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The Trojan Women   


golden mirrors, delight-of maidens' hearts. Never may he reach his
home in Laconia or his father's hearth and home, nor come to the town
of Pitane or the temple of the goddess' with the gates of bronze,
having taken as his captive her whose marriage brought disgrace on
Hellas through its length and breadth and woful anguish on the streams
of Simois! Ah me! ah me! new troubles on my country fall, to take
the place of those that still are fresh! Behold, ye hapless wives
of Troy, the corpse of Astyanax! whom the Danai have cruelly slain
by hurling him from the battlements. (Enter TALTHYBIUS and attendants,
bearing the corpse of ASTYANAX on HECTOR's shield.)

TALTHYBIUS Hecuba, one ship alone delays its plashing oars, and it
is soon to sail to the shores of Phthia freighted with the remnant
of the spoils of Achilles' son; for Neoptolemus is already out at
sea, having heard that new calamities have befallen Peleus, for Acastus,
son of Pelias, hath banished him the realm. Wherefore he is gone,
too quick to indulge in any delay, and with him goes Andromache, who
drew many a tear from me what time she started hence, wailing her
country and crying her farewell to Hector's tomb. And she craved her
master leave to bury this poor dead child of Hector who breathed his
last when from the turrets hurled, entreating too that he would not
carry this shield, the terror of the Achaeans-this shield with plates
of brass wherewith his father would gird himself-to the home of Peleus
or to the same bridal bower whither she, herself the mother of this
corpse, would be led, a bitter sight to her, but let her bury the
child therein instead of in a coffin of cedar or a tomb of stone,
and to thy hands commit the corpse that thou mayst deck it with robes
and garlands as best thou canst with thy present means; for she is
far away and her master's haste prevented her from burying the child
herself. So we, when thou the corpse hast decked, will heap the earth
above and set thereon a spear; but do thou with thy best speed perform
thy allotted task; one toil however have I already spared thee, for
I crossed Scamander's stream and bathed the corpse and cleansed its
wounds. But now will I go to dig a grave for him, that our united
efforts shortening our task may speed our ship towards home. (Exit
TALTHYBIUS.)

HECUBA Place the shield upon the ground, Hector's shield so deftly
rounded, a piteous sight, a bitter grief for me to see. O ye Achaeans,
more reason have ye to boast of your prowess than your wisdom I Why
have ye in terror of this child been guilty of murder never matched
before? Did ye fear that some day he would rear again the fallen walls
of Troy? it seems then ye were nothing after all, when, though Hector's
fortunes in the war were prosperous and he had ten thousand other
arms to back him, we still were daily overmatched; and yet, now that
our city is taken and every Phrygian slain, ye fear a tender babe
like this! Out upon his fear! say I, who fears, but never yet hath
reasoned out the cause. Ah! my beloved, thine is a piteous death indeed!
Hadst thou died for thy city, when thou hadst tasted of the sweets
of manhood, of marriage, and of godlike power o'er others, then wert
thou blest, if aught herein is blest. But now after one glimpse, one
dream thereof thou knowest them no more, my child, and hast no joy
of them, though heir to all. Ah, poor babe! how sadly have thy own
father's walls, those towers that Loxias reared, shorn from thy head
the locks thy mother fondled, and so oft caressed, from which through
fractured bones the face of murder grins-briefly to dismiss my shocking
theme. O hands, how sweet the likeness ye retain of his father, and
yet ye lie limp in your sockets before me! Dear mouth, so often full
of words of pride, death hath closed thee, and thou hast not kept
the promise thou didst make, when nestling in my robe, "Ah, mother
mine, many a lock of my hair will I cut off for thee, and to thy tomb
will lead my troops of friends, taking a fond farewell of thee." But
now 'tis not thy hand that buries me, but I, on whom is come old age
with loss of home and children, am burying thee, a tender child untimely
slain. Ah me! those kisses numberless, the nurture that I gave to
thee, those sleepless nights-they all are lost! What shall the bard

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