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ELECTRA by Euripides, Part 12

LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Terrible alike his crime and your revenge; for mighty is the power
of justice.
ORESTES
'Tis well. Carry his body within the house and hide it, sirrahs,
that when my mother comes, she may not see his corpse before she is
smitten herself.

(PYLADES and the ATTENDANTs take the body into the hut.)

ELECTRA
Hold! let us strike out another scheme.
ORESTES
How now? Are those allies from Mycenae whom I see?
ELECTRA
No, 'tis my mother, that bare me.
ORESTES
Full into the net she is rushing, oh, bravely!
ELECTRA
See how proudly she rides in her chariot and fine robes!
ORESTES
What must we do to our mother? Slay her?
ELECTRA
What! has pity seized thee at sight of her?
ORESTES
O God! how can I slay her that bare and suckled me?
ELECTRA
Slay her as she slew thy father and mine.
ORESTES
O Phoebus, how foolish was thy oracle-
ELECTRA
Where Apollo errs, who shall be wise?
ORESTES
In bidding me commit this crime-my mother's murder!
ELECTRA
How canst thou be hurt by avenging thy father?
ORESTES
Though pure before, I now shall carry into exile the stain of a
mother's blood.
ELECTRA
Still, if thou avenge not thy father, thou wilt fail in thy duty.
ORESTES
And if I slay my mother, I must pay the penalty to her.
ELECTRA
And so must thou to him, if thou resign the avenging of our
father.
ORESTES
Surely it was a fiend in the likeness of the god that ordered
this!
ELECTRA
Seated on the holy tripod? I think not so.
ORESTES
I cannot believe this oracle was meant.
ELECTRA
Turn not coward! Cast not thy manliness away!
ORESTES
Am I to devise the same crafty scheme for her?
ELECTRA
The self-same death thou didst mete out to her lord AEGISTHUS.
ORESTES
I will go in; 'tis an awful task I undertake; an awful deed I have
to do; still if it is Heaven's will, be it so; I loathe and yet I love
the enterprise.

(As ORESTES withdraws into the hut, CLYTEMNESTRA enters in a
chariot. Her ATTENDANTs are hand-maidens attired in gorgeous apparel.)

CHORUS (singing)
Hail! Queen of Argos, daughter of Tyndareus, sister of those two
noble sons of Zeus, who dwell in the flame-lit firmament amid the
stars, whose guerdon high it is to save the sailor tossing on the sea.
All hail! because of thy wealth and high prosperity, I do thee
homage as I do the blessed gods. Now is the time, great queen, for
us to pay our court unto thy fortunes.
CLYTEMNESTRA
Alight from the car, ye Trojan maids, and take my hand that I
may step down from the chariot. With Trojan spoils the temples of
the gods are decked, but I have obtained these maidens as a special
gift from Troy, in return for my lost daughter, a trifling boon no
doubt, but still an ornament to my house.
ELECTRA
And may not I, mother, take that highly-favoured hand of thine?
I am a slave like them, an exile from my father's halls in this
miserable abode.

 

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