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THE CHOEPHORI by Aeschylus, Part 08

ORESTES
O father, murdered in unkingly wise,
Fulfil my prayer, grant me thine halls to sway.
ELECTRA
To me, too, grant this boon-dark death to deal
Unto AEGISTHUS, and to 'scape my doom.
ORESTES
So shall the rightful feasts that mortals pay
Be set for thee; else, not for thee shall rise
The scented reek of altars fed with flesh,
But thou shalt lie dishonoured: hear thou me!
ELECTRA
I too, from my full heritage restored,
Will pour the lustral streams, what time I pass
Forth as a bride from these paternal halls,
And honour first, beyond all graves, thy tomb.
ORESTES
Earth, send my sire to fend me in the fight!
ELECTRA
Give fair-faced fortune, O Persephone!
ORESTES
Bethink thee, father, in the laver slain-
ELECTRA
Bethink thee of the net they handselled for thee!
ORESTES
Bonds not of brass ensnared thee, father mine.
ELECTRA
Yea, the ill craft of an enfolding robe.
ORESTES
By this our bitter speech arise, O sire!
ELECTRA
Raise thou thine head at love's last, dearest call!
ORESTES
Yea, speed forth Right to aid thy kinsmen's cause;
Grip for grip, let them grasp the foe, if thou
Willest in triumph to forget thy fall.
ELECTRA
Hear me, O father, once again hear me.
Lo! at thy tomb, two fledglings of thy brood-
A man-child and a maid; hold them in ruth,
Nor wipe them out, the last of Pelops' line.
For while they live, thou livest from the dead;
Children are memory's voices, and preserve
The dead from wholly dying: as a net
Is ever by the buoyant corks upheld,
Which save the flax-mesh, in the depth submerged.
Listen, this wail of ours doth rise for thee,
And as thou heedest it thyself art saved.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
In sooth, a blameless prayer ye spake at length-
The tomb's requital for its dirge denied:
Now, for the rest, as thou art fixed to do,
Take fortune by the hand and work thy will.
ORESTES
The doom is set; and yet I fain would ask-
Not swerving from the course of my resolve,-
Wherefore she sent these offerings, and why
She softens all too late her cureless deed?
An idle boon it was, to send them here
Unto the dead who recks not of such gifts.
I cannot guess her thought, but well I ween
Such gifts are skilless to atone such crime.
Be blood once spilled, an idle strife he strives
Who seeks with other wealth or wine outpoured
To atone the deed. So stands the word, nor fails.
Yet would I know her thought; speak, if thou knowest.
LEADER
I know it, son; for at her side I stood.
'Twas the night-wandering terror of a dream
That flung her shivering from her couch, and bade her-
Her, the accursed of God-these offerings send.
ORESTES
Heard ye the dream, to tell it forth aright?
LEADER
Yea, from herself; her womb a serpent bare.
ORESTES
What then the sum and issue of the tale?
LEADER
Even as a swaddled child, she lull'd the thing.
ORESTES
What suckling craved the creature, born full-fanged?
LEADER
Yet in her dreams she proffered it the breast.
ORESTES
How? did the hateful thing not bite her teat?
LEADER
Yea, and sucked forth a blood-gout in the milk.
ORESTES
Not vain this dream-it bodes a man's revenge.
LEADER
Then out of sleep she started with a cry,
And thro' the palace for their mistress' aid
Full many lamps, that erst lay blind with night,
Flared into light; then, even as mourners use,
She sends these offerings, in hope to win
A cure to cleave and sunder sin from doom.

 

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