Aeschylus The Suppliants translations
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The Suppliants
-470
Aeschylus


Ἱκέτιδες
-470
Αἰσχύλος

Χορός

Ζεὺς μὲν ἀφίκτωρ ἐπίδοι προφρόνως
στόλον ἡμέτερον νάιον ἀρθέντ᾽
ἀπὸ προστομίων λεπτοψαμάθων
Νείλου. Δίαν δὲ λιποῦσαι
χθόνα σύγχορτον Συρίᾳ φεύγομεν,
οὔτιν᾽ ἐφ᾽ αἵματι δημηλασίαν
ψήφῳ πόλεως γνωσθεῖσαν,
ἀλλ᾽ αὐτογενεῖ φυξανορίᾳ
γάμον Αἰγύπτου παίδων ἀσεβῆ
'ξονοταζόμεναι.
Δαναὸς δὲ πατὴρ καὶ βούλαρχος
καὶ στασίαρχος τάδε πεσσονομῶν
κύδιστ᾽ ἀχέων ἐπέκρανε,
φεύγειν ἀνέδην διὰ κῦμ᾽ ἅλιον,
κέλσαι δ᾽ Ἄργους γαῖαν, ὅθεν δὴ
γένος ἡμέτερον τῆς οἰστροδόνου
βοὸς ἐξ ἐπαφῆς κἀξ ἐπιπνοίας
Διὸς εὐχόμενον τετέλεσται.

Ian Johnston
2013


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CHORUS
I pray that Zeus who cares for suppliants
will look with kindness on our company,
whose ship has travelled here across the sea
from the fine-grained sandy estuary
of river Nile. We fled that sacred land,
whose pastures border Syria, and come
as fugitives, not exiled by decree
of public banishment for shedding blood,
but acting on our own, because we wished
to flee a marriage we could not accept,
a hateful and sacrilegious match
with Aegyptus’ sons. For Danaus,
our father, who is our counsellor
and leads our group, debated what to do
and of our painful options chose the best-
to rush away as quickly as we could,
sailing across the ocean seas to Argos.
We can claim with pride our family line
comes from this land, for it sprang up
from the hand and breath of Zeus, who touched
that cow tormented by a gadfly’s sting.
To what land could we come which offered us
more welcome kindness when our hands hold out
these branches wrapped with wool, which indicate
that we are here as suppliants. 0 this city,
this land and its clear streams, O gods above,
and you beneath the earth, stern punishers,
who guard the tombs, and third of all, you too,
O Zeus the Saviour, who defends the homes
of righteous men, with this land's spirit of care
receive our female suppliant band,
and before that swarming horde of men,
those insolent sons born to Aegyptus,
set foot upon this marshy shore, force them
and their swift-moving ship back out to sea,
and there let them run into violent storms,
with lightning, thunder, rain-drenched hurricanes
and perish in the wild and stormy waves,
before they ever carry us away,
their cousins, against our will, and climb
into our beds, an act which Right forbids.

And now we call the Zeus-born calf,
our champion from across the sea, offspring
of our ancestor, the flower-grazing cow
caressed by Zeus’ breath, who in due time
gave birth to Epaphus, whose very name
derives from his own birth.
I call on him by name,
here in his mother’s ancient pasturelands.

Remembering the torment she once faced,
I will set out for those who live here now
trustworthy evidence, and they will see
some unexpected proofs, and at the end
men will believe the truth of what I say.

Should someone living here and close to us
be skilled in understanding songs of birds,
then when he hears our melancholy chant,
it will seem to him our singing voice,
belongs to Metis, Tereus’ poor wife,
the hawk-chased nightingale.
Forced out
from her green leafy haunts, she cries in grief
for her familiar woods and sings the tale
of her chi1d’s fate, who died at her own hand,
the victim of a merciless mother’s rage.

In the same way, too, I chant my grief,
invoking these Ionian strains.
I tear these tender cheeks of mine
burned by Nile sun and rend my heart
which has not yet known tears.
I gather flowers of grief, filled with fear
that no friends will appear to stand by us
as fugitives from that mist-covered land?

But you gods of our race, O listen to me!
Look for what is righteous in this case!
If you deny young men’s unjust desires
and if you truly loathe their wanton lust,
you will uphold the lawful rights of marriage.


Philip Vellacott
1961


Coming soon!


E.D.A Morshead
1908


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.co.uk
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CHORUS.
Zeus! Lord and guard of suppliant hands!
Look down benign on us who crave
Thine aid-whom winds and waters drave
From where, through drifting shifting sands,
Pours Nilus to the wave.
From where the green land, god-possest,
Closes and fronts the Syrian waste,
We flee as exiles, yet unbanned
By murder's sentence from our land;
But-since Aegyptus had decreed
His sons should wed his brother's seed,-
Ourselves we tore from bonds abhorred,
From wedlock not of heart but hand,
Nor brooked to call a kinsman lord!
And Danaus, our sire and guide,
The king of counsel, pond'ring well
The dice of fortune as they fell,
Out of two griefs the kindlier chose,
And bade us fly, with him beside,
Heedless what winds or waves arose,
And o'er the wide sea waters haste,
Until to Argos‘ shore at last
Our wandering pinnace came-
Argos, the immemorial home
Of her from whom we boast to come-
Io, the ox-horned maiden, whom,
After long wandering, woe, and scathe,
Zeus with a touch, a mystic breath,
Made mother of our name.
Therefore, of all the lands of earth,
On this most gladly step we forth,
And in our hands aloft we bear-
Sole weapon for a suppliant's wear-
The olive-shoot, with wool enwound!
City, and land, and waters wan
Of Inachus, and gods most high,
And ye who, deep beneath the ground,
Bring vengeance weird on mortal man,
Powers of the grave, on you we cry!
And unto Zeus the Saviour, guard
Of mortals‘ holy purity!
Receive ye us-keep watch and ward
Above the suppliant maiden band!
Chaste be the heart of this your land
Towards the weak! but, ere the throng,
The wanton swarm, from Egypt sprung,
Leap forth upon the silted shore,
Thrust back their swift-rowed bark again,
Repel them, urge them to the main!
And there, ‘mid storm and lightning's shine,
And scudding drift and thunder's roar,
Deep death be theirs, in stormy brine!


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