Fell through his consort’s guilt,—she by her son;
On him alone the hope of Atreus’ race
Doth now repose. Oh, with pure heart, pure hand,
Let me depart to purify our house.
Yes, thou wilt keep thy promise; thou didst swear,
That were a safe return provided me,
I should be free to go. The hour is come.
A king doth never grant like common men,
Merely to gain a respite from petition;
Nor promise what he hopes will ne’er be claim’d.
Then first he feels his dignity supreme
When he can make the long-expecting happy.
As fire opposes water, and doth seek
With hissing rage to overcome its foe,
So doth my anger strive against thy words.
Let mercy, like the consecrated flame
Of silent sacrifice, encircled round
With songs of gratitude, and joy, and praise,
Above the tumult gently rise to heaven.
How often hath this voice assuag’d my soul!
Extend thy hand to me in sign of peace.
Large thy demand within so short a time.
Beneficence doth no reflection need.
’Tis needed oft, for evil springs from good.
’Tis doubt which good doth oft to evil turn.
Consider not; act as thy feelings prompt thee.
ORESTES (armed), IPHIGENIA, THOAS
ORESTES (addressing his followers)
Redouble your exertions! hold them back!
Few moments will suffice; maintain your ground,
And keep a passage open to the ship
For me and for my sister.
(To IPHIGENIA, without perceiving THOAS.)
Come with speed!
We are betray’d,—brief time remains for flight.
(He perceives the king.)
THOAS (laying his hand on his sword)
None in my presence with impunity
His naked weapon wears.
Do not profane
Diana’s sanctuary with rage and blood.
Command your people to forbear awhile,
And listen to the priestess, to the sister.
Say, who is he that threatens us?
Revere the king, who was my second father.
Forgive me, brother, that my childlike heart
Hath plac’d our fate thus wholly in his hands.
I have betray’d your meditated flight,
And thus from treachery redeem’d my soul.