At the beginning of Euripides’ Iphigenia at Aulis we find Agamemnon awake in turmoil, much the same way as he begins book 10 of the Iliad. An old attendant tries to calm him down. Then he asks for a story.
Agamemnon: “This is it, the noble risk,
And its ambition
It is sweet, but it causes pain when it is closer.
Sometimes divine decrees, incomplete, will
Upturn our life, and then the many implacable beliefs
Of human beings will shatter it.”
Old Man: “I do not like these thoughts from a leader
Atreus did not bear you for only life’s good,
But you must feel joy and grief: For you are a mortal.
Even if you do not want it, these things
Are still willed by the gods.
But you kindled the light of the lamp
And wrote on that tablet which you
Worry in your hand and you pour out
The same words again and then
You seal them only to wipe off the seal
And throw the pine frame to the ground
As you shed flowing tears. You seem at a loss-
You seem like someone who has gone mad.
What pains you? What’s new, king?
Come, share your tale with me.”
Αγ. τοῦτο δέ γ’ ἐστὶν τὸ καλὸν σφαλερόν,
καὶ τὸ πρότιμον
γλυκὺ μέν, λυπεῖ δὲ προσιστάμενον.
τοτὲ μὲν τὰ θεῶν οὐκ ὀρθωθέντ’
ἀνέτρεψε βίον, τοτὲ δ’ ἀνθρώπων
καὶ δυσάρεστοι διέκναισαν.
Πρ. οὐκ ἄγαμαι ταῦτ’ ἀνδρὸς ἀριστέως.
οὐκ ἐπὶ πᾶσίν σ’ ἐφύτευσ’ ἀγαθοῖς,
᾿Αγάμεμνον, ᾿Ατρεύς. δεῖ δέ σε χαίρειν
καὶ λυπεῖσθαι· θνητὸς γὰρ ἔφυς.
κἂν μὴ σὺ θέληις, τὰ θεῶν οὕτω
βουλόμεν’ ἔσται. σὺ δὲ λαμπτῆρος
φάος ἀμπετάσας δέλτον τε γράφεις
τήνδ’ ἣν πρὸ χερῶν ἔτι βαστάζεις,
καὶ ταὐτὰ πάλιν γράμματα συγχεῖς
καὶ σφραγίζεις λύεις τ’ ὀπίσω
ῥίπτεις τε πέδωι πεύκην, θαλερὸν
κατὰ δάκρυ χέων, κἀκ τῶν ἀπόρων
οὐδενὸς ἐνδεῖς μὴ οὐ μαίνεσθαι.
τί πονεῖς; τί νέον παρὰ σοί, βασιλεῦ;
φέρε κοίνωσον μῦθον ἐς ἡμᾶς.