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ELECTRA by Euripides, Part 08

ORESTES
Enough! sweet though the rapture of this greeting be, I must
wait and return it hereafter. Do thou, old friend so timely met,
tell me how I am to avenge me on my father's murderer, and on my
mother, the partner in his guilty marriage. Have I still in Argos
any band of kindly friends? or am I, like my fortunes, bankrupt
altogether? With whom am I to league myself? by night or day shall I
advance? point out a road for me to take against these foes of mine.
OLD MAN
My son, thou hast no friend now in thy hour of adversity. No! that
is a piece of rare good luck, to find another share thy fortunes alike
for better and for worse. Thou art of every friend completely reft,
all hope is gone from thee; be sure of what I tell thee; on thy own
arm and fortune art thou wholly thrown to win thy father's home and
thy city.
ORESTES
What must I do to compass this result?
OLD MAN
Slay Thyestes' son and thy mother.
ORESTES
I came to win that victor's crown, but how can I attain it?
OLD MAN
Thou wouldst never achieve it if thou didst enter the walls.
ORESTES
Are they manned with guards and armed sentinels?
OLD MAN
Aye truly; for he is afraid of thee, and cannot sleep secure.
ORESTES
Well then, do thou next propose a scheme, old friend.
OLD MAN
Hear me a moment; an idea has just occurred to me.
ORESTES
May thy counsel prove good, and my perception keen!
OLD MAN
I saw AEGISTHUS, as I was slowly pacing hither-
ORESTES
I welcome thy words. Where was he?
OLD MAN
Not far from these fields, at his stables.
ORESTES
What was he doing? I see a gleam of hope after our helplessness.
OLD MAN
I thought he was preparing a feast for the Nymphs.
ORESTES
In return for the bringing up of children or in anticipation of
a birth?
OLD MAN
All I know is this, he was preparing to sacrifice oxen.
ORESTES
How many were with him? or was he alone with his servants?
OLD MAN
There was no Argive there; only a band of his own followers.
ORESTES
Is it possible that any of them will recognize me, old man?
OLD MAN
They are only servants, and they have never even seen thee.
ORESTES
Will they support me, if I prevail?
OLD MAN
Yes, that is the way of slaves, luckily for thee.
ORESTES
On what pretext can I approach him?
OLD MAN
Go to some place where he will see thee as he sacrifices.
ORESTES
His estate is close to the road then, I suppose.
OLD MAN
Yes, and when he sees thee there, he will invite thee to the
feast.
ORESTES
So help me God! He shall rue his invitation.
OLD MAN
After that, form thy own plan according to circumstances.
ORESTES
Good advice! But my mother, where is she?
OLD MAN
At Argos; but she will yet join her husband for the feast.
ORESTES
Why did she not come forth with him?
OLD MAN
From fear of the citizens' reproach she stayed behind.
ORESTES
I understand; she knows that the city suspects her.
OLD MAN
Just so; her wickedness makes her hated.
ORESTES
How shall I slay her and him together?
ELECTRA
Mine be the preparation of my mother's slaying!
ORESTES
Well, as for the other, fortune will favour us.
ELECTRA
Our old friend here must help us both.
OLD MAN
Aye, that will I; but wnat is thy scheme for slaying thy mother?
ELECTRA
Go, old man, and tell CLYTEMNESTRA from me that I have given birth
to a son.
OLD MAN
Some time ago, or quite recently?
ELECTRA
Ten days ago, which are the days of my purification.

 

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