for us To question; we shall hear things marvellous.

IPHIGENIA. Tell him that Artemis my soul did save, I wot not how, and to the altar gave A fawn instead; the which my father slew, Not seeing, deeming that the sword he drew Struck me. But she had borne me far away And left me in this land.--I charge thee, say So much. It all is written on the scroll.

PYLADES. An easy charge thou layest on my soul, A glad oath on thine own. I wait no more, But here fulfil the service that I swore. Orestes, take this tablet which I bear To thine own hand, thy sister's messenger.

ORESTES. I take it, but I reck not of its scrip Nor message. Too much joy is at my lip. Sister! Beloved! Wildered though I be, My arms believe not, yet they crave for thee. Now, filled with wonder, give me my delight!

[he goes to embrace her. she stands speechless.]

LEADER. Stranger, forbear! No living man hath right To touch that robe. The Goddess were defiled!

ORESTES. O Sister mine, O my dead father's child, Agamemnon's child; take me and have no fear, Beyond all dreams 'tis I thy brother here.

IPHIGENIA. My brother? Thou? ... Peace! Mock at me no more. Argos is bright with him and Nauplia's shore.

ORESTES. Unhappy one! Thou hast no brother there.

IPHIGENIA. Orestes ... thou? Whom Clytemnestra bare?

ORESTES. To Atreus' firstborn son, thy sire and mine.

IPHIGENIA. Thou sayst it: Oh, give me some proof, some sign!

ORESTES. What sign thou wilt. Ask anything from home.

IPHIGENIA. Nay, thou speak: 'tis from thee the sign should come.

ORESTES. That will I.--First, old tales Electra told. Thou knowest how Pelops' princes warred of old?

IPHIGENIA. I know: the Golden Lamb that wrought their doom.

ORESTES. Thine own hand wove that story on the loom...

IPHIGENIA. How sweet! Thou movest near old memories.

ORESTES. With a great Sun back beaten in the skies.

IPHIGENIA. Fine linen threads I used. The memories come.

ORESTES. And mother gave thee shrift-water from home For Aulis ...

IPHIGENIA. I remember. Not so fair A day did drink that water!

ORESTES. And thine hair They brought us for thy dying gift, and gave To mother.

IPHIGENIA. Yes: for record on the grave I sent it, where this head should never lie.

ORESTES. Another token, seen of mine own eye. The ancient lance that leapt in Pelops' hand, To win his bride, the virgin of the land, And smite Oenomaus, in thy chamber hid ...

IPHIGENIA (falling into his arms). Beloved! Oh, no other, for indeed Beloved art thou! In mine arms at last,


The Iphigenia in Tauris - 8/17

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