William-Adolphe Bouguereau, Oreste, 1862
William-Adolphe Bouguereau, Oreste (1862)


Οὔτοι προδώσει Λοξίου μεγασθενὴς
χρησμὸς κελεύων τόνδε κίνδυνον περᾶν,
κἀξορθιάζων πολλὰ καὶ δυσχειμέρους
ἄτας ὑφ’ ἧπαρ θερμὸν ἐξαυδώμενος,
εἰ μὴ μέτειμι τοῦ πατρὸς τοὺς αἰτίους
τρόπον τὸν αὐτόν, ἀνταποκτεῖναι λέγων·
αὐτὸν δ’ ἔφασκε τῇ φίλῃ ψυχῇ τάδε
τείσειν μ’ ἔχοντα πολλὰ δυστερπῆ κακά,
ἀποχρημάτοισι ζημίαις μαυρούμενον.
τὰ μὲν γὰρ ἐκ γῆς δυσφρόνων μηνίματα
βροτοῖς πιφαύσκων εἶπε τάσδ’ αἰνὰς νόσους,
σαρκῶν ἐπαμβατῆρας ἀγρίαις γνάθοις,
λειχῆνας ἐξέσθοντας ἀρχαίαν φύσιν,
λευκὰς δὲ κόρσας τῇδ’ ἐπαντέλλειν νόσῳ·
ἄλλας τ’ ἐφώνει προσβολὰς Ἐρινύων
ἐκ τῶν πατρῴων αἱμάτων τελουμένας·
τὸ γὰρ σκοτεινὸν τῶν ἐνερτέρων βέλος
ἐκ προστροπαίων ἐν γένει πεπτωκότων
καὶ λύσσα καὶ μάταιος ἐκ νυκτῶν φόβος
κινεῖ, ταράσσει, καὶ διωκάθει πόλεως
χαλκηλάτῳ πλάστιγγι λυμανθὲν δέμας·
καὶ τοῖς τοιούτοις οὔτε κρατῆρος μέρος
εἶναι μετασχεῖν, οὐ φιλοσπόνδου λιβός,
βωμῶν τ’ ἀπείργειν οὐχ ὁρωμένην πατρὸς
μῆνιν· δέχεσθαι δ’ οὔτε συλλύειν τινά,
πάντων δ’ ἄτιμον κἄφιλον θνῄσκειν χρόνῳ
κακῶς ταριχευθέντα παμφθάρτῳ μόρῳ.
τοιοῖσδε χρησμοῖς ἆρα χρὴ πεποιθέναι;
(Aeschylus, Choēphoroi 269-297)


The mighty oracle of Loxias will assuredly not betray me. It bade me brave this peril, it cried forth many things, and it spoke openly of catastrophes that will bring dire chill into my hot heart, if I do not pursue those guilty of my father’s death “in the same manner”—meaning, kill them in revenge. He said that I myself would pay for it with my own dear life, enduring many disagreeable sufferings, enfeebled by penalties that went beyond loss of property. He revealed the effects of the wrath of hostile powers from under the earth against mortals, and spoke of these dreadful afflictions—leprous ulcers attacking the flesh, eating away its pristine appearance with savage jaws, and short white hairs arising on the disease site. He spoke too of other assaults of Furies, generated by the blood of a father: the dark weapon of the powers below, arising from those of one’s kin who have fallen and beg for justice, together with madness and empty night-time terrors, derange him, harry him, and chase him from his city, physically humiliated by a metal collar. And men such as this, he said, are not permitted to have a share in the mixing-bowl or int he pouring of a friendly libation; the father’s unseen wrath keeps him away from altars; no one will receive him as a host or lodge with him as a guest, and finally he will die, devoid of all respect and devoid of all friends, cruelly shrivelled in a death of total decay. Should I not believe such an oracle as that? (tr. Alan H. Sommerstein)

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