Handmaidens, orderers of the palace-halls,
Since at my side ye come, a suppliant train,
Companions of this offering, counsel me
As best befits the time: for I, who pour
Upon the grave these streams funereal,
With what fair word can I invoke my sire?
Shall I aver, Behold, I bear these gifts
From well-loved wife unto her well-loved lord,
When 'tis from her, my mother, that they come?
I dare not say it: of all words I fail
Wherewith to consecrate unto my sire
These sacrificial honours on his grave.
Or shall I speak this word, as mortals use-
Give back, to those who send these coronals,
Full recompense-of ills for acts malign?
Or shall I pour this draught for Earth to drink,
Sans word or reverence, as my sire was slain,
And homeward pass with unreverted eyes,
Casting the bowl away, as one who flings
The household cleansings to the common road?
Be art and part, O friends, in this my doubt,
Even as ye are in that one common hate
Whereby we live attended: fear ye not
The wrath of any man, nor hide your word
Within your breast: the day of death and doom
Awaits alike the freeman and the slave.
Speak, then, if aught thou know'st to aid us more.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Thou biddest; I will speak my soul's thought out,
Revering as a shrine thy father's grave.
Say then thy say, as thou his tomb reverest.
Speak solemn words to them that love, and pour.
And of his kin whom dare I name as kind?
Thyself; and next, whoe'er Aegisthus scorns.
Then 'tis myself and thou, my prayer must name.
Whoe'er they be, 'tis thine to know and name them.
Is there no other we may claim as ours?
Think of Orestes, though far-off he be.
Right well in this too hast thou schooled my thought.
Mindfully, next, on those who shed the blood-
Pray on them what? expound, instruct my doubt.