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Yielding blind deference, who thy Daughters gav'st
To foreign Lords, as if the Gods were sway'd
By human passions. Thy illustrious blood
With foul pollution mingling, thine own house
Thus hast thou wounded. Never should the wise
In leagues of inauspicious wedlock yoke
Just and unjust: but prosperous friends obtain
Against the hour of danger. Jove to all
One common fate dispensing, oft involves
In the calamities which guilt draws down
Upon the sinner, him who ne'er transgress'd.
But thou by leading forth that Argive host
To battle, tho' the Seers in vain forbad,
Despising each oracular response,
And wilfully regardless of the Gods,
Hast caus'd thy country's ruin, overrul'd
By those young men who place their sole delight
In glory, and promote unrighteous wars,
Corrupting a whole city; this aspires
To the command of armies, by the pomp
Attending those who hold the reins of power
A second is corrupted; some there are
Studious of filthy lucre, who regard not
What mischief to the public may ensue.
Three ranks there are of citizens; the rich,
Useless, and ever grasping after more ;
While they, who have no property, and lack
E’en necessary food, by fierce despair
And envy actuated, send forth their stings
Against the wealthy, by th' insidious tongue
Of some malignant demagogue beguild :
But of these three the middle rank consists
Of those who save their country, and enforce
Each wholesome usage which the state ordains.
Shall I then be thy champion? what pretence
That would sound honourably can I allege
To gain my countrymen? depart in peace !
For baleful are the counsels thou hast given
That we should urge prosperity too far.
CHORUS. He did amiss : but the great error rests (8) On those young men, and he deserves thy pardon.
I have not chosen you to be the judge
Of my afflictions, but to you, O King,
As a physician come; nor, if convicted
Of having done amiss, to an avenger
Or an opprobrious censor, but a friend
Who will afford his belp: if you refuse
To act this generous part, to your decision
I must submit: for what resource have I?
But, О ye venerable Dames, retire
Leaving those verdant branches here behind,
And call to witness the celestial powers,
The fruitful Earth with Ceres lifting high
Her torch, and that exhaustless source of light
The Sun; that we by all the Gods in vain
Conjur'd you (9). (It is pious to relieve
(8) Instead of having recourse to any of the various conjectural reado ings in the stead of years, with which I have .crowded the margin of my copy of Barnes's edition, I am inclined to consider the expression as par. ticularly just and forcible. Theseus in the preceding speech represents Adrastus as seduced by those young men who cause the ruin of a nation by plunging it into anjust wars to serve their own ambitious purposes. The Chorus in their reply admit that he was to blame, but that the main fault lay in those young men, having it is most probable particularly in view Polynices and Tydeus, to whom we find in the Phønissæ, v. 430, that Adrastus bound himself by an oath to reinstate them in their king. doms, and thus involved his own country in ruin to support his sons in law.
(9) The passage included in a parenthesis is translated from three lines, which first made their appearance in an antient edition I have never been able to meet with, which is without date of year or place, but sup. posed to have been printed at Francfort, by Peter Brubach, whose edi. tion of Sophocles was published in 1544; being omitted by subsequent editors, they were unknown to most readers of Euripides till Reiskius inserted them in his observations on this Author, printed at Leipsic 1754. Mr. Markland has given me the example of thus inserting them in the text, and Dr. Musgrave has admitted them in his notes ; Barnes appears
Those who unjustly suffer, and the tears
Of these your hapless kindred are you bound
To reverence, for your Mother was the Daughter
Of Piiheus) Pelops' Son; born in that land
Which bears the naine of Pelops, we partake
One origin with you: will you betray
These sacred ties, and from your realm cast forth
Yon hoary suppliants, nor allow the boon
Which at your hands they merit? act not thus;
For in the rocks hath the wild beast a place
of refuge, in the altars of the Gods
The slave: a city harrass'd by the storm
Flies to some neighbouring city: for there's nought
On earth that meets with everlasting bliss.
Rise, hapless woman, from this hallow'd fane
Of Proserpine, to meet him ; clasp his knees,
Entreat him to bestow funereal rites
On our slain Sons, whom in the bloom of youth
Beneath the walls of Thebes I lost: my Friends,
Lift from the ground, support me, bear along,
Stretch forth these miserable, these aged hands.
Thee, O thou most belov'd and most renown'd
Of Grecian chiefs, I by that beard conjure,
While at thy knees thus prostrate, on the ground
I for my Sons, a wretched suj.pliant sue,
Or, like some helpless vagabond, pour forth
The warbled lamentation. Generous Youth,
Thee I entreat, let not my Sons, whose age
Was but the same with thine, in Thebes remain
Unburied, for the sport of savage beasts !
Behold, what tears stream from these swimming eyes,
As thus I kneel before thee, to procure,
For my slain Sons, an honorable grave.
Why, O my Mother, do you shed the tear,
Covering your eyes with that transparent veil?
Is it because you heard their plainis? I too
Am much affected. Raise your hoary head,
Nor weep while seated at the holy altar
You ought not thus to groan For their afflictions.
O ye wretched Dames !
THESEUS. You are not one of them.
propose A scheme, my Son, your glory to encrease, And that of Athens?
Wisdom oft hath flow'd From female lips.
I meditated words
Of such importance, that they make me pause.
You speak amiss, we from our friends should hide
Nought that is useful.
If I now were mute,
Myself hereafter might I justly blame
For keeping a dishonourable silence.
Nor thro' the fear lest eloquence should prove
Of no effect, when issuing from the mouth
Of a weak woman, will I thus forego
An honourable task. My Son, I first
Exhort you to regard the will of Heaven,
Lest thro' neglect you err, else will you fail
In this one point, though you in all beside
Think rightly. I moreover still had kept
My temper calin, if to redress the wrongs
Which they endure, an enterprising soul
Had not been requisite. But now, my Son,
A field of glory opens to your view,
Nor these bold counsels scruple I to urge
That by your conquering arm you would compell
Those men of violence, who from the slain
Withhold their just inheritance a tomb,
Such necessary duty to perform,
And quell those impious miscreants who confound
The usages establish'd through all Greece:
For the firm bond which peopled cities holds
In union, is th' observance of the laws.
But some there are who will assert, “ that fear
“ Effeminately caus’d thee to forego
“ Those wreaths of fame thy country might have gain'd;
“ Erst with a (10) bristled monster of the woods
“ Didst thou engage, nor shun th' inglorious strife:
" But now call'd forth to face the burnish'd helm
“ And pointed spear art found to be a dastard.”
Let not my Son act thus : your native land,
Which for a want of prudence hath been scorn’d,
You see, tremendous as a Gorgon, rear
Its front against the scorner: for it grows
Under the pressure of severest toils.
The deeds of peaceful cities are obscure,
And caution bounds their views. Will you not march,
My Son, to succour the illustrious dead,
(10) A wild Sow, named Phæa, which infested the fields of Cromyon near Corinth. Plutarch speaks of Thesens' slaying this beast as one of his earliest exploits; and Ovid as one of those by which he proved himself a benefactor to mankind. Strabo calls this Sow Mother to the Cat lydonian Boar which was killed by Meleager,