For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

Suppliant Women. Electra. Heracles

by Euripides (1998)

Key Passage

(Electra)ELECTRA: I regard you as no less a friend to me than the gods. You did not take advantage of my trouble. For mortals it is a great stroke of fortune to find one to heal their bad luck, as I have found you. So even without any urging from you I must with all my strength help you with your work, lightening your toil so that you may bear it more easily. The tasks you have out of doors are enough. I must look after the indoors. When a laborer comes in from outside, it is pleasant for him to find his house in good order.FARMER: If that is what you have decided, go. In fact the spring of water is not far from this house. At daybreak I shall take the bullocks to the fields and sow my crops. No idle man, just by talking always of the gods, can scrape together a living without work.[Exit electra and farmer by Eisodos A. Enter by Eisodos b orestes and Pylades accompanied by two slaves.]ORESTES: Pylades, you are the man I consider above all others to be faithful and a friend and host to me. You alone of my friends honored me, Orestes, though my fortunes are as ill as they are and I endure terrible treatment from Aegisthus, who with my murderous mother killed my father. Leaving the god’s secret rites 3 I have come to Argive soil unbeknownst to any, to pay back my father’s murderers with murder. This night, escaping the notice of those who rule this land, I have been to my father’s tomb and given him tears and an offering of my hair, and upon his grave I shed the blood of a sheep. I do not set foot inside the city but have come to the border of this land, blending two competing aims: to make my escape to another country if one of the guards should recognize me, 4 and also to find my sister (for they say that she is married and no longer a virgin), so that I may join with her, gain her as my accomplice in the murder, and learn reliably how things stand inside the city.So now, since the gleaming face of dawn is rising, let us step aside from this path. Some farmer or slave woman will come by here, and we will ask whether my sister lives in these parts. (p.159)


Euripides, Ancient Greece, Play, Greek Mythology, Mortality, Farming, Agriculture, Virtue, Work Ethic, Mythology


Euripides, Euripides, Ancient Greece, Ancient Greece

Links to Reference


Kovacs, D.



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