Aeschylus


Agamemnon

I speak to those who know; to those who don't my mind's a blank. I never say a word. 38

And now it goes as it goes and where it ends is Fate. And neither by singeing flesh nor tipping cups of wine nor shedding burning tears can you enchant away the rigid Fury. 73

Persuasion grows with the years. 114

Cry, cry for death, but good win out in glory in the end. 139

He who was so mighty once, storming for the wars of heaven, he has had his day. 169

Zeus has led us on to know, the Helmsman lays it down as law that we must suffer, suffer into truth. We cannot sleep, and drop by drop at the heart the pain of pain remembered comes again, and we resist, but ripeness comes as well. From the gods enthroned on the awesome rowing-bench there comes a violent love. 177

And once he slipped his neck in the strap of Fate, his spirit veering black, impure, unholy, once he turned he stopped at nothing, seized with the frenzy blinding driving to outrage - wretched frenzy, cause of all our grief! 217

What comes next? I cannot see it, cannot say. The strong techniques of Calchas do their work. But justice turns the balance scales, sees that we suffer and we suffer and we learn. And we will know the future when it comes. Greet it too early, weep too soon. It all comes clear in the light of day. 248

Let the new day shine - as the proverb says - glorious from the womb of Mother Night. 264

No one takes me in with visions - senseless dreams. 275

Pour oil and wine in the same bowl, what have you, friendship? A struggle to the end. So with the victors and the victims - outcries, you can hear them clashing like their fates. 324

Just let no lust, no mad desire seize the armies to ravish what they must not touch - overwhelmed by all they have won! 344

Spoken like a man, my lady, loyal full of self-command. 355

god does as god decrees. 373

Let there be less suffering...give us the sense to live on what we need. 381

Persuasion, maddening child of Ruin overpowers him - Ruin plans it all. 385

Her curving images, her beauty hurts her lord, the eyes starve and the touch of love is gone, 'and radiant dreams are passing in the night, the memories throb with sorrow, joy with pain...it is pain to dream and see desires slip through the arms, a vision lost forever winging down the moving drifts of sleep.' 415

'All for another's woman.' So they mutter in secret and the rancor steals towards our staunch defenders. 444

The reach for power can recoil, the bold of god can strike you at a glance. Make me rich with no man's envy, neither a raider of cities, no, nor slave come face to face with life overpowered by another. - Fire comes and the news is good, it races through the streets but is it true? Who knows? Or just another lie from heaven? - Show us the man so childish, wonderstruck, he's fired up with the first torch, then when the message shifts he's sick at heart. - Just like a woman to fill with thanks before the truth is clear. - So gullible. Their stories spread like wildfire, they fly fast and die faster; rumors voiced by women come to nothing. 460

Think back in the years and what have you? A few runs of luck, a lot that's bad. Who but a god can go through life unmarked? 543

But why weep now? It's over for us, over for them. The dead can rest and never rise again; no need to call their muster. We're alive, do we have to go on raking up old wounds? Good-bye to all that. Glad I am to say it. For us, the remains of the Greek contingents, the good wins out, no pain can tip the scales, not now. 560

Never too old to learn; it keeps me young. 584

women, women, elated over nothing. 585

And now if one of them still has the breath he's saying we are lost. Why not? We say the same of him. Well, here's to the best. 671

But justice shines in sooty hovels, loves the decent life. From proud halls crusted with gilt by filthy hands she turns her eyes to find the pure in spirit - spurning the wealth stamped counterfeit with praise, she steers all things towards their destined end. 761

How to salute you, how to praise you neither too high nor low, but hit the note of praise that suits the hour? So many prize some brave display, they prefer some flaunt of honor once they break the bounds. When a man fails they share his grief, but the pain can never cut them to the quick. When a man succeeds they share his glory, torturing their faces into smiles. But the good shepherd knows his flock. When the eyes seem to brim with love and it is only unction, fawning, he will know, better than we can know. 768

The storms of ruin live! 804

How rare, men with the character to praise a friend's success without a trace of envy, poison to the heart - it deals a double blow. Your own losses weigh you down but then, look at your neighbor's fortune and you weep. Well I know. I understand society, the flattering mirror of the proud. My comrades... they're shadows, I tell you, ghosts of men who swore they'd die for me. Only Odysseus: I dragged that man to the wars but once in harness he was a trace-horse, he gave his all for me. Dead or alive, no matter, I can praise him. 818

Whenever something calls for drastic cures we make our noblest effort: amputate or weild the healing iron, burn the cancer at the roots. 834

