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Choephoroi, with introd. and notes by A. Sidgwick

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Extrait de la publicationExtrait de la publicationExtrait de la publicationExtrait de la publicationAESCHYLUS
Extrait de la publication1900?h
Extrait de la publicationPREFACE.
have the text, carefully revised, fromIn this edition I used
Classical Textsof Aeschylus in the new series ofmy edition
by the Oxford University Press.issued
are somewhat fuller, and the method ofThe critical notes
makeMSS. has been slightly remodelled, toreferring to the
is fully explainedmore uniform. The latterit clearer and
where brief account will bethe end of the Introduction, aat
manuscript authority for this play, the scholia,found of the
various editions that have appeared.and the
have followed the best recentin the Agamemnon, IAs
in the revised text the form KXvraifjiijaTpa.editions in adopting
and in particularfor this form is very strong :The evidence
thirty-one times,Medicean MS. has KAvrat/A^o-T/aathe
once \KXvTaLixv^crrpa only
assistancethis edition I have received muchIn preparing
of Aeschylus, and alsofurther study of older editionsfrom
that have appeared since I first editedfrom various works
may be more parti-Among these the followingthis play.
Orestie (Leipzig, whichcularly named: Wecklein's 1888),
in the great criticalsuggestions that were notcontains several
of Agamemnon.> Personae in my edition theSee note to Dramatis
it best to use theIntroduction and Notes I have thought1898. In the
Klytaemnestra.usual form
Extrait de la publicationiv PREFACE.
edition Dr. Verrall's Choephori (Macmillan,of 1885 ; 1893);
the Orestie of Wilamowitz-Moellendorf (Berlin, Pro-1896);
fessor Campbell's Text (in the Parnassus Library) ; and the
MS., published byphotographic fac-simile of the Medicean
the authorities of the Laurentian Library, under the auspices
of the Italian Ministry of Public Instruction (Florence, 1896).
To this invaluable work is prefixed a preface by Professor
fullRostagno, containing a historical and critical account
of the ]\IS. For the general criticism of the drama,
and the history of the myth on which it is founded, I have
derived much advantage from Professor Jebb's Introduction
Electra of Sophocles,to the where the same story is
dramatised with most interesting and instructive difference of
treatment. This Introduction is exceedingly full and complete,
exhibits Professor usual insight,and Jebb's knowledge, and
masterly handling of his material.
Extrait de la publicationCONTENTS,
Part I.
viiThe Orestfia
viiGrowth of the StoryThe
xithe Choephoroi .The Plot of
xiiion the DramaRemarks
XVThe Characters
xviiChoric Songs ....The
XXthe Later DramatistThe Oresteia of
xxivThe Scholia
XXVThe Editions
XXV iThe Text of this Edition
II. !
83III . •
88Of Names
Extrait de la publication:
The Oresteia.
whichThe Choephoroi is the second of the three plays
constituted eachAeschylus wrote on the same siory, and which
Such sets of plays wereas it were one act of a great drama.
and were followed by acalled trilogies, were acted together,
fourth play lighter cast (called Satyric, from the Satyr orof a
attendant of Dionysos, which originally was a leading part in it)
the whole four being called a tetralogy. The subject of the
Satyric play in this instance is traditionally recorded to have
'been Proteus.' The Agamemnon relates tlie return and murder
of the king (the Crime) ; in the second play, the Choephoroi,
Orestes comes back and slays his mother Klytaemnestra (the
Eumenides, matricideVengeance) ; while in the third, the the
is released from furies'^vho have pursued him, and acquittedthe
by divine interposition before the Areiopagos at Athens (the
Reconciliation). About the Proteus we know nothing^.
The date is and the poet won the first prize.B.C. 458,
—The parts in this play were probably as follows :
Chief actor : Orestes and Nurse. Second actor : Elektra.
Aegisthos, and Servant,Third actor : Pylades. Klytaemnestra,
divided between the second and the third actors.
The Chorus are women-slaves of the royal household, captives
taken in war, and probably Trojans, see p. xvii.
