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The imperf. χρῆν, with εἶναι, implies that, though it ought to be so, it is not. The sense is, in substance, what might be expressed by a conditional sentence, “ἥδε δίκη ἦν ἂν τοῖς πᾶσιν, εἰ τὸ εἰκὸς ἔπαθον.

εὐθὺς, immediately after the crime in each case; Aegisthus has enjoyed too long an impunity. Cp. 13 f.n.

θέλει is better here than θέλοι, since it suggests more clearly the reference to the actual case of Aegisthus. The optative is, however, also tenable. It would mark the generality of the statement, ‘any one who should wish’; and could follow a present, “χρή”, no less than “χρῆν” (cp. Ant. 666).— τοῖς πᾶσινὅστις: cp. Ai. 760, where “ὅστις” refers to “σώματα” in 758: Ant. 709, where “οὗτοι” follows “ὅστις” in 707: Eur. El. 933κἀκείνους στυγῶ” | “τοὺς παῖδας, ὅστις κ.τ.λ.”: Plat. Rep. 566 Dἀσπάζεται πάντας ἂν περιτυγχάνῃ”.

πράσσειν γε: “γε” emphasises, not “πράσσειν”, but rather the whole sentence, and might have immediately followed “ὅστις”, if metre had allowed: cp. Il. 3. 279ἀνθρώπους τίνυσθον, ὅτις γ᾽ ἐπίορκον ὀμόσσῃ”. Certainly “πράσσειν τι” is no improvement.

κτείνειν, rather than “θνῄσκειν”, because the speaker is himself the executioner. For the emphatic place of the word, cp. 957Αἴγισθον.

τὸ πανοῦργον, equiv. in sense to “οἱ πανοῦργοι”: cp. 972 n.: Thuc. 1. 13τὸ λῃστικὸν καθῄρουν”.— Shakesp. Meas. for Meas. act 2, sc. 2, 91:‘Those many had not dared to do that evil, | If the first that did the edict infringe | Had answer'd for his deed.’

Nicephorus Vasilákes (“Βασιλάκης”), a professor of rhetoric at Constantinople in the latter part of the twelfth century, places these three verses of Sophocles at the head of a short piece in his rhetorical ‘Exercises’ (“Προγυμνάσματα”), and makes them the text of a discourse evidently prompted by the evils of his own time. The verses remind us, he says, how well Sophocles understood the function of Tragedy as a “κοινὴ παιδαγωγία”, or vehicle of moral teaching. After setting forth in action the warning example of Aegisthus, the poet here “ἀποδίδωσι λόγον ξυνᾴδοντα τοῖς εἰργασμένοις”, i.e., generalises the lesson. From a literary and aesthetic point of view the remark deserves the notice of those who, like Dindorf, think the verses spurious. If the speech of Orestes ended with v. 1504, the effect would manifestly be too abrupt.

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hide References (10 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (10):
    • Euripides, Electra, 933
    • Homer, Iliad, 3.279
    • Plato, Republic, 566d
    • Sophocles, Ajax, 760
    • Sophocles, Antigone, 666
    • Sophocles, Antigone, 709
    • Sophocles, Electra, 13
    • Sophocles, Electra, 957
    • Sophocles, Electra, 972
    • Thucydides, Histories, 1.13
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