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Two Tragedies of Seneca: Medea and The Daughters of Troy / Rendered into English Verse By Lucius Annaeus Seneca Characters: 110656

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02

We need give but little space to remarks upon the extent to which English dramatists borrowed directly from the Roman tragedies, for such borrowings were of far less moment in the evolution of the modern drama than the more fundamental imitation of form and structure already noted; their chief interest indeed lies outside the scope of dramatic study, and is to be found in the fact that they serve to mark English sympathy for certain phases of Roman thought.

The adornment of new tragedies by portions borrowed from Seneca calls into use most frequently the phrases which are the expression of a dark and hopeless philosophy. The fatalism referred to in preceding lines as characterizing the Elizabethan tragedies of blood had a strong hold upon the English mind from a much earlier date. One need not wonder that the thought which colored so early a poem as Beowulf, and which came to the surface in the conscious philosophy of a later time to re?nter literature in the works of Alexander Pope, should have attracted the attention of Englishmen of the sixteenth century when they found it in a writer of such literary prestige and philosophic renown as Seneca.

A careful reader of Seneca will recognize the borrowings of English dramatists the more readily as such borrowings follow closely not only the thought but the language of the original.

Mr. John W. Cunliffe, in his monograph on "The Influence of Seneca on English Tragedy," has given a careful and detailed comparison with their originals of Senecan passages in "The Misfortunes of Arthur." In a less detailed way he indicates the borrowings of other English authors; on pages 25, 26 of his book we find:-

"Seneca had written in the 'Agamemnon,'

'Per scelera semper sceleribus tutum est iter.'

This is translated by Studley:-

'The safest path to mischiefe is by mischiefe open still.'

Thomas Hughes has it, in 'The Misfortunes of Arthur,' I. 4:-

'The safest passage is from bad to worse.'

Marston, in 'The Malcontent,' V. 2:-

'Black deed only through black deed safely flies.'

Shakespeare, in 'Macbeth,' III. 2:-

'Things bad begun make strong themselves by ill.'

Jonson, in 'Catiline,' I. 2:-

'The ills that I have done cannot be safe

But by attempting greater.'

Webster, in 'The White Devil,' II. 1:-

'Small mischiefs are by greater made secure.'

Lastly, in Massinger's 'Duke of Milan,' II. 1, Francisca says:-

'All my plots

Turn back upon myself, but I am in,

And must go on; and since I have put off

From the shore of innocence, guilt be now my pilot!

Revenge first wrought me; murder's his twin brother:

One deadly sin then help me cure another.'"

On page 78 he quotes the following also from "Richard Third," IV. 2:-

"Uncertain way of gain! But I am in

So far in blood that sin will pluck on sin."

The student will surmise that phrases of Seneca can be traced through much of English tragedy, and that a careful reader is likely to have little difficulty in bringing together passages inspired by the Roman tragedies.

A full comparative study of the structural form of the Senecan and of the early English regular drama will be found in Rudolf Fischer's "Kunstentwicklung der Englische Trag?die." Symonds in his "Shakespeare's Predecessors," and Klein in his "Geschichte des Dramas," also touch on the debt of the modern drama to the Roman tragedies.

In the translations that follow, I have endeavored without doing violence to English idioms to give a strictly literal translation of the Latin originals, using as my text the edition of F. Leo. I wish to express my indebtedness to Prof. Albert S. Cook, and to Drs. Elisabeth Woodbridge and M. Anstice Harris, for criticism of the translation, not only with reference to its fidelity to the original, but also with regard to its English dress.








Chorus of Corinthian Women.




Scene I

Medea [alone]. Ye gods of marriage;

Lucina, guardian of the genial bed;

Pallas, who taught the tamer of the seas

To steer the Argo; stormy ocean's lord;

Titan, dividing bright day to the world; 5

And thou three-formed Hecate, who dost shed

Thy conscious splendor on the hidden rites!

Ye by whom Jason plighted me his troth;

And ye Medea rather should invoke:

Chaos of night eternal; realm opposed 10

To the celestial powers; abandoned souls;

Queen of the dusky realm; Persephone

By better faith betrayed; you I invoke,

But with no happy voice. Approach, approach,

Avenging goddesses with snaky hair, 15

Holding in blood-stained hands your sulphurous torch!

