|Electra Monologue by Euripides|
- ELECTRA: Let me then speak; but where shall I begin.
- Thy insults to recount? With what conclude?
- Or how pursue the train of my discourse?
- I never with the opening morn forbore
- To breathe my silent plaints, which to thy face
- I wished to utter, from my former fears
- If e'er I should be free: I now am free.
- Now, to thee living what I wished to speak,
- I will recount. Thou hast destroyed my hopes,
- Made me an orphan, him and me bereft
- Of a dear father, by no wrongs enforced.
- My mother basely wedding, thou hast slain
- The glorious leader of the Grecian arms,
- Yet never didst thou tread the fields of Troy.
- Nay, such thy folly, thou couldst hope to find
- My mother, shouldst thou wed her, nought of ill
- To thee intending: hence my father's bed
- By thee was foully wronged. But let him know
- Who with forbidden love another's wife
- Corrupts, then by necessity constrained
- Receives her as his own, should he expect
- To find that chastity preserved to him,
- Which to her former bed was not preserved,
- He must be wretched from his frustrate hope.
- And what a life of misery didst thou lead,
- Though not by thee deemed ill? Thy conscious mind
- Of thy unholy nuptials felt the guilt:
- My mother knew that she an impious man
- In thee had wedded; and, polluted both,
- Thou hadst her fortune, she thy wickedness.
- 'Mongst all the Argives, this had fame divulged,
- The man obeys the wife, and not the wife
- Her husband: shameful this, when in the house
- The woman sovereign rules, and not the man.
- And when of children speaks the public voice
- As from the mother, not the father sprung,
- To me it is unpleasing. He who weds
- A wife of higher rank and nobler blood,
- Sinks into nothing, in her splendour lost.
- Thus truth unknown, thy pride was most deceived,
- Thyself as great thou vauntedst, in the power
- Of riches vainly elevate; but these
- Are nothing, their enjoyment frail and brief;
- Nature is firm, not riches; she remains
- For ever, and triumphant lifts her head.
- But unjust wealth, which sojourns with the base,
- Glitters for some short space, then flies away.
- To women thy demeanour I shall pass
- Unmentioned, for to speak it ill beseems
- A virgin's tongue; yet I shall make it known
- By indistinct suggestion. Arrogance
- Swelled thy vain mind, for that the royal house
- Was thine, and beauty graced thy perfect form.
- But be not mine a husband whose fair face
- In softness with a virgin's vies, but one
- Of manly manners; for the sons of such
- By martial toils are trained to glorious deeds:
- The beauteous only to the dance give grace.
- Perish, thou wretch, to nothing noble formed;
- Such was thou found, and vengeance on thy head
- At length hath burst; so perish all, that dare
- Atrocious deeds! Nor deem, though fair his course
- At first, that he hath vanquished Justice ere
- He shall have reached the goal, the end of life.
Credits: Reprinted from The Plays of Euripides in English, vol. i. Trans. Shelley Dean Milman. London: J.M. Dent & Sons, 1920.