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Enter Aegisthus with armed retainers

Hail gracious light of the day of retribution! At last the hour has come when I can say that the gods who avenge mortal men look down from on high upon the crimes of earth. [1580] Now that, to my joy, I behold this man lying here in a robe spun by the Avenging Spirits and making full payment for the deeds contrived in craft by his father's hand.

For Atreus, lord of this land, this man's father, challenged in his sovereignty, drove forth, from city and from home, Thyestes, who (to speak it clearly) was my father [1585] and his own brother. And when he had come back as a suppliant to his hearth, unhappy Thyestes secured such safety for his lot as not himself to suffer death and stain with his blood his native soil. [1590] But Atreus, the godless father of this slain man, with welcome more hearty than kind, on the pretence that he was cheerfully celebrating a happy day by serving meat, served up to my father as entertainment a banquet of his own children's flesh. [1595] The toes and fingers he broke off <
*> sitting apart.1And when all unwittingly my father had quickly taken servings that he did not recognize, he ate a meal which, as you see, has proved fatal to his race. Now, discovering his unhallowed deed, he uttered a great cry, reeled back, vomiting forth the slaughtered flesh, and invoked [1600] an unbearable curse upon the line of Pelops, kicking the banquet table to aid his curse, “thus perish all the race of Pleisthenes!” This is the reason that you see this man fallen here. I am he who planned this murder and with justice. For together with my hapless father he drove me out, [1605] me his third child, as yet a baby in swaddling-clothes. But grown to manhood, justice has brought me back again. Exile though I was, I laid my hand upon my enemy, compassing every device of cunning to his ruin. [1610] So even death would be sweet to me now that I behold him in justice's net.

Aegisthus, excessive triumph amid distress I do not honor. You say that of your own intent you slew this man and did alone plot this pitiful murder. [1615] I tell you in the hour of justice that you yourself, be sure of that, will not escape the people's curses and death by stoning at their hand.

1 The sense of the lacuna may have been: “and over them he placed the other parts. This dish my father, sitting apart, received as his share.”

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  • Commentary references to this page (1):
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Electra, 289
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