The Growth of the Story.
the theI. Iliad. The stories of the past guilt of Pelopidae,
family murder of Agamemnon, the vengeancefeud, the destined
the Iliad.of the son, are all unknown to Agamemnon is a great
' three fragmentary lines and a few words gram-Except preserved by
marians and scholiasts, and printed among the fragments of Aeschylus.—
prince, of the host. He holdsthe 'king of men,' and leader
(U. 2. loo) the sceptre made by Hephaistos for Zeus, who handed
it on to Hermeias, Pelops, Atreus, Thyestes, and Agamemnon.
The idea is clearly of a peaceable succession of mighty kings.
The only mention of Orestes is II. where Agamemnon,9. 142,
' mywishing to make peace with Achilles, says He shall wed
son nuhodaughter, and I will honour him like to Orestes, mygro^n
daughters in myis reared in all abundance. And I have three
well-built and Iphianassa! Inhall, Chrysothemis, and Laodike,
short, Orestes clearly at home, the cherished heir: and ofis
Elektra, or the sacrifice of Iphigeneia, there is no mention.
II. Odyssey. The story of Agamemnon's murder appears first
in the The differences between Aeschylus' and Homer's
^version need not be discussed here fully : but the main points
off theare that in Homer Aegisthos is a bold bandit who carries
(thewife and murders the husband, Klytaemnestra at the most
Aegisthos is aversions seem to vary) planning it : in Aeschylus,
masculine woman whocoward, Klytaemnestra a hard vindictive
Further, in Homer it isalone plots and executes the deed.
merely ambition : in Aeschylus there isa tale of savage and crime
a Family Fate, old bloodguiltiness leading to fresh : the air is full
retribution.of past sin and impendingof horror and fear,
concernsvengeance, which mainlyto the story of Orestes'As
followinggathered from thehere, the Odyssey version must beus
father of gods and men . . . bethought(i) Od. I. 30. 'The
Agamemnon,noble Aegisthos, 'whom the sonhim in his heart of of
spake Loslew. Thinking upon him he . . .famed Orestes,far
the gods For fromhow vainly do mortal men blame !you now,
through the blindness ofsay come evils, whereas they . . .us they
Even as of late Aegisthosown hearts have sorrows . . .their
ordained, took to him the wedded wife ofbeyond that which was
sheerlord on his return, and that withAtreides, and killed her
mouthsince we had warned him by thedoom before his eyes,
be 'vengeanceFor Orestes shall there forof Hermeias . . . from
* in my edition of the Agamemnon, Introd.They are treated in detail
^ translation by Butcher and Lang.Quoted from the
Extrait de la publication—
hishe shall come to nian^s estate, and long forAtreides so soon as
.'So spake Hermeias . .o'jon country.
goodly'Hast thou not heard avhat renoivn(2) Od. I. 298.
slayer of hisamong all men, in that he slew theOrestes gat him
'The son(3)0d. [Nestor speaking to Telemachos.]3, 193.
his evil end: but verilyofAtreus came, . . . and Aegisthos devised
thing it is that ahe himself paid a terrible reckoning. So good a
as that son also took ven-son of the dead should still be left, even
geance on the slayer hisfather.'of
' [Aegisthos] ruled overOd. 3. 304. For seven years
after he slew the son of Atreus, and theMykenae, rich in gold,
uponwere subdued unto him. But in the eighthyear camepeople
theback Athens to be his bane, and sleivhim goodly Orestes from
sire.his Aegisthos, tvho killed his famousslayer father guilefulof
Argi-veshe had slain him he made afuneralfeast to theNoiu ivhen
And onmother, and over the craven Aegisthos.over his hateful
selfsame day there came to him IMenelaos.'the
MenelaosOd. [Proteus the seagod is relating to4. 545.(5)
Menelaos weepsEgypt the death of his brother Agamemnon : 'in
'him Makeand grovels ' on the sand, and then Proteus consoles :]
own country. Foressay that so thou mayest come to thine
Aegisthos yet alive, or ;/ may be Orestescither thou shalt find
him so mayest thou chanceivas beforehand -ivith thee and slew :
upon his funeral feast.'
