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Andromache   


they went. As for me, I ever told that amorous boy to form no alliance
with thee nor take unto his home an evil mother's child; for daughters
bear the marks of their mothers' ill-repute into their new homes.
Wherefore, ye wooers, take heed to this my warning: "Choose the daughter
of a good mother." And more than this, with what wanton insult didst
thou treat thy brother, bidding him sacrifice his daughter in his
simpleness! So fearful wast thou of losing thy worthless wife. Then
after capturing Troy,-for thither too will I accompany thee,-thou
didst not slay that woman, when she was in thy power; but as soon
as thine eyes caught sight of her breast, thy sword was dropped and
thou didst take her kisses, fondling the shameless traitress, too
weak to stem thy hot desire, thou caitiff wretch! Yet spite of all
thou art the man to come and work havoc in my grandson's halls when
he is absent, seeking to slay with all indignity a poor weak woman
and her babe: but that babe shall one day make thee and thy daughter
in thy home rue it, e'en though his birth be trebly base. Yea, for
oft ere now hath seed, sown on barren soil, prevailed o'er rich deep
tilth, and many bastard has proved a better man than children better
born. Take thy daughter hence with thee! Far better is it for mortals
to have a poor honest man either as married kin or friend than a wealthy
knave; but as for thee, thou art a thing of naught.
LEADER The tongue from trifling causes contrives to breed great strife
'mongst men; wherefore are the wise most careful not to bring about
a quarrel with their friends.
MENELAUS Why, pray, should one call these old men wise, or those
who once had a reputation in Hellas for being so? when thou, the great
Peleus, son of famous father, kin to me through marriage, employest
language disgraceful to thyself and abusive of me because of a barbarian
woman, though thou shouldst have banished her far beyond the streams
of Nile or Phasis, and ever encouraged me; seeing that she comes from
Asia's continent where fell so many of the sons of Hellas, victims
to the spear; and likewise because she shared in the spilling of thy
son's blood; for Paris who slew thy son Achilles, was brother to Hector,
whose wife she was. And dost thou enter the same abode with her, and
deign to let her share thy board, and suffer her to rear her brood
of vipers in thy house? But I, after all this foresight for thee,
old man, and myself, am to have her torn from my clutches for wishing
to slay her. Yet come now, for 'tis no disgrace to argue; suppose
my daughter has no child, while this woman's sons grow up, wilt thou
set them up to rule the land of Phthia, barbarians born and bred to
lord it over Hellenes? Am I then so void of sense because I hate injustice,
and thou so full of cleverness? Consider yet another point; say thou
hadst given a daughter of thine to some citizen, and hadst then seen
her thus treated, wouldst thou have sat looking on in silence? I trow
not. Dost thou then for a foreigner rail thus at thy nearest friends?
Again, thou mayst say, husband and wife have an equally strong case
if she is wronged by him, and similarly if he find her guilty of indiscretion
in his house; yet while he has ample powers in his own hands, she
depends on parents and friends for her case. Surely then I am right
in helping my own kin! Thou art in thy dotage; for thou wilt do me
more good by speaking of my generalship than by concealing it. Helen's
trouble was not of her own choosing, but sent by heaven, and it proved
a great benefit to Hellas; her sons, till then untried in war or arms,
turned to deeds of prowess, and it is experience which teaches man
all he knows. I showed my wisdom in refraining from slaying my wife,
directly I caught sight of her. Would that thou too hadst ne'er slain
Phocus! All this I bring before thee in pure good-will, not from anger.
But if thou resent it, thy tongue may wag till it ache, yet shall
I gain by prudent forethought.
LEADER Cease now from idle words, 'twere better far, for fear ye
both alike go wrong.
PELEUS Alas! what evil customs now prevail in Hellas! Whene'er the
host sets up a trophy o'er the foe, men no more consider this the
work of those who really toiled, but the general gets the credit for

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