Nor may I match the Gorgons' shape with theirs!
Such have I seen in painted semblance erst-
Winged Harpies, snatching food from Phineus' board,-
But these are wingless, black, and all their shape
The eye's abomination to behold.
Fell is the breath-let none draw nigh to it-
Exude the damned drops of poisonous ire:
And such their garb as none should dare to bring
To statues of the gods or homes of men.
I wot not of the tribe wherefrom can come
So fell a legion, nor in what land Earth
Could rear, unharmed, such creatures, nor avow
That she had travailed and had brought forth death.
But, for the rest, be all these things a carp
Unto the mighty Loxias, the lord
Of this our shrine: healer and prophet he,
Discerner he of portents, and the cleanser
Of other homes-behold, his own to cleanse!
She goes out. The central doors open, disclosing the interior of the
temple. ORESTES clings to the central altar; the FURIES lie slumbering
at a little distance; APOLLO and HERMES appear from the innermost
APOLLO to ORESTES
Lo, I desert thee never: to the end,
Hard at thy side as now, or sundered far,
I am thy guard, and to thine enemies
Implacably oppose me: look on them,
These greedy fiends, beneath my craft subdued I
See, they are fallen on sleep, these beldames old,
Unto whose grim and wizened maidenhood
Nor god nor man nor beast can e'er draw near.
Yea, evil were they born, for evil's doom,
Evil the dark abyss of Tartarus
Wherein they dwell, and they themselves the hate
Of men on earth, and of Olympian gods.
But thou, flee far and with unfaltering speed;
For they shall hunt thee through the mainland wide
Where'er throughout the tract of travelled earth
Thy foot may roam, and o'er and o'er the seas
And island homes of men. Faint not nor fail,
Too soon and timidly within thy breast
Shepherding thoughts forlorn of this thy toil;
But unto Pallas' city go, and there
Crouch at her shrine, and in thine arms enfold
Her ancient image: there we well shall find
Meet judges for this cause and suasive pleas,
Skilled to contrive for thee deliverance
For by my hest thou didst thy mother slay.
O king Apollo, since right well thou know'st
What justice bids, have heed, fulfil the same,-
Thy strength is all-sufficient to achieve.
Have thou too heed, nor let thy fear prevail
Above thy will. And do thou guard him, Hermes,
Whose blood is brother unto mine, whose sire
The same high God. Men call thee guide and guard,
Guide therefore thou and guard my suppliant;
For Zeus himself reveres the outlaw's right,
Boon of fair escort, upon man conferred.
APOLLO, HERMES, and ORESTES go out. The GHOST OF CLYTEMNESTRA rises.
GHOST OF CLYTEMNESTRA