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Shine inward, and the mind through all her powers
AN IDYLL 1
The place is the Garden of Eden.
W came still evening on, and twilight gray
Had in her sober livery all things clad;
Eve addresses Adam.
“With thee conversing I forget all time;
1 From the fourth book of Paradise Lost.
With this her solemn bird, and this fair moon,
The poet's eye, in a fine frenzy rolling,
earth to heaven; And as imagination bodies forth The forms of things unknown, the poet's
pen Turns them to shapes and gives to airy
nothing A local habitation and a name.
48 THE MEETING OF ELECTRA AND ORESTES1
GAMEMNON, on his return from Troy, was
murdered in the palace of Mycenæ by his wife Clytemnestra and her paramour Ægisthus. Orestes, the victim's son and heir, then a child, was saved by. his sister Electra. She gave him to a faithful retainer, who carried him to Phocis. There he grew up in the home of Strophius, King of Crisa near Delphi, the father of his friend Pylades.
Many years have passed since then. Electra has perforce continued to live under the same roof with the murderers. While her sisters, Chrysothemis and Iphianassa, have been taught by prudence to hide their feelings, she has made no concealment of her loyalty to her father's memory, or of her inconsolable grief. Every kind of hardship and of insult is her portion at the hands of her mother and the dastardly Ægisthus; no slave could fare worse than she does in the house that was her father's.
One hope alone has hitherto borne her up-that the brother from whom she parted so long ago would be sent back by the gods as an avenger.
But this, too, has failed her. An old man—a messenger, he says, from Phanoteus the Phocian, a great ally of Ægisthus—has just arrived at the palace with news of Orestes' death. Men of Phocis, he says, are even now bearing to the fatherland the ashes of the noble youth. Electra, sorrowing but undismayed, boldly resolves, Chrysothemis refusing help, to become, herself alone, the instrument of divine vengeance.
The news, however, is false. The old man is not a messenger from Phanoteus, but the loyal servant to
whose care Electra entrusted her father's child. He 1 From the tragedy of Electra. The translation is by Lewis Campbell, and is reprinted with the permission of the Oxford University Press, exposition of events preceding the scene reprinted is adapted--with the permission of the Syndics of the Cambridge University Press—from the note prefixed by Richard Jebb, in The Tragedies of Sophocles, to his prose version of the play.