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he will wish the new wedding undone. The Chorus celebrate the power, and deprecate the wrath of Venus; and Ægeus, King of Athens, opportunely appears to offer shelter and protection to the injured heroine, whose plans of vengeance are now altered. She recalls Jason, regrets her angry words, and will even conciliate his new wife, and the king, with a robe and crown, on condition that her children shall not quit the realm. Jason assents, but the gifts are poisoned, and Glauce and Creon expire in torments.
Surely this must be the end of the tragedy; no, 'one woe doth tread upon another's heels.' Jason rushes in to arrest the sorceress, demanding of the Chorus, 'seeks she to kill me too?' Nay, they reply,
'The boys have perished by their mother's hand,
Open these gates thou'lt see thy murdered sons.'
He does so, and would kiss their dear lips; but Medea taunts him with her wrongs, and mocks his love for the offspring he had consented to banish :
If it so like thee, call me lioness,
For, as right bade me, have I clutched thy heart.'
AGAMEMNON is awaiting in his tent at Aulis the arrival of his wife, Clytemnestra, and their daughter, Iphigenia. It is night, and the occupants of the camp are asleep,
'Not the sound
Of birds is heard, nor of the sea; the winds
Are hushed in silence.'
The king of men is agitated with grief, for Diana detains the Grecian fleet on its way to Troy with contrary winds, because he has shot one of her sacred deer, and Calchas, the soothsayer, has declared that he must sacrifice his daughter to appease the goddess. He has accordingly sent
for her and her mother, on the pretext of marrying her to Achilles, but has afterwards written a letter enjoining them to remain at home, which Menelaus has intercepted, and an angry debate ensues between them. Agamemnon remains on the stage, and, receiving tidings that his wife, with Iphigenia and the infant Orestes, have arrived, he tells his woes to the audience. At daybreak the camp is astir,, and the brothers are reconciled, Menelaus retracting his unkind words, and declaring that neither love nor ambition shall divide them. The queen and her children then appear in their chariot, and are welcomed by a Chorus of women, whom Clytemnestra addresses. Agamemnon receives them with simulated joy and suppressed fear, whilst their happiness and curiosity respecting the approaching nuptials, and their innocent ignorance of the genealogy of the supposed bridegroom are masterly creations of poetic fancy. Agamemnon vainly tries to persuade his wife to return to Argos, leaving him to conduct the marriage ceremony, and, at his wit's end, goes to consult Calchas. During his absence, Achilles arrives to report that he can no longer restrain the impatience of the Myrmidons to reach Troy, and is astonished at being saluted by Clytemnestra as her son-in-law. Highly indignant on learning from an old slave the plot, he promises to do all in his power to rescue the victim. Agamemnon returns to find that his secret is divulged, and is implored, first by his wife, and then by his daughter, to change his purpose. But he assures them that he cannot recede; and presently Achilles rushes in, with the intelligence that the soldiers insist on the sacrifice. Iphigenia now heroically volunteers to die, in order that the Greeks may triumph in their expedition, and that her father may gain unending renown. All admit the necessity, and a solemn procession is formed, the Chorus chanting a funeral hymn as they proceed to the altar of Diana. The goddess, however, appears to the weeping mother, to tell her that her daughter is not dead, but has been spirited away to the Tauric Chersonese.
IPHIGENIA AT TAURI.
SHE has been a priestess of Diana, in her temple at Balaclava, for twenty years, without news of her country or kindred, when a Greek vessel arrives at the barbarous region, and two strangers secretly survey the temple, with the object of carrying off the image of the goddess to Attica. They are Orestes and his friend Pylades; and Iphigenia relates that she dreamt of her brother the previous night. A herdsman arrives with intelligence of the capture of two youths on the beach, who will be a grateful offering on Diana's shrine, and bidding the priestess make ready for the sacrifice. On learning from them all that has happened since she left Argos, she decides to spare one of them, that he may convey a letter to her father. An exciting contention takes place between the two friends which of them shall do her commission, each claiming the privilege of dying for the other. Then brother and sister recognise each other, and all three plot together to deceive Thoas the king, and make their escape with the statue. A soldier brings intelligence to Thoas that the strangers were bearing it and Iphigenia away in their boat, but that the sea swept the galley back to the beach. The king instantly summonses his people to avenge the insult, and the capture of the fugitives is imminent, when Minerva appears, and apprises Thoas it is her pleasure that both Iphigenia and the statue shall be carried to Greece, for the establishment of Diana's worship there, and so Agamemnon's children are saved, and the faithful Pylades is to marry their sister, Electra.
