previous next

Enter, in procession, Athena, a herald, the jury of the Areopagus, a crowd of citizens. Orestes removes to the place appointed for the accused. Apollo appears after Athena's first speech.

Athena
Herald, give the signal and restrain the crowd; and let the piercing Tyrrhenian1 trumpet, filled with human breath, send forth its shrill blare to the people! For while this council-hall is filling, [570] it is good to be silent, and for my ordinances to be learned, by the whole city for everlasting time, and by these appellants, so that their case may be decided well.

Enter Apollo.

Chorus
Lord Apollo, be master of what is yours. Say what part you have in this matter. [575]

Apollo
I have come both to bear witness—for this man was a lawful suppliant and a guest of my sanctuary, and I am his purifier from bloodshed—and to be his advocate myself. I am responsible for the murder of his mother. [580] To Athena. Bring in the case, and, in accordance with your wisdom, decide it.

Athena
To the Furies. It is for you to speak—I am only bringing in the case; for the prosecutor at the beginning, speaking first, shall rightly inform us of the matter.

Chorus
We are many, but we will speak briefly. [585] To Orestes. Answer our questions, one by one. Say first if you killed your mother.

Orestes
I killed her. There is no denial of this.

Chorus
Of the three falls that win the wrestling match, this one is already ours.

Orestes
You make this boast over a man who is not down yet. [590]

Chorus
You must, however, say how you killed her.

Orestes
I will say it: with drawn sword in hand, I stabbed her in the throat.

Chorus
By whom were you persuaded and on whose advice?

Orestes
By the oracles of this god here; he is my witness.

Chorus
The prophet directed you to kill your mother? [595]

Orestes
Yes, and to this very hour, I do not blame my fortune.

Chorus
But if the jury's vote catches hold of you, you'll soon speak differently.

Orestes
I have good confidence. My father will send protection from his grave.

Chorus
Put your confidence in the dead now, after you have killed your mother!

Orestes
I do, for she was twice afflicted with pollution. [600]

Chorus
How so? Teach the judges this.

Orestes
By murdering her husband, she killed my father.

Chorus
And so, although you are alive, she is free of pollution by her death.2

Orestes
But why did you not drive her into exile, while she lived?

Chorus
She was not related by blood to the man she killed. [605]

Orestes
Then am I my mother's kin by blood?

1 The Etruscans were regarded as the inventors of the trumpet.

2 She is freed from blood-guiltiness because her blood has been shed.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Visualize the most frequently mentioned Pleiades ancient places in this text.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide References (2 total)
  • Commentary references to this page (1):
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Electra, 506
  • Cross-references in general dictionaries to this page (1):
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: