Sophocles, creator; Sophocles the plays and fragments with critical notes, commentary, and translation in English prose Part 6 The Electra; Jebb, Richard Claverhouse, Sir, 1841-1905, editor, translator. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1894.
Not to you alone of mortals, my daughter, has sorrow come,
though you face it with less restraint than those girls inside, Chrysothemis and Iphianassa, whose parents and blood you share. They still live, as he, too, lives, sorrowing in his secluded youth,
yet happy in that this famous realm of the Mycenaeans shall one day receive him as a noble lord, if with the blessing of Zeus’s escort he, Orestes, returns to this land.
Yes, I await him with unwearied longing,
as I walk my sad path from day to day childless and unwed, bathed in tears, bearing that endless doom of evils. But he forgets all that he has suffered and learned.
What message comes to me that is not proven false? He constantly desires to be with us, but though he desires it, he does not choose to appear.
Courage, my daughter, courage; Zeus in the sky
is still mighty, and he sees and rules all. Leave your oversharp anger to him; be neither excessively hostile to those you hate, nor forgetful of them, since Time is a god who brings ease.
Neither the son of Agamemnon, who dwells by Crisa’s cattle-feeding shore nor the god who reigns beside Acheron is unmindful of you.
But the best part of life has passed away leaving me in hopelessness, and I have no strength left. I waste away without children and have no loving husband to champion me, but like some despised foreign slave,
I serve in the halls of my father, wrapped in shabby garments and standing to eat scanty meals.
Mournful was the voice heard at his return, and mournful the voice amidst your father’s reclining banquet
when the straight, swift blow of the bronze-jawed axe was sped against him. Deceit was the plotter, Lust the slayer, two dread parents of a dreadful
phantom, whether it was god or mortal that did this deed.
O that hated day, hated beyond all that have come to me; O that night, the terrible grief of that unutterable feast, the shameless death-strokes
my father saw from their twin hands, hands which took my life captive by treachery, which cast me to ruin! May the great god of Olympus
create for them sufferings in penalty, and may they never have enjoyment of their splendor since they have committed such crimes!
Be advised to say no more; do you not see by what actions
under the present circumstances you plunge so shamefully into self-made miseries? You have far excelled in achieving misfortune, ever breeding wars in your hardhearted soul. But such strife
should not be pushed into a conflict with the powerful.