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SCENE III. - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Goethe’s Works, vol. 3 (Goetz von Berlichingen, Iphigenia in Tauris, Tarquato Tasso, etc) 
Goethe’s Works, illustrated by the best German artists, 5 vols. (Philadelphia: G. Barrie, 1885). Vol. 3.
Part of: Goethe’s Works, 5 vols.
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Her royal gifts the goddess shower on thee,
Imparting conquest, wealth and high renown.
Dominion, and the welfare of thy house,
With the fulfilment of each pious wish.
That thou, whose sway for multitudes provides,
Thyself may’st be supreme in happiness!
Contented were I with my people’s praise;
My conquests others more than I enjoy.
Oh! be he king or subject, he’s most bless’d,
Whose happiness is centred in his home.
My deep affliction thou didst share with me
What time, in war’s encounter, the fell sword
Tore from my side my last, my dearest son;
So long as fierce revenge possess’d my heart,
I did not feel my dwelling’s dreary void;
But now, returning home, my rage appeas’d,
Their kingdom wasted, and my son aveng’d,
I find there nothing left to comfort me.
The glad obedience I was wont to see
Kindling in every eye, is smother’d now
In discontent and gloom; each, pondering, weighs
The changes which a future day may bring,
And serves the childless king, because he must.
To-day I come within this sacred fane,
Which I have often enter’d to implore
And thank the gods for conquest. In my breast
I bear an old and fondly-cherish’d wish,
To which methinks thou canst not be a stranger;
I hope, a blessing to myself and realm,
To lead thee to my dwelling as my bride.
Too great thine offer, king, to one unknown;
Abash’d the fugitive before thee stands,
Who on this shore sought only what thou gavest,
Safety and peace.
Thus still to shroud thyself
From me, as from the lowest, in the veil
Of mystery which wrapp’d thy coming here,
Would in no country be deem’d just or right.
Strangers this shore appall’d; ’twas so ordain’d,
Alike by law and stern necessity.
From thee alone—a kindly-welcom’d guest,
Who hast enjoy’d each hallow’d privilege.
And spent thy days in freedom unrestrain’d—
From thee I hop’d that confidence to gain
Which every faithful host may justly claim.
If I conceal’d, O king, my name, my race,
It was embarrassment, and not mistrust.
For didst thou know who stands before thee now.
And what accursed head thine arm protects,
Strange horror would possess thy mighty heart;
And, far from wishing me to share thy throne,
Thou, ere the time appointed, from thy realm
Would’st banish me; would’st thrust me forth, perchance
Before a glad reunion with my friends
And period to my wand’rings is ordain’d,
To meet that sorrow, which in every clime,
With cold, inhospitable, fearful hand,
Awaits the outcast, exil’d from his home.
Whate’er respecting thee the gods decree.
Whate’er their doom for thee and for thy house,
Since thou hast dwelt amongst us, and enjoy’d
The privilege the pious stranger claims,
To me hath fail’d no blessing sent from heaven;
And to persuade me, that protecting thee
I shield a guilty head, were hard indeed.
Thy bounty, not the guest, draws blessings down.
The kindness shown the wicked is not bless’d.
End then thy silence, priestess; not unjust
Is he who doth demand it. In my hands
The goddess placed thee; thou hast been to me
As sacred as to her, and her behest
Shall for the future also be my law:
If thou canst hope in safety to return
Back to thy kindred, I renounce my claims:
But is thy homeward path forever closed—
Or doth thy race in hopeless exile rove,
Or lie extinguish’d by some mighty woe—
Then may I claim thee by more laws than one.
Speak openly, thou know’st I keep my word.
Its ancient bands reluctantly my tongue
Doth loose, a long-hid secret to divulge;
For once imparted, it resumes no more
The safe asylum of the inmost heart,
But thenceforth, as the powers above decree,
Doth work its ministry of weal or woe,
Attend! I issue from the Titan’s race.
A word momentous calmly hast thou spoken.
Him nam’st thou ancestor whom all the world
Knows as a sometime favorite of the gods?
Is it that Tantalus, whom Jove himself
Drew to his council and his social board?
On whose experienc’d words, with wisdom fraught,
As on the language of an oracle,
E’en gods delighted hung?
’Tis even he;
But the immortal gods with mortal men
Should not, on equal terms, hold intercourse;
For all too feeble is the human race,
Not to grow dizzy on unwonted heights,
Ignoble was he not, and no betrayer;
To be the Thunderer’s slave, he was too great;
To be his friend and comrade,—but a man.