Come now as horrible as when of yore

Ye stood beside my marriage-bed; bring death

To the new bride, and to the royal seed,

And Creon; worse for Jason I would ask- 20

Life! Let him roam in fear through unknown lands,

An exile, hated, poor, without a home;

A guest now too well known, let him, in vain,

Seek alien doors, and long for me, his wife!

And, yet a last revenge, let him beget 25

Sons like their father, daughters like their mother!

'Tis done; revenge is even now brought forth-

I have borne sons to Jason. I complain

Vainly, and cry aloud with useless words,

Why do I not attack mine enemies? 30

I will strike down the torches from their hands,

The light from heaven. Does the sun see this,

The author of our race, and still give light?

And, sitting in his chariot, does he still

Run through the accustomed spaces of the sky, 35

Nor turn again to seek his rising place,

And measure back the day? Give me the reins;

Father, let me in thy paternal car

Be borne aloft the winds, and let me curb

With glowing bridle those thy fiery steeds! 40

Burn Corinth; let the parted seas be joined!

This still remains-for me to carry up

The marriage torches to the bridal room,

And, after sacrificial prayers, to slay

The victims on their altars. Seek, my soul- 45

If thou still livest, or if aught endures

Of ancient vigor-seek to find revenge

Through thine own bowels; throw off woman's fears,

Intrench thyself in snowy Caucasus.

All impious deeds Phasis or Pontus saw, 50

Corinth shall see. Evils unknown and wild,

Hideous, frightful both to earth and heaven,

Disturb my soul,-wounds, and the scattered corpse,

And murder. I remember gentle deeds,

A maid did these; let heavier anguish come, 55

Since sterner crimes befit me now, a wife!

Gird thee with wrath, prepare thine utmost rage,

That fame of thy divorce may spread as far

As of thy marriage! Make no long delay.

How dost thou leave thy husband? As thou cam'st. 60

Homes crime built up, by crime must be dissolved.

Scene II

Enter Chorus of Corinthian women, singing the marriage song of Jason and Creusa.

Chorus. Be present at the royal marriage feast,

Ye gods who sway the scepter of the deep,

And ye who hold dominion in the heavens;

With the glad people come, ye smiling gods! 65

First to the scepter-bearing thunderers

The white-backed bull shall stoop his lofty head;

The snowy heifer, knowing not the yoke,

Is due to fair Lucina; and to her

Who stays the bloody hand of Mars, and gives 70

To warring nations peace, who in her horn

Holds plenty, sacrifice a victim wild.

Thou who at lawful bridals dost preside,

Scattering darkness with thy happy hands,

Come hither with slow step, dizzy with wine, 75

Binding thy temples with a rosy crown.

Thou star that bringest in the day and night,

Slow-rising on the lover, ardently

For thy clear shining maids and matrons long.

In comeliness the virgin bride excels 80

The Athenian women, and the strong-limbed maids

Of Sparta's unwalled town, who on the top

Of high Ta?getus try youthful sports;

Or those who in the clear Aonian stream,

Or in Alpheus' sacred waters bathe. 85

The child of the wild thunder, he who tames

And fits the yoke to tigers, is less fair

Than the Ausonian prince. The glorious god

Who moves the tripod, Dian's brother mild;

The skillful boxer Pollux; Castor, too, 90

Must yield the palm to Jason. O ye gods

Who dwell in heaven, ever may the bride

Surpass all women, he excel all men!

Before her beauty in the women's choir

The beauty of the other maids grows dim; 95

So with the sunrise pales the light of stars,

So when the moon with brightness not her own

Fills out her crescent horns, the Pleiads fade.

Her cheeks blush like white cloth 'neath Tyrian dyes,

Or as the shepherd sees the light of stars 100

Grow rosy with the dawn. O happy one,

Accustomed once to clasp unwillingly

A wife unloved and reckless, snatched away

From that dread Colchian marriage, take thy bride,

The ?olian virgin-'tis her father's will. 105

Bright offspring of the thyrsus-bearing god,

The time has come to light the torch of pine;

With fingers dripping wine put out the fires,

Sound the gay music of the marriage song,

Let the crowd pass their jests; 'tis only she 110

Who flies her home to wed a stranger guest,

Need steal away into the silent dark.


Scene I

Medea, Nurse.

