Format: Global Grey free PDF, epub, Kindle ebook
Pages (PDF): 55
Publication Date: Originally written, ca. 463 BC, this is a translation by E. D. A. Morshead
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The Suppliants is a play by Aeschylus. It was probably first performed sometime after 470 BC as the first play in a tetralogy, sometimes referred to as the Danaid Tetralogy. The Danaids form the chorus and serve as the protagonists. They flee a forced marriage to their Egyptian cousins. When the Danaides reach Argos, they entreat King Pelasgus to protect them. He refuses pending the decision of the Argive people, who decide in the favor of the Danaids. Danaus rejoices the outcome, and the Danaids praise the Greek gods. Almost immediately, a herald of the Egyptians comes to attempt to force the Danaids to return to their cousins for marriage.
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A sacred precinct near the shore in Argos. Several statues of the gods can be seen, as well as a large altar. As the play opens, DANAUS, and his fifty daughters, the maidens who compose the CHORUS, enter. Their costumes have an oriental richness about them not characteristic of the strictly Greek. They carry also the wands of suppliants. The CHORUS is singing.
Zeus! Lord and guard of suppliant hands
Look down benign on us who crave
Thine aid-whom winds and waters drave
From where, through drifting shifting sands,
Pours Nilus to the wave.
From where the green land, god-possest,
Closes and fronts the Syrian waste,
We flee as exiles, yet unbanned
By murder's sentence from our land;
But-since Aegyptus had decreed
His sons should wed his brother's seed,-
Ourselves we tore from bonds abhorred,
From wedlock not of heart but hand,
Nor brooked to call a kinsman lord!
And Danaus, our sire and guide,
The king of counsel, pond'ring well
The dice of fortune as they fell,
Out of two griefs the kindlier chose,
And bade us fly, with him beside,
Heedless what winds or waves arose,
And o'er the wide sea waters haste,
Until to Argos' shore at last
Our wandering pinnace came-
Argos, the immemorial home
Of her from whom we boast to come-
Io, the ox-horned maiden, whom,
After long wandering, woe, and scathe,
Zeus with a touch, a mystic breath,
Made mother of our name.
Therefore, of all the lands of earth,
On this most gladly step we forth,
And in our hands aloft we bear-
Sole weapon for a suppliant's wear-
The olive-shoot, with wool enwound!
City, and land, and waters wan
Of Inachus, and gods most high,
And ye who, deep beneath the ground,
Bring vengeance weird on mortal man,
Powers of the grave, on you we cry!