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C.D. Warner, et al., comp. The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Songs from the ‘Hippolytus’

By Euripides (c. 480–406 B.C.)

From William Cranston Lawton’s ‘Three Dramas of Euripides’

EROS, Eros, thou whose eyes with longing

Overflow; who sweet delight

Bringest to the soul thou stormest,

Come not, prithee, sorrow-laden,

Nor too mighty, unto me!

Neither flaming fire is stronger,

Nor the splendor of the stars,

Than the shaft of Aphrodite,

Darting from the hands of Eros,

Who is child of Zeus supreme.

Vainly, vainly, by the stream Alpheios,

Or in Phoibos’s Pythian fane,

Hellas heaps the slaughtered oxen!

Eros, of mankind the tyrant,

Holder of the key that locks

Aphrodite’s dearest chambers,

Is not honored in our prayers,

Though he comes as the destroyer,

Bringing uttermost disaster

Unto mortals, when he comes.

Oh, for some retreat afar sequestered!

May some god into a bird

Flitting ’mid the wingèd throng transform me!

Where the Adriatic’s wave

Breaks upon the shore I fain would hasten;

Or to the Eridanos,

Where into the purple tide,

Mourning over Phaeton,

Evermore the wretched maidens

Drop their amber-gleaming tears.

Gladly would I seek the fertile shore-land

Of Hesperian minstrelsy,

Where the sea lord over purple waters

Bars the way of mariners;

Setting there, to be upheld by Atlas,

Heaven’s holy boundary.

There ambrosial fountains flow

From the place where Zeus abides,

And the sacred land of plenty

Gives delight unto the gods.

O thou white-winged Cretan vessel,

That across the ever-smiting

Briny billow of the ocean

Hither hast conveyed my queen,

From her home of royal splendor,

Wretched in her wedded bliss!

For to both of evil omen

Surely, or at least for Crete,

Thou to glorious Athens flitted,

Where in the Munychian harbor

They unbound their twisted cables

And set foot upon the shore.

Therefore is she broken-hearted,

Cursed with an unholy passion

By the might of Aphrodite;

Wholly overwhelmed by woe;

In the chamber of her nuptials,

Fitted to her snowy neck,

She will hang the cord suspended,

Showing thus her reverence

For the god by men detested,

Eager most for reputation,

And releasing so her spirit

From the love that brought her pain.

Truly, the anxious attention bestowed by the gods upon mortals,

When it recurs to my mind, greatly assuages my grief:

Yet am I quickly bereft of the hope and conviction I cherished,

Pondering over the deeds, over the fortunes of men.

Change is but followed by change, in our erring mortal existence.

Oh that Heavenly Fate, responding to prayer, would accord us

Fortune to happiness joined, courage undaunted by pain!

May my repute be neither exceedingly great nor ignoble!

Still with the changing day easily changing my ways,

May I forever enjoy a life of prosperous fortune.

Clear no more are my thoughts, when I see this trouble unhoped-for,

See the illustrious star of Athena

Driven before the paternal wrath to a far habitation!

O ye sands on the shore of the city!

O ye glades in which, attendant on holy Dictynna,

Once with his hounds fleet-footed he hunted!

Never again shalt thou yoke and guide thy coursers Venetian

Over the track that encircles Limna.

Sleepless once was the Muse by the lyre in the halls of thy fathers;

Now is she silent; and stript of their garlands

Lie in the long deep grass the retreats of the daughter of Leto:

Maidens contend not for thee in thy exile.

I with my tears for thy sorrows will share in thy destiny hapless.

Ah, thy mother, how wretched! in vain were the pangs of her travail!

Frenzied am I of the gods! Ye close-linked Graces, ah, wherefore

Forth from this his home and out of the land of his fathers,

Send ye a youth ill-fated, who nowise of crime has been guilty?

Restive hearts of god and mortal,

Thou, O Kypris, captive leadest,

While upon his shimmering pinions

Round them swift-winged Eros flits.

Over earth he hovers ever,

And the salt resounding sea.

Eros charms the heart to madness,

Smitten by his golden arrow;

Charms the hounds upon the mountain,

Creatures of the land and wave,

Wheresoever Helios gazes;

Even man,—and royal honors

Thou alone, O Kypris, hast from all!