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Andromache   


slavery, and thou, lady, hadst been established in the royal palace;
and Hellas had been freed of all the anguish she suffered during those
ten long years her sons went wandering, spear in hand, around the
walls of Troy; brides had never been left desolate, nor hoary fathers
childless. (MENELAUS and his retinue enter. He is leading MOLOSSUS
by the hand.)

MENELAUS Behold I bring thy son with me, whom thou didst steal away
to a neighbour's house without my daughter's knowledge. Thou wert
so sure this image of the goddess would protect thee and those who
hid him, but thou hast not proved clever enough for Menelaus. And
so if thou refuse to leave thy station here, he shall be slain instead
of thee. Wherefore weigh it well: wilt die thyself, or see him slain
for the sin whereof thou art guilty against me and my daughter?
ANDROMACHE O fame, fame! full many a man ere now of no account hast
thou to high estate exalted. Those, indeed, who truly have a fair
repute, I count blest; but those who get it by false pretences, I
will never allow have aught but the accidental appearance of wisdom.
Thou for instance, caitiff that thou art, didst thou ever wrest Troy
from Priam with thy picked troops of Hellenes? thou that hast raised
such a storm, at the word of thy daughter, a mere child, and hast
entered the lists with a poor captive; unworthy I count thee of Troy's
capture, and Troy still more disgraced by thy victory. Those who only
in appearance are men of sense make an outward show, but inwardly
resemble the common herd, save it be in wealth, which is their chiefest
strength.
Come now, Menelaus, let us carry through this argument. Suppose I
am slain by thy daughter, and she work her will on me, yet can she
never escape the pollution of murder, and public opinion will make
thee too an accomplice in this deed of blood, for thy share in the
business must needs implicate thee. But even supposing I escape death
myself, will ye kill my child? Even then, how will his father brook
the murder of his child? Troy has no such coward's tale to tell of
him; nay, he will follow duty's call; his actions will prove him a
worthy scion of Peleus and Achilles. Thy daughter will be thrust forth
from his house; and what wilt thou say when seeking to betroth her
to another? wilt say her virtue made her leave a worthless lord? Nay,
that will be false. Who then will wed her? wilt thou keep her without
a husband in thy halls, grown grey in widowhood? Unhappy wretch! dost
not see the flood-gates of trouble opening wide for thee? How many
a wrong against a wife wouldst thou prefer thy daughter to have found
to suffering what I now describe? We ought not on trifling grounds
to promote great ills; nor should men, if we women are so deadly a
curse, bring their nature down to our level. No! if, as thy daughter
asserts, I am practising sorcery against her and making her barren,
right willingly will I, without any crouching at altars, submit in
my own person to the penalty that lies in her husband's hands, seeing
that I am no less chargeable with injuring him if I make him childless.
This is my case; but for thee, there is one thing I fear in thy disposition;
it was a quarrel for a woman that really induced thee to destroy poor
Ilium's town.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS Thou hast said too much for a woman speaking
to men; that discretion hath shot away its last shaft from thy soul's
quiver.
MENELAUS Women, these are petty matters, unworthy, as thou sayest,
of my despotic sway, unworthy too of Hellas. Yet mark this well; his
special fancy of the hour is of more moment to a man than Troy's capture.
I then have set myself to help my daughter because I consider her
loss of wife's rights most grave; for whatever else a woman suffers
is second to this; if she loses her husband's love she loses her life
therewith. Now, as it is right Neoptolemus should rule my slaves,
so my friends and I should have control of his; for friends, if they
be really friends, keep nothing to themselves, but have all in common.
So if I wait for the absent instead of making the best arrangement
I can at once of my affairs, I show weakness, not wisdom. Arise then,

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