A monologue from the play by Euripides


NOTE: This translation of Iphigenia at Aulis was originally published in 1929 by Oxford University Press.

CLYTEMNESTRA: Then hear me now. I'll speak the naked truth,
No dark hints now! By force you wedded me,
I never loved you! Tantalus you slew,
My first dear husband; and my little son,
You tore him from my breast. And when my brothers,
The sons of God, flashed to me on their steeds,
My father pitied you, his suppliant,
Gave me to you for wife. And a true wife I was,
Yes, chaste and true, and cared well for your home.
Such wives are not so common!--
Three girls I bore you and a son, and now
You rob me of the first! Your reason, pray,
If men should ask it? O, I'll answer that--
To win back Helen! Your own child for a wanton,
Your dearest for a foe! A proper bargain!
If you do this, if you are long at Troy,
What will my heart be like, think you, at home,
When I look on my daughter's empty chair,
And empty room, sitting there all alone,
Companied by my tears, still muttering,
"Your father killed you, child, killed you himself!"
What will your wages be when you come back?
We who are left, we shall not want much urging
To greet you with the welcome you deserve!
O, by the gods, drive me not thus to sin,
Nor sin yourself!
If once you killed your child, how could you pray?
What good thing ask for? Rather for defeat,
Disgrace, and exile! Nor could I pray for you:
We make fools of the gods if we suppose
They can love murderers. If you come home,
Will you dare kiss your girls? Or they dare come,
That you may choose another for the knife?
Have you once thought of this? Are you a man?
Or nothing but a sceptre and a sword?
You should have gone among the Greeks and said,
"You wish to sail for Troy? Good, then draw lots,
And see whose child must die." That had been fair;
Or Menelaus should have slain his own,--
Hermione for Helen. But I, the chaste,
I must be robbed, and she come home in triumph
To find her daughter! Answer, if I am wrong!
If not, give up this murder! Sin no more!