Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, SUPPLICES: CHIVALRY, by EURIPIDES



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SUPPLICES: CHIVALRY, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Why weeping, mother? And why veil your eyes
Last Line: Your help, my son. Will you not give it them?
Subject(s): Chivalry


THESEUS. AETHRA

THES.

Why weeping, mother? and why veil your eyes
In your soft dress? Is it because you hear
These cries of sorrow? I too feel this pang.
Lift your white head again, and do not weep
When sitting by Demeter's solemn hearth.

AETH.

Alas!

THES.

These women's troubles do not ask our tears.

AETH.

Unhappy women!

THES.

Your are not among them.

AETH.

Grant me a word to help you and the city.

THES.

The words that women say are often wise.

AETH.

The speech I leave unspoken brings me fear.

THES.

A sorry speech to hide good words from friends.

AETH.

Speak then I shall, nor later find reproach
That I have now kept silence wrongfully.
Nor, fearing that a woman's words are idle,
Shall I in fear withhold an honest thought.
First, son, I bid you look to holy things,
Lest from dishonouring the gods you fall:
In all else right, in this alone you failed.
Next, if we should not rightly give our help
To injured men, I should have held my tongue:
Now see what honour this will bring to you --
I do not fear to counsel you, my son --
That violent men who try to rob the dead
Of funeral rites and their last offices
Should to the like constraint be brought by you
And stopped from ruining the laws that reign
Through Hellas. What unites the towns of men
Is this -- that laws are honourably kept.
Some one will say that out of cowardice,
When you might win a crown of fame for Athens,
You feared and stood aside, -- who made light sport
Of fighting with the wild and angry boar --
But when you should have stood against the spear-points
And helmets, then you proved yourself afraid.
My son, for you are mine, do not this thing.
You see your country, helpless and reviled,
Lift up its glittering eye against all those
Revilers? In its sorrows it finds strength.
Cities, which work in twilight silently,
Have twilit looks, for all their careful plans.
These dead men and these weeping women need
Your help, my son. Will you not give it them?





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