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Enter by Eisodos B Demophon.

My son, why have you come with worry in your glance? Are you going to tell me something new about the enemy? Are they tarrying, or have they arrived, or what news have you heard? For you will assuredly not prove false what the herald said. [385] The general, who has been fortunate before now, will come to Athens, I am sure, and in no humble mood. But of course Zeus is the punisher of thoughts that are too high and mighty.

The Argive army has arrived and Eurystheus its leader. [390] I have seen him myself: a man who claims to be well versed in the art of generalship must not observe the enemy by means of messengers. But he has not yet sent his army into the plain of Attica. Rather, sitting upon a rocky brow, [395] he is deliberating (I will tell you my impressions) by what route he should bring so great an army within the borders of our land and safely encamp it. Where my own part is concerned, all is well prepared: the city is in arms, the sacrificial victims stand [400] in readiness for the gods to whom they are to be sacrificed, and offerings are being made throughout the city by diviners. But I gathered all the chanters of oracles into one place and closely examined their oracles, both public and secret [ [405] old oracles making for the safety of the city]. On other points these oracles showed many differences. But one thought shines forth from them all: they bid me to sacrifice a maiden to the daughter of Demeter, a maiden daughter of a noble father, to rout the enemy and save the city.

[410] As you see, I am very eager to help you, but I shall not kill my own daughter nor shall I force one of my citizens to do so against his will: and who would be so foolish as to give away of his own will a child he loves beyond all else? [415] Now you will see crowded assemblies being held, with some maintaining that it was right to protect strangers who are suppliants, while others accuse me of folly. If I do as I am bidden, civil war will break out.

[420] Accordingly, consider these facts and join with me in discovering how you yourselves may be saved and this land as well, and how I may not be put in the wrong in the eyes of the citizens. I do not have a monarchy like that of the barbarians: only if I do what is fair will I be fairly treated.

Chorus Leader
[425] But does the god really forbid this city to protect the strangers, though she is eager to do so and they need her help?

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