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Aeschylus: The Persians
Niall McCloskey and John Porter, translators


Notice: This translation is the copyrighted property of the authors and should not be reproduced without their permission.


See, in general, the Introduction to Aeschylus' Persians on this WWW site.


Greek Terms

Alastor — a synonym for erinys (q.v.)

Atê — ruinous delusion or folly that leads one to make disastrous decisions; hence often the equivalent of "ruin." Usually felt to be the result of a combination of an individual's character and of divine influence.

Daimon (pl. daimones) — supernatural power or presence; more vague than theos, and often more ominous. Daimones frequently are associated with what we might call fate or "luck" — often with a bad fate or bad luck.

Erinys (pl. erinyes) — Fury; a primitive goddess of divine vengeance

Hybris — a violent arrogance that leads one to act in ways offensive to the gods

Koros — "satiety"; an excess of success or prosperity, felt to lead to hybris and to incur the phthonos of the gods

Olbos — prosperity, in the broad sense, e.g., of "health, wealth, and happiness" (contrast ploutos)

Phthonos — envy

Ploutos — wealth, in the sense of money, land, resources (contrast olbos)

Polis (pl. poleis) — the city-state, a peculiarly Greek institution

Theos (pl. theoi) — god; usually of the Olympian gods, but can be used of any supernatural power

For a list of technical terms used in the study of ancient drama, see the Glossary of Terms Associated with the Greek Stage.


Sigla

Daggers (†) mark a section of the text that is particularly uncertain or problematic. [See, e.g., line 13.]

Square brackets mark off a section of the text that has been identified as an interpolation—a later addition to the original. [See, e.g., line 778.]

A horizontal line on the left-hand side of the page separating two passages indicates a shift in meter. [E.g., between lines 64 and 65.] See the structural analysis in the Introduction to Aeschylus' Persians on this WWW site.

Asterisks between parentheses represent a gap in the text of our manuscripts; alone they represent a text too corrupt for conjecture.


Hypothesis

Hypothesis [FN 1] of The Persians by Aeschylus: Glaucus, [FN 2] in his work concerning the myths of Aeschylus, claims that The Persians was modeled after Phrynichus' Phoenician Women. [FN 3] He even provides the opening of the play, which is as follows:

This is the realm of those Persians long ago departed

— except that in that play it is a eunuch who announces Xerxes' defeat at the beginning of the play as he prepares seats for the royal Persian counselors, while here the chorus of elders performs the prologue. [...] The setting of the play is near the tomb of Darius. The plot is as follows: Xerxes, leading an expedition against Greece, was defeated in a land battle at Plataea and in a naval engagement at Salamis. He fled through Thessaly and made it to Asia.

The play was produced when Menon was archon. [FN 4] Aeschylus was victorious with Phineus, Persians, Glaucus, Prometheus. [FN 5] [...]


Dramatis Personae

Chorus of Persian elders
Queen - mother of Xerxes and wife of Darius [FN 6]
Messenger
Ghost of Darius - father of Xerxes and his predecessor on the Persian throne
Xerxes - king of Persia

[The action is set in the Persian capitol of Susa.]


Aeschylus' Persians

The following translation lays no claims to any literary pretensions, nor does it attempt to resolve the numerous difficulties in the text of the play. It is intended solely as a basic text from which to work. More readable and authoritative translations have been produced by A. J. Podlecki (in the Prentice-Hall series: particularly useful for its introduction and commentary) and by S. G. Benardete (in the Chicago series).

Lines 353-516 have been translated by Niall McCloskey. The rest of the translation, as well as the notes and other ancillary material, are by John Porter.


[The Chorus enters, marching in via one of the two parodoi.]

Chorus
We are the loyal representatives of
those Persians gone to the land of Hellas,
guardians, by virtue of our age,
of the wealthy seats of power, rich in gold;
we whom Lord Xerxes himself, the Great King, 5
born of Darius,
chose to oversee his lands.

Concerning the King's return
and that of the host, rich in gold,
the heart within me, prophet of evils, 10
long has been vexed.
For all the might born to Asia
is gone, †the young King's faithful hounds,†
and no messenger nor any horseman
has come to the city of the Persians. 15

Leaving Susa and Agbatana
and the ancient precinct of Kissa
they went, some on horses,
others on ship, and on foot —
a close-packed phalanx of war: 20

such men as Amistres and Artaphrenes
and Megabates and Astaspes,
chiefs of the Persians,
kings subject to the Great King,
speed forth, overseers of a great army, 25
mighty archers and horsemen,
fearful to see, dreadful in battle
†in their stout resolve of spirit;†

and Artembares, delighting in horses,
and Masistes, and that mighty archer, 30
the noble Imaeus; and Pharndakes,
and Sosthanes, driver of horses.
Others the mighty, much-nurturing
Nile sent: Sousiskanes,
Egyptian-born Pegastagon, 35
and the ruler of sacred Memphis,
mighty Arsames; and Ariomardos,
governor of ancient Thebes,
and marsh-dwelling rowers of ships,
dreadful and innumerable in their masses.
A throng of delicate-living Lydians 40
accompanies them, those who dominate
all the peoples of the mainland, whom Mitrogathes
and Arkteus the valorous, commander kings,
and Sardis rich in gold send streaming forth 45
mounted on their many chariots,
squadrons of three- and four-horse teams,
a fearful sight to behold.

Those who dwell near sacred Tmolus threaten
to cast the yoke of slavery about Hellas: 50
Mardon, Tharybis, anvils of the spear,
and the Mysians with their javelins. And Babylon
rich in gold sends in a long line
a jumbled throng, both men on ship
and those who trust in their skill at archery, 55
while sword-bearing hosts from all
of Asia accompany them,
under the dread commands of the King.

Such is the flower of men from the Persian domain
that is gone: 60
concerning these men the entire land of Asia,
their nurse, groans with fierce longing;
children and wives tremble in fear
as the time stretches out, day after day.

____________________

Strophê A [FN 7]
The King, destroyer of cities, long ago now 65
has driven his army against
the neighboring land on the opposite coast,
crossing the strait of Hella, [FN 8] Athamas' daughter,
by means of a floating bridge, bound by cords of flax, 70
a closely-bolted roadway,
casting a yoke about the sea's neck. [FN 9]

Antistrophê A
The raging [FN 10] lord of Asia with its many men
over every land drives
his god-like flock 75
in two ways, both by land and by sea,
trusting in his stalwart,
rugged commanders,
a man of golden birth, the equal of gods. 80

Strophê B
With the dark look in his eyes
of a murderous snake,
armed with many companies of troops [FN 11] and many ships,
swiftly driving his Assyrian chariot,
he leads against men famed for the spear 85
an Ares skilled in archery.

Antistrophê B
No one is of such mettle as to withstand
this huge stream of men
or restrain with strong palisades
the irresistible swell of the sea: 90
the army of the Persians and its stout-hearted host
is not to be withstood.

Strophê C [FN 12]
Fate, by decree of the theos,
has held sway since olden times:
she has enjoined the Persians 95
to busy themselves with wars that destroy towers,
with tumultuous clashes of cavalry,
and with the overthrow of cities.