I am older, and the fear dies away. 843

This is my life, my ordeal, long as the siege he laid at Troy and more demanding. First, when a woman sits at home and the man is gone, the loneliness is terrible, unconscionable... and the rumors spread and fester, a runner comes with something dreadful, close on his heels the next and his news worse, and they shout it out and the whole house can hear. 848

Men, it is their nature, trampling on the fighter once he's down. 874

It is right to use the titles he deserves. Let envy keep her distance. We have suffered long enough. 895

But the praise that does us justice, let it come from others, then we prize it. This - you treat me like a woman. Grovelling, gaping up at me - what am I, some barbarian peacocking out of Asia? Never cross my path with robes and draw the lightning. Never - only the gods deserve the pomps of honor and the stiff brocades of fame. To walk on them... I am human, and it makes my pulses stir with dread. Give me the tributes of a man and not a god, a little earth to walk on, not this gorgeous work. There is no need to sound my reputation. I have a sense of right and wrong, what's more - heaven's proudest gift. Call no man blest until he ends his life in peace, fulfilled. If I can live by what I say, I have no fear. - One thing more. Be true to your ideals and tell me - - True to my ideals? Once I violate them I am lost. - Would you have sworn this act to god in a time of terror? - Yes, if a prophet called for a last, drastic rite. - But Priam - can you see him if he had your success? - Striding on the tapestries of god, I see him now. - And you fear the reproach of common men? - The voice of the people - aye, they have enormous power. - Perhaps, but where's the glory without a little gall? - And where's the woman in all this lust for glory? - But the great victor - it becomes him to give way. 910

may no god watch and strike me down with envy from on high. I feel such shame - to tread the life of the house, a kingdom's worth of silver in the weaving. 944

Conqure with compassion. 949

No one chooses the yoke of slavery, not of one's free will. 950

Even exultant health, well we know, exceeds its limits, comes so near disease it can breach the wall between them. Even a man's fate, held true on course, in a blinding flash rams some hidden reef; but if caution only casts the pick of the cargo - one well-balanced cast - the house will not go down, not outright; laboring under its wealth of grief the ship of state rides on. Yes, and the great green bounty of god, sown in the furrows year by year and reaped each fall can end the plague of famine. But a man's life-blood is dark and mortal. Once it wets the earth what song can sing it back? Not even the master-healer who brought the dead to life - Zeus stopped the man before he did more harm. Oh, if only the gods had never forged the chain that curbs our excess, one man's fate curbing the next man's fate, my heart would outrace my song, I'd pour out all I feel. 1004

Why even Heracles, they say, was sold into bondage long ago, he had to endure the bitter bread of slaves. But if the yoke descends on you, be grateful for a master born and reared in ancient wealth. Those who reap a harvest past their hopes are merciless to their slaves. From us you will receive what custom says is right. 1038

She must learn to take the cutting bridle before she foams her spirit off in blood. 1066

Of your own free will try on the yoke of Fate. 1071

What good are the oracles to men? Words, more words, and the hurt comes on us, endless words and a seer's techniques have brought us terror and the truth. - The agony - O I am breaking! - Fate's so hard, and the pain that floods my voice is mine alone. 1133

We spoil ourselves with scruples, long as things go well. 1210

So lost to that detestable hellhound who pricks her ears and fawns and her tonuge draws out her glittering words of welcome. 1238

how can you go to your own death, like a beast to the altar driven on by god, and hold your head so high? - No escape, my friends, not now. - But the last hour should be savored. - My time has come. Little to gain from flight. - You're brave, believe me, full of gallant heart. - Only the wretched go with praise like that. - But to go nobly lends a man some grace. 1320

Oh men, your destiny. When all is well a shadow can overturn it. When trouble comes a stroke of the wet sponge, and the picture's blotted out. And that, I think that breaks the heart. - But the lust for power never dies - men cannot have enough. No one will lift a hand to send it from his door, to give it warning, 'Power, never come again!' 1350

better to die on your feet than live on your knees. 1384

Words, endless words I've said to serve the moment - now it makes me proud to tell the truth. How else to prepare a death for deadly men who seem to love you? How to rig the nets of pain so high no man can overleap them? 1391

And you, you try me like some desparate woman. My heart is steel, well you know. Praise me, blame me as you choose. It's all one. 1425

But vengenance comes - you'll lose your loved ones, stroke for painful stroke. 1456

Woman made him suffer, woman struck him down. 1480

The great curse of the house, the spirit, dead weight wrath - and you can praise it! Praise the insatiate doom that feeds relentless on our future and our sons. Oh all through the will of Zeus, the cause of all, the one who works it all. What comes to birth that is not Zeus? Our lives are pain, what part not come from god? 1509

Act for act, wound for wound! Never exult in Hades, swordsman, here you are repaid. By the sword you did your work and by the sword you die. 1555

