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: Men of our city, Argive elders here,
    I shame not in your presence to avow
    My wifely temper; bashful Fear in time
    From mortals dieth: not by others taught,
    But from myself, the wretched life I'll tell
    'Twas mine to lead while this man was at Troy.
    First, for a woman severed from her mate,
    To sit forlorn at home is grievous woe,
    Hearing malignant murmurs manifold.
    One courier comes, another in his train
    Worse tidings brings to echo through the house;
    And as for wounds, had my dear lord received
    As many as report kept pouring in,
    A net methinks had not been more transpierced.
    Or had he died oft as reported then,
    A second triple-bodied Geryon,
    A threefold cloak of earth he must have donned,
    Enduring death in every form he wore.
    Thus harassed by these ever-rife reports,
    Full often from my neck have forceful hands
    Seized and untied the beam-suspended noose.
    And for this cause our son, pledge of our troth,
    Of mine and thine, stands not beside me now,
    As stand he should, Orestes. Marvel not,
    For him thy trusty spear-guest nourisheth;
    Strophius, the Phocian, who hath me forewarned
    Of twofold peril, thine 'neath Ilion's wall,
    And next lest clamour-fostered Anarchy
    Hazard the plot, for 'tis with men inborn
    To trample further him already down.
    This pretext, trust me, carries no deceit.
    But for myself the gushing founts of grief
    Are all dried up, no single tear is left;
    Sore with late watching are my weary eyes,
    Weeping the fiery beacons set for thee
    Neglected ever. Often from my dreams
    Was I awakened by the tiny hum
    Of buzzing gnat, seeing, endured by thee,
    More woes than could have filled mine hour of sleep.
    These sorrows past, now with a heart unwrung
    I hail my husband, watchdog of the fold,
    Sure forestay of the ship; of lofty roof
    Pillar firm based; Sire's sole-begotten child;
    Land beyond hope looming to mariners;
    Day after storm most brilliant to behold;
    To thirsty wayfarer clear gushing spring.
    Sooth, sweet it is to 'scape from harsh constraint;
    With such addresses do I honour him.
    Let Envy stand aloof! for we have borne
    Ere this full many a woe. Now dear my lord
    Come from thy car; but on the ground, O King,
    Plant not the foot that trampled Ilion.
    Maidens, why tarry ye, whose duty 'tis
    With carpets to bespread his stepping-floor?
    Swift, purple-strew his passage to a home
    Unlooked for, e'en as Justice may conduct;
    What further she decreeth with the gods,
    Thought, not by sleep o'ermastered, shall dispose.