Libation Bearers Lies and Deceit Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Line). We used Christopher Collard's translation.
(Chorus): "A part in things would justly go
to Maia's son, since his willing support
wafts any action best on its course.
Much appears different if he desires,
working his deception unseen;
in the night he brings dark on the eyes,
but cannot be seen more clearly by day." (812-818)
Once again, the Chorus invokes the help of Maia's son (i.e., Hermes, the god of trickery) to help them in their plan of deception. Their description of the god – invisible at night, no more visible during the day – is pretty darn cool, in our humble opinion.
(Clytemnestra): "Stop, my son! Hold back, from respect for this breast! You often drowsed at it while your gums drew out its rich milk." (896-898)
Did Clytemnestra really breastfeed Orestes? You might think so, from the face of it, but we in the audience have actually just heard the Nurse give a long speech about how she was the one in charge of breastfeeding Orestes. (That's, uh, probably why she's called the Nurse.) Whose word do you accept? We think there's a strong possibility that Clytemnestra is just exploiting the fact that Orestes (like everyone else) doesn't remember his own infancy, in order to deceive him and prevent him from killing her.
(Chorus): "There came stealthy fighting, the favourite means
plotted by guile in punishment;
there lent her hand's touch in the fight
a true daughter of Zeus – as Justice
we mortals name and address her
with happy accuracy –
breathing rancour's destruction on her foes." (946-952)
Nowadays, we tend to think about justice as going hand-in-hand with clarity and transparency. Here, however, the Chorus seems to think that justice is a deft hand with trickery as well.