By rous’d opponents on his foeman’s steeds,
Retreats with booty—be alone extoll’d?
Or he who, scorning safety, boldly roams
Through woods and dreary wilds, to scour the land
Of thieves and robbers? Is naught left for us?
Must gentle woman quite forego her nature,
Force against force employ, like Amazons
Usurp the sword from man, and bloodily
Revenge oppression? In my heart I feel
The stirrings of a noble enterprize;
But if I fail—severe reproach, alas!
And bitter misery will be my doom.
Thus on my knees I supplicate the gods!
Oh, are ye truthful, as men say ye are,
Now prove it by your countenance and aid;
Honor the truth in me! Attend, O king
A secret plot deceitfully is laid;
Touching the captives thou dost ask in vain;
They have departed hence and seek their friends,
Who, with the ship, await them on the shore.
The eldest,—whom dire madness lately seiz’d,
And hath abandon’d now,—he is Orestes,
My brother, and the other Pylades,
His early friend and faithful confidant.
From Delphi, Phoebus sent them to this shore
With a divine command to steal away
The image of Diana, and to him
Bear back the sister thither, and for this
He promised to the blood-stained matricide,
The Fury-haunted son, deliverance.
I have surrender’d now into thy hands
The remnants of the house of Tantalus.
Destroy us—if thou canst.
And dost thou think
That the uncultured Scythian will attend
The voice of truth and of humanity
Which Atreus, the Greek, heard not?
By every one, born ’neath whatever clime,
Within whose bosom flows the stream of life,
Pure and unhinder’d.—What thy thought? O king,
What silent purpose broods in thy deep soul?
Is it destruction? Let me perish first!
For now, deliv’rance hopeless, I perceive
The dreadful peril into which I have
With rash precipitancy plung’d my friends.
Alas! I soon shall see them bound before me!
How to my brother shall I say farewell?
I, the unhappy author of his death.
Ne’er can I gaze again in his dear eyes!
The traitors have contrived a cunning web,
And cast it round thee, who, secluded long,
Giv’st willing credence to thine own desires.
No, no! I’d pledge my life these men are
And shouldst thou find them otherwise, O king,
Then let them perish both, and cast me forth,
That on some rock-girt island’s dreary shore
I may atone my folly. Are they true,
And is this man indeed my dear Orestes,
My brother, long implor’d,—release us both,
And o’er us stretch the kind protecting arm