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Agamemnon
Ah! what is this uproar at the gates, this indecent brawling?

Menelaus
My tale, not his, has the better right to be spoken.

Agamemnon
You, Menelaus! what quarrel do you have with this man, why are you dragging him here? Exit ATTENDANT.

Menelaus
[320] Look me in the face! May that be the prelude to my story.

Agamemnon
Shall I, the son of Atreus, close my eyes from fear?1

Menelaus
Do you see this tablet, the bearer of a shameful message?

Agamemnon
I see it, yes; now, you first of all surrender it.

Menelaus
No, not till I have shown its contents to all the army.

Agamemnon
[325] What! have you broken the seal and know already what you should never have known?

Menelaus
Yes, I opened it and know to your sorrow the secret machinations of your heart.

Agamemnon
Where did you get it? O gods! what shameless heart you have!

Menelaus
I was awaiting your daughter's arrival at the camp in Argos.

Agamemnon
What right have you to watch my doings? is not this a proof of shamelessness?

Menelaus
[330] My wish to do it gave the spur, for I am no slave to you.

Agamemnon
Infamous! Am I not to be allowed the management of my own house?

Menelaus
No, for you think crooked thoughts, one thing now, another formerly, and something different presently.

Agamemnon
Most exquisite refining on evil themes! A hateful thing the tongue of cleverness!

Menelaus

Menelaus
Yes, but a mind unstable is an unjust possession, disloyal to friends. [335] Now I am anxious to test you, and do not seek from rage to turn aside from the truth, nor will I on my part overstrain the case. Do you remember when you were all eagerness to captain the Danaids against Troy, making a pretence of declining, though eager for it in your heart; how humble you were then, taking each man by the hand [340] and keeping open doors for every fellow-townsman who cared to enter, affording each in turn chance to speak with you, even though some did not wish it, seeking by these methods to purchase popularity from all bidders? Then when you had secured the command, there came a change over your manners; you were no longer so cordial as before to former friends, [345] but hard of access, seldom to be found at home. But the man of real worth ought not to change his manners in the hour of prosperity, but should then show himself most staunch to friends, when his own good fortune can help them most effectually.

1 The point lies in the play on the name Ἀτρεύς, i.e., “the fearless,” “shall I the son of fearlessness, fear, etc.?”

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