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Orestes
But since I would have you know, for I do not know how it will end: I think I am a charioteer driving my team far beyond the course. For my ungoverned wits are whirling me away overmastered, and at my heart fear wishes to sing and dance to a tune of wrath. [1025] But while I am still in my senses, I proclaim to those who hold me dear and declare that not without justice did I slay my mother, the unclean murderess of my father, and a thing loathed by the gods.

And for the spells that gave me the courage for this deed I count Loxias, the prophet of Pytho, [1030] my chief source. It was he who declared that, if I did this thing, I would be acquitted of wrongdoing. But if I refrained—I will not name the penalty; for no bowshot could reach such a height of anguish.

And now observe me, how armed with this branch and wreath I go as a suppliant, an outcast for the shedding of kindred blood, to the temple set square on the womb of the earth, [1035] the precinct of Loxias, and to the bright fire said to be imperishable.1 To no other hearth did Loxias bid me turn. And as to the manner in which this evil deed was wrought, I charge all men of Argos in time to come to bear me witness. [1040] I go forth a wanderer, estranged from this land, leaving this repute behind, in life or death.

Chorus
And you have done well. Therefore do not yoke your tongue to an ill-omened speech, nor let your lips give vent to evil forebodings, [1045] since you have freed the whole realm of Argos by lopping off the heads of two serpents with a fortunate stroke.

Orestes
Ah, ah! You handmaidens, look at them there: like Gorgons, wrapped in sable garments, entwined with swarming snakes! I can stay no longer. [1050]

1 In the Delphic shrine there was an undying fire.

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    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Trachiniae, 824
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