Agamemnon (page 673)

Chapter 17, The Return from Troy

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Aischylos, Agamemnon

[1] Release from this weary task of mine has been my plea to the gods throughout this long year’s watch, in which, lying upon the palace roof of the Atreidae, upon my bent arm, like a dog, I have learned to know well the gathering of the night’s stars, those radiant potentates conspicuous in the firmament, [5] bringers of winter and summer to mankind [the constellations, when they rise and set].

So now I am still watching for the signal-flame, the gleaming fire that is to bring news from Troy and [10] tidings of its capture. For thus commands my queen, woman in passionate heart and man in strength of purpose. And whenever I make here my bed, restless and dank with dew and unvisited by dreams—for instead of sleep fear stands ever by my side, [15] so that I cannot close my eyelids fast in sleep—and whenever I care to sing or hum (and thus apply an antidote of song to ward off drowsiness), then my tears start forth, as I bewail the fortunes of this house of ours, not ordered for the best as in days gone by. [20] But tonight may there come a happy release from my weary task! May the fire with its glad tidings flash through the gloom!

The signal fire suddenly flashes out Oh welcome, you blaze in the night, a light as if of day, you harbinger of many a choral dance in Argos in thanksgiving for this glad event!

[25] Hallo! Hallo! To Agamemnon’s queen I thus cry aloud the signal to rise from her bed, and as quickly as she can to lift up in her palace halls a shout of joy in welcome of this fire, if the city of Ilium [30] truly is taken, as this beacon unmistakably announces. And I will make an overture with a dance upon my own account; for my lord’s lucky roll I shall count to my own score, now that this beacon has thrown me triple six.

Ah well, may the master of the house come home and may [35] I clasp his welcome hand in mine! For the rest I stay silent; a great ox stands upon my tongue1—yet the house itself, could it but speak, might tell a plain enough tale; since, for my part, by my own choice I have words for those who know, and to those who do not know, I’ve lost my memory.He descends by an inner stairway; attendants kindle fires at the altars placed in front of the palace. Enter the chorus of Argive Elders.  Continue Reading  Greek Text

Edited by Elena Bianchelli, Retired Senior Lecturer of Classical Languages and Culture, Univ. of Georgia, February 2023

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