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- Specimens of Greek Tragedy - 44/44 -


He will not yield, and force him thou canst not.

NEOPTOLEMUS.

Has he such might as to defy us all?

ULYSSES.

He has the unerring arrows winged with death.

NEOPTOLEMUS.

Is it not safe e'en to encounter him?

ULYSSES.

Only if thou canst snare him as I say.

NEOPTOLEMUS.

Seems it not shameful to thee thus to lie?

ULYSSES.

No, if the lie alone can do our work.

NEOPTOLEMUS.

How look him in the face and say such things?

ULYSSES.

With gain in view our scruples must give way.

NEOPTOLEMUS.

Suppose him brought to Troy, what gain to me?

ULYSSES.

Troy can be taken only by his bow.

NEOPTOLEMUS.

I, then, am not to be her conqueror.

ULYSSES.

Not by thyself, nor without thee the bow.

NEOPTOLEMUS.

If so it be, the bow must be secured.

ULYSSES.

Secure it and a double meed is thine.

NEOPTOLEMUS.

Prove this to me, and I will do thy will.

ULYSSES.

Thou wilt be hailed at once as wise and brave.

NEOPTOLEMUS.

Well, I will do it; all my qualms are gone.

ULYSSES.

Canst thou remember what erewhile I taught?

NEOPTOLEMUS.

That can I, since my word has once been passed.

ULYSSES.

Then bide thou here, and wait for his approach: I will withdraw, lest I should meet his eye. Our sentinels shall to the ship return, And if ye seem to me to tarry long, I will despatch the same man back again, Having disguised him as a shipmaster, That unsuspect he may my bidding do. My son, in riddles he will speak to thee, And see that thou dost read his riddle right. I'll to the ship and leave the rest to thee. May Hermes, god of cunning, help his own, And may Athene, Queen of victory And cities, save her votary once more.

* * * * *

_THE HERO BETRAYED._

Neoptolemus, having filched the bow of Philoctetes, Philoctetes prays him to restore it.

LINES 927-962.

PHILOCTETES

O pest, O bane, O of all villainy Vile masterpiece, what hast thou done to me? How am I duped? Wretch, hast thou no regard For the unfortunate, the suppliant? Thou tak'st my life when thou dost take my bow. Give it me back, good youth, I do entreat. O by thy gods, rob me not of my life. Alas! he answers not, but as resolved Upon denial, turns away his face. O havens, headlands, lairs of mountain beasts, That my companions here have been, O cliffs Steep-faced, since other audience have I none, In your familiar presence I complain Of the wrong done me by Achilles' son. Home he did swear to take me, not to Troy. Against his plighted faith the sacred bow Of Heracles, the son of Zeus, he steals, And means to show it to the Argive host. He fancies that he over strength prevails, Not seeing that I am a corpse, a shade, A ghost. Were I myself, he had not gained The day, nor would now save by treachery. I am entrapped. Ah me! what can I do? Yet be thyself and give me back my bow. Say that thou wilt. He speaks not; I am lost. O rock, with twofold doorway, I return To thee disarmed, bereft of sustenance. Deserted, I shall wither in that cell, No longer slaying bird or sylvan beast With yonder bow. Myself shall with my flesh Now feed the creatures upon which I fed, And be by my own quarry hunted down. Thus shall I sadly render blood for blood, And all through one that seemed to know no wrong. Curse thee I will not till all hope is fled Of thy repentance; then accursed die.


Specimens of Greek Tragedy - 44/44

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