The Trojan Women
house a spotless bride, thyself the first to make this maiden wife.
But now death hath claimed thee, and I to Hellas am soon to sail,
a captive doomed to wear the yoke of slavery. Hath not then the dead
Polyxena, for whom thou wailest, less evil to bear than I? I have
not so much as hope, the last resource of every human heart, nor do
I beguile myself with dreams of future bliss, the very thought whereof
CHORUS Thou art in the self-same plight as I; thy lamentations for
thyself remind me of my own sad case.
HECUBA I never yet have set foot on a ship's deck, though I have
seen such things in pictures and know of them from hearsay. Now sailors,
if there come a storm of moderate force, are all eagerness to save
themselves by toil; one at the tiller stands, another sets himself
to work the sheets, a third meantime is baling out the ship; but if
tempestuous waves arise to overwhelm them, they yield to fortune and
commit themselves to the driving billows. Even so I, by reason of
my countless troubles, am dumb and forbear to say a word; for Heaven
with its surge of misery is too strong for me. Cease, Oh cease, my
darling child, to speak of Hector's fate; no tears of thine can save
him; honour thy present lord, offering thy sweet nature as the bait
to win him. If thou do this, thou wilt cheer thy friends as well as
thyself, and thou shalt rear my Hector's child to lend stout aid to
Ilium, that so thy children in the after-time may build her up again,
and our city yet be stablished. But lo! our talk must take a different
turn; who is this Achaean menial I see coming hither, sent to tell
us of some new design? (Enter TALTHYBIUS.)
TALTHYBIUS Oh hate me not, thou that erst wert Hector's wife, the
bravest of the Phrygians! for my tongue would fain not tell that which
the Danai and sons of Pelops both command.
ANDROMACHE What is it? Thy prelude bodeth evil news.
TALTHYBIUS 'Tis decreed thy son is-how can I tell my news?
ANDROMACHE Surely not to have a different master from me?
TALTHYBIUS None of all Achaea's chiefs shall ever lord it over him.
ANDROMACHE Is it their will to leave him here, a remnant yet of Phrygia's
TALTHYBIUS I know no words to break the sorrow lightly to thee.
ANDROMACHE I thank thee for thy consideration, unless indeed thou
hast good news to tell.
TALTHYBIUS They mean to slay thy son; there is my hateful message
ANDROMACHE O God! this is worse tidings than my forced marriage.
TALTHYBIUS So spake Odysseus to the assembled Hellenes, and his word
ANDROMACHE Oh once again ah me there is no measure in the woes I
TALTHYBIUS He said they should not rear so brave a father's son.
ANDROMACHE May such counsels yet prevail about children of his!
TALTHYBIUS From Troy's battlements he must be thrown. Let it be even
so, and thou wilt show more wisdom; cling not to him, but bear thy
sorrows with heroic heart, nor in thy weakness deem that thou art
strong. For nowhere hast thou any help; consider this thou must; thy
husband and thy city are no more, so thou art in our power, and I
alone am match enough for one weak woman; wherefore I would not see
thee bent on strife, or any course to bring thee shame or hate, nor
would I hear thee rashly curse the Achaeans. For if thou say aught
whereat the host grow wroth, this child will find no burial nor pity
either. But if thou hold thy peace and with composure take thy fate,
thou wilt not leave his corpse unburied, and thyself wilt find more
favour with the Achaeans.
ANDROMACHE My child! my own sweet babe and priceless treasure! thy
death the foe demands, and thou must leave thy wretched mother. That
which saves the lives of others, proves thy destruction, even thy
sire's nobility; to thee thy father's valiancy has proved no boon.
O the woeful wedding rites, that brought me erst to Hector's home,