A monologue from the play by Euripides

  • NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from The Plays of Euripides in English, vol. i. Trans. Shelley Dean Milman. London: J.M. Dent & Sons, 1920.
  • IPHIGENIA: Th' Atridæ are no more:
    Extinct their sceptre's golden light;
    My father's house from its proud height
    Is fall'n: its ruins I deplore.
    Who of her kings at Argos holds his reign,
    Her kings once blest? But Sorrow's train
    Rolls on impetuous for the rapid steeds
    Which o'er the strand with Pelops fly.
    From what Atrocious deeds
    Starts the sun back, his sacred eye
    Of brightness, loathing, turned aside?
    And fatal to their house arose
    From the rich Ram, Thessalia's golden pride,
    Slaughter on slaughter, woes on woes.
    Thence from the dead of ages past
    Vengeance came rushing on its prey,
    And swept the race of Tantalus away:
    Fatal to thee its ruthless haste;
    To me too fatal from the hour
    My mother wedded, from the night
    She gave me to life's opening light,
    Nursed by affliction's cruel power.
    Early to me the fates unkind
    To know what sorrow is assigned;
    Me, Leda's daughter, hapless dame,
    First blooming offspring of her bed
    (A father's conduct here I blame),
    A joyless victim bred;
    When o'er the strand of Aulis, in the pride
    Of beauty kindling flames of love,
    High on my splendid car I move,
    Betrothed to Thetis' son a bride:
    Ah hapless bride, to all the train
    Of Grecian fair preferred in vain!
    But now a stranger on this strand,
    'Gainst which the wild waves beat,
    I hold my dreary, joyless seat,
    Far distant from my native land;
    Nor nuptial bed is mine, nor child, nor friend.
    At Argos now no more I raise
    The festal song in Juno's praise;
    Nor o'er the loom sweet-sounding bend,
    As the creative shuttle flies,
    Give forms of Titans fierce to rise,
    And dreadful with her purple spear
    Image Athenian Pallas there.
    But on this barb'rous shore
    Th' unhappy stranger's fate I moan,
    The ruthless altar stained with gore,
    His deep and dying groan:
    And for each tear that weeps his woes,
    From me a tear of pity flows.
    Of these the sad remembrance now must sleep:
    A brother dead, ah me! I weep:
    At Argos him by fate opprest
    I left an infant at the breast.
    A beauteous bud, whose opening charms
    Then blossomed in his mother's arms,
    Orestes, born to high command,
    Th' imperial sceptre of the Argive land.