a stranger to the claims of good faith, a wicked host; while I shall
say thou delightest in evil-doers, being such an one thyself; but
I rail not at my masters.
LEADER Look you! how a good cause ever affords men an opening for
a good speech.
AGAMEMNON To be judge in a stranger's troubles goes much against
my grain, but still I must; yea, for to take this matter in hand and
then put it from me is a shameful course. My opinion, that thou mayst
know it, is that it was not for the sake of the Achaeans or me that
thou didst slay thy guest, but to keep that gold in thy own house.
In thy trouble thou makest a case in thy own interests. Maybe amongst
you 'tis a light thing to murder guests, but with us in Hellas 'tis
a disgrace. How can I escape reproach if I judge the not guilty? I
cannot do it. Nay, since thou didst dare thy horrid crime, endure
as well its painful consequence.
POLYMESTOR Woe is me! worsted by a woman and a slave, I am, it seems,
to suffer by unworthy hands.
HECUBA Is it not just for thy atrocious crime?
POLYMESTOR Ah, my children! ah, my blinded eyes! woe is me!
HECUBA Dost thou grieve? what of me? thinkst thou I grieve not for
POLYMESTOR Thou wicked wretch! thy delight is in mocking me.
HECUBA I am avenged on thee; have I not cause for joy?
POLYMESTOR The joy will soon cease, in the day when ocean's flood-
HECUBA Shall convey me to the shores of Hellas?
POLYMESTOR Nay, but close o'er thee when thou fallest from the masthead.
HECUBA Who will force me to take the leap?
POLYMESTOR Of thy own accord wilt thou climb the ship's mast.
HECUBA With wings upon my back, or by what means?
POLYMESTOR Thou wilt become a dog with bloodshot eyes.
HECUBA How knowest thou of my transformation?
POLYMESTOR Dionysus, our Thracian prophet, told me so.
HECUBA And did he tell thee nothing of thy present trouble?
POLYMESTOR No; else hadst thou never caught me thus by guile.
HECUBA Shall I die or live, and so complete my life on earth?
POLYMESTOR Die shalt thou; and to thy tomb shall be given a name-
HECUBA Recalling my form, or what wilt thou tell me?
POLYMESTOR "The hapless hound's grave," a mark for mariners."
HECUBA 'Tis naught to me, now that thou hast paid me forfeit.
POLYMESTOR Further, thy daughter Cassandra must die.
HECUBA I scorn the prophecy! I give it to thee to keep for thyself.
POLYMESTOR Her shall the wife of Agamemnon, grim keeper of his palace,
HECUBA Never may the daughter of Tyndareus do such a frantic deed!
POLYMESTOR And she shall slay this king as well, lifting high the
AGAMEMNON Ha! sirrah, art thou mad? art so eager to find sorrow?
POLYMESTOR Kill me, for in Argos there awaits thee a murderous bath.
AGAMEMNON Ho! servants, hale him from my sight
POLYMESTOR Ha! my words gall thee?
AGAMEMNON Stop his mouth!
POLYMESTOR Close it now; for I have spoken.
AGAMEMNON Haste and cast him upon some desert island, since his mouth
is full of such exceeding presumption. Go thou, unhappy Hecuba, and
bury thy two corpses; and you, Trojan women, to your masters' tents
repair, for lo! I perceive a breeze just rising to waft us home. God
grant we reach our country and find all well at home, released from
troubles here! (POLYMESTOR is dragged away by AGAMEMNON'S guards.)
CHORUS (chanting) Away to the harbour and the tents, my friends,
to prove the toils of slavery! for such is fate's relentless hest.