Draw arguments old from out your store,
Venture subtleties never used before.
If you fear your audience uninitiate,
Unable profundities to penetrate,
Rest easy out of fashion is naivete."
So let Zeus look on human arrogance, and mark
How lusting for our flesh makes an old stock grow young with perverse desire,
While crazed resolve goads without respite,
And mischief pursuing illusion is pursued by pain.
Could bird eat flesh of bird
And yet be pure? And can a man mate with a woman
Against her and her father's will, and yet be pure?
Even after death, in Hades such an act can never
Escape sentence; there too, they say, among the dead
Another Zeus holds a last judgement on men's crimes.
To save us all, our need is for a deep pondering;
An eye to search, as divers search the ocean bed,
Clear-seeing, not distracted, that this dilemma may
Achieve an end happy and harmless; first, for Argos
And for myself, that war and plunder may not strike
Us in reprisal; and that we may not surrender
You who are suppliants at the altars of our gods,
And so bring Vengeance, that destroying spirit, to plague
Our lives, who never, even in death, lets go his prey.
Is it not clear that we must think deeply, or we perish?
Now hear my voice, you gods of heavenly birth,
While I pour out these offerings of prayer:
Never let flames leap and devour
In this Pelasgian city,
Nor lustful Ares raise his joyless clamour,
Who mows the field of man where others sowed.
For the Argives took pity on us,
And cast theirvotes in kindness;
They respect the suppliants of Zeus,
This sad and pitiful flock.
Not with the men they voted,
Spurning the case of women;
They heeded the anger of Zeus
Which avenges and fulfils,
Which none can fight against,
Which no house can endure to have
Like an evil bird defiling the roof,
A visitant loaded with disaster.
Argos respects the bond of blood
And the suppliant at the pure shrine of Zeus;
Therefore their altars shall be clean,
And their offerings acceptable to the gods.
You think fear of the gods, of 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.
Was in a dual show last year with this and The Persians. Best bit was this:
First to the charge a Grecian galley rush'd;
Ill the Phoenician bore the rough attack,
Its sculptured prow all shatter'd. Each advanced
Daring an opposite. The deep array
Of Persia at the first sustain'd the encounter;
But their throng'd numbers, in the narrow seas
Confined, want room for action; and, deprived
Of mutual aid, beaks clash with beaks, and each
Breaks all the other's oars: with skill disposed
The Grecian navy circled them around
With fierce assault; and rushing from its height
The inverted vessel sinks: the sea no more
Wears its accustomed aspect, with foul wrecks
And blood disfigured; floating carcasses
Roll on the rocky shores: the poor remains
Of the barbaric armament to flight
Ply every oar inglorious: onward rush
The Greeks amid the ruins of the fleet,
As through a shoal of fish caught in the net,
Spreading destruction: the wide ocean o'er
Wailings are heard, and loud laments, till night
With darkness on her brow brought grateful truce.
Should I recount each circumstance of wo,
Ten times on my unfinished tale the sun
Would set; for be assured that not one day
Could close the ruin of so vast a host.
As for these women,
If their goodwill were given, if pious argument
Won their consent, then you should take them; but this city
Voting in full assembly, with one mind resolved
Never to yield them up to force; and this decree
Is firmly nailed for ever, fixed immovably,
What I have said is not inscribed on wax, or sealed
In scrolls of parchment: nor have you heard a free tongue speak
The plain truth. Now, out of my sight immediately.
But this goddess, various and subtle,
Is honoured 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.