The Tragedies of Euripides Part 63

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[49] Compare Havercamp on Lucret. ii. sub init.

[50] Compare Virgil, aen. iv. 469. "Et solem geminum, et duplices se ostendere Thebas." In the second passage of Clemens Alexandrinus quoted by Elmsley, ?e??? is probably a mistaken reference to Tiresias.

[51] An obscure hint at the impending fate of Pentheus. Nonnus has led the way to the catastrophe by a graphic description of Agave's dream. Dionys.

45. p. 751.

[52] fe??e??? may mean either "carried in a litter," or "carried to burial." There is a somewhat similar play in the epigram of Ausonius, xxiii. "Mater Lacaena clypeo obarmans filium, cum hoc, inquit, aut in hoc, redi."

[53] Burges more rightly reads at??? te Ga?. See Elmsley's note.

[54] As one must make some translation, I have done my best with this passage, which is, however, utterly unintelligible in Dindorf's text. A reference to his selection of notes will furnish some new readings, but, as a whole, quite unsatisfactory.

[55] Compare the parallel account in Nonnus, 46. p. 784.

[56] Alluded to by Oppian, Cyn. iv. 300. apte se?a? f???e??? pat?????, a?

d' e?e????? ?a?a?, ata?t???? d' ?pas?? t?s?? ??a t??a????. He then relates that Pentheus was transformed into a bull, the Maenads into panthers, who tore him to pieces.

[57] st???? is either the aim itself, or the mark aimed at, as in this passage, and Xenoph. Ages. 1. 25.

[58] I have done my best with this extraordinary expression, of which Elmsley quotes another example from Archilochus Fragm. 36. Perhaps the notion of excessive rapidity is intended to be expressed.

[59] ??? seems metaphorically said, as in aesch. Eum. 47. Nonnus, 45. p.

784, 23. above, 922.

[60] Compare Nonnus, 46. p. 784.

?a? t?te ?? ??pe ??ssa ???sfa?e?? ?????s??, ?a? p??te?a? f?e?a? es?e t? de?te???: af? de ?a???

?e?t??a p?t?? e??? ?e????? ef?e??at? f????.

?te? e? d?s?te? ap??e?? ???e? ??ss??, ???a p??e? ?a?ee?? e t?? ???ea.

The whole passage is very elegant, and even pathetic.

[61] Alluding to the horns of Bacchus. Cf. Sidon. Apoll. Burg. Pontii Leontii, vs. 26, "Caput ardua rumpunt Cornua, et indigenam jaculantur fulminis ignem." See some whimsical reasons for this in Isidor. Origg viii.

2. Albricus de Deor. Nu. xix. But compare above, vs. 920. ?a? ta???? ????

p??s?e? ???e?s?a? d??e??, ?a? s?? ?e?ate ??at? p??spef??e?a?.

[62] Elmsley has rightly shown that ?e???a could not of itself mean "a bull" or "heifer," although Homer has e???p?da? ?e???a? ???. I have therefore followed Hermann, who remarks, "?e??? seems properly to be meant for the clusters of ivy with which the thyrsus was entwined. Hence Agave says that she adorns the thyrsus with a new-fashioned wreath, viz. the head of her son." Such language is, however, more like the proverbial boldness of aeschylus, than the even style of our poet.

[63] "?????a, ornamentum capitis, vix potest dubitari quin pro ipso capite posuerit." HERMANN. There is considerable variation in the manner in which the following lines are disposed.

[64] Or, "Bacchus-mad."

[65] I have marked a lacuna with Dindorf.

[66] See the commentators on Virg. aen. i. 11. "Tantaene animis clestibus irae?"

[67] After t????e? f??a? supply e???s??. ELMSLEY.

[68] A word is wanting to complete the verse.

[69] See Musgrave. Cranes are chiefly celebrated for parental affection.

[70] These verses are found at the ends of no less than four others of our author's plays, viz. Andromacha, Helen, Medea, and Alcestis.













_Note_.--The names of Copreus and Macaria were wanting in the MSS., but have been supplied from the mythologists. See Elmsley on vss. 49 and 474.


Iolaus, son of Iphiclus, and nephew of Hercules, whom he had joined in his expeditions during his youth, in his old age protected his sons. For the sons of Hercules having been driven out of every part of Greece by Eurystheus, he came with them to Athens; and, embracing the altars of the Gods, was safe, Demophoon being king of the city; and when Copreus, the herald of Eurystheus, wished to remove the suppliants, he prevented him.

Upon this he departed, threatening war. Demophoon despised him; but hearing the oracles promise him victory if he sacrificed the most noble Athenian virgin to Ceres, he was grieved; not wishing to slay either his own daughter, or that of any citizen, for the sake of the suppliants. But Macaria, one of the daughters of Hercules, hearing of the prediction, willingly devoted herself. They honored her for her noble death, and, knowing that their enemies were at hand, went forth to battle. The play ends with their victory, and the capture of Eurystheus.



This has long since been my established opinion, the just man is born for his neighbors; but he who has a mind bent upon gain is both useless to the city and disagreeable to deal with, but best for himself. And I know this, not having learned it by word of mouth; for I, through shame, and reverencing the ties of kindred, when it was in my power to dwell quietly in Argos, partook of more of Hercules' labors, while he was with us, than any one man besides:[1] and now that he dwells in heaven, keeping these his children under my wings, I preserve them, I myself being in want of safety.

For since their father was removed from the earth, first Eurystheus wished to kill me, but I escaped; and my country indeed is no more, but my life is saved, and I wander in exile, migrating from one city to another. For, in addition to my other ills, Eurystheus has chosen to insult me with this insult; sending heralds whenever on earth he learns we are settled, he demands us, and drives us out of the land; alleging the city of Argos, one not paltry either to be friends with or to make an enemy, and himself too prospering as he is; but they seeing my weak state, and that these too are little, and bereaved of their sire, respecting the more powerful, drive us from the land. And I am banished, together with the banished children, and fare ill together with those who fare ill, loathing to desert them, lest some may say thus, Behold, now that the children have no father, Iolaus, their kinsman born, defends them not. But being bereft of all Greece, coming to Marathon and the country under the same rule, we sit suppliants at the altars of the Gods, that they may assist us; for it is said that the two sons of Theseus inhabit the territory of this land, of the race of Pandion, having received it by lot, being near akin to these children; on which account we have come this way to the frontiers of illustrious Athens.

And by two aged people is this flight led, I, indeed, being alarmed about these children; and the female race of her son Alcmena preserves within this temple, clasping it in her arms; for we are ashamed that virgins should mingle with the mob, and stand at the altars. But Hyllus and his brothers, who are older, are seeking where there is a strong-hold that we may inhabit, if we be thrust forth from this land by force. O children, children! hither; take hold of my garments; I see the herald of Eurystheus coming hither toward us, by whom we are pursued as wanderers, deprived of every land.[2] O detested one, may you perish, and the man who sent you: how many evils indeed have you announced to the noble father of these children from that same mouth!

COPREUS. I suppose you think that this is a fine seat you are sitting in, and have come to a city which is an ally, thinking foolishly; for there is no one who will choose your useless power in preference to Eurystheus.

Depart; why toilest thou thus? You must rise up and go to Argos, where punishment by stoning awaits you.

The Tragedies of Euripides Part 63

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