|Orestes Monologue by Euripides|
- ORESTES: In reverence to thy age I dread to speak
- What I well know must pierce thy heart with grief.
- I am unholy in my mother's death,
- But holy, as my father I avenged.
- The veneration due to those grey hairs
- Strikes me with awe: else I could urge my plea
- Freely and boldly; but thy years dismay me.
- What could I do? Let fact be weighed with fact.
- My father was the author of my being;
- Thy daughter brought me forth: he gave me life,
- Which she but fostered: to the higher cause
- A higher reverence then I deemed was due.
- Thy daughter, for I dare not call her mother,
- Forsook her royal bed for a rank sty
- Of secret and adulterous lust: on me
- The word reflects disgrace, yet I must speak it.
- AE gisthus was this private paramour:
- Him first I slew, then sacrificed my mother:
- An impious deed; but I avenged my father.
- Thou threatenst the just vengeance of the state:
- Hear me: deserve I not the thanks of Greece?
- Should wives with ruffian boldness kill their husbands,
- Then fly for refuge to their sons, and think,
- Baring their breast, to captivate their pity,
- These deeds would pass for nothing, as the mood,
- For something or for nothing, shall incline them.
- This complot have I broke, by doing what
- Thy pompous language styles atrocious deeds.
- My soul abhorred my mother, and I slew her,
- Who, when her lord was absent, and in arms
- To glorious conquest led the sons of Greece,
- Betrayed him, with pollution stained his bed;
- And, conscious of her guilt, sought not t' atone it,
- But, to escape his righteous vengeance, poured
- Destruction on his head, and killed my father.
- Now by the gods, though in a charge of blood
- Ill it becomes me to invoke the gods,
- Had I in silence tamely borne her deeds,
- Would not the murdered, justly hating me,
- Have roused the Furies to torment my soul?
- Or hath she only her assisting fiends,
- And he no fav'ring power t' avenge his wrongs?
- Thou, when to that bad daughter thou gavst birth,
- Didst give me ruin; for through her bold crime
- I lost my father, and my mother slew.
- Seest thou Ulysses' wife? Telemachus
- Shed not her blood; for she, unstained with vice,
- Guards her chaste bed with spotless sanctity.
- Seest thou Apollo, who to mortal ears
- Sounds from his central cave the voice of truth?
- Him we obey in all that he commands:
- Obeying his commands, I slew my mother;
- Drag him then to your bar, put him to death;
- The guilt is his, not mine. What should I do?
- The guilt on him transferred, is not the god
- Sufficient to absolve me? Where shall man
- Find refuge, if the god, at whose command
- I did it, will not now save me from death?
- Then say not that these deeds were done not well,
- But to the doers most unhappily.
- If well accorded, the connubial state
- From all its strings speaks perfect harmony;
- If ill, at home, abroad, the harsh notes jar,
- And with rude discord wound the ear of Peace.
Credits: Reprinted from The Plays of Euripides in English, vol. i. Trans. Shelley Dean Milman. London: J.M. Dent & Sons, 1920.