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Back from those hostile fields to bring the slain
And lodge them in a tomb : on him alone
And Athens, he this honourable task
Imposes. Hither were the victims borne,
That we a prosperous tillage may obtain, ..
And for this cause I'from

my

house am come
Into this temple, where the bearded (2) grain
First rising from the fruitful soil appear’d.
Holding loose sprays of foliage in my hand,
I wait before the unpolluted altars
Of Proserpine and Ceres; for these Mothers
Grown hoar with age and of their children reft,
With pity mov'd, and to the sacred branches
Yielding a due respect. I to the city
Have sent a herald to call Theseus hither,
That from the Theban land he may remove,
The causes of their sorrow, or the Gods
Appeasing by some pious rites, release me
From the constraint these suppliant Dames impose.
In all emergencies discretion bids
Our feeble sex to seek man's needful aid.

CHORUS.
An aged woman prostrate at thy knees,
Thee I implore my children to redeem
Who welter on a foreign plain, unnerv’d
By death and to the savage beasts a prey. :.
Thou see'st the piteous tears which from these eyes
Unbidden start, and torn with desperate hands
My wrinkled flesh, What hope remains for me,
Who neither, at my home, have been allow'd
The corses of my children to stretch forth,
Nor heap'd with earth behold their tombs arise?
Thou, too, illustrious Dame, hast borne a Son

(2) Brodæus has collected testimonies from a Greek glossary to Homer, Phurnutns, Aristides, and Pausanias, to show that Eleusine was the place where corn first made its appearance: upon which the grateful inliabitants erected the famous temple of Ceres on the spot whence they first reaped her bounties.

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Crowning the utmost wishes of thy Lord,
Speak therefore what thou think'st of our distress
In langụage suited to the griefs I feel
For the deceas'd whom I brought forth; persuade
Thy Son, whose succour we implore, to march
Across Ismenos' channel, and consign
To me the bodies of the slaughter'd youths,
That I beneath the monumental stone
May bury them with every sacred rite.
Though not by mere necessity constrain’d,
We at thy knees fall down and urge our suit
Before these altars of the Gods, where smokes
The frequent incense : for our cause is just :
And through the prosperous fortunes of thy Son
With
power

sufficient to remove our woés
Art thou endued: but since the ills I suffer
Thy pity claim, a miserable suppliant,
I crave that to these arms thou would'sť restore
My Son, and grant me to embrace his corse.

1

ETHRA.
OD E.

I.
Here a fresh groupe of mourners stands,
Your followers in succession wring their hands.

CHORUS.
Attune expressive notes of anguish,

Oye sympathetic choir,
And in harmonious accents languish,

Such as Pluto loves t inspire.
Tear those cheeks of pallid hue,

And let gore your bosoms stain,
For from the living is such honour due

To the shades of heroes slain,
Whose corses welter on th’embattled plain.

I feel a pleasing sad relief,
Unsated as I brood o'er scenes of grief;

My lamentations never ending,
Are like the moisture of the sea
In drops from some high rock descending,

Which flows to all eternity.
For those youths who breathe no more

Nature bids the Mother weep
And with incessant lears their loss deplore:

In oblivion would I steep
My woes, and welcome death's perpetual sleep.
THESEUS, ÆTHRA, ADRASTUS, CHORUS.

THESEUS. What plaints are these I hear? who strike their breasts, Attuning lamentations for the dead In such loud notes as issue from the fane? Borne hither by my fears with winged speed, I come to see if

any

recent ill May have befallen my Mother; she from home Hath long been absent.--Ha! what objects new And strange are these which now mine eyes behold? Fresh questions hence arise : my aged Mother Close to the altar seated with a band Of foreign matrons, who their woes express In various warbled notes, and on the ground Shed from their venerable eyes a stream Of tears : their heads are shorn, nor is their garb Suited to those who tend the sacred rites? What means all this? My Mother, say; from you I wait for information, and expect Some tidings of importance.

ÆTHRA.

O my Son
These are the Mothers of those seven fam'd chiefs
Who perish'd at the gates of Thebes: you see
How they with suppliant branches on all sides
Encompass me.

THESEUS.
But who is he who groans

So piteously, stretcht forth before the gate?

ÆTHRA.
Adrastus, they inform me, king of Argos.

THESEUS.
Are they who stand around, those (3) Matrons' Sons?

ÆTHRA,
Not theirs; they are the children of the slain.

THESEUS.
Why with those suppliant tokens in their hands
Come they to us?

ÆTHRA.

I know: but it behoves
Them, O my Son, their errand to unfold.

THESEUS.
To thee who in a fleecy cloak art wrapp'd,
My questions I address : thy head unveil,
Cease to lament, and speak; for while thy tongue
Utters no accent, nought canst thou obtain.

ADRASTUS.
O king of the Athenian land, renown'd
For your victorious arms, to you, O Theseus.
And to your city, I a suppliant come.

THESEUS.
What's thy pursuit, and what is it thou need'st?

ADRASTUS.
Ķnow you not how ill-fated was the host
I led ?

THESEUS.
Thou didst not pass thro' Greece in silence.

ADRASTUS.
The noblest youths of Argos there 1 lost.

THESEUS.
Such dire effects from luckless war arise.

(3) Finding by Dr. Musgrave's note, that there is the authority of a manuscript for reading totuv instead of Tutu, I gladly avail myself of it, as an amendment of the text which Minerva's apostrophe at the close of this play to Ægialeus son of Adrastus strongly supports.

ADRASTUS.
From Thebes I claim'd the bodies of the slain.

THESEUS.
Did'st thou rely on Heralds to procure
Leave to inter the dead?

ADRASTUS.

But they who slew them Deny this favour.

THESEUS.

What can they allege
'Gainst a request which justice must approve?

ADRASTUS.
Ask not the reason : they are now elate
With a success they know not how to bear.

THESEUS.
Art thou come hither to consult me then,
Or on what errand ?

ADRASTUS.

'Tis my wish, O Theseus, That you the Sons of Argos would redeem.

THESEUS.
But where is Argos now?' were all her boasts
Of no effect?

ADRASTUS.

We by this one defeat
Are ruin'd, and to you for succour come.

THESEUS.
This on thy private judgement, or the voice
Of the whole city?

ADRASTUS.

All the race of Danaus Implore you to inter the slain.

THESEUS.

Why led'st thou 'Gainst Thebes seven squadıons?

ADRASTUS.

To confer a favour On my two Sons in law.

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