PORTRESS There is his tomb; his son rules in his stead.
MENELAUS And where may he be? abroad, or in the house?
PORTRESS He is not within. To Hellas is he a bitter foe.
MENELAUS His reason, pray, for this enmity? the results whereof I
PORTRESS Beneath this roof dwells the daughter of Zeus, Helen.
MENELAUS What mean'st thou? what is it thou hast said? Repeat, I
pray, thy words.
PORTRESS The daughter of Tyndareus is here, who erst in Sparta dwelt.
MENELAUS Whence came she? What means this business?
PORTRESS She came from Lacedaemon hither.
MENELAUS When? Surely I have never been robbed of my wife from the
PORTRESS Before the Achaeans went to Troy, sir stranger. But get
thee hence; for somewhat hath chanced within, whereat the whole palace
is in an uproar. Thou comest most unseasonably; and if my master catch
thee, death will be thy stranger's gift. This say I, because to Hellas
I am well disposed, albeit I gave thee harsh answers for fear of my
master. (The PORTRESS goes back into the palace.)
MENELAUS What can I think or say? For after my previous troubles,
this is a fresh piece of ill-luck I hear, if, indeed, after recovering
my wife from Troy and bringing her hither, and putting her for safety
in the cave, I am then to find another woman living here with the
same name as my wife. She called her the begotten child of Zeus. Can
there be a man that hath the name of Zeus by the banks of Nile? The
Zeus of heaven is only one, at any rate. Where is there a Sparta in
the world save where Eurotas glides between his reedy banks? The name
of Tyndareus is the name of one alone. Is there any land of the same
name as Lacedaemon or Troy? I know not what to say; for naturally
there are many in the wide world that have the same names, cities
and women too; there is nothing, then, to marvel at. Nor yet again
will I fly from the alarm a servant raises; for there is none so cruel
of heart as to refuse me food when once he hears my name. All have
heard of Ilium's burning, and I, that set it ablaze, am famous now
throughout the world, I, Menelaus. I therefore wait the master of
this house. There are two issues I must watch; if he prove somewhat
stern of heart, I will to my wreck and there conceal myself; but if
he show any sign of pity, I will ask for help in this my present strait.
This is the crowning woe in all my misery, to beg the means of life
from other princes, prince though I be myself; still needs must I.
Yea, this is no saying of mine, but a word of wisdom, "Naught in might
exceedeth dread necessity." (HELEN and the CHORUS enter from the
palace. They do not notice MENELAUS.)
CHORUS (singing) I have heard the voice of the maiden inspired.
Clear is the answer she hath vouchsafed within yon palace, declaring
that Menelaus is not yet dead and buried, passed to the land of shades,
where darkness takes the place of light; but on the stormy main is
wearing out his life, nor yet hath reached the haven of his country,
a wanderer dragging out a piteous existence, reft of every friend,
setting foot in every corner of the world, as he voyageth home from
HELEN Lo! once again I seek the shelter of this tomb, with Theonoe's
sweet tidings in my ears; she that knoweth all things of a truth;
for she saith my lord is yet alive and in the light of day, albeit
he is roaming to and fro after many a weary voyage, and hither shall
he come whenso he reach the limit of his toils, no novice in the wanderer's
life. But one thing did she leave unsaid. Is he to escape when he
hath come? And I refrained from asking that question clearly, so glad
was I when she told me he was safe. For she said that he was somewhere
nigh this shore, cast up by shipwreck with a handful of friends. Ah!
when shall I see thee come? How welcome will thy advent be! (She
catches sight of MENELAUS.) Ha! who is this? Am I being snared by
some trick of Proteus' impious son? Oh! let me, like a courser at
its speed, or a votary of Bacchus, approach the tomb! for there is