I welcome the omen; but I would fain know from thee, first, who
may have sent thee.
Phanoteus the Phocian, on a weighty mission.
What is it, sir? Tell me: coming from a friend, thou wilt bring, I
know; a kindly message.
Orestes is dead; that is the sum.
Oh, miserable that I am! I am lost this day!
What sayest thou, friend, what sayest thou?- listen not to her!
I said, and say again- Orestes is dead.
I am lost, hapless one, I am undone!
CLYTEMNESTRA (to ELECTRA)
See thou to thine own concerns.- But do thou, sir, tell me
exactly,-how did he perish?
I was sent for that purpose, and will tell thee all. Having gone
to the renowned festival, the pride of Greece, for the Delphian games,
when he heard the loud summons to the foot-race which was first to
be decided, he entered the lists, a brilliant form, a wonder in the
eyes of all there; and, having finished his course at the point
where it began, he went out with the glorious meed of victory. To
speak briefly, where there is much to tell, I know not the man whose
deeds and triumphs have matched his; but one thing thou must know;
in all the contests that the judges announced, he bore away the prize;
and men deemed him happy, as oft as the herald proclaimed him an
Argive, by name Orestes, son of Agamemnon, who once gathered the
famous armament of Greece.
Thus far, 'twas well; but, when a god sends harm, not even the
strong man can escape. For, on another day, when chariots were to
try their speed at sunrise, he entered, with many charioteers. One was
an Achaean, one from Sparta, two masters of yoked cars were Libyans;
Orestes, driving Thessalian mares, came fifth among them; the sixth
from Aetolia, with chestnut colts; a Magnesian was the seventh; the
eighth, with white horses, was of Aenian stock; the ninth, from
Athens, built of gods; there was a Boeotian too, making the tenth
They took their stations where the appointed umpires placed them
by lot and ranged the cars; then, at the sound of the brazen trump,
they started. All shouted to their horses, and shook the reins in
their hands; the whole course was filled with the noise of rattling
chariots; the dust flew upward; and all, in a confused throng, plied
their goads unsparingly, each of them striving to pass the wheels
and the snorting steeds of his rivals; for alike at their backs and at
their rolling wheels the breath of the horses foamed and smote.
Orestes, driving close to the pillar at either end of the
course, almost grazed it with his wheel each time, and, giving rein to
the trace-horse on the right, checked the horse on the inner side.
Hitherto, all the chariots had escaped overthrow; but presently the
Aenian's hard-mouthed colts ran away, and, swerving, as they passed
from the sixth into the seventh round, dashed their foreheads
against the team of the Barcaean. Other mishaps followed the first,
shock on shock and crash on crash, till the whole race-ground of Crisa
was strewn with the wreck of the chariots.
Seeing this, the wary charioteer from Athens drew aside and
paused, allowing the billow of chariots, surging in mid course, to
go by. Orestes was driving last, keeping his horses behind,- for his
trust was in the end; but when he saw that the Athenian was alone left