A monologue from the play by Aeschylus
NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from The Dramas of Aeschylus. Trans. Anna Swanwick. London: George Bell and Sons, 1907.
Hail, joyous light of justice-bearing day!
At length I can aver that God’s supernal,
Judges of men, look down on earthly woes,
Beholding, in the Erinyes’ woven robes,
This man, thus prostrate, welcome sight to me,
The wiles atoning compassed by his sire.
For Atreus, Argos’ ruler, this man’s father,
Did from the city and his home expel
Thyestes, rival in the sovereignty,–
My father, to be plain, and his own brother.
But coming back, a suppliant of the hearth,
Wretched Thyestes found a lot secure,
Not doomed his natal soil with blood to stain,
Here in his home: but this man’s godless sire,
Atreus, with zeal officious more than kind,
Feigning a joyous banquet-day to hold,
Served to my sire, for food, his children’s flesh.
Their feet indeed, the members of their hands,–
Seated aloof, in higher places, he hides.
Partaking of the undistinguished parts,
In ignorance, Thyestes eats the food,
Curse-laden, as thou seest, to the race.
Discerning then the impious deed, he shrieked,
And back recoiling the foul slaughter spewed.
Spurning, with righteous curse, th’ insulted board
Dread doom he vows to the Pelopidæ;–
“So perish the whole race of Pleisthenes.”
Hence is it that ye see this man laid low;
The righteous planner of his death am I.
For me, the thirteenth child, in swathing clothes,
He with my wretched sire, to exile drove.
But, grown to manhood, Justice lead me back,
And I, although aloof, have reached this man,
The threads combining of the fatal plot.
Now for myself ’twere glorious to die,
Seeing this man entrapped in Justice’ toils.