Libation Bearers

Aeschylus

Aeschylus, creator; Aeschylus with an English translation Vol II. Smyth, Herbert Weir, 1857- 1937, editor, translator. Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann, Ltd.: 1926.

  1. is nothing compared with one’s own interrogation of the man himself.
Aegisthus
  1. I wish to see the messenger and put him to the test again—whether he himself was present at the death or merely repeats from vague reports what he has heard. No! Be sure he cannot deceive a mind with eyes open. Exit
Chorus
  1. O Zeus, O Zeus, what should I say? Where shall I begin this prayer of mine, this appeal to the gods? How in my loyal zeal can I succeed in finding words to match need? Now is the moment when the blood-stained edges of the blades that lay men low
  2. are utterly forever to destroy the house of Agamemnon. Or else, kindling a flaming light in the cause of freedom, Orestes will win both the rule over his realm and the rich possessions of his fathers.
  3. Our gallant Orestes, with no one to assist him, is now to meet with two in such a contest. And may it be to triumph!
A shriek is heard from within
Aegisthus
  1. within Oh! Oh! O woe!
Chorus
  1. Ah! Ah! Alas! What is happening? What is being accomplished for our house? Let us stand apart while the matter is still unsettled so that we may be considered blameless in these ills. For the issue of the fighting has now been decided. The Chorus withdraws to the side of the scene; then a servant of Aegisthus rushes in
Servant
  1. O woe, oh utter woe! My master is slain! O woe! I cry yet again, for the third time. Aegisthus is no more! Come, with all speed! Unbar and open the women’s door! And a strong arm indeed is needed, but not to help him who is already slain: what good is there in that?
  2. Help! Help! Am I shouting to the deaf and fruitlessly wasting my voice on people who are asleep? Where has Clytaemestra gone? What is she doing? Her own neck, near the razor’s edge, is now ready to fall beneath the stroke.
Clytaemestra hurries in unattended
Clytaemestra
  1. What is this? What cry for help are you raising in our house?
Servant
  1. I tell you the dead are killing the living.[*](The Greek admits either meaning: the dead are killing the living man or the living man is killing the dead.)
Clytaemestra
  1. Ah! Indeed I grasp the meaning of the riddle. We are to perish by treachery, just as we committed murder. Someone give me a battle-axe, and quickly! Let us know if we are victors or vanquished:
  2. for I have even come to this in this wretched business. Exit Servant. The door is opened and the corpse of Aegisthus is discovered. Nearby stands Orestes, and at a distance Pylades
Orestes
  1. It is you I seek. He over there has had enough.
Clytaemestra
  1. Oh no! My beloved, valiant Aegisthus! You are dead!
Orestes
  1. You love this man? Then you will lie in the same grave,
  2. and you will never abandon him in death.
Clytaemestra
  1. Wait, my son! Have pity, child, upon this breast at which many times while you slept you sucked with toothless gums the milk that nourished you.
Orestes
  1. Pylades, what shall I do? Shall I spare my mother out of pity?
Pylades
  1. What then will become in the future of Loxias’ oracles declared at Pytho, and of our sworn pact? Count all men your enemies rather than the gods.