whence, will taint my maiden charms, once deemed worthy of royalty.
No, never! Here I close my eyes upon the light, free as yet, and dedicate
myself to Hades. Lead me hence, Odysseus, and do thy worst, for I
see naught within my reach to make me hope or expect with any confidence
that I am ever again to be happy. Mother mine! seek not to hinder
me by word or deed, but join in my wish for death ere I meet with
shameful treatment undeserved. For whoso is not used to taste of sorrow's
cup, though he bears it, yet it galls him when he puts his neck within
the yoke; far happier would he be dead than alive, for life of honour
reft is toil and trouble.
LEADER A wondrous mark, most clearly stamped, doth noble birth imprint
on men, and the name goeth still further where it is deserved.
HECUBA A noble speech, my daughter! but there is sorrow linked with
its noble sentiments.
Odysseus, if ye must pleasure the son of Peleus, and avoid reproach,
slay not this maid, but lead me to Achilles' pyre and torture me unsparingly:
'twas I that bore Paris, whose fatal shaft laid low the son of Thetis.
ODYSSEUS 'Tis not thy death, old dame, Achilles' wraith hath demanded
of the Achaeans, but hers.
HECUBA At least then slaughter me with my child; so shall there be
a double draught of blood for the earth and the dead that claims this
ODYSSEUS The maiden's death suffices; no need to add a second to
the first; would we needed not e'en this!
HECUBA Die with my daughter I must and will.
ODYSSEUS How so? I did not know I had a master.
HECUBA I will cling to her like ivy to an oak.
ODYSSEUS Not if thou wilt hearken to those who are wiser than thyself.
HECUBA Be sure I will never willingly relinquish my child.
ODYSSEUS Well, be equally sure I will never go away and leave her
POLYXENA Mother, hearken to me; and thou, son of Laertes, make allowance
for a parent's natural wrath. My poor mother, fight not with our masters.
Wilt thou be thrown down, be roughly thrust aside and wound thy aged
skin, and in unseemly wise be torn from me by youthful arms? This
wilt thou suffer; do not so, for 'tis not right for thee. Nay, dear
mother mine give me thy hand beloved, and let me press thy cheek to
mine; for never, nevermore, but now for the last time shall I behold
the dazzling sun-god's orb. My last farewells now take! O mother,
mother mine! beneath the earth I pass.
HECUBA O my daughter, I am still to live and be a slave.
POLYXENA Unwedded I depart, never having tasted the married joys
that were my due!
HECUBA Thine, my daughter, is a piteous lot, and sad is mine also.
POLYXENA There in Hades' courts shall I be laid apart from thee.
HECUBA Ah me, what shall I do? where shall I end my life?
POLYXENA Daughter of a free-born sire, a slave I am to die.
HECUBA Not one of all my fifty children left!
POLYXENA What message can I take for thee to Hector or thy aged lord?
HECUBA Tell them that of all women I am the most miserable.
POLYXENA Ah! bosom and breasts that fed me with sweet food!
HECUBA Woe is thee, my child, for this untimely fate!
POLYXENA Farewell, my mother! farewell, Cassandra!
HECUBA "Fare well!" others do, but not thy mother, no!
POLYXENA Thou too, my brother Polydorus, who art in Thrace, the home
HECUBA Aye, if he lives, which much I doubt; so luckless am I every
POLYXENA Oh yes, he lives; and, when thou diest, he will close thine
HECUBA I am dead; sorrow has forestalled death here.
POLYXENA Come veil my head, Odysseus, and take me hence; for now,
ere falls the fatal blow, my heart is melted by my mother's wailing,
and hers no less by mine. O light of day! for still may I call thee