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ARGUMENT.

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.

NINE

weary years are more than spent,
Since royal Menelaus went,
On fatal suit with Priam bent,
And Agamemnon's armament

Joined to redress his wrong;
Atridæ both, and each a King
From Jove his throne inheriting,
A thousand proud ships mustering,

They led the martial throng:
Screaming havoc from afar,
Eager flew the chiefs to war.

So, when bereaved the vultures ply
Their oarywings athwart the sky,

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,
Were like two sails."
B 2

And

Is heard beneath their piercing cry,
In circles wheeling as they fly?

Their nest above,
Where, till the plunderer dared intrude,
They watched and fed their callow brood

In patient love.
Those shrilly shrieks of bitter wail
With Phæbus, Pan, or Jove prevail ;
The avenging Fury forth they send,
Those exiled nestlings to befriend,

True to redress the orphan's wrong,
Retributive at length, though haply lingering long. 3

And Milton :

“ A fiery globe
Of Angels on full sail of wing flew nigh,
Who on their plumy vans received him soft.”

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
Deseruit pede Pæna Claudo.”—Carm. III. 2. 31.

The

ESCH. AG A M.

5

Thus Jove, whose guardian eye on earth
Protects the hospitable hearth,
The crime of Paris to pursue,
Hath bid the Atridæ lead their crew :
And, while they claim, mid war’s alarms,
A faithless woman's oft-wooed charms,
To either troop his laws ordain
Wrestlings and weariness and pain,
The toil-bowed limb, the shivered lance,
When warriors to the charge advance,
Or rest, to stem the foeman's thrust,
Their fainting knees in Trojan dust.

The flying sinner, doomed to woe,

The Fury still can trace ;
Though limping be her step and slow,

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

προσαγορεύομεν

βρoτοι τυχόντες καλώς--
ολέθριον πνέους' έν εχθρούς κόταν

τάνπερ ο Λοξίας, ο Παρνάσιος,
μέγαν έχων μυχόν χθόνος, εχθροξέναν,

αδόλως δολίαν,
βλαπτομέναν, χρονισ-

θείσαν, επoίχεται.
κρατείται πως το θείον παρά το μή

υπουργείν κακοίς.
Daughter of Jove, with certain band,
Fell Justice wields the fatal brand;

( (Such

The present hour alone we see,
The future's shaped by Fate's decree.
Ye in secret tears may pine,

Vain the suppliant sob of grief;
Ye may pour the sparkling wine,

Shall libations yield relief?
Not thus appeased the anger dies,
That waits on slighted sacrifice.*

Withered age was little prized;
Chiefs our worthless aid despised;
All unmeet for warlike toil,
We were left on Argive soil,

(Such title meet by men is given,
To designate that maid of heaven)
Upon her foes her blasting breath
She sheds, the minister of death.
The God, whose steps Parnassus bless,
Or tread the mighty cave's recess,

Bids her go forth to slay ;
Limping and lingering long, but sure,
And wily, though for purpose pure ;
Not hospitality can lure

The huntress from her prey.
E'en the Divinity we find
Compelled by strange, superior sway,
Mysterious mandates, that can bind
E'en Gods to own them and obey.

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,
Whose altars never gleam with fire.

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