ORESTES Why, what is this consideration that attaches to thy husband?
ELECTRA He has never presumed to claim from me a husband's rights.
ORESTES Is he under a vow of chastity? or does he disdain thee?
ELECTRA He thought he had no right to flout my ancestry.
ORESTES How was it he was not overjoyed at winning such a bride?
ELECTRA He does not recognize the right of him who disposed of my
ORESTES I understand; he was afraid of the vengeance of Orestes hereafter.
ELECTRA There was that fear, but he was a virtuous man as well.
ORESTES Ah! a noble nature this! He deserves kind treatment.
ELECTRA Yes, if ever the wanderer return.
ORESTES But did thy own mother give in to this?
ELECTRA 'Tis her husband, not her children that a woman loves, sir
ORESTES Wherefore did Aegisthus put this affront on thee?
ELECTRA His design in giving me to such a husband was to weaken my
ORESTES To prevent thee bearing sons, I suppose, who should punish
ELECTRA That was his plan; God grant I may avenge me on him for it!
ORESTES Does thy mother's husband know that thou art yet a maid?
ELECTRA He does not; our silence robs him of that knowledge.
ORESTES Are these women friends of thine, who overhear our talk?
ELECTRA They are, and they will keep our conversation perfectly secret.
ORESTES What could Orestes do in this matter, if he did return?
ELECTRA Canst thou ask? Shame on thee for that! Is not this the time
ORESTES But suppose he comes, how could he slay his father's murderers?
ELECTRA By boldly meting out the same fate that his father had meted
out to him by his foes.
ORESTES Wouldst thou be brave enough to help him slay his mother?
ELECTRA Aye, with the self-same axe that drank my father's blood.
ORESTES Am I to tell him this, and that thy purpose firmly holds?
ELECTRA Once I have shed my mother's blood o'er his, then welcome
ORESTES Ah! would Orestes were standing near to hear that!
ELECTRA I should not know him, sir, if I saw him.
ORESTES No wonder; you were both children when you parted.
ELECTRA There is only one of my friends would recognize him.
ORESTES The man maybe who is said to have snatched him away from
ELECTRA Yes, the old servant who tended my father's childhood long
ORESTES Did thy father's corpse obtain burial?
ELECTRA Such burial as it was, after his body had been flung forth
from the palace.
ORESTES O God! how awful is thy story! Yes, there is a feeling, arising
even from another's distress, that wrings the human heart. Say on,
that when know the loveless tale, which yet I needs must hear, I may
carry it to thy brother. For pity, though it has no place in ignorant
natures, is inborn in the wise; still it may cause trouble to find
excessive cleverness amongst the wise.
LEADER I too am stirred by the same desire as the stranger. For dwelling
so far from the city I know nothing of its ills, and I should like
to hear about them now myself.
ELECTRA I will tell you, if I may; and surely I may tell a friend
about my own and my father's grievous misfortunes. Now since thou
movest me to speak, I entreat thee, sir, tell Orestes of our sorrows;
first, describe the dress I wear, the load of squalor that oppresses
me, the hovel I inhabit after my royal home; tell him how hard I have
to work at weaving clothes myself or else go barely clad and do without;
how I carry home on my head water from the brook; no part have I in
holy festival, no place amid the dance; a maiden still I turn from