your lips, another in your heart, this is what men always find with
you. Perdition catch ye! Still death is not so grievous, as thou thinkest,
to me. No! for my life ended in the day that hapless Troy was destroyed
with my lord, that glorious warrior, whose spear oft made a coward
like thee quit the field and seek thy ship. But now against a woman
hast thou displayed the terrors of thy panoply, my would-be murderer.
Strike then! for this my tongue shall never flatter thee or that daughter
of thine. For though thou wert of great account in Sparta, why so
was I in Troy. And if I am now in sorry plight, presume not thou on
this; thou too mayst be so yet. (MENELAUS and his guards lead ANDROMACHE
CHORUS (singing, strophe 1)
Never, oh! never will I commend rival wives or sons of different
mothers, a cause of strife, of bitterness, and grief in every house.
would have a husband content with one wife whose rights he shareth
with no other.
Not even in states is dual monarchy better to bear than undivided
rule; it only doubles burdens and causes faction amongst the citizens.
Often too will the Muse sow strife 'twixt rivals in the art of minstrelsy.
Again, when strong winds are drifting mariners, the divided counsel
of the wise does not best avail for steering, and their collective
wisdom has less weight than the inferior mind of the single man who
has sole authority; for this is the essence of power alike in house
and state, whene'er men care to find the proper moment.
This Spartan, the daughter of the great chief Menelaus, proves this;
for she hath kindled hot fury against a rival, and is bent on slaying
the hapless Trojan maid and her child to further her bitter quarrel.
'Tis a murder gods and laws and kindness all forbid. Ah! lady, retribution
for this deed will yet visit thee.
But lo! before the house I see those two united souls, condemned to
die. Alas! for thee, poor lady, and for thee, unhappy child, who art
dying on account of thy mother's marriage, though thou hast no share
therein and canst not be blamed by the royal house. (ANDROMACHE enters,
her arms bound. Her son clings to her. MENELAUS and the guards follow,
intent on accomplishing the murder. The following lines are chanted
ANDROMACHE Behold me journeying on the downward path, my hands so
tightly bound with cords that they bleed.
MOLOSSUS O mother, mother mine! I too share thy downward path, nestling
'neath thy wing.
ANDROMACHE A cruel sacrifice! ye rulers of Phthia!
MOLOSSUS Come, father! succour those thou lovest.
ANDROMACHE Rest there, my babe, my darling! on thy mother's bosom,
e'en in death and in the grave.
MOLOSSUS Ah, woe is me! what will become of me and thee too, mother
MENELAUS Away, to the world below! from hostile towers ye came, the
pair of you; two different causes necessitate your deaths; my sentence
takes away thy life, and my daughter Hermione's requires his; for
it would be the height of folly to leave our foemen's sons, when we
might kill them and remove the danger from our house.
ANDROMACHE O husband mine! I would I had thy strong arm and spear
to aid me, son of Priam.
MOLOSSUS Ah, woe is me! what spell can I now find to turn death's
ANDROMACHE Embrace thy master's knees, my child, and pray to him.
MOLOSSUS Spare, O spare my life, kind master!
ANDROMACHE Mine eyes are wet with tears, which trickle down my cheeks,
as doth a sunless spring from a smooth rock. Ah me!
MOLOSSUS What remedy, alas! can I provide me 'gainst my ills?
MENELAUS Why fall at my knees in supplication? hard as the rock and