Ion

Euripides

Euripides. The Plays of Euripides, Translated into English Prose from the Text of Paley. Vol. I. Coleridge, Edward P., translator. London: George Bell and Sons, 1906.

  1. and if I win my way to the highest place in the state, and seek to be some one, I shall be hated by those who have no influence, for superiority is galling; while ’mongst men of worth who could show their wisdom, but are silent, and take no interest in politics,
  2. I shall incur ridicule and be thought a fool for not keeping quiet in such a fault-finding city. Again, if I win a name amongst the men of mark who are engaged in politics, still more will jealous votes bar my progress; for thus, father, is it ever wont to be;
  3. they who have the city’s ear, and have already made their mark, are most bitter against all rivals.
  4. Again, if I, a stranger, come to a home that knows me not, and to that childless wife who before had
    thee as partner in her sorrow, but now
  5. will feel the bitterness of having to bear her fortune all alone,—how, I ask, shall I not fairly earn her hatred, when I take my stand beside thee; while she, still childless, sees thy dear pledge with bitter eyes; and then thou have to choose between deserting me and regarding her,
  6. or honouring me and utterly confounding thy home? How many a murder, and death by deadly drugs have wives devised for husbands! Besides, I pity that wife of thine, father, with her childless old age beginning; she little deserves
  7. to pine in barrenness, a daughter of a noble race. That princely state we fondly praise is pleasant to the eye; but yet in its mansions sorrow lurks; for who is happy, or by fortune blest, that has to live his life in fear of violence with many a sidelong glance?
  8. Rather would I live among the common folk, and taste their bliss, than be a tyrant who delights in making evil men his friends, and hates the good, in terror of his life. Perchance thou wilt tell me, “Gold outweighs all these evils,
  9. and wealth is sweet.” I have no wish to be abused for holding tightly to my pelf, nor yet to have the trouble of it. Be mine a moderate fortune free from annoyance! Now hear the blessings, father, that here were mine; first, leisure, man’s chiefest joy,
  10. with but moderate trouble; no villain ever drove me from my path, and that is a grievance hard to bear, to make room and give way to sorry knaves. My duty was to pray unto the gods, or with mortal men converse, a minister to their joys, not to their Sorrows.
  11. And I was ever dismissing one batch of guests, while another took their place, so that I was always welcome from the charm of novelty. That honesty which men must pray for, even against their will, custom and nature did conspire to plant in me in the sight of Phoebus. Now when
    I think on this,
  12. I deem that I am better here than there, father. So let me live on here, for ’tis an equal charm to joy in high estate, or in a humble fortune find a pleasure.
Chorus
  1. Well said! if only those I love find their happiness in thy statement of the case.
Xuthus
  1. Cease such idle talk, and learn to be happy; for on that spot where I discovered thee, my son, will I begin the rites, since I have chanced on the general banquet, open to all comers, and I will offer thy birth sacrifice which aforetime I left undone. And now will I bring thee to the banquet as my guest and rejoice thy heart,
  2. and take thee to the Athenian land as a visitor forsooth, not as my own son. For I will not grieve my wife in her childless sorrow by my good fortune. But in time will I seize a happy moment
  3. and prevail on her to let thee wield my sceptre o’er the realm. Thy name shall be Ion, in accordance with what happened, for that thou wert the first to cross my path as I came forth from Apollo’s sanctuary. Go, gather every friend thou hast, and with them make merry o’er the flesh of sacrifice,
  4. on the eve of thy departure from the town of Delphi. On you, ye handmaids, silence I enjoin, for, if ye say one word to my wife, death awaits you.
Ion
  1. Well, I will go; one thing my fortune lacks, for if I find not her that gave me birth, life is no life to me, my father;
  2. and, if I may make the prayer, Oh may that mother be a daughter of Athens! that from-her I may inherit freedom of speech. For if a stranger settle in a city free from aliens, e’en though in name he be a citizen,
  3. yet doth he find him-setf tongue-tied and debarred from open utterance.