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Orestes seized in his hands the well-hammered Dorian knife and [820] threw from his shoulders his graceful buckled robe; he chose Pylades as an assistant in the work and drove back the servants; and taking the calf by the hoof, he laid bare its white flesh, with arm outstretched, and flayed the hide quicker than a runner [825] finishes the two laps of the horses' race-course; and then he laid the flanks open. Aegisthus took the entrails in his hands and inspected them. Now the liver had no lobe, while the portal vein and near-by gall-bladder revealed threatening approaches to the one who was observing it. [830] Aegisthus was angry, but my master asked, “Why are you disheartened?” “Stranger, I fear some treachery from abroad. Agamemnon's son is the man I hate most, and an enemy to my house.” But Orestes said, “Do you really fear treachery from an exile, [835] when you rule the city? Instead of the Dorian knife, let someone bring me a Thessalian axe and let me split the breast-bone, so that we may hold the sacrificial feast.” He took the axe and cut. Now Aegisthus took up the entrails, and was inspecting and sorting them out. As he was bending down, [840] your brother rose on tiptoe and struck him on the spine; his back-bone broke apart; with his whole body he struggled up and down, and cried out, dying hard in his blood.

As soon as the servants saw it, they rushed to arms, [845] many to fight against two; yet Pylades and Orestes in their bravery stood to face them, brandishing their weapons. Then he said: “I do not come hostile to this city or to my own servants; I, the unhappy Orestes, have avenged myself on the murderer of my father; [850] but do not kill me, old servants of my father!” They, when they heard his words, held back their spears, and he was recognized by an old man, who had been long in the household. Immediately they crowned your brother with a wreath, and shouted with joy. [855] And he comes bringing a head to show you, not that of the Gorgon, but of the one you hate, Aegisthus; his death today has paid in blood a bitter debt of blood.

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  • Commentary references to this page (1):
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Oedipus Tyrannus, 911-1085
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