Iphegenia at Aulus
theater of Dionysus, Athens

In the ancient play Iphegenia at Aulus, Euripides warns that desire can lead to obsession and disgrace…or to lifelong joy if Aphrodite’s sensual embrace is like a ship riding easy on a calm sea.


PDF of entire play

Excerpt (Lines 545-555)

Those people are happy who relish love’s pleasure
Enjoying Aphrodite’s sensual embrace
As a ship riding easy on a calm sea,
Avoiding the obsession that leads to disgrace.
For sex, like a horsefly, can madden with its sting,
And Eros has two arrows to his string,
Beneath that deceptive golden hair.
A mere scratch from the first brings lifelong joy,
But the second wounds to death, and breeds despair.
Goddess born in Cyprus [Aphrodite], keep my bedroom safe
From the mortal arrow, make love in my life
A steady, continuing delight,
Not obsessional or destructive. Let me serve
The great queen with ecstasy, as in her right,
But commit no crimes for her, nor become her slave.

Iphegenia at Aulus by Euripides

See Wikipedia for more information on Euripides.