The priestess whom the goddess hath herself
Selected and ordained, doth speak with thee.
Let that suffice: but tell me, who art thou,
And what unbless’d o’erruling destiny
Hath hither led thee with thy friend?
Whose hateful presence ever dogs our steps,
I can with ease relate. Oh, would that thou
Couldst with like ease, divine one, shed on us
One ray of cheering hope! We are from Crete,
Adrastus’ sons, and I, the youngest born,
Named Cephalus; my eldest brother, he,
Laodamas. Between us stood a youth
Savage and wild, who severed e’en in sport
The joy and concord of our early youth.
Long as our father led his powers at Troy,
Passive our mother’s mandate we obey’d;
But when, enrich’d with booty, he return’d,
And shortly after died, a contest fierce
Both for the kingdom and their father’s wealth,
His children parted. I the eldest joined;
He slew our brother; and the Furies hence
For kindred murder dog his restless steps.
But to this savage shore the Delphian god
Hath sent us, cheer’d by hope. He bade us wait
Within his sister’s consecrated fane
The blessed hand of aid. Captives we are,
And, hither brought, before thee now we stand
Ordain’d for sacrifice. My tale is told.
Fell Troy! Dear man, assure me of its fall.
Prostrate it lies. O unto us ensure
Deliverance. The promised aid of Heaven
More swiftly bring. Take pity on my brother.
O say to him a kind, a gracious word;
But spare him when thou speakest, earnestly
This I implore: for all too easily
Through joy and sorrow and through memory
Torn and distracted is his inmost being.
A feverish madness oft doth seize on him,
Yielding his spirit, beautiful and free,
A prey to furies.
Great as is thy woe,
Forget it, I conjure thee, for a while,
Till I am satisfied.
The stately town,
Which ten long years withstood the Grecian host,
Now lies in ruins, ne’er to rise again;
Yet many a hero’s grave will oft recall
Our sad remembrance to that barbarous shore.
There lies Achilles and his noble friend.
So are ye godlike forms reduc’d to dust!
Nor Palamede, nor Ajax, ere again
The daylight of their native land beheld.
He speaks not of my father, doth not name
Him with the fallen. He may yet survive!
I may behold him! still hope on, fond heart!