ELECTRA – Monologue (Electra – 4)

A monologue from the play by Sophocles

NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from Dramas. Sophocles. London: J.M. Dent & Sons, 1906.


I am ashamed, dear ladies, if to you
Through frequent lamentations I appear
Too sorely oppressed; but, for necessity
Obliges me to do so, pardon me.
For how should any woman gently born,
Viewing the sorrows of her father’s house,
Do otherwise than I, who witness them
For ever day by day and night by night
Rather increase than lesson? to whom, first,
The mother’s face who bare me has become
Most hostile; next, I must be companied
In my own home with my sire’s murderers,
By them be ruled, take at their hands, or else
At their hands hunger! Then, what sort of days
Do you suppose I lead, when I behold
Ægisthus seated on my father’s throne,
Wearing the selfsame garments which he wore,
And pouring out libations on the hearth
By which he slew him? When I witness, too,
The consummation of their impudence,
The homicide lying in my father’s bed
With that abandoned mother–if it be right
To call her mother, who consorts with him!
And she–so profligate that she lives on
With her blood-guilty mate–fearing no vengeance–
Rather, as if exulting in her doings–
Looks out the day on which by cunning erst
She slew my father, and each month on it
Sets dances going, and sacrifices sheep
In offering to her guardian deities!
I see it, I, ill-fated one! At home
I weep and waste and sorrow as I survey
The unblest feast that bears my father’s name,
In private; for I cannot even weep
So freely as my heart would have me do;
For this tongue-valiant woman with vile words
Upbraids me, crying “Thou God-forsaken thing,
Has no man’s father died, save only thine?
Is nobody in mourning, except thee?
Ill death betide thee, and the nether Gods
Give thee no end to these thy sorrowings!”
So she reviles; save when she hears it said
Orestes is at hand; then instantly
She is possessed, and comes and screams at me–
“Is it not you who are the cause of this?
Pray is not this your doing, who stole Orestes
Out of my hands, and conjured him away?
But mind you, you shall pay me well for it!”
So snarling, there joins with her and stands by
And hounds her forward her illustrious groom,
The all unmanly, all injurious pest,
Who fights no battles without women! I,
Waiting and waiting, till Orestes come
And end it, miserably daily die.
For always meaning, never doing, he
Has utterly confounded all my hopes
Remote or present. Friends, in such a case,
There is no room–no, not for soberness
Or piety; but, beneath injuries,
There is deep need we prove injurious, too!

Read the play here

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