Obey thine office, priestess, not the king.
Cease! nor thus seek to cloak the savage force
Which triumphs o’er a woman’s feebleness.
Though woman, I am born as free as man.
Did Agamemnon’s son before thee stand,
And thou requiredst what became him not,
His arm and trusty weapon would defend
His bosom’s freedom. I have only words;
But it becomes a noble-minded man
To treat with due respect the words of woman.
I more respect them than a brother’s sword.
Uncertain ever is the chance of arms,
No prudent warrior doth despise his foe;
Nor yet defenceless ’gainst severity
Hath nature left the weak; she gives him craft
And, willy, cunning; artful he delays,
Evades, eludes, and finally escapes.
Such arms are justified by violence.
But circumspection countervails deceit.
Which a pure spirit doth abhor to use.
Do not incautiously condemn thyself.
Oh, couldst thou see the struggle of my soul,
Courageously to ward the first attack
Of an unhappy doom, which threatens me!
Do I then stand before thee weaponless?
Prayer, lovely prayer, fair branch in woman’s hand,
More potent far than instruments of war,
Thou dost thrust back. What now remains for me
Wherewith my inborn freedom to defend?
Must I implore a miracle from heaven?
Is there no power within my spirit’s depths?
Extravagant thy interest in the fate
Of these two strangers. Tell me who they are
For whom thy heart is thus so deeply mov’d.
They are—they seem at least—I think them Greeks.
Thy countrymen; no doubt they have renew’d
The pleasing picture of return.
IPHIGENIA (after a pause)
Lay undisputed claim to noble deeds?
Doth he alone to his heroic breast
Clasp the impossible? What call we great?
What deeds, though oft narrated, still uplift
with shuddering horror the narrator’s soul,
But those which, with improbable success,
The valiant have attempted? Shall the man
Who all alone steals on his foes by night,
And raging like an unexpected fire,
Destroys the slumbering host, and press’d at