Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Women of Troy and how Iphigenia came to terms with being a human sacrifice

I wish I had the script in modern English that was actually used Phil Willmott's Gods and Monsters, but what I have reproduced below was only what I could find.

IPHIGENIA Had I the eloquence of Orpheus, my father, to move the
rocks by chanted spells to follow me, or to charm by speaking whom
I would, I had resorted to it. But as it is, I'll bring my tears-the
only art I know; for that I might attempt. And about thy knees, in
suppliant wise, I twine my limbs these limbs thy wife here bore. Destroy
me not before my time, for sweet is to look upon the light, and force
me not to visit scenes below. I was the first to call thee father,
thou the first to call me child; the first was I to sit upon thy knee
and give and take the fond caress. And this was what thou then wouldst
say, "Shall I see thee, my child, living a happy prosperous life in
a husband's home one day, in a manner worthy of myself?" And I in
my turn would ask, as I hung about thy beard, whereto I now am clinging,
"How shall I see thee? Shall I be giving thee a glad reception in
my halls, father, in thy old age, repaying all thy anxious care in
rearing me?

I remember all we said, 'tis thou who hast forgotten and now wouldst
take my life. By Pelops, I entreat thee spare me, by thy father Atreus
and my mother here, who suffers now a second time the pangs she felt
before when bearing me! What have I to do with the marriage of Paris
and Helen? why is his coming to prove my ruin, father? Look upon me;
one glance, one kiss bestow, that this at least I may carry to my
death as a memorial of thee, though thou heed not my pleading.  (Holding
up the babe to ORESTES)  Feeble ally though thou art, brother, to
thy loved ones, yet add thy tears to mine and entreat our father for
thy sister's life; even in babes there is a natural sense of ill.
O father, see this speechless supplication made to thee; pity me;
have mercy on my tender years! Yea, by thy beard we two fond hearts
implore thy pity, the one a babe, a full-grown maid the other. By
summing all my pleas in one, I will prevail in what I say. To gaze
upon yon light is man's most cherished gift; that life below is nothingness,
and whoso longs for death is mad. Better live a life of woe than die
a death of glory!

IPHIGENIA Woe is me, O mother mine! for the same strain hath fallen
to both of us in our fortune. No more for me the light of day! no
more the beams of yonder sun! Woe for that snow-beat glen in Phrygia
and the hills of Ida, where Priam once exposed a tender babe, torn
from his mother's arms to meet a deadly doom, e'en Paris, called the
child of Ida in the Phrygians' town. Would Priam ne'er had settled
him, the herdsman reared amid the herds, beside that water crystal-clear,
where are fountains of the Nymphs and their meadow rich with blooming
flowers, where hyacinths and rose-buds blow for goddesses to gather!
Hither one day came Pallas and Cypris of the subtle heart, Hera too
and Hermes messenger of Zeus-Cypris, proud of the longing she causes;
Pallas of her prowess; and Hera of her royal marriage with king Zeus-to
decide a hateful strife about their beauty; but it is my death, maidens-fraught,
'tis true, with glory to the Danai-that Artemis has received as an
offering, before they begin the voyage to Ilium.

O mother, mother! he that begat me to this life of sorrow has gone
and left me all alone. Ah! woe is me! a bitter, bitter sight for me
was Helen, evil Helen! to me now doomed to bleed and die, slaughtered
by an impious sire.

I would this Aulis had never received in its havens here the sterns
of their bronze-beaked ships, the fleet which was speeding them to
Troy; and would that Zeus had never breathed on the Euripus a wind
to stop the expedition, tempering, as he doth, a different breeze
to different men, so that some have joy in setting sail, and sorrow
some, and others hard constraint, to make some start and others stay
and others furl their sails! Full of trouble then, it seems, is the
race of mortals, full of trouble verily; and 'tis ever Fate's decree
that man should find distress.

Woe! woe to thee, thou child of Tyndareus, for the suffering and anguish
sore, which thou art causing the Danai!

IPHIGENIA Mother, hear me while I speak, for I see that thou art
wroth with thy husband to no purpose; 'tis hard for us to persist
in impossibilities. Our thanks are due to this stranger for his ready
help; but thou must also see to it that he is not reproached by the
army, leaving us no better off and himself involved in trouble. Listen,
mother; hear what thoughts have passed across my mind. I am resolved
to die; and this I fain would do with honour, dismissing from me what
is mean. Towards this now, mother, turn thy thoughts, and with me
weigh how well I speak; to me the whole of mighty Hellas looks; on
me the passage o'er the sea depends; on me the sack of Troy; and in
my power it lies to check henceforth barbarian raids on happy Hellas,
if ever in the days to come they seek to seize her daughters, when
once they have atoned by death for the violation of Helen's marriage
by Paris. All this deliverance will my death insure, and my fame for
setting Hellas free will be a happy one. Besides, I have no right
at all to cling too fondly to my life; for thou didst not bear me
for myself alone, but as a public blessing to all Hellas. What! shall
countless warriors, armed with shields, those myriads sitting at the
oar, find courage to attack the foe and die for Hellas, because their
fatherland is wronged, and my one life prevent all this? What kind
of justice is that? could I find a word in answer? Now turn we to
that other point. It is not right that this man should enter the lists
with all Argos or be slain fox a woman's sake. Better a single man
should see the light than ten thousand women. If Artemis is minded
to take this body, am I, a weak mortal, to thwart the goddess? Nay,
that were impossible. To Hellas I resign it; offer this sacrifice
and make an utter end of Troy. This is my enduring monument; marriage,
motherhood, and fame-all these is it to me. And it is but right, mother,
that Hellenes should rule barbarians, but not barbarians Hellenes,
those being slaves, while these are free.

