previous next
O conquered Thamyris, is this thy bane1
Returned from death to pierce my heart again?
Thy pride it was, and bitter challenge cast
'Gainst all the Muses, did my flesh abase
To bearing of this Child, what time I passed
Through the deep stream and looked on Strymon's
     face,
And felt his great arms clasp me, when to old
Pangaion and the earth of hoarded gold
We Sisters came with lutes and psalteries,
Provoked to meet in bitter strife of song
That mountain wizard, and made dark the eyes
Of Thamyris, who wrought sweet music wrong.

I bore thee, Child; and then, in shame before
My sisterhood, my dear virginity,
I stood again upon thy Father's shore
And cast thee to the deeps of him; and he
Received and to no mortal nursing gave
His child, but to the Maidens of the Wave.
And well they nursed thee, and a king thou wast
And first of Thrace in war; yea, far and near
Through thine own hills thy bloody chariot passed,
Thy battered helm flashed, and I had no fear;
Only to Troy I charged thee not to go:
I knew the fated end: but Hector's cry,
Borne overseas by embassies of woe,
Called thee to battle for thy friends and die.

And thou, Athena-nothing was the deed
Odysseus wrought this night nor Diomede-
'Tis thine, all thine; dream not thy cruel hand
Is hid from me! Yet ever on thy land
The Muse hath smiled; we gave it praise above
All cities, yea, fulfilled it with our love.
The light of thy great Mysteries was shed
By Orpheus, very cousin of this dead
Whom thou hast slain; and thine high citizen
Musaeus, wisest of the tribes of men,
We and Apollo guided all his way:
For which long love behold the gift ye pay!
I wreathe him in my arms; I wail his wrong
Alone, and ask no other mourner's song.
She weeps over RHESUS.

LEADER.
Hector, thou hearest. We were guiltless here,2
And falsely spake that Thracian charioteer.

1 P. 51, 1. 915. The speech of the Muse seems like the writing of a poet who is, for the moment, tired of mere drama, and wishes to get back into his own element. Such passages are characteristic of Euripides.-The death of Rhesus seems to the Muse like an act of vengeance from the dead Thamyris, the Thracian bard who had blasphemied the Muses and challenged them to a contest of song. They conquered him and left him blind, but still a poet. The story in Homer is more terrible, though more civilised: "They in wrath made him a maimed man, they took away his heavenly song and made him forget his harping."

Thamyris, the bard who defied Heaven; Orpheus, the bard, saint, lover, whose severed head still cried for his lost Eurydice; Musaeus, the bard of mystic wisdom and initiations-are the three great legendary figures of this Northern mountain minstrelsy.

2 P. 52, l. 950. These short speeches between Hector and the Leader of the Guard make a jarring note in the midst of the Muse's lament. Perhaps it would not be so if we knew how the play was produced, but at present this seems like one of several marks of comparative crudity in technique which mark the play, amid all its daring and inventiveness.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Greek (Gilbert Murray, 1913)
load focus English (E. P. Coleridge, 1891)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Thrace (Greece) (1)

Visualize the most frequently mentioned Pleiades ancient places in this text.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide References (1 total)
  • Cross-references in notes to this page (1):
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: