Sophokles, Elektra 1126-1170
read in the restored pronunciation of classical Greek
by Rachel Kitzinger, Vassar College.
(Text followed by translation)
Listen to the recording:
Oh, memorial of the man dearest to me,
what remains to me of the life of Orestes,
how far from what I hoped
I have received you back, not like the one I sent away.
For now I hold you-nothingness-in my hands,
but from home, child, I sent you brightness itself.
I should have left life before then,
before I sent you to a strange land,
with these hands, in secret, and saved you from death.
Then you would have died on that day and shared
a burial with your father, in his tomb.
But now, far from home and in another place, an exile
you died miserably, apart from me, your sister.
And I didn't hold you in my arms and bathe you and make you ready,
and I didn't take you from the blazing fire, as I should, a pitiful weight,
but tended by strange hands wretchedly
you have come, a small lump in a small jar.
Oh, the misery of it, of my care for you long ago,
useless the care I lavished on you again and again,
a sweet labor. No dearer to your mother were you
than to me; none in the house were your nurse
but I, and I was ever sister to you.
Now this is gone in a day
dead with you. Snatching all
like a whirlwind you're gone. Father's gone.
I am dead. You yourself are off, you're dead,
and my enemies laugh. She's crazy with pleasure,
mother no mother, about whom you often
sent secret messages, saying you'd appear
yourself to punish her. But this too our
unhappy daimon, yours and mine, took away,
who has sent you to me thus, dust and useless shadow
instead of your dearest shape.
oh piteous body. heu, heu.
oh, most terrible, oimoimoi
the journey you took, dearest, how you have destroyed me.
Yes, you have destroyed me, my dear brother.
So you, receive me in your shelter,
into nothingness I who am nothing, so with you below
I may live the rest of time. When you were up here I
had an equal share with you. So now in death I long
not be left out of your tomb.
For I see that the dead feel no pain.
trans. R. Kitzinger