Antistrophê C
They have learned to look upon 100
the sea's expanse
when it is whipped white
by the raging winds,
trusting in the fine-stranded cables 105
and the clever troop-conveying contrivances.

Strophê D
But what man, being mortal, will avoid
the crafty deceit of the theos ?
Who, though with nimble foot he be
†master of the lucky leap?† 110

Antistrophê D
For Atê, fawning in friendly fashion at first,
entices a man into her nets,
whence it is impossible for a mortal,
leaping above, to escape.

Strophê E [FN 13]
Pondering these things my heart, draped in black, 115
is mangled with fear.
Alas for the Persian host! — may the city, the
great citadel of Susa, not hear such a cry,
emptied of men.

Antistrophê E
And the city of Kissa 120
will sing an antiphonal cry —
Alas! — the packed throng
of women calling out,
and rending will fall upon their fine linen robes. 125

Strophê F
For the entire host,
both horse and foot,
like a swarm of bees has departed
with the army's leader,
having crossed the common headland 130
of the two continents,
now yoked together.

Antistrophê F
But beds are filled with tears
in longing for husbands:
the Persian ladies, in womanish 135
longing for their dear lords —
each is left without a yoke-mate,
having sent off the impetuous warrior
who shares her bed.

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____________________

But come, fellow Persians, taking our seats here 140
at this ancient council chamber
let us ponder soundly and earnestly —
for there is need —
just how Xerxes fares, the King,
born of Darius, 145
whether the skilled drawing of the Persian archers
is victorious or the Hellenes, with the
might of the spear's point, have prevailed.

But here, like the light that streams from the eyes of theoi, 150
approaches the mother of the king,
my queen. I fall in reverence at her feet.
All must salute her
with welcoming words.

____________________

[Enter the Queen via the same parodos employed by the Chorus. (For the staging of her entrance, compare lines 607-608.)]

O Queen, preeminent among the deep-girdled Persian women, 155
aged mother of Xerxes, wife of Darius: [FN 14] greetings!
You are the bed-mate of the Persians' theos, also mother of their theos,
unless by chance their daimon of old now has deserted the Persian host.
Queen
For fear of that very thing I have left my halls decked with gold
and the bed chamber that I shared with Darius and have come. 160
Anxiety mangles my heart. I shall tell you all, friends, not without some premonition of fear —
fear that great ploutos, in its dust-raising haste, with its foot might trip up
the olbos which Darius won, not without the aid of some theos.
For this reason a two-fold concern, unutterable, haunts my thoughts: 165
†the mob does not revere riches not backed up by men,
nor does success shine for the impoverished, however great their strength.†
As for ploutos, we have it in abundance; my fear is for that which is dearer still:
for I consider the dearest possession of a house to be its master's presence.
Such being the case, advise me on these matters, 170
men of Persia, aged and trusty counselors:
my hopes of reliable counsel always have resided with you.
Chorus
Know this well, queen of this land: you will not need to demand twice
any word or deed that lies in my power.
We whom you summon shall be sympathetic counselors in this matter. 175

____________________

Queen
In the night I am visited by a multitude of dreams
continually, ever since my son equipped his host
and set out in hopes of sacking the land of the Ionians,
but never yet have I seen such a one, so distinct,
as I did this previous night. I will describe it for you: 180
it seemed to me that two women adorned in beautiful clothing,
one fitted out in Persian robes,
the other in Dorian, came into my vision,
both immense in their stature, in comparison to common women,
and both blameless in their beauty. Sisters they were, 185
of the same race, yet one dwelt in Hellenic lands,
having been apportioned them by lot, the other in barbaric climes.
I seemed to see these two join in strife
with one another, and my son, learning of this,
kept attempting to restrain and calm them. He yokes them 190
to a chariot and places halters about their necks:
the one preened herself on this gear
and kept her mouth docilely within the reins,
but the other struggled impatiently and with her hands sunders
the chariot's harness, snatching it up by force, 195
ignoring the bit, and smashes the chariot pole in the middle.
My son falls headlong, and his father, Darius,
stands nearby, lamenting him. When Xerxes sees
his father, he rends his own garments in which he is dressed.
These things I saw during the night. 200
After I had risen and washed my hands in the gushing
spring, I took my stand at the altar,
wishing to offer sacrifice to the daimones
who avert evil and to whom such rituals are proper.
At that very moment I saw an eagle fleeing toward the hearth 205
of Phoebus Apollo. I stood voiceless with fear, friends:
for behind it I see racing up on fleet wing
a hawk, ripping at the eagle's head with its claws
while the latter did nothing but cower defenselessly.
These things were fearful for me to see, 210
and for you to hear. For know you well: my son,
should he succeed, would become a man to be marvelled at.
Even should he fail, he cannot be called to account by the citizens:
so long as he is safe he still will rule this land.

____________________

Chorus
We do not wish, mother, to frighten you overly much with our words 215
or to give you false hope. Approach the theoi with prayers,
and if what you saw bodes ill, ask them to avert the evil
but to bring to completion anything that is good for you, your son,
the polis, and all those dear to you. Then you must pour libations
to the earth and to the dead. With propitiatory words ask the following: 220
that your husband Darius, whom you claim to have seen last night,
send blessings from the earth for you and for your son into the light of day,
but that anything untoward grow dim, buried in the dark below.
Prophesying from my heart's bidding, this is the kindly advice I give to you,
and I think that in this way all will turn out well. 225
Queen
Indeed, you, the first to interpret these dreams, have shown
your good will to my child and my house by this response.
May the result be good. I shall perform all these things
as you command, both for the theoi and for our dear ones beneath the earth,
upon my return to the palace. But this further thing I wish to learn: 230
friends, where on the earth do they say that Athens is situated?
Chorus
Far away, near the place where Lord Helios wanes and sets.
Queen
Indeed, did my child desire to capture such a city?
Chorus
For then all of Hellas would become subject to the King.
Queen
Do they possess such an immense army, then? 235
Chorus
( * * * * * * * * * * )
Queen
( * * * * * * * * * * )
Chorus
And such an army as to have done the Medes [FN 15] many an evil.
Queen
Are they renowned for the skill of their archers' hands?
Chorus
No, rather for their close-fighting spears and shields.
Queen
And what else? Are they possessed of sufficient ploutos ?
Chorus
There is a certain font of silver that is theirs, which acts as their land's treasure-trove. [FN 16] 240
Queen
Who shepherds their army and acts as its master?
Chorus
They are called the slaves or lackeys of no man.
Queen
How then could they withstand the attack of invaders?
Chorus
Well enough to destroy Darius' army, immense and glorious as it was. [FN 17]
Queen
What you say is dreadful to consider for the parents of those who have departed. 245

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Chorus
But it seems to me that soon you will have a trustworthy report,
for a runner approaches, a Persian courier:
surely he bears some tidings, whether good or bad to hear.

____________________

[Enter the Messenger, via the parodos opposite to that employed earlier by the Chorus and the Queen.]

