The Trojan Women
children, quick and dead alike, who are leaving thee behind!
SEMI-CHORUS II With trembling step, alas! I leave this tent of Agamemnon
to learn of thee, my royal mistress, whether the Argives have resolved
to take my wretched life, whether the sailors at the prow are making
ready to ply their oars.
HECUBA My child, a fearful dread seized on my wakeful heart and sent
SEMI-CHORUS II Hath a herald from the Danai already come? To whom
am I, poor captive, given as a slave?
HECUBA Thou art not far from being allotted now.
SEMI-CHORUS II Woe worth the day! What Argive or Phthiotian chief
will bear me far from Troy, alas! unto his home, or haply to some
HECUBA Ah me! ah me! Whose slave shall I become in my old age? in
what far clime? a poor old drone, the wretched copy of a corpse, set
to keep the gate or tend their children, I who once held royal rank
CHORUS Woe, woe is thee! What piteous dirge wilt thou devise to mourn
the outrage done thee? No more through Ida's looms shall I-ply the
shuttle to and fro. I look my last and latest on my children's bodies;
henceforth shall I endure surpassing misery; it may be as the unwilling
bride of some Hellene (perish the night and fortune that brings me
to this!); it may be as a wretched slave I from Peirene's sacred fount
shall draw their store of water.
Oh be it ours to come to Theseus' famous realm, a land of joy! Never,
never let me see Eurotas' swirling tide, hateful home of Helen, there
to meet and be the slave of Menelaus, whose hand laid Troyland waste!
Yon holy land by Peneus fed, nestling in all its beauty at Olympus'
foot, is said, so have I heard, to be a very granary of wealth and
teeming fruitage; next to the sacred soil of Theseus, I could wish
to reach that land. They tell me too Hephaestus' home, beneath the
shadow of Aetna, fronting Phoenicia, the mother of Sicilian hills,
is famous for the crowns it gives to worth. Or may I find a home on
that shore which lieth very nigh Ionia's sea, a land by Crathis watered,
lovely stream, that dyes the hair an auburn tint, feeding with its
holy waves and making glad therewith the home of heroes good and true.
But mark! a herald from the host of Danai, with store of fresh proclamations,
comes hasting hither. What is his errand? what saith he? List, for
we are slaves to Dorian lords henceforth. (Enter TALTHYBIUS.)
TALTHYBIUS Hecuba, thou knowest me from my many journeys to and fro
as herald 'twixt the Achaean host and Troy; no stranger I to thee,
lady, even aforetime, I Talthybius, now sent with a fresh message.
HECUBA Ah, kind friends, 'tis come! what I so long have dreaded.
TALTHYBIUS The lot has decided your fates already, if that was what
HECUBA Ah me! What city didst thou say, Thessalian, Phthian, or Cadmean?
TALTHYBIUS Each warrior took his prize in turn; ye were not all at
HECUBA To whom hath the lot assigned us severally? Which of us Trojan
dames doth a happy fortune await?
TALTHYBIUS I know, but ask thy questions separately, not all at once.
HECUBA Then tell me, whose prize is my daughter, hapless Cassandra?
TALTHYBIUS King Agamemnon hath chosen her out for himself.
HECUBA To be the slave-girl of his Spartan wife? Ah me!
TALTHYBIUS Nay, to share with him his stealthy love.
HECUBA What! Phoebus' virgin-priestess, to whom the god with golden
locks granted the boon of maidenhood?
TALTHYBIUS The dart of love hath pierced his heart, love for the
HECUBA Daughter, cast from thee the sacred keys, and from thy body
tear the holy wreaths that drape thee in their folds.
TALTHYBIUS Why! is it not an honour high that she should win our
HECUBA What have ye done to her whom late ye took from me-my child?