Aiskhylos — Agammemnon. Watchman’s Prologue: Ten years of waiting and now, finally, victory so the King can return

Note: For more, please see Aiskhylos — Agamemnon.

greek theater, aschylus, agamemnon


Watchman’s Prologue: Ten years of waiting and now, finally, victory so the King can return
(lines 1-39)

by Aiskhylos (Aeschylus)

Translated by William P. Coleman


I ask this of the gods — release from pain, from
years of watching — so many sleepy years
on the Atreids’ roofs, chin on my hands, the way a dog lies;
I learned by heart the assembly of nightly stars
as they’ve brought winter and summer too to mortals,
brilliant lords, shining stars clear in the
skies — the times they set — and their rising.

Now I wait for a sign from a torch,
fire carrying sunlight from Troy, an oracle,
the word of victory. In this way, that woman
uses power with the will of a male, her heart hoping.
So, whenever — anytime I’m forced out into the night, wet
with dew, paying no attention to my bed or to dreams
because fear instead of sleep attends me:
not to mash my eyelids close in sleep —
or if I think to sing or hum to cut off
sleep with an alternative cure —
at such times I cry out, groaning the events in this house,
no longer, as before, patiently, carefully worked out best.

But — with luck — it may now happen, the release from pain —
the dark fire may bring good news to light.

Oh, welcome! — Lamp in the night, telling of
daytime sunlight and sure to set off many choral dances
in Argos as celebrations of this outcome.
Yes! Yes!

I’ll promptly signal Agamemnon’s wife
to rise from bed. Swiftly, I can shout out
welcome news to her household — pointing to
the torch showing they’ve taken
the city of Troy, as the flare announces clearly.
And I myself, I’ll dance an introduction;
things have fallen right for my lord, so I’ll make it that this
beacon flare has thrown a three times six for me.

May the well-loved hand of the returning master
of this house appear so I can take it in this hand of mine.
For the rest, I am silent. A great ox has stepped
on my tongue. The house itself, if it could form
distinct sounds would tell an open tale. As for me,
I’m clear to those who know and evade the curious.

Note: For more, please see Aiskhylos — Agamemnon.

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