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Will aid thee in this work, and kill the youth,
Entering the grot where he prepares the feast;
Indifferent in my choice, so that I pay
What to my lords I owe, to live or die.
If there is aught that causes slaves to blush,
It is the name; in all else than the free
The slave is nothing worse, if he be virtuous.
CHOR. I too, my honour'd queen, with cheerful mind
Will share thy fate, or die, or live with honour.
CRBU. How, O my soul, shall I be silent? How
Disclose this secret ? Can I bid farewell
To modesty ? What else restrains my tongue ?
To how severe a trial am I brought?
Hath not my husband wrong'd me? Of my house
I am deprived, deprived of children; hope
Is vanish’d, which my heart could not resign,
With many an honest wish this furtive bed
Concealing, this lamented bed concealing.
But by the star-bespangled throne of Jove,
And by the goddess high above my rocks
Enshrined, by the moist banks that bend around
The hallow'd lake by Triton form’d, no longer
Will I conceal this bed, but ease my breast,
Th’oppressive load discharg'd. Mine eyes drop tears,
My soul is rent, to wretchedness ensnar'd
By men, by gods, whom I will now disclose,
Unkind betrayers of the beds they forced.
O thou, that wakest on thy sev'n-string'd lyre
Sweet notes, that from the rustic lifeless horn
Enchant the ear with heavenly melody,
Son of Latona, thee before this light
Will I reprove. Thou camest to me, with gold
Thy locks all glittering, as the vermeil flow'rs
I gather'd in my vest to deck my bosom
With the spring's glowing hues : in my white hand
Thy hand enlocking, to the cavern'd rock
Thou ledd'st me; nought avail'd my cries that callid
My mother : on thou ledd'st me, wanton god,
ods, whom heds they tood lyre
Immodestly, to Venus paying homage.
A son I bear thee, O my wretched fate!
Him, for 1 fear'd my mother, in thy cave
I placed, where I unhappy was undone
By thy unhappy love. Woe, woe is me,
And now my son and thine, ill-fated babe,
Is rent by ravenous vultures; thou meanwhile
Art to thy lyre attuning strains of joy.
Son of Latona, thee I call aloud,
Who from thy golden seat, thy central throne,
Utterest thine oracle: my voice shall reach
Thine ear: ungrateful lover, to my husband,
No grace requiting, thou hast giv’n a son
To bless his house; my son and thine, unown’d,
Perish'd a prey to birds; the robes that wrapp'd
The infant's limbs, his mother's work, lost with him.
Delos abhors thee, and the laurel boughs
With the soft foliage of the palm o'erhung,
Grasping whose round trunk with her hands divine
Latona thee, her hallow'd offspring, bore.
CHOR. Ah, what a mighty treasury of ills
Is open’d here, a copious source of tears !
TUT. Never, my daughter, can I sate mine eyes
With looking on thy face; astonishment
Bears me beyond my senses. I bad stemm’d
One tide of evils, when another flood
High-surging overwhelm'd me from the words
Which thou hast utter'd, from the present ills
To an ill train of other woes transferr'd.
What say'st thou? Of what charge dost thou implead
The god ? what son hast thou brought forth? Where
A feast for vultures ? Tell me all again. [plac'd him
CREU. Though I must blush, old man, yet I will speak. TUT. I mourn with generous grief at a friend's woes. creu. Hear then : the northward-pointing cave thou knowest,
And the Cecropian rocks, which we call Macrai. TUT. Where stands a shrine to Pan, and altars nigh. CREU. There in a dreadful conflict I engaged. TUT. What ? my tears rise ready to meet thy words. CREU. By Phoebus drawn reluctant to his bed. TUT. Was this, my daughter, such as I suppose ? CREU. I know not: but if truth, I will confess it. TUT. Didst thou in silence mourn this secret ill ? CREU. This was the grief I now disclose to thee. TUT. This love of Phæbus how didst thou conceal ? CREU. I bore a son. Hear me, old man, with patience. TUT. Where? who assisted ? or wast thou alone? CREU. Alone, in the same cavern where compress’d. TUT. Where is thy son, that childless now no morecreu. Dead, good old man, to beasts of prey expos'd. TUT. Dead! and th’ungrateful Phoebus give no aid ! CREU. None: in the house of Pluto a young guest. TUT. Whose hands exposed him ? Surely not thine own. CREU. Mine, in the shades of night, wrapt in his vests. TUT. Hadst thou none with thee conscious to this deed ? CREU. My misery, and the secret place alone. TUT. How durst thou in the cavern leave thy son? CREU. How? uttering many sad and plaintive words. TUT. Ah, cruel was thy deed, the god more cruel. CREU. Hadst thou but seen him stretch his little hands! tut. Seeking the breast, or reaching to thy arms? CREU. To this, depriv'd of which he suffer'd wrong. TUT. And what induc'd thee to expose thy child ? CREU. Hope that the god's kind care would save his son. TUT. How are the glories of thy house destroy'd! CREU. Why, thine head cover'd, dost thou pour these tears? TUT. To see thee and thy father thus unhappy. CREU. This is the state of man: nothing stands firm.