CADMUS, a præ-historic king of Thebes, was grandfather to Bacchus, and the play opens with a crowd of Theban women of all ranks, dressed in skins and ivy, brandishing poles, and dancing, goaded to frenzy by the appearance
of a handsome stranger, with a retinue of damsels, who claims kin-ship with the royal house, and who announces himself to the audience as the wine god. The king and his seer, Tiresias, are preparing to join in the general excitement, but are restrained by his grandson, Pentheus, to whom he has ceded the sceptre, and who announces his determination to put down this new worship, threatening to imprison the women, and to cut off the stranger's head. Cadmus counsels him, for the credit of the family, to acknowledge the new deity, but Pentheus spurns the advice, and the enthusiasts depart for the mountains. The Chorus deprecate the blasphemy of Pentheus, and warn him of the consequences of his impiety. Bacchus is now brought before him manacled, and, although greatly struck with his personal attractions, he consigns him to the royal stables as a prisoner. The god, however, releases himself, and, after appearing to his worshippers, again stands before Pentheus. A messenger brings the news that the revellers are spreading all over the country, and Pentheus decides to go and witness the orgies, with the view of suppressing them without resorting to force. Notwithstanding his recent denunciations, he, in his eagerness to carry out his idea, accepts the god's offer to be his guide, and is persuaded to assume the dress of a Bacchanal. Calling to his women that the man is in their net, Bacchus bereaves him of sense, and makes him a laughing stock for all Thebes. The Chorus respond in jubilant strains, anticipating his doom. theus is now seized with madness, and a messenger relates his miserable end. Led by the god to Mount Citharon, he falls into the hands of the women, amongst whom he recognises his mother, Agaoi, crying out to her,
'I am thy child, thine own, my mother;'
but she knows him not, and tears out his arms from his shoulder, upon which Ino, his kinswoman, and the rest of the women, entirely dismember him, and carry away his limbs to Thebes as trophies, the returning procession being ushered back to the city by a choral hymn of ghastly triumph at the massacre, his mother bearing his head, which, in her frenzy, she believes is a lion's, to suspend in the temple.
As a finale, Bacchus appears and decrees that Cadmus shall become a dragon, and his wife assume a brutish shape, but that, in after ages, they shall resume their human forms, and be borne by Mars to the Isles of the Blest.
In order to establish a divine pedigree for the Ionic Greeks, whose ancestors had emigrated from Athens, Euripides adopts a legend that Creusa, the daughter of one of her early kings, who was married to Xuthus, a military leader, bore a son to Apollo, whom she named Ion, and concealed in a cave under the Acropolis, from whence he was carried by Mercury to Delphi. Here he was reared by one of the vestals, and dedicated to the service of his father's temple. Xuthus comes to consult Trophonius, a neighbouring oracle, why his wife has no offspring; and Creusa to obtain, ostensibly for a friend, tidings of her son. Encountering Ion, she tells him her history, and is rebuked for aspersing the god, the Chorus remarking that mankind seldom realise their wishes. Xuthus enters with the intelligence that Trophonius has referred him to Apollo, but has hinted that they will not return home childless. Ion converses again with Creusa, and admits having heard of Apollo's intrigue. Xuthus now reappears, with an injunction from the Pythoness to address the first male stranger he meets as his son. Ion is, of course, the stranger, but he recoils from the salutation, and threatens Xuthus with an arrow in his heart. After some discussion, however, they mutually accept the relationship, but Xuthus proposes to conceal the discovery from his wife, who may not care to acknowledge a readymade son and heir, although she will no doubt take to him in time. Meanwhile, he will celebrate the event by a sacrifice to Apollo and a feast to the Delphians. As he leaves the stage, he begs the Chorus, who are Athenian women, not to reveal the secret; but as soon as Creusa returns, attended by an aged servant, they tell her everything, except