Chorus 1 (A)

(CHORUS of women from Chalkis enters from offstage.)


Here I have arrived,
here on the sandy beaches of Aulis.
Here I stand after crossing the straits of Euripus,
after leaving my city of Chalkis,
home of the famed springs of Arethusa.
Here I stand so that I might behold the Achaean army,
so that I can see the heroes my husband told me of,
see Menelaus, whose hair shines so brightly,
see noble Agamemnon
and see their ships with oars reaching out like wings,
the thousand ships that seek for Helen—
Helen who was taken by the cowherd Paris,
Helen, a gift to Paris from the goddess Aphrodite,
the goddess who once bathed herself in the fountain,
so that Paris could judge her beauty alongside Athena and Hera,
and finally prized her beauty above all.

Here I ran through the grove of Artemis
where I saw the altar, ready for a sacrifice.
Here I saw the soldiers’ camp,
their dwellings, their steeds, and their armaments,
and felt my cheeks grow red with youthful modesty.
Here I saw Achilles, speeding swiftly on the sands,
testing his speed against the horses,
four great horses, bringing with them a chariot,
Eumelus their driver pressing his steeds forward with his cries,
two gray stallions whose manes were flecked with white,
and two with hair like flames that bore the golden yoke.
Yet all the while Achilles, in full armor, ran victorious in front.

Here I found the wondrous fleet,
which would fill any woman’s eyes with pleasure:
fifty lean ships from Phthia, 
bearing statues of the sea god’s daughters;
sixty from Athens,
the goddess Athena mounted on the prow,
with her chariot drawn by winged horses;
fifty from Boeotia,
Kadmus holding a dragon of gold aloft in their sterns;
one hundred from Mycenae,
home of the Cyclops,
home of Agamemnon and Menelaus,
bringing vengeance to the bride who abandoned them
to make love to a barbarian.
The galleys followed,
the Aenian ships from Lord Guneus,
the white oared Taphian ships,
commanded by King Meges of the dreaded isles of Echinae,
and the nimble ships led by Ajax,
the pride of the Isle of Salamis,
his ships resting so close to me that I could hear the crew.
I have seen the whole fleet,
and no barbarian who sees it can have hope.
I have seen it all and I will remember it all,
when they tell of it I will remember.

© Edward Einhorn 2015