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ELECTRA by Sophocles, Part 12


ORESTES
When the season serves not, do not wish to speak too much.

ELECTRA
Nay, who could fitly exchange speech for such silence, when thou hast appeared? For now I have seen thy face, beyond all thought and hope!

ORESTES
Thou sawest it, when the gods moved me to come....

ELECTRA
Thou hast told me of a grace above the first, if a god hath indeed brought thee to our house; I acknowledge therein the work of heaven.

ORESTES
I am loth, indeed, to curb thy gladness, but yet this excess of joy moves my fear.

ELECTRA
epode

O thou who, after many a year, hast deigned thus to gladden mine eyes by thy return, do not, now that thou hast seen me in all my woe-

ORESTES
What is thy prayer?

ELECTRA
-do not rob me of the comfort of thy face; do not force me to forego it!

ORESTES
I should be wroth, indeed, if I saw another attempt it.

ELECTRA
My prayer is granted?

ORESTES
Canst thou doubt?

ELECTRA
Ah, friends, I heard a voice that I could never have hoped to hear; nor could I have restrained my emotion in silence, and without cry, when I heard it.

Ah me! But now I have thee; thou art come to me with the light of that dear countenance, which never, even in sorrow, could I forget.
The chant is concluded.

ORESTES
Spare all superfluous words; tell me not of our mother's wickedness, or how Aegisthus drains the wealth of our father's house by lavish luxury or aimless waste; for the story would not suffer thee to keep due limit. Tell me rather that which will serve our present need,- where we must show ourselves, or wait in ambush, that this our coming may confound the triumph of our foes.

And look that our mother read not thy secret in thy radiant face, when we twain have advanced into the house, but make lament, as for the feigned disaster; for when we have prospered, then there will be leisure to rejoice and exult in freedom.

ELECTRA
Nay, brother, as it pleases thee, so shall be my conduct also; for all my joy is a gift from thee, and not mine own. Nor would I consent to win great good for myself at the cost of the least pain to thee; for so should I ill serve the divine power that befriends us now.

But thou knowest how matters stand here, I doubt not: thou must have beard that Aegisthus is from home, but our mother within;- and fear not that she will ever see my face lit up with smiles; for mine old hatred of her hath sunk into my heart; and, since I have beheld thee, for very joy I shall never cease to weep. How indeed should I cease, who have seen thee come home this day, first as dead, and then in life? Strangely hast thou wrought on me; so that, if my father should return alive, I should no longer doubt my senses, but should believe that I saw him. Now, therefore, that thou hast come to me so wondrously, command me as thou wilt; for, had I been alone, I should have achieved one of two things,- a noble deliverance, or a noble death.

ORESTES
Thou hadst best be silent; for I hear some one within preparing to go forth.

ELECTRA to ORESTES AND PYLADES
Enter, sirs; especially as ye bring that which no one could repulse from these doors, though he receive it without joy.
The PAEDAGOGUS enters from the palace.

PAEDAGOGUS
Foolish and senseless children! Are ye weary of your lives, or was there no wit born in you, that ye see not how ye stand, not on the brink, but in the very midst of deadly perils? Nay, had I not kept watch this long while at these doors, your plans would have been in the house before yourselves; but, as it is, my care shielded you from that. Now have done with this long discourse, these insatiate cries of joy, and pass within; for in such deeds delay is evil, and 'tis well to make an end.

ORESTES
What, then, will be my prospects when I enter?

PAEDAGOGUS
Good; for thou art secured from recognition.

ORESTES
Thou hast reported me, I presume, as dead?

PAEDAGOGUS
Know that here thou art numbered with the shades.

ORESTES
Do they rejoice, then, at these tidings? Or what say they?

PAEDAGOGUS
I will tell thee at the end; meanwhile, all is well for us on their party-even that which is not well.

ELECTRA
Who is this, brother? I pray thee, tell me.

ORESTES
Dost thou not perceive?

ELECTRA
I cannot guess.

ORESTES
Knowest thou not the man to whose hands thou gavest me once?

ELECTRA
What man? How sayest thou?

ORESTES
By whose hands, through thy forethought, I was secretly conveyed forth to Phocian soil.

ELECTRA
Is this he in whom, alone of many, I found a true ally of old, when our sire was slain?

 

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