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In every way the situation is bad: who will deny it? [365] But it is not thus—do not imagine it—that things <will turn out in the end if I have any power in my arts>.1 There are still struggles for the newly-wedded pair, and for the maker of the match difficulties that are not trifling. Do you think I would ever have fawned on this man unless I stood to gain, unless I were plotting? [370] I would not even have spoken to him or touched him with my hands. But he has reached such a pitch of folly that, while it lay in his power to check my plans by banishing me, he has permitted me to stay for this day, a day on which I shall make corpses of three of my enemies, [375] the father, his daughter, and my husband.

Now since I possess many ways of killing them, I do not know which I should try first, my friends: shall I set the bridal chamber on fire [or thrust a sharp sword through their vitals], [380] creeping into the house where the marriage-bed is spread? One thing, however, stands in my path: if I am caught entering the house and plotting its destruction, I will be killed and bring joy to my foes. Best to proceed by the direct route, in which I am [385] the most skilled, and kill them with poison.

So be it! Now let us suppose they have been killed. What city will receive me? What friend will give me a safe country and a secure house and rescue me? There is no one. And so I shall wait a short time yet, [390] and if some tower of safety appears, I shall go about this murder by stealth. But if hard circumstance forces me into the open, I shall take the sword and, even though I am sure to die for it, kill them with my own hand, going to the very utmost of daring. [395] By the goddess I worship most of all, my chosen helper Hecate,2 who dwells in the inner chamber of my house, none of them shall pain my heart and smile at it! Bitter will I make their marriage, [400] bitter Creon's marriage-alliance, and bitter my banishment from the land! Come, Medea, spare nothing of the arts you are mistress of as you plot and contrive! Into the fray! Now it is a contest of courage. Do you see what is being done to you? You must not suffer mockery [405] from this Sisyphean3 marriage of Jason, you who are sprung from a noble father and have Helios for your grandsire. But you understand how to proceed. And furthermore we are women, unable to perform great deeds of valor, but most skilful architects of every evil.

1 I give the probable sense of the lacuna.

2 Hecate, among her many functions, is connected with magic arts.

3 The wily Sisyphus, famed for dishonest trickery, was a Corinthian.

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    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Electra, 403
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