Messenger
O you cities throughout the Asian lands!
O Persian homeland, rich harbor of ploutos! 250
That with one stroke such abundant olbos should have been ruined
and the flower of the Persians gone, fallen!
Alas! A bad thing it is, to be the first to report bad news —
all the same, I must unfold for you in full what we have suffered,
you men of Persia: the barbarian host has perished in its entirety. 255

____________________

Strophê A
Chorus
†Sorrows! Evil sorrows,† unheard of,
dreadful! Alas! Weep, men of Persia,
as you hear this painful news!
Messenger
Yes. For all those forces have been destroyed, 260
while I myself look on this day of my return against all expectation.
Antistrophê A
Chorus
Ah, too long this life, it would seem,
for us old men, that we hear
of this unexpected sorrow! 265
Messenger
Indeed, you men of Persia, as one who was present, not hearing the reports
of others, could I tell what sort of evils we encountered.
Strophê B
Chorus
Ah! Ah! Ah! In vain
did the many shafts, of all sorts,
set out from the Asian land — Alas! — 270
to the deadly realm of Hellas!
Messenger
The shores of Salamis and all the neighboring locales
teem with the corpses of the wretched slaughtered.
Antistrophê B
Chorus
Ah! Ah! Ah! You speak of
corpses, sea-drenched, driven hither and thither — 275
the dead, borne amid
the wandering †waves†!
Messenger
Yes, for our bows were no defence. The entire army
perished, mastered by the ships' onslaught.
Strophê C
Chorus
Cry the ill-starred cry, wretched,
for those who have perished! 280
The theoi have caused all to turn out evilly — Alas! —
for the Persians: our army is destroyed!
Messenger
O name of Salamis, most hateful to hear!
O my! How I groan, remembering Athens! 285
Antistrophê C
Chorus
Hateful is Athens to its enemies!
We, too, have cause to recall
how many of the Persian women she made wives
in vain, bereft of husbands.

____________________

Queen
Wretched me! I have long been silent, struck senseless by 290
our evil fate: too great this misfortune,
either to speak of or to enquire about.
Just the same, we mortals must endure suffering
when the theoi inflict it. Unfold the entire tragedy:
stand firm and speak, even though you groan at our misfortunes. 295
Who has not died? And whom of the host's leaders shall we mourn —
those who, given a position of command, have, in death, left their post unmanned?
Messenger
To begin: Xerxes himself lives and looks upon the light.
Queen
A great light of hope for my own halls is this — 300
a radiant day arising from black-shrouded night!
Messenger
But Artembares, master of ten thousand horse,
is being dashed along the harsh shores of Salamis,
while Dadakes, leader of a thousand troops, struck by a spear
fell lightly from his ship, 305
and Tenagon — best of the Bactrians, of ancient stock —
pounds the sea-tossed island of Ajax.
Lilaios, Arsames, and, third, Argestes:
these eddy about the dove-nurturing isle,
striking against the unyielding land, 310
as does Pharnouchos, who dwelt near the springs
of the Egyptian Nile, while others fell from one sole ship:
Arkteus, Adeues, and Pheresseues, the third.
Matallos of Chryse, leader of ten thousand, in his death
tinged his tawny beard, thick and shaggy, 315
changing its color in a dye of red,
and Arabos the Magos, Artabes the Bactrian,
leader of thirty thousand dusky horse,
now an inhabitant of the unyielding earth, perished there.
Amistris and Amphistreus, wielding his 320
much-toiling spear, and noble Ariomardos, a source
of grief for Sardis, and Seisames the Mysian,
and Tharybis, commander of two hundred fifty ships,
by birth a Lyrnaion, a goodly man,
lies dead — wretched, having met no happy chance. 325
Also Suennesis, first in courage,
leader of the Cilicians, a man who by himself brought
the greatest suffering to his enemies — valiantly he died.
†These leaders† I have recalled by name,
but our misfortunes were myriad: I announce only a few. 330
Queen
Alas! I hear these things, the height of misfortune —
shame for the Persians, a source of shrill wailing!
But turn back in your tale and tell me this:
was the number of the Hellenes' vessels so great
as to dare join in battle with the 335
Persian force in the clash of ships?
Messenger
Know well: if magnitude were all, the barbarians'
fleet would have been victorious. For on the Hellenes' side
the entire number of ships came to some
three hundred, with ten of these set apart as an elite squadron. 340
But Xerxes, and this I know, led a fleet of one thousand
ships in all, of which there were 207
which excelled in speed. Such is the tally.
Surely you could not believe us to have been at a disadvantage in the fighting in this regard?
No, some daimon crushed our host, 345
weighting fortune's scales in no way equally.
The theoi it is who preserve the city of the goddess Pallas.
Queen
Is the city of Athens still unpillaged, then?
Messenger
While it has its men it has a bulwark that will not fail.
Queen
What was the beginning for the onset of the ships? Tell me. 350
Who began the battle, the Hellenes
or my son, confident in his multitude of ships?
Messenger [FN 18]
My queen, an alastor or an evil daimon
appeared from somewhere and started the disaster.
A Hellene, a man from the Athenian force, 355
came and spoke to your son these words:
that when the twilight of dark night should fall
the Hellenes would not remain but onto the benches
of the ships would jump and each to his own place
in furtive flight would try to save his own life. 360
As soon as he heard this, not perceiving the cunning
of the Hellene and the phthonos of the theoi,
to all the ships' captains he gave this command:
"When the sun its burning of the earth
ceases and darkness seizes the precinct of heaven, 365
draw up the armada of ships in three lines
and others in a circle around the island of Ajax
to keep the passages of the sounding sea impassible.
If the Hellenes escape their evil fate
and find in secret some escape for their ships 370
it is decreed that all will lose their heads."
He gave these commands with a confident heart
for he did not know what was planned by the theoi.
They not in unruly fashion but with obedient minds
prepared supper and the sea-going man 375
tied the oar-handle to the well-fitting pin.
When the blaze of the sun was extinguished
and night followed, each man, lord of the oar,
went into his ship, each a master of arms.
Rank encouraged rank of the long ship 380
and they sailed as each had been positioned.
All night they maintained sailing on the sea,
lords of the fleet, all the men of the ships.
And night came but the forces of the Hellenes
did not at all attempt to sail away. 385
But when day on its white horses,
shining to see, took possession of all the earth,
first, resoundingly a shout from the Hellenes
rang out like a song and at once shrilly
from the island rocks answered back 390
an echo. And fear was felt by all the barbarians,
deceived in their plan, for not as if for flight
did the Hellenes sing out their solemn paean
but like men going to battle with resolute courage.
A trumpet with its blare set all these on fire. 395
At once with a united sweep and rush of oars
on order they stuck the deep water of the sea.
Swiftly all they became visible to see.
At first the right wing in good battle order
led the array but then the whole fleet 400
began the attack and at the same time could be heard
a great cry: "Children of the Hellenes, advance,
and set free your fatherland. Set free
your children, your wives, the temples of your theoi
and ancestors' tombs. The struggle is for them all." 405
From us a confused babble of the Persian tongue
rose up in reply and the time of planning was over.
At once ship against ship its bronze ram
struck. A ship of the Hellenes began
the attack and broke off completely the beak 410
of a Phoenician ship: ship rushed against ship.
At first at this point the mass of the Persian force
resisted but the bulk of the fleet in a narrow strait
was confined and ship could not help ship
but they with their bronze-mouthed rammings 415
struck each other and broke the banks of oars.
The ships of the Hellenes, not without cunning,
attacked us in a circle and upturned were
the hulls of ships and the sea could not be seen
but was full of shipwrecks and the death of men. 420
The beaches and rocks were full of corpses.
Each ship in disorder rushed for flight,
as many as were of the barbarian force.
Like mackerel or a catch of fish,
with scraps of oars and fragments of wreckage 425
they struck, hacked them while moaning
and mourning filled all the waters of the sea
until the black eye of night removed them.
The total of evils, not even if for ten days
I enumerated them, could I tell you in full. 430
For know this well: never in a single day
did so great a number of men die.
Queen
Alas, a great sea of evils has broken over
the Persians and all the race of barbarians.
Messenger
But hear this: not half of the evil 435
is yet told: such a misfortune came to them
as to outweigh those others by twice in the scale.
Queen
What chance could be more malign than this?
Speak: what disaster to the army do you say
came weighing down the scale with greater evils? 440
Messenger
Those of the Persians in their prime
who were noblest in spirit and glorious by birth
and always among the first in the king's trust
have been killed shamefully by an ignoble fate.
Queen
Friends, how overwhelmed by misfortune am I! 445
What kind of fate do you say destroyed these men?
Messenger
There is an island nearby Salamis, [FN 19]
small and unsafe for ships, where dance-loving
Pan takes pleasure along the sea-shore.
There he sent those men so that, when from the ships 450
defeated enemies sought refuge on the island,
they might kill the exposed army of the Hellenes
and rescue friends from the straits of the sea,
foreseeing the future wrongly. For the theos
gave the island to the Hellenes as prize of battle. 455
On the same day, fenced around with their bronze
weapons, they jumped from their ships and all about
they circled the island so that our men had nowhere
to escape. Many were struck down by stones
from their hands and from the bows' 460
strings falling arrows killed many.
Finally they charged in one united rush
and struck and butchered the wretches' limbs
until they had extinguished the life of all.
Xerxes groaned as he saw the depth of evils, 465
for he had a position with a view of all the army,
on a high headland by the side of the sea.
He tore his robes and shrieked shrilly
and then gave sudden orders to his army
which fled in disorder. Such is the disaster 470
which you may mourn along with the other.
Queen
O hateful daimon ! How you robbed the Persians
of good sense! My son a bitter revenge
has found in famous Athens, not sated with
the barbarians she destroyed before at Marathon. 475
It was payment for those my son sought to gain
but he harvested instead such a mass of sufferings.
Tell us now the fate of the ships which fled.
Where did you leave them? Can you tell clearly?
Messenger
The captains of the remaining ships quickly 480
took flight in great disorder as the wind drove them.
The rest of the army in the land of the Boeotians
perished, some in search of a refreshing spring
tormented by thirst, some deprived of breath.
We marched on to the land of the Phocians 485
to the territory of Doris and the Malian Gulf
where Spercheios pours on the plain refreshing water.
After that the plain of the Achaeans' land
and the cities of the Thessalians received us
starved of food and there the most died 490
of thirst or of starvation, for both were there.
To the Magnesian land and the Macedonians'
country we came, to the river Axios,
to the reedy marsh of Bolbe and to Mount Pangaeon,
Edonian land. During this night a theos 495
caused unseasonal weather and froze all
the stream of holy Strymon. Whoever before
had dismissed the theoi now called upon them
with prayers and worshipped Earth and Heaven.
When the long calling on the theoi was over 500
for the army, we set out across the frozen stream.
Those who, before his rays were scattered
by the theos, had set out reached safety
but the shining circle of the sun with its burning rays
warmed and melted with its fire the middle passage. 505
Man stumbled against man and fortunate was he
who most quickly lost the breath of life.
Those who were left found safety
by crossing Thrace with difficulty and suffering
but not many by their flight reached 510
their hearth and home. So now the state may mourn
in its grief the beloved youth of the Persian land.
This is the truth and I leave untold many
of the evils which a theos has hurled against the Persians.

