ELECTRA Behold the man who saved his life; if, that is, he liveth
ORESTES Ha! why does he look so hard at me, as if he were examining
the bright device on silver coin? Is he finding in me a likeness to
ELECTRA Maybe he is glad to see in thee a companion of Orestes.
ORESTES A man I love full well. But why is he walking round me?
ELECTRA I, too, am watching his movements with amaze, sir stranger.
OLD MAN My honoured mistress, my daughter Electra, return thanks
ELECTRA For past or present favours? which?
OLD MAN That thou hast found a treasured prize, which God is now
ELECTRA Hear me invoke the gods. But what dost thou mean, old man?
OLD MAN Behold before thee, my child, thy nearest and dearest.
ELECTRA I have long feared thou wert not in thy sound senses
OLD MAN Not in my sound senses, because I see thy brother?
ELECTRA What mean’st thou, aged friend, by these astounding words?
OLD MAN That I see Orestes, Agamemnon’s son, before me.
ELECTRA What mark dost see that I can trust?
OLD MAN A scar along his brow, where he fell and cut himself one
day in his father’s home when chasing a fawn with thee.
ELECTRA Is it possible? True; I see the mark of the fall.
OLD MAN Dost hesitate then to embrace thy own dear brother?
ELECTRA No! not any longer, old friend; for my soul is convinced
by the tokens thou showest. O my brother, thou art come at last, and
I embrace thee, little as I ever thought to.
ORESTES And thee to my bosom at last I press.
ELECTRA I never thought that it would happen.
ORESTES All hope in me was also dead.
ELECTRA Art thou really he?
ORESTES Aye, thy one and only champion, if I can but safely draw
to shore the cast I mean to throw; and I feel sure I shall; else must
we cease to believe in gods, if wrong is to triumph o’er right.
CHORUS (singing) At last, at last appears thy radiant dawn, O happy
day! and as beacon to the city hast thou revealed the wanderer, who,
long ago, poor boy! was exiled from his father’s halls. Now, lady,
comes our turn for victory, ushered in by some god. Raise hand and
voice in prayer, beseech the gods that good fortune may attend thy
brother’s entry to the city.
ORESTES Enough! sweet though the rapture of this greeting be, I must
wait and return it hereafter. Do thou, old friend so timely met, tell
me how I am to avenge me on my father’s murderer, and on my mother,
the partner in his guilty marriage. Have I still in Argos any band
of kindly friends? or am I, like my fortunes, bankrupt altogether?
With whom am I to league myself? by night or day shall I advance?
point out a road for me to take against these foes of mine.
OLD MAN My son, thou hast no friend now in thy hour of adversity.
No! that is a piece of rare good luck, to find another share thy fortunes
alike for better and for worse. Thou art of every friend completely
reft, all hope is gone from thee; be sure of what I tell thee; on
thy own arm and fortune art thou wholly thrown to win thy father’s
home and thy city.
ORESTES What must I do to compass this result?
OLD MAN Slay Thyestes’ son and thy mother.
ORESTES I came to win that victor’s crown, but how can I attain it?
OLD MAN Thou wouldst never achieve it if thou didst enter the walls.
ORESTES Are they manned with guards and armed sentinels?
OLD MAN Aye truly; for he is afraid of thee, and cannot sleep secure.
ORESTES Well then, do thou next propose a scheme, old friend.
OLD MAN Hear me a moment; an idea has just occurred to me.
ORESTES May thy counsel prove good, and my perception keen!
OLD MAN I saw Aegisthus, as I was slowly pacing hither-
ORESTES I welcome thy words. Where was he?
OLD MAN Not far from these fields, at his stables.
ORESTES What was he doing? I see a gleam of hope after our helplessness.
OLD MAN I thought he was preparing a feast for the Nymphs.
ORESTES In return for the bringing up of children or in anticipation
of a birth?
OLD MAN All I know is this, he was preparing to sacrifice oxen.
ORESTES How many were with him? or was he alone with his servants?
OLD MAN There was no Argive there; only a band of his own followers.
ORESTES Is it possible that any of them will recognize me, old man?
OLD MAN They are only servants, and they have never even seen thee.
ORESTES Will they support me, if I prevail?
OLD MAN Yes, that is the way of slaves, luckily for thee.
ORESTES On what pretext can I approach him?
OLD MAN Go to some place where he will see thee as he sacrifices.
ORESTES His estate is close to the road then, I suppose.
OLD MAN Yes, and when he sees thee there, he will invite thee to
ORESTES So help me God! He shall rue his invitation.
OLD MAN After that, form thy own plan according to circumstances.
ORESTES Good advice! But my mother, where is she?
OLD MAN At Argos; but she will yet join her husband for the feast.
ORESTES Why did she not come forth with him?
OLD MAN From fear of the citizens’ reproach she stayed behind.
ORESTES I understand; she knows that the city suspects her.
OLD MAN Just so; her wickedness makes her hated.
Electra by Euripides