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Electra comes out of the palace. Electra Women, has my poor Orestes left the house, mastered by the heaven-sent madness? Chorus Leader Not at all; he has gone to the Argive people to stand the appointed trial for his life, in which he and you must live or die. Electra Oh! Why did he do it? Who persuaded him? Chorus Leader Pylades; but this messenger will no doubt soon tell us what happened to your brother there. A messenger, formerly a servant of Agamemnon, enters. Messenger Wretched, unhappy daughter of the general Agamemnon, my lady Electra, hear the sad tidings I bring you. Electra Alas! we are ruined; your words show it; you have clearly come with tidings of woe. Messenger The Pelasgians have decided by vote that you, poor lady, and your brother are to die this day. Electra Alas! my expectation has come to pass; I have long feared this, and have been wasting away in mourning for what was sure to happen. But what was the trial, what was said by the Argives, to condemn
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 o
Electra spoken They do not hear; alas for my troubles! Can it be that her beauty has blunted their swords? sung Soon some Argive in full armor, hurrying to her rescue, will attack the palace. spoken Keep a better look-out; it is not a contest of sitting still; turn about, some here, some there. Chorus sung I am looking everywhere in turn along the road. Helen within Oh, Pelasgian Argos! I am being foully murdered. Chorus Did you hear? The men have put their hand to the slaughter. It is Helen screaming, at a guess. Electra sung O eternal might of Zeus, of Zeus, only come to help my friends! Helen within Menelaus, I am dying, but you do not help me, though you are near.
Chorus Leader [But the bolts of the palace-doors rattle; be silent; for one of the Phrygians is coming out, from whom we will inquire how it is within.] The Phrygian Eunuch enters from the palace, expressing the most abject terror. His lines are sung, in answer to the Chorus' spoken questions. Phrygian I have escaped from death by Argive sword, in my Asian slippers, by clambering over the cedar-beams that roof the porch and the Doric triglyphs, away, away! O Earth, Earth! in barbaric flight! Alas! You foreign women, where can I escape, flying through the clear sky or over the sea, which bull-headed Ocean rolls about as he circles the world in his embrace? Chorus Leader What is it, Helen's slave, creature from Ida? Phrygian Ilium, Ilium, oh me! city of Phrygia, and Ida's holy hill with fruitful soil, how I mourn for your destruction [a shrill song] with barbarian cry; destroyed through her beauty, born from a bird, swan-feathered, Leda's cub, hellish Helen! to be a curse to