TEUCER No; none; but through Hellas is he reported to be dead.
HELEN Then am I lost. Is the daughter of Thestius alive?
TEUCER Dost speak of Leda? She is dead; aye, dead and gone.
HELEN Was it Helen's shame that caused her death?
TEUCER Aye, 'tis said she tied the noose about her noble neck.
HELEN Are the sons of Tyndareus still alive or not?
TEUCER Dead, and yet alive: 'tis a double story.
HELEN Which is the more credible report? Woe is me for my sorrows!
TEUCER Men say that they are gods in the likeness of stars.
HELEN That is happy news; but what is the other rumour?
TEUCER That they by self-inflicted wounds gave up the ghost because
of their sister's shame. But enough of such talk! I have no wish to
multiply my griefs. The reason of my coming to this royal palace was
a wish to see that famous prophetess Theonoe. Do thou the means afford,
that I from her may obtain an oracle how I shall steer a favourable
course to the sea-girt shores of Cyprus; for there Apollo hath declared
my home shall be, giving to it the name of Salamis, my island home,
in honour of that fatherland across the main.
HELEN That shall the voyage itself explain, sir stranger; but do
thou leave these shores and fly, ere the son of Proteus, the ruler
of this land, catch sight of thee. Now is he away with his trusty
hounds tracking his savage quarry to the death; for every stranger
that he catcheth from the land of Hellas doth he slay. His reason
never ask to know; my lips are sealed; for what could word of mine
TEUCER Lady, thy words are fair. Heaven grant thee a fair requital
for this kindness! For though in form thou dost resemble Helen, thy
soul is not like hers, nay, very different. Perdition seize her! May
she never reach the streams of Eurotas! But thine be joy for evermore,
lady! (TEUCER departs. The CHORUS OF CAPTIVE GREEK WOMEN enter. They
sing responsively with HELEN.)
HELEN Ah me! what piteous dirge shall I strive to utter, now that
I am beginning my strain of bitter lamentation? What Muse shall I
approach with tears or songs of death or woe? Ah me! ye Sirens, Earth's
virgin daughters, winged maids, come, oh! come to aid my mourning,
bringing with you the Libyan flute or pipe, to waft to Persephone's
ear a tearful plaint, the echo of my sorrow, with grief for grief,
and mournful chant for chant, with songs of death and doom to match
my lamentation, that in return she may receive from me, besides my
tears, dirges for the departed dead beneath her gloomy roof!
CHORUS Beside the deep-blue water I chanced to be hanging purple
robes along the tendrils green and on the sprouting reeds, to dry
them in the sun-god's golden blaze, when lo! I heard a sound of woe,
a mournful wail, the voice of one crying aloud in her anguish; yea,
such a cry of woe as Naiad nymph might send ringing o'er the hills,
while to her cry the depths of rocky grots re-echo her screams at
the violence of Pan.
HELEN Woe! woe! ye maids of Hellas, booty of barbarian sailors! one
hath come, an Achaean mariner, bringing fresh tears to me, the news
of Ilium's overthrow, how that it is left to the mercy of the foeman's
flame, and all for me the murderess, or for my name with sorrow fraught.
While for anguish at my deed of shame, hath Leda sought her death
by hanging; and on the deep, to weary wandering doomed my lord hath
met his end; and Castor and his brother, twin glory of their native
land, are vanished from men's sight, leaving the plains that shook
to their galloping steeds, and the course beside reed-fringed Eurotas,
where those youthful athletes strove.
CHORUS Ah, misery! Alas! for thy grievous destiny! Woe for thy sad
lot, lady! Ah! 'twas a day of sorrow meted out for thee when Zeus
came glancing through the sky on snowy pinions like a swan and won
thy mother's heart. What evil is not thine? Is there a grief in life
that thou hast not endured? Thy mother is dead; the two dear sons
of Zeus have perished miserably, and thou art severed from thy country's
sight, while through the towns of men a rumour runs, consigning thee,