ELECTRA: Then I will speak, and preface thus my speech.
I wish, my mother, that a better mind
Were thine; for excellence of form hath brought
To thee and Helena deserved praise.
Nature hath formed you sisters, light and vain,
Of Castor much unworthy. She was borne
Away, and by her own consent undone;
Thou hast destroyed the noblest man of Greece:
Thy daughter's death thy pretext, thou hast slain
Thy husband; but so well as I none knows,
Before it was decreed that she should die,
Whilst from Mycenæ his departure yet
Was recent, at the mirror didst thou form
The graceful ringlets of thy golden hair.
The wife, that in her husband's absence seeks
With curious care to set her beauty forth,
Mark as a wanton: she with nicest skill
Would not adorn her person to appear
Abroad, but that she is inclined to ill.
Of all the Grecian dames didst thou alone,
I know, rejoice, when prosperous were the arms
Of Troy; but when defeated, on thine eyes
A cloud hung dark; for never didst thou wish
That Agamemnon should from Troy return.
Yet glorious was th' occasion offered thee
The strength of female virtue to display:
Thou hadst a husband in no excellence
Inferior to Ægisthus: and so vile
Thy sister's conduct, thou hadst power from thence
The highest honour to thyself to draw;
For in the foulness of th' example vice
Instructive holds a mirror to the good.
But if my father, as thou urgest, killed
Thy daughter, how have I to thee done wrong?
My brother how? Or why, when thou hadst slain
Thy husband, didst thou not to us consign
Our father's house, but make it the lewd scene
Of other nuptials purchased by that prize?
Nor is thy husband exiled for thy son;
Nor hath he died for me, though, far beyond
My sister's death, me living hath he slain.
If blood, in righteous retribution, calls
For blood, by me behoves it thou shouldst bleed,
And by thy son Orestes, to avenge
My father: there if this was just alike
Is it just here. Unwise is he, who weds,
Allured by riches or nobility,
A vicious woman: all that greatness brings
Must yield to that endeared domestic bliss,
Which on the chaste though humble bed attends.