“Electra” by Sophocles

Electra Receiving the Ashes of her Brother
Electra Receiving the Ashes of her Brother by Jean-Baptiste Joseph Wicar


“Deceit was the plotter, Lust the slayer, two dread parents of a dreadful phantom, whether it was god or mortal that did this deed.”

And then think what manner of days I pass, when I see Aegisthus sitting on my father’s throne; when I look on him wearing the very robes which my father wore and pouring libations at the hearth where he killed him; and when I see the chief outrage of them all, the murderer in my father’s bed at my wretched mother’s side, if I must call her mother, even though she shares her bed with that man. So hardened is she that she joins with this polluter, fearing no Erinys. No, as if laughing at her deeds, having found the day on which in the past she treacherously killed my father, she celebrates it with dance and song, and in monthly rites she sacrifices sheep to the gods who worked her deliverance.

But my heart is broken by my suffering as I constantly wait for Orestes to come and end these troubles. For the perpetual imminence of his actions has eradicated every hope that I could conceive. In such a state of affairs, then, friends, there is no room for self-restraint or for reverence. Rather, in these dire straits there is much need to pursue a dire course.

And me, once he left this land, he saw no more; but, charging me with the murder of his father, he made terrible threats, so that neither by night nor by day could sweet sleep cover me, but the imminent moment made me live always as if I were about to die.

“I admire you for your prudence. For your cowardice I hate you.”

“Since I have seen you, for very joy I will never cease to weep. How indeed could I stop when I have seen you come home on this one day first as dead, and then in life? What you have done to me is inconceivable—so much so that, if my father were to return to me alive, I would no longer think it a portent, but would believe that I truly saw him.”



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