where the goddesses made brighter still that beauty, which evoked
the fatal verdict!
MENELAUS Why did Hera visit thee with evil regarding this verdict?
HELEN To wrest the promise of Cypris-
MENELAUS How now? Say on.
HELEN From Paris, to whom that goddess pledged me.
MENELAUS Woe for thee!
HELEN And so she brought me hither to Egypt to my sorrow.
MENELAUS Then she gave him a phantom in thy stead, as thou tellest
HELEN And then began those woes of thine, ah, mother! woe is me!
MENELAUS What meanest thou?
HELEN My mother is no more; my shameful marriage made her fix the
noose about her neck.
MENELAUS Ah me! is our daughter Hermione yet alive?
HELEN Still unwed, childless still, she mourns my fatal marriage.
MENELAUS O Paris, who didst utterly o'erthrow my home, here was thy
ruin too and theirs, those countless mail-clad Danai.
HELEN From my country, city, and from thee heaven cast me forth unhappy
and accursed, because I left,-and yet not I,-home and husband for
union of foul shame.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS If haply ye find happiness in the future, it
will suffice when to the past ye look.
MESSENGER Menelaus, grant me too a portion of that joy which, though
mine own eyes see, I scarcely comprehend.
MENELAUS Come then, old friend, and share with us our talk.
MESSENGER Was it not then in her power to decide all the trouble
MENELAUS It was not; I was tricked by the gods into taking to my
arms a misty phantom-form, to my sorrow.
MESSENGER How so? was it then for this we vainly toiled?
MENELAUS 'Twas Hera's handiwork, and the jealousy of three goddesses.
MESSENGER Is this real woman, then, thy wife?
MENELAUS This is she; trust my word for that.
MESSENGER Daughter, how changeful and inscrutable is the nature of
God! With some good end doth he vary men's fortune-now up, now down;
one suffers; another who ne'er knew suffering, is in his turn to awful
ruin brought, having no assurance in his lot from day to day. Thou
and thy husband have had your share of trouble-thou in what the world
has said, he in battle's heat. For all the striving that he strove,
he got him naught; while now, without an effort made, every blessing
fortune boasts is his. And thou, in spite of all, hast brought no
shame upon thy aged sire, or those twin sons of Zeus, nor art thou
guilty of those rumoured crimes. Now again do I recall thy wedding
rites, remembering the blazing torch I bore beside thee in a four-horsed
chariot at full gallop; while thou with this thy lord, a new-made
bride, wert driving forth from thy happy home. A sorry servant he,
whoso regardeth not his master's interest, sympathizing with his sorrows
and his joys. Slave though I was born, yet may I be numbered amongst
honest servants; for in heart, though not in name, I am free. For
this is better far than in my single person to suffer these two evils,
to feel my heart corrupt, and as the slave of others to be at my neighbour's
beck and call.
MENELAUS Come, old friend, oft hast thou stood side by side with
me and taken thy full share of toil; so now be partner in my happiness.
Go, tell my comrades, whom I left behind, the state of matters here,
as thou hast found them, and the issue of my fortunes; and bid them
wait upon the beach and abide the result of the struggle, which I
trow awaits me; and if mayhap we find a way to take this lady from
the land by stealth, tell them to keep good watch that we may share
the luck and escape, if possible, from the barbarian's clutch.
MESSENGER It shall be done, O king. Now I see how worthless are the
seers' tricks, how full of falsehood; nor is there after all aught
trustworthy in the blaze of sacrifice or in the cry of feathered fowls;