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[1060] I will speak, and this is the beginning of my preface: oh, mother, I wish that you had a better heart. For though your beauty, and Helen's, is worthy to bring you praise, yet you two were born true sisters, both frivolous, not worthy of Castor. [1065] She was carried off, willingly ruined; and you have destroyed the bravest man in Greece, putting forward the excuse that you killed a husband for the sake of a child; for they don't know you so well as I do. You who, before your daughter's death was decided, [1070] as soon as your husband had started from home, were adorning the golden locks of your hair at the mirror. A wife who decks herself out for beauty, when her husband is gone from home—strike her off the list as worthless. [1075] There is no need for her to show her pretty face out of doors, unless she is seeking some mischief. Of all the women in Hellas you were the only one I know to be joyful when Troy was fortunate, and with a clouded face when it was weaker, since you did not want Agamemnon to return from Troy. [1080] And yet it was in your power to be chaste, and rightly; you had a husband, no worse than Aegisthus, whom Hellas chose to be its commander; and when your sister Helen had done her work, it was possible for you to achieve great fame, [1085] for the bad gives a standard of comparison to the good and provides a spectacle.

But if, as you say, my father killed your daughter, what is the wrong I and and my brother have done you? How was it that after you had killed your husband, you did not assign to us our father's home, [1090] but you brought the goods belonging to another to bed, buying your marriage with wages? And how is it that your husband is not exiled in the place of your son, nor has he died in my place, although he has killed me, alive, twice as much as my sister? If murder, giving judgment, requites murder, your [1095] son Orestes and I must kill you to avenge our father. For if that was just, then so is this. [Whoever marries a wicked woman, looking to wealth or noble birth, is a fool; for humble wives, if chaste, are better in the home than great ones.

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    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Ajax, 277
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