The Trojan Women
POSEIDON My powers are ready at thy will. What is thy intent?
ATHENA A returning fraught with woe will I impose on them.
POSEIDON While yet they stay on shore, or as they cross the briny
ATHENA When they have set sail from Ilium for their homes. On them
will Zeus also send his rain and fearful hail, and inky tempests from
the sky; yea, and he promises to grant me his levin-bolts to hurl
on the Achaeans and fire their ships. And do thou, for thy part, make
the Aegean strait to roar with mighty billows and whirlpools, and
fill Euboea's hollow bay with corpses, that Achaeans may learn henceforth
to reverence my temples and regard all other deities.
POSEIDON So shall it be, for the boon thou cravest needs but few
words. I will vex the broad Aegean sea; and the beach of Myconus and
the reefs round Delos, Scyros and Lemnos too, and the cliffs of Caphareus
shall be strown with many a corpse. Mount thou to Olympus, and taking
from thy father's hand his lightning bolts, keep careful watch against
the hour when Argos' host lets slip its cables. A fool is he who sacks
the towns of men, with shrines and tombs, the dead man's hallowed
home, for at the last he makes a desert round himself, and dies. Exeunt.
HECUBA (Awakening) Lift thy head, unhappy lady, from the ground;
thy neck upraise; this is Troy no more, no longer am I queen in Ilium.
Though fortune change, endure thy lot; sail with the stream, and follow
fortune's tack, steer not thy barque of life against the tide, since
chance must guide thy course. Ah me! ah me! What else but tears is
now my hapless lot, whose country, children, husband, all are lost?
Ah! the high-blown pride of ancestors! how cabined now how brought
to nothing after all What woe must I suppress, or what declare? What
plaintive dirge shall I awake? Ah, woe is me! the anguish I suffer
lying here stretched upon this pallet hard! O my head, my temples,
my side! Ah! could I but turn over, and he now on this, now on that,
to rest my back and spine, while ceaselessly my tearful wail ascends.
Fore 'en this is music to the wretched, to chant their cheerless dirge
Ye swift-prowed ships, rowed to sacred Ilium o'er the deep dark sea,
past the fair havens of Hellas, to the flute's ill-omened music and
the dulcet voice of pipes, even to the bays of Troyland (alack the
day!), wherein ye tied your hawsers, twisted handiwork from Egypt,
in quest of that hateful wife of Menelaus, who brought disgrace on
Castor, and on Eurotas foul reproach; murderess she of Priam, sire
of fifty children, the cause why I, the hapless Hecuba, have wrecked
my life upon this troublous strand. Oh that I should sit here o'er
against the tent of Agamemnon Forth from my home to slavery they hale
my aged frame, while from my head in piteous wise the hair is shorn
for grief. Ah! hapless wives of those mail-clad sons of Troy! Ah!
poor maidens, luckless brides, come weep, for Ilium is now but a ruin;
and I, like some mother-bird that o're her fledglings screams, will
begin the strain; how different from that song I sang to the gods
in days long past, as I leaned on Priam's staff, and beat with my
foot in Phrygian time to lead the dance! (Enter CHORUS OF CAPTIVE
SEMI-CHORUS O Hecuba why these cries, these piercing shrieks? What
mean thy words? For I heard thy piteous wail echo through the building,
and a pang terror shoots through each captive Trojan's breast, as
pent within these walls they mourn their slavish lot.
HECUBA My child, e'en now the hands of Argive rowers are busy at
SEMI-CHORUS Ah, woe is me! what is their intent? Will they really
bear me hence in sorrow from my country in their fleet?
HECUBA I know not, though I guess our doom.
SEMI-CHORUS O misery! woe to us Trojan dames, soon to hear the order
given, "Come forth from the house; the Argives are preparing to return."
HECUBA Oh! do not bid the wild Cassandra leave her chamber, the frantic
prophetess, for Argives to insult, nor to my griefs add yet another.
Woe to thee, ill-fated Troy, thy sun is set; and woe to thy unhappy