[I think Aeschylus is objecting to this unending retribution of revenge]

Each charge meets counter-charge. None can judge between them. Justice. The plunderer plundered, the killer pays the price. The truth still holds while Zeus still holds the throne: the one who acts must suffer - that is law. Who can tear from the veins the bad seed, the curse? The race is welded to its ruin. 1587

Exiles feed on hope - well I know. 1703


The Libation Bearers

[Clytaemnestra's words and actions in the beginning]

[The way it speaks of Zeus in these on pg. and pg. 189 is interesting]

And the ancient pride no war, no storm, no force could tame, ringing in all men's ears, in all men's hearts is gone. They are afraid. Success, they bow to success, more god than god himself. 56

And the blood that Mother Earth consumes clots hard, it won't seep through, it breeds revenge and frenzy goes through the guilty, seething like infection, swarming through the brain. 66

Sorrow turns the secret heart to ice. 81

We call on the gods, and the gods well know what storms torment us, sailors whirled to nothing, but if we are to live and reach the haven, one small seed could grow a mighty tree. 202

[speaking to Zeus] you can never send a sign that wins all men's belief. 262

Let it ring in your ears but let your heart stand firm. The outrage stands as it stands, you burn to know the end, but first be strong, be steel, then down and fight. 438

'pour out your all to atone an act of blood, you work for nothing'. 507

And you, better hold your tongues, religiously. Silence, friends, or speak when it will help. 568

Marvels, the Earth breeds many marvels, terrible marvels overwhelm us. The heaving arms of the sea embrace and swarm with savage life. And high in the no man's land of night torches hand like swords. The hawk on the wing, the beast astride the fields can tell of the whirlwind's fury roaring strong. Oh but a man's high daring spirit, who can acount for that? Or woman's desperate passion daring past all bounds? She couples with every form of ruin known to mortals. Woman, frenzied, driven wild with lust, twists the dark, warm harness of wedded love - tortures man and beast! 572

Now that I call to mind old wounds that never heal - Stop, it's time for the wedded love-in-hate, for the curse of the halls, the woman's brazen cunning bent on her lord in arms, her warlord's power - Do you respect such things? I prize the hearthstone warmed by faith, a woman's temper nothing bends to outrage. 606

Fury brings him home at last, the brooding mother Fury! 632

pg. 204, 205 [Stories of Althaia, Scylla, Lemnos]

The woman in charge. No, the man, better that way. No scruples then. Say what you mean, man to man launch in and prove your point, make it clear, strong. 646

But if you come for higher things, affairs that touch the state, that is the men's concern and I will stir them on. 654

Escort him in, where the men who come are made to feel at home. He and his retinue, and fellow travellers. Let them taste the bounty of our house. Do it, as if you depended on his welfare. 698

And she looks at the maids and pulls that long face and down deep her eyes are laughing over the work that's done. 724

the life is hard. The old griefs, the memories mixing, cups of pain. 729

What, you're glad for the news that's come? - Why not, if Zeus will turn the evil wind to good? 763

But how to take the story, for living truth? Or work of a woman's panic, gossip starting up in the night to flicker out and die? 830

Messengers have no power. Nothing like a face-to-face encounter with the source. 835

what words can reach the depth of all I feel? 844

Never judge him - he suffered, you sat here at home. 906

Time brings all to birth - soon Time will stride thorugh the gates with blessings, once the hearth burns off corruption, once the house drives off the Furies. Look, the dice of Fate fall well for all to see. 954

The adulterer dies. An old custom, justice. 983

Live with such a woman, marry her? Sooner the gods destroy me - die without an heir! 999

No man can go through life and reach the end unharmed. Aye, trouble is now, and trouble still to come. 1014


The Eumenides

And the queen of love you'd throw to the winds at a word, disgrace love, the source of mankind's nearest, dearest ties. Marriage of man and wife is Fate itself, stronger than oaths, and Justice guards its life. But if one destroys the other and you relent - no revenge, not a glance in anger - then I say your manhunt of Orestes is unjust. Stome things stir your rage, I see. Others, atrocious crimes, lull your will to act. 211

A terror to gods and men, the outcast's anger, once I fail him, all of my own free will. 230

Time refines all things that age with time. 285

[It is interesting how different people claim justice to be different things like Orestes and Clytaemnestra and Apollo on pg 239, and the Furies on pg 245, Athena pg. 250, Furies pg. 266]

all men's dreams of grandeur tempting the heavens, all melt down, under earth their pride goes down. 370

And you are set on the name of justice rather than the act. 443

Injustice, I mean, should never triumph thanks to oaths. 445

We respect you. You show us respect. 449

murder whets the passions. 487

and if they fail to win their day in court - how it will spread, the venom of their pride. 492

