The Sacrifice Of Iphigenia
Now long and long from wintry Strymon blew
The weary, hungry, anchor-straining blasts,
The winds that wandering seamen dearly rue,
Nor spared the cables worn and groaning masts;
And, lingering on, in indolent delay,
Slow wasted all the strength of Greece away.
But when the shrill-voiced prophet 'gan proclaim
That remedy more dismal and more dread
Than the drear weather blackening overhead,
And spoke in Artemis' most awful name,
The sons of Atreus, 'mid their armed peers,
Their sceptres dashed to earth, and each broke out in tears,
And thus the elder king began to say:
"Dire doom! to disobey the gods' commands!
More dire, my child, mine house's pride, to slay,
Dabbling in virgin blood a father's hands.
Alas! alas! which way to fly?
As base deserter quit the host,
The pride and strength of our great league all lost?
Should I the storm-appeasing rite deny,
Will not their wrathfullest wrath rage up and swell?
Exact the virgin's blood?--oh, would 't were o'er and well!"
So, 'neath Necessity's stern yoke he passed,
And his lost soul, with impious impulse veering,
Surrendered to the accursed unholy blast,
Warped to the dire extreme of human daring.
The frenzy of affliction still
Maddens, dire counselor, man's soul to ill.
So he endured to be the priest
In that child-slaughtering rite unblest,
The first full offering of that host
In fatal war for a bad woman lost.
The prayers, the mute appeal to her hard sire,
Her youth, her virgin beauty,
Naught heeded they, the chiefs for war on fire.
So to the ministers of that dire duty
(First having prayed) the father gave the sign,
Like some soft kid, to lift her to the shrine.
There lay she prone,
Her graceful garments round her thrown;
But first her beauteous mouth around
Their violent bonds they wound,
With their rude inarticulate might,
Lest her dread curse the fatal house should smite.
But she her saffron robe to earth let fall:
The shaft of pity from her eye
Transpierced that awful priesthood--one and all.
Lovely as in a picture stood she by
As she would speak. Thus at her father's feasts
The virgin, 'mid the reveling guests,
Was wont with her chaste voice to supplicate
For her dear father an auspicious fate.
I saw no more! to speak more is not mine;
Not unfulfilled was Calchas' lore divine.
Eternal justice still will bring
Wisdom out of suffering.
So to the fond desire farewell,
The inevitable future to foretell;
'Tis but our woe to antedate;
Joint knit with joint, expands the full-formed fate.
Yet at the end of these dark days
May prospering weal return at length;
Thus in his spirit prays
He of the Apian land the sole remaining strength.
Aeschylus's Other Poems
Read this poem in other languages
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.
Comments about this poem (The Sacrifice Of Iphigenia by Aeschylus )
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(1 February 1902 – 22 May 1967)
(10 December 1830 – 15 May 1886)
Edgar Allan Poe
(19 January 1809 - 7 October 1849)
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
(16 August 1920 – 9 March 1994)
(28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827)
(31 May 1819 - 26 March 1892)
- Still I Rise, Maya Angelou
- A Red, Red Rose, Robert Burns
- The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
- A Bottle And Friend, Robert Burns
- I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
- If, Rudyard Kipling
- To A Mouse, Robert Burns
- Annabel Lee, Edgar Allan Poe
- Invictus, William Ernest Henley
- A Dream Within A Dream, Edgar Allan Poe
Poem of the Day
- UFO, Nicola Kelly
- Red and gold, Nicola Kelly
- Beyond reasonable doubt, Nicola Kelly
- A Photograph, Andrea Vescovo
- De ja vu, Nicola Kelly
- Watch NFL Pro Bowl 2015: Team Irvin vs [.., Noah Hariss
- Suitcase full of dreams, Nicola Kelly
- No ordinary day, Nicola Kelly
- There was a middle aged woman, Nicola Kelly
- Tears of fears, Nicola Kelly