the[Shade of Agamemnon tells Odysseus allOd. II. 461.(6)
' haply yethen asks] Declare me this ... iftale of his murder,
hath not yetas yet alive . • . goodly Oresteshear of my son for
earth.'perished on the
Aeschylus:here the following difTerences fromWe note
that Orestes shallThere is no divine command of Apollo(i)
of the gods is to luarnvengeance : the only interferencetake
Aegisthos before the crime.
is only told incidentallyThe murder of Klytacmnestra(2)
is treated as a natural and laudablethe vengeance(5. 306),
' among all: Orestes gat him renownvengeance upon Aegisthos
men' by the deed.
Extrait de la publicationINTRODUCTION.X
no Pylades, no Elektra, no absence in Phokis withThere is(3)
Strophios : Orestes returns alone, from Athens, and alone does
the deed : there is no trace of the skilful plot : no hair, footsteps,
woven robe, or recognition.
The deed done, there is no persecution of the Furies.
III. Later Epics Lyricand poets.
'In Atrcidae^,' attributed(i) an Epic poem on the Return ofthe
to Agamemnon, andjigias of Troezen, was related the death of
the that Orestes isvengeance of Orestes. In this poem it seems
made the Odyssey), but fromto return (not from Athens as in
Strophios, probably Pylades appearsking of Krisa in Phokis : and
first in this version of the tale.
In the (attributed to Stasinos of Cyprus) we hearKypria(2)
first anger of Artemis, andof the detention at Aulis owing to the
the sacrifice According to this poem, however,of Iphigeneia.
Artemis saves the maiden and conveys her to Tauri,
substituting a hind at the last moment as the victim. This form
of the tale is well known from Euripides' Iphigeneia in Tauris.
Aeschylus adopts the simpler form of the tale in which Iphigeneia
is really slain.
old asThese two poems are of uncertain date, but may be as
the eighth century.
follow-The lyric poet Stesichoros ofHimera (B.C. 632-552),
ing of whomanother lyric poet probably a generation earlier,
his ^, innothing is known but name Xanthos, wrote an Oresteia
which the following new features appear:—Klytaemnestra is
more prominent in the story. Her sin with Aegisthos is traced
to the anger of Aphrodite against Tyndareus, making all his
daughters (Timandra, Helene, and Klytaemnestra) unfaithful to
their husbands. Here too Orestes is persecuted by the Furies,
against whom Apollo furnishes him with a divine bow and arrows
as a protection. We also have, in one fragment, an early version
'of Klytaemnestra's dream : She thought she saw a snake come
upon his head when he turned intonear, with blood : lo 1 the
* i.Proklus mentions Agias' NoffToj : but Welcker (Epic. Cycl. 261)
'ArpH^uiv kclOoSos Athenacusidentifies this poem with the mentioned by
2S1 B, and regards latter the true title.7. the as
' \Vheucc probably the name was transferred to our drama.
Extrait de la publication— :
king Pleisthenidas (Agamemnon).' The introduction of the
Furies marks an important stage in the moralising of the myth.
is an unim-In the Homeric story the murder of Klytaemnestra
portant the legitimate blood-feud of Orestes,detail, aswe said, of
is treated wholly laudable to the poets ofwhose vengeance as :
the seventh century the slaughter of a mother is a horror which
requires the dreadful expiation of the Furies, though the God
Apollo aids the murderer '.
Lastly, Pindar (Pyth. 11. speaks of 'Pylades, friend of(4) 15)
the Lakonian Orestes, whom, when Klytaemnestra was slaying
Agamemnon, the nurse Arsinoa saved from her violent hands,
from her evil guile : when she sped with the gleaming steel
to theKassandra . . . together with the spirit of Agamemnon
Was it theDark Shore of Acheron,—the pitiless woman.
home, thatslaughter of Iphigeneia, hard by Euripus far from her
bound to an adulterousstung her to arouse her grievous wrath ? or
bed, did the night beguile her? Slain wasembraces of the . . .
