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Electra
Turning to the corpse of Aegisthus
Well then! Which of your evil acts shall I tell of first, as a beginning? What sort of end shall I make? What part of my speech shall I assign to the middle place? And yet I never ceased, throughout the early mornings, [910] repeating what I wished to say to your face, if ever I were free from my old terrors. And now I am; so I will pay you back with those reproaches I wanted to make when you were alive.

You destroyed me, and orphaned me [915] and this man here of a dear father, though you were wronged in no way by us; and you made a shameful marriage with my mother, and killed her husband, who led the armies of Hellas, though you never went to Troy. You were so foolish that you really expected, in marrying my mother, that she would not be unfaithful to you, [920] though you were wronging my father's bed. Know that whoever ruins another's wife, in secret love, and then is forced to take her himself, is pitiable, if he thinks that the chastity which did not govern her before will do so with him. [925] You lived most miserably, although you thought it otherwise; you knew well that you had made an unholy marriage, and my mother knew that she had in you an impious husband. Both being wicked, she took up your fortune, you her evil. [930] Among all the Argives you would hear this: “That woman's husband,” not “that man's wife.” Although this is a shameful thing, for the wife to rule the house and not the husband; and I hate those children who are called in the city not the sons of the man, their father, [935] but of their mother. For when a man makes a remarkable marriage, one above his rank, there is no talk of the husband but only of the wife.

This deceived you the most, in your ignorance: you professed to be some one, strong in your wealth, [940] but that is nothing, except to associate with briefly. It is nature that is secure, not wealth; for, always standing by, it takes away troubles; but prosperity, when it lives wickedly and with fools, flies out of the house, flowering for a short time. [945] As to your women, I am silent—for it is not good for a maiden to speak of this—but I will tell riddles that can be understood. You were insolent because you had a king's house and were endowed with good looks. May I never have a husband with a girl's face, but one with a man's ways. [950] For the children of the latter cling to a life of arms, while the fair ones are only an ornament in the dance.

Spurning the corpse with her foot
Begone, knowing nothing of how you were discovered and paid the penalty in time. So let no evildoer suppose, even if he runs the first step well, [955] that he will get the better of Justice, until he comes to the end of the finish-line and makes the last turn in life.

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hide References (2 total)
  • Commentary references to this page (2):
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Electra, 1505-1507
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Electra, 366
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