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. I see that though living I mourn in vain before a tomb.[*](To wail to a tomb was a proverbial expression according to the Scholiast, who cites the saying, ’tis the same thing to cry to a tomb as to a fool. Here, though in strictness ζῶσα is added only to point the contrast with τύμβον —the sentient being with the senseless thing—it also defines the application of τύμβον to Orestes; and its insertion serves to suggest that Clytaemestra means that, though living, she is bewailing her own death.)
Orestes
  1. Yes, for my father’s fate has marked out this destiny for you.
Clytaemestra
  1. Oh no! I myself bore and nourished this serpent!
Orestes
  1. Yes, the terror from your dream was indeed a prophet. You killed him whom you should not; so suffer what should not be.
  2. He forces Clytaemestra within; Pylades follows
Chorus
  1. Truly I grieve even for these in their twofold downfall. Yet since long-suffering Orestes has reached the peak of many deeds of blood, we would rather have it so, that the eye of the house should not be utterly lost.
Chorus
  1. As to Priam and his sons justice came at last in crushing retribution, so to Agamemnon’s house came a twofold lion, twofold slaughter.[*](As a twofold lion (Clytaemestra and Aegisthus) has ravaged the house, so there has been a twofold slaughter by its defenders. There is no reference to Orestes and Pylades or to Agamemnon and Cassandra.)
  2. The exile, the suppliant of Pytho, has fulfilled his course to the utmost, justly urged on by counsels from the gods.
Chorus
  1. Oh raise a shout of triumph over the escape of our master’s house from its misery and the wasting of its wealth by two who were unclean,
  2. its grievous fortune!
Chorus
  1. And he has come whose part is the crafty vengeance of stealthy attack, and in the battle his hand was guided by her who is in very truth daughter of Zeus, breathing murderous wrath on her foes.
  2. We mortals aim true to the mark when we call her Justice.[*](Δί-κα is here derived from Δι(ὸς) κ(όρ)α, daughter of Zeus.)
Chorus
  1. Oh raise a shout of triumph over the escape of our master’s house from its misery and the wasting of its wealth by two who were unclean,
  2. its grievous fortune!
Chorus
  1. The commands proclaimed loudly by Loxias, tenant of the mighty cavern shrine of Parnassus, assail with guileless guile
  2. the mischief now become inveterate. May the divine word prevail that so I may not serve the wicked![*](The translation is based of Hermann’s text: κρατείτω δ’ ἔπος τὸ θεῖον τὸ μή μ’ | ὑπουργεῖν κακοῖς.)
  3. It is right to revere the rule of heaven.
Chorus
  1. Look, the light has come, and I am freed from the cruel curb that restrained our household. House, rise up! You have lain too long prostrate on the ground.
Chorus
  1. But soon time that accomplishes all will pass the portals of our house, and then all pollution will be expelled from the hearth by cleansing rites that drive out calamity. The dice of fortune will turn as they fall and lie
  2. with faces all lovely to behold, favorably disposed to whoever stays in our house.