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Apollo
Then truly you dishonor and bring to nothing the pledges of Hera, the Fulfiller, and Zeus.1 Cypris too is cast aside, dishonored by this argument, [215] and from her come the dearest things for mortals. For marriage ordained by fate for a man and a woman is greater than an oath and guarded by Justice. If, then, one should kill the other and you are so lenient as not to punish or visit them with anger, [220] I claim that you unjustly banish Orestes from his home. For I see you taking the one cause very much to heart, but clearly acting more leniently about the other. But the goddess Pallas will oversee the pleadings in this case.

Chorus
I will never, never leave that man! [225]

Apollo
Pursue him then and get more trouble for yourself.

Chorus
Do not cut short my privileges by your words.

Apollo
I would not take your privileges as a gift.

Chorus
No, for in any case you are called great at the throne of Zeus. But as for me—since a mother's blood leads me, [230] I will pursue my case against this man and I will hunt him down. Exeunt.

Apollo
And I will aid my suppliant and rescue him! For the wrath of the one who seeks purification is terrible among mortals and gods, if I intentionally abandon him.Enters the Sanctuary.

The scene changes to Athens, before the temple of Athena. Enter Hermes with Orestes, who embraces the ancient image of the goddess.

Orestes
Lady Athena, at Loxias' command I have come. [235] Receive kindly an accursed wretch, not one who seeks purification, or with unclean hand, but with my guilt's edge already blunted and worn away at other homes and in the travelled paths of men. Going over land and sea alike, [240] keeping the commands of Loxias' oracle, I now approach your house and image, goddess. Here I will keep watch and await the result of my trial.

The Furies enter dispersedly, hunting Orestes' trail by scent.

Chorus

Chorus
Aha! This is a clear sign of the man. [245] Follow the hints of a voiceless informer. For as a hound tracks a wounded fawn, so we track him by the drops of blood. My lungs pant from many tiring struggles, for I have roamed over the whole earth, and I have come over the sea in wingless flight, [250] pursuing him, no slower than a ship. And now he is here somewhere, cowering. The smell of human blood gives me a smiling welcome.

1 In connection with marriage, Hera was τελεία, as Zeus was τέλειος; and the adjective applies also to him here. The ancients derived τέλειος (of marriage) from τέλος meaning “rite,” “consummation.” Inasmuch as τέλος often has the sense “supreme authority,” “full power,” some modern scholars hold that Hera τελεία is Hera the Queen, Hera the Wife.

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hide References (3 total)
  • Commentary references to this page (2):
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Ajax, 1271
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Trachiniae, 807
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