By your argument, Zeus honours the doom of the father;
but he himself fettered his elder father, Cronus.
How is what you say not contrary to that?
I call you as witnesses to hear this.
Oh you all-hateful beasts, hated of the gods,
he could loose his fetters; there is a remedy for that,
and very much contrivance for release;
but when the dust drinks up the blood of a man,
dying once and for all, there is no resurrection.
My father fashions no charms for this,
but everything else both above and below
changing, he establishes all, by his might he makes no laboured breath.
Indeed, behold how you advocate for an acquittal for him;
having spilled the blood of his mother, related by blood, on the ground,
will he then dwell in the houses of his father in Argos?
At what sort of public altars shall he make sacrifice?
What sort of purification rite of brotherhoods will welcome him?
I will say just this, and you will learn that I speak rightly.
She called mother of the child is not
the begetter, but the nurse of the newly-sown embryo;
he who mounts begets, and she who is host for the guest
preserves the offspring, for whom god does not harm.
The proof of this argument I shall make clear;
the father may beget without the mother; present
nearby is a witness, the daughter of Olympian Zeus,
not reared in the darkness of a womb,
no goddess would beget offspring of this sort.
And I, Pallas, all other matters as I have skill,
I will make your town and your army great,
and I have sent this man to the hearth of your house,
so that he might be faithful for all time
and you would acquire an ally, goddess,
and those after him, and this would remain forever,
that their descendents would desire the pledges.
Shall I now command these men to bring from their thought
a righteous ballot; have you sufficiently made your argument?
Our arrow is loosed entire.
I remain to hear how the contest will be judged.
Why not? As for you, how might it be arranged that I be blameless?
You heard from whom you heard, in your hearts,
you bearing the ballots, have regard for your oath, my hosts.
Let ye hear now my custom, people of Attica,
who judge the very first case of shed blood.
It will be also thus in the future for the host of Aegeus
ever this council-chamber of judges.
This hill of Ares, of the Amazons an abode
and tabernacle, when they came for hatred of Theseus
to field an army, and against the city a new-founded city
they did then build, a high-towered rival,
they made sacrifices to Ares, hence the eponym for
this rock, the hill of Ares1: in this place, the reverence
of the townsmen and innate fear against doing wrong
shall hold them daily and likewise according to good sense,
the citizens themselves making no innovative additions to the laws;
for should you with inflowing evils and with filth the clear
water defile, you will nowhere find any to drink.
This, neither leader-less nor despotically ruled,
I counsel my townsmen to protect and to reverence,
and not to cast all fear out of the city;
for is anyone of mortals who fears nothing ever upright?
Indeed rightly fearing such as this, they would have
a safegaurd of the land and a saviour of the city and
a reverence, of the sort no-one of men has,
neither among the Scythians nor in the places of the Pelops.
This council-chamber, untouched by the cunning arts,
showing reverence, quick to punish, for those who slumber2
it is woken, a ward of the land, this I do establish.
I have lengthened this address for my
townsmen for the future; but now you must be stand
and choose your ballot and decide the case,
with regard for your oath. Thus my word is spoken.
. . .
This is my deed, to judge the case last;
I will add my ballot for Orestes.
For there was no mother who begot me,
and I praise all things male, except to get a marriage,
with all my spirit, I am very much of the father.
Thus I shall not give preference to the doom of a woman
who killed a man, the overseer of his house.
For the victory of Orestes, should the ballots be evenly divided.
Quickly as you can, cast out the votes from the urns,
for as many of the judges this end has been entrusted.
. . .
The man here is acquitted of the charge of blood:
for the count of the votes is equal.
1. That is, the Areopagus. This is clear in the Greek, πάγος τ᾽ Ἄρειος (pagos t’Areios)
2. Most likely meaning the slumbering dead. That is, the court punishes on behalf of the dead.