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[520] But not even if these men perished and I lived on would I have the hope of happiness (and many ere now have betrayed friends in this hope): for who would wish to take to wife a girl bereft of family or would desire to beget children with me? [525] Is it not better to die than to win this fate, a fate my birth does not deserve? The other course might more befit someone else who is not as distinguished as I.

Lead me to the place where my body must be killed, and garland me and take the first sacrificial cutting, if it is your will. [530] Defeat the enemy. For my life is at your disposal, and full willingly. I offer to be put to death on my brothers' behalf and on my own. For of course if I am no coward I have made a most splendid discovery, how to die with glory.

Chorus Leader
[535] Ah me! What shall I say in response to the proud words of this maiden, who is willing to die for her brothers? What mortal could speak nobler words than these, what mortal could perform them hereafter?

My child, you are born of him, none other was your father: [540] you are the seed of that divine spirit of Heracles. And your words bring me no disgrace, though your fate gives me pain. Yet I shall tell you how things may be done with greater justice: we must call all your sisters hither [545] and the one that draws the lot must die for the family. It is not right for you to die without drawing lots.

I shall not die by the chance of the lot. For this death wins no thanks: do not suggest it, old man. Rather, if you approve and desire [550] to make use of my zeal, I give my life willingly to these my brothers, but not under compulsion.

Ah! This speech is more noble than the last, and the last was noble indeed. Each brave deed of yours [555] and each noble word surpasses the last. I do not bid you to die, nor yet do I forbid it. But if you die, you benefit your brothers.

You wisely free yourself. Do not be afraid that you will be partaker of the stain of my blood. Instead, I set you free from it.

[560] But come with me, old man (for I wish to die in your arms) and stand by me and cover my dead body with its garments. Come with me (for I am going to the terror of slaughter) if indeed I am the man's daughter I claim to be.

I could not stand by as you are killed.

[565] Well at least ask this man's permission for me to breathe my last in the hands not of men but of women.

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  • Commentary references to this page (1):
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Electra, 589
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