Aeschylus The Persians translations
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The Persians
-472
Aeschylus


Πέρσαι
-472
Αἰσχύλος

Χορός

Τάδε μὲν Περσῶν τῶν οἰχομένων
Ἑλλάδ᾽ ἐς αἶαν πιστὰ καλεῖται,
καὶ τῶν ἀφνεῶν καὶ πολυχρύσων
ἑδράνων φύλακες, κατὰ πρεσβείαν
οὓς αὐτὸς ἄναξ Ξέρξης βασιλεὺς
Δαρειογενὴς
εἵλετο χώρας ἐφορεύειν.
ἀμφὶ δὲ νόστῳ τῷ βασιλείῳ
καὶ πολυχρύσου στρατιᾶς ἤδη
κακόμαντις ἄγαν ὀρσολοπεῖται
θυμὸς ἔσωθεν.
πᾶσα γὰρ ἰσχὺς Ἀσιατογενὴς
ᾤχωκε, νέον δ᾽ ἄνδρα βαΰζει,
κοὔτε τις ἄγγελος οὔτε τις ἱππεὺς
ἄστυ τὸ Περσῶν ἀφικνεῖται:
οἵτε τὸ Σούσων ἠδ᾽ Ἀγβατάνων
καὶ τὸ παλαιὸν Κίσσιον ἕρκος
προλιπόντες ἔβαν, τοὶ μὲν ἐφ᾽ ἵππων.

Alan H. Sommerstein
2009


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CHORUS:
Of the Persians, who have departed
for the land of Greece, we are called the Trusted,
the guardians of the wealthy palace rich in gold,
whom our lord himself, King Xerxes
son of Darius, chose by seniority
to supervise the country.
But by now the spirit within me,
all too ready to foresee evil, is troubled
about the return of the King
and of his vast army of men;
for all the strength of the Asiatic race
has departed, and the woman left behind> howls for her young husband;
and no messenger, no horseman,
has come to the Persian capital.
They left the walls of Susa and Agbatana
and the ancient ramparts of Cissia
and went, some on horseback,
some on board ship, and the marching infantry
providing the fighting masses.
Such were Amistres and Artaphrenes
and Megabates and Astaspes,
marshals of the Persians,
kings subordinate to the Great King,
who have sped away — overseers of a great army,
slayers with the bow or riders of the horse,
terrifying to behold and fearsome in battle
in the steadfast self-confidence of their hearts;
and Artembares the charioteer
and Masistres, and brave Himaeus
the archer, and Pharandaces,
and Sosthanes, driver of horses.
The great, nurturing stream
of Nile sent others: Susiscanes;
the Egyptian-born Pegastagon;
great Arsames, the ruler
of holy Memphis, and Ariomardus
who governs ancient Thebes;
and dwellers in the marshes, rowing ships,
formidable and in numbers past counting.
Following them are a mass of Lydians
of luxurious lifestyle, who control every race
born on the mainland; Mitragathes
and brave Arcteus, kingly commanders,
and Sardis, rich in gold, urge them forth,
riding in many chariots,
squadrons with two poles and with three,
a fearsome sight to behold;
and those who dwell near holy Tmolus are eager
to impose the yoke of slavery on Greece,
Mardon and Tharybis, anvils of the spear,
and the javelin-men of Mysia. And Babylon,
rich in gold, sends forth a mixed multitude
in a long, trailing column, men on board ships
and men trusted for their bravery as archers;
and the sabre-carrying host
from all Asia follows
at the awesome summons of the King.
Such is the flower of the men of Persia’s land
that has departed,
for whom the whole land of Asia,
which reared them, sighs with a longing that burns,
and parents and wives count the days
and tremble as the time stretches out.

The city-sacking" army of the King
has now passed over to the neighbour land on the other side of the water,
crossing the strait of Helle, daughter of Athamas,
by means of a boat-bridge tied together with flaxen cables,
placing a roadway, fastened with many bolts, as a yoke on the neck of the sea.

The bold ruler of populous Asia
drives his divine flock over the whole world
on both elements, trusting in commanders stout and
rugged, those who govern the land force and those at sea -
a man equal to the gods, from the race begotten of gold.