TUT. No longer then, my child, let grief oppress us.
CREU. What should I do? In misery all is doubt.
TUT. First on the god that wrong'd thee be aveng'd.
CREU. How shall a mortal 'gainst a god prevail ?
TUT. Set this rever'd oracular shrine on fire.
creu. I fear: e'en now I have enough of ills.
TUT. Attempt what may be done then; kill thy husband.
CREU. The nuptial bed I reverence, and his goodness.
TUT. This son then, which is now brought forth against thee.
CREU. How? Could that be, how warmly should I wish it.
TUT. Thy train hath swords; instruct them to the deed.
CREU. I go with speed: but where shall it be done?
Tur. In th' hallow'd tent, where now he feasts his friends.
creu. An open murder, and with coward slaves !
TUT. If mine displease, propose thou some design.
creu. I have it, close, and easy to achieve.
TUT. In both my faithful services are thine.
CREU. Hear then : not strange to thee the giants' war.
Tut. When they in Phlegra fought against the gods.
creu. There th’earth brought forth the Gorgon, horrid monster.
TUT. In succour of her sons t'annoy the gods?
creu. E'en so: her Pallas slew, daughter of Jove.
TUT. What fierce and dreadful form did she then wear?
CREU. Her breast-plate arm’d with vipers wreath'd around.
TUT. A well-known story, often have I heard it.
CREU. Her spoils before her breast Minerva wore.
Tut. The Ægis; so they call the vest of Pallas.
CRBU. So nam’d, when in the war she join'd the gods.
TUT. But how can this, my child, annoy thy foes ?
CREU. Thou canst not but remember Erichthonius.
TUT. Whom first of thy high race the earth brought forth.
CREU. To him, while yet an infant, Pallas gave-
TUT. What? Thy slow preface raises expectation.
CREU. Two drops of blood that from the Gorgon fell.
TUT. And on the human frame what pow'r have these?
CREU. The one works death, the other heals disease.
TUT. In what around the infant's body hung?
CRBU. Inclos'd in gold: he gave them to my father.
TUT. At his decease then they devolv'd to thee ?
CREU. Aye: and I wear it as a bracelet; look.
TUT. Their double qualities how temper’d, say.
CREU. This drop, which from her hollow vein distilld,
TUT. To what effect applied ? What is its pow'r?
CREU. Medicinal, of sovereign use to life.
TUT. The other drop, what faculties hath that?
CREU. It kills, the poison of the Gorgon dragons.
TUT. And dost thou bear this gore blended in one ?
CREU. No, separate; for with ill good mixes not.
TUT. O my dear child, thou hast whate'er we want.
creu. With this the boy shall die, and thou shalt kill him.
TUT. Where? How? 'Tis thine to speak, to dare be mine.
CREU. At Athens, when he comes beneath my roof.
TUT. I like not this; what I propos’d displeas’d.
CREU. Dost thou surmise what enters now my thoughts.
TUT. Suspicion waits thee, though thou kill him not.
CREU. Thou hast judg’d well: a stepdame's hate is proverb’d.
TUT. Then kill him here; thou may'st disown the deed.
CREU. My mind e'en now anticipates the pleasure.
TUT. Thus shalt thou meet thy husband's wiles with wiles.
CREU. This shalt thou do: this little golden casket
Take from my hand, Minerva's gift of old;
To where my husband secretly prepares
The sacrifice, bear this beneath thy vest,
That, supper ended, when they are to pour
Libations to the gods, thou may'st infuse
In the youth's goblet this: but take good heed,
Let none observe thee; drug his cup alone
Who thinks to lord it in my house: if once
It pass his lips, his foot shall never reach
Illustrious Athens: death awaits him here.
TUT. Go thou then to the hospitable house
Prepared for thy reception; be it mine,
Obedient to thy word, to do this deed.
Come then, my aged foot, be once more young
In act, though not in years, for past recall
That time is fled: kill him, and bear him forth.