Thou dost not seem
Unworthy of thy boasted ancestry.
Great is the number of the valiant men
Who wait upon me; but I will myself,
Although advanc’d in years, oppose the foe,
And am prepar’d to try the chance of arms.
No, no! such bloody proofs are not requir’d.
Unhand thy weapon, king! my lot consider;
Rash combat oft immortalizes man;
If he should fall, he is renown’d in song;
But after ages reckon not the tears
Which ceaseless the forsaken woman sheds;
And poets tell not of the thousand nights
Consum’d in weeping, and the dreary days,
Wherein her anguish’d soul, a prey to grief,
Doth vainly yearn to call her lov’d one back.
Fear warn’d me to beware lest robbers’ wiles
Might lure me from this sanctuary, and then
Betray me into bondage. Anxiously
I question’d them, each circumstance explor’d,
Demanded proofs, now is my heart assur’d.
See here, the mark on his right hand impress’d
As of three stars, which on his natal day
Were by the priest declar’d to indicate
Some dreadful deed therewith to be perform’d.
And then this scar, which doth his eyebrow cleave,
Redoubles my conviction. When a child,
Electra, rash and inconsiderate,
Such was her nature, loos’d him from her arms,
He fell against a tripos. Oh, ’tis he!—
Shall I adduce the likeness to his sire,
Or the deep rapture of my inmost heart,
In further token of assurance, king?
E’en though thy words had banish’d every
And I had curb’d the anger in my breast,
Still must our arms decide. I see no peace.
Their purpose, as thou didst thyself confess,
Was to deprive me of Diana’s image.
And think ye I will look contented on?
The Greeks are wont to cast a longing eye
Upon the treasures of barbarians,
A golden fleece, good steeds, or daughters fair;
But force and guile not always have avail’d
To lead them, with their booty, safely home.
The image shall not be a cause of strife!
We now perceive the error which the god,
Our journey here commanding, like a veil,
Threw o’er our minds. His counsel I implor’d,
To free me from the Furies’ grisly band.
He answer’d, “Back to Greece the sister bring,
Who in the sanctuary on Tauris’ shore
Unwillingly abides; so ends the curse!”
To Phoebus’ sister we applied the words,
And he referr’d to thee! The bonds severe,
Which held thee from us, holy one, are rent,
And thou art ours once more. At thy blest touch,
I felt myself restor’d. Within thine arms,
Madness once more around me coil’d its folds,
Crushing the marrow in my frame, and then
Forever, like a serpent, fled to hell.