There too in murderous fray four-footed steeds were prancing, while
oer their backs uprose dark clouds of dust. But he who led these warriors
stout, was slain by wedding thee, malignant child of Tyndareus! Wherefore
shall the gods of heaven one day send thee to thy doom, and I shall
yet live to see the sword at thy throat, drinking its crimson tide.
(The OLD MAN, the former servant of Agamemnon, enters. ELECTRA presently
appears at the door of the hut.)
OLD MAN Where is the young princess, my mistress, Agamemnon's daughter,
whom I nursed in days gone by? Oh! how steep is the approach to this
house, a hard climb for these old wasted feet of mine! Still, to reach
such friends as these, I must drag my bent old back and tottering
knees up it. Ah, daughter!-for I see thee now at thy door,-lo! I have
brought the this tender lamb from my own flock, having taken it from
its dam, with garlands too and cheese straight from the press, and
this flask of choice old wine with fragrant bouquet; 'tis small perhaps,
but pour a cup thereof into some weaker drink, and it is a luscious
draught. Let some one carry these gifts into the house for the guests;
for I would fain wipe from my eyes the rising tears on this tattered
ELECTRA Why stands the tear-drop in thine eye, old friend? Is it
that my sorrows have been recalled to thee after an interval? or art
thou bewailing the sad exile of Orestes, and my father's fate, whom
thou didst once fondle in thy arms, in vain, alas! for thee and for
OLD MAN Ah yes! in vain; but still I could not bear to leave him
thus; and so I added this to my journey that I sought his grave, and,
falling thereupon, wept o'er its desolation; then did I open the wine-skin,
my gift to thy guests, and poured a libation, and set myrtle-sprigs
round the tomb. And lo! upon the grave itself I saw a black ram had
been offered, and there was blood, not long poured forth, and severed
locks of auburn hair. Much I wondered, my daughter, who had dared
approach the tomb; certainly 'twas no Argive. Nay, thy brother may
perchance have come by stealth, and going thither have done honour
to his father's wretched grave. Look at the hair, compare it with
thy own, to see if the colour of these cut locks is the same; for
children in whose veins runs the same father's blood have a close
resemblance in many features.
ELECTRA Old sir, thy words are unworthy of a wise man, if thou thinkest
my own brave brother would have come to this land by stealth for fear
of Aegisthus. In the next place, how should our hair correspond? His
is the hair of a gallant youth trained up in manly sports, mine a
woman's curled and combed; nay, that is a hopeless clue. Besides,
thou couldst find many, whose hair is of the same colour, albeit not
sprung from the same blood. No, maybe 'twas some stranger cut off
his hair in pity at his tomb, or one that came to spy this land privily.
OLD MAN Put thy foot in the print of his shoe and mark whether it
correspond with thine, my child.
ELECTRA How should the foot make any impression on stony ground?
and if it did, the foot of brother and sister would not be the same
in size, for man's is the larger.
OLD MAN Hast thou no mark, in case thy brother should come, whereby
to recognize the weaving of thy loom, the robe wherein I snatched
him from death that day?
ELECTRA Dost thou forget I was still a babe when Orestes left the
country? and even if I had woven him a robe, how should he, a mere
child then, be wearing the same now, unless our clothes and bodies
OLD MAN Where are these guests? I fain would question them face to
face about thy brother. (As he speaks, ORESTES and PYLADES come out
of the hut.)
ELECTRA There they are, in haste to leave the house.
OLD MAN Well born, it seems, but that may be a sham; for there be
plenty such prove knaves. Still I give them greeting.
ORESTES All hail, father! To which of thy friends, Electra, does