Eumenides

Aeschylus

Aeschylus, creator; Aeschylus with an English translation Vol II. Smyth, Herbert Weir, 1857- 1937, editor, translator. Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann, Ltd.: 1926.

  1. You have heard what you have heard;
  2. and as you cast your ballots, keep the oath sacred in your hearts, friends.
Athena
  1. Hear now my ordinance, people of Attica, as you judge the first trial for bloodshed. In the future, even as now, this court of judges will always exist for the people of Aegeus.
  2. And this Hill of Ares, the seat and camp of the Amazons, when they came with an army in resentment against Theseus, and in those days built up this new citadel with lofty towers to rival his, and sacrificed to Ares, from which this rock takes its name,
  3. the Hill of Ares:[*](The Amazons, as daughters of Ares, invaded Attica to take vengeance on Theseus either, as one story reports, because he had carried off Antiope, their queen; or because he did not enclose the hill within the confines of his newly-founded city, which included the Acropolis. Aeschylus apparently rejects the legend whereby the Hill of Ares had its name from the fact that Ares was here tried for the murder of Halirrothius, a son of Poseidon, and acquitted by a tie vote of the gods, his judges.) on this hill, the reverence of the citizens, and fear, its kinsman, will hold them back from doing wrong by day and night alike, so long as they themselves do not pollute the laws with evil streams; if you stain clear water
  4. with filth, you will never find a drink. Neither anarchy nor tyranny—this I counsel my citizens to support and respect, and not to drive fear wholly out of the city. For who among mortals, if he fears nothing, is righteous?
  5. Stand in just awe of such majesty, and you will have a defense for your land and salvation of your city, such as no man has, either among the Scythians or in Pelops’ realm. I establish this tribunal, untouched by greed,
  6. worthy of reverence, quick to anger, awake on behalf of those who sleep, a guardian of the land. I have prolonged this advice to my citizens for the future; but now you must rise and take a ballot, and decide the case
  7. under the sacred obligation of your oath. My word has been spoken. The judges rise from their seats and cast their ballots one by one during the following altercation.
Chorus
  1. And I counsel you not to dishonor us in any way, since our company can be a burden to your land.
Apollo
  1. And I, for my part, command you to stand in fear of the oracles, both mine and Zeus’, and not cause them to be unfulfilled.
Chorus
  1. Although it is not your office, you have respect for deeds of bloodshed. You will prophesy, dispensing prophecies that are no longer pure.
Apollo
  1. Then was my father mistaken in any way in his purposes when Ixion, who first shed blood, was a suppliant?
Chorus
  1. You do argue! But if I fail to win the case,
  2. I will once more inflict my company on this land as a burden.
Apollo
  1. But you have no honor, among both the younger and the older gods. I will win.
Chorus
  1. You did such things also in the house of Pheres, when you persuaded the Fates to make mortals free from death.[*](In atonement for having shed blood (according to one legend, that of the dragon at Delphi, according to another, that of the Cyclopes), Apollo was compelled by Zeus to serve as a thrall in the house of Admetus, son of Pheres. An ancient story, adopted by Aeschylus, reported that, when the time came for Admetus to die, Apollo, in gratitude for the kindness shown him by the prince, plied the Fates with wine (l. 728) and thus secured their consent that Admetus should be released from death on condition that some one should voluntarily choose to die in his stead. Euripides, in his Alcestis, tells how, when both the father and the mother of Admetus refused to give up to him the remnant of their days, his wife Alcestis died for him.)
Apollo
  1. Is it not right, then, to do good for a worshipper, especially when he is in need?
Chorus
  1. It was you who destroyed the old dispensations when you beguiled the ancient goddesses with wine.
Apollo
  1. Soon, when you have lost the case,