Here, now, is the overthrow of every binding law - once his appeal, his outrage wins the day, his matricide! One act links all mankind, hand to desparate hand in bloody licence. Over and over deathstrokes dealt by children wait their parents. 506

Man to man foresees his neighbor's torments, groping to cure his own - poor wretch, there is no cure, no use, the drugs that ease him speed the next attack. 518

There is a time when terror helps, the watchman must stand guard upon the heart. It helps, at times, to suffer into truth. Is there a man who knows no fear in the brightness of his heart, or a man's city, both are one, that still reveres the rights? Neither the life of anarchy nor the life enslaved by tyrants, no, worship neither. Strike the balance all in all and god will give you power; the laws of god may veer from north to south - we Furies plead for Measure. Violence is Impiety's child, true to its roots, but the spirit's great good health breeds all we love and all our prayers call down, prosperity and peace. All in all I tell you people bow before the altar of the rights, revere it well. Never trample it underfoot, your eyes set on spoils; revenge will hunt the godless day and night - the destined end awaits. So honor your parents first with reverence, I say, and the stranger guest you welcome to your house, turn to attend his needs, respect his sacred rights. All of your own free will, all uncompelled, be just and you will never want for joy, you and your kin can never be uprooted from the earth. But the reckless one - I warn the marauder dragging plunder, chaotic, rich beyond all rights: he'll strike his sails, harried at long last, stunned when the squalls of torment break his spars to bits. He cries to the deaf, he wrestles walls of sea sheer whirlpools down, down, with the gods' laughter breaking over the man's hot heart - they see him flailing, crushed. The one who boasted never to shipwreck now will never clear the cape and steer for home, who lived for wealth, golden his life long, rams on the reef of law and drowns unswept, unseen. 529

and to this hour I have no regrets. If the verdict brings you down, you'll change your story quickly. 603

Here from the heights, terror and reverence, my people's kindred powers will hold them from injustice through the day and through the mild night. Never pollute our law with innovations. No, my citizens, foul a clear well and you will suffer thirst. Neither anarchy nor tyranny, my people. Worship the Mean, I urge you, shore it up with reverence and never banish terror from the gates, not outright. Where is the righteous man who knowns no fear? The stronger your fear, your reverence for the just, the stronger your country's wall and city's safety, stronger by far than all men else possess in Scythia's rugged steppes or Pelops's level plain. Untouched by lust for spoil, this court of law majestic, swift to fury, rising above you as you sleep, our night watch always wakeful, guardian of our land. 703

pg. 263 [Ixion]

[Athena] I honor the male, in all things but marriage. Yes, with all my heart I am my Father's child. I cannot set more store by the woman's death - she killed her husband, guardian of their house. 751

No more heavy spirits. You were not defeated - the vote was tied, a verdict fairly reached with no disgrace to you, no, Zeus brought luminous proof before us. He who spoke god's oracle, he bore witness that Orestes did the work but should not suffer harm. And now you'd vent your anger, hurt the land? Consider a moment. Calm yourself. Never render us barren, raining your potent showers down like spears, consuming every seed. By all my rights I promise you your seat in the depths of earth, yours by all rights - stationed at hearths equipped with glistening thrones, covered with praise! My people will revere you. 806

You have your power, you are goddesses - but not to turn on the world of men and ravage it past cure. I put my trust in Zeus and ... must I add this? I am the only god who knows the keys to the armory where his lightning-bolt is sealed. No need of that, not here. Let me persuade you. The lethal spell of your voice, never cast it down on the land and blight its harvest home. Lull asleep that salt black wave of anger - awesome, proud with reverence, live with me. The land is rich, and more, when its first fruits, offered for heirs and the marriage rites, are yours to hold forever, you will praise my words. 833

I will bear with your anger. You are older. The years have taught you more, much more than I can know. But Zeus, I think, gave me some insight, too, that has its merits. If you leave for an alien land and alien people, you will come to love this land, I promise you. As time flows on, the honors flow through all my citizens, and you, throned in honor before the house of Erechtheus, will harvest more from men and women moving in solemn file than you can win throughout the mortal world. Here in our homeland never cast the stones that whet our bloodlust. Never waste our youth, inflaming them with the burning wine of strife. Never pluck the heart of the battle cock and plant it in our people - intestine war seething against themselves. Let our wars rage on abroad, with all their force, to satisfy our powerful lust for fame. But as for the bird that fights at home - my curse on civil war. 856

