Had stealthily procur’d his brother’s son,
Whom he in secret nurtur’d as his own.
Revenge and fury in his breast he pour’d,
Then to the royal city sent him forth,
That in his uncle he might slay his sire.
The meditated murder was disclos’d,
And by the king most cruelly aveng’d,
Who slaughter’d as he thought, his brother’s son.
Too late he learn’d whose dying tortures met
His drunken gaze; and seeking to assuage
The insatiate vengeance that possess’d his soul,
He plann’d a deed unheard of. He assum’d
A friendly tone, seem’d reconcil’d, appeas’d,
And lur’d his brother, with his children twain,
Back to his kingdom; these he seiz’d and slew;
Then plac’d the loathsome and abhorrent food
At his first meal before the unconscious sire.
And when Thyestes had his hunger still’d
With his own flesh, a sadness seiz’d his soul;
He for his children ask’d,—their steps, their voice
Fancied he heard already at the door;
And Atreus, grinning with malicious joy,
Threw in the members of the slaughter’d boys.—
Shudd’ring, O king, thou dost avert thy face:
So did the sun his radiant visage hide,
And swerve his chariot from the eternal path.
These, monarch, are thy priestess’ ancestors,
And many a dreadful fate of mortal doom,
And many a deed of the bewilder’d brain,
Dark night doth cover with her sable wing,
Or shroud in gloomy twilight.
Let them abide. A truce to horror now,
And tell me by what miracle thou sprangest
From race so savage.
Atreus’ eldest son
Was Agamemnon; he, O king, my sire:
But I may say with truth, that, from a child,
In him the model of a perfect man
I witness’d ever. Clytemnestra bore
To him, myself, the firstling of their love,
Electra then. Peaceful the monarch rul’d,
And to the house of Tantalus was given
A long-withheld repose. A son alone
Was wanting to complete my parents’ bliss;
Scarce was this wish fulfill’d, and young Orestes,
The household’s darling, with his sisters grew,
When new misfortunes vex’d our ancient house.
To you hath come the rumor of the war,
Which, to avenge the fairest woman’s wrongs,
The force united of the Grecian kings
Round Ilion’s walls encamp’d. Whether the town
Was humbled, and achieved their great revenge,
I have not heard. My father led the host.
In Aulis vainly for a favoring gale
They waited; for, enrag’d against their chief,
Diana stay’d their progress, and requir’d,
Through Chalcas’ voice, the monarch’s eldest daughter.
They lured me with my mother to the camp,
They dragged me to the altar, and this head
There to the goddess doomed.—She was appeased;
She did not wish my blood, and shrouded me
In a protecting cloud; within this temple
I first awakened from the dream of death;
Yes, I myself am she, Iphigenia,
Grandchild of Atreus, Agamemnon’s child,
Diana’s priestess, I who speak with thee.