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ELECTRA by Euripides, Part 14

ELECTRA
Why, then, dost thou encourage thy husband's bitterness against
us?
CLYTEMNESTRA
'Tis his way; thou too hast a stubborn nature.
ELECTRA
Because I am grieved; yet will I check my spirit.
CLYTEMNESTRA
I promise then he shall no longer oppress thee.
ELECTRA
From living in my home he grows too proud.
CLYTEMNESTRA
Now there! 'tis thou that art fanning the quarrel into new life.
ELECTRA
I say no more; my dread of him is even what it is.
CLYTEMNESTRA
Peace! Enough of this. Why didst thou summon me, my child?
ELECTRA
Thou hast heard, I suppose, of my confinement; for this I pray
thee, since I know not how, offer the customary sacrifice on the tenth
day after birth, for I am a novice herein, never having had a child
before.
CLYTEMNESTRA
This is work for another, even for her who delivered thee.
ELECTRA
I was all alone in my travail and at the babe's birth.
CLYTEMNESTRA
Dost live so far from neighbours?
ELECTRA
No one cares to make the poor his friends.
CLYTEMNESTRA
Well, I will go to offer to the gods a sacrifice for the child's
completion of the days; and when I have done thee this service, I will
seek the field where my husband is sacrificing to the Nymphs. Take
this chariot hence, my servants, and tie the horses to the stalls; and
when ye think that I have finished my offering to the gods, attend me,
for I must likewise pleasure my lord.
(She goes into the hut.)
ELECTRA
Enter our humble cottage; but, prithee, take care that my smoke
grimed walls soil not thy robes; now wilt thou offer to the gods a
fitting sacrifice. There stands the basket ready, and the knife is
sharpened, the same that slew the bull, by whose side thou soon wilt
lie a corpse; and thou shalt be his bride in Hades' halls whose wife
thou wast on earth. This is the boon I will grant thee, while thou
shalt pay me for my father's blood.
(ELECTRA follows her into the hut.)
CHORUS (chanting)

strophe

Misery is changing sides; the breeze veers round, and now blows
fair upon my house. The day is past when my chief fell murdered in his
bath, and the roof and the very stones of the walls rang with this his
cry: "O cruel wife, why art thou murdering me on my return to my
dear country after ten long years?"

antistrophe

The tide is turning, and justice that pursues the faithless wife
is drawing within its grasp the murderess, who slew her hapless
lord, when he came home at last to these towering Cyclopean
walls,-aye, with her own hand she smote him with the sharpened
steel, herself the axe uplifting. Unhappy husband! whate'er the
curse that possessed that wretched woman. Like a lioness of the
hills that rangeth through the woodland for her prey, she wrought
the deed.
CLYTEMNESTRA (within)
O my children, by Heaven I pray ye spare your mother.
CHORUS (chanting)
Dost hear her cries within the house?
CLYTEMNESTRA
O God! ah me!
CHORUS (chanting)
I too bewail thee, dying by thy children's hands. God deals out
His justice in His good time. A cruel fate is thine, unhappy one;
yet didst thou sin in murdering thy lord.

(ORESTES and ELECTRA come out of the hut, followed by ATTENDANTs
who are carrying the two corpses. The following lines between
ELECTRA, ORESTES and the CHORUS are chanted.)

But lo! from the house they come, dabbled in their mother's
fresh-spilt gore, their triumph proving the piteous butchery. There is
not nor ever has been a race more wretched than the line of Tantalus.
ORESTES
O Earth, and Zeus whose eye is over all! behold this foul deed
of blood, these two corpses lying here that I have slain in
vengeance for my sufferings.
ELECTRA
Tears are all too weak for this, brother; and I am the guilty
cause. Ah, woe is me! How hot my fury burned against the mother that
bare me!
ORESTES
Alas! for thy lot, O mother mine! A piteous, piteous doom, aye,
worse than that, hast thou incurred at children's hands! Yet justly
hast thou paid forfeit for our father's blood. Ah, Phoebus! thine
was the voice that praised this vengeance; thou it is that hast
brought these hideous scenes to light, and caused this deed of
blood. To what city can I go henceforth? what friend, what man of
any piety will bear the sight of a mother's murderer like me?

 

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