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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
The Vision of Cassandra
By Æschylus (c. 525–456 B.C.)
 
From Edward Fitzgerald’s Version of the ‘Agamemnon

CASSANDRA
PHŒBUS APOLLO!

CHORUS
                Hark!
The lips at last unlocking.

CASSANDRA
                        Phœbus! Phœbus!
 
CHORUS
Well, what of Phœbus, maiden? though a name
’Tis but disparagement to call upon
In misery.

CASSANDRA
        Apollo! Apollo! Again!
        5
Oh, the burning arrow through the brain!
        Phœbus Apollo! Apollo!

CHORUS
                        Seemingly
Possessed indeed—whether by—

CASSANDRA
                            Phœbus! Phœbus!
Through trampled ashes, blood, and fiery rain,
Over water seething, and behind the breathing        10
War-horse in the darkness—till you rose again,
Took the helm—took the rein—
 
CHORUS
As one that half asleep at dawn recalls
A night of Horror!
 
CASSANDRA
Hither, whither, Phœbus? And with whom,
        15
Leading me, lighting me—

CHORUS
                            I can answer that—
 
CASSANDRA
Down to what slaughter-house!
Foh! the smell of carnage through the door
Scares me from it—drags me toward it—
        Phœbus Apollo! Apollo!        20
 
CHORUS
One of the dismal prophet-pack, it seems,
That hunt the trail of blood. But here at fault—
This is no den of slaughter, but the house
Of Agamemnon.

CASSANDRA
                    Down upon the towers,
Phantoms of two mangled children hover—and a famished man,        25
At an empty table glaring, seizes and devours!
 
CHORUS
Thyestes and his children! Strange enough
For any maiden from abroad to know,
Or, knowing—

CASSANDRA
                And look! in the chamber below
The terrible Woman, listening, watching,        30
Under a mask, preparing the blow
In the fold of her robe—

CHORUS
                        Nay, but again at fault:
For in the tragic story of this House—
Unless, indeed the fatal Helen—
No woman—

CASSANDRA
                No Woman—Tisiphone! Daughter
        35
Of Tartarus—love-grinning Woman above,
Dragon-tailed under—honey-tongued, Harpy-clawed,
Into the glittering meshes of slaughter
    She wheedles, entices him into the poisonous
Fold of the serpent—

CHORUS
                    Peace, mad woman, peace!
        40
Whose stony lips once open vomit out
Such uncouth horrors.

CASSANDRA
                        I tell you the lioness
Slaughters the Lion asleep; and lifting
Her blood-dripping fangs buried deep in his mane,
Glaring about her insatiable, bellowing,        45
Bounds hither—Phœbus Apollo, Apollo, Apollo!
Whither have you led me, under night alive with fire,
Through the trampled ashes of the city of my sire,
From my slaughtered kinsmen, fallen throne, insulted shrine,
Slave-like to be butchered, the daughter of a royal line!        50
 
 
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