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Helen enters from the palace.

Helen
Daughter of Clytemnestra and Agamemnon, unhappy Electra, a maiden for so long, how is it with you and your brother, this ill-starred Orestes who slew his mother? [75] For referring the sin as I do to Phoebus, I incur no pollution by addressing you; and yet I am truly sorry for the death of my sister Clytemnestra, whom I never saw after I was driven by heaven-sent frenzy to sail as I did to Ilium; [80] but now that I am parted from her, I bewail our misfortunes.

Electra
Helen, why should I speak of that which your own eyes can see? [Agamemnon's house in misfortune] Beside his wretched corpse I sit, sleepless—for corpse he is, so faint his breath— [85] not that I reproach him with his sufferings; but you are highly blessed and your husband too. [you have come upon us in the hour of adversity]

Helen
How long has he lain in this way on the couch?

Electra
Ever since he spilt his mother's blood.

Helen
[90] Unhappy wretch! unhappy mother! what a death she died.

Electra
Unhappy enough to succumb to his misery.

Helen
By the gods, would you hear me a moment, maiden?

Electra
Yes, with such leisure as this watching over a brother leaves.

Helen
Will you go for me to my sister's tomb?

Electra
[95] Would you have me seek my mother's tomb? Why?

Helen
To carry an offering of hair and a libation from me.

Electra
Isn't it right for you to go to the tomb of one you love?

Helen
No, for I am ashamed to show myself in Argos.

Electra
A late repentance surely for one who left her home so shamefully then.

Helen
[100] You have told the truth, but your telling is not kind to me.

Electra
What is this supposed shame before the eyes of Mycenae that possesses you?

Helen
I am afraid of the fathers of those who lie dead at Ilium.

Electra
Good cause for fear; your name is on every tongue in Argos.

Helen
Then free me of my fear and grant me this favor.

Electra
[105] I could not bear to look upon my mother's grave.

Helen
And yet it would be shame indeed for servants to bear these offerings.

Electra
Then why not send your daughter Hermione?

Helen
It is not good for maidens to go into a crowd.

Electra
And yet she would be repaying her dead foster-mother's care.

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hide References (4 total)
  • Commentary references to this page (2):
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Oedipus at Colonus, 407
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Electra, 1451
  • Cross-references in general dictionaries to this page (2):
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