CHORUS Thou playest a noble part, maiden; but sickly are the whims
of Fate and the goddess.

ACHILLES Daughter of Agamemnon I some god was bent on blessing me,
could I but have won thee for my wife. In thee I reckon Hellas happy,
and thee in Hellas; for this that thou hast said is good and worthy
of thy fatherland; since thou, abandoning a strife with heavenly powers,
which are too strong for thee, has fairly weighed advantages and needs.
But now that I have looked into thy noble nature, I feel still more
a fond desire to win thee for my bride. Look to it; for I would fain
serve thee and receive thee in my halls; and witness Thetis, how I
grieve to think I shall not save thy life by doing battle with the
Danai. Reflect, I say; a dreadful ill is death.

IPHIGENIA This I say, without regard to anyone. Enough that the daughter
of Tyndareus is causing wars and bloodshed by her beauty; then be
not slain thyself, sir stranger, nor seek to slay another on my account;
but let me, if I can, save Hellas.

ACHILLES Heroic spirit! I can say no more to this, since thou art
so minded; for thine is a noble resolve; why should not one avow the
truth? Yet will I speak, for thou wilt haply change thy mind; that
thou mayst know then what my offer is, I will go and place these arms
of mine near the altar, resolved not to permit thy death but to prevent
it; for brave as thou art, at sight of the knife held at thy throat,
thou wilt soon avail thyself of what I said. So I will not let thee
perish through any thoughtlessness of thine, but will go to the temple
of the goddess with these arms and await thy arrival there.  (Exit

IPHIGENIA Mother, why so silent, thine eyes wet with tears?

CLYTAEMNESTRA I have reason, woe is me! to be sad at heart.

IPHIGENIA Forbear; make me not a coward; here in one thing obey me.

CLYTAEMNESTRA Say what it is, my child, for at my hands thou shalt
ne'er suffer injury.

IPHIGENIA Cut not off the tresses of thy hair for me, nor clothe
thyself in sable garb.

CLYTAEMNESTRA Why, my child, What is it thou hast said? Shall I,
when I lose thee-

IPHIGENIA "Lose" me, thou dost not; I am saved and thou renowned,
as far as I can make thee.

CLYTAEMNESTRA How so? Must I not mourn thy death?

IPHIGENIA By no means, for I shall have no tomb heaped o'er me.

CLYTAEMNESTRA What, is not the act of dying held to imply burial?

IPHIGENIA The altar of the goddess, Zeus's daughter, will be my tomb.

CLYTAEMNESTRA Well, my child, I will let thee persuade me, for thou
sayest well.

IPHIGENIA Aye, as one who prospereth and doeth Hellas service.

CLYTAEMNESTRA What message shall I carry to thy sisters?

IPHIGENIA Put not mourning raiment on them either.

CLYTAEMNESTRA But is there no fond message I can give the maidens
from thee?

IPHIGENIA Yes, my farewell words; and promise me to rear this babe
Orestes to manhood.

CLYTAEMNESTRA Press him to thy bosom; 'tis thy last look.

IPHIGENIA O thou that art most dear to me! thou hast helped thy friends
as thou hadst means.

CLYTAEMNESTRA Is there anything I can do to pleasure thee in Argos?

IPHIGENIA Yes, hate not my father, thy own husband.

CLYTAEMNESTRA Fearful are the trials through which he has to go because
of thee.

IPHIGENIA It was against his will he ruined me for the sake of Hellas.

CLYTAEMNESTRA Ah! but be employed base treachery, unworthy of Atreus.

IPHIGENIA Who will escort me hence, before my hair is torn?

CLYTAEMNESTRA I will go with thee.

IPHIGENIA No, not thou; thou say'st not well.

CLYTAEMNESTRA I will, clinging to thy robes.

IPHIGENIA Be persuaded by me, mother, stay here; for this is the
better way alike for me and thee; but let one of these attendants
of my father conduct me to the meadow of Artemis, where I shall be

CLYTAEMNESTRA Art gone from me, my child?

IPHIGENIA Aye, and with no chance of ever returning.

CLYTAEMNESTRA Leaving thy mother?

IPHIGENIA Yes, as thou seest, undeservedly.

CLYTAEMNESTRA Hold! leave me not!

IPHIGENIA I cannot let thee shed a tear.  (Exit CLYTAEMNESTRA. To
the CHORUS)  Be it yours, maidens, to hymn in joyous strains Artemis,
the child of Zeus, for my hard lot; and let the order for a solemn
hush go forth to the Danai. Begin the sacrifice with the baskets,
let the fire blaze for the purifying meal of sprinkling, and my father
pace from left to right about the altar; for I come to bestow on Hellas
safety crowned with victory. Lead me hence, me the destroyer of Ilium's
town and the Phrygians; give me wreaths to cast about me; bring them
hither; here are my tresses to crown; bring lustral water too. Dance
to Artemis, queen Artemis the blest, around her fane and altar; for
by the blood of my sacrifice I will blot out the oracle, if it needs
must be.

O mother, lady revered! for thee shall my tears be shed, and now;
for at the holy rites I may not weep.

Sing with me, maidens, sing the praises of Artemis, whose temple faces
Chalcis, where angry spearmen madly chafe, here in the narrow havens
of Aulis, because of me.

O Pelasgia, land of my birth, and Mycenae, my home!

CHORUS Is it on Perseus' citadel thou callest, that town Cyclopean
workmen build

IPHIGENIA To be a light to Hellas didst thou rear me, and so I say
not No to death.

CHORUS Thou art right; no fear that fame will e'er desert thee!

IPHIGENIA Hail to thee, bright lamp of day and light of Zeus! A different
life, different lot is henceforth mine. Farewell I bid thee, light
beloved!  (Exit IPHIGENIA.)  

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