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Andromache   


to insure me freedom of speech. Such is my answer to you; (to the
CHORUS)
but as for thee, slave and captive, thou wouldst fain oust
me and secure this palace for thyself, and thanks to thy enchantment
I am hated by my husband; thou it is that hast made my womb barren
and cheated my hopes; for Asia's daughters have clever heads for such
villainy; yet will I check thee therefrom, nor shall this temple of
the Nereid avail thee aught, no! neither its altar or shrine, but
thou shalt die. But if or god or man should haply wish to save thee,
thou must atone for thy proud thoughts of happier days now past by
humbling thyself and crouching prostrate at my knees, by sweeping
out my halls, and by learning, as thou sprinklest water from a golden
ewer, where thou now art. Here is no Hector, no Priam with his gold,
but a city of Hellas. Yet thou, miserable woman, hast gone so far
in wantonness that thou canst lay thee down with the son of the very
man that slew thy husband, and bear children to the murderer. Such
is all the race of barbarians; father and daughter, mother and son,
sister and brother mate together; the nearest and dearest stain their
path with each other's blood, and no law restrains such horrors. Bring
not these crimes amongst us, for here we count it shame that one man
should have the control of two wives, and men are content to turn
to one lawful love, that is, all who care to live an honourable life.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS Women are by nature somewhat jealous, and do
ever show the keenest hate to rivals in their love.
ANDROMACHE Ah! well-a-day! Youth is a bane to mortals, in every case,
that is, where a man embraces injustice in his early days. Now I am
afraid that my being a slave will prevent thee listening to me in
spite of many a just plea, or if I win my case, I fear I may be damaged
on this very ground, for the high and mighty cannot brook refuting
arguments from their inferiors; still I will not be convicted of betraying
my own cause. Tell me, proud young wife, what assurance can make me
confident of wresting from thee thy lawful lord? Is it that Laconia's
capital yields to Phrygia? is it that my fortune outstrips thine?
or that in me thou seest a free woman? Am I so elated by my youth,
my full healthy figure, the extent of my city, the number of my friends
that I wish to supplant thee in thy home? Is my purpose to take thy
place and rear myself a race of slaves, mere appendages to my misery?
or, supposing thou bear no children, will any one endure that sons
of mine should rule o'er Phthia? Ah no! there is the love that Hellas
bears me, both for Hector's sake and for my own humble rank forsooth,
that never knew a queen's estate in Troy. 'Tis not my sorcery that
makes thy husband hate thee, nay, but thy own failure to prove thyself
his help-meet. Herein lies love's only charm; 'tis not beauty, lady,
but virtuous acts that win our husbands' hearts. And though it gall
thee to be told so, albeit thy city in Laconia is no doubt mighty
fact, yet thou findest no place for his Scyros, displaying wealth
'midst poverty and setting Menelaus above Achilles: and that is what
alienates thy lord. Take heed; for a woman, though bestowed upon worthless
husband, must be with him content, and ne'er advance presumptuous
claims. Suppose thou hadst wedded a prince of Thrace, the land of
flood and melting snow, where one lord shares his affections with
a host of wives, wouldst thou have slain them? If so, thou wouldst
have set a stigma of insatiate lust on all our sex. A shameful charge!
And yet herein we suffer more than men, though we make a good stand
against it. Ah! my dear lord Hector, for thy sake would I e'en brook
a rival, if ever Cypris led thee astray, and oft in days gone by I
held thy bastard babes to my own breast, to spare thee any cause for
grief. By this course I bound my husband to me by virtue's chains,
whereas thou wilt never so much as let the drops of dew from heaven
above settle on thy lord, in thy jealous fear. Oh! seek not to surpass
thy mother in hankering after men, for 'tis well that all wise children
should avoid the habits of such evil mothers.
LEADER Mistress mine, be persuaded to come to terms with her, as
far as readily comes within thy power.
HERMIONE Why this haughty tone, this bandying of words, as if, forsooth,

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