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Sophocles Index


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ELECTRA by Sophocles, Part 03


CHRYSOTHEMIS
Assuredly, whenever Aegisthus comes home.

ELECTRA
If that be all, then may he arrive with speed!

CHRYSOTHEMIS
Misguided one! what dire prayer is this?

ELECTRA
That he may come, if he hath any such intent.

CHRYSOTHEMIS
That thou mayst suffer- what? Where are thy wits?

ELECTRA
That I may fly as far as may be from you all.

CHRYSOTHEMIS
But hast thou no care for thy present life?

ELECTRA
Aye, my life is marvellously fair.

CHRYSOTHEMIS
It might be, couldst thou only learn prudence.

ELECTRA
Do not teach me to betray my friends.

CHRYSOTHEMIS
I do not,- but to bend before the strong.

ELECTRA
Thine be such flattery: those are not my ways.

CHRYSOTHEMIS
Tis well, however, not to fall by folly.

ELECTRA
I will fall, if need be, in the cause of my sire.

CHRYSOTHEMIS
But our father, I know, pardons me for this.

ELECTRA
It is for cowards to find peace in such maxims.

CHRYSOTHEMIS
So thou wilt not hearken, and take my counsel?

ELECTRA
No, verily; long may be it before I am so foolish.

CHRYSOTHEMIS
Then I will go forth upon mine errand.

ELECTRA
And whither goest thou? To whom bearest thou these offerings?

CHRYSOTHEMIS
Our mother sends me with funeral libations for our sire.

ELECTRA
How sayest thou? For her deadliest foe?

CHRYSOTHEMIS
Slain by her own hand- so thou wouldest say.

ELECTRA
What friend hath persuaded her? Whose wish was this?

CHRYSOTHEMIS
The cause, I think, was some dread vision of the night.

ELECTRA
Gods of our house! be ye with me- now at last!

CHRYSOTHEMIS
Dost thou find any encouragement in this terror?

ELECTRA
If thou wouldst tell me the vision, then I could answer.

CHRYSOTHEMIS
Nay, I can tell but little of the story.

ELECTRA
Tell what thou canst; a little word hath often marred, or made, men's fortunes.

CHRYSOTHEMIS
'Tis said that she beheld our sire, restored to the sunlight, at her side once more; then he took the sceptre,- Once his own, but now borne by Aegisthus,- and planted it at the hearth; and thence a fruitful bough sprang upward, wherewith the whole land of Mycenae was overshadowed. Such was the tale that I heard told by one who was present when she declared her dream to the Sun-god. More than this I know not,- save that she sent me by reason of that fear. So by the- gods of our house I beseech thee, hearken to me, and be not ruined by folly! For if thou repel me now, thou wilt come back to seek me in thy trouble.

ELECTRA
Nay, dear sister, let none of these things in thy hands touch the tomb; for neither custom nor piety allows thee to dedicate gifts or bring libations to our sire from a hateful wife. No- to the winds with them or bury them deep in the earth, where none of them shall ever come near his place of rest; but, when she dies, let her find these treasures laid up for her below.

And were she not the most hardened of all women, she would never have sought to pour these offerings of enmity on the grave of him whom she slew. Think now if it is likely that the dead in the tomb should take these honours kindly at her hand, who ruthlessly slew him, like a foeman, and mangled him, and, for ablution, wiped off the blood-stains on his head? Canst thou believe that these things which thou bringest will absolve her of the murder?

It is not possible. No, cast these things aside; give him rather a lock cut from thine own tresses, and on my part, hapless that I am,-scant gifts these, but my best,- this hair, not glossy with unguents, and this girdle, decked with no rich ornament. Then fall down and pray that he himself may come in kindness from the world below, to aid us against our foes; and that the young Orestes may live to set his foot upon his foes in victorious might, that henceforth we may crown our father's tomb with wealthier hands than those which grace it now.

I think, indeed, I think that he also had some part in sending her these appalling dreams; still, sister, do this service, to help thyself, and me, and him, that most beloved of all men, who rests in the realm of Hades, thy sire and mine.

 

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