HELEN 'Tis not thus we give drowned sailors burial.
THEOCLYMENUS How then? I know nothing of your customs in Hellas.
HELEN We unmoor, and carry out to sea all that is the dead man's
THEOCLYMENUS What am I to give thee then for thy dead husband?
HELEN Myself I cannot say; I had no such experience in my previous
THEOCLYMENUS Stranger, thou art the bearer of tidings I welcome.
MENELAUS Well, I do not, nor yet doth the dead man.
THEOCLYMENUS How do ye bury those who have been drowned at sea?
MENELAUS Each according to his means.
THEOCLYMENUS As far as wealth goes, name thy wishes for this lady's
MENELAUS There must be a blood-offering first to the dead.
THEOCLYMENUS Blood of what? Do thou show me and I will comply.
MENELAUS Decide that thyself; whate'er thou givest will suffice.
THEOCLYMENUS Amongst barbarians 'tis customary to sacrifice a horse
MENELAUS If thou givest at all, let there be nothing mean in thy
THEOCLYMENUS I have no lack of such in my rich herds
MENELAUS Next an empty bier is decked and carried in procession.
THEOCLYMENUS It shall be so; what else is it customary to add?
MENELAUS Bronze arms; for war was his delight.
THEOCLYMENUS These will be worthy of the race of Pelops, and these
will we give.
MENELAUS And with them all the fair increase of productive earth.
THEOCLYMENUS And next, how do ye pour these offerings into the billows?
MENELAUS There must be a ship ready and rowers.
THEOCLYMENUS How far from the shore does the ship put out?
MENELAUS So far that the foam in her wake can scarce be seen from
THEOCLYMENUS Why so? wherefore doth Hellas observe this custom?
MENELAUS That the billow may not cast up again our expiatory offerings.
THEOCLYMENUS Phoenician rowers will soon cover the distance.
MENELAUS 'Twill be well done, and gratifying to Menelaus, too.
THEOCLYMENUS Canst thou not perform these rites well enough without
MENELAUS This task belongs to mother, wife, or children.
THEOCLYMENUS 'Tis her task then, according to thee, to bury her husband.
MENELAUS To be sure; piety demands that the dead be not robbed of
THEOCLYMENUS Well, let her go; 'tis my interest to foster piety in
a wife. And thou, enter the house and choose adornment for the dead.
Thyself, too, will not send empty-handed away, since thou hast done
her a service. And for the good news thou hast brought me, thou shalt
receive raiment instead of going bare, and food, too, that thou mayst
reach thy country; for as it is, I see thou art in sorry plight. As
for thee, poor lady, waste not thyself in a hopeless case; Menelaus
has met his doom, and thy dead husband cannot come to life.
MENELAUS This then is thy duty, fair young wife; be content with
thy present husband, and forget him who has no existence; for this
is thy best course in face of what is happening. And if ever I come
to Hellas and secure my safety, I will clear thee of thy former ill-repute,
if thou prove a dutiful wife to thy true husband.
HELEN I will; never shall my husband have cause to blame me; thou
shalt thyself attend us and be witness thereto. Now go within, poor
wanderer, and seek the bath, and change thy raiment. I will show my
kindness to thee, and that without delay. For thou wilt perform all
service due with kindlier feeling for my dear lord Menelaus, if at
my hands thou meet with thy deserts. (THEOCLYMENUS, HELEN, MENELAUS
enter the palace.)
CHORUS (singing, strophe 1)
Through wooded glen, o'er torrent's flood, and ocean's booming waves