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The Trojan Women   


from this; Cypris won the day o'er them, and thus far hath my marriage
proved of benefit to Hellas, that ye are not subject to barbarian
rule, neither vanquished in the strife, nor yet by tyrants crushed.
What Hellas gained, was ruin to me, a victim for my beauty sold, and
now am I reproached for that which should have set a crown upon my
head. But thou wilt say I am silent on the real matter at issue, how
it was I started forth and left thy house by stealth. With no mean
goddess at his side he came, my evil genius, call him Alexander or
Paris, as thou wilt; and him didst thou, thrice guilty wretch, leave
behind thee in thy house, and sail away from Sparta to the land of
Crete. Enough of this! For all that followed I must question my own
heart, not thee; what frantic thought led me to follow the stranger
from thy house, traitress to my country and my home? Punish the goddess,
show thyself more mighty e'en than Zeus, who, though he lords it o'er
the other gods, is yet her slave; wherefore I may well be pardoned.
Still, from hence thou mightest draw a specious argument against me;
when Paris died, and Earth concealed his corpse, I should have left
his house and sought the Argive fleet, since my marriage was no longer
in the hands of gods. That was what I fain had done; yea, and the
warders on the towers and watchmen on the walls can bear me witness,
for oft they found me seeking to let myself down stealthily by cords
from the battlements; but there was that new husband, Deiphobus, that
carried me off by force to be his wife against the will of Troy. How
then, my lord, could I be justly put to death by thee, with any show
of right, seeing that he wedded me against my will, and those my other
natural gifts have served a bitter slavery, instead of leading on
to triumph? If 'tis thy will indeed to master gods, that very wish
displays thy folly.
CHORUS O my royal mistress, defend thy children's and thy country.'s
cause, bringing to naught her persuasive arguments, for she pleads
well in spite of all her villainy; 'tis monstrous this!
HECUBA First will I take up the cause of those goddesses, and prove
how she perverts the truth. For I can ne'er believe that Hera or the
maiden Pallas would have been guilty of such folly, as to sell, the
one, her Argos to barbarians, or that Pallas e'er would make her Athens
subject to the Phrygians, coming as they did in mere wanton sport
to Ida to contest the palm of beauty. For why should goddess Hera
set her heart so much on such a prize? Was it to win a nobler lord
than Zeus? or was Athena bent on finding 'mongst the gods a husband,
she who in her dislike of marriage won from her sire the boon of remaining
unwed? Seek not to impute folly to the goddesses, in the attempt to
gloze o'er thy own sin; never wilt thou persuade the wise. Next thou
hast said-what well may make men jeer-that Cypris came with my son
to the house of Menelaus. Could she not have stayed quietly in heaven
and brought thee and Amyclae to boot to Ilium? Nay! my son was passing
fair, and when thou sawest him thy fancy straight became thy Cypris;
for every sensual act that men commit, they lay upon this goddess,
and rightly does her name of Aphrodite begin the word for "senselessness";
so when thou didst catch sight of him in gorgeous foreign garb, ablaze
with gold, thy senses utterly forsook thee. Yea, for in Argos thou
hadst moved in simple state, but, once free of Sparta, 'twas thy fond
hope to deluge by thy lavish outlay Phrygia's town, that flowed with
gold; nor was the palace of Menelaus rich enough for thy luxury to
riot in. Ha! my son carried thee off by force, so thou savest; what
Spartan saw this? what cry for help didst thou ever raise, though
Castor was still alive, a vigorous youth, and his brother also, not
yet amid the stars? Then when thou wert come to Troy, and the Argives
were on thy track, and the mortal combat was begun, whenever tidings
came to thee of Menelaus' prowess, him wouldst thou praise, to grieve
my son, because he had so powerful a rival in his love; but if so
the Trojans prospered, Menelaus was nothing to thee. Thy eye was fixed
on Fortune, and by such practice wert thou careful to follow in her
steps, careless of virtue's cause. And then, in spite of all, thou
dost assert that thou didst try to let thyself down from the towers

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