A monologue from the play by Euripides


NOTE: This translation of Iphigenia at Aulis was originally published in 1929 by Oxford University Press.

IPHIGENIA: Had I the voice of Orpheus, O my father,
If I could sing so that the rocks would move,
If I had words to win the hearts of all,
I would have used them. I have only tears.
See, I have brought them! They are all my power.
I clasp your knees, I am your suppliant now,
I, your own child; my mother bore me to you.
O, kill me not untimely! The sun is sweet!
Why will you send me into the dark grave?
I was the first to call you father, first to give
Dear gifts and take them. And you used to say,
"My darling, shall I see you safely wed,
In some good husband's home, a happy wife,
As I would have you?" Then I'd answer you,
Stroking your beard, the beard that I touch now,
"What shall I do for you, O father mine?
Welcome you, a loved guest, in my own house,
Pay you for all your nursing-care of me?
Oh, I remember every word we said,
But you forget them, and you wish my death.
Have pity, for your father Atreus' sake
And for my mother's; she has suffered once
When I was born, and she must suffer now.
What can I have to do with Helen's love?
How is it she has come to ruin me?
My father, look at me, and kiss me once,
That I may take this memory at least
Unto the grave with me, if I must die.
[She turns to the child ORESTES.]
O, brother, you are young to help your friends,
Yet come and cry with me, kneel down and pray
For your poor sister's life. O father, see!
Even children understand when sorrow comes!
He asks for mercy though he cannot speak;
Yes, we two children touch your beard and pray,
We, your grown daughter and your little son.
Now will I gather all prayers into one,
And that must conquer. Life is sweet, is sweet!
The dead have nothing. Those who wish to die
Are out of reason. Life, the worst of lives,
Is better than the proudest death can be!