[Exit the Messenger, via the same parodos he employed in entering.]

Chorus
O destructive daimon ! How too heavily 515
with both feet you leaped on the whole Persian race!
Queen
Ah, wretched me, now that the host has been undone!
O apparitions of the night, appearing clearly in my dreams —
how plainly did you reveal to me my coming evils!
But you [FN 20] were all to poor in judging them. 520
Still, since your advice would have it so, [FN 21]
first I will pray to the theoi,
then I will return, bearing gifts for
Earth and for the dead who have perished — a sacred libation from my halls.
I do this — well I know it — after all has been brought to pass, 525
but in the hope that, as for what remains, a better fortune might befall us.
You, in turn, must proffer trusty counsels
in the face of the †evils† that have been brought to pass.
And should my son arrive here before my return,
console him, and conduct him to the palace, 530
lest still some further misfortune befall him in addition.

[Exit the Queen, via the same parodos she employed in entering.]

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Chorus
O Zeus, King! Now indeed, having destroyed
the greatly-vaunting, many-manned host
of the Persians,
have you obscured the city of Susa, and Agbatana, 535
in gloom-bearing grief.

Many women, rending their veils
with tender hands ( * * * )
and with tears wetting their drenched
bosoms, have their share in grief. 540

Other Persian women, with womanish wailing,
longing to glimpse their newly-joined husbands,
having lost their bridal beds with their soft coverings -
the delight of voluptuous youth - 545
vent their grief with insatiable groaning.
I, too, †suffer heart-felt distress† at the
grievous fate of those who have perished.

____________________

Strophê A
For now indeed the entire land of Asia,
emptied of men, groans.
Xerxes led them forth — Woe! 550
Xerxes destroyed them — Alas!
Xerxes, altogether rashly, accompanied
the sea-going barques.
Why was Darius, beloved master of Susa, 555
not alive, unharmed, then too
to act as the archers' captain for the citizens?

Antistrophê A
For both land troops and marines
did the dark-prowed ships, with wings of linen,
lead forth — Woe! 560
And ships destroyed them — Alas!
Ships, with their all-destroying onslaughts,
†through the hands† of the Ionians.
Scarcely, indeed, did our lord himself escape, we hear, 565
through Thrace with its many plains
and its wintery roads, dangerous for travel.

Strophê B
But those others, caught beforehand —
ah, me! —
by deadly Necessity —
ai! —
about the headlands of Keuchreus [FN 22] 570
oh! —
have perished. Groan and mourn!
Grievously shout forth
your cries of distress that reach to the heavens!
oh!
Extend your sad-wailing, clamorous, wretched cry! 575

Antistrophê B
Rent by the dread salt sea
ah, me! —
they are mangled by the voiceless
ai! —
children of the undefiled one. [FN 23]
oh! —
Each house mourns, bereft of its man,
and parents, childless, 580
bewail the pain sent by the daimones,
oh!
while the old †hear† cause for grief of all kinds.

