Eumenides 198-253 … 276-320


Lord Apollo, hear me back in turn.
You yourself are not made an accessory of these things,
but rather but you acted from first to last, thus wholly culpable.
How so? Lay out your argument to this extent.
Did you not require that your guest be a matricide?
I required that he send the penalty for his father; So what?
And then did you not volunteer to take upon yourself the blood of the youth?
Indeed, I bid him to this house to turn in supplication.
And do you not rebuke us, for escorting him?
For it is not meet that you come to this house.
But this is our assigned task.
What is your office? You boast a noble privilege.
We drive matricides from their home.
What of the woman who should deprive a man of his life?
She would not be the perpetrator of a murder of her blood-kin.
Truly you are utterly without honour and have considered of no account
the pledges of Hera Fulfiller and of Zeus;
Cypris too, dishonoured, is cast aside by these words,
whence came that most beloved by mortals.
For the ordained marriage-bed for a man and woman
is greater than any oath, guarded by justice.
Should they kill one another you would let pass
not to extract the penalty, not to oversee them with anger,
I say that you did not justly banish Orestes.
For as to the one I see you deeply concerned,
but as to the other clearly you act at leisure.
But the goddess Pallas will oversee the trial of these things.
That man, I shall not ever leave off him.
Then pursue him, you, and pay more toil.
Do not cut short my honour with words.
May I never so welcome so as to have your honour.
Well you, in any case, are called great at the throne of Zeus.
And I, for the blood of a mother leads me, of my right
I shall have my part and I shall hunt down the man.
And as for me, I shall lend strength and deliver my supplicant:
for fearsome among mortals and gods does become
the wrath of him who supplicates for purification, if I hand him over willingly.

Lady Athena, at the command of Loxias
I have come; graciously receive a sinful wretch,
not supplicating for purification, nor unclean hand,
but already dull, rubbed away at
the house of another and at the haunts of mortals.
Passing over dry land and the sea alike,
keeping the oracular commands of Loxias,
I have come to your home and wooden image, goddess.
I shall keep watch over it and await the fulfilment of justice.
Very good! Here there is the manifest sign of the man;
follow by the hints of the voiceless informant;
for as hounds do the wounded fawn
we search after by blood and dripping.
And to man-slayers, by many toils, the inner parts
do huff; for every place of the earth has been traversed,
and over the sea by unwinged flights
I came pursuing not a whit behind his ship.
And now here he is cowering somewhere in this place;
the odour of the blood of mortal men greets me.

Having learned in my misfortunes, I am well-acquainted
with the right moment for many things and I speak where right
and where suitable I am silent; In this matter
I have been appointed to speak by a wise teacher.
For the blood sleeps and wanes from my hand,
matricidal stain is washed out;
for when it was fresh before the hearths of the god
it was driven out by the purifying sacrifices of swine of Phoebus.
My story would be long from the beginning,
for as many as I came before for innocent intercourse.
[time purges everything, growing old with them]
and now from hallowed mouth and with words of good omen I summon
the queen of this land, Athena, to me
to come as advocate; she will procure without a spear
me and my land and the Argive people
justly trusted in all things and as allies.
But whether in some land in the places of Libya
or near the stream of Triton, the strait of her birth,
whether she steps boldly or with caution,
she gives succour to her allies, whether like a man looking upon
the Phlegraean plains, the confident commander,
she would come—she is a god and perceives over a great distance—
may she come likewise here as my deliverer.
No, neither Apollo nor mighty Athena
could guard you such that you would not, abandoned,
go to ruin, unlearned of where in the mind rejoicing lies,
bloodless, fatted for the divine powers, a shadow.
Oh, you do not answer, but rather you spurn the words,
although you have been nourished and consecrated for me?
And even living, you shall banquet me, not slaughtered before an altar;
you shall hear this, your binding hymn.

Come then! Let us join the dance, since
the horrifying song
it is decided to reveal,
to call out the lots accorded men,
just as our station apportions them.
We believe these to be just trials;
he who presents clean hands,
no wrath sneaks upon him from us,
he goes through his life unharmed;
but whoever trangresses as this man has,
hiding his murderous hands,
as truth-telling witnesses to those who die,
as attendant avengers of blood,
we revealed ourselves to him to the end.

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