No, I will never tire of telling you your gifts. So that you, the older gods, can never say that I, a young god and the mortals of my city drove you outcast, outlawed from the land. But if you have any reverence for Persuasion, the majesty of Persuasion, the spell of my voice that would appease your fury - Oh please stay... and if you refuse to stay, it would be wrong, unjust to afflict this city with wrath, hatred, populations routed. Look, it is all yours, a royal share of our land - justly entitled, glorified for ever. 888

Yes - I must never promise things I cannot do. - Your magic is working... I can feel the hate, the fury slip away. 909

Nothing that strikes a note of brutal conquest. Only peace - blessings, rising up from the earth and the heaving sea, and down the vaulting sky let the wind-gods breathe a wash of sunlight streaming through the land, and the yield of soil and grazing cattle flood our city's life with power and never flag with time. Make the seed of men live on, the more they worship you the more they thrive. I love them as a gardener loves his plants, these upright men, this breed fought free of grief. All that is yours to give. And I, in the trials of war where fighters burn for fame, will never endure the overthrow of Athens - all will praise her, victor city, pride of man. 913

that the rare good things of life 935

[Speaking of the Furies] Theirs, theirs to rule the lives of men, it is their fated power. But he who has never felt their weight, or known the blows of life and how they fall, the crimes of his fathers hale him towards their bar, and there for all his boats - destruction, silent, majestic in anger, crushes him to dust. 941

She delivers songs to some, to others a blinding life of tears - Fury works her will. 966

Yes, I love Persuasion; she watched my words, she met their wild refusals. Thanks to Zeus of the Councils who can turn dispute to peace - he won the day. Thanks to our duel for blessings; we win through it all. - And the brutal strife, the civil war devouring men, I pray that it never rages through our city, no that the good Greek soil never drinks the blood of Greeks, shed in an orgy of reprisal life for life - that Fury like a beast will never rampage through the land. Give joy in return for joy, one common will for love, and hate with one strong heart: such union heals a thousand ills of man. - Do you hear how Fury sounds her blessings forth, how Fury finds the way? Shining out of the terror of their faces I can see great gains for you, my people. Hold them kindly, kind as they are to you. Exalt them always, you exalt your land, your city straight and just - its light goes through the world. 980


Prometheus Bound

Power newly won is always harsh. What is the use of wasting time in pity? 31

The ties of birth and comradeship are strangely strong. 36

[Speaking to Strength] You have been always cruel, full of aggressiveness. 40

You cannot help him: waste no time in worrying. 44

Why do you hate it? Take the simple view: your craft is not to blame for what must be inflicted now. 46

All tasks are burdensome - except to rule the gods. No one is free but Zeus. 51

Let him learn that all his wisdom is but folly before Zeus. 59

My appointed fate I must endure as best I can, knowing the power of necessity is irresistible. Under such suffering, speech and silence are alike beyond me. 103

Pg. 27 At that time...of the future.

That was the help I gave the king of the gods; and this is my reward - this is his black ingratitude. To look on all friends with suspicion - this disease would seem to be inherent in a tyrant's soul. 225

I caused men no longer to forsee their death. What cure did you discover for their misery? I planted firmly in their hearts blind hopefulness. 250

It is easy for the one who stands outside the prison-wall of pain to exhort and teach the one who suffers. 263

Share the suffering of one whose turn is now. Grief is a wanderer who visits many, bringing always the same gift. 274

Being related to you, I suppose, makes me sympathize with you. 289

Pg. 30 Then know...unruly tongue.

You are a far more prudent counsellor of others than of yourself. 336

Do nothing, and keep clear of danger. If I suffer, I do not therefore wish that as many as possible should suffer too. 345

Anger's a disease which words can heal? Yes, if you soothe the spirit when the moment's ripe - not roughly baulk a swelling rage. 376

Sometimes a wise man gains his point by being though not wise. 384

Humiliation follows pain; Distraught in mind you have lost your way; like a bad doctor fallen ill you now despair of finding drugs to cure yourself. 472

Cunning is feebleness beside Necessity. 513

It is a pleasant thing to spend the length of life in confidence and hope, and to nourish the soul in light and cheerfulness. 537

See, my friend, how thankless were all your benefits. Tell me, what strength is there, and where, what help to be found in men who live for a day? Did you not note the helpless infirmity, feeble as a dream, which fetters the blind tribes of men? For human purposes shall never trespass outside the harmony of Zeus's government. 545

What strikes my ear is the difference between today's sounds of sorrow and the songs we sang to grace your marriage. 555

Not to know this is better than for you to know. 624

Tears and lamenting find their due reward when those who listen are ready too with tears of sympathy. 639

I count false words the foulest plague of all. 686

You shed your tears too early, like a frightened woman. 695

It comforts those in pain to know beforehand all the pain they still must bear. 698

