- The Persians
SHADE OF DARIUS
Scene: The Persian Royal Palace at Susa
CHORUS: The Persians, gone
Into the land of Hellas, named us trusted
And of their richly furnished and gold-laden
Estates guardians, in accord with our age
By Lord Xerxes himself, the King
Descended of Darius, chosen to watch
Over the land.
About the return of the King
And of the gold-laden army
With a fatal premonition
The mind too much torments itself.
For the total might
Of our Asian-born strength
Is gone forth. After the young
Manhood he calls
And neither messenger nor rider
Comes to the city of the Persians.
And they have left Susa and Agbatana
And the ancient precincts of Kission
Have they left
Some on horseback, others
On ships, on foot also on the march
The warriors forming columns,
Such as Amistres and also Artaphrenes
And Megabates and Astapes, [End Page 85]
Marshals of the Persian
Kings, the great King's servants
They hasten forth, overseers of great armies
Mighty with bow and on their horses
Terrible to behold, dreadful in battle
In the enduring renown of their soul.
And Artembares, a valiant horseman
And the mighty archer, noble Imaios
And the horse-driver Sosthames.
Others too has the great and many-feeding
Nile sent: Susiskanes
And the one who rules over the holy place, Memphis
The great Arsames, and he who governs
Ancient Thebes, Ariomrdos
And the swamp-dwelling oarsmen of ships
Forceful and hordes innumerable
And the soft-living Lydian throngs
Follow, as far as they encompass the mainland-dwelling
People, whom Metrogathes
And Arkteus led forth, the noble one,
With two- and three-shafted harness
A terrible sight to see.
And the gold-wealthy Sardes, moving
On many wagons.
The inhabitants of holy Tmolos stand ready
To throw the yoke of slavery upon Hellas
Mardon, Tharybdis, tireless in spear-combat.
And the spear-throwing Mysians. And Babylon
Rich in gold, a motley column
She sends as a flock, moving by ship
And trusting in bow-tensing
Courage. The sword-bearing people of all
Among the masterful armies of the King.
Such a flower of the land of Persia
Follows the men.
All around the entire Asian earth
Nourished them and with a consuming
Longing sighs after them.
Parents and wives, counting the days
Nurse their fears on the dragging time. [End Page 86]
FIRST CHORAL STROPHE: The Persians have got there already,
The King's army
Has crossed to the neighboring land
On rafts bound together
Crossing the Hellespont, the many-nailed way
Thrown like a yoke over the neck of the sea.
The heedless master of teeming Asia
Drives his divine hordes of men
Over all the land from the two sides, trusting
In his stern commanders by sea and by land,
Of a golden race a godlike man.
SECOND CHORAL STROPHE: Darkly with his eyes darting
A murderous dragon's glance
Many-handed and with many ships
Driving the Syrian chariots
He leads on against the spear-famed
Men and Ares, mighty with his bow.
No one is proven so steadfast
To withstand such a flood of men
With firm control to check
The irresistible swell of the sea.
For the Persian army is invincible
And its people warlike at heart.
THIRD CHORAL STROPHE: Cunning deception of God—
What mortal man can escape it?
With quick foot in light spring?
Waving in friendship at first
He leads the mortal into blindness
Out of which no mortal can escape or flee.
For, ordained by God, Fate
Ruled from time immemorial, decreed to the Persians
And clashes of charioteers
And cities' destruction.
They learned to endure the broad-pathed sea
Gray-foaming by violent gusts, the salty tide,
Trusting to their slenderly made
Cables and constructs,
Ferrying over their people.
FOURTH CHORAL STROPHE: My black-robed heart
Rends itself in fear...