The Trial of Aeschylos

Judge . Bring into court the culprit, him accused
Of having, and deliberately, betray'd
The mysteries of Eleusis.
Æschylos . Here I stand,
No culprit, and no jailer brings me forth.
Judge . Hast thou not, Æschylos, divulged the rites
Taught by Demeter?
Æschylos . What have I divulged
Beside the truths the Gods to men impart,
And none beside the worthy do they trust.
The human breast they open and they close,
And who can steal their secrets? who shall dare
Infringe their laws, or who arraign their will?
Ye men of Athens! before you I stand,
Known to ye long ago, nor only here,
But on the plain of Marathon: who flincht
In that fierce fray? did I? and shall I now?
The brave man venerates, the base man fears,
I scorn to supplicate, or even to plead,
For well I know there is a higher court,
A court of last appeal.
Judge . We know it not;
Where is it situated?
Æschylos . In man's heart.
In life it may be barr'd, so dark that none
See into it, not he himself; Death comes,
And then the Furies leave their grove and strike.
Citizen . He spake no wiser words upon the stage,
Where all men speak their wisest and their best.
Another Citizen . I wish he had not said a word about
Those Furies; Death is bad enough.
First Citizen . Hush! hush!
The Arkon rises up and waves his hand.
Judge . What say ye, men of Athens, to the charge
Ye heard denounced this morning? Are ye mute?
Sadness I see in some, in others wrath,
Wrath ill becomes the seat I occupy;
And even sadness I would fain suppress.
But who can bear irreverence to his Gods?
Their profanation (by your laws) is death.
Amyntos . ( Rushes forward and bares his brother's scars .) What have these merited? These wounds he won
From Persia, nothing else. Let others show
The purple vestures, stript from satraps slain,
He slew them, and left those for weaker hands
To gather up, and to adorn their wives.
Æschylos . Amyntos is my brother, so are ye,
But why display my ragged white-faced scar?
Why show the place where one arm was , if one
Keeps yet its own? this left can wield the sword.

Amyntos . Fling not thy cloak about thee, nor turn round,
Nay, brother, thou shalt not conceal the scars
With that one hand yet left thee.
Those who defiled the altars of your Gods.
Look up: is Pallas standing on yon hill?
She would not have been standing there unless
Men like the man before ye had well fought
At Marathon, not braver than some here
Who fought with him and bound his shattered limb.
If Æschylos your comrade had profaned
Her mysteries, would Demeter since have blest
Your fields with what we call the staff of life,
To give ye strength and courage to protect
Your country, wives, and friends.
Ye want him not,
If irreligious wretch hath violated
What all hold sacred, Æschylos not least,
To death condemn him.
Weep not thou, whoe'er
Impatient men! impatient as for battle.
If there be any here who deem him guilty,
To death condemn him, or to worse than death,
Drive him from Athens, bid him raise no more
Your hearts and souls, for he no more can fight
To save our country, nor call heroes down
To stand before ye, not more brave than he,
Alas! alas! nor more unfortunate.

Citizen . Truth, by the Gods! thou speakest.

Judge . Speak ye too,
Judges who sit beside me.

Judges . Thou art absolved
By all the people; we confirm the voice.
Æschylos, go in peace.

Citizen . In glory go.
Are there no clarions nigh, to waft him home
With their strong blast? no harp to ring before?

Another Citizen . No olive? none there had been but for him
In all this land.
Another Citizen ast we can raise up
Our voices to the hymn they have begun,
And call our children to come forth and kiss
The threshold that our Æschylos hath crost.
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