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
(“ἑλοῦγε”). You can be
imprudent (“φρονεῖνκακῶς”),—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.’
‘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. γυνὴμὲνοὖνὄλωλενἈδμήτου, ξένε. ΗΡ. τίφής; ἔπειταδῆτάμ᾽ἐξενίζετε”; Nor is that sense so suitable here.
ἑλοῦγε. The effect
of “γε” is merely to emphasise the
verb,—opposing a definite choice to a
compromise. Cp. 411
“συγγένεσθέγ̓”: 1035 “ἐπίστωγ̓”. When “γε” is thus added to the imperative, it is more
often in such combinations as “ὅραγεμήν” ( O. C. 587), or “παῦσαίγεμέντοι” ( Ai. 483).
φρονεῖνκακῶς, to be
imprudent. The chief theme of the timid sister's speech
(328—340) has been prudence; as in 994 she insists on
“τὴνεὐλάβειαν”, and Electra
says (1027) “ζηλῶσετοῦνοῦ, τῆςδὲδειλίαςστυγῶ”.
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.
Sophocles: The Plays and Fragments, with critical notes, commentary, and translation in English prose. Part VI: The Electra. Sir Richard C. Jebb. Cambridge. Cambridge University Press. 1894.
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