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.
What, friend? What did you say? Do not listen to her!
I said, and say again, Orestes is dead.
This is my wretched end! I am no more!
You, go about your business! But you, sir, tell me exactly in what manner he was destroyed.
I was sent for that purpose, and will tell you all. Having gone to the shrine which is Greece’s common glory in order to compete for Delphi’s prizes and having heard the herald’s loud summons to the foot-race, the first contest,
he entered the lists, a brilliant form, a wonder in the eyes of all there. When he had finished the race at the point where it began, he went out with the glorious honor of victory. To say the most with the least words, I do not know the man whose deeds and triumphs have matched his.
But this one thing you must know: in all the contests that the judges announced, he carried away the prize, and men deemed him happy as often as the herald proclaimed him an Argive, by name Orestes, son of
Agamemnon, who once marshalled Greece’s famous expedition.So far Orestes fared as I described. But when a god sends harm, not even the strong man can escape. For on another day, when with the rising sun there was held the race of the swift-footed horses,
he entered it along with many charioteers. One was an Achaean, one from Sparta; two masters of yoked cars were Libyans; Orestes, driving Thessalian mares, came fifth among them; the sixth was from Aetolia,
with chestnut colts; a Magnesian was the seventh; the eighth, with white horses, was of Aenian stock; the ninth hailed from Athens, built of gods; there was a Boeotian too, making the tenth chariot. They took their stations where the appointed umpires
placed them by lot and ranged the cars. Then at the sound of the bronze trumpet, they started. All shouted to their horses, and shook the reins in their hands; the whole course was filled with the clatter of rattling chariots; and the dust flew upward.
All of them in a confused throng kept plying their goads unsparingly, so that one of them might pass the wheel-hubs and the snorting steeds of his rivals; for both at their backs and at their rolling wheels the breath of the horses foamed and smattered.
Orestes, driving close to the near edge of the turning-post, almost grazed it with his wheel each time and, giving rein to the trace-horse on the right, he checked the horse on the inner side. To this point, all the chariots still stood upright. But then the Aenian’s
hard-mouthed colts carried him out of control as they passed out of the turn from the sixth into the seventh lap and dashed their foreheads against the rig of the Barcaean. Next, as a result of this one mishap, the cars kept smashing and colliding with each other, and the whole
race-ground of Crisa swelled with shipwrecked chariots.
Seeing this, the clever charioteer from Athens drew aside and paused, allowing the equestrian flood to pass in mid-crest. Orestes was driving last, keeping his horses
behind, as his trust was in the race’s end. But when he sees that the Athenian is alone left in, he sends a shrill cry ringing through the ears of his swift colts, and gives chase. Bringing yoke level with yoke the two of them raced, first one man, then the other,
showing his head in front of the other’s chariot. Up to now the ill-fated Orestes had driven upright safely through every circuit, upright in his upright car. But then he slackened his left rein while the horse was turning and unwittingly struck the edge of the pillar,
breaking the axle-box in two. He spilled forward over the chariot-rail and was caught in the trim reins, and as he fell to the ground, his colts were scattered into the middle of the course.But when the crowd saw that he had fallen
from the chariot, a cry of pity went up for the young man who had done such deeds and was allotted such bad fortune—now dashed against the earth, now tossed with his feet to the sky until the charioteers with difficulty reigned in the gallop of his horses and