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Electra   


CLYTEMNESTRA No, indeed; I shall welcome thy opinion.
ELECTRA Then will I speak, and this shall be the prelude of my speech:
Ah, mother mine! would thou hadst had a better heart; for though thy
beauty and Helen's win you praises well deserved, yet are ye akin
in nature, pair of wantons, unworthy of Castor. She was carried off,
'tis true, but her fall was voluntary: and thou hast slain the bravest
soul in Hellas, excusing thyself on the ground that thou didst kill
a husband to avenge a daughter; the world does not know thee so well
as I do, thou who before ever thy daughter's death was decided, yea,
soon as thy lord had started from his home, wert combing thy golden
tresses at thy mirror. That wife who, when her lord is gone from home,
sets to beautifying herself, strike off from virtue's list; for she
has no need to carry her beauty abroad, save she is seeking some mischief.
Of all the wives in Hellas thou wert the only one I know who wert
overjoyed when Troy's star was in the ascendant, while, if it set,
thy brow was clouded, since thou hadst no wish that Agamemnon should
return from Troy. And yet thou couldst have played a virtuous part
to thy own glory. The husband thou hadst was no whit inferior to Aegisthus,
for he it was whom Hellas chose to be her captain. And when thy sister
Helen wrought that deed of shame, thou couldst have won thyself great
glory, for vice is a warning and calls attention to virtue. If, as
thou allegest, my father slew thy daughter, what is the wrong I and
my brother have done thee? How was it thou didst not bestow on us
our father's halls after thy husband's death, instead of bartering
them to buy a paramour? Again, thy husband is not exiled for thy son's
sake, nor is he slain to avenge my death, although by him this life
is quenched twice as much as e'er my sister's was; so if murder is
to succeed murder in requital, I and thy son Orestes must slay thee
to avenge our father; if that was just, why so is this. Whoso fixes
his gaze on wealth or noble birth and weds a wicked woman, is a fool;
better is a humble partner in his home, if she be virtuous, than a
proud one.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS Chance rules the marriages of women; some I
see turn out well, others ill amongst mankind.
CLYTEMNESTRA Daughter, 'twas ever thy nature to love thy father.
This too one finds; some sons cling to their father, others have a
deeper affection for their mother. I will forgive thee, for myself
am not so exceeding glad at the deed that I have done, my child. But
thou,-why thus unwashed and clad in foul attire, now that the days
of thy lying-in are accomplished? Ah me, for my sorry schemes! I have
goaded my husband into anger more than e'er I should have done.
ELECTRA Thy sorrow comes too late; the hour of remedy has gone from
thee; my father is dead. Yet why not recall that exile, thy own wandering
son?
CLYTEMNESTRA I am afraid; 'tis my interest, not his that I regard.
For they say he is wroth for his father's murder.
ELECTRA Why, then, dost thou encourage thy husband's bitterness against
us?
CLYTEMNESTRA 'Tis his way; thou too hast a stubborn nature.
ELECTRA Because I am grieved; yet will I check my spirit.
CLYTEMNESTRA I promise then he shall no longer oppress thee.
ELECTRA From living in my home he grows too proud.
CLYTEMNESTRA Now there! 'tis thou that art fanning the quarrel into
new life.
ELECTRA I say no more; my dread of him is even what it is.
CLYTEMNESTRA Peace! Enough of this. Why didst thou summon me, my
child?
ELECTRA Thou hast heard, I suppose, of my confinement; for this I
pray thee, since I know not how, offer the customary sacrifice on
the tenth day after birth, for I am a novice herein, never having
had a child before.
CLYTEMNESTRA This is work for another, even for her who delivered
thee.
ELECTRA I was all alone in my travail and at the babe's birth.

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