ELECTRA by Euripides, Part 04
There was that fear, but he was a virtuous man as well.
Ah! a noble nature this! He deserves kind treatment.
Yes, if ever the wanderer return.
But did thy own mother give in to this?
'Tis her husband, not her children that a woman loves, sir
Wherefore did AEGISTHUS put this affront on thee?
His design in giving me to such a husband was to weaken my
To prevent thee bearing sons, I suppose, who should punish him?
That was his plan; God grant I may avenge me on him for it!
Does thy mother's husband know that thou art yet a maid?
He does not; our silence robs him of that knowledge.
Are these women friends of thine, who overhear our talk?
They are, and they will keep our conversation perfectly secret.
What could ORESTES do in this matter, if he did return?
Canst thou ask? Shame on thee for that! Is not this the time for
But suppose he comes, how could he slay his father's murderers?
By boldly meting out the same fate that his father had meted out
to him by his foes.
Wouldst thou be brave enough to help him slay his mother?
Aye, with the self-same axe that drank my father's blood.
Am I to tell him this, and that thy purpose firmly holds?
Once I have shed my mother's blood o'er his, then welcome death!
Ah! would ORESTES were standing near to hear that!
I should not know him, sir, if I saw him.
No wonder; you were both children when you parted.
There is only one of my friends would recognize him.
The man maybe who is said to have snatched him away from being
Yes, the old servant who tended my father's childhood long ago.
Did thy father's corpse obtain burial?
Such burial as it was, after his body had been flung forth from
O God! how awful is thy story! Yes, there is a feeling, arising
even from another's distress, that wrings the human heart. Say on,
that when know the loveless tale, which yet I needs must hear, I may
carry it to thy brother. For pity, though it has no place in
ignorant natures, is inborn in the wise; still it may cause trouble to
find excessive cleverness amongst the wise.
I too am stirred by the same desire as the stranger. For
dwelling so far from the city I know nothing of its ills, and I should
like to hear about them now myself.
I will tell you, if I may; and surely I may tell a friend about my
own and my father's grievous misfortunes. Now since thou movest me
to speak, I entreat thee, sir, tell ORESTES of our sorrows; first,
describe the dress I wear, the load of squalor that oppresses me,
the hovel I inhabit after my royal home; tell him how hard I have to
work at weaving clothes myself or else go barely clad and do
without; how I carry home on my head water from the brook; no part
have I in holy festival, no place amid the dance; a maiden still I
turn from married dames and from Castor too, to whom they betrothed me
before he joined the heavenly host, for I was his kinswoman.
Meantime my mother, 'mid the spoils of Troy, is seated on her
throne, and at her foot-stool slaves from Asia stand and wait,
captives of my father's spear, whose Trojan robes are fastened with
brooches of gold. And there on the wall my father's blood still leaves
a deep dark stain, while his murderer mounts the dead man's car and
fareth forth, proudly grasping in his blood-stained hands the
sceptre with which AGAMEMNON would marshal the sons of Hellas.
Dishonoured lies his grave; naught as yet hath it received of drink
outpoured or myrtle-spray, but bare of ornament his tomb is left. Yea,
and 'tis said that noble hero who is wedded to my mother, in his
drunken fits, doth leap upon the grave, and pelt with stones my
father's monument, boldly gibing at us on this wise, "Where is thy son
ORESTES ? Is he ever coming in his glory to defend thy tomb?" Thus is
ORESTES flouted behind his back. Oh! tell him this, kind sir, I pray
thee. And there be many calling him to come,-I am but their
mouthpiece,-these suppliant hands, this tongue, my broken heart, my
shaven head, and his own father too. For 'tis shameful that the sire
should have destroyed Troy's race and the son yet prove too weak to
pit himself against one foe unto the death, albeit he has youth and
better blood as well.