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Agamemnon
[810] Argos first, as is right and proper, I greet, and her local gods who have helped me to my safe return and to the justice I exacted from Priam's town. For listening to no pleadings by word of mouth, 1without dissenting voice, they cast into the [815] bloody urn their ballots for the murderous destroying of Ilium; but to the urn of acquittal that no hand filled, Hope alone drew near. The smoke even now still declares the city's fall. Destruction's blasts still live, and [820] the embers, as they die, breathe forth rich fumes of wealth. For this success we should render to the gods a return in ever-mindful gratitude, seeing that we have thrown round the city the toils of vengeance, and in a woman's cause it has been laid low by the fierce Argive beast, [825] brood of the horse,2a shield-armed folk, that launched its leap when the Pleiades waned. Vaulting over its towered walls, the ravening lion lapped up his fill of princely blood.

For the gods then I have stretched out this prelude. [830] But, touching your sentiments—which I heard and still bear in memory—I both agree and you have in me an advocate. For few there are among men in whom it is inborn to admire without envy a friend's good fortune. For the venom of malevolence settles upon the heart and [835] doubles the burden of him who suffers from that plague: he is himself weighed down by his own calamity, and groans to see another's prosperity. From knowledge—for well I know the mirror of companionship—I may call a shadow of a shade [840] those who feigned exceeding loyalty to me.3Only Odysseus, the very man who sailed against his will, once harnessed, proved my zealous yoke-fellow. This I affirm of him whether he is alive or dead.

But, for the rest, in what concerns the State and public worship, [845] we shall appoint open debates and consider. Where all goes well, we must take counsel so that it may long endure; but whenever there is need of healing remedy, we will by kind appliance of cautery or the knife [850] endeavor to avert the mischief of the disease.

And now I will pass to my palace halls and to my household hearth, and first of all pay greeting to the gods. They who sent me forth have brought me home again. May victory, now that it has attended me, remain ever with me constant to the end!He descends from his chariot; enter Clytaemestra, attended by maidservants carrying purple tapestries

1 “Not hearing pleadings from the tongue”—as if the Greeks and Trojans were waging war in words before a human court—but with divine insight of the true merits of the case.

2 The wooden horse.

3 This version takes ὁμιλίας κάτοπτρον to mean that companionship shows the true character of a man's associates. An alternative rendering takes κάτοπτρον in a disparaging sense—the semblance as opposed to reality—and makes κάτοπτρον, εἴδωλον and δοκοῦντας in apposition.

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hide References (2 total)
  • Commentary references to this page (2):
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Philoctetes, 1025
    • Charles Simmons, The Metamorphoses of Ovid, Books XIII and XIV, 13.34
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