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You handmaidens who set our house in order, since you are here as my attendants in this rite of supplication, [85] give me your counsel on this: what should I say while I pour these offerings of sorrow? How shall I find gracious words, how shall I entreat my father? Shall I say that I bring these offerings to a loved husband from a loving wife—from my own mother? [90] I do not have the assurance for that, nor do I know what I should say as I pour this libation onto my father's tomb. Or shall I speak the words that men are accustomed to use: “To those who send these honors may he return benefits”—a gift, indeed, to match their evil?1

Or, in silence and dishonor, even as my father perished, shall I pour them out for the earth to drink [95] and then retrace my steps, like one who carries refuse away from a rite, hurling the vessel from me with averted eyes?

In this, my friends, be my fellow-counsellors. [100] For we cherish a common hatred within our house. Do not hide your counsel in your hearts in fear of anyone. For the portion of fate awaits both the free man and the man enslaved by another's hand. If you have a better course to urge, speak! [105]

1 “Their evil” is unexpectedly substituted for “their good.” The question is ironical, since it was natural for a Greek to return evil for evil (cp. 123).

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  • Commentary references to this page (1):
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Electra, 190
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