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Hippolytus/The Bacchae

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  APHRODITEGreat among men, and not unnamed am I,The Cyprian, in God's inmost halls on high.And wheresoe'er from Pontus to the farRed West men dwell, and see the glad day-star,And worship Me, the pious heart I bless,And wreck that life that lives in stubbornness.For that there is, even in a great God's mind,That hungereth for the praise of human kind.

So runs my word; and soon the very deedShall follow. For this Prince of Theseus' seed,Hippolytus, child of that dead Amazon,And reared by saintly Pittheus in his ownStrait ways, hath dared, alone of all Trozên,To hold me least of spirits and most mean,And spurns my spell and seeks no woman's kiss,But great Apollo's sister, Artemis,He holds of all most high, gives love and praise,And through the wild dark woods for ever strays,He and the Maid together, with swift houndsTo slay all angry beasts from out these bounds,To more than mortal friendship consecrate!

I grudge it not. No grudge know I, nor hate;Yet, seeing he hath offended, I this dayShall smite Hippolytus. Long since my wayWas opened, nor needs now much labour more.

For once from Pittheus' castle to the shoreOf Athens came Hippolytus over-seasSeeking the vision of the Mysteries.And Phaedra there, his father's Queen high-born;Saw him, and as she saw, her heart was tornWith great love, by the working of my will.And for his sake, long since, on Pallas' hill,Deep in the rock, that Love no more might roam,She built a shrine, and named it Love-at-home:And the rock held it, but its face alwaySeeks Trozên o'er the seas. Then came the dayWhen Theseus, for the blood of kinsmen shed,Spake doom of exile on himself, and fled,Phaedra beside him, even to this Trozên.And here that grievous and amazed Queen,Wounded and wondering, with ne'er a word,Wastes slowly; and her secret none hath heardNor dreamed.

But never thus this love shall end!To Theseus' ear some whisper will I send,And all be bare! And that proud Prince, my foe,His sire shall slay with curses. Even soEndeth that boon the great Lord of the MainTo Theseus gave, the Three Prayers not in vain.

And she, not in dishonour, yet shall die.I would not rate this woman's pain so highAs not to pay mine haters in full feeThat vengeance that shall make all well with me.

But soft, here comes he, striding from the chase,Our Prince Hippolytus!—I will go my ways.—And hunters at his heels: and a loud throngGlorying Artemis with praise and song!Little he knows that Hell's gates opened are,And this his last look on the great Day-star!    [APHRODITE withdraws, unseen by HIPPOLYTUS     and a band of huntsmen, who enter from the left, singing.     They pass the Statue of APHRODITE without notice.]

  HIPPOLYTUSFollow, O follow me,Singing on your waysHer in whose hand are we,Her whose own flock we be,The Zeus-Child, the Heavenly;To Artemis be praise!

  HUNTSMANHail to thee, Maiden blest,Proudest and holiest:God's Daughter, great in bliss,Leto-born, Artemis!Hail to thee, Maiden, farFairest of all that are,Yea, and most high thine home,Child of the Father's hall;Hear, O most virginal,Hear, O most fair of all,In high God's golden dome.

  [The huntsmen have gathered about the altar of ARTEMIS.   HIPPOLYTUS now advances from them, and approaches the Statue   with a wreath in his hand.]

  HIPPOLYTUSTo thee this wreathed garland, from a greenAnd virgin meadow bear I, O my Queen,Where never shepherd leads his grazing ewesNor scythe has touched....