HELEN O my new lord, needs must I honour him with whom I first shared
married joys; for I could even die with my husband, so well I loved
him; yet how could he thank me, were I to share death's doom with
him? Still, let me go and pay his funeral rites unto the dead in person.
The gods grant thee the boon I wish and this stranger too, for the
assistance he is lending here! And thou shalt find in me a wife fit
to share thy house, since thou art rendering kindness to Menelaus
and to me; for surely these events are to some good fortune tending.
But now appoint someone to give us a ship wherein to convey these
gifts, that I may find thy kindness made complete.
THEOCLYMENUS (to an attendant) Go thou, and furnish them with a
Sidonian galley of fifty oars and rowers also.
HELEN Shall not he command the ship who is ordering the funeral?
THEOCLYMENUS Most certainly; my sailors are to obey him.
HELEN Repeat the order, that they may clearly understand thee.
THEOCLYMENUS I repeat it, and will do so yet again if that is thy
HELEN Good luck to thee and to me in my designs!
THEOCLYMENUS Oh! waste not thy fair complexion with excessive weeping.
HELEN This day shall show my gratitude to thee.
THEOCLYMENUS The state of the dead is nothingness; to toil for them
HELEN In what I say, this world, as well as that, hath share.
THEOCLYMENUS Thou shalt not find in me a husband at all inferior
HELEN With thee have I no fault to find; good luck is all I need.
THEOCLYMENUS That rests with thyself, if thou show thyself a loving
wife to me.
HELEN This is not a lesson I shall have to learn now, to love my
THEOCLYMENUS Is it thy wish that I should escort thee in person with
HELEN God forbid! become not thy servant's servant, O king!
THEOCLYMENUS Up and away! I am not concerned with customs which the
race of Pelops holds. My house is pure, for Menelaus did not die here;
go some one now and bid my vassal chiefs bring marriage-offerings
to my palace; for the whole earth must re-echo in glad accord the
hymn of my wedding with Helen, to make men envious. Go, stranger,
and pour into the sea's embrace these offerings to Helen's former
lord, and then speed back again with my bride, that after sharing
with me her marriage-feast thou mayst set out for home, or here abide
in happiness. (THEOCLYMENUS and his retinue enter the palace.)
MENELAUS O Zeus, who art called the father of all and god of wisdom,
look down on us and change our woe to joy! Lend us thy ready help,
as we seek to drag our fortunes up the rugged hill; if with but thy
finger-tip thou touch us, we shall reach our longed-for goal. Sufficient
are the troubles we ere this have undergone. Full oft have I invoked
you gods to near my joys and sorrows; I do not deserve to be for ever
unhappy, but to advance and prosper. Grant me but this one boon, and
so will ye crown my future with blessing. (MENELAUS, HELEN and their
train of attendants depart.)
CHORUS (singing, strophe 1)
Hail! thou swift Phoenician ship of Sidon! dear to the rowers, mother
to the foam, leader of fair dolphins' gambols, what time the deep
is hushed and still, and Ocean's azure child, the queen of calm, takes
up her parable and says: "Away! and spread your canvas to the ocean-breeze.
Ho! sailors, ho! come grip your oars of pine, speeding Helen on her
way to the sheltered beach where Perseus dwelt of yore."
It may be thou wilt find the daughters of Leucippus beside the brimming
river or before the temple of Pallas, when at last with dance and
revelry thou joinest in the merry midnight festival of Hyacinthus,
him whom Phoebus slew in the lists by a quoit hurled o'er the mark;
wherefore did the son of Zeus ordain that Laconia's land should set