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Andromache   


it. Now he was but one among ten thousand others to brandish his spear;
he only did the work of one; but yet he wins more praise than they.
Again, as magistrates in all the grandeur of office they scorn the
common folk, though they are naught themselves; whereas those others
are ten thousand times more wise than they, if daring combine with
judgment. Even so thou and thy brother, exalted by the toilsome efforts
of others, now take your seats in all the swollen pride of Trojan
fame and Trojan generalship. But I will teach thee henceforth to consider
Idaean Paris a foe less terrible than Peleus, unless forthwith thou
pack from this roof, thou and thy childless daughter too, whom my
own true son will hale through his halls by the hair of her head;
for her barrenness will not let her endure fruitfulness in others,
because she has no children herself. Still if misfortune prevents
her bearing offspring, is that a reason why we should be left childless?
Begone! ye varlets, let her go! I will soon see if anyone will hinder
me from loosing her hands. (to ANDROMACHE) Arise; these trembling
hands of mine will untie the twisted thongs that bind thee. Out on
thee, coward! is this how thou hast galled her wrists? Didst think
thou wert lashing up a lion or bull? or wert afraid she would snatch
a sword and defend herself against thee? Come, child, nestle to thy
mother's arms; help me loose her bonds; I will yet rear thee in Phthia
to be their bitter foe. If your reputation for prowess and the battles
ye have fought were taken from you Spartans, in all else, be very
sure, you have not your inferiors.
LEADER The race of old men practises no restraint; and their testiness
makes it hard to check them.
MENELAUS Thou art only too ready to rush into abuse; while, as for
me, I came to Phthia by constraint and have therefore no intention
either of doing or suffering anything mean. Now must I return home,
for I have no time to waste; for there is a city not so very far from
Sparta, which aforetime was friendly but now is hostile; against her
will I march with my army and bring her into subjection. And when
I have arranged that matter as I wish, I will return; and face to
face with my son-in-law I will give my version of the story and hear
his. And if he punish her, and for the future she exercise self-control,
she shall find me do the like; but if he storm, I'll storm as well;
and every act of mine shall be a reflex of his own. As for thy babbling,
I can bear it easily; for, like to a shadow as thou art, thy voice
is all thou hast, and thou art powerless to do aught but talk. (MENELAUS
and his retinue withdraw.)

PELEUS Lead on, my child, safe beneath my sheltering wing, and thou
too, poor lady; for thou art come into a quiet haven after the rude
storm.
ANDROMACHE Heaven reward thee and all thy race, old sire, for having
saved my child and me his hapless mother! Only beware lest they fall
upon us twain in some lonely spot upon the road and force me from
thee, when they see thy age, my weakness, and this child's tender
years; take heed to this, that we be not a second time made captive,
after escaping now.
PELEUS Forbear such words, prompted by a woman's cowardice. Go on
thy way; who will lay a finger on you? Methinks he will do it to his
cost, For by heaven's grace I rule o'er many a knight and spearman
bold in my kingdom of Phthia; yea, and myself can still stand straight,
no bent old man as thou dost think; such a fellow as that a mere look
from me will put to flight in spite of my years. For e'en an old man,
be he brave, is worth a host of raw youths; for what avails a fine
figure if a man is coward? (PELEUS, ANDROMACHE, and MOLOSSUS go out.)
CHORUS (singing, strophe)
Oh! to have never been born, or sprung from noble sires, the heir
to mansions richly stored; for if aught untoward e'er befall, there
is no lack of champions for sons of noble parents, and there is honour
and glory for them when they are proclaimed scions of illustrious
lines; time detracts not from the legacy these good men leave, but
the light of their goodness still burns on when they are dead.

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