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The capture of Troy having been announced by beacons to
Clytæmnestra at Argos, she commands offerings to be made on the altars of all the Gods. The Chorus, consisting of Argive old men, still ignorant of the cause of these offerings, describe the departure of the Grecian armament, and affirm the inevitable certainty of Divine Retribution: they lament their own unfitness for war; inquire the meaning of the sacrificial fires which are kindled; detail the ominous appearance of two Eagles to the Atridæ, and the interpretation of it given by Calchas, who predicted the ultimate success of the expedition ; but warned the chieftains that they would be exposed to the 'wrath of Diana. They address Jove, and reflect on the necessity of moral discipline; relate the detention of the Fleet at Aulis, and the consequent sacrifice of Iphigenia by Agamemnon; and conclude by expressing their determination to leave to Heaven the direction of the event.
ÆSCH. AGAM. 40.
weary years are more than spent,
Joined to redress his wrong;
They led the martial throng:
So, when bereaved the vultures ply
The different nautical systems of the ancients and moderns have caused a difference in their expressions, when a body passing through the air is compared to a vessel cleaving the water. Among the ancients, the motion of the wings of a bird is illustrated in general by that of oars; while modern poets generally liken it to that of sails. Thus Spenser, Faery Queene, I. xi. 10.
“ His flagging wings when forth he did display,
Is heard beneath their piercing cry,
Their nest above,
In patient love.
True to redress the orphan's wrong,
And Milton :
“ A fiery globe
Par. Reg. IV. 581. (2) “ The wheeling Kite's wild, solitary cry.”
KEBLE's Christian Year. Compare the following Extract from an Ornithological Tour to the Islands of Shetland and Orkney (Magazine of Natural History, May 1831):
“ There are, however, a pair or two of the peregrine falcon that repair annually to the island for the purpose of breeding; building in the most inaccessible places, which are only to be gained by the best and ablest rocksmen; and even then it is very uncertain if the nest can be discovered; the old bird always taking flight upon the first appearance of danger, and wheeling in circles over the fowler's head, uttering at intervals the peculiar cry of the falcon tribe, which she continues to do until he leaves the crags.”
(3) Compare the ancient proverb, “ The mill of God grinds late, but grinds to powder ;” and the well-known lines of Horace,
“ Raro antecedentem scelestum
ESCH. AG A M.
Thus Jove, whose guardian eye on earth
The flying sinner, doomed to woe,
The Fury still can trace ;
She will not quit the chase. See also a very curious passage in the Choephoræ of Æschylus, which would be still more valuable if the proper reading could be throughout aceurately ascertained: that here given is Professor Scholefield's, which is however by no means satisfactory.
έθιγε δ' εν μάχα χερος ετήτυμος:
Διός κόρα-- Δίκαν δέ νιν
βρoτοι τυχόντες καλώς--
τάνπερ ο Λοξίας, ο Παρνάσιος,
The present hour alone we see,
Vain the suppliant sob of grief;
Shall libations yield relief?
Withered age was little prized;
(Such title meet by men is given,
Bids her go forth to slay ;
The huntress from her prey.
They dare not sinners to befriend, Nor sheltering aid to foul transgressors lend. (*) This interpretation seems sufficiently established by the Bishop of London; that adopted by Professor Scholefield and some other commentators may be thus rendered :
Not thus are soothed the sisters dire,