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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 Decree of Athena

By Æschylus (c. 525–456 B.C.)

From Anna Swanwick’s Translation of ‘The Eumenides’

HEAR ye my statute, men of Attica—

Ye who of bloodshed judge this primal cause;

Yea, and in future age shall Ægeus’s host

Revere this court of jurors. This the hill

Of Ares, seat of Amazons, their tent,

What time ’gainst Theseus, breathing hate, they came,

Waging fierce battle, and their towers upreared,

A counter-fortress to Acropolis;—

To Ares they did sacrifice, and hence

This rock is titled Areopagus.

Here then shall sacred Awe, to Fear allied,

By day and night my lieges hold from wrong,

Save if themselves do innovate my laws,

If thou with mud, or influx base, bedim

The sparkling water, nought thou’lt find to drink.

Nor Anarchy, nor Tyrant’s lawless rule

Commend I to my people’s reverence;—

Nor let them banish from their city Fear;

For who ’mong men, uncurbed by fear, is just?

Thus holding Awe in seemly reverence,

A bulwark for your State shall ye possess,

A safeguard to protect your city walls,

Such as no mortals otherwhere can boast,

Neither in Scythia, nor in Pelops’s realm.

Behold! This Court august, untouched by bribes,

Sharp to avenge, wakeful for those who sleep,

Establish I, a bulwark to this land.

This charge, extending to all future time,

I give my lieges. Meet it as ye rise,

Assume the pebbles, and decide the cause,

Your oath revering. All hath now been said.