the weak awaits the battle-shock, for this depends on natural courage.
Well! absent or present, Agamemnon's son, whose business brings us
here, deserves this of us, so let us accept a lodging in this house.
(Calling to his servants) Ho! sirrahs, go within. A humble host,
who does his best, in preference to a wealthy man for me! And so I
thankfully accept this peasant's proffered welcome, though I could
have preferred that thy brother were conducting me to share his fortune
in his halls. Maybe he yet will come; for the oracies of Loxias are
sure, but to man's divining "Farewell" say I. (ORESTES, PYLADES and
their attendants go into the hut.)
LEADER Electra, I feel a warmer glow of joy suffuse my heart than
ever heretofore; perchance our fortune, moving on at last, will find
a happy resting-place.
ELECTRA O reckless man, why didst thou welcome strangers like these,
so far beyond thy station, knowing the poverty of thy house?
PEASANT Why? if they are really as noble as they seem, surely they
will be equally content with rich or humble fare.
ELECTRA Well. since thou hast made this error, poor man as thou art,
go to my father's kind old foster-sire; on the bank of the river Tanaus,
the boundary 'twixt Argos and the land of Sparta, he tends his flocks,
an outcast from the city; bid him come hither to our house and some
provision for the strangers' entertainment. Glad will he be, and will
offer thanks to heaven to hear that the child, whom once he saved,
is yet alive. I shall get nothing from my mother from my ancestral
halls; for we should rue our message, were she to learn, unnatural
wretch! that Orestes liveth.
PEASANT I will take this message to the old man, if it seem good
to thee; but get thee in at once and there make ready. A woman, when
she chooses, can find dainties in plenty to garnish a feast. Besides,
there is quite enough in the house to satisfy them with food for one
day at least. 'Tis in such cases, when I come to muse thereon, that
I discern the mighty power of wealth, whether to give to strangers,
or to expend in curing the body when it falls sick; but our daily
food is a small matter; for all of us, rich as well as poor, are in
like case, as soon as we are satisfied. (The PEASANT departs as ELECTRA
enters the hut.)
CHORUS (singing, strophe 1)
Ye famous ships, that on a day were brought to land at Troy by those
countless oars, what time ye led the Nereids' dance, where the dolphin
music-loving rolled and gambolled round your dusky prows, escorting
Achilles, nimble son of Thetis, when he went with Agamemnon to the
banks of Trojan Simois;
When Nereids left Euboea's strand, bringing from Hephaestus' golden
forge the harness he had fashioned for that warrior's use; him long
they sought o'er Pelion and Ossa's spurs, ranging the sacred glens
and the peaks of Nymphaea, where his knightly sire was training up
a light for Hellas, even the sea-born son of Thetis, a warrior swift
to help the sons of Atreus.
One that came from Ilium, and set foot in the haven of Nauplia, told
me that on the circle of thy far-famed targe, O son of Thetis, was
wrought this blazon, a terror to the Phrygians; on the rim of the
buckler Perseus with winged sandals, was bearing in his hand across
the main the Gorgon's head, just severed by the aid of Hermes, the
messenger of Zeus, that rural god whom Maia bore;
While in the centre of the shield the sun's bright orb flashed light
on the backs of his winged coursers; there too was the heavenly choir
of stars, Pleiades and Hyades, to dazzle Hector's eyes and make him
flee; and upon his gold-forged helm were sphinxes, bearing in their
talons the prey of which the minstrels sing; on his breast-plate was
lioness breathing flame, her eye upon Peirene's steed, in eagerness
to rend it.