Electra: Top Ten Quotes
“on foreign soil he triumphed. But once at home,
he fell to his treacherous wife, Clytemnestra,
killed by her guile—and Aegisthus’ hand. (ll. 8-10).The Mycenean farmer, husband of Electra, speaks these lines about King Agamemnon’s ironic fate. He was a hero in war, only to be assassinated when he came home.
“My own mother, Tyndareus’ evil child
threw me out of the house to make Aegisthus happy” (ll. 60-61).Electra accuses her mother of banishing her to the country to be a farmer’s wife, thus laying the motivation for her later revenge.
“Alone of all my friends,
you have supported me, knowing how
Aegisthus has abused me . . .” (ll. 83-84).Orestes tells Pylades he appreciates his loyalty as they come to Mycenae to revenge Agamemnon’s death by killing Aegisthus, the usurper.
My screams will penetrate the grave
and find you, Father, down in those
dark hallways of the dead” (ll. 142-144).Electra grieves for her father, Agamemnon, especially because he did not have a proper burial.
“Stranger, I’ve been married off—an arranged death” (l. 249).Electra speaks this news to Orestes, her brother, whom she thinks is a stranger. She means that Aegisthus and her mother arranged her marriage to a peasant, which she regards as a living death.
“One should judge men,
even the noblest, by the way they act each day” ll. 384-85).Orestes comments on the farmer’s nobility, that he has not tried to sleep with his wife Electra because she is a princess. Orestes says that the farmer acts like a noble while someone of noble blood like Aegisthus acts like a beast.
“He’s afraid of you. I hear he hardly sleeps” (l. 612).The old man, Agamemnon’s tutor, tells Orestes that Aegisthus lives in fear of Orestes’s return.
“Then, then, Zeus stopped
the stars in their tracks,
set them off backward—“ (ll. 721-23).The Chorus tells a miracle that Zeus performed to return the throne of Mycenae to Atreus when Thyestes stole it from his brother and said he would not give it back until the stars and sun went backward. This is an example of how divine justice upholds the rightful king.
“I’m not/ so very glad, daughter for every deed I’ve done” (ll. 1094-95).Clytemnestra confesses some regret for her crimes right before her children kill her, but Electra is not moved.
“For I, and all the immortals, can feel
compassion for human misery” (ll. 1319-1320).Castor, the demigod who descends from heaven to pronounce the lenient judgment on Electra and Orestes, pities them for having such a burden placed on them by Apollo and Fate.