ELECTRA and the CHORUS are chanted responsively.) Good friends, step
softly; not a sound; not a whisper! for though this kindness is well-meant,
rouse him and I shall rue it.
CHORUS Hush! hush! let your footsteps fall lightly! not a sound!
ELECTRA Further, further from his couch! I beseech ye.
CHORUS There! there! I obey.
ELECTRA Hush! hush! good friend, I pray. Soft as the breath of slender
reedy pipe be thy every accent!
CHORUS Hark, how soft and low I drop my voice!
ELECTRA Yes, lower thy voice e'en thus; approach now, softly, softly!
Tell me what reason ye had for coming at all. 'Tis so long since he
laid him down to sleep.
CHORUS How is it with him? Impart thy news, dear lady. Is it weal
or woe I am to tell?
ELECTRA He is still alive, but his moans grow feeble.
CHORUS What sayest thou? (Turning to ORESTES) Poor wretch!
ELECTRA Awake him from the deep sweet slumber he is now enjoying
and thou wilt cause his death.
CHORUS Ah, poor sufferer! victim of Heaven's vengeful hate!
ELECTRA Ah, misery! It seems it was a wicked utterance by a wicked
god delivered, the day that Loxias from his seat upon the tripod of
Themis decreed my mother's most unnatural murder.
CHORUS He stirs beneath his robe! Dost see?
ELECTRA Alas! I do; thy noisy words have roused him from his sleep.
CHORUS Nay, methinks he slumbers still.
ELECTRA Begone! quit the house! retrace thy footsteps! a truce to
CHORUS He sleeps. Thou art right.
ELECTRA O Night, majestic queen, giver of sleep to toiling men, rise
from the abyss of Erebus and wing thy way to the palace of Agamemnon!
For beneath our load of misery and woe we sink, aye, sink oppressed.
There! (To the CHORUS) that noise again! Be still and keep that
high-pitched voice of thine away from his couch; suffer him to enjoy
his sleep in peace!
CHORUS Tell me, what end awaits his troubles?
ELECTRA Death, death; what else? for he does not even miss his food.
CHORUS Why, then his doom is full in view.
ELECTRA Phoebus marked us out as his victims by imposing a foul unnatural
task, even the shedding of the blood of our mother, who slew our sire.
CHORUS 'Twas just, but 'twas not well.
ELECTRA Dead, dead, O mother mine! and thou hast slain a father and
these the children of thy womb; for we are dead or as the dead. Yes,
thou art in thy grave, and more than half my life is spent in weeping
and wailing and midnight lamentations; oh, look on me! a maid unwed,
unblest with babes, I drag out a joyless existence as if for ever.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS My daughter Electra, from thy near station there
see whether thy brother hath not passed away without thy knowing it;
for I like not his utter prostration.
ORESTES (awaking refreshed) Sweet charm of sleep! saviour in sickness!
how dear to me thy coming was! how needed! All hail, majestic power,
oblivion of woe! How wise this goddess is, how earnestly invoked by
every suffering soul! (Addressing ELECTRA) Whence came I hither?
How is it I am here? for I have lost all previous recollection and
ELECTRA Dearest brother, how glad I was to see thee fall asleep!
Wouldst have me take thee in my arms and lift thy body?
ORESTES Take, oh! take me in thy arms, and from this sufferer's mouth
and eyes wipe off the flakes of foam.
ELECTRA Ah! 'tis a service I love; nor do I scorn with sister's hand
to tend a brother's limbs.
ORESTES Prop me up, thy side to mine; brush the matted hair from
off my face, for I see but dimly.
ELECTRA Ah, poor head! how squalid are thy locks become! How wild