take and slay thee; while he who is called thy father lingers still
MAID True, for had he been here thou wouldst not have fared so hardly,
am sure; but, as it is, thou art friendless.
ANDROMACHE Have no tidings come that Peleus may arrive?
MAID He is too old to help thee if he came.
ANDROMACHE And yet I sent for him more than once.
MAID Surely thou dost not suppose that any of thy messengers heed
ANDROMACHE Why should they? Wilt thou then go for me?
MAID How shall I explain my long absence from the house?
ANDROMACHE Thou art a woman; thou canst invent a hundred ways.
MAID There is a risk, for Hermione keeps no careless guard.
ANDROMACHE Dost look to that? Thou art disowning thy friends in distress.
MAID Not so; never taunt me with that. I will go, for of a truth
a woman and a slave is not of much account, e'en if aught befall me.
(The MAID withdraws.)
ANDROMACHE Go then, while I will tell to heaven the lengthy tale
of lamentation, mourning, and weeping, that has ever been my hard
lot; for 'tis woman's way to delight in present misfortunes even to
keeping them always on her tongue and lips. But I have many reasons,
not merely one for tears,-my city's fall, my Hector's death, the hardness
of the lot to which I am bound, since I fell on slavery's evil days
undeservedly. 'Tis never right to call a son of man happy, till thou
hast seen his end, to judge from the way he passes it how he will
descend to that other world. (She begins to chant.) 'Twas no bride
Paris took with him to the towers of Ilium, but curse to his bed when
he brought Helen to her bower. For her sake, Troy, did eager warriors,
sailing from Hellas in a thousand ships, capture and make thee a prey
to fire and sword; and the son of sea-born Thetis mounted on his chariot
dragged my husband Hector round the walls, ah woe is me! while I was
hurried from my chamber to the beach, with slavery's hateful pall
upon me. And many tear I shed as I left my city, my bridal bower,
and my husband in the dust. Woe, woe is me! why should I prolong my
life, to serve Hermione? Her cruelty it is that drives me hither to
the image of the goddess to throw my suppliant arms about it, melting
to tears as doth a spring that gushes from the rock. (The CHORUS
OF PHTHIAN WOMEN enters.)
CHORUS (singing, strophe 1)
Lady, thus keeping thy weary station without pause upon the floor
of Thetis' shrine, Phthian though I am, to thee a daughter of Asia
I come, to see if I can devise some remedy for these perplexing troubles,
which have involved thee and Hermione in fell discord, because to
thy sorrow thou sharest with her the love of Achilles' son.
Recognize thy position, weigh the present evil into the which thou
art come. Thou art a Trojan captive; thy rival is thy mistress, a
true-born daughter of Sparta. Leave then this home of sacrifice, the
shrine of our sea-goddess. How can it avail thee to waste thy comeliness
and disfigure it by weeping by reason of a mistress's harsh usage?
Might will prevail against thee; why vainly toil in thy feebleness?
Come, quit the bright sanctuary of the Nereid divine. Recognize that
thou art in bondage on a foreign soil, in a strange city, where thou
seest none of all thy friends, luckless lady, cast on evil days.
Yea, I did pity thee most truly, Trojan dame, when thou camest to
this house; but from fear of my mistress I hold my peace, albeit I
sympathize with thee, lest she, whom Zeus's daughter bore, discover
my good will toward thee. (HERMIONE enters, in complete royal regalia.)
HERMIONE With a crown of golden workmanship upon my head and about
my body this embroidered robe am I come hither; no presents these
I wear from the palace of Achilles or Peleus, but gifts my father
Menelaus gave me together with a sumptuous dower from Sparta in Laconia,