from some foul fiend.
MAID What! so thou knewest thy son's fate, poor lady.
HECUBA (chanting) I cannot, cannot credit this fresh sight I see.
Woe succeeds to woe; time will never cease henceforth to bring me
groans and tears.
LEADER Alas poor lady, our sufferings are cruel indeed.
HECUBA (chanting) O my son, child of a luckless mother, what was
the manner of thy death? what lays thee dead at my feet? Who did the
MAID I know not. On the sea-shore I found him.
HECUBA (chanting) Cast up on the smooth sand, or thrown there after
the murderous blow?
MAID The waves had washed him ashore.
HECUBA (chanting) Alas! alas! I read aright the vision I saw in
my sleep, nor did the phantom dusky-winged escape my ken, even the
vision I saw concerning my son, who is now no more within the bright
LEADER Who slew him then? Can thy dream-lore tell us that?
HECUBA (chanting) 'Twas my own, own friend, the knight of Thrace,
with whom his aged sire had placed the boy in hiding.
LEADER O horror! what wilt thou say? did he slay him to get the gold?
HECUBA (chanting) O awful crime! O deed without a name! beggaring
wonder! impious! intolerable! Where are now the laws 'twixt guest
and host? Accursed monster! how hast thou mangled his flesh, slashing
the poor child's limbs with ruthless sword, lost to all sense of pity!
LEADER Alas for thee! how some deity, whose hand is heavy on thee,
hath sent thee troubles beyond all other mortals! But yonder I see
our lord and master Agamemnon coming; so let us be still henceforth,
my friends. (AGAMEMNON enters.)
AGAMEMNON Hecuba, why art thou delaying to come and bury thy daughter?
for it was for this that Talthybius brought me thy message begging
that none of the Argives should touch thy child. And so I granted
this, and none is touching her, but this long delay of thine fills
me with wonder. Wherefore am I come to send thee hence; for our part
there is well performed; if herein there be any place for "well."
(He sees the body.) Ha! what man is this I see near the tents, some
Trojan's corpse? 'tis not an Argive's body; that the garments it is
clad in tell me.
HECUBA (aside) Unhappy one! in naming thee I name myself; O Hecuba,
what shall do? throw myself here at Agamemnon's knees, or bear my
sorrows in silence?
AGAMEMNON Why dost thou turn thy back towards me and weep, refusing
to say, what has happened, or who this is?
HECUBA (aside) But should he count me as a slave and foe and spurn
me from his knees, I should but add to my anguish.
AGAMEMNON I am no prophet born; wherefore, if I be not told, I cannot
learn the current of thy thoughts.
HECUBA (aside) Can it be that in estimating this man's feelings
I make him out too ill-disposed, when he is not really so?
AGAMEMNON If thy wish really is that I should remain in ignorance,
we are of one mind; for I have no wish myself to listen.
HECUBA (aside) Without his aid I shall not be able to avenge my
children. Why do still ponder the matter? I must do and dare whether
I win or lose. (Turning to AGAMEMNON) O Agamemnon! by thy knees,
by thy beard and conquering hand I implore thee.
AGAMEMNON What is thy desire? to be set free? that is easily done.
HECUBA Not that; give me vengeance on the wicked, and evermore am
I willing to lead a life of slavery.
AGAMEMNON Well, but why dost thou call me to thy aid?
HECUBA 'Tis a matter thou little reckest of, O king. Dost see this
corpse, for whom my tears now flow?
AGAMEMNON I do; but what is to follow, I cannot guess.
HECUBA He was my child in days gone by; I bore him in my womb.
AGAMEMNON Which of thy sons is he, poor sufferer?