Medea. Alas, the wedding chorus strikes my ears;

Now let me die! I could not hitherto

Believe-can hardly yet believe such wrong. 115

And this is Jason's deed? Of father, home,

And kingdom reft, can he desert me now,

Alone and in a foreign land? Can he

Despise my worth who saw the flames and seas

By my art conquered? thinks, perchance, all crime 120

Exhausted! Tossed by every wave of doubt,

I am distracted, seeking some revenge.

Had he a brother's love-he has a bride;

Through her be thrust the steel! Is this enough?

If Grecian or barbarian cities know 125

Crime that this hand knows not, that crime be done!

Thy sins return to mind exhorting thee:

The far-famed treasure of a kingdom lost;

Thy little comrade, wicked maid, destroyed,

Torn limb from limb and scattered on the sea 130

An offering to his father; Pelias old

Killed in the boiling cauldron. I have shed

Blood often basely, but alas! alas!

'Twas not in wrath, unhappy love did all!

Had Jason any choice, by foreign law 135

And foreign power constrained? He could have bared

His breast to feel the sword. O bitter grief,

Speak milder, milder words. Let Jason live;

Mine as he was, if this be possible,

But, if not mine, still let him live secure, 140

To spare me still the memory of my gift!

The fault is Creon's; he abuses power

To annul our marriage, sever strongest ties,

And tear the children from their mother's breast;

Let Creon pay the penalty he owes. 145

I'll heap his home in ashes, the dark flame

Shall reach Malea's dreaded cape, where ships

Find passage only after long delay.

Nurse. Be silent, I implore thee, hide thy pain

Deep in thy bosom. He who quietly 150

Bears grievous wounds, with patience, and a mind

Unshaken, may find healing. Hidden wrath

Finds strength, when open hatred loses hope

Of vengeance.

Medea. Light is grief that hides itself,

And can take counsel. Great wrongs lie not hid. 155

I am resolved on action.

Nurse. Foster-child,

Restrain thy fury; hardly art thou safe

Though silent.

Medea. Fortune tramples on the meek,

But fears the brave.

Nurse. This is no place to show

That thou hast courage. 160

Medea. It can never be

That courage should be out of place.

Nurse. To thee,

In thy misfortune, hope points out no way.

Medea. The man who cannot hope despairs of naught.

Nurse. Colchis is far away, thy husband lost;

Of all thy riches nothing now remains. 165

Medea. Medea now remains! Here's land and sea,

Fire and sword, god and the thunderbolt.

Nurse. The king is to be feared.

Medea. I claim a king

For father.

Nurse. Hast thou then no fear of arms?

Medea. I, who saw warriors spring from earth? 170

Nurse. Thou'lt die!

Medea. I wish it.

Nurse. Flee!

Medea. Nay, I repent of flight.

Nurse. Thou art a mother.

Medea. And thou seest by whom.

Nurse. Wilt thou not fly?

Medea. I fly, but first revenge.

Nurse. Vengeance may follow thee.

Medea. I may, perchance,

Find means to hinder it. 175

Nurse. Restrain thyself

And cease to threaten madly; it is well

That thou adjust thyself to fortune's change.

Medea. My riches, not my spirit, fortune takes.

The hinge creaks,-who is this? Creon himself,

Swelling with Grecian pride. 180

Scene II

Creon with Attendants, Medea.

Creon. What, is Medea of the hated race

Of Colchian ??tes, not yet gone?

Still she is plotting evil; well I know

Her guile, and well I know her cruel hand.

Whom does she spare, or whom let rest secure? 185

Verily I had thought to cut her off

With the swift sword, but Jason's prayers availed

To spare her life. She may go forth unharmed

If she will set our city free from fear.

Threatening and fierce, she seeks to speak with us; 190

Attendants, keep her off, bid her be still,

And let her learn at last, a king's commands

Must be obeyed. Go, haste, and take her hence.

Medea. What fault is punished by my banishment?

Creon. A woman, innocent, may ask, 'What fault?' 195

Medea. If thou wilt judge, examine.

Creon. Kings command.

Just or unjust, a king must be obeyed.

Medea. An unjust kingdom never long endures.

Creon. Go hence! Seek Colchis!

Medea. Willingly I go;

Let him who brought me hither take me hence. 200

Creon. Thy words come late, my edict has gone forth.

