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Orestes
Well; I have the loving pleasures of your greeting and later I will give them back in turn. You, old man, for you have come at the right time, tell me, what should I do to avenge myself on my father's murderer [600] [and on my mother,the partner in his unholy marriage]? Do I still have any well-disposed friends in Argos? Or am I wholly bankrupt, just as my fortunes are? With whom shall I ally myself? By night or day? What course shall I take against my enemies?

Old man
[605] Child, you have no friend in your misfortune. For this thing is a godsend indeed, to share in common, both good and bad. But you—for you have been destroyed from the foundations, in the eyes of your friends, and you have left them no hope—hear it from me and know: [610] all that you have is in your own arm and fortune, to win your father's home and your city.

Orestes
What must I do then to accomplish this?

Old man
Kill Thyestes' son and your mother.

Orestes
I have come for that victor's crown; but how shall I grasp it?

Old man
[615] Not by going within the walls, even if you wanted to.

Orestes
Is he well furnished with garrisons and body-guards?

Old man
You have understood; for, clearly, he is afraid of you, and does not sleep.

Orestes
Well; it is for you to plan the next step, old man.

Old man
Hear me then; for something has just come to me.

Orestes
[620] May you reveal something good, and may I understand it.

Old man
I saw Aegisthus, when I was on my way here.

Orestes
I approve what you have said. Where was he?

Old man
Near these fields, at his stables.

Orestes
What was he doing? I see some hope, out of difficulties.

Old man
[625] He was preparing a feast for the Nymphs, I thought.

Orestes
In return for the bringing up of children or for a coming birth?

Old man
I only know this: he was preparing to sacrifice an ox.

Orestes
With how many men? Or alone with his slaves?

Old man
No Argive was there, but a band of his own servants.

Orestes
[630] Surely there isn't anyone who will know me if he sees me, old man?

Old man
There are slaves, who have never even seen you.

Orestes
Would they be well disposed to me, if I should prevail?

Old man
Yes, for that is the way of slaves, luckily for you.

Orestes
However might I approach him then?

Old man
[635] By going where he will see you as he sacrifices.

Orestes
He has fields by the road, it seems?

Old man
Yes, and when he sees you there, he will invite you to the feast.

Orestes
I shall be a bitter companion in the feast, if the god wishes it.

Old man
After that, you yourself invent something, as it falls out.

Orestes
[640] Well said. But my mother, where is she?

Old man
At Argos; but she will join her husband for the feast.

Orestes
Why didn't my mother set out with her husband?

Old man
From fear of the citizens' reproach she stayed behind.

Orestes
I understand; she knows that the city suspects her.

Old man
[645] Something like that; for an unholy woman is an object of hatred.

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hide References (2 total)
  • Cross-references in notes to this page (1):
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Ajax, 12
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