previous next


Hitherto the Chorus have offered consolation or counsel. At v. 213 they return to that strain. But here, moved by Electra's misery, they join with her in bewailing its cause.

οἰκτρὰ μὲνπλαγά. At v. 95 it was noticed that verses 95—99 clearly show a reminiscence of Od. 11. 406—411,— the earlier part of the passage in which the departed Agamemnon relates his death to Odysseus. I believe that an instructive light on these verses is gained by observing that a later portion of the same passage was here present to the poet's mind,—viz., Od. vv. 418—424, where Agamemnon goes on to describe the scene at the murderous banquet:—“ἀλλά κε κεῖνα μάλιστα ἰδὼν ὀλοφύραο θυμῷ”, | “ὡς ἀμφὶ κρητῆρα τραπέζας τε πληθούσας” | “κείμεθ᾽ ἐνὶ μεγάρῳ” [cp. κοίταις here], “δάπεδον δ᾽ ἅπαν αἵματι θῦεν”. | “οἰκτροτάτην δ᾽ ἤκουσα ὄπα” [cp. οἰκτρὰαὐδὰ] “Πριάμοιο θυγατρός”, | “Κασσάνδρης, τὴν κτεῖνε Κλυταιμνήστρη δολόμητις” | “ἀμφ᾽ ἐμοί: αὐτὰρ ἐγὼ ποτὶ γαίῃ χεῖρας ἀείρων” | “βάλλον, ἀποθνῄσκων περὶ φασγάνῳ”.

Sophocles, who follows the Homeric story as to the banquet, could not but remember the “οἰκτροτάτην ὄπα” of the dying Cassandra. And this might naturally suggest to him that other “οἰκτρὰ αὐδή” which she had uttered at an earlier moment, immediately after Agamemnon's return,—her presage of his fate, and her own: Aesch. Ag. 1072—1314.

The sense then is:—‘There was a voice of lamentation at the return from Troy’; alluding especially to Cassandra's laments, but also, perhaps, to forebodings in the mouth of the people at Mycenae. ‘And there was a voice of lamentation “ἐν κοίταις πατρῴαις”, when thy father lay on the couch at the fatal banquet.’ The ‘voice’ at the banquet is, first, that of the dying Agamemnon; but Sophocles may have thought also of Cassandra's death-cry, which was sounding in the king's ears as he fell.—For other interpretations, see Appendix.

νόστοις might be governed by ἐν (cp. O. T. 734 n.), but is more simply taken as a temporal dat., denoting the occasion, like “τοῖς ἐπινικίοις” (Plat. Symp. 174 A), etc.: cp. n. on Ant. 691.For the poet. plur., cp. Ai. 900ὤμοι ἐμῶν νόστων”. The plural was familiar in relation to the return from Troy; thus the poem ascribed to Agias (c. 750 B.C.) was entitled “Νόστοι.

κοίταις, ‘couch,’ here of feasting, as “δείπνων” (203) shows. This may be the sense, as Neue suggests, in Eur. Hipp. 748 f. “κρῆναί τ᾽ ἀμβρόσιαι χέονται” | “Ζηνὸς μελάθρων παρὰ κοίταις”. The word “κοίτη” (from stem “κει”) implies merely reclining, and does not necessarily involve the notion of sleeping.

ὅτε οἱ: for the hiatus cp. Tr. 650 δέ οἱ” (n.). The MS. σοι is certainly wrong (see Appendix).— ἀνταία, striking full: cp. 89ἀντήρεις” (n.).

γενύων, the blades of the two-edged “πέλεκυς” (99 n.): cp. 485. Hence a pickaxe is “γενῄς” ( Ant. 249 n.).

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide References (12 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (12):
    • Aeschylus, Agamemnon, 1072
    • Euripides, Hippolytus, 748
    • Homer, Odyssey, 11.406
    • Homer, Odyssey, 24.418
    • Plato, Symposium, 174a
    • Sophocles, Ajax, 900
    • Sophocles, Antigone, 249
    • Sophocles, Antigone, 691
    • Sophocles, Electra, 485
    • Sophocles, Electra, 89
    • Sophocles, Oedipus Tyrannus, 734
    • Sophocles, Trachiniae, 650
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: