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Hecuba   


beasts' meal, exacting vengeance in requital of their outrage on me?
Ah, woe is me! whither am I rushing, leaving my babes unguarded for
hell-hounds to mangle, to be murdered and ruthlessly cast forth upon
the hills, a feast of blood for dogs? Where shall I stay or turn my
steps? where rest? like a ship that lies anchored at sea, so gathering
close my linen robe I rush to that chamber of death, to guard my babes.
LEADER Woe is thee! what grievous outrage hath been wreaked on thee!
fearful penalty for thy foul deed hath the deity imposed, whoe'er
he is whose hand is heavy upon thee.
POLYMESTOR (chanting) Woe is me! Ho! my Thracian spearmen, clad
in mail, a race of knights whom Ares doth inspire! Ho! Achaeans! sons
of Atreus ho! to you I loudly call; come hither, in God's name come!
Doth any hearken, or will no man help me? Why do ye delay? Women,
captive women have destroyed me. A fearful fate is mine; ah me my
hideous outrage! Whither can I turn or go? Shall I take wings and
soar aloft to the mansions of the sky, where Orion and Sirius dart
from their eyes a flash as of fire, or shall I, in my misery, plunge
to Hades' murky flood?
LEADER 'Tis a venial sin, when a man, suffering from evils too heavy
to bear, rids himself of a wretched existence. (AGAMEMNON and his
retinue enter.)

AGAMEMNON Hearing a cry I am come hither; for Echo, child of the
mountain-rock, hath sent her voice loud-ringing through the host,
causing a tumult. Had I not known that Troy's towers were levelled
by the might of Hellas, this uproar had caused no slight terror.
POLYMESTOR Best of friends! for by thy voice I know thee, Agamemnon,
dost see my piteous state?
AGAMEMNON What! hapless Polymestor, who hath stricken thee? who hath
reft thine eves of sight, staining the pupils with blood? who hath
slain these children? whoe'er he was, fierce must have been his wrath
against thee and thy children.
POLYMESTOR Hecuba, helped by the captive women, hath destroyed me;
no! not destroyed, far worse than that.
AGAMEMNON (addressing HECUBA) What hast thou to say? Was it thou
that didst this deed, as he avers? thou, Hecuba, that hast ventured
on this inconceivable daring?
POLYMESTOR Ha! what is that? is she somewhere near? show me, tell
me where, that I may grip her in my hands and rend her limb from limb,
bespattering her with gore.
AGAMEMNON Ho! madman, what wouldst thou?
POLYMESTOR By heaven I entreat thee, let me vent on her the fury
of my arm.
AGAMEMNON Hold! banish that savage spirit from thy heart and plead
thy cause, that after hearing thee and her in turn I may fairly decide
what reason there is for thy present sufferings.
POLYMESTOR I will tell my tale. There was a son of Priam, Polydorus,
the youngest, a child by Hecuba, whom his father Priam sent to me
from Troy to bring up in my halls, suspecting no doubt the fall of
Troy. Him I slew; but hear my reason for so doing, to show how cleverly
and wisely I had planned. My fear was that if that child were left
to be thy enemy, he would re-people Troy and settle it afresh; and
the Achaeans, knowing that a son of Priam survived, might bring another
expedition against the Phrygian land and harry and lay waste these
plains of Thrace hereafter, for the neighbours of Troy to experience
the very troubles we were lately suffering, O king. Now Hecuba, having
discovered the death of her son, brought me hither on this pretext,
saying she would tell me of hidden treasure stored up in Ilium by
the race of Priam; and she led me apart with my children into the
tent, that none but I might hear her news. So I sat me down on a couch
in their midst to rest; for there were many of the Trojan maidens
seated there, some on my right hand, some on my left, as it had been
beside a friend; and they were praising the weaving of our Thracian
handiwork, looking at this robe as they held it up to the light; meantime
others examined my Thracian spear and so stripped me of the protection

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