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. freed him, so covered with blood that no friend who saw it would have known the pitiful corpse. Immediately they burned him on a pyre, and chosen men of Phocis now bring the sad dust of that mighty form in a small urn of bronze,
  2. so that he may find due burial in his fatherland.Such is my story—it is grievous even to hear, but for us witnesses who looked on, it was the greatest of sorrows that these eyes have seen.
Chorus
  1. Oh, sorrow! It seems now that all the stock of our ancient masters
  2. has been leveled clean down to the roots.
Clytaemnestra
  1. O Zeus, how shall I name this news—fortunate? Or terrible, but beneficial? It is a bitter thing, when by my own misery I preserve my life.
Paedagogus
  1. Why are you so despondent, lady, at my news?
Clytaemnestra
  1. There is a terrible power in motherhood; a mother may be wronged, but she can feel no hate for those whom she bore.
Paedagogus
  1. Then it seems that we have come in vain.
Clytaemnestra
  1. No, not in vain; how can you say in vain when you have brought me sure proofs of his death?
  2. He sprang from my own life, yet deserting my breast and my nurture he became a fugitive, completely alien from me. And me, once he left this land, he saw no more; but, charging me with the murder of his father, he made terrible threats,
  3. so that neither by night nor by day could sweet sleep cover me, but the imminent moment made me live always as if I were about to die. Now, however, since today I am rid of terror of him and of this girl—that greater plague
  4. who shared my home while consuming undiluted my life-blood—now, I think, for all her threats, I shall pass my days in peace.
Electra
  1. Ah, what misery! Now, indeed, Orestes, I must mourn your misfortune, since even dead as you are
  2. you are abused by this woman, your mother! Is it not just fine?
Clytaemnestra
  1. You certainly are not, but he is fine as he is.
Electra
  1. Listen to her, Nemesis of the recently departed!
Clytaemnestra
  1. She has heard who should be heard, and has ordained well.
Electra
  1. Abuse us! Fortune is with you today.
Clytaemnestra
  1. You and Orestes will not stop me, then, will you?
Electra
  1. It is we who are stopped; we cannot stop you.