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The text, which has been suspected (cr. n.), is sound; but the train of thought is somewhat obscured by compression.

‘You forget your father, and care only for your mother. All your counsels to me come from her. Then (“ἔπειτα”),—that being so,—give up the attempt at a compromise. Make a choice (“ἑλοῦ γε”). You can be imprudent (“φρονεῖν κακῶς”),—as you say that I am,—and loyal to your dead father. Or you can be prudent (“φρονοῦσα”), and forgetful of him,—as you actually are; you who (“ἥτις”) say, indeed, that you would show your hatred of the murderers if you could; and yet, when I do resist them, you try to turn me from my purpose. You merely add the shame of cowardice to our woes.’

ἔπειθ̓, ‘then,’ ‘after that’; i.e., ‘such being the case,’—that you side with Clytaemnestra. This use of the word in logical inference is not rare (cp. Il. 5. 812, Il. 10. 243). Others render it: (1) ‘Further’—which does not fit the context: or (2) ‘And yet,’ ‘nevertheless,’—a sense which “ἔπειτα” seldom bears except in a question; e.g., Eur. Alc. 821 f. “ΘΕ. γυνὴ μὲν οὖν ὄλωλεν Ἀδμήτου, ξένε. ΗΡ. τί φής; ἔπειτα δῆτά μ᾽ ἐξενίζετε”; Nor is that sense so suitable here.

ἑλοῦ γε. The effect of “γε” is merely to emphasise the verb,—opposing a definite choice to a compromise. Cp. 411συγγένεσθέ γ̓”: 1035 “ἐπίστω γ̓”. When “γε” is thus added to the imperative, it is more often in such combinations as “ὅρα γε μήν” ( O. C. 587), or “παῦσαί γε μέντοι” ( Ai. 483).

φρονεῖν κακῶς, to be imprudent. The chief theme of the timid sister's speech (328—340) has been prudence; as in 994 she insists on “τὴν εὐλάβειαν”, and Electra says (1027) “ζηλῶ σε τοῦ νοῦ, τῆς δὲ δειλίας στυγῶ”.

Other explanations are:—(1) ‘Choose to be thought either lost to right feeling, or, if you have such feeling, then at least forgetful of your duty.’ (2) ‘Choose to seem either unintelligent (if you are merely the blind instrument of our rulers); or, if you act with clear understanding (“φρονοῦσα”),—thinking to benefit me,—at least forgetful of your father.’ Both these views assume that the question is merely between two interpretations which might be placed on the present conduct of Chrysothemis. But Electra is putting the dilemma between imprudent loyalty and prudent disloyalty.

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hide References (6 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (6):
    • Euripides, Alcestis, 821
    • Homer, Iliad, 10.243
    • Homer, Iliad, 5.812
    • Sophocles, Ajax, 483
    • Sophocles, Electra, 411
    • Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus, 587
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