Thursday, 4 October 2007

First chorus from Euripides' Phaethon

Already the fresh-appearing
Dawn is riding over the world,
and above our heads the
Pleiades’ choir has fled away.
Nightingales in the trees delicately
..... chorus their songs,
woken at sunrise and grieving for
Itys, Itys the much-lamented.

The flutes of mountain-wandering
drovers accompany their tending of flocks.
Workhorses go to pasture,
chestnut-coloured, led by their grooms.
Already off to work with dogs at their heels
..... go huntsmen, to kill their prey.
Swans on the stream of Ocean are
sweetly-sounding their songs.

Small boats are moved out by oar
and by the wind’s favouring liveliness.
After they raise their sails the sailors
cry out “Bring to us, O Mistress Breeze,
smooth-passing guidance, and
..... a hushing wind
a way to our children and our loved wives!”
and the middle of the canvas closes on the forestay.

All this is other people’s business;
the honour of singing at my master’s wedding
is my own right, and so I hope
to hymn this: good times coming for our lords—
these bring confidence and happiness
..... to slaves and to their singing.
But if ever something is born to a fate that is
heavy, heavy fear comes down on the house.

Today is singled-out for celebrating marriage,
a day I have long prayed for,
and I come forward now to sing a wedding hymn
sweetly for my sweet masters.
..... God has willed it, time brought it to pass,
this marriage for my masters.
Let the singing celebration begin!

[From Euripides' fragmentary tragedy Phaethon; text taken from Euripides: Selected Fragmentary Plays (Aris and Phillips 1995) ed. C. Collard, M.J. Cropp and K.H. Lee.]

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