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. and we two are left alone. I, so long as I heard that my brother still lived and prospered, had hopes that he would yet come to avenge the murder of our father. But now that he is no more, I look next to you
  2. and ask that you not flinch from aiding me, your sister, to slay our father’s murderer, Aegisthus. There—I can have no secrets from you anymore.How long will you wait in indifference? What hope is left standing, to which your eyes can turn? Now you are right to complain
  3. that you are robbed of possession of your father’s estate; now you may mourn that you have advanced this far in years without wedded love or bridal song. And do not cling to hopes that you will ever meet with such joys. The man, Aegisthus, is not so unthinking
  4. as ever to permit that offspring should shoot up from you or from me either to be a certain bane for himself. But if you will follow my plans, first you will win praise for piety from our dead father below, and from our brother, too;
  5. next, you shall be called hereafter free, just as you were born, and shall find a worthy marriage. For noble natures draw the gaze of all.Then do you not see what fair fame you will procure for yourself and for me, by obeying me?
  6. What citizen or stranger when he sees us will not greet us with praises such as these: Behold these two sisters, my friends! They saved their father’s house, and at a time when their foes were firmly established, they took their lives in their hands and administered bloodshed! Worthy of love is this pair, worthy of reverence from all. At festivals, and wherever the citizenry is assembled, let these two be honored by all men for their manly courage. Thus will every one speak of us,
  7. so that in life and in death our glory shall not fail.Come, dear sister, be persuaded! Toil with our father, share the burden of your brother, put an end to my troubles and an end to yours, keeping in mind that a shameful life brings shame upon the noble-born.
Chorus
  1. In a crisis such as this, forethought is an ally both to those who speak and those who listen.
Chrysothemis
  1. Yes, I agree. And before she spoke, my friends, if she were blessed with a sound mind, she would have remembered caution, even as she does not now.
  2. Where can you have turned your eyes, that you arm yourself with such rashness and call me to serve beneath you? Do you not see? Your nature is a woman’s, not a man’s, and the strength of your hand is less than that of your adversaries. And their fortune prospers day by day,
  3. while ours ebbs and comes to nothing. Who, then, plotting to subdue such a man, would escape destruction unharmed? See to it that, badly as we fare now, we do not acquire greater evil, if any one hears this talk of yours.
  4. It brings us no relief or benefit, if after winning fair fame we die an ignominious death. For death is not the most odious thing; it is rather craving death, but lacking the means to die. No, I plead with you, before we are utterly, totally destroyed
  5. and before we leave our house desolate, restrain your rage! I will take care that your words remain secret and harmless for you. You in turn must get hold of good sense at long last and yield to the powerful since you have no strength.
Chorus
  1. Listen to her. There is no better gain for mortals to win than foresight and a prudent mind.
Electra
  1. You have said nothing unexpected. Well I knew that you would reject what I proposed. But the deed must be done with my own hand, by me and me alone.
  2. I certainly will not leave it unaccomplished.
Chrysothemis
  1. Ah! If only you had had such resolve on the day of our father’s death! Then you would have accomplished everything!
Electra
  1. My nature was the same then, but my mind was less ripe.
Chrysothemis
  1. Strive to keep your mind that way through all your life.
Electra
  1. You make these admonitions like one who will not assist me.