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Second Messenger
By her own hand. You will not suffer the worst part of the painful event, since you do not behold the events. Nevertheless, so far as my memory serves, [1240] you will learn that unhappy woman's fate.

When, frantic, she passed within the vestibule, she rushed straight towards her marriage couch, clutching her hair with the fingers of both hands. Once within the chamber, [1245] she dashed the doors together behind her, then called on the name of Laius, long since a corpse, thinking of that son, born long ago, by whose hand the father was slain, leaving the mother to breed accursed offspring with his own child. And she bewailed the marriage in which, wretched woman, she had given birth to a twofold brood, [1250] husband by husband, children by her child. And how she perished is more than I know. For with a shriek Oedipus burst in, and did not allow us to watch her woe until the end: on him, as he rushed around, our eyes were set. [1255] To and fro he went, asking us to give him a sword, asking where he could find the wife who was no wife, but a mother whose womb had borne both him and his children. And in his frenzy a power greater than mortal man was his guide, for it was none of us mortals who were near. [1260] With a dread cry, as though someone beckoned him on, he sprang at the double doors, forced the bending bolts from the sockets, and rushed into the room. There we beheld the woman hanging by the neck in a twisted noose of swinging cords. [1265] And when he saw her, with a dread deep cry he released the halter by which she hung. And when the hapless woman was stretched out on the ground, then the sequel was horrible to see: for he tore from her raiment the golden brooches with which she had decorated herself, [1270] and lifting them struck his own eye-balls, uttering words like these: No longer will you behold such horrors as I was suffering and performing! Long enough have you looked on those whom you ought never to have seen, having failed in the knowledge of those whom I yearned to know—henceforth you shall be dark! [1275] With such a dire refrain, he struck his eyes with raised hand not once but often. At each blow the bloody eye-balls bedewed his beard, and sent forth not sluggish drops of gore, but all at once a dark shower of blood came down like hail. [1280] From the deeds of the two of them such ills have broken forth, not on one alone, but with mingled woe for man and wife. The old happiness of their ancestral fortune was once happiness indeed. But now today lamentation, ruin, death, shame, and every earthly ill that anyone could name are all theirs.

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    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Electra, 761
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