Strophê C
But those others, the people throughout the land of Asia,
no longer live under Persian laws, 585
nor do they offer tribute as of old,
compelled by our master's might,
or fall to the ground
and worship him: for his kingly
power has perished. 590

Antistrophê C
Nor are mortals' tongues held
in check any longer. The people
have been set loose to speak as free men,
since the yoke of might has been undone.
Its fields bloodied, 595
the sea-washed island of Ajax
holds the forces of the Persians.

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[Enter the Queen, via the same parodos she employed earlier. (On the staging of her entrance see lines 607ff.)]

Queen
My friends, whoever has experience of misfortunes
knows how mortals, when a wave
of evils comes upon them, are wont to fear all things; 600
but when the daimon flows smoothly, they trust
that the same fair breeze of fortune always will be blowing at their backs.
So it is with me: everything seems full of cause for fear
and shows clearly to my eyes the hostility of the theoi,
while in my ears there cries a wild tune, not one of triumph — 605
such a panic, arising from misfortunes, throws my thoughts to flight.
So it is that I have made this journey back from my halls
without the chariots and the luxuries that formerly attended me,
bearing propitiatory libations for the father of my son,
offerings to win the good will of the dead: 610
delicious white milk from an unsullied cow,
and the distillation of the flower-working bee, bright honey,
along with watery streams from a pure spring
and, here, the untainted drink that comes from the countryside,
the radiant produce of an antique vine, 615
and, from the golden olive whose leaves ever flourish,
this fragrant fruit,
and plaited flowers, the children of the all-bearing Earth.
But you, friends, sing propitious songs over
these libations to the dead, and summon up the daimon 620
Darius. In the meanwhile, I will send these libations forth
to be drunk up by the earth, gifts of time for the nether theoi.

____________________

Chorus
Wife of our king, object of the Persians' reverence —
send forth your libations into the chambers of the earth below,
while we, with songs, will beg 625
the escorts of the dead
under the earth to be gracious.
Sacred daimones who dwell below,
and Earth and Hermes, king of the dead,
conduct his soul up from below into the light. 630
†For if he knows of any further cure for our misfortunes,
he alone of mortals could tell us of its achievement.†

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Strophê A
Indeed, do you hear me, blessed king, like to a daimon in your fortune,
as I send forth clearly in barbarous wise 635
my wretched utterance, dire, ill-sounding?
Woeful cries of grief
I will shout out.
Do you hear me there below?

Antistrophê A
Earth, and you other powers below, 640
permit the illustrious daimon
to come forth from your halls, the Susa-born theos of the Persians.
Conduct him upwards,
whose like the Persian soil 645
never has covered.

Strophê B
Dear is the man, dear his funeral mound —
for it conceals one dear to us.
Aidoneus, [FN 24] you who conduct souls up from the dead — 650
Aidoneus, send up our godlike lord, Darius.
Aieee!

Antistrophê B
For never did he destroy his men
through Atê that leads to death in war.
He was hailed by the Persians as like to the theoi in counsel. And like 655
to the theoi in counsel he was, since well did he tend the army's helm.
Aieee!

Strophê C
Pasha! Pasha of old! Hither! Come!
Come to the summit of this mound,
raising your foot's saffron-dyed 660
slipper and displaying the adornments of
your royal tiara.
Hither, father who brought no harm to Persia — Darius! Oh! —

Antistrophê C
that you might hear the new sorrows, shared by all the land. 665
Lord of lords, appear!
For a Stygian gloom hovers
about us: our youth
has perished utterly of late. 670
Hither, father who brought no harm to Persia, Darius! Oh!

Epode
Ai! Ai!
You whose death was mourned bitterly by your friends,
†why this double * * * * * * * 675
* * * * * * * disastrous error†
this land's ships, with their triple banks of oars —
now ships no longer! — have perished utterly? 680

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____________________

[The Ghost of Darius emerges from the summit of his tomb.]

Ghost of Darius
Trusty counsellors, boon companions of my youth,
Persian elders — under what distress does the polis labor?
The ground is smitten, is furrowed with your distress.
I see my bed-mate near my tomb
and am in fear. Yet, graciously have I received her libations. 685
But you, standing near my tomb, lament
and, voices wailing in incantatory spells to invoke the dead,
summon me most piteously. There is no easy path up from below —
the theoi beneath the earth
more readily receive souls than restore them. 690
Still, I wield lordly power among them
and so have come. Hurry, then, that I might not be chided for tarrying:
what new misfortune weighs upon the Persians?

____________________

Strophê
Chorus
I am too in awe to look upon you.
I am too in awe to address you 695
due to the fearful reverence in which I held you of old.
Ghost of Darius
Yet, since I have come from below won over by your laments,
speak — no lengthy story, mind, but one made brief.
Set aside your reverence before me and tell your tale.
Antistrophê
Chorus
I am too afraid to grant your wish. 700
I am too afraid to speak before you
and say the words, hard to say to friends.

____________________

Ghost of Darius
Since your wonted reverence gets the better of your wits —
noble woman, aged sharer of my bed,
cease from these cries and groans and tell me 705
something clear. It is to be expected that mortal woes should fall to mortals:
many evils from the sea, many from dry land
arise for mortals as life's course is extended through the years.
Queen
You who exceeded all mortals in olbos through your fortunate lot —
since, while you looked upon the sun's brilliance, a man to be envied, 710
you passed a blessed life, like to a theos in the Persians' eyes —
how I envy you now, you who died before witnessing this abyss of evils.
Darius, you will hear the entire tale in brief:
the Persian state and its affairs have perished utterly, or so one might say.
Ghost of Darius
In what fashion? Did some pestilence fall upon the city, or civic strife? 715
Queen
Not at all: it was in the vicinity of Athens that the entire Persian host met ruin.
Ghost of Darius
Who of my sons led an expedition there? Tell me.
Queen
Raging Xerxes, emptying the entire mainland plain of men.
Ghost of Darius
Was it by land or by sea that the wretched man made this foolish attempt?
Queen
Both: the two-fold force presented a double front. 720
Ghost of Darius
And just how did so large a land-force manage to pass over?
Queen
With clever contrivances he yoked the strait of Hella so as to have passage.
Ghost of Darius
And this he did in such a way as to bar the mighty Bosporos?
Queen
That is so — but some daimon, I suppose, had a part in the plan.
Ghost of Darius
Alas! Mighty the daimon that came upon him to send his thoughts astray! 725
Queen
Yes, so that one can see how evil the end that he achieved.
Ghost of Darius
Just what have they suffered that you mourn for them so?
Queen
The naval force, defeated, destroyed our forces on land.
Ghost of Darius
So utterly has the entire host perished by the spear?
Queen
In the face of these disasters all the city of Susa mourns its lack of men. 730
Ghost of Darius
Alas for the noble protection and succor of the army — lost!
Queen
All the host of Bactria is gone, destroyed. †Nor is any left.†
Ghost of Darius
Wretched man! What a mass of allies — the land's youth — he has destroyed!
Queen
Alone is Xerxes now, they say — bereft, attended not by many.
Ghost of Darius
And to what end do they say he tends? Is there any hope of his salvation? 735
Queen
We hear that he has reached - and gladly - the bridge that yokes two continents together.
Ghost of Darius
And that he has reached this land in safety? Is this true?
Queen
Yes: in this regard the report was clear and firm. There is no dispute.
Ghost of Darius
Alas! Quickly came the accomplishment of the oracles, and on my son
Zeus has let fall the fulfillment of the prophecies. Yet I somehow 740
had hoped the theoi would fulfill them after a lengthy interval.
But when a man himself is eager, the theos too joins in.
Now it would appear that a spring of misfortunes has been found for all those dear to me.
My son, not knowing these things, has fulfilled them through his youthful daring,
he who hoped to check the sacred Hellespont in its course with bonds 745
as if it were his slave — the Bosporos, stream of the theos
and fashioned a new sort of highway and, encircling it with hammer-wrought
fetters, achieved a great roadway for his great army.
Although a mortal, he, with poor counsel, thought to subdue all the theoi
and Poseidon in particular. What can it be but a sickness of the mind 750
that possessed my son in these matters? I fear that our ploutos — the result
of my great labor — will become the spoil †of the first man to come along.†
Queen
Raging Xerxes learned these things, I tell you, through consort with
evil men. Repeatedly did they tell him that you acquired great ploutos
for your children with your spear, while he, due to his unmanliness, 755
played the soldier only inside his halls and added nothing to his paternal olbos.
It was through often hearing such reproaches from evil men
that he planned this expedition and the compaign against Hellas.