Why should I go on living? Why not hurl myself at once down from this rocky cliff, be dashed in pieces, and find relief from all my pain? Better to die once than to suffer torment all my living days. Prometheus - Then you would find it hard to bear my agonies, since I am fated not to die. Death would have brought release; but now no end to suffering is in sight for me. 746

He was a wise man indeed who first weighed this thought in his mind and gave it utterance in speech, that the best rule by far is to marry in your own rank; that a man who works with his hands should never crave to marry either a woman pampered by wealth or one who prides herself on her noble family. 887

A wise man will speak humbly, and fear Nemesis. 940

You and all your crew are young, and so is your power; and you imagine that you hold an unassailable citadel. But I have seen two dynasties already hurled from those same heights; And I shall see the third, today's king, fall to earth more shamefully than his precursors, and more soon. 953

Understand this: I would not change my painful plight, on any terms, for your servile humility. 965

But time, as he grows older, teaches everything. 982

Come, bring yourself, perverse fool, while there is still time to weigh your situation, and so turn to sense. Prometheus - You waste your breathe, you may as well exhort the waves. Never persuade yourself that I, through fear of what Zeus may intend, will show a woman's mind, or kneel to my detested enemy, with womanish hands outspread in supplication for release. 1000

Yet all your violence springs from feeble reckoning; for obstinacy in a fool has by itself no strength at all. 1013

Wise counsel always is worth more than stubborness. 1033

A wise man's folly forfeits dignity. 1036

It is no dishonor for an enemy to suffer at his enemy's hands. 1038

If you want to persuade me, use a different tone and give other advice. You speak too hastily, bidding me do what I could not think of doing. Would you have me practice cowardice? I will stay with Prometheus, come what must. I was taught to hate those who dessert their friends; and there is no infamy I more despise. 1061

And when you are caught by calamity don't lay the blame on fortune, or say that Zeus plunged you into suffering unforeseen; Not Zeus but yourselves will be to blame. You know what is coming; it is neither sudden nor secret. Only your own folly will entangle you in the inextricable net of destruction. 1069


The Suppliants

[Emphasizes reason and persuasion over force; violence breeds violence]

from lust of men 9

the male pride 29

Will give clear proof of what we claim today; and other like proofs soon, although unlooked for, shall appear; for as time lengthens truth is known. 53

Let wild youth not accomplish its wicked lust. 79

From their high-towering hopes he hurls mortals to their destruction. 96

So let Zeus look on human arrogance, and mark how lusting for our flesh makes an old stock grow young, bloom with perverse desire, while crazed resolve goads without respite, and mischeive pursuing illusion is pursued by pain. 102

Answer these men of Argos as newcomers should, with words to move tears and compassion for your need; say clearly why you have fled here and that your hands are innocent of blood. And mind this above all: no boldness, and no looseness, in your speech or looks; a lowly, modest bearing and a steadfast eye. Be neither forward nor reluctant in your speech. This is a hasty-tempered race. Remember then - submit! You all are aliens, helpless fugitives; and for the weaker side bold speech is out of place. 194

Be prudent then; answer the leader of these men so that your enterprise may win success today. 232

And how you dared to come thus fearless to our shores unheralded, unsponsored, without friend or guide, is cause for wonder. 239

Human ills wear many colors; on troubles wing you will not find two plumes alike. 328

When costly goods are jettisoned in a storm, more goods may come by grace of Zeus, who gives increase of wealth, and fill instead another, larger ship with freight. So when the tongue's arrows have been untimely aimed word may heal word, and soothe the offended soul with charms. 446

Go, quickly; carry in your arms suppliant branches such as these your daugters hold; place them on other altars of the Argive gods, so that the evidence of this appeal be seen by all our citizens; but, of me, let no word fall - all citizens love to find fault with government. It may be that some will see these tokens and be stirred to pity and indignation at these arrogant men, and Argos grant more readily your plea for help. Weakness wakes generosity in every heart. 480

Caution is best; rashness too soon may lead to fear; men before now have killed their friends in ignorance. 498

Go with him, men; conduct him to the city shrines and sanctuaries of the gods. - And don't stand talking at street-corners about this sailor your guiding around the temples as a suppliant. 500

Are you surprised if terror breeds discourtesy? 512

you must act calmly and advisedly; face what confronts you 722

A woman has no courage, what can she do alone? 781

You think fear of the gods, tridents, thunderbolts, will hold their hands from us? I tell you it will not. They are arrogant and lustful, swift with the force of frenzy, fearless as hounds, and ready to mock the gods to silence. Danaus - The proverb says wolves have three times the strength of hounds; no byblus-fruit can be a match for ears of wheat. 756

For death is freed from suffering and tears. 799

Rushing upon us with battle-cries, with all the brutal arrogance of pursuing males, to take us by force! 818

