A monologue from the play by Aeschylus
NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from The Dramas of Aeschylus. Trans. Anna Swanwick. London: George Bell and Sons, 1907.
CLYTEMNESTRA: Though much to suit the times before was said,
It shames me not the opposite to speak:
For, plotting against foes,–our seeming friends,–
How else contrive with Ruin’s wily snare,
Too high to overleap, to fence them round?
To me, not mindless of an ancient feud,
Hath come at last this contest;–late indeed.
The deed achieved, here stand I, where I slew.
So was it wrought (and this I’ll not deny),
That he could neither ‘scape, nor ward his doom;
Around him, like a fish-encircling net,
This garment’s deadly splendour did I cast;–
Him twice I smote, and he, with twofold groan,
His limbs relaxed;–then, prostrate where he lay,
Him with third blow I dowered, votive gift
To nether Hades, saviour of the dead.
Thus as he fell he chafed his soul away;
And gurgling forth the swift death-tide of blood,
He smites me with black drops of gory dew,
Not less exultant than, with heaven-sent joy
The corn-sown land, in birth-hour of the ear.
For this great issue, Argive Senators,
Joy ye, if joy ye can, but I exult.
Nay, o’er the slain were off’rings meet,–with right
Here were they poured,–with emphasis of right.
Such goblets having filled with cursed ills
At home,–himself on his return drains off.
Me thou dost doom to exile,–to endure
The people’s hate, their curse deep-muttered,–thou,
Who ‘gainst this man of yore hadst naught to urge.
He, all unmoved, as though brute life he quenched,
The while his fleecy pastures teem’d with flocks,
His own child slaughtered,–of my travail throes
To me the dearest,–charm for Thracian blasts.
Him shouldst thou not have chased from land and home
Just guerdon for foul deed? Stern judge thou art
When me thou dost arraign;–but, mark my words,
(Nerved as I am to threat on equal terms,)
If with strong hand ye conquer me, then rule;–
But should the god decree the opposite,
Though late, to sober sense shalt thou be schooled.