ELECTRA by Euripides, Part 11
Dear mistress, now with step as light as fawn join in the dance;
lift high the nimble foot and be glad. Victory crowns thy brother;
he hath won a fairer wreath than ever victor gained beside the streams
of Alpheus; so raise a fair hymn to victory, the while I dance.
O light of day! O bright careering sun! O earth! and night
erewhile my only day; now may I open my eyes in freedom, for AEGISTHUS
is dead, my father's murderer. Come friends, let me bring out whate'er
my house contains to deck his head and wreath with crowns my
conquering brother's brow.
Bring forth thy garlands for his head, and we will lead the
dance the Muses love. Now shall the royal line, dear to us in days
gone by, resume its sway o'er the realm, having laid low the usurper
as he deserves. So let the shout go up, whose notes are those of joy.
(ORESTES and PYLADES enter, followed by ATTENDANTs
who are bearing the body of AEGISTHUS.)
Hail! glorious victor, ORESTES , son of a sire who won the day
'neath Ilium's walls, accept this wreath to bind about the tresses
of thy hair. Not in vain hast thou run thy course unto the goal and
reached thy home again; no! but thou hast slain thy foe, AEGISTHUS,
the murderer of our father. Thou too, O PYLADES, trusty squire,
whose training shows thy father's sterling worth, receive a garland
from my hand, for thou no less than he hast a share in this emprise;
and so I pray, good luck be thine for ever!
First recognize the gods, ELECTRA, as being the authors of our
fortune, and then praise me their minister and fate's. Yea, I come
from having slain AEGISTHUS in very deed, no mere pretence; and to
make thee the more certain of this, I am bringing thee his corpse,
which, if thou wilt, expose for beasts to rend, or set it upon a stake
for birds, the children of the air, to prey upon; for now is he thy
slave, once called thy lord and master.
I am ashamed to utter my wishes.
What is it? speak out, for thou art through the gates of fear.
I am ashamed to flout the dead, for fear some spite assail me.
No one would blame thee for this.
Our folk are hard to please, and love to blame.
Speak all thy mind, sister; for we entered on this feud with him
on terms admitting not of truce.
Enough! (Turning to the corpse of AEGISTHUS) With which of thy
iniquities shall I begin my recital? With which shall I end it? To
which allot a middle place? And yet I never ceased, as each day
dawned, to rehearse the story I would tell thee to thy face, if ever I
were freed from my old terrors; and now I am; so I will pay thee
back with the abuse I fain had uttered to thee when alive. Thou wert
my ruin, making me and my brother orphans, though we had never injured
thee, and thou didst make a shameful marriage with my mother, having
slain her lord who led the host of Hellas, though thyself didst
never go to Troy. Such was thy folly, thou didst never dream that my
mother would prove thy curse when thou didst marry her, though thou
wert wronging my father's honour. Know this; whoso defiles his
neighbour's wife, and afterward is forced to take her to himself, is a
wretched wight, if he supposes she will be chaste as his wife,
though she sinned against her former lord. Thine was a life most
miserable, though thou didst pretend 'twas otherwise; well thou
knewest how guilty thy marriage was, and my mother knew she had a
villain for husband. Sinners both ye took each other's lot, she thy
fortune, thou her curse. While everywhere in Argos thou-wouldst hear
such phrases as, "that woman's husband," never "that man's wife."
Yet 'tis shameful for the wife and not the man to rule the house;
wherefore I loathe those children, who are called in the city not
the sons of the man, their father, but of their mother. For if a man
makes a great match above his rank, there is no talk of the husband
but only of the wife. Herein lay thy grievous error, due to ignorance;
thou thoughtest thyself some one, relying on thy wealth, but this is
naught save to stay with us a space. 'Tis nature that stands fast, not
wealth. For it, if it abide unchanged, exalts man's horn; but riches
dishonestly acquired and in the hands of fools, soon take their
flight, their blossom quickly shed. As for thy sins with women, I pass
them by, 'tis not for maiden's lips to mention them, but I will
shrewdly hint thereat. And then thy arrogance! because forsooth thou
hadst a palace and some looks to boast. May I never have a husband
with a girl's face, but one that bears him like a man! For the
children of these latter cling to a life of arms, while those, who are
so fair to see, do only serve to grace the dance. Away from me!
(Spurning the corpse with her foot) Time has shown thy villainy,
little as thou reckest of the forfeit thou hast paid for it. Let
none suppose, though he have run the first stage of his course with
joy, that he will get the better of justice, till he have reached
the goal and ended his career.
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