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Before the royal palace at Argos. It is the sixth day after the murder of Clytemnestra and Aegisthus. Electra is discovered alone. Orestes lies sleeping on a couch in the background. Electra There is nothing so terrible to describe, or suffering, or heaven-sent affliction, that human nature may not have to bear the burden of it. The blessed Tantalus—and I am not now taunting him with his misfortunes— Tantalus, the reputed son of Zeus, flies in the air, quailing at the rock which looms above his head; paying this penalty, they say, for the shameful weakness he displayed in failing to keep a bridle on his lips, when admitted by gods, though he was a man, to share the honors of their feasts like one of them. He begot Pelops, the father of Atreus, for whom the goddess, when she had carded her wool, spun a web of strife—to make war with his own brother Thyestes. But why need I retrace that hideous tale? Well, Atreus slew Thyestes' children and feasted him on them. Atreus, now; I pass <
Messenger I had just come from the country and was entering the gates, needing to learn what was decided about you and Orestes, for I was always well disposed to your father when he was alive, and it was your house that reared me, poor indeed, yet loyal in the service of friends. I saw a crowd going and taking their seats on the height, where they say Danaus first gathered his people for a meeting, making amends to Aegyptus. So, when I saw the throng, I asked a citizen: “What news in Argos? Tidings of the enemy haven't ruffled the city of Danaus, have they?” But he said: “Don't you see Orestes there, on his way to he tried for his life?” I saw an unexpected sight, which I wish I had not seen, Pylades and your brother approaching together, the one with his head down, weakened by sickness; the other sharing his friend's sorrow like a brother, tending his illness with constant care. Now when the Argives were fully gathered, a herald rose and said: “Who wishes to give his opinion
After him lord Diomedes made a speech; he said they should not kill you and your brother, but keep clear of guilt by punishing you with exile. Some roared out that his words were good, but others disapproved. Next stood up a fellow, who cannot close his lips; one whose impudence is his strength; an Argive, but not of Argos, forced on us; confident in bluster and ignorant free speech, and plausible enough to involve them in some mischief sooner or later; [for whenever a man with a pleasing trick of speech, but of unsound principles, persuades the mob, it is a serious evil to the state; but those who give sound and sensible advice on all occasions, if not immediately useful to the state, yet prove so afterwards. And this is the way in which to regard a party leader; for the position is much the same in the case of an orator and a man in office.] He was for stoning you and Orestes to death, but it was Tyndareus who kept suggesting arguments of this kind to him as he urged the death
Electra My dear friends of Mycenae, of foremost rank in Argos, the home of the Pelasgians. Chorus What are you saying to us, mistress? For this honored name is still left for you in the Danaid town. Electra Station yourselves, some here along the high road, others there on some other path, to watch the house. Chorus But why do you call me to this service? Tell me, my dear. Electra I am afraid that some one, who is stationed at the house for slaughter, may find trouble upon trouble. First Semi-Chorus Let us make haste and go on; I will keep careful watch upon this road towards the east. Second Semi-Chorus And I on this one, that leads westward. Electra Throw a glance sideways. Chorus Here and there, then we are looking back again, as you tell us.