me; and yet am truly sorry for the fate of my sister Clytenmestra,
on whom I ne'er set eyes after I was driven by heaven-sent frenzy
to sail on my disastrous voyage to Ilium; but now that I am parted
from her I bewail our misfortunes.
ELECTRA Prithee, Helen, why should I speak of that which thine own
eyes can see the son of Agamemnon in his misery?
Beside his wretched corpse I sit, a sleepless sentinel; for corpse
he is, so faint his breath; not that I reproach him with his sufferings;
but thou art highly blest and thy husband too, and ye are come upon
us in the hour of adversity.
HELEN How long hath he been laid thus upon his couch?
ELECTRA Ever since he spilt his mother's blood-.
HELEN Unhappy wretch! unhappy mother! what a death she died!
ELECTRA Unhappy enough to succumb to his misery.
HELEN Prithee, maiden, wilt hear me a moment?
ELECTRA Aye, with such small leisure as this watching o'er a brother
HELEN Wilt go for me to my sister's tomb?
ELECTRA Wouldst have me seek my mother's tomb? And why?
HELEN To carry an offering of hair and a libation from me.
ELECTRA Art forbidden then to go to the tombs of those thou lovest?
HELEN Nay, but I am ashamed to show myself in Argos.
ELECTRA A late repentance surely for one who left her home so shamefully
HELEN Thou hast told the truth, but thy telling is not kind to me.
ELECTRA What is this supposed modesty before the eyes of Mycenae
that possesses thee?
HELEN I am afraid of the fathers of those who lie dead beneath the
walls of Ilium.
ELECTRA Good cause for fear; thy name is on every tongue in Argos.
HELEN Then free me of my fear and grant me this boon.
ELECTRA I could not bear to face my mother's grave.
HELEN And yet 'twere shame indeed to send these offerings by a servant's
ELECTRA Then why not send thy daughter Hermione?
HELEN 'Tis not seemly for a tender maid to make her way amongst a
ELECTRA And yet she would thus be repaying her dead foster-mother's
HELEN True; thou hast convinced me, maiden. Yes, I will send my daughter;
for thou art right. (Calling) Hermione, my child, come forth before
the palace; (HERMIONE and attendants come out of the palace.) take
these libations and these tresses of mine in thy hands, and go pour
round Clytemnestra's tomb a mingled cup of honey, milk, and frothing
wine; then stand upon the heaped-up grave, and proclaim therefrom,
"Helen, thy sister, sends thee these libations as her gift, fearing
herself to approach thy tomb from terror of the Argive mob"; and bid
her harbour kindly thoughts towards me and thee and my husband; towards
these two wretched sufferers, too, whom Heaven hath afflicted. Likewise
promise that I will pay in full whatever funeral gifts are due from
me to a sister. Now go, my child, and tarry not; and soon as thou
hast made the offering at the tomb, bethink thee of thy return. (HELEN
goes into the palace as HERMIONE and her attendants depart with the
ELECTRA O human nature, what a grievous curse thou art in this world!
and what salvation, too, to those who have a goodly heritage therein!
Did ye mark how she cut off her hair only at the ends, careful to
preserve its beauty? 'Tis the same woman as of old. May Heaven's hate
pursue thee! for thou hast proved the ruin of me and my poor brother
and all Hellas.
Alack! here are my friends once more, coming to unite their plaintive
dirge with mine; they will soon put an end to my brother's peaceful
sleep and cause my tears to flow when I see his frenzied fit. (The
CHORUS OF ARGIVE MAIDENS enters quietly. The following lines between