His crime was human, and their doom severe;
For poets sing, that treachery and pride
Did from Jove’s table hurl him headlong down
To grovel in the depths of Tartarus.
Alas, and his whole race must bear their hate.
Bear they their own guilt, or their ancestor’s?
The Titan’s mighty breast and nervous frame
Was his descendants’ certain heritage;
But round their brow Jove forg’d a band of brass.
Wisdom and patience, prudence and restraint,
He from their gloomy, fearful eye conceal’d;
In them each passion grew to savage rage,
And headlong rush’d with violence uncheck’d.
Already Pelops, Tantalus’ lov’d son,
Mighty of will, obtain’d his beauteous bride,
Hippodamia, child of Œnomans,
Through treachery and murder; she ere long,
To glad her consort’s heart, bore him two sons,
Thyest and Atreus. They with envy mark’d
The ever-growing love their father bore
To his first-born, sprung from another union.
Hate leagued the pair, and secretly they wrought,
In fratricide, the first dread crime. The sire
Hippodamia held as murderess,
With savage rage he claim’d from her his son,
And she in terror did destroy herself—
Thou’rt silent? Pause not in thy narrative;
Repent not of thy confidence—say on!
How bless’d is he who his progenitors
With pride remembers, to the listener tells
The story of their greatness, of their deeds,
And, silently rejoicing, sees himself
The latest link of this illustrious chain!
For seldom does the self-same stock produce
The monster and the demigod: a line
Or good or evil ushers in, at last,
The glory or the terror of the world.—
After the death of Pelops, his two sons
Rul’d o’er the city with divided sway.
But such an union could not long endure.
His brother’s honor first Thyestes wounds.
In vengeance Atreus drove him from the realm,
Thyestes, planning horrors, long before
Had stealthily procur’d his brother’s son,
Whom he in secret nurtur’d as his own.
Revenge and fury in his breast he pour’d,
Then to the royal city sent him forth,
That in his uncle he might slay his sire.
The meditated murder was disclos’d,
And by the king most cruelly aveng’d,
Who slaughter’d, as he thought, his brother’s son.
Too late he learn’d whose dying tortures met
His drunken gaze; and seeking to assuage
The insatiate vengeance that possess’d his soul,
He plann’d a deed unheard of. He assum’d
A friendly tone, seem’d reconcil’d, appeas’d,
And lur’d his brother, with his children twain,
Back to his kingdom; these he seiz’d and slew;
Then plac’d the loathsome and abhorrent food
At his first meal before the unconscious sire.
And when Thyestes had his hunger still’d
With his own flesh, a sadness seiz’d his soul;
He for his children ask’d,—their steps, their voice
Fancied he heard already at the door;
And Atreus, grinning with malicious joy,
Threw in the members of the slaughter’d boys.
Shudd’ring, O king, thou dost avert thy face:
So did the sun his radiant visage hide,
And swerve his chariot from the eternal path.
These, monarch, are thy priestess’ ancestors,
And many a dreadiul fate of mortal doom,
And many a deed of the bewilder’d brain,
Dark night doth cover with her sable wing,
Or shroud in gloomy twilight.
Let them abide. A truce to horror now,
And tell me by what miracle thou sprangest
From race so savage.
Atreus’ eldest son
Was Agamemnon; he, O king, my sire:
But I may say with truth, that, from a child,
In him the model of a perfect man
I witness’d ever. Clytemnestra bore
To him, myself, the firstling of their love,
Electra then. Peaceful the monarch rul’d,
And to the house of Tantalus was given
A long-withheld repose. A son alone
Was wanting to complete my parents’ bliss;
Scarce was this wish fulfill’d, and young Orestes,
The household’s darling, with his sisters grew,
When new misfortunes vex’d our ancient house.
To you hath come the rumor of the war,
Which, to avenge the fairest woman’s wrongs,
The force united of the Grecian kings
Round Ilion’s walls encamp’d. Whether the town
Was humbled, and achiev’d their great revenge,
I have not heard. My father led the host.
In Aulis vainly for a favoring gale
They waited; for, enrag’d against their chief.
Diana stay’d their progress, and requir’d,
Through Chalcas’ voice, the monarch’s eldest daughter.
