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Sophocles Index


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ELECTRA by Sophocles, Part 13


ORESTES
'Tis he; question me no further.

ELECTRA
O joyous day! O sole preserver of Agamemnon's house, how hast thou come? Art thou he indeed, who didst save my brother and myself from many sorrows? O dearest hands; O messenger whose feet were kindly servants! How couldst thou be with me so long, and remain unknown, nor give a ray of light, but afflict me by fables, while possessed of truths most sweet? Hail, father,- for 'tis a father that I seem to behold! All hail,- and know that I have hated thee, and loved thee, in one day, as never man before!

PAEDAGOGUS
Enough, methinks; as for the story of the past, many are the circling nights, and days as many, which shall show it thee, Electra, in its fulness.
To ORESTES and PYLADES
But this is my counsel to you twain, who stand there- now is the time to act; now Clytemnestra is alone,- no man is now within: but, if ye pause, consider that ye will have to fight, not with the inmates alone, but with other foes more numerous and better skilled.

ORESTES
Pylades, this our task seems no longer to crave many words, but rather that we should enter the house forthwith,- first adoring the shrines of my father's gods, who keep these gates.
ORESTES and PYLADES enter the Palace, followed by the PAEDAGOGUS.- ELECTRA remains outside.

ELECTRA
O King Apollo! graciously hear them, and hear me besides, who so oft have come before thine altar with such gifts as my devout hand could bring! And now, O Lycean Apollo, with such vows as I can make, I pray thee, I supplicate, I implore, grant us thy benignant aid in these designs, and show men how impiety is rewarded by the gods!
ELECTRA enters the palace.

CHORUS singing
Behold how Ares moves onward, breathing deadly vengeance, against which none may strive!

Even now the pursuers of dark guilt have passed beneath yon roof, the hounds which none may flee. Therefore the vision of my soul shall not long tarry in suspense.

The champion of the spirits infernal is ushered with stealthy feet into the house, the ancestral palace of his sire, bearing keen-edged death in his hands; and Hermes, son of Maia, who hath shrouded the guile in darkness, leads him forward, even to the end, and delays no more.
ELECTRA enters from the palace.

ELECTRA
strophe

Ah, dearest friends, in a moment the men will do the deed;- but wait in silence.

CHORUS
How is it?- what do they now?

ELECTRA
She is decking the urn for burial, and those two stand close to her

CHORUS
And why hast thou sped forth?

ELECTRA
To guard against Aegisthus entering before we are aware.

CLYTEMNESTRA within
Alas! Woe for the house forsaken of friends and filled with murderers!

ELECTRA
A cry goes up within:- hear ye not, friends?

CHORUS
I heard, ah me, sounds dire to hear, and shuddered!

CLYTEMNESTRA within
O hapless that I am!- Aegisthus, where, where art thou?

ELECTRA
Hark, once more a voice resounds I

CLYTEMNESTRA within
My son, my son, have pity on thy mother!

ELECTRA
Thou hadst none for him, nor for the father that begat him.

CHORUS
Ill-fated realm and race, now the fate that hath pursued thee day by day is dying,- is dying!

CLYTEMNESTRA within
Oh, I am smitten!

ELECTRA
Smite, if thou canst, once more!

CLYTEMNESTRA within
Ah, woe is me again!

ELECTRA
Would that the woe were for Aegisthus too!

CHORUS
The curses are at work; the buried live; blood flows for blood, drained from the slayers by those who died of yore.
ORESTES and PYLADES enter from the palace.


antistrophe

Behold, they come! That red hand reeks with sacrifice to Ares; nor can I blame the deed.

ELECTRA
Orestes, how fare ye?

ORESTES
All is well within the house, if Apollo's oracle spake well.

ELECTRA
The guilty one is dead?

ORESTES
Fear no more that thy proud mother will ever put thee to dishonour.

 

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