|Electra Monologue by Sophocles|
- ELECTRA: I am ashamed, dear ladies, if to you
- Through frequent lamentations I appear
- Too sorely oppressed; but, for necessity
- Obliges me to do so, pardon me.
- For how should any woman gently born,
- Viewing the sorrows of her father's house,
- Do otherwise than I, who witness them
- For ever day by day and night by night
- Rather increase than lesson? to whom, first,
- The mother's face who bare me has become
- Most hostile; next, I must be companied
- In my own home with my sire's murderers,
- By them be ruled, take at their hands, or else
- At their hands hunger! Then, what sort of days
- Do you suppose I lead, when I behold
- AE gisthus seated on my father's throne,
- Wearing the selfsame garments which he wore,
- And pouring out libations on the hearth
- By which he slew him? When I witness, too,
- The consummation of their impudence,
- The homicide lying in my father's bed
- With that abandoned mother--if it be right
- To call her mother, who consorts with him!
- And she--so profligate that she lives on
- With her blood-guilty mate--fearing no vengeance--
- Rather, as if exulting in her doings--
- Looks out the day on which by cunning erst
- She slew my father, and each month on it
- Sets dances going, and sacrifices sheep
- In offering to her guardian deities!
- I see it, I, ill-fated one! At home
- I weep and waste and sorrow as I survey
- The unblest feast that bears my father's name,
- In private; for I cannot even weep
- So freely as my heart would have me do;
- For this tongue-valiant woman with vile words
- Upbraids me, crying "Thou God-forsaken thing,
- Has no man's father died, save only thine?
- Is nobody in mourning, except thee?
- Ill death betide thee, and the nether Gods
- Give thee no end to these thy sorrowings!"
- So she reviles; save when she hears it said
- Orestes is at hand; then instantly
- She is possessed, and comes and screams at me--
- "Is it not you who are the cause of this?
- Pray is not this your doing, who stole Orestes
- Out of my hands, and conjured him away?
- But mind you, you shall pay me well for it!"
- So snarling, there joins with her and stands by
- And hounds her forward her illustrious groom,
- The all unmanly, all injurious pest,
- Who fights no battles without women! I,
- Waiting and waiting, till Orestes come
- And end it, miserably daily die.
- For always meaning, never doing, he
- Has utterly confounded all my hopes
- Remote or present. Friends, in such a case,
- There is no room--no, not for soberness
- Or piety; but, beneath injuries,
- There is deep need we prove injurious, too!
Credits: Reprinted from Dramas. Sophocles. London: J.M. Dent & Sons, 1906.