The Trojan Women
all, thrust me there by force; for if Loxias be indeed a prophet,
Agamemnon, that famous king of the Achaeans, will find in me a bride
more fraught with woe to him than Helen. For I will slay him and lay
waste his home to avenge my father's and my bretheren's death. But
of the deed itself I will not speak; nor will I tell of that axe which
shall sever my neck and the necks of others, or of the conflict ending
in a mother's death, which my marriage shall cause, nor of the overthrow
of Atreus' house; but I, for all my frenzy, will so far rise above
my frantic fit, that I will prove this city happier far than those
Achaeans, who for the sake of one woman and one man's love of her
have lost a countless host in seeking Helen. Their captain too, whom
men call wise, hath lost for what he hated most what most he prized,
yielding to his brother for a woman's sake-and she a willing prize
whom no man forced-the joy he had of his own children in his home.
For from the day that they did land upon Scamander's strand, their
doom began, not for loss of stolen frontier nor yet for fatherland
with frowning towers; whomso Ares slew, those never saw their babes
again, nor were they shrouded for the tomb by hand of wife, but in
a foreign land they lie. At home the case was still the same; wives
were dying widows, parents were left childless in their homes, having
reared their sons for others, and none is left to make libations of
blood upon the ground before their tombs. Truly to such praise as
this their host can make an ample claim. Tis better to pass their
shame in silence by, nor be mine the Muse to tell that evil tale.
But the Trojans were dying, first for their fatherland, fairest fame
to win; whomso the sword laid low, all these found friends to bear
their bodies home and were laid to rest in the bosom of their native
land, their funeral rites all duly paid by duteous hands. And all
such Phrygians as escaped the warrior's death lived ever day by day
with wife and children by them-joys the Achaeans had left behind.
As for Hector and his griefs, prithee hear how stands the case; he
is dead and gone, but still his fame remains as bravest of the brave,
and this was a result of the Achaeans' coming; for had they remained
at home, his worth would have gone unnoticed. So too with Paris, he
married the daughter of Zeus, whereas, had he never done so, the alliance
he made in his family would have been forgotten. Whoso is wise should
fly from making war; but if he be brought to this pass, a noble death
will crown his city with glory, a coward's end with shame. Wherefore,
mother mine, thou shouldst not pity thy country or my spousal, for
this my marriage will destroy those whom thou and I most hate.
CHORUS How sweetly at thy own sad lot thou smilest, chanting a strain,
which, spite of thee, may prove thee wrong!
TALTHYBIUS Had not Apollo turned thy wits astray, thou shouldst not
for nothing have sent my chiefs with such ominous predictions forth
on their way. But, after all, these lofty minds, reputed wise, are
nothing better than those that are held as naught. For that mighty
king of all Hellas, own son of Atreus, has yielded to a passion for
this mad maiden of all others; though I am poor enough, yet would
I ne'er have chosen such a wife as this. As for thee, since thy senses
are not whole, I give thy taunts 'gainst Argos and thy praise of Troy
to the winds to carry away. Follow me now to the ships to grace the
wedding of our chief. And thou too follow, whensoe'er the son of Laertes
demands thy presence, for thou wilt serve a mistress most discreet,
as all declare who came to Ilium.
CASSANDRA A clever fellow this menial! Why is it heralds hold the
name they do? All men unite in hating with one common hate the servants
who attend on kings or governments. Thou sayest my mother shall come
to the halls of Odysseus; where then be Apollo's words, so clear to
me in their interpretation, which declare that here she shall die?
What else remains, I will not taunt her with. Little knows he, the
luckless wight, the sufferings that await him; or how these ills I
and my Phrygians endure shall one day seem to him precious as gold.
For beyond the ten long years spent at Troy he shall drag out other
ten and then come to his country all alone, by the route where fell