Christopher Collard
2008


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CHORUS. We here, from the Persians who are gone
to the land of Greece, are called ‘the faithful’,
and guardians of the palace with its great wealth in gold;
in accord with our seniority, lord Xerxes himself,
the king, the son of Darius,
chose us to watch over the land.
As to the king's return
and his army’s, with its many men,
my heart is already flayed raw within me, all too prophetic of disaster;
for the whole might of Asia’s people
is gone, noising anxiety for the young man;
and no messenger or any horseman
comes to the Persians’ capital.
Those men who left Sousa and Agbatana
and Cissia’s ancient bulwark behind them, and went,
some on horses, some on ships, and those on foot
making war’s dense column as they marched-
men such as Amistres and Artaphrenes
and Megabates and Astaspes,
the Persians’ captains, kings subject to the great king,
hastened as overseers of the army’s host:
they were invincible archers, and mounted,
fearsome to see and terrible in battle
through their spirit’s brave confidence;
Artembares too, the horse-knight, and Masistres,
and noble Imaeus, invincible archer, and Pharandaces
and the cavalry-marshal Sosthanes.
Others were sent from the Nile, the great nourisher of many lives,
Sousiscanes, Pegastagon born in Egypt,
and great Arsames ruler of sacred Memphis;
and Ariomardus governor of ancient Thebes,
with marsh-dwellers as the ships’ skilled oarsmen
and in masses beyond number.
Soft-living Lydians follow
in a multitude, those who hold subject all the mainland peoples,
whom Mitragathes
and brave Arcteus, kings and governors,
and Sardis with all its gold
sent off riding in many chariots,
squadroned by four or six horses,
a fearsome sight to behold;
eager in their threats to throw slavery’s yoke upon Greec
are those living near sacred Tmolus,
Mardon, Tharybis, anvils against the spear, and javelin-men
from Mysia; and Babylon with all its gold
sends a multitude all mixed in a long, sweeping column,
with marine soldiers and men confident of their archery.
The sword-bearing peoples of all Asia follow with them
at the king's dread summons.

Such is the flower of men that has gone from Persia’s land,
for whom the whole region of Asia
which nurtured them sighs in fierce longing,
while parents and wives counting the days
tremble at the time’s lengthening.


Kenneth Mcleish and Frederic Raphael
1991


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Before Darius' tomb, outside the palace doors of Susa.
Enter
CHORUS.

CHORUS.

You see trust. They trusted us,
The Persians who marched on Greece.
Seniority’s office, our task
Imposed by Xerxes,
Darius’ son: keep safe
The royal gold, this seat of kings.
Oh, when will our lord return?
That swarm of men, gold-glittering?
Drums of ill-omen beat,
Beat in our hearts.
Now Asia’s might’s afield,
Our hearts all ache for him,
Majesty.
Why no message, no herald
Galloping, galloping?

From Susa’s towers they swarmed,
From Agbatana, from ancient Cissia:
On foot, on horse, by ship,
Brigades, battalions,
Thronging for war.
Their lords’ names:
Amistres, Artaphrenes,
Megabates, Astaspes,
Marshals of Persia,
Kings loyal to one great king,
Of one great force the pride.
Master-bowmen, spearsmen, cavaliers:
Fearful to see, more fearful far
To fight: to dare their sole resolve.
Artembares, chariot-lord,
Masistres, Imaeus arrow-straight,
Sosthanes horse-master,
Pharandaces.
More men wide Nile sends forth,
Swirling, mother of mortals:
Susiscanes, Pegastagon Aegyptus’ son,
Arsames, priest-prince of Memphis,
Ariomardus who holds mysterious Thebes in fee.
Marsh-Arabs, crafty oarsmen,
A host past numbering.
Soft Lydians; Ionians
Who fringe out continent,
Their generals Metrogathes,
Arcteus the Brave, kings in their pride.
From Sardis next:
Chariots thronging, a stream of gold,
Like iavelins, three—horsed, four-horsed,
Terror to behold.
Next, sacred Tmolus’ regiment,
All set to hoop Greeks for slaves:
Mardon, Tharybis, anvils of iron,
Mysian spearsmen. See! Golden Babylon
Mints sailors, a shoal, mints archers,
Their trust their bending bows.
All Asia's blades are drawn:
Crowding, thronging to answer
Their king’s dread call to arms.
The flower of the Persian land is gone.
Their motherland,
Asia who mothered them,
Waits for them, weeps for them;
Families, wives
Stretch fearful days upon the rack of time.

The crossing’s made. The king's machine,
The city-smashing host, makes bridgehead
On alien shore. Now Helle’s gulf
Stands cable-stitched, sea’s neck
Bridged tight, road—yoked.

