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The Libation Bearers


Lines 585–652

Lines 479–584

Lines 585–652, page 2

page 1 of 2

The chorus gathers to comment on the action following the departure of Orestes, Electra, and Pylades. They sing of the horrors of the deep, and the hateful monsters that dwell there. Birds and beasts alike can tell of the furious whirlwinds of chaos. All of these things can be described, but who can account for man's overly bold spirit? And who can speak of a reckless woman whose passions exceed all bounds, whose frenzied lust rips apart the married unions of men and beasts alike?

The chorus says that we should recall the story of Thestius's heartless daughter, who killed her own son. She burned away the torch that had been burning from his birth, which the fates had told her would keep pace with his life. It was to burn until the day foretold by fate, at which point he would die.

Or, the chorus points out, we must remember the story of the daughter of Nisus, king of Megara. She brought destruction upon her father as he slept, by cutting of his immortal lock of hair, so that Hermes overtook him in his sleep. And for what did she betray her own father? For a golden Cretan necklace, which Minos, Nisus's fierce enemy, gave to her as a bribe.

Having recalled these pitiless acts, it is time soon to tell of a loveless marriage, a curse to the house. Soon we will hear of the cunning plots of a wife against her wise warrior lord. The chorus says that it honors the home that is stranger to passion, and the woman who will never step out of bounds.

Out of all crimes, those of the Lemians are certainly the worst. This abominable story has become the paradigm for horror, and the race of the Lemians itself has disappeared. For, no man can respect that which the gods hate.

The chorus says that the sword is at the lungs, and Justice will drive it deep. Those who trample upon the laws of Zeus underfoot will themselves be stamped out. Fate is sharpening her sword, and the brooding Furies are bringing the son into the house, to wipe clean the blood from the house.

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