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After we had left this house, [775] we stepped onto the broad highway and went to the place where the famous King of Mycenae was. He turned out to be walking in a well-watered garden, plucking a wreath of tender myrtle-sprays for his head; when he saw us, he called out, “Welcome, strangers! Who are you [780] and from where do you come? from what country?” Orestes said, “We are Thessalians, going to the Alpheus river to sacrifice to Olympian Zeus.” When Aegisthus heard that, he said, “You must be my guests for the feast [785] with us now, for I happen to be sacrificing an ox to the Nymphs; and if you get out of bed at dawn, it will make no difference to you. But let us go within—while he was addressing us, he took us by the hand and led us off the road—you must not refuse.” [790] [And when we were in the house, he gave the command:] “Let someone bring water immediately for my guests, so that they may stand around the altar near the basin.” But Orestes said: “Just now we purified ourselves in clean water from the river's streams. [795] So if strangers must join in the sacrifice with citizens, Aegisthus, we are ready and will not refuse, lord.”

So they ended their public conversation. The slaves who formed the master's bodyguard laid aside their spears, and all applied their hands to the work. [800] Some brought the bowl to catch the blood, others took up baskets, while others kindled fire and set cauldrons around the hearth, and the whole roof rang. Then your mother's bed-fellow took barley for sprinkling, and cast it upon the altar with these words, [805] “Nymphs of the rocks, may I and my wife, the daughter of Tyndareus, often sacrifice at home, in good fortune as now, and may my enemies suffer”—meaning you and Orestes. But my master prayed for the opposite, not speaking the words aloud, [810] that he might win his father's house. Aegisthus took from a basket a long straight knife, and cutting off some of the calf's hair laid it with his right hand on the sacred fire, and then cut the calf's throat when the servants had lifted it upon their shoulders, and said this to your brother: [815] “They boast that this is among the honorable accomplishments for the Thessalians: to cut up a bull rightly and to tame horses; take the knife, stranger, and show us if the report about the Thessalians is true.”

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