Lord Xerxes, teeming Asia’s master,
Now view-halloos his pack against the land.
Stern generals, sure on sea, on land,
His confidence. Now, living gold,
He dazzles like the gods.
Dragon-eyes, iron looks,

A shoal of hands, of sails;
From hurtling chariot
He fires at spear-framed Greeks
Ares the war god,
Arrowing the foe.

A flood of men, a cataract!
Who’ll face it down?
What weapons, what battle-cries
Can dam this sea?
Persia’s army - Persians! -
Unstoppable.

Heaven's tricks and snares —
What mortal ever cheats them?
Quickfoot, high-leaping,
Who slips the cull?
Fate beckons, smiles,
Seduces:
You’re trapped, you die.

God-sent, of old,
Our destiny since time began:
Tower-toppling war,
Hard-galloping,
City-sacking.

New knowledge now:
They scan the sea,
Wind-lathered, sacrosanct;
They tame it, bind it,
Swarm across.


Janet Lembke & C. J. Herington
1981


Coming soon!


Seth Bernardete
1956


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Chorus: [chanting]

Of the Persians gone
to the land of Greece
here are the trusted:
as protectors of treasure
and of golden thrones.
We were chosen by Xerxes-
emperor and king,
son of Darius-
in accord with age,
guards of the country.
For the kings return
with his many—manned troops
doom is the feeling
in my heart convulsed,
as it faces the future.
For all Asia is gone,
its strength and its youth:
and the women lament for their men.
To the city of Persians
neither herald nor horseman returns.
And some have left Agbatana
and some Sousa and ancient Cissa,
both on horse and on ship
and on foot displaying
legions of battle:
Artaphrenes, Megabates,
Astaspes, Amistres,
leaders of Persians, kings
who are slaves of the greatest of kings,
guarding the legions they rush,
both as bowman and knight,
with their temper resolved, fearful in aspect,
dreadful in battle;
and exultant in horses
Artembares, and Masistres,
and the brave archer Imaeus,
and Pharandakas,
and the driver of horses
Sousthenes.
And others were sent
by the nourishing Nile:
Egyptian—born Sousiscanes,
Pegastagon, great Arsames
ruler of sacred Memphis;
and Ariomardus
governing ancient Thebes;
and those who dwelling by marshes
are rowers of ships,
skillful and countless.
And the Lydians soft
who inhabit the coast
follow commanders and kings:
Metrogathes and brave Arcteus,
and golden Sardis sent
many charioteers,
with horses by twos and by threes,
fearful the sight to behold.
And the neighbors of Tmolus—
they threaten to yoke
in servitude Hellas;
and the Mysian lancers, Tharybis, Mardon,
anvils of battle;
and golden Babylon
pours forth her crowds-
borne by their ships-
who in drawing the bow
rely on their boldness.
And the tribes from all Asia
who carry the saber follow beneath the
awesome parade of their king.
Thus of the Persian land
of her men the flower is gone,
nursed by the earth, and all Asia
laments, consumed by longing;
and parents and wives
counting the days
tremble at lengthening time.

[singing]


Herbert Weir Smyth
1926


The Loeb Classical Library translation.

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Enter a band of Elders, guardians of the Persian Empire

Chorus
Here we are, the faithful Council of the Persians, who have gone to the land of Hellas, we who serve as warders of the royal abode, rich in bountiful store of gold, we whom Xerxes, our King, Darius' royal son, himself selected, by virtue of our rank and years, to be the guardians of his realm.

Yet as regards the return of our King and of his host, so richly decked out in gold, the soul within my breast is distressed and presages disaster. For the whole populace of the Asian nation has come and murmurs against its youthful King, nor does any courier or horseman arrive at the city of the Persians, who left behind them the walled defence of Susa and Agbatana and Cissa's ancient ramparts, and went forth, some on horseback, some in galleys, others on foot presenting a dense array of war.

Such are Amistres and Artaphrenes and Megabates and Astaspes, marshals of the Persians; kings themselves, yet vassals of the Great King, they press on, commanders of an enormous host, skilled in archery and horsemanship, formidable to look upon and fearful in battle through the valiant resolve of their souls. Artembares, too, who fights from his chariot, and Masistres, and noble Imaeus, skilled with the bow, and Pharandaces, and Sosthanes, who urges on his steeds. Others in addition the mighty, fecund Nile sent forth — Susiscanes, Pegastagon of Egyptian lineage, mighty Arsames, lord of sacred Memphis, Ariomardus, governor of ancient Thebes, and the marsh-dwelling oarsmen, well-skilled and countless in number.

