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. since I heard just now of this sweet-blowing dream. Never does the lord of the Hellenes, your producer forget,
  2. nor does the axe of long ago forget, striking with bronze on its jaws, which in most shameless disgrace annihilated him.
Chorus
  1. She, too, will come, she of many hands and many feet who lurks in her terrible ambush,
  2. the bronze-shod Erinys. For an unwed, unbetrothed passion for a marriage polluted by murder seized the pair, though divine law forbade it to them.
  3. Therefore I am confident that the portent—a wonder which I will never blame—will draw near to the criminals and conspirators. To be sure, mortal prophecy
  4. from fearful dreams or divine signs exists no more, if this vision of the night does not find due fulfillment.
Chorus
  1. O chariot-race of Pelops long ago, source of many a sorrow,
  2. what disaster you have brought upon this land! For ever since Myrtilus sank to rest beneath the waves,
  3. hurled to utter destruction from his golden chariot in disgraceful outrage, from that time to this, outrage and its many sorrows
  4. were never yet gone from this house.
Enter Clytaemnestra, with attendants, from the house.
Clytaemnestra
  1. You run loose again, it seems, since Aegisthus is not here, who used always to keep you at least from coming out to the gates and shaming your family. But now, since he is absent, you pay
  2. me no mind. And yet you have said of me often and to many listeners that I am a rash and unjust tyrant, who violently abuse you and yours. But it is not I who do violence; I only return the insults that I so often hear from you.
  3. Your father—this and nothing else is your constant pretext—was slain by me. Yes, by me. I know it well. I make no denial. Justice took hold of him, not I alone—Justice, whom you ought to have supported, if you had been in your right mind.
  4. For this father of yours whom you constantly bewail alone of all the Greeks had the heart to sacrifice your own blood, your sister, to the gods—he, who, when sowing his seed, felt none of the pains I did when I gave birth.Come, tell me now, why, or to please whom,
  5. did he sacrifice her? To please the Argives, you will say? No, they had no right to kill my daughter. Or, if indeed it was for the sake of his brother Menelaus that he killed my child, was he not to pay me the penalty for that? Did Menelaus not have two children,
  6. who should in fairness have died instead of my daughter, since the father and mother from whom they were sprung had caused that voyage? Did Hades have some greater desire to feast on my offspring than on hers? Or had all love of the children of my womb been
  7. abandoned by their accursed father, while love for the children of Menelaus filled him? Were these not the marks of a thoughtless and malicious parent? I think so, even if I differ from your judgment. So, too, would the dead girl speak, if she could find a voice. For myself, then, I view the past without
  8. dismay; but if you think my attitude criminal, see that your own judgment is just before you blame your neighbor.
Electra
  1. This time, at least, you cannot say that I first gave you cause for upset and thereby provoked such words from you. But, if you will permit me,
  2. I would gladly declare the truth, on behalf of my dead father and my sister alike.