[ΠΑΙΔ.] Ὦ τοῦ στρατηγήσαντος ἐν Τροίᾳ ποτὲ
Ἀγαμέμνονος παῖ, νῦν ἐκεῖν’ ἔξεστί σοι
παρόντι λεύσσειν, ὧν πρόθυμος ἦσθ’ ἀεί.
τὸ γὰρ παλαιὸν Ἄργος οὑπόθεις τόδε,
τῆς οἰστροπλῆγος ἄλσος Ἰνάχου κόρης·
αὕτη δ’, Ὀρέστα, τοῦ λυκοκτόνου θεοῦ
ἀγορὰ Λύκειος· οὑξ ἀριστερᾶς δ’ ὅδε
Ἥρας ὁ κλεινὸς ναός· οἷ δ’ ἱκάνομεν,
φάσκειν Μυκήνας τὰς πολυχρύσους ὁρᾶν
πολύφθορόν τε δῶμα Πελοπιδῶν τόδε,
ὅθεν σε πατρὸς ἐκ φονῶν ἐγώ ποτε
πρὸς σῆς ὁμαίμου καὶ κασιγνήτης λαβὼν
ἤνεγκα κἀξέσωσα κἀξεθρεψάμην
τοσόνδ’ ἐς ἥβης, πατρὶ τιμωρὸν φόνου.
νῦν οὖν, Ὀρέστα καὶ σὺ φίλτατε ξένων
Πυλάδη, τί χρὴ δρᾶν ἐν τάχει βουλευτέον·
ὡς ἡμὶν ἤδη λαμπρὸν ἡλίου σέλας
ἑῷα κινεῖ φθέγματ’ ὀρνίθων σαφῆ
μέλαινά τ’ ἄστρων ἐκλέλοιπεν εὐφρόνη.
πρὶν οὖν τιν’ ἀνδρῶν ἐξοδοιπορεῖν στέγης,
ξυνάπτετον λόγοισιν· ὡς ἐνταῦθ’ †ἐμὲν
ἵν’ οὐκέτ᾽ ὀκνεῖν καιρός, ἀλλ’ ἔργων ἀκμή.
[ΟΡ.] ὦ φίλτατ᾽ ἀνδρῶν προσπόλων, ὥς μοι σαφῆ
σημεῖα φαίνεις ἐσθλὸς εἰς ἡμᾶς γεγώς.
ὥσπερ γὰρ ἵππος εὐγενής, κἂν ᾖ γέρων,
ἐν τοῖσι δεινοῖς θυμὸν οὐκ ἀπώλεσεν,
ἀλλ’ ὀρθὸν οὖς ἵστησιν, ὡσαύτως δὲ σὺ
ἡμᾶς τ’ ὀτρύνεις καὐτὸς ἐν πρώτοις ἕπει.
τοιγὰρ τὰ μὲν δόξαντα δηλώσω, σὺ δὲ
ὀξεῖαν ἀκοὴν τοῖς ἐμοῖς λόγοις διδούς,
εἰ μή τι καιροῦ τυγχάνω, μεθάρμοσον.
ἐγὼ γὰρ ἡνίχ’ ἱκόμην τὸ Πυθικὸν
μαντεῖον, ὡς μάθοιμ’ ὅτῳ τρόπῳ πατρὶ
δίκας ἀροίμην τῶν φονευσάντων πάρα,
χρῇ μοι τοιαῦθ᾽ ὁ Φοῖβος ὧν πεύσει τάχα·
ἄσκευον αὐτὸν ἀσπίδων τε καὶ στρατοῦ
δόλοισι κλέψαι χειρὸς ἐνδίκου σφαγάς.
ὅτ’ οὖν τοιόνδε χρησμὸν εἰσηκούσαμεν,
σὺ μὲν μολών, ὅταν σε καιρὸς εἰσάγῃ,
δόμων ἔσω τῶνδ’, ἴσθι πᾶν τὸ δρώμενον,
ὅπως ἂν εἰδὼς ἡμὶν ἀγγείλῃς σαφῆ.
οὐ γάρ σε μὴ γήρᾳ τε καὶ χρόνῳ μακρῷ
γνῶσ᾽, οὐδ’ ὑποπτεύσουσιν ὧδ᾽ ἠνθισμένον.
(Sophocles, Electra 1-43)
[OLD SLAVE. ORESTES]
[O.S.] Son of Agamemnon who once led the army before Troy, now you can gaze with your own eyes on what you have always longed to see! This is the ancient Argos for which you used to long, the precinct of the daughter of Inachus whom the gadfly stung; and this, Orestes, is the Lycean marketplace of the wolf-killing god; this ot the left is the famous temple of Hera; and at the place where we have arrived, you may say that you see Mycenae, rich in gold, and the house of the sons of Pelops here, rich in disasters, from which I once carried you, after your father’s murder, receiving you from your own sister, and kept you safe and raised you up to this stage of youthful vigour, to avenge your father’s murder. So now, Orestes, and you, dearest of host, Pylades, you must speedily decide what you must do; for already we hear the morning voices of the birds whom the bright beam of the sun is arousing, and the black night of stars has departed. So before any man leaves the house you must take counsel, since in this place this is no occasion to hesitate, but it is time to act.
[OR.] Dearest of retainers, how clearly you show your loyalty to us! Just as a noble horse, even if he is old, does not lose his spirit in a time of danger, but pricks up his ear, just so do you urge us on and yourself are foremost in support. So I will explain my decisions, and do you lend a prompt ear to my words, and if I do not hit the mark, correct me! When I went to the Pythian oracle to learn how I might get vengeance for my father on his murderers, Phoebus gave me a prophecy which you shall soon hear; that alone, without the help of armed men or of an army, I should accomplish by cunning the slaughter done by a righteous hand. Then, since this is the nature of the oracle I heard, do you go into this house, when you have the chance to enter it, and find out everything that they are doing, so that you can report to us with certain knowledge. They will never know you, grizzled as you are with age and the passage of time, and they will not suspect you.
(tr. Hugh Lloyd-Jones)