Wherefore delay the sacrifice? inform me.
I have acquainted Arkas with the reasons.
From thee I wish to hear them more at large.
The goddess for reflection grants thee time.
To thee this time seems also opportune.
If to this cruel deed thy heart is steel’d,
Thou shouldst not come! A king who meditates
A deed inhuman, may find slaves enow,
Willing for hire to bear one-half the curse,
And leave the monarch’s presence undefil’d.
Enrapt in gloomy clouds he forges death,
Flaming destruction then his ministers
Hurl down upon his wretched victim’s head,
While he abideth high above the storm,
Calm and untroubled, an impassive god.
A wild song, priestess, issued from thy lips.
No priestess, king! but Agamemnon’s daughter;
While yet unknown, thou didst respect my words
A princess now,—and think’st thou to command me?
From youth I have been tutor’d to obey,
My parents first and then the deity;
And thus obeying, ever hath my soul
Known sweetest freedom. But nor then nor now
Have I been taught compliance with the voice
And savage mandates of a man.
An ancient law doth thy obedience claim.
Our passions eagerly catch hold of laws
Which they can wield as weapons. But to me
Another law, one far more ancient, speaks
And doth command me to withstand thee, king!
That law declaring sacred every stranger.
These men, methinks, lie very near thy heart,
When sympathy with them can lead thee thus
To violate discretion’s primal law,
That those in power should never be provok’d.
Speaking or silent, thou canst always know
What is, and ever must be, in my heart.
Doth not remembrance of a common doom,
To soft compassion melt the hardest heart?
How much more mine! in them I see myself.
I trembling kneel’d before the altar once,
And solemnly the shade of early death
Environ’d me. Aloft the knife was rais’d
To pierce my bosom, throbbing with warm life;
A dizzy horror overwhelm’d my soul;
My eyes grew dim; I found myself in safety.
Are we not bound to render the distress’d
The gracious kindness from the gods receiv’d?
Thou know’st we are, and yet wilt thou compel me?