Electra

Sophocles

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.

  1. If you would tell me the vision, then I could answer.
Chrysothemis
  1. I know no more than a small part of the story.
Electra
  1. Tell me that, anyway; a small tale has often before now tripped men up, or set them upright.
Chrysothemis
  1. It is said that she saw the father of you and of me restored to the sunlight and to her company once more. Then he took the scepter—
  2. once his own, but now carried by Aegisthus—and planted it at the hearth. From it branched upward a flourishing limb, by which the whole land of the Mycenaeans was overshadowed. Such was the tale that I heard told by one who was present
  3. when she revealed her dream to the Sun-god. More than this I do not know, except that she sent me by reason of this fear of hers. Now, I beg you by our ancestral gods, obey me, and do not fall in your senselessness!
  4. If you reject me now, it is in misery that you will next seek me out.
Electra
  1. Dear sister, let none of these offerings in your hands touch the tomb. For neither divine law nor piety allows you to dedicate funeral gifts or bring libations to our father from his hateful wife.
  2. No! To the winds with them! Or cover them in a deep, dusty hole, where not one of them will ever come near our father’s resting place. Rather let these treasures be preserved for her below when she dies. Were she not by nature the most audacious
  3. of all women, she would never at all have tried to pour these ill-willed offerings to the man she killed. Consider whether you believe that the dead in his tomb will welcome this tribute with affection towards her, by whose hand he died dishonored and was mutilated
  4. like an enemy? She, who, as if to wash herself clean, wiped off the bloodstains on his head? Surely you do not believe that your bringing these things will absolve her of the murder?It is not possible. No, be rid of them. Give him instead a lock of your hair’s ends, cut from your own head,
  5. and from wretched me, too, give these gifts, poor as they are, though all I have. Take 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 to us from the world below, a helper against our enemies;
  6. and that young Orestes may live to set his foot upon our enemies in superior might, so that hereafter we may crown our father’s tomb with wealthier hands than those with which we honor him now.I think, yes, I think that he too had some part
  7. in sending her these appalling dreams. Still, sister, do yourself this service and help me, and him, too, that most beloved of all men, who rests in Hades’ domain, our shared father.
Chorus
  1. The girl’s advice is pious; you,
  2. dear friend, will do what she says, if you are wise.
Chrysothemis
  1. I will. In regard to a just deed, it is unreasonable for two people to argue, but reasonable to jump to action. But, by the gods, my friends, when I attempt this task, let me have your silence,
  2. since if my mother hears of it, I believe that this attempt which I will dare shall in the end cause me bitterness.Exit Chrysothemis on the spectators’ right.
Chorus
  1. If I am not a deranged prophet and one who lacks wise judgments,
  2. Justice, the sender of the omen, will come, winning the just victory of her hands’ might. She will come in pursuit before long, my child. Courage is mine,