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Electra   

ELECTRA


(SCENE:- At Mycenae, before the palace of the Pelopidae. It is morning
and the new-risen sun is bright. The PAEDAGOGUS enters on the left
of the spectators, accompanied by the two youths, ORESTES and
PYLADES.)



PAEDAGOGUS
SON of him who led our hosts at Troy of old, son of Agamemnon!- now
thou mayest behold with thine eyes all that thy soul hath desired so
long. There is the ancient Argos of thy yearning,- that hallowed scene
whence the gadfly drove the daughter of Inachus; and there, Orestes,
is the Lycean Agora, named from the wolf-slaying god; there, on the
left, Hera's famous temple; and in this place to which we have come,
deem that thou seest Mycenae rich in gold, with the house of the
Pelopidae there, so often stained with bloodshed; whence I carried
thee of yore, from the slaying of thy father, as thy kinswoman, thy
sister, charged me; and saved thee, and reared thee up to manhood,
to be the avenger of thy murdered sire.
Now, therefore, Orestes, and thou, best of friends, Pylades, our
plans must be laid quickly; for lo, already the sun's bright ray is
waking the songs of the birds into clearness, and the dark night of
stars is spent. Before, then, anyone comes forth from the house,
take counsel; seeing that the time allows not of delay, but is full
ripe for deeds.
ORESTES
True friend and follower, how well dost thou prove thy loyalty
to our house! As a steed of generous race, though old, loses not
courage in danger, but pricks his ear, even so thou urgest us forward,
and art foremost in our support. I will tell thee, then, what I have
determined; listen closely to my words, and correct me, if I miss
the mark in aught.
When I went to the Pythian oracle, to learn how I might avenge
my father on his murderers, Phoebus gave me the response which thou
art now to hear:- that alone, and by stealth, without aid of arms or
numbers, I should snatch the righteous vengeance of my hand. Since,
then, the god spake to us on this wise, thou must go into yonder
house, when opportunity gives thee entrance, and learn all that is
passing there, so that thou mayest report to us from sure knowledge.
Thine age, and the lapse of time, will prevent them from recognising
thee; they will never suspect who thou art, with that silvered hair.
Let thy tale be that thou art a Phocian stranger, sent by Phanoteus;
for he is the greatest of their allies. Tell them, and confirm it with
thine oath, that Orestes hath perished by a fatal chance,- hurled at
the Pythian games from his rapid chariot; be that the substance of thy
story.
We, meanwhile, will first crown my father's tomb, as the god
enjoined, with drink-offerings and the luxuriant tribute of severed
hair; then come back, bearing in our hands an urn of shapely
bronze,-now hidden in the brushwood, as I think thou knowest,- so to
gladden them with the false tidings that this my body is no more,
but has been consumed with fire and turned to ashes. Why should the
omen trouble me, when by a feigned death I find life indeed, and win
renown? I trow, no word is ill-omened, if fraught with gain. Often ere
now have I seen wise men die in vain report; then, when they return
home, they are held in more abiding honour: as I trust that from
this rumour I also shall emerge in radiant life, and yet shine like
a star upon my foes.
O my fatherland, and ye gods of the land, receive me with good
fortune in this journey,- and ye also, halls of my fathers, for I come
with divine mandate to cleanse you righteously; send me not
dishonoured from the land, but grant that I may rule over my

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