the warrior Atreides himself, when length he returned, in theat
glorious Amyklai, and the prophetess he brought tomaiden
death . . . But he the youth to Strophlos, his aged friend, who<v^nt
dwelt at the foot of Parnasos : but ivith might though long delayed
his ttiother he ile-zu, and laid Io-jj Aegisthos ivith the Jivord.'
en-By the fifth century the following details, therefore, are
:grafted — Strophios,on the Homeric tale Orestes is protected by
and helped by Pylades Iphigeneia is sacrificed{Agias) : {Stasinos)
the Furies persecute Orestes after the murder, but Apollo
protects him [Steiichoroi). Pindar is the first to suggest (B.C. 478) that
Klytaemnestra's bemotive may vengeance for her daughter.
We know of no further change till Aeschylus.
The Plot of the Choephoroi.
The following is a brief outline of the story as handled by
Orestes returns from Phokis with Pylades his friend, and lays
' The change of the of Orestes' exile fromscene Athens (Odyssey)
to Phokis probably (as has been remarked) indicates the protection of
Apollo, as Krisa is part of the sacred precincts of Delphi. Zenodotus'
reading ar^p dirb ^whtjoiv in Od. instead of a^ aw' 'A6>)vd(uy looks3. 307
like an atttnipl to haimonii:e.
Extrait de la publicationxii tNTROD TION.UC
a lock of hair on his father's tomb. Seeing his sister Elektra
come out with a procession, he draws aside. [Prologos, 1-2 1.]
Elektra and the Chorus bring libations to appease the dead.
Klytaemnestra, we learn from their songs, has had an evil dream
and tries to avert the threatened woe by these offerings. But
'blood is shed,' say the Chorus, 'andjustice must come.'
[Parodos, 22-83.]
'Elektra then libations, blessings onpours the and prays for
those who love Agamemnon.' Suddenly she sees the lock, and
divines that it is Orestes' offering: and the hope is confirmed
by the strangers' footprints. Orestes appears, and the
recognition is completed by his producing the embroidered robe which
Elektra remembers having worked. They rejoice together, and
pray to Zeus : and Orestes tells her Apollo's oracle, denouncing
woes on the negligent avenger. [Epeisodion i. part i. 84-305.]
longThe brother and sister and Chorus sing verse by verse a
'lament. O come the dead still live, Agamemnonmay justice :
is mighty blood!' They end with re-below. Blood calls for
peated prayers for aid. [Kommos, 306-478.]
After further prayers, the Chorus tell Orestes what the dream
of the queen \\as, that she suckled a snake 'which dre-zv bloodfrom
her breast. He at once interprets the vision, accepts the omen
and the office of the snake, and lays the plot for the murder,
[Epeisodion parti. 2. 479-584.]
The Chorus sing of the power of Passion in women, recalling
the names of Althaia. Skylla, and Klytaemnestra; 'but Justice
waits!' [Stasimon i. 585-656.]
Orestes appears, disguised as the Phokian stranger.
Klytaemnestra welcomes him he gives her the false message of
; Orestes'
death, which she receives with hypocritical lamentation. He is
conducted in to be entertained: and she goes to tell Aegisthos.
[Epeisodion 2. 657-718.]
After a brief interlude the Nurse comes out, sent to fetch
Aegisthos. She breaks into a lament, recalling the childhood of
Orestes, and denouncing Aegisthos. The Chorus bid her tell him
tocome alone: and with dark hints reassure her. [Epeisodion 3.
The Chorus pray Zeus, Apollo, and Hermes to guide and help
the conspirators. [Stasimon 2. 783-S37.]INTRODUCTION. xiii
Aegisthos comes, in answer to the summons ; he speaks
contemptuously of the credulity of women : he will not be easily
deceived! [Epeisodion 838-854.]4.
After a brief song, the cry of the murdered Aegisthos is heard
within [Stasimon 3. 855-874]: and a startled servant comes out
Orestes appearswith the news, calling forth Klytaemnestra. with
at once understands the plot,a bloody sword : Klytaemnestra
his pity, and is driven in to her death. [Epei-appeals in vain to
sodion 5. 875-934.]