Behind them follows a throng of luxurious Lydians and those1who hold in subjection all the people of the mainland, whom Metrogathes and brave Arcteus, their regal commanders, and Sardis rich in gold sent forth, riding in many a chariot, in ranks with three and four steeds abreast, a spectacle terrible to behold. They too who live by sacred Tmolus pledge themselves to cast the yoke of slavery upon Hellas—Mardon, Tharybis, anvils of the lance, and the Mysians, hurlers of the javelin. Babylon, also, teeming with gold, sends a mixed host arrayed in a long line, both mariners borne in galleys and those who rely on their skill in archery. The nation too which wears the sabre follows from every part of Asia in the fearful procession of the King.

Such are the warriors, the flower of the Persian land, who have departed, and in fierce longing for them the whole land of Asia, their foster-nurse, laments, while parents and wives, as they count the days, shudder at the lengthening delay.

Chorus
The royal army, dealing destruction to cities, has already passed to the neighboring land upon the facing shore, and this they did by crossing the Hellespont, named for the daughter of Athamas, on a bridge of boats made fast with cables, thereby casting a tightly constructed roadway as a yoke upon the neck of the sea. The fiery lord of populous Asia is leading his wondrous warrior-flock against the whole earth in two divisions, on foot and by the sea, putting his trust in his stalwart and stern commanders; he himself, a god-like hero whose race is sprung from gold. With eyes flashing with the dark glare of a deadly dragon, attended by soldiers and mariners in great numbers, and speeding his Syrian chariot, he leads against a people renowned for the spear a warlike host of archers. And there is no man skilled to withstand the mighty stream of men, and with strong barriers keep out the sea's invincible surge; for Persia's host cannot be withstood, and her men are courageous. For by the will of the gods Fate has held sway since ancient time, and has ordained for the Persians the pursuit of rampart-destroying war, the turmoil of fighting horsemen, and the storming of cities. And they have learned to look upon the precinct of the deep when the broad-wayed sea whitens to foam beneath the tempest's blast, trusting in their finely wrought cables and their devices which give passage to their army.


E.D.A. Morshead
1908


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Chorus
Away unto the Grecian land
Hath passed the Persian armament:
We, by the monarch's high command,
We are the warders true who stand,
Chosen, for honour and descent,
To watch the wealth of him who went—
Guards of the gold, and faithful styled
By Xerxes, great Darius' child!

But the king went nor comes again—
And for that host, we saw depart
Arrayed in gold, my boding heart
Aches with a pulse of anxious pain,
Presageful for its youthful king!
No scout, no steed, no battle-car
Comes speeding hitherward, to bring
News to our city from afar!
Erewhile they went, away, away,
From Susa, from Ecbatana,
From Kissa's timeworn fortress grey,
Passing to ravage and to war—
Some upon steeds, on galleys some,
Some in close files, they passed from home,
All upon warlike errand bent—
Amistres, Artaphernes went,
Astaspes, Megabazes high,
Lords of the Persian chivalry,
Marshals who serve the great king's word
Chieftains of all the mighty horde!
Horsemen and bowmen streamed away,
Grim in their aspect, fixed to slay,
And resolute to face the fray!
With troops of horse, careering fast,
Masistes, Artembáres passed:
Imaeus too, the bowman brave,
Sosthánes, Pharandákes, drave—
And others the all-nursing wave
Of Nilus to the battle gave;
Came Susiskánes, warrior wild,
And Pegastágon, Egypt's child:
Thee, brave Arsámes! from afar
Did holy Memphis launch to war;
And Ariomardus, high in fame,
From Thebes the immemorial came,
And oarsmen skilled from Nilus' fen,
A countless crowd of warlike men:
And next, the dainty Lydians went—
Soft rulers of a continent—
Mitragathes and Arcteus bold
In twin command their ranks controlled,
And Sardis town, that teems with gold,
Sent forth its squadrons to the war—
Horse upon horse, and car on car,
Double and triple teams, they rolled,
In onset awful to behold.
From Tmolus' sacred hill there came
The native hordes to join the fray,
And upon Hellas' neck to lay
The yoke of slavery and shame;
Mardon and Tharubis were there,
Bright anvils for the foemen's spear!
The Mysian dart-men sped to war,
And the long crowd that onward rolled
From Babylon enriched with gold—
Captains of ships and archers skilled
To speed the shaft, and those who wield
The scimitar;—the eastern band
Who, by the great king's high command,
Swept to subdue the western land!

Gone are they, gone—ah, welladay!
The flower and pride of our array;
And all the Eastland, from whose breast
Came forth her bravest and her best,
Craves longingly with boding dread—
Parents for sons, and brides new-wed
For absent lords, and, day by day,
Shudder with dread at their delay!

