Orestes Quotes in The Eumenides
You—how can you sleep?
Awake, awake—what use are sleepers now?
I go stripped of honour, thanks to you,
Alone among the dead. And for those I killed
The charges of the dead will never cease, never—
I wander in disgrace, I feel the guilt, I tell you,
Withering guilt from all the outraged dead!
But I suffered too, terribly, from dear ones,
And none of my spirits rages to avenge me.
I was slaughtered by his matricidal hand.
See these gashes—Carve them in your heart!
Marriage of man and wife is Fate itself,
Stronger than oaths, and Justice guards its life.
I say your manhunt of Orestes is unjust.
Some things stir your rage, I see. Others,
Atrocious crimes, lull your will to act.
Under Apollo’s orders I have come.
Receive me kindly. Curst and an outcast,
No suppliant for purging…my hands are clean.
You’ll give me blood for blood, you must!
Out of your living marrow I will drain
My red libation, out of your veins I suck my food,
My raw, brutal cups—
Wither you alive,
Drag you down and there you pay, agony
For mother-killing agony!
And there you will see them all.
Every mortal who outraged god or guest or loving parent:
Each receives the pain his pains exact.
Hold out your hands, if they are clean
No fury of ours will stalk you,
You will go through life unscathed.
But show us the guilty—one like this
Who hides his reeking hands,
And up from the outraged dead we rise,
Witness bound to avenge their blood
We rise in flames against him to the end!
Two sides are here, and only half is heard.
ATHENA: …you are set
On the name of justice rather than the act.
LEADER: How? Teach us. You have a genius for refinements.
ATHENA: Injustice, I mean, should never triumph thanks to oaths.
LEADER: Then examine him yourself, judge him fairly.
ATHENA: You would turn over responsibility to me,
To reach the final verdict?
We respect you. You show us respect.
But were we just or not? Judge us now.
My fate is in your hands. Stand or fall
I shall accept your verdict.
Embrace the one? Expel the other? It defeats me.
I will appoint the judges of manslaughter,
Swear them in, and found a tribunal here
For all time to come.
Summon your trusted witnesses and proofs,
Your defenders under oath to help your cause.
And I will pick the finest men of Athens,
Return and decide the issue fairly, truly—
Bound to our oaths, our spirits bent on justice.
You’d force this man’s acquittal? Behold, Justice!
Can a son spill his mother’s blood on the ground,
Then settle into his father’s halls in Argos?
The woman you call the mother of the child
Is not the parent, just a nurse to the seed,
The new-sown seed that grows and swells inside her.
The man is the source of life—the one who mounts.
I will cast my lot for you.
No mother gave me birth.
I honour the male, in all things but marriage.
Yes, with all my heart I am my Father’s child.
I cannot set more store by the woman’s death—
She killed her husband, guardian of their house.
Even if the vote is equal, Orestes wins.