The tomb of Agamemnon. Enter Orestes and Pylades

Hermes of the nether world, you who guard the powers that are your father's,1 prove yourself my savior and ally, I entreat you, now that I have come to this land and returned from exile. On this mounded grave I cry out to my father to hearken, to hear me [5]

[Look, I bring] a lock to Inachus2 in requital for his care, and here, a second, in token of my grief.

For I was not present, father, to lament your death, nor did I stretch forth my hand to bear your corpse.

What is this I see? [10] What is this throng of women that moves in state, marked by their sable cloaks? To what calamity should I set this down? Is it some new sorrow that befalls our house? Or am I right to suppose that for my father's sake they bear these libations to appease the powers below? [15] It can only be for this cause: for indeed I think my own sister Electra is approaching, distinguished by her bitter grief. Oh grant me, Zeus, to avenge my father's death, and may you be my willing ally!

Pylades, let us stand apart, [20] that I may

know clearly what this band of suppliant women intends.Exit Orestes and Pylades. Enter Electra with women carrying libations.

1 Hermes is invoked (1) as a god of the lower world, because he is the “conducter of souls” and herald between the celestial and infernal gods (l. 124), and can thus convey Orestes' appeal to the rulers of the dead and to the spirit of his father; (2) as administrator of the powers committed to him by his father, Zeus the Saviour. Some prefer to take πατρῷ not as πατρῷα but as πατρῷε i.e.“god of my fahters.”

2 Orestes offers a lock of his hair to do honour to Inachus, the river-god of Argos, because rivers were worshipped as givers of life.

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