People are quick to be censorious of those who speak with a foreign accent. May all prove well, and our reputation among the people of Argos be free from reproach and slander. 973

The character of an unknown company is shown by time. Against an alien, every man has slander on the tongue's tip; one easy word may fix a smear. I urge you then, having such bloom of comely youth as makes men turn their eyes - do not bring shame on me. A full ripe orchard is no easy thing to guard. What wonder? It wakes men's cunning, turns them covetous, and tempts, no less, winged and four-footed plunderers. Just so, when Aphrodite finds the orchard gate pushed wide, and sweet, ripe bodies there, she makes it known, till every man that passes, sick with longing, aims heart-melting glances at such virgin loveliness. 993

But this goddess [Aphrodite], various and subtle, is honored only with most solemn rites, where, joined with their dear mother, come first Desire, then soft Persuasion, to whose enchantments nothing can be denied; while music, and the loves who play in whispers, have their parts assigned them by Aphrodite. 1036

What will be, will be. 1049

This marriage might well acheive its end in happiness greater than woman have yet known. Chorus: From marriage with the sons of Aegyptus may mighty Zeus protect me. Maids: That might, indeed, be best; but you, it seems, would alter the unalterable. Chorus: Why unalterable? You do not know the future. Maids: True, who am I to behold the mind of Zeus, a sight unfathomable? Yet, in your prayers use restraint. Chorus: What limit do you say I should observe? Maids: Towards the gods - never be uncompromising. Chorus: May Zeus, who rules the world, save me from cruel subjection to a man I hate; Zeus, who set Io free from her affliction, whose healing hand with kindly force restored her - may he grant victory to the women's cause! I accept the better part of evil; content, if the good outweighs the bad, if through my prayers means of deliverance be found, and judgement side with Justice by the will of Heaven. 1051


Seven Against Thebes

[Be wise in time]

If things go well, the thanks are due to Heaven; but if - which Heaven forbid! - ill-luck should meet us, Eteocles would be the one name harped upon in every street with threats and wailings of indignant citizens. 5

So be a wise ship's captain, and make all secure before the storm of war bursts on our city walls. 61

You intolerable creatures! I ask you, is this the way to save us? Will this encourage our fighters on the walls - to fling yourselves on the statues of our guardian gods and howl and shriek, to every sane person's disgust? Women, in wartime, or amid the blessing of peace, save me from living among them! Give women their own way, they're bold past bearing; but, once they're alarmed, they double every difficulty, in the city and in the home. Look now: by rushing panic-stricken here and there you flood our citizen's hearts with fear and cowardice. The enemy thus gets all the advantage he could wish, while we inside the walls are cutting our own throats. This is what comes of living amidst a crowd of women. 183

War is for men, and words from women are not wanted. You have no place out here; get indoors, where you can do no harm. 100

Then does the steersman laboring in a heavy sea abandon his wheel and rush for safety to the prow? 110

Pray, if you will; but why abandon common sense? Where does the proverb say safety is to be found? Her mother is obedience, wife of the Deliverer. 222

And often, when men are helpless in disaster, when dark clouds hang over their eyes, even out of the most stubborn griefs the help of Heaven shows them the way. 226

I have no objection to your honoring the gods; only be calm and quiet, and don't give way to terror; you'll spread despondency among our citizens. 236

Listen: if you hear of men dying and wounded, do not seize on the news with shrieks. Men's blood is Ares's diet. 239

I have lost my courage, terror carries away my tongue. 261

Then raise with good heart the strong cry of victory, the shout of sacrifice familiar to all Greeks, to inspire our men and make them fearless in the field. 272

Empty-handed calls empty-handed to try fortune with him, discontented either with less or with equal shares. 'You can see for yourself,' they say, 'if you're left behind, who waits for you?' 353

What a man wears about him will not frighten me; pictures can deal no wounds, his crests and bells won't bite without his spear. As for this night you tell us of, this gleam of heavenly stars that grows upon his shield - such folly may well prove prophetic for a man. What if the night of death fell on his eyes? I think this boastful emblem would with justice vindicate its meaning for the very man who bears it, and his pride become a prophecy against himself. 397

His birth is noble; he reveres the thrown of Modesty, and hates proud speech; laggard in any shameful act, but not in deeds of war. 407

it is justice, goddes of kindred's duty 411

When men's pride swells in folly, then their tongue becomes their true accuser. 472

Willing, when picked, to learn his part from the hour's need. 505

And on its circle was no sign; for he cares not to seem the bravest, but to be; harvesting thus the fertile furrow of his mind, from which grows such sound counsels. 590

