The Trojan Women
the shrine of Pallas for vultures to carry off; and Troy is come to
HECUBA O my country, O unhappy land, I weep for thee now left behind;
now dost thou behold thy piteous end; and thee, my house, I weep,
wherein I suffered travail. O my children! reft of her city as your
mother is, she now is losing you. Oh, what mourning and what sorrow!
oh, what endless streams of tears in our houses! The dead alone forget
their griefs and never shed a tear.
CHORUS What sweet relief to sufferers 'tis to weep, to mourn, lament,
and chant the dirge that tells of grief!
ANDROMACHE Dost thou see this, mother of that Hector, who once laid
low in battle many a son of Argos?
HECUBA I see that it is heaven's way to exalt what men accounted
naught, and ruin what they most esteemed.
ANDROMACHE Hence with my child as booty am I borne; the noble are
to slavery brought-a bitter, bitter change.
HECUBA This is necessity's grim law; it was but now Cassandra was
torn with brutal violence from my arms.
ANDROMACHE Alas, alas! it seems a second Aias hath appeared to wrong
thy daughter; but there be other ills for thee.
HECUBA Ay, beyond all count or measure are my sorrows; evil vies
with evil in the struggle to be first.
ANDROMACHE Thy daughter Polyxena is dead, slain at Achilles' tomb,
an offering to his lifeless corpse.
HECUBA O woe is me! This is that riddle Talthybius long since told
me, a truth obscurely uttered.
ANDROMACHE I saw her with mine eyes; so I alighted from the chariot,
and covered her corpse with a mantle, and smote upon my breast.
HECUBA Alas! my child, for thy unhallowed sacrifice! and yet again,
ah me! for this thy shameful death!
ANDROMACHE Her death was even as it was, and yet that death of hers
was after all a happier fate than this my life.
HECUBA Death and life are not the same, my child; the one is annihilation,
the other keeps a place for hope.
ANDROMACHE Hear, O mother of children give ear to what I urge so
well, that I may cheer my drooping spirit. 'Tis all one, I say, ne'er
to have been born and to be dead, and better far is death than life
with misery. For the dead feel no sorrow any more and know no grief;
but he who has known prosperity and has fallen on evil days feels
his spirit straying from the scene of former joys. Now that child
of thine is dead as though she ne'er had seen the light, and little
she recks of her calamity; whereas I, who aimed at a fair repute,
though I won a higher lot than most, yet missed my lick in life. For
all that stamps the wife a woman chaste, I strove to do in Hector's
home. In the first place, whether there is a slur upon a woman, or
whether there is not, the very fact of her not staying at home brings
in its train an evil name; therefore I gave up any wish to do so,
and abode ever within my house, nor would I admit the clever gossip
women love, but conscious of a heart that told an honest tale I was
content therewith. And ever would I keep a silent tongue and modest
eye before my lord; and well I knew where I might rule my lord, and
where 'twas best to yield to him; the fame whereof hath reached the
Achaean host, and proved my ruin; for when I was taken captive, Achilles'
son would have me as his wife, and I must serve in the house of murderers.
And if I set aside my love for Hector, and ope my heart to this new
lord, I shall appear a traitress to the dead, while, if I hate him,
I shall incur my master's displeasure. And yet they say a single night
removes a woman's dislike for her husband; nay, I do hate the woman
who, when she hath lost her former lord, transfers her love by marrying
another. Not e'en the horse, if from his fellow torn, will cheerfully
draw the yoke; and yet the brutes have neither speech nor sense to
help them, and are by nature man's inferiors. O Hector mine! in thee
I found a husband amply dowered with wisdom, noble birth and fortune,
a brave man and a mighty; whilst thou didst take me from my father's