They lur’d me with my mother to the camp,
They dragg’d me to the altar, and this head
There to the goddess doom’d.—She was appeas’d;
She did not wish my blood, and shrouded me
In a protecting cloud; within this temple
I first awaken’d from the dream of death;
Yes, I myself am she, Iphigenia,
Grandchild of Atreus, Agamemnon’s child,
Diana’s priestess, I who speak with thee.
I yield no higher honor or regard
To the king’s daughter than the maid unknown;
Once more my first proposal I repeat:
Come follow me, and share what I possess.
How dare I venture such a step, O king?
Hath not the goddess who protected me
Alone a right to my devoted head?
’Twas she who chose for me this sanctuary,
Where she perchance reserves me for my sire,
By my apparent death enough chastis’d,
To be the joy and solace of his age.
Perchance my glad return is near; and how,
If I, unmindful of her purposes,
Had here attach’d myself against her will?
I ask’d a signal, did she wish my stay.
The signal is that still thou tarriest here.
Seek not evasively such vain pretexts.
Not many words are needed to refuse,
The no alone is heard by the refus’d.
Mine are not words meant only to deceive;
I have to thee my inmost heart reveal’d.
And doth no inward voice suggest to thee,
How I with yearning soul must pine to see
My father, mother and my long-lost home?
Oh, let thy vessels bear me thither, king?
That in the ancient halls, where sorrow still
In accents low doth fondly breathe my name,
Joy, as in welcome of a new-born child,
May round the columns twine the fairest wreath.
New life thou would’st to me and mine impart.
Then go! Obey the promptings of thy heart;
And to the voice of reason and good counsel
Close thou thine ear. Be quite the woman; give
To every wish the rein, that bridleless
May seize on thee, and whirl thee here and there.
When burns the fire of passion in her breast,
No sacred tie withholds her from the wretch
Who would allure her to forsake for him
A husband’s or a father’s guardian arms;
Extinct within her heart its fiery glow;
The golden tongue of eloquence in vain
With words of truth and power assails her ear
Remember now, O king, thy noble words!
My trust and candor wilt thou thus repay?
Thou seem’st, methinks, prepar’d to hear the truth.
For this unlook’d-for answer not prepar’d.
Yet ’twas to be expected; knew I not
That with a woman I had now to deal?
Upbraid not thus, O king, our feeble sex!
Though not in dignity to match with yours,
The weapons woman wields are not ignoble.
And trust me, Thoas, in thy happiness
I have a deeper insight than thyself.
Thou thinkest, ignorant alike of both,
A closer union would augment our bliss;
Inspir’d with confidence and honest zeal
Thou strongly urgest me to yield consent;
And here I thank the gods, who give me strength
To shun a doom unratified by them.
’Tis not a god, ’tis thine own heart that speaks.
’Tis through the heart alone they speak to us.
To hear them have I not an equal right?
The raging tempest drowns the still small voice.
This voice no doubt the priestess hears alone.
Before all others should the prince attend it.
Thy sacred office, and ancestral right
To Jove’s own table, place thee with the gods
In closer union than an earth-born savage.
Thus must I now the confidence atone
Thyself didst wring from me!
I am a man.
And better ’tis we end this conference
Hear then my last resolve. Be priestess still
Of the great goddess who selected thee;
And may she pardon me, that I from her,
Unjustly and with secret self-reproach,
Her ancient sacrifice so long withheld.
From olden time no stranger near’d our shore
But fell a victim at her sacred shrine.
But thou, with kind affection (which at times
Seem’d like a gentle daughter’s tender love.
At times assum’d to my enraptur’d heart
The modest inclination of a bride),
Didst so enthral me, as with magic bonds,
That I forgot my duty. Thou didst rock
My senses in a dream: I did not hear
My people’s murmurs: now they cry aloud.
Ascribing my poor son’s untimely death
To this my guilt. No longer for thy sake
Will I oppose the wishes of the crowd,
Who urgently demand the sacrifice
For mine own sake I ne’er desir’d it from thee.
Who to the gods ascribe a thirst for blood
Do misconceive their nature, and impute
To them their own inhuman dark desires.
Did not Diana snatch me from the priest.
Holding my service dearer than my death?
’Tis not for us, on reason’s shifting grounds.
Lightly to guide and construe rites divine.
Perform thy duty: I’ll accomplish mine.
Two strangers, whom in caverns of the shore
We found conceal’d, and whose arrival here
Bodes to my realm no good, are in my power.
With them thy goddess may once more resume
Her ancient, pious, long-suspended rites!
I send them here.—thy duty not unknown