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. Yes, Orestes; and you must think so too.
  1. And the altar, that drips with the slaughter of Hellenes?
  1. Its dedications of hair, at least, are red with blood.
  1. Do you see the spoils hanging from the very walls?
  1. Trophies of strangers that have been slain. But I must look all around and keep careful watch.[*](This sentence is assigned to Orestes in the Coleridge translation but has been moved to align with the Greek.)
  1. O Phoebus, where have you again brought me into the snare, by your oracles, since I avenged my father’s blood by the murder of my mother, and was driven by successive Furies,
  2. a fugitive, away from the land, and completed many winding courses; and coming to you I asked how I might arrive at an end to whirling madness and my labors, which I have carried out, wandering all over Hellas. . . .
  3. And you told me to go to the boundaries of the Tauric land, where Artemis, your sister, has an altar, and to take the statue of the goddess, which is said here to have fallen to this temple from heaven; and, taking it by craft of some stroke of luck,
  4. to complete the venture by giving it to the Athenian land—what was to come next was not spoken of—and if I did this, I would have rest from my labors.
  5. I have come here, obedient to your words, to an unknown, inhospitable land. I ask you,
  6. Pylades, for you are my accomplice in this task, what shall we do? You see that the surrounding walls are high; shall we ascend the steps leading up to the house? But how might we escape notice? Or loosening the bronze bars of the door with levers,
  7. of which we know nothing? If we are caught opening the gates and contriving an entrance, we shall die. No, but before we die, let us escape on the ship in which we sailed here.
  1. Flight is not to be endured, nor are we accustomed to it,
  2. and we must not bring reproach on the god’s oracle; let us leave the temple and hide in a cave which the black sea washes with its moisture—far from the ship, so that no one, seeing it, may tell the ruler, and then seize us by force.
  3. But when the eye of gloomy night comes on, then we must dare to take the polished statue from the shrine, by any means. See where between the triglyphs there is an empty space to let ourselves down. The brave endure their labors,
  4. the cowardly are worth nothing at all.
  1. Yes, we did not come on a long sea voyage only to undertake a return home before the end; but you have spoken wel, we must obey. We should go wherever we can hide and escape notice.
  2. For it will not be the god’s fault if his sacred oracle falls to the ground without effect. We must endure. Exeunt Orestes and Pylades.
  1. Keep a holy silence, you who inhabit the double clashing
  2. rocks of the Black Sea!