Eumenides 321-346 … 397-469

Mother who bore me, Oh
mother Night, for the
unseeing and the sighted
I am retribution, hear me: for the son of Leta
dishonours me, he takes for himself this man,
our hare, the matricide an expiation
of murder would obtain.

Upon the sacrificed
this song, frenzied,
reeling, maddening,
a hymn of the Erinys
for binding the senses, unaccompanied
by the lyre, withering to mortals.

For this lot, struck
through, Fate did weave to be steadfast,
that when mortals meet
a kin-slayer, working for naught,
to pursue him until
he goes under the earth; and when he dies
not even then is he free.

Upon the sacrificed
this song, frenzied,
reeling, maddening,
a hymn from the Erinys
for binding the senses, unaccompanied
by the lyre, withering to mortals.

From afar I have heard a shout of appeal,
from the Scamander, having taken first possession of the land
which the leaders and the foremost men of the Achaeans,
a great share of the wealth taken by their spears,
they gave it to me, lock, stock, and barrel for all time,
a choice gift for the offspring of Theseus.
I came from there, rushing on untiring feet,
without wings, wind whoosing through the hollow of my aegis,
[ my chariot yoked to foals in their prime ]
to see this company here, novel to my the land,
and though I’m not frightened, there is wonder in my eyes.
Whoever are you? I speak to you all in common,
to you, stranger, sitting before my wooden image,
and to you; like no-one born of any seed,
not seen among goddesses by gods,
nor resembling any mortal forms.
But to speak badly nearby those without blame
is far from righteous, here established custom stands apart.
You will learn everything concisely, maiden of Zeus;
for we are the eternal children of Night,
we are called Curses in the houses beneath the earth.
I know your kin and your given names.
The honours, yes indeed, given me you will soon learn.
I would know, if someone were to speak a clear word.
Those who murder mortals, we drive from their homes.
And for the killer, what is the end of his flight?
Wherever rejoicing is nowhere known.
Would you drive this one to this sort of flight with your shrieks?
Indeed, for he was judged the murderer of his mother.
Was he driven by necessity, or fearing someone’s vengeance?
Where is there such a spur so as to compel matricide?
This is half the story of the two present here.
He would not receive an oath, he would not wish to give one.
It is righteous to listen more than you would act.
How so? You must instruct; for you are not impoverished of wisdom.
Let me say that unjust things are not to conquer with oaths.
So refute me! Judge this case straightaway!
Would you allow me the final judgement?
Why not? We reverence you as worthy and of worthy lineage.
And you stranger, are you willing to speak to this in your turn?
After you speak of your land, lineage, and the misfortunes
of yours, then defend yourself against this charge:
if indeed, having prevailed upon this wooden idol for justice
you seat yourself, keeping watch nearby my hearth
a holy suppliant in the manner of Ixion.
To all these make a response intelligible to me.
Lady Athena, first from the last
of your words I shall lift away a great concern.
I am not a suppliant for purification, nor have I pollution
upon my hands seated myself at your wooden image.
I shall offer a great proof of this for you.
It is custom that blood-stained hands are voiceless
until, at the hands of a man for the cleansing of blood,
slaughters of suckling beast sprinkle him.
I have long ago been purified in this way at other
houses, both by beasts and by flowing streams.

Thus I declare this concern set aside;
my lineage, such as it is, you will soon know.
I am Argive, you inquire nobly about my father,
Agamemnon, commander of sea-faring men,
with him you did the Trojan city of Ilium uncitied
make. He passed away but not nobly when he came
to his home: but rather him my black-hearted
mother did kill, with manifold nets
she covered him, which bear witness to murder in the bath-house.
And when I came back, for I had earlier been exiled,
I killed she who bore me, I will not deny it,
as recompense for murder in turn of my dearest father.
and for this in common Loxias bears blame,
he had before it ordained pains as goads to my heart,
if I should fail to do any of these to those worthy of blame.
And you, whether you judge my case righteous or not:
For having done this, I acquiesce in you absolutely.

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