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Enters from the inner sanctuary.

Out, I order you! Go away from this house at once, leave my prophetic sanctuary, [180] so that you may not be struck by a winged glistening snake1 shot forth from a golden bow-string, and painfully release black foam, vomiting the clots of blood you have drained from mortals. [185] It is not right for you to approach this house; no, your place is where the punishments are beheading, gouging out of eyes, cutting of throats, and where young men's virility is ruined by destruction of seed; where there is mutilation and stoning, and where those who are impaled beneath their spine moan long and piteously. [190] Do you hear what sort of feast is your delight? You are detested by the gods for it. The whole fashion of your form sets it forth. Creatures like you should live in the den of a blood-drinking lion, and not inflict pollution on all near you in this oracular shrine. [195] Be gone, you goats without a herdsman! No god loves such a flock.

Lord Apollo, hear our reply in turn. You yourself are not partially guilty of this deed; you alone have done it all, and are wholly guilty. [200]

What do you mean? Draw out the length of your speech this much.

Through your oracle, you directed the stranger to kill his mother.

Through my oracle, I directed him to exact vengeance for his father. What of it?

And then you agreed to take the fresh blood on yourself.

And I ordered him to turn for expiation to this house. [205]

And do you then rebuke us, the ones who escorted him here?

Yes, for you are not fit to approach this house.

But this has been assigned to us—

What is this office of yours? Boast of your fine privilege!

We drive matricides from their homes. [210]

But what about a wife who kills her husband?

That would not be murder of a relative by blood.

1 The arrow sped from Apollo's gold-wrought string is called a “winged glistening snake” because it stings like a serpent's bite. There is also a latent word-play: ὄφις “snake” suggests ἰός “snake's poison” which also means “arrow.”

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  • Commentary references to this page (2):
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Ajax, 668
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Electra, 1279
  • Cross-references to this page (1):
    • Basil L. Gildersleeve, Syntax of Classical Greek, The Article
  • Cross-references in general dictionaries to this page (3):
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