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THE CHOEPHORI by Aeschylus, Part 03

ELECTRA
Pray on them what? expound, instruct my doubt.
LEADER
This: Upon them some god or mortal come-
ELECTRA
As judge or as avenger? speak thy thought.
LEADER
Pray in set terms, Who shall the slayer slay.
ELECTRA
Beseemeth it to ask such boon of heaven?
LEADER
How not, to wreak a wrong upon a foe?
ELECTRA (praying at the tomb)
O mighty Hermes, warder of the shades,
HeraLD of upper and of under world,
Proclaim and usher down my prayer's appeal
Unto the gods below, that they with eyes
Watchful behold these halls. my sire's of old-
And unto Earth, the mother of all things,
And loster-NURSE, and womb that takes their seed.

Lo, I that pour these draughts for men now dead,
Call on my father, who yet holds in ruth
Me and mine own ORESTES , Father, speak-
How shall thy children rule thine halls again?
Homeless we are and sold; and she who sold
Is she who bore us; and the price she took
Is he who joined with her to work thy death,
AEGISTHUS, her new lord. Behold me here
Brought down to slave's estate, and far away
Wanders ORESTES , banished from the wealth
That once was thine, the profit of thy care,
Whereon these revel in a shameful joy.
Father, my prayer is said; 'tis thine to hear-
Grant that some fair fate bring ORESTES home,
And unto me grant these-a purer soul
Than is my mother's, a more stainless hand.

These be my prayers for us; for thee, O sire,
I cry that one may come to smite thy fops,
And that the slayers may in turn be slain.
Cursed is their prayer, and thus I bar its path,
Praying mine own, a counter-curse on them.
And thou, send up to us the righteous boon
For which we pray; thine aids be heaven and earth,
And justice guide the right to victory.
(To the CHORUS)
Thus have I prayed, and thus I shed these streams,
And follow ye the wont, and as with flowers
Crown ye with many a tear and cry the dirge
Your lips ring out above the dead man's grave.
(She pours the libations.)
CHORUS (chanting)
Woe, woe, woe!
Let the teardrop fall, plashing on the ground
Where our lord lies low:
Fall and cleanse away the cursed libation's stair.,
Shed on this grave-mound,
Fenced wherein together, gifts of good or bane
From the dead are found.
Lord of Argos, hearken!
Though around thee darken
Mist of death and hell, arise and hear
Hearken and awaken to our cry of woe!
Who with might of spear
Shall our home deliver?
Who like Ares bend until it quiver,
Bend the northern bow?
Who with hand upon the hilt himself will thrust with glaive,
Thrust and slay and save?
ELECTRA
Lo! the earth drinks them, to my sire they pass-
(She notices the locks Of ORESTES .)
Learn ye with me of this thing new and strange.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Speak thou; my breast doth palpitate with fear.
ELECTRA
I see upon the tomb a curl new shorn.
LEADER
Shorn from wnat man or what deep-girded maid?
ELECTRA
That may he, guess who will; the sign is plain.
LEADER
Let me learn this of thee; let youth prompt age.
ELECTRA
None is there here but I, to clip such gift.
LEADER
For they who thus should mourn him hate him sore.
ELECTRA
And lo! in truth the hair exceeding like-
LEADER
Like to what locks and whose? instruct me that.
ELECTRA
Like unto those my father's children wear.
LEADER
Then is this lock ORESTES ' secret gift?
ELECTRA
Most like it is unto the curls he wore.

 

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