Orestes, after returning to Argos in secret, killed his mother in
Sleep on! awake! what skills your sleep to me--
Me, among all the dead by you dishonoured--
Me from whom never, in the world of death,
Dieth this curse, "'Tis she who smote and slew",
And shamed and scorned I roam? Awake, and hear
My plaint of dead men's hate intolerable.
Me, sternly slain by them that should have loved,
Me doth no god arouse him to avenge,
Hewn down in blood by matricidal hands.
Mark ye these wounds from which the heart's blood ran,
And by whose hand, bethink ye! for the sense
When shut in sleep hath then the spirit-sight,
But in the day the inward eye is blind.
List, ye who drank so oft with lapping tongue
The wineless draught by me outpoured to soothe
Your vengeful ire! how oft on kindled shrine
I laid the feast of darkness, at the hour
Abhorred of every god but you alone!
Lo, all my service trampled down and scorned!
And he hath baulked your chase, as stag the hounds;
Yea, lightly bounding from the circling toils,
Hath wried his face in scorn, and flieth far.
Awake and hear--for mine own soul I cry--
Awake, ye powers of hell! the wandering ghost
That once was Clytemnestra calls--Arise!
The Furies mutter grimly, as in a dream.
Mutter and murmur! He hath flown afar--
My kin have gods to guard them, I have none!
The Furies mutter as before.
O drowsed in sleep too deep to heed my pain!
Orestes flies, who me, his mother, slew.
The Furies give a confused cry.
Yelping, and drowsed again? Up and be doing
That which alone is yours, the deed of hell!
The Furies give another cry.
Lo, sleep and toil, the sworn confederates,
Have quelled your dragon-anger, once so fell!
Aeschylus, The Eumenides, trans. E.D.A. Morshead, 1881.
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