What were the marriage hymns they sang,
as the Libyan flutes played
and the lyre led the dance,
and the reeds piped their high melodies?
What were they singing as the Muses danced,
their feet adorned with golden sandals?
What was sung as they feasted,
to celebrate the marriage of Peleus to Thetis, the sea nymph?
There on the slopes where the Centaurs stood,
Ganymedes, whom Zeus delights in,
poured wine into golden cups.
There the fifty daughters of Nereus whirled round
in a twisting circle for their sister’s nuptials.
There the Centaurs, great horsemen crowned with wreaths,
galloped rowdily to the feast,
drinking deeply from Bacchus’s bowl,
“Daughter of Nereus,
Cheiron, Apollo’s prophet, foretells
that you will bear a mighty son,
the pride of Thessaly.
He will sail to the land where Priam dwells,
bringing Myrmidon soldiers,
to burn down glorious Troy.
There he will wear your gift,
golden armor crafted by the god Hephaistos.”
So did the gods bless
the marriage of Peleus
to the eldest of the sea nymphs.
But you, Princess Iphigenia, your country will crown you
as a cow is crowned before a knife cuts across its throat.
You were not raised in a field,
near the shepherds’ tunes and the herdsmen’s cries.
Your mother raised you to marry a son of one of the gods.
Where is virtue? Where is modesty?
The gods have been discarded
and man has left virtue behind.
Lawlessness is our only law.
We no longer work together
to avoid the wrath of the gods.