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The Choephori   


None shall cheat me, whose soul hath watchful eyes. He goes into
the palace.

CHORUS singing
Zeus, Zeus! what word to me is given?
What cry or prayer, invoking heaven,
Shall first by me be uttered?
What speech of craft-nor all revealing,
Nor all too warily concealing-
Ending my speech, shall aid the deed?
For lo! in readiness is laid
The dark emprise, the rending blade;
Blood-dropping daggers shall achieve
The dateless doom of Atreus' name,
Or-kindling torch and joyful flame
In sign of new-won liberty-
Once more Orestes shall retrieve
His father's wealth, and, throned on high,
Shall hold the city's fealty.
So mighty is the grasp whereby,
Heaven-holpen, he shall trip and throw,
Unseconded, a double foe.
Ho for the victory!
A loud cry is heard within.

VOICE OF AEGISTHUS
Help, help, alas!
CHORUS
Ho there, ho I how is't within?
Is't done? is't over? Stand we here aloof
While it is wrought, that guiltless we may seem
Of this dark deed; with death is strife fulfilled.

An ATTENDANT enters from the palace.

ATTENDANT
O woe, O woe, my lord is done to death!
Woe, woe, and woe again, Aegisthus gone!
Hasten, fling wide the doors, unloose the bolts
Of the queen's chamber. O for some young strength
To match the need! but aid availeth nought
To him laid low for ever. Help, help, help
Sure to deaf ears I shout, and call in vain
To slumber ineffectual. What ho!
The queen! how fareth Clytemnestra's self?
Her neck too, hers, is close upon the steel,
And soon shall sing, hewn thro' as justice wills.

CLYTEMNESTRA enters.

CLYTEMNESTRA
What ails thee, raising this ado for us?

ATTENDANT
I say the dead are come to slay the living.

CLYTEMNESTRA
Alack, I read thy riddles all too clear-
We slew by craft and by like craft shall die.
Swift, bring the axe that slew my lord of old;
I'll know anon or death or victory-
So stands the curse, so I confront it here.
ORESTES rushes from the palace; his sword dripping with blood.
PYLADES is with him.

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