our abject misery; and whensoe'er thou seest me give way to despair,
be it thine to calm and soothe the terrors and distorted fancies of
my brain; likewise when sorrow comes to thee, I must be at thy side
and give the words of comfort; for to help our friends like this is
a gracious task.
Seek thy chamber now, poor sister; lie down and close awhile thy sleepless
eyes; take food and bathe thy body; for if thou leave me or fall sick
from nursing me, my doom is sealed; for thou art the only champion
I now have, by all the rest deserted, as thou seest.
ELECTRA I leave thee! never! With thee I am resolved to live and
die; for 'tis the same; if thou diest, what can I, a woman, do? How
shall I escape alone, reft of brother, sire, and friends?
Still if it be thy pleasure, I must do thy bidding. But lay thee down
upon thy couch, and pay not too great heed to the terrors and alarms
that scare thee from thy rest; lie still upon thy pallet bed; for
e'en though one be not sick but only fancy it, this is a source of
weariness and perplexity to mortals. (ELECTRA enters the palace,
as ORESTES lies back upon his couch.)
CHORUS (singing, strophe)
Ah! ye goddesses terrific, swiftly careering on outspread pinions,
whose lot it is 'mid tears and groans to hold revel not with Bacchic
rites; ye avenging spirits swarthy-hued, that dart along the spacious
firmament, exacting a penalty for blood, a penalty for murder, to
you I make my suppliant prayer: suffer the son of Agamemnon to forget
his wild whirling frenzy!
Ah, woe for the troublous task! which thou, poor wretch, didst strive
to compass to thy ruin, listening to the voice prophetic, proclaimed
aloud by Phoebus from the tripod throughout his sanctuary, where is
a secret spot they call "the navel of the earth."
O Zeus! What pity will be shown? what deadly struggle is here at
hand, hurrying thee on o'er thy path of woe, a victim on whom some
fiend is heaping tribulation, by bringing on thy house thy mother's
bloodshed which drives thee raving mad? I weep for thee, for thee
Great prosperity abideth not amongst mankind; but some power divine,
shaking it to and fro like the sail of a swift galley, plunges it
deep in the waves of grievous affliction, boisterous and deadly as
the waves of the sea. For what new family am I henceforth to honour
by preference other than that which sprung from a marriage divine,
even from Tantalus?
Behold a king draws near, prince Menelaus! From his magnificence 'tis
plain to see that he is a scion of the race of Tantalus.
All hail! thou that didst sail with a thousand ships to Asia's strand,
and by Heaven's help accomplish all thy heart's desire, making good-fortune
a friend to thyself. (MENELAUS and his retinue enter.)
MENELAUS All hail, my home! Some joy I feel on seeing thee again
on my return from Troy, some sorrow too the sight recalls; for never
yet have I beheld a house more closely encircled by the net of dire
Concerning Agamemnon's fate and the awful death he died at his wife's
hands I learnt as I was trying to put in at Malea, when the sailors'
seer from out the waves, unerring Glaucus, Nereus' spokesman, brought
the news to me; for he stationed himself in full view by our ship
and thus addressed me. "Yonder, Menelaus, lies thy brother slain,
plunged in a fatal bath, the last his wife will ever give him"; filling
high the cup of tears for me and my brave crew. Arrived at Nauplia,
my wife already, on the point of starting hither, I was dreaming of
folding Orestes, Agamemnon's son, and his mother in a fond embrace,
as if 'twere well with them, when I heard a mariner relate the murder
of the daughter of Tyndareus. Tell me then, good girls, where to find
the son of Agamemnon, the daring author of that fearful crime; for
he was but a babe in Clytemnestra's arms that day I left my home to
go to Troy, so that I should not recognize him, e'en were I to see