Ere now they have passed o'er the sea,
the manifold host of the king—
They have gone forth to sack and to burn;
ashore on the Westland they spring!
With cordage and rope they have bridged
the sea-way of Helle, to pass
O'er the strait that is named by thy name,
O daughter of Athamas!
They have anchored their ships in the current,
they have bridled the neck of the sea—
The Shepherd and Lord of the East
hath bidden a roadway to be!
From the land to the land they pass over,
a herd at the high king's best;
Some by the way of the waves,
and some o'er the planking have pressed.
For the king is a lord and a god:
he was born of the golden seed
That erst upon Danae fell—
his captains are strong at the need!
And dark is the glare of his eyes,
as eyes of a serpent blood-fed,
And with manifold troops in his train
and with manifold ships hath he sped—
Yea, sped with his Syrian cars:
he leads on the lords of the bow
To meet with the men of the West,
the spear-armed force of the foe!
Can any make head and resist him,
when he comes with the roll of a wave?
No barrier nor phalanx of might,
no chief, be he ever so brave!
For stern is the onset of Persia,
and gallant her children in fight.
But the guile of the god is deceitful,
and who shall elude him by flight?
And who is the lord of the leap,
that can spring and alight and evade?
For Até deludes and allures,
till round him the meshes are laid,
And no man his doom can escape!
it was writ in the rule of high Heaven,
That in tramp of the steeds and in crash of the charge
the war-cry of Persia be given:
They have learned to behold the forbidden,
the sacred enclosure of sea,
Where the waters are wide and in stress
of the wind the billows roll hoary to lee!
And their trust is in cable and cordage,
too weak in the power of the blast,
And frail are the links of the bridge
whereby unto Hellas they passed.


Robert Potter
1777


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Chorus
While o'er the fields of Greece the embattled troops
Of Persia march with delegated sway,
We o'er their rich and gold-abounding seats
Hold faithful our firm guard; to this high charge
Xerxes, our royal lord, the imperial son
Of great Darius, chose our honour'd age.
But for the king's return, and his arm'd host
Blazing with gold, my soul presaging ill
Swells in my tortured breast: for all her force
Hath Asia sent, and for her youth I sigh.
Nor messenger arrives, nor horseman spurs
With tidings to this seat of Persia's kings.
The gates of Susa and Ecbatana
Pour'd forth their martial trains; and Cissia sees
Her ancient towers forsaken, while her youth,
Some on the bounding steed, the tall bark some
Ascending, some with painful march on foot,
Haste on, to arrange the deep'ning files of war.
Amistres, Artaphernes, and the might
Of great Astaspes, Megabazes bold,
Chieftains of Persia, kings, that, to the power
Of the great king obedient, march with these
Leading their martial thousands; their proud steeds
Prance under them; steel bows and shafts their arms,
Dreadful to see, and terrible in fight,
Deliberate valour breathing in their souls.
Artembares, that in his fiery horse
Delights; Masistress; and Imaeus bold,
Bending with manly strength his stubborn bow;
Pharandaces, and Sosthanes, that drives
With military pomp his rapid steeds.
Others the vast prolific Nile hath sent;
Pegastagon, that from Aegyptus draws
His high birth; Susiscanes; and the chief
That reigns o'er sacred Memphis, great Arsames;
And Ariomardus, that o'er ancient Thebes
Bears the supreme dominion; and with these,
Drawn from their watery marshes, numbers train'd
To the stout oar. Next these the Lycian troops,
Soft sons of luxury; and those that dwell
Amid the inland forests, from the sea
Far distant; these Metragathes commands,
And virtuous Arceus, royal chiefs, that shine
In burnish'd gold, and many a whirling car
Drawn by six generous steeds from Sardis lead,
A glorious and a dreadful spectacle.
And from the foot of Tmolus, sacred mount,
Eager to bind on Greece the servile yoke,
Mardon and Tharybis the massy spear
Grasp with unwearied vigour; the light lance
The Mysians shake. A mingled multitude
Swept from her wide dominions skill'd to draw
The unerring bow, in ships Euphrates sends
From golden Babylon. With falchions arm'd
From all the extent of Asia move the hosts
Obedient to their monarch's stern command.
Thus march'd the flower of Persia, whose loved youth
The world of Asia nourish'd, and with sighs
Laments their absence; many an anxious look
Their wives, their parents send, count the slow days,
And tremble at the long-protracted time.


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