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The Suppliants   


True is the word thou spakest of my garb;
But speak I unto thee as citizen,
Or Hermes' wandbearer, or chieftain king?
THE KING OF ARGOS
For that, take heart and answer without fear.
I am Pelasgus, ruler of this land,
Child of Palaichthon, whom the earth brought forth;
And, rightly named from me, the race who reap
This country's harvests are Pelasgian called.
And o'er the wide and westward-stretching land,
Through which the lucent wave of Strymon flows,
I rule; Perrhaebia's land my boundary is
Northward, and Pindus' further slopes, that watch
Paeonia, and Dodona's mountain ridge.
West, east, the limit of the washing seas
Restrains my rule-the interspace is mine.
But this whereon we stand is Apian land,
Styled so of old from the great healer's name;
For Apis, coming from Naupactus' shore
Beyond the strait, child of Apollo's self
And like him seer and healer, cleansed this land
From man-devouring monsters, whoin the earth,
Stained with pollution of old bloodshedding,
Brought forth in malice, beasts of ravening jaws,
A grisly throng of serpents manifold.
And healings of their hurt, by knife and charm,
Apis devised, unblamed of Argive men,
And in their prayers found honour, for reward.
-Lo, thou hast heard the tokens that I give:
Speak now thy race, and tell a forthright tale;
In sooth, this people loves not many words.
LEADER
Short is my word and clear. Of Argive race
We come, from her, the ox-horned maiden who
Erst bare the sacred child. My word shall give
Whate'er can stablish this my soothfast tale.
THE KING OF ARGOS
O stranger maids, I may not trust this word,
That ye have share in this our Argive race.
No likeness of our country do ye bear,
But semblance as of Libyan womankind.
Even such a stock by Nilus' banks might grow;
Yea, and the Cyprian stamp, in female forms,
Shows, to the life, what males impressed the same.
And, furthermore, of roving Indian maids
Whose camping-grounds by Aethiopia lie,
And camels burdened even as mules, and bearing
Riders, as horses bear, mine ears have heard;
And tales of flesh-devouring mateless maids
Called Amazons: to these, if bows ye bare,
I most had deemed you like. Speak further yet,
That of your Argive birth the truth I learn.
LEADER
Here in this Argive land-so runs the tale-
Io was priestess once of Hera's fane.
THE KING OF ARGOS
Yea, truth it is, and far this word prevails:
Is't said that Zeus with mortal mingled love?
LEADER
Ay, and that Hera that embrace surmised.

THE KING OF ARGOS
How issued then this strife of those on high?

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