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Andromache   


leave the goddess's shrine, for by thy death this child escapeth his,
whereas, if thou refuse to die, I will slay him; for one of you twain
must perish.
ANDROMACHE Ah me! 'tis a bitter lot thou art offering about my life;
whether I take it or not I am equally unfortunate. Attend to me, thou
who for a trifling cause art committing an awful crime. Why art thou
bent on slaying me? What reason hast thou? What city have I betrayed?
Which of thy children was ever slain by me? What house have I fired?
I was forced to be my master's concubine; and spite of that wilt thou
slay me, not him who is to blame, passing by the cause and hurrying
to the inevitable result? Ah me! my sorrows! Woe for my hapless country!
How cruel my fate! Why had I to be a mother too and take upon me a
double load of suffering? Yet why do I mourn the past, and o'er the
present never shed a tear or compute its griefs? I that saw Hector
butchered and dragged behind the chariot, and Ilium, piteous sight!
one sheet of flame, while I was baled away by the hair of my head
to the Argive ships in slavery, and on my arrival in Phthia was given
to Hector's murderer as his mistress. What pleasure then has life
for me? Whither am I to turn my gaze? to the present or the past?
My babe alone was left me, the light of my life, and him these ministers
of death would slay. No! they shall not, if my poor life can save
him; for if he be saved, hope in him lives on, while to me 'twere
shame to refuse to die for my son. Lo! here I leave the altar and
give myself into your hands, to cut or stab, to bind or hang. Ah!
my child, to Hades now thy mother passes to save thy dear life. Yet
if thou escape thy doom, remember me, my sufferings and my death,
and tell thy father how I fared, with fond caress and streaming eye
and arms thrown round his neck. Ah! yes, his children are to every
man as his own soul; and whoso sneers at this through inexperience,
though he suffers less anguish, yet tastes the bitter in his cup of
bliss.
LEADER Thy tale with pity fills me; for every man alike, stranger
though he be, feels pity for another's distress. Menelaus, 'tis thy
duty to reconcile thy daughter and this captive, giving her a respite
from sorrow.
MENELAUS Ho! sirrahs, seize this woman (His attendants swiftly carry
out the order.)
; hold her fast; for 'tis no welcome story she will
have to hear. It was to make thee leave the holy altar of the goddess
that I held thy child's death before thy eyes, and so induced thee
to give thyself up to me to die. So stands thy case, be well assured;
but as for this child, my daughter shall decide whether she will slay
him or no. Get thee hence into the house, and there learn to bridle
thy insolence in speaking to the free, slave that thou art.
ANDROMACHE Alas! thou hast by treachery beguiled me; I was deceived.
MENELAUS Proclaim it to the world; I do not deny it.
ANDROMACHE Is this counted cleverness amongst you who dwell by the
Eurotas?
MENELAUS Yes, and amongst Trojans too, that those who suffer should
retaliate.
ANDROMACHE Thinkest thou God's hand is shortened, and that thou wilt
not be punished?
MENELAUS Whene'er that comes, I am ready to bear it. But thy life
will I have.
ANDROMACHE Wilt likewise slay this tender chick, whom thou hast snatched
from 'neath my wing?
MENELAUS Not I, but I will give him to my daughter to slay if she
will.
ANDROMACHE Ah me! why not begin my mourning then for thee, my child?
MENELAUS Of a truth 'tis no very sure hope that he has left.
ANDROMACHE O citizens of Sparta, the bane of all the race of men,
schemers of guile, and masters in lying, devisers of evil plots, with
crooked minds and tortuous methods and ne'er one honest thought, 'tis
wrong that ye should thrive in Hellas. What crime is wanting in your
list? How rife is murder with you! How covetous ye are! One word upon

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