Iphigenia in Tauris


Euripides. The Plays of Euripides, Translated into English Prose from the Text of Paley. Vol. II. Coleridge, Edward P., translator. London: George Bell and Sons, 1891.

  1. Speak; you have said well; for their flight is not so brief a voyage as to escape my spear.
  1. When we came to the sea-shore, where Orestes’ ship was moored in hiding,
  2. Agamemnon’s daughter motioned to those of us you sent with the strangers’ bonds to stand far off, as if her sacrifice of purifying flame, that she had come for, were secret. But she went on alone, holding the strangers’ chains in her hands, behind them. Your servants, lord, were suspicious,
  3. but we allowed it. After a while, so that we might think that she was accomplishing something, she raised a shout, and chanted strange songs and spells, as if she were washing off the pollution of murder. When we had sat a long time,
  4. it occurred to us that the strangers, loosed from their bonds, might kill her and escape by flight. But we were afraid of seeing what we ought not, and sat in silence. But at length we all resolved to go where they were, although we were not allowed.
  5. There we saw a Hellene ship, winged with ready blade for the stroke, and at the oar-locks were fifty rowers with their oars; the two youths stood by the stern, freed from their chains.
  6. Some were holding the prow in place with poles; others were fastening the anchor from the cat-heads; others were drawing the stern-cables through their hands, and making haste to let down the ladders into the sea for the strangers. Without sparing ourselves, when we saw
  7. their treacherous wiles, we seized the priestess and the cables, and tried to draw the ship’s rudder-oars out through their holes. Then there was a debate: What is your reason for carrying the statue and the priestess away from the land by theft?
  8. Who is your father, who are you, to smuggle her away? He said: Know that I am Orestes, her brother, Agamemnon’s son, and I have come to take my sister, whom I lost from her home.
  9. But we held her no less,
  10. and were leading her to you by force, for which I received these dreadful blows on my cheeks; they had no swords, nor did we. Both the youths gave rattling blows with their fists,
  11. darting their limbs against our sides and breasts, so that as soon as we joined battle, we were worn out. We were fleeing to the cliff, stamped with dreadful marks, some with bloody wounds on their heads, others on their eyes;
  12. when we stood on the on the heights, we fought more cautiously and hurled rocks at them. But, standing on the stern, the archers with their arrows kept us off and drove us away. And now an immense swelling wave ran the ship aground,
  13. and the maiden was afraid to get her feet wet. Orestes bore his sister on his left arm, going into the sea and quickly up the ladder, and he set her on the ship, along with the statue of Zeus’ daughter, fallen from heaven.
  14. From the middle of the ship, he cried out: Sailors of Hellas, seize the ship with the oars and make the waves white with foam; for we possess those things for which we sailed the inhospitable straits, within the clashing rocks.
  15. They gave a cheerful shout, and struck the salt wave. The ship, while it was within the harbor, was headed for the mouth; but when it had crossed, it met with a violent swell aand was hard pressed; and the wind, rising with sudden dreadful gusts,
  16. forced it astern. They beat the waves strongly; but the swell was driving the ship back towards the land. Agamemnon’s daughter stood up and prayed: O daughter of Leto, bring me, your priestess, safely to Hellas
  17. from this barbaric land, and forgive my thefts. For you, goddess, love your brother; believe that I love mine also. The sailors shouted the paean in response to her prayer, and applied their naked shoulders
  18. to the oars, at the command. But the ship came nearer and nearer to the rocks; some of us rushed into the sea, others grasped the woven ropes. And I set out here to you at once, lord,
  19. to tell you what has happened there. But go, take chains and nets with you; for if the swell does not become calm, there is no hope of safety for the strangers.