The Prologue


PERSEUS son of Zeus and Danaë
CEPHEUS King of Syria
IOLAUS son of Cepheus and Cassiopea
PHINEUS King of tyre
TYRNAUS Merchant of Babylonia, wrecked on the coast of Syria
SMERDAS Merchant of Babylonia, wrecked on the coast of Syria
THEROPS a popular leader
PERISSUS a citizen butcher
DERCETES a Syrian captain
NEBASSAR captain of the Chaldean Guard
CIREAS a servant in the temple of POSEIDON
MEDES an usher in the palace
CASSIOPEA princess of Chaldea, Queen of Syria
ANDROMED A daughter of Cepheus and Cassiopea
CYDONE mistress of Iolaus
PRAXILLA head of the palace household in the Women’s apartments
DIOMEDE a slave-girl, servant and playmate of Andromeda
BALTIS Syrian women
townsmen and villagers  

    SCENE: The city of Cepheus, the seashore, the temple of POSEIDON On the headland and the surrounding country.


The Ocean in tumult, and the sky in storm:
    Pallas Athene appears in the heavens with lightnings playing over her head and under her feet.

    Error of waters rustling through the world,
    Vast Ocean, call thy ravenous waves that march
    With blue fierce nostrils quivering for prey,
    Back to thy feet. Hush thy impatient surges
    At my divine command and do my will.

    Who art thou layest thy serene command
    Upon the untamed waters?

     I am Pallas,
    Daughter of the Omnipotent.

    What wouldst thou?
    For we cannot resist thee; our clamorous hearts
    Are hushed in terror at thy marble feet.

    Awake your dread Poseidon. Bid him rise
    And come before me.

    Let thy compelling voice
    Awake him; for the sea is hushed.

    Illimitable Poseidon! let thy blue
    And streaming tresses mingle with the foam
    Emerging into light.

POSEIDON appears upon the waters.

    What quite voice
    Compels me from my rocky pillow piled
    Upon the floor of the enormous deep?

    A whiteness and a strength is in the skies.

    How art thou white and beautiful and calm,
    Yet clothed in tumult! Heaven above thee shakes
    Wounded with lightning, goddess, and the sea
    Flees from thy dreadful tranquil feet. Thy calm
    Troubles me: who art thou, dweller in the light?

    I am Athene

    Virgin formidable
    In beauty, disturber of the ancient world!
    Ever thou seekest to enslave to man
    The eternal Universe, and our huge motions
    That shake the mountains and upheave the seas
    Wouldst with the glancing visions of thy brain
    Coerce and bridle.

    Me the Omnipotent
    Made from His being to lean and discipline
    The immortal spirit of man, till it attain
    To order and magnificent mastery
    Of all his outward world.

    What wouldst thou of me ?

    The powers of the earth have kissed my feet
    In deep submission, and they yield me tribute,
    Olives and corn and all fruit-bearing trees,
    And silver from the bowels of the hills,
    Marble and iron ore. Fire is my servant.
    But thou, Poseidon, with thy kindred gods
    And the wild wings of air resist me. I come
    To set my feet upon thy azure locks,
    O shaker of the cliffs. Adore thy sovereign.

    The anarchy of the enormous seas
    Is mine, O terrible Athene: I sway
    Their billows with my nod. Man’s feeble feet
    Leave there no traces, nor his destiny
    Has any hold upon the shifting waves.

    Thou severest him with thy unmeasured wastes
    Whom I would weld in one. But I will lead him
    Over thy waters, thou wild thunderer,
    Spurning thy tops in hollowed fragile trees.
    He shall be confident in me and dare
    The immeasurable oceans till the West
    Mingles with India, and reach the northern isles
    That dwell beneath my dancing aegis bright,
    Snow-weary. He shall, armed with clamorous fire,
    Rush o’er the angry waters when the whale
    Is stunned between two waves and slay his foe
    Betwixt the thunders. Therefore I bid thee not,
    O azure strong Poseidon, to abate
    Thy savage tumults: rather his march oppose.
    For through the shocks of difficulty and death
    Man shall attain his godhead.

What then desir’st thou, Athene?

    On yonder inhospitable coast
    Far-venturing merchants from the East, or those
    Who put from Tyre towards Atlantic gains,
    Are by thy trident fiercely shaken forth
    Upon the jagged rocks, and who escape,
    The gay and savage Syrians on their altars
    Massacre hideously, thee to propitiate,
    Moloch- Poseidon of the Syrian coasts,
    Dagon of Gaza, lord of many names
    And many natures, many forms of power
    Who rulest from Philistia to the north,
    A terror and woe. O iron king,
    Desist from blood, be glad of kindlier gifts
    And suffer men to live.

    Behold, Athene,
    My waters! See them lift their foam-white tops
    Charging from sky to sky in rapid tumult:
    Admire their force, admire their thunderous speed.
    With green hooves and white manes they trample onwards.
    My mighty Voices fill the world, Athene.
    Shall I permit the grand anarchic seas
    To be a road and the imperious Ocean
    A means of merchandise? Shall the frail keels
    Of they ephemeral mortals score its back
    With servile furrows and petty souls of men
    Triumphing tame the illimitable sea?
    I am not of the mild and later gods,
    But of that elder world; Lemuria
    And old Atlantis raised me crimson altars,
    And my huge nostrils keep that scent of blood
    For which they quiver. Return into thy heavens,
    Pallas Athene, I into my deep.

    Dash then thy billows up against my aegis
    In battle! Think not to hide in thy deep oceans;
    For I will drive thy waters from the world
    And leave thee naked to the light.

    Dread virgin!
    I will not war with thee, armipotent.

    Then send thy champion forth to meet my champion,
    And let their conflict govern ours, Poseidon.

    Who is thy champion?

    Perseus, the Olympian’s son,
    Whom Danaë in her strong brazen tower,
    Acrisius’ daughter, bore, by heavenly gold
    Lapped into slumber: for of that shining rain
    He is the beautiful offspring.

    The parricide
    That is to be? But my sea-monster’s fangs
    And fiery breathings shall prevent that murder.
    Farewell, Athene.

    Farewell, until I press
    My feet upon thy blue enormous mane
    And add thy Ocean to my growing empire.
    Poseidon disappears into the sea.
    He dives into the deep and with a din
    The thunderous divided waters meet
    Above his grisly head. Thou wingest, Perseus,
    From northern snows to this fair sunny land,
    Not knowing in the night what way thou wendest;
    But the dawn comes and over earth’s far rim
    The round sun rises, as thyself shalt rise
    On Syria and thy rosy Andromeda,
    A thing of light. Rejoice, thou famous hero!
    Be glad of love, be glad of life, whose bosom
    Harbours the quiet strength of pure Athene.

She disappears into light.