The Trojan Women
by stealth with twisted cords, as if loth to stay? Pray then, wert
thou ever found fastening the noose about thy neck, or whetting the
knife, as noble wife would have done in regret for her former husband?
And yet full oft I advised thee saying, "Get thee gone, daughter,
and let my sons take other brides; I will help thee to steal away,
and convey thee to the Achaean fleet; oh end the strife 'twixt us
and Hellas!" But this was bitter in thy ears. For thou wert wantoning
in Alexander's house, fain to have obeisance done thee by barbarians.
Yes, 'twas a proud time for thee; and now after all this thou hast
bedizened thyself, and come forth and hast dared to appear under the
same sky as thy husband, revolting wretchl Better hadst thou come
in tattered raiment, cowering humbly in terror, with hair shorn short,
if for thy past sins thy feeling were one of shame rather than effrontery.
O Menelaus, hear the conclusion of my argument; crown Hellas by slaying
her as she deserves, and establish this law for all others of her
sex, e'en death to every traitress to her husband.
CHORUS Avenge thee, Menelaus, on thy wife, as is worthy of thy home
and ancestors, clear thyself from the reproach of effeminacy at the
lips of Hellas, and let thy foes see thy spirit.
MENELAUS Thy thoughts with mine do coincide, that she, without constraint,
left my palace, and sought a stranger's love, and now Cypris is introduced
for mere bluster. Away to those who shall stone thee, and by thy speedy
death requite the weary toils of the Achaeans, that thou mayst learn
not to bring shame on me!
HELEN Oh, by thy knees, I implore thee, impute not that heaven-sent
affliction to me, nor slay me; pardon, I entreat!
HECUBA Be not false to thy allies, whose death this woman caused;
on their behalf, and for my children's sake, I sue to thee.
MENELAUS Peace, reverend dame; to her I pay no heed. Lo! I bid my
servants take her hence, aboard the ship, wherein she is to sail.
HECUBA Oh never let her set foot within the same ship as thee.
MENELAUS How now? is she heavier than of yore?
HECUBA Who loveth once, must love alway.
MENELAUS Why, that depends how those we love are minded. But thy
wish shall be granted; she shall not set foot upon the same ship with
me; for thy advice is surely sound; and when she comes to Argos she
shall die a shameful death as is her due, and impress the need of
chastity on all her sex; no easy task; yet shall her fate strike their
foolish hearts with terror, e'en though they be more lost to shame
than she. (Exit MENELAUS, dragging HELEN with him.)
CHORUS So then thou hast delivered into Achaea's hand, O Zeus, thy
shrine in Ilium and thy fragrant altar, the offerings of burnt sacrifice
with smoke of myrrh to heaven uprising, and holy Pergamos, and glens
of Ida tangled with ivy's growth, where rills of melting snow pour
down their flood, a holy sunlit land that bounds the world and takes
the god's first rays! Gone are thy sacrifices! gone the dancer's cheerful
shout! gone the vigils of the gods as night closed in! Thy images
of carven gold are now no more; and Phrygia's holy festivals, twelve
times a year, at each full moon, are ended now. 'Tis this that filleth
me with anxious thought whether thou, O king, seated on the sky, thy
heavenly throne, carest at all that my city is destroyed, a prey to
the furious fiery blast. Ah! my husband, fondly loved, thou art a
wandering spectre; unwashed, unburied lies thy corpse, while o'er
the sea the ship sped by wings will carry me to Argos, land of steeds,
where stand Cyclopian walls of stone upreared to heaven. There in
the gate the children gather, hanging round their mothers' necks,
and weep their piteous lamentation, "O mother, woe is me! torn from
thy sight Achaeans bear me away from thee to their dark ship to row
me o'er the deep to sacred Salamis or to the hill' on the Isthmus,
that o'erlooks two seas, the key to the gates of Pelops." Oh may the
blazing thunderbolt, hurled in might from its holy home, smite the
barque of Menelaus full amidships as it is crossing the Aegean main,
since he is carrying me away in bitter sorrow from the shores of Ilium
to be a slave in Hellas, while the daughter of Zeus still keeps her