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.
No, no; before all else, let us strive to obey the commands of Loxias and from them make a fair beginning by pouring libations to your father. For such actions bring
victory within our grasp and give us mastery in all our doings.Exeunt Paedagogus on the spectators left, Orestes and Pylades on the right.
Enter Electra, from the house.Electra
O you pure sunlight, and you air, light’s equal partner over earth, how often have you heard the chords of my laments
and the thudding blows against this bloodied breast at the time of gloomy night’s leaving off! My accursed bed in that house of suffering there knows well already how I observe my night-long rites—how often I bewail my miserable
father, whom bloody Ares did not welcome with deadly gifts in a foreign land, but my mother and her bedfellow Aegisthus split his head with murderous axe, just as woodmen chop an oak.
And for this crime no pitying cry bursts from any lips but mine, when you, Father, have died a death so cruel and so deserving of pity!
But never will I end from cries and bitter lamentation,
while I look on the stars’ glistening flashes or on this light of day. No, like the nightingale, slayer of her offspring, I will wail without ceasing, and cry aloud to all here at the doors of my father.
O House of Hades and Persephone! O Hermes of the shades! O potent Curse, and you fearsome daughters of the gods, the Erinyes, who take note when a life is unjustly taken, when a marriage-bed is thievishly dishonored,
come, help me, bring vengeance for the murder of my father and send me my brother. I no longer have the strength to hold up alone against
the load of grief that crushes me.
Ah, Electra, child of a most wretched mother, why are you always wasting away in this unsated mourning for Agamemnon, who long ago was godlessly
ensnared in your false mother’s wiles and betrayed by her corrupt hand? May the one who did that perish, if I may speak such a curse without breaking the gods’ laws.
Ah, noble-hearted girls,
you have come to relieve me in my troubles. I know and feel it: it does not escape me. Still I cannot leave this task undone, nor abandon this mourning for my poor father. Ah, friends whose love responds to mine in every mood,
allow me to rave as I am, oh, please, I beg you!
But never by weeping nor by prayer will you resurrect your father from the pool of Hades which receives all men.
No, by grieving without end and beyond due limits you will find cureless misery and your own ruin; in these actions there is no deliverance from evils. Tell us, why do you pursue such suffering?
Foolish is the child who forgets a parent’s piteous death. No, closer to my heart is the mourner who eternally wails, Itys, Itys, that bird mad with grief, the messenger of Zeus.
Ah, all-suffering Niobe, you I count divine, since you weep forever in your rocky tomb!