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Orestes
Well then, I pray to this earth and to my father's grave that this dream may come to its fulfilment in me. [540] As I understand it, it fits at every point. For if the snake left the same place as I; if it was furnished with my swaddling clothes; if it sought to open its mouth to take the breast that nourished me [545] and mixed the sweet milk with clotted blood while she shrieked for terror at this, then surely, as she has nourished a portentous thing of horror, she must die by violence. For I, turned serpent, am her killer, as this dream declares. [550]

Chorus
I choose your reading of this portent. Let it be so. As for the rest, give your friends their parts. Tell some what to do, others what to leave undone.

Orestes
It is a simple story. My sister must go inside, and I charge her to keep concealed this pact with me, [555] so that as by craft they killed a worthy man, so by craft they may likewise be caught and perish in the very same snare, even as Loxias decreed, lord Apollo, the prophet who has never before been false.

In the guise of a stranger, one fully equipped, [560] I will come to the outer gate, and with me Pylades, whom you see here, as a guest and ally of the house. Both of us will speak the speech of Parnassus, imitating the accent of a Phocian tongue. And in case none of the keepers of the door will give us a hearty welcome [565] on the plea that the house is afflicted with trouble by the gods, then we will wait so that anyone passing the house will consider and say: “Why then does Aegisthus have his door shut on his suppliant, if in fact he is at home and knows?” [570]

But if I indeed pass the outermost threshold of the gate and find that man sitting on my father's throne, or if then coming face to face with me he lifts and casts down his eyes, know well: before he can even say “Of what land is this stranger?” I will skewer him with my swift sword and lay him dead. [575] The fury that has no fill of slaughter shall for her third and crowning drink drink unmixed blood!

Now you, Electra, keep strict watch over what happens inside the house, so that our plans may fit together well. [580] Youaddressing the Chorus had best keep a discreet tongue: be silent when there is need and speak only what the occasion demands. As for the rest, I call on him1 to cast his glance this way and direct the contest of the sword for me.Exeunt Orestes, Pylades, and Electra

1 Apollo, his champion (lines 269, 558), whose statue stood before the palace (cp.Aesch. Ag. 513).

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  • Commentary references to this page (1):
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Antigone, 107
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