Well may one curse the chance that couples man with man, pious with impious, good with bad. There is nothing worse in any enterprise than evil company; its harvest is no blessing; for when folly ploughs, the crop is death. A good man, maybe, joins a ship where wickedness is purposed by a guilty crew, and shares the fate of men whose kind the gods abhor; or in the city, a good man, cast among the bad who oppress strangers and forget the gods - he too, though innocent, is caught in the same trap as they, and tamed and disciplined by heaven's impartial scourge. 596

and the god's way is to keep silence or else speak truth. 616

Why must your mood match with your brother's blasphemies? 676

If fate must be endured, let it come free from shame; what else is there to glory in among the dead? But doom joined with dishonor strikes our last hope dumb. Chorus: My son, what are you bent upon? Do not let bursting passion and lust for battle carry you away. This urge that you feel is evil - banish it before it grows. 682

Refuse to listen! Your prosperity once established, you will not be called a coward. 698

Give way now, while there is time. Even yet the wind of the god's enmity, after so long, may turn, and favor you with a milder breath; though now it rages as before. 706

mastered by the rashness of love. 750

I weep and groan; not from pretence but truly from the heart my shrill cry comes. 873

[live by the sword, die by the sword]

A people newly freed will show an ugly mood. 1041

Strife is, of all the gods, longest in argument. 1051

And what a state upholds as just changes with the changing of time. 1068


The Persians

[Some history here. Aeschylus mentions a million sabres which I find interesting that just a few years after the war the Persian force was believed to be over a million men coinciding with Herodotus later, in spite of logistical estimates, and he mentions the bridge of boats, and Xerxes threatening his captains with death. pg. 124 and 126]

Two thoughts born of this fear fill my uneasy mind, yet shrink from words: first, that a world of wealth is trash if men are wanting; next, that men who have no wealth never find Fortune smiling as their strength deserves. Here, wealth suffices; but our fear lies in our love: what has a house more precious than its living lord? 163

we would not speak to cause you undue fear, nor to raise hope. 215

First thoughts are truest. 227

Why have we lived so long? The harvest of ripe years is new grief, sudden tears. 295

Yet, being mortal, we must endure grief when the gods send it. 296

[An Athenian's lie and the description of the events due to Xerxes believing the lie and what the Athenians did in the naval battle of Salamis. pg. 133]

Men who before were unbelievers, then fell on their knees in worship of earth and heaven; and from the whole army rose innumberable prayers. 499

What's done, I know, is done; yet I will sacrifice in hope that time may bring about some better fate. You meanwhile must take counsel on our present loss with other faithful councillors; and if my son returns while I am absent, comfort him, and bring him safe to the house, lest his despair heap grief on grief. Chorus: Thy hand, O Zeus our king, has swept from sight the boastful pride of Persia's vast array. 524

Landsman and seaman both had put their trust in hulks with canvas wings and sea-blue eyes; and ships from home conveyed them, and ships at last destroyed them. 557

Lift loud your griefs to heaven, and cry with bitter anguish, vain remorse, till heart is weary, flesh is sore. 568

From east to west the Asian race no more will own our Persian sway, nor on the king's compulsion pay tribute, nor bow to earth their face in homage; for the kingly power is lost and vanished from this hour. Now fear no more shall bridal speech; uncurbed the common tongue shall prate of freedom; for the yoke of state lies broken on the bloody beach and fields of Salamis, which hide the ruins of our Persian pride. 583

When waves of trouble burst on us, each new event fills us with terror; but when Fortune's wind blows soft we think to enjoy the same fair weather all our lives. Now, ringed with fears, in every threat I see heaven's wrath; my ears are dinned with notes that bear no healing spell; so terribly has this ill news staggered my mind. 598

Grief is men's lot, and men must bear it. Sorrows come from sea and land; and mortal ills will multiply with mortal years. 706

But heaven takes part, for good or ill, with man's own zeal. 744

youthful recklessness 746

Xerxes the rash learnt folly in fools' company. They told him you, his father, with your sword had won gold to enrich your children; while he, like a coward, gaining no increase, played the warrior at home. He planned this march to Hellas, this vast armament, swayed by the ceaseless slanders of such evil men. 753

[Mardus? pg. 144]

Xerxes my son is young, and has a young man's mind; all my instruction he forgets. 777

The land itself fights on their side...their soil is lean, and kills with famine any force of more than moderate size. 786

man is mortal, and must learn to curb his pride. For pride will blossom; soon its ripening kernel is infatuation; and its bitter harvest, tears. 818

Let no man, scorning the fortune that he has, in greed for more pour out his wealth in utter waste. 822

And let your soul taste each day's pleasure, spite of griefs; for all abundance holds no profit for the dead. 841

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