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.
NURSE: My mistress bade me summon with all speed
Ægisthos to the strangers, that he may
More clearly learn, as man from man, this tale
Newly announced. Before the menial train,
She, at the tidings by these strangers brought,
‘Neath mournful eyes a lurking smile hath veiled,
Exulting in events joyous for her,
But to this house with direst issue fraught;–
But he no doubt will in his soul rejoice,
Hearing the tale. Alas! unhappy me!
How did the ancient troubles, hard to bear,
Whose blended horror darkened Atreus’ house,
With anguish pierce my heart! But ne’er before,
Have I a sorrow like to this endured.
All other ills I patiently have borne,
But dear Orestes, darling of my soul,
Whom from his mother’s womb I fondly reared,
Whose piercing summons waked me up at night,
And for whose sake full many a fruitless toil
I bore ungrudging;–for like lamb unweaned,
The witless infant we perforce must rear
According to its mood;–how otherwise!
For while in swathing-clothes no voice it hath,
When pressed by hunger, thirst, or nature’s call,
But wilful is each tender organ’s play.
Such wants presaging, ay, and oft deceived,
As cleanser of his swaddling bands, I ween,
Fuller and nurse had common duty there.
I thus installed in double handicraft,
The young Orestes for his father reared.
Oh wretched me to hear that he is dead;
But now I go, the spoiler of this house
To seek;–right gladly will he learn the tale.