Medea. The man who judges, one side still unheard,

Were hardly a just judge, though he judge justly.

Creon. Pelias for listening to thee died, but speak,

I may find time to hear so good a plea. 205

Medea. How hard it is to calm a wrathful soul,

How he who takes the scepter in proud hands

Deems his own will sufficient, I have learned;

Have learned it in my father's royal house.

For though the sport of fortune, suppliant, 210

Banished, alone, forsaken, on all sides

Distressed, my father was a noble king.

I am descended from the glorious sun.

What lands the Phasis in its winding course

Bathes, or the Euxine touches where the sea 215

Is freshened by the water from the swamps,

Or where armed maiden cohorts try their skill

Beside Thermodon, all these lands are held

Within my father's kingdom, where I dwelt

Noble and happy and with princely power. 220

He whom kings seek, sought then to wed with me.

Swift, fickle fortune cast me headlong forth,

And gave me exile. Put thy trust in thrones-

Such trust as thou mayst put in what light chance

Flings here and there at will! Kings have one power, 225

A matchless honor time can never take:

To help the wretched, and to him who asks

To give a safe retreat. This I have brought

From Colchis, this at least I still can claim:

I saved the flower of Grecian chivalry, 230

Achaian chiefs, the offspring of the gods;

It is to me they owe their Orpheus

Whose singing melted rocks and drew the trees;

Castor and Pollux are my twofold gift;

Boreas' sons, and Lynceus whose sharp eye 235

Could pierce beyond the Euxine, are my gift,

And all the Argonauts. Of one alone,

The chief of chiefs, I do not speak; for him

Thou owest me naught; those have I saved for thee,

This one is mine. Rehearse, now, all my crime; 240

Accuse me; I confess; this is my fault-

I saved the Argo! Had I heard the voice

Of maiden modesty or filial love,

Greece and her leaders had regretted it,

And he, thy son-in-law, had fallen first 245

A victim to the fire-belching bull.

Let fortune trample on me as she will,

My hand has succored princes, I am glad!

Assign the recompense for these my deeds,

Condemn me if thou wilt, but tell the fault. 250

Creon, I own my guilt-guilt known to thee

When first, a suppliant, I touched thy knees,

And asked with outstretched hands protecting aid.

Again I ask a refuge, some poor spot

For misery to hide in; grant a place 255

Withdrawn, a safe asylum in thy realm,

If I must leave the city.

Creon. I am no prince who rules with cruel sway,

Or tramples on the wretched with proud foot.

Have I not shown this true by choosing him 260

To be my son-in-law who is a man

Exiled, without resource, in fear of foes?

One whom Acastus, king of Thessaly,

Seeks to destroy, that so he may avenge

A father weak with age, bowed down with years, 265

Whose limbs were torn asunder? That foul crime

His wicked sisters impiously dared

Tempted by thee; if thou wouldst say the deed

Was Jason's, he can prove his innocence;

No guiltless blood has stained him, and his hands 270

Touched not the sword, are yet unstained by thee.

Foul instigator of all evil deeds,

With woman's wantonness in daring aught,

And man's courageous heart-and void of shame,

Go, purge our kingdom; take thy deadly herbs, 275

Free us from fear; dwelling in other lands

Afar, invoke the gods.

Medea. Thou bidst me go?

Give back the ship and comrade of my flight.

Why bid me go alone? Not so I came.

If thou fear war, both should go forth, nor choice 280

Be made between two equally at fault:

That old man fell for Jason's sake; impute

To Jason flight, rapine, a brother slain,

And a deserted father; not all mine

The crimes to which a husband tempted me; 285

'Tis true I sinned, but never for myself.

Creon. Thou shouldst begone, why waste the time with words?

Medea. I go, but going make one last request:

Let not a mother's guilt drag down her sons.

Creon. Go, as a father I will succor them, 290

And with a father's care.

Medea. By future hopes,

By the king's happy marriage, by the strength

Of thrones, which fickle fortune sometimes shakes,

I pray thee grant the exile some delay

That she, perchance about to die, may press 295

A last kiss on her children's lips.

Creon. Thou seekst

Time to commit new crime.

Medea. In so brief time

What crime were possible?

Creon. No time too short

For him who would do ill.

Medea. Dost thