The Trojan Women
TALTHYBIUS Dost mean Polyxena, or whom dost thou inquire about?
HECUBA To whom hath the lot assigned her?
TALTHYBIUS To minister at Achilles' tomb hath been appointed her.
HECUBA Woe is me! I the mother of a dead man's slave! What custom,
what ordinance is this amongst Hellenes, good sir?
TALTHYBIUS Count thy daughter happy: 'tis well with her.
HECUBA What wild words are these? say, is she still alive?
TALTHYBIUS Her fate is one that sets her free from trouble.
HECUBA And what of mail-clad Hector's wife, sad Andromache? declare
TALTHYBIUS She too was a chosen prize; Achilles' son did take her.
HECUBA As for me whose hair is white with age, who need to hold a
staff to be to me a third foot, whose servant am I to be?
TALTHYBIUS Odysseus, king of Ithaca, hath taken thee to be his slave.
HECUBA O God! Now smite the close-shorn head! tear your cheeks with
your nails. God help me! I have fallen as a slave to a treacherous
foe I hate, a monster of lawlessness, one that by his double tongue
hath turned against us all that once was friendly in his camp, changing
this for that and that for this again. Oh weep for me, ye Trojan dames!
Undone! undone and lost! ah woel a victim to a most unhappy lot!
CHORUS Thy fate, royal mistress, now thou knowest; but for me, what
Hellene or Achaean is master of my destiny?
TALTHYBIUS Ho, servants! haste and bring Cassandra forth to me here,
that I may place her our captain's hands, and then conduct to the
rest of the chiefs the captives each hath had assigned. Ha what is
the blaze of torches there within? What do these Trojan dames? Are
they firing the chambers, because they must leave this land and be
carried away to Argos? Are they setting themselves aflame in their
longing for death? Of a truth the free bear their troubles in cases
like this with a stiff neck. Ho, there! open! lest their deed, which
suits them well but finds small favour with the Achaeans, bring blame
HECUBA 'Tis not that they are setting aught ablaze, but my child
Cassandra, frenzied maid, comes rushing wildly hither. (Enter CASSANDRA
CASSANDRA Bring the light, uplift and show its flame! I am doing
the god's service, see! I making his shrine to glow with tapers bright.
O Hymen, king of marriage! blest is the bridegroom; blest am I also,
the maiden soon to wed a princely lord in Argos. Hail Hymen, king
of marriage! Since thou, my mother, art ever busied with tears and
lamentations in thy mourning for my father's death and for our country
dear, I at my own nuptials am making this torch to blaze and show
its light, in thy honour, O Hymen, king of marriage! Grant thy light
too, Hecate, at the maiden's wedding, as the custom is. Nimbly lift
the foot aloft, lead on the dance, with cries of joy, as if to greet
my father's happy fate. To dance I hold a sacred duty; come, Phoebus,
lead the way, for 'tis in thy temple mid thy bay-trees that I minister.
Hail Hymen, god of marriage! Hymen, hail! Come, mother mine, and join
the dance, link thy steps with me, and circle in the gladsome measure,
now here, now there. Salute the bride on her wedding-day with hymns
and cries of joy. Come, ye maids of Phrygia in raiment fair, sing
my marriage with the husband fate ordains that I should wed.
CHORUS Hold the frantic maiden, royal mistress mine, lest with nimble
foot she rush to the Argive army.
HECUBA Thou god of fire,'tis thine to light the bridal torch for
men, but piteous is the flame thou kindlest here, beyond my blackest
bodings. Ah, my child! how little did I ever dream that such would
be thy marriage, a captive, and of Argos tool Give up the torch to
me; thou dost not bear its blaze aright in thy wild frantic course,
nor have thy afflictions left thee in thy sober senses, but still
art thou as frantic as before. Take in those torches, Trojan friends,
and for her wedding madrigals weep your tears instead.
CASSANDRA O mother, crown my head with victor's wreaths; rejoice
in my royal match; lead me to my lord; nay, if thou find me loth at