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.
I am an Argive; my father—you rightly inquire about him—was Agamemnon, the commander of the naval forces; along with him, you made Troy, the city of Ilion, to be no city. He did not die nobly, after he came home; but my black-hearted
mother killed him after she covered him in a crafty snare that still remains to witness his murder in the bath. And when I came back home, having been an exile in the time before, I killed the woman who gave birth to me, I will not deny it, as the penalty in return for the murder of my dearly-loved father.
Together with me Loxias is responsible for this deed, because he threatened me with pains, a goad for my heart, if I should fail to do this deed to those who were responsible. You judge whether I acted justly or not; whatever happens to me at your hands, I will be content.
The matter is too great, if any mortal thinks to pass judgment on it; no, it is not lawful even for me to decide on cases of murder that is followed by the quick anger of the Furies, especially since you, by rites fully performed, have come a pure and harmless suppliant to my house;
and so I respect you, since you do not bring harm to my city. Yet these women have an office that does not permit them to be dismissed lightly; and if they fail to win their cause, the venom from their resentment will fall upon the ground, an intolerable, perpetual plague afterwards in the land.
So stands the case: either course—to let them stay, to drive them out—brings disaster and perplexity to me. But since this matter has fallen here, I will select judges of homicide bound by oath, and I will establish this tribunal for all time.
Summon your witnesses and proofs, sworn evidence to support your case; and I will return when I have chosen the best of my citizens, for them to decide this matter truly, after they take an oath that they will pronounce no judgment contrary to justice. Exit
Here is the overturning of new laws, if the wrongful cause of this matricide is to triumph. Now his deed will accustom all men
to recklessness; many sorrowful wounds, given in truth by children, wait for parents in the future time.
For the wrath of us, the Furies who keep watch on mortals,
will not come stealthily upon such deeds—I will let loose death in every form. And as he anticipates his neighbor’s evils, one man
will ask of another when hardship is to end or to decrease; and the poor wretch offers the vain consolation of uncertain remedies.
Do not let anyone who is struck by misfortune make an appeal
and cry aloud this word, Justice! Thrones of the Furies! Perhaps some father, or mother, in new sorrow,
may cry out these words piteously, now that the house of Justice is falling.
There is a time when fear is good and ought to remain seated as a guardian of the heart.
It is profitable to learn wisdom under strain. But who, if he did not train his heart in fear, either city or mortal,
would still revere justice in the same way?
Do not approve of a lawless life or one subject to a tyrant.
The god grants power to moderation in every form, but he oversees other matters in different ways. I have a timely word of advice: arrogance is truly the child of impiety,