The Chorus sing a song of triumph. Justice is come : the house
is saved! Lift up your heads, ye gates ! [Stasimon 4. 935-972.]
The doors open and show the corpses of the slain. Orestes
displays the bloodstained robe of Agamemnon, and denounces
madness comes on—he seesthe murderers. Then the the
fleeing from the evil vision [Epeisodion 6.Furies—he is driven off
The Chorus pray for him, but end with a note of973-1064].
trouble and doubt—how will it all turn out ? [Exodos.]
Remarks on the Drama.
is short being less than two thirds theThe Choephoroi a play,
length of the Agamemnon : and the obvious criticism which
occurs to all readers is that, in spite of its shortness, there is too
little incident at first : the real action, the execution of the
venhalfgeance, does not begin till the play is more than over. The
and it is not till linewhole poem contains only 1070 lines; 560
his sister the plot on which the dramathat Orestes unfolds to
chiefly turns. Nor is this delay relieved by much dramatic variety.
The opening, no doubt, would be highly stirring and picturesque:
the returned exile and avenger laying his lock upon his father's
solemn processiontomb, and interrupted in his brief prayer by the
offerings which he cannot un-of his sister and the Chorus, with
derstand, would at once arrest attention and be a beautiful
spectacle. But after the opening, the action really stands still for
whichfive hundred lines. The Recognition, of Sophokles and
Aeschylus all compressed aEuripides make so much, is in into
beautiful but short scene of sixty lines. The rest is mainly taken
up with lamentation and prayer.:
It is mistake to find in this (as some critics liave done) anya
wavering hesitation of purpose on the part of Orestes. Hisor
first words are a prayer to his father to help him in the fight
and in still plainer language to Zeus (i8) 86s fxe{^{ifj-liaxos),
recognition he tells his sisterTLo-aadai fjLupov narpos. After the
the negligent avengerimmediately of Apollo's threats against (269
the ko/^^oj he bursts out that hissqq.): and in the midst of
mother fawn, but she shall not soothe his grief: the wolf's'may
he inherits ' : and again, 'May I strike thesavage temper (420)
part of theblow, then die!' It is no vacillation on the(438).
characteristicavenger that causes the delay: it is the poet's
suspense and thehandling of the story, at once to heighten the
profoundly the awfulness ofterror, and to make us feel more
waits, as the Chorus say,the deed which is impending. Justice
sometimes till night : but the bloodsometimes till evening, (65)
not sunk into the ground : the vengeance is yet due : thehas
weblow must come at last. No : Orestes does not doubt : but
dead fathermust allow him the long deferred lament over his
summoned(ov yap napcov w/uco^a : and all the Powers must be7)
Dike, Hermes, Apollo, andto aid, Zeus, Ares, Gaia, Persephassa,
black and terrible isAgamemnon himself, that we may feel how
of Death into which he is descending.the Valley of the Shadow
This point once reached the action is rapid and decisive enough.
The 86\oi, the feigned tale ofOrestes' death (which in Sophokles
andis made the occasion for a brilliant narrative of an exciting
dozen lines the interlude ofdisastrous chariot race) is told in a :
is quite a short scene : and the part of Aegisthos isthe Nurse
confined to his crossing the stage on the way to his death, with a
self-confidence.few words of characteristic falsity, pride, and
Klytaemnestra begs forThe only delay of the action is where
of the passage where with a coarseness thatmercy; and in spite
on the grotesque she defends her unfaithfulness, theborders
whole scene with its terrible close fKaves ov ov Koi to fxf} p^pecbi/xp^v,
end770^6 is certainly not deficient in impressiveness. Lastly, the
justification is interrupted by spasmsof the play, where Orestes'
madness, or visitation of the Furies, forms aof the approaching
scene which gives scope to one ofthe poet's most peculiar powers
presence or ap-the power, namely, of eff'ectively suggesting the
proach of some unseen but terrible thing.INTRODUCTION. xv,
The Characters.
It will be seen from abovethe sketch of the play that it is
rather a lyric interlude followed by a brief and swift denoument,
than an elaborate drama giving scope for the exhibition of
character. Nevertheless, Aeschylus is a poet of the highest order of
imaginative genius, and, as we shall see, the figures of this play are
by no means insignificant. It may be worth while to say a word
about each of them.