____________________

Ghost of Darius
As a result a deed has been accomplished by him
of the greatest proportions, never to be forgotten, such a one 760
that has emptied this city and the plain of Susa as never before,
from the time when lord Zeus bestowed on us this mighty office [FN 25] —
that one man rule over all of sheep-rearing Asia
wielding in his hand the guiding scepter.
Medos [FN 26] was the first commander of the host, 765
but another, his son, first accomplished this work. [FN 27]
Third after him was Cyrus, a man blessed by the daimon,
who by his rule brought peace for all those dear to him:
for his wits guided the rudder of his courageous spirit. [FN 28]
He acquired the host of Lydians and Phrygians for the Persian realm 770
and by force drove all of Ionia into subjugation:
for the theos did not hold him hateful, since he was sound of mind.
The son of Cyrus [FN 29] was the fourth to guide the host,
and fifth to rule was Mardos, a source of disgrace to his fatherland
and to the venerable thrones. [FN 30] Him noble Artaphrenes 775
killed by guile in his own palace,
aided by men dear to him who undertook this duty,
[and sixth Maraphis, seventh Artaphrenes,]
and I took part. Thereupon I obtain the lot I wished for. [FN 31]
Many the campaigns I fought with my great army, 780
yet I did not inflict such a great evil on my polis.
But my son Xerxes, being still young, has a young man's foolish thoughts
and does not remember my behests.
For know this well, my age-mates [FN 32]:
none of us who have acquired this throne and all its power 785
could be shown to have effected so many painful woes.
Chorus
What then are we to think, lord Darius? Whither will you bend
the conclusion of your words? How might we, the Persian host,
still fare well — as well as possible — given what has happened?
Ghost of Darius
By not marshalling a force against the land of the Hellenes, 790
not even should a larger Persian force be raised.
For Mother Earth herself is their stout ally.
Chorus
What did you mean by this? In what way does she aid them?
Ghost of Darius
By killing with famine forces that are excessive in their numbers.
Chorus
Then we will raise a choice force, well-equipped. 795
Ghost of Darius
Yet not even that army which now has remained in the land of Hellas
will return to find safety at home.
Chorus
What did you say? Will the entire army of the barbarians not
cross the passage of Hella, leaving Europe?
Ghost of Darius
Few indeed, out of many, will return — if, that is, it is at all right 800
to trust the oracles of the theoi in considering the events
just accomplished: for here is not a case of some being true and others false.
If they are true, Xerxes leaves behind a hand-picked mass of troops, [FN 33]
having put his confidence in idle hopes.
They remain where the Asopus waters the plains with its 805
streams — a welcome source of fertility for the Boeotian lands —
where it awaits them to suffer the most abominable of evils
as payment for their hybris and their godless thoughts.
For in coming to the land of Hellas they did not shrink in reverence
from plundering the statues of the theoi or to burn their temples. 810
The altars and the shrines of the daimones are no more to be seen,
utterly overturned from their very foundations and scattered in confusion.
As a result, having acted evilly, they suffer evils
as great or greater, while others are still to come, nor yet has
the †foundation of their misfortunes been laid: it still must be
capped off† — 815
such is the great libation of the blood of those slaughtered that will be poured
on the land of the Plataeans by the Doric spear.
The mounds of corpses will bear silent testimony
to the eyes of mortals even to the third generation,
warning that, being mortal, one must not have thoughts greater than
one's station. 820
For hybris, flowering to maturity, produces a blossom
of Atê, whence one reaps a harvest laden with tears.
Looking upon the impost assessed for these deeds
remember Athens and Hellas, and let not anyone,
despising his present daimon 825
and lusting for others, pour out great olbos.
Zeus, I tell you, stands as a chastiser over thoughts
that are too haughty — a grievous corrector of men's minds.
With these things in mind, admonish Xerxes ** * * **
with sensible reproofs 830
to cease to offend the theoi with his haughty daring.
But you, dear aged mother of Xerxes,
go to the palace and, taking adornment that is seemly,
go to meet your son. For in his grief at his misfortunes,
there hang in tatters about all his body 835
the shreds of his once splendid clothing.
In kindly fashion calm him with your words:
for — well I know — you alone will he endure to hear.
But I will go below, beneath the earth's gloom.
As for you, old men: farewell. And, though now amid misfortunes, 840
continue to find pleasure for your hearts from day to day,
for ploutos brings no comfort whatsoever to the dead.

[The Ghost of Darius descends back into his tomb.]

Chorus
Indeed, I have felt anguish hearing of the many sorrows
for the barbarians — both those that are upon us and those yet to come.
Queen
O daimon ! How many evil griefs come upon me! 845
But this particular misfortune vexes me most of all —
the disgrace that I hear enfolds my son,
the shameful state of the apparel about his body.
I will go and, taking adornments from the palace,
will try to intercept my son: 850
for I will not forsake those most dear to me in their misfortune.

[The Queen exits via the same parodos that she employed in entering.]

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Chorus
Strophê A
Alas! Indeed, great and good was the
life within the well-ruled polis we enjoyed when the aged,
all-sufficing, invincible king who knew no misfortune — 855
Darius, like to a theos — ruled the land.

