The Trojan Women
CHORUS Sing me, Muse, a tale of Troy, a funeral dirge in strains
unheard as yet, with tears the while; for now will I uplift for Troy
a piteous chant, telling how I met my doom and fell a wretched captive
to the Argives by reason of a four-footed beast that moved on wheels,
in the hour that Achaea's sons left at our gates that horse, loud
rumbling on its way, with its trappings of gold and its freight of
warriors; and our folk cried out as they stood upon the rocky citadel,
"Up now ye whose toil is o'er, and drag this sacred image to the shrine
of the Zeus-born maiden, goddess of our Ilium!" Forth from his house
came every youth and every grey-head too; and with songs of joy they
took the fatal snare within. Then hastened all the race of Phrygia
to the gates, to make the goddess a present of an Argive band ambushed
in the polished mountain-pine, Dardania's ruin, a welcome gift to
be to her, the virgin queen of deathless steeds; and with nooses of
cord they dragged it, as it had been a ship's dark hull, to the stone-built
fane of the goddess Pallas, and set it on that floor so soon to drink
our country's blood. But, as they laboured and made merry, came on
the pitchy night; loud the Libyan flute was sounding, and Phrygian
songs awoke, while maidens beat the ground with airy foot, uplifting
their gladsome song; and in the halls a blaze of torchlight shed its
flickering shadows on sleeping eyes. In that hour around the house
was I singing as I danced to that maiden of the hills, the child of
Zeus; when lo! there rang along the town a cry of death which filled
the homes of Troy, and little babes in terror clung about their mothers'
skirts, as forth from their ambush came the warrior-band, the handiwork
of maiden Pallas. Anon the altars ran with Phrygian blood, and desolation
reigned o'er every bed where young men lay beheaded, a glorious crown
for Hellas won, ay, for her, the nurse of youth, but for our Phrygian
fatherland a bitter grief. Look, Hecuba! dost see Andromache advancing
hither on a foreign car? and with her, clasped to her throbbing breast,
is her dear Astyanax, Hector's child. (Enter ANDROMACHE.)
HECUBA Whither art thou borne, unhappy wife, mounted on that car,
side by side with Hector's brazen arms and Phrygian spoils of war,
with which Achilles' son will deck the shrines of Phthia on his return
ANDROMACHE My Achaean masters drag me hence.
HECUBA Woe is thee!
ANDROMACHE Why dost thou in note of woe utter the dirge that is mine?
HECUBA Ah me!
ANDROMACHE For these sorrows.
HECUBA O Zeus!
ANDROMACHE And for this calamity.
HECUBA O my children!
ANDROMACHE Our day is past.
HECUBA Joy is fled, and Troy o'erthrown.
ANDROMACHE Woe is me!
HECUBA Dead too all my gallant sons!
ANDROMACHE Alack and well-a-day!
HECUBA Ah me for my-
HECUBA Piteous the fate-
ANDROMACHE Of our city,
HECUBA Smouldering in the smoke.
ANDROMACHE Come, my husband, come to me!
HECUBA Ah hapless wife! thou callest on my son who lieth in the tomb.
ANDROMACHE Thy wife's defender, come!
HECUBA Do thou, who erst didst make the Achaeans grieve, eldest of
the sons I bare to Priam in the days gone by, take me to thy rest
in Hades' halls!
ANDROMACHE Bitter are these regrets, unhappy mother, bitter these
woes to bear; our city ruined, and sorrow evermore to sorrow added,
through the will of angry heaven, since the day that son' of thine
escaped his doom, he that for a bride accursed brought destruction
on the Trojan citadel. There lie the gory corpses of the slain by