Orestes is the protagonist, and we have sufficiently indicated
above that there is want of decisiveness in hisno character. He
is from the first the resolute avenger, who has the god's charge
upon him. He checks the violent emotion of his sister,(233)
when she recognises him, with manly firmness: their kindred
hate them, he seems to urge, and they have need of all their
selfcontrol. He is resolved to do the deed, even the oracle beif false
for the god's(298) : commatid chimes in with his grief for his
father, and his resentment at the despoiler who keeps him out of
his heritage. So far from being roused to avenge by his sister
and the Chorus (as some critics have thought), he strives himself
*to rouse his father to his aid by what he calls 'taunts {ap e|eyetpei
ToitrS' ovfiheaiv As soon as he hears of his
; 495). mother's dream,
he unhesitatingly interprets the dream of himself, and claims the
part the snake and calls the Chorus to witness.of (549), His
allotment ofthe parts in the plot, and assumption of the character
of the Daulian stranger, are marked by the same swift
decisiveness. When Klytaemnestra makes her appeal for mercy, he
does hesitate a moment, for the first and last time: Pylades'
reminder of the oracle is enough. coldThe scorn with which
he rebuts his mother's idle pleas is finely dramatic. Of his
defence, after the deed, crossed with fits of approaching madness,
we have spoken above.
Elektra has only a secondary part to play: but her figure is
not without its dramatic importance, and some touches even of
extreme poetic beauty. Her faithfulness is shown at first by her
refusal to use the conventional prayers, in offering her libation,
for the mother who sent her, but whom she hates sqq.).(88 She
prays for Orestes' return, and evil to her foes: but for herself
Extrait de la publication:;
that she may be purer and more righteous than her mother (140).
Her womanly reserve and excitement over the lock are finely
indicated (165 : see notes) : and her passionate sisterly love finds
a beautiful and imaginative expression in her wish that the(195)
hair kindly voice,' and'had a in the eloquent outburst which
Orestes cannot control, when the recognition is assured (235
sqq,). takes her part in the lament andShe call for aid to
*Agamemnon : but when the action begins she retires to order
matters within the house' This is evidently the poet's(579).
view of a woman's proper place in such a crisis : the brave and
self-reliant heroine like Antigone, or the Elektra of Sophokles,
not finding a place in Aeschylus' ideal.
Of Klytaemnestra in this play there is very little : but the
drawing shows the same characteristics as the great portrait in the
Agamemnon. Even in the formal words with which she
welcomes the strangers seem to detect the lurking ironic(668), we
smile of her cynical self-reliant spirit. After her off"er of baths
*and couch and honest welcome, she adds, If there is aught more
needing counsel, 'tis the men's business, to them we will impart
it:' and we think of Aegisthos the coward, and Klytaemnestra
thethe d^'Spo'^ouXoJ/ Keap, of the last play. There is old
contemptuous hypocrisy in her lament over the Curse of the House,
when she speakswhen she hears of Orestes' death : especially of
'her son the hope to heal the riot of the house,' almost bur-as
lesquing the effrontery of her part. There is the old unhesitating
courage in her attitude when Aegisthos is slain. 'Bring(887)
'hither an axe,' she says, let us know whether we are to win or
And even when she sees Orestes with his bloody sword,lose.'
first thought is not for herself: ol 'yco* redprjKas cpiXrar Alyiadovher
Though she does appeal for mercy to her son, she wastesfiia.
no time in fruitless lament when she finds the appeal vain
' 'Tis crying to a tomb,' she says with characteristic terseness
snake I bare and reared.' And even herand again, ' This is the
which to modern feeling is coarse anddefence of her adultery,
crude, might be held to be in character with the unflinching
shamelessness which is part of the poet's conception of this
oiiKoyiivr) ciKo)^os.
confirm the momentary hesitationPyladcs only speaks once, to
of Orestes : otherwise he is Kacjiov wpoa-wnof.aFEB 1 7 1988
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