Antistrophê A
Our first piece of evidence: the renowned
armies which †darted against all fortified cities† 860
and returned from the wars unharmed, having suffered no misfortune,
( * * * * * * ) they returned to prosperous homes.

Strophê B
Consider, also, how many cities he captured, not having crossed 865
the ford of the Halys River
nor having rushed away from hearth and home —
for example, the Thracians' Acheloian dwellings
near the Strymonian sea, [FN 34] 870

Antistrophê B
and those on the mainland beyond the great lake, driven
round about with towers,
listened to him as their lord, 875
as did those spread about the broad strait of Hella, and
Propontis with its many bays
and the mouth of Pontus,

Strophê C
and the wave-tossed islands along the sea's headlands, 880
those neighboring this land,
such as Lesbos, and Samos, bounteous in olives, and Chios and Paros,
Naxos, Mykonos, and Andros, lying next to Teos,
its near neighbor. 885

Antistrophê C
He ruled as well those sea-girt cities in the central waters:
Lemnos, and the seat of Icarus, 890
and Rhodes and Cnidus, and the cities of Cyprus — Paphos and Soli
and Salamis, the mother city of which now is the cause of these
groans of lamentation. 895

Epode
Also those well-founded cities of the Hellenes throughout the
Ionian territory,
teeming with men, he mastered with his intelligence, 900
and at his call was the boundless strength of armed men
and allies of all races.
But now we endure these reversals from the theoi — in no way ambiguous
in their workings — caused by war: 905
we have been crushed by the sea's great blows.

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____________________

[Enter Xerxes via the parodos employed earlier by the Messenger.]

Xerxes
O!
Wretched am I, having chanced upon
this hateful destiny, most difficult to foresee. 910
How savagely did the daimon tread upon
the race of the Persians! What is to become of me, wretch that I am?
My limbs' strength has been undone
as I look upon this aged company of townsmen.
Zeus! If only me too, along with the men 915
who are gone,
the lot of death would cover over.
Chorus
Alas, my king, for the noble army
and for your great office [FN 35] which gave you sway over the Persians,
and for the adornment of men 920
whom now the daimon has mowed down.
The earth laments her native youth killed by Xerxes, who
has packed Hades with the Persian dead. * * * * * * for
many men, the land's flower, 925
vanquished by the bow — a thick-packed throng
of men in the thousands — have perished utterly.
Woe! Woe for our noble defenders!
The land of Asia, O king of our motherland,
dreadfully, dreadfully has sunk to its knees. 930

____________________

Strophê A
Xerxes
Here I am — alas! — wretched,
for, wretch that I am, I have become an evil
for my race and for my homeland.
Chorus
This ill-sounding shout, in harmony with your return, 935
a cry whose concern is misfortune,
like that of a Mariandynian keener,
I will send out, one filled with tears. 940
Antistrophê A
Xerxes
Send forth your dismal, mournful,
ill-sounding utterance. For the daimon, as you see,
has turned back upon me.
Chorus
I will send †it out† * * * * filled with tears,
honoring the sea-smitten sorrows suffered by the host, 945
the cry of one who mourns the polis and her off-spring.
Again I will screech forth my tearful lament.
Strophê B
Xerxes
For the Ionians' Ares, hedged with ships — 950
the Ionians' — turned the tide and robbed us of our men,
mowing the dark plain of the sea and the ill-fated headland.
Chorus
Oioi! Cry out your enquiries and learn the entire tale. 955
Where is the remaining throng of those dear to us?
Where are your comrades
such as was Pharandakes,
Sousas, Pelagon and Agabatas,
Dotamas, Psammis, and Sousiskanes 960
who left Agbatana?
Antistrophê B
Xerxes
I left them behind, perished,
falling from their Tyrian ship onto the shores
of Salamis, beating against the cruel headland. 965
Chorus
Oioi! And where is your companion Pharnouchos
and noble Ariomardos?
Where is lord Seualkes,
or Lilaios, born of a noble father, 970
Memphis, Tharybis, and Masistras,
and Artembares or Hystaichmas?
These things I enquire of you further.
Strophê C
Xerxes
Oh me!
Having looked upon ancient Athens, 975
hateful now, they all now with one stroke —
Ee! Ee! — gasp wretchedly on the shore, in death's grip.
Chorus
Is it true? Did you leave behind the flower of the Persians,
your own eye, trusty in all respects,
thousand upon thousand? 980
Alpistos, son of Batanochus?
( * * * * * )
son of Sesames, son of Megabates;
and Parthos, and great Oibares?
Oh! Oh! Wretched men! 985
Evils that surpass evils you proclaim for the noble Persians.
Antistrophê C
Xerxes
Indeed, you awaken in me
a longing for my noble companions
in mentioning these insufferable, hateful evils surpassing evil. 990
My woeful heart shouts out its grief within me.
Chorus
And yet another do we long for,
Xanthes, the chief of the Mardonian men in their thousands,
and Arion Anchares,
Diaixis and Arsakes, 995
lords of steeds,
and Agdadatas and Lythimnas
and Tolmos, insatiable of battle.
I marveled at their not accompanying 1000
your richly appointed wagons in attendance.
Strophê D
Xerxes
Gone they are, the leaders of the army.
Chorus
Gone — oh! — and without name.
Xerxes
Ia! Ia! Io! Io!
Chorus
Io! Io! The daimones 1005
have made this unexpected evil
all too clear — as plain to see as the glance of Atê !
Antistrophê D
Xerxes
We are smitten†by what a misfortune from the daimon!
Chorus
We are smitten — for clearly ...
Xerxes
New sources of grief! 1010
Chorus
... we chanced upon the Ionian
seamen to our misfortune.
Luckless indeed is the race of Persians in war!
Strophê E
Xerxes
How not? Wretched me! I have been smitten, my army — great as it was —
struck down.
Chorus
What has not perished, great leader of the Persians? 1016
Xerxes
Do you see this remnant of my robe?
Chorus
I see, I see.
Xerxes
And this arrow-holding ... ? 1020
Chorus
What is this you mentioned that was saved?
Xerxes
... storehouse for missiles?
Chorus
Yes — how modest a remnant out of so much!
Xerxes
We lacked for helpers!
Chorus
The Ionian host does not shun the spear. 1025
Antistrophê E
Xerxes
Too warlike are they! I witnessed grief that was not expected.
Chorus
Do you mean your mass of warships turned to flight?
Xerxes
I rent my robes at this evil misfortune. 1030
Chorus
Papai! Papai!
Xerxes
Yes — and evils more than enough to make one cry, "Papai!"
Chorus
For twofold is our misfortune, and threefold.
Xerxes
Grievous! Yet joyous to our enemies!
Chorus
Yes indeed, for our might has been pruned back. 1035
Xerxes
I am naked — stripped of my escort!
Chorus
Through sea-borne atê of those dear to us.
Strophê F
Xerxes
Drench your misery with tears! But now: homeward!
Chorus
Aiai! Aiai! Woe! Woe!
Xerxes
Shout cries to re-echo against mine! 1040
Chorus
A wretched interchange of woes for woes!
Xerxes
Cry out, joining doleful strain to doleful strain.
Chorus
Ototototoi!
Heavy indeed is this misfortune!
Oi! Grievously do I suffer at it! 1045
Antistrophê F
Xerxes
Beat your breast and lament, for my sake!
Chorus
I am drenched with tears in my grief!
Xerxes
Shout cries to re-echo against mine!
Chorus
I will attend to this dutifully, master.
Xerxes
Raise your voices high and shrill in lamentation. 1050
Chorus
Ototototoi!
Again dark blows filled with groaning —
Oi! — will be mingled with my song.
Strophê G
Xerxes
Strike your chest and cry an accompanying Mysian strain!
Chorus
Grief! Grief! 1055
Xerxes
And lay waste to the whitened hairs of your chin!
Chorus
With clenched fists will my lament be attended!
Xerxes
Cry out shrilly!
Chorus
This too will I do.
Antistrophê G
Xerxes
Rip at your garment's swelling folds with your fingers!
Chorus
Grief! Grief! 1061
Xerxes
And pull your hair! Mourn the army!
Chorus
With clenched fists will my lament be attended!
Xerxes
Dampen your eyes with tears!
Chorus
Indeed I do so. 1065
Epode
Xerxes
Shout cries to re-echo against mine!
Chorus
Oioi! Oioi!
Xerxes
Lamenting proceed to your own homes!
Chorus
†Io! Io! Persian land, wretched to the tread!† 1070
Xerxes
Send up wails throughout the city!
Chorus
Yes! Yes! Wail!
Xerxes
Lament, Persians of delicate gait!
Chorus
Io! Io! Persian land, wretched to the tread!
Xerxes
Eeee! Eeee! Destroyed by the triremes! 1075
Eeee! Eeee! And in the Egyptian barques!
Chorus
I will escort you with wretched groans of lamentation!

[Exit Xerxes and the Chorus via the parodos employed by the Chorus on first entering.]

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Supplementary Material

Aeschylus, Fragment 70 (Heliades [Daughters of Helios])

Zeus is the fiery upper air, Zeus is the earth, Zeus is the heaven;
Zeus is all things, and whatever transcends them.


Aeschylus, Fragment 154a.15-20 (Niobe)

The theos engenders a fault in mortals,
whenever he wishes to bring a house to utter ruin.
†Still, being mortal, one must guard with care the olbos
which the theoi send and not engage in rash speech.
Yet those who enjoy great success never expect
that they will be tripped up and so spill their great excess of bliss.† [FN 36]


Aeschylus, Suppliant Women 86-103

Chorus
Strophê
If only all might in truth be well, through Zeus' agency!
The desire of Zeus is not crafted so as to be easily tracked down:
tangled and shaggy stretch
the pathways of his wits, obscure to peer through. 90

Antistrophê
But it falls sure, not on its back,
whatever is brought to fulfilment by the head of Zeus.
It burns bright, in all directions,
even in the darkest gloom, and brings ill fortune to mortal creatures. 95

Strophê
He tosses men
down from their high-towered hopes, ruining them utterly,
yet no force of might does he employ.
All achievement of the daimones is effected without labor: 100
seated, he fulfills his will,
somehow, from that very place,
from his sacred, pure abodes.

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Notes

[FN 1] Many of our medieval manuscripts of Greek plays contain introductory notes ("hypotheseis") that give the general plot and, often, information regarding the original production. These notes are of varying reliability, but occasionally contain valuable information derived from the research of the great scholars of the third-second centuries B.C. in Alexandria. [Return to text]

[FN 2] Perhaps the literary critic from Rhegium (southern Italy) — late fifth century B.C. [Return to text]

[FN 3] Perhaps produced in 476 B.C. with Themistocles as choregus (Plutarch, Themistocles 5). [Return to text]

[FN 4] I.e., 472 B.C. Compare IG II2 2318.9-11 (for the year 473/2): "Tragedies: Pericles of Cholargus was choregus; Aeschylus was producer (didaskalos)." [Return to text]

[FN 5] Not the surviving Prometheus Bound but a satyr-play. [Return to text]

[FN 6] The Queen is not identified by name in the text. The commentators tell us that her name is Atossa. [Return to text]

[FN 7] This lyric section opens in ionics, an exotic meter that suggests the atmosphere of the Persian court. [Return to text]

[FN 8] I.e. the Hellespont. [Return to text]

[FN 9] The reference here and below is to the famous bridge with which Xerxes "yoked" the Hellespont (compare Herodotus 7.33ff.). [Return to text]

[FN 10] Lit.thourios ("raging," "impetuous"), an adjective used of Xerxes again at lines 718, 754. It implies both overwhelming force and impetuous folly. [Return to text]

[FN 11] Polucheir - lit. "with many hands" or "with many companies (of men)." [Return to text]

[FN 12] In the manuscripts, Strophê C and Antistrophê C come after Strophê D and Antistrophê D. [Return to text]

[FN 13] There is a shift in meter here, from ionics to more troubled trochaics, that reinforces the shift in the chorus' mood. [Return to text]

[FN 14] Darius is Xerxes' father and was his predecessor on the Persian throne. [Return to text]

[FN 15] A synonym, as far as the Greeks of Aeschylus' day were concerned, for the Persians. [Return to text]

[FN 16] A reference to the silver mines at Laurium — see Herodotus 7.144. [Return to text]

[FN 17] The reference here is to the battle of Marathon in 490 B.C. [Return to text]

[FN 18] Lines 353-516 are translated by N. McCloskey, with notes and minor revisions by J.R. Porter. Cf. the accounts of the battle at Herodotus 8.66-99 and Lysias 2.27-43. [Return to text]

[FN 19] Psyttaleia. [Return to text]

[FN 20] She addresses the chorus. [Return to text]

[FN 21] See above, lines 215ff. [Return to text]

[FN 22] I.e. Salamis. [Return to text]

[FN 23] I.e the sea — its "voiceless children" are the fish. [Return to text]

[FN 24] I.e. Hades. [Return to text]

[FN 25] I.e. "this timê." [Return to text]

[FN 26] Here taken as a proper name (the eponymous founder of the Medes); perhaps simply "a Mede." [Return to text]

[FN 27] I.e. the task of subduing all of Asia. [Return to text]

[FN 28] Lit. — "of his thymos." [Return to text]

[FN 29] Cambyses. [Return to text]

[FN 30] Mardos = the Smerdis of Herodotus 3.61ff., a pretender to the throne. [Return to text]

[FN 31] Aeschylus here alludes to a tradition that had the Persian nobles who had banded together to oust Mardos settle the question of the next king by drawing lots. [Return to text]

[FN 32] Darius addresses the chorus. [Return to text]

[FN 33] I.e. at Plataea. [Return to text]

[FN 34] Here and below Aeschylus' geographical references (as well as the text itself) are disputed: they may have been intended largely for exotic "color." [Return to text]

[FN 35] Timê. [Return to text]

[FN 36] Lines 17-20 are quite fragmentary. I have translated the restoration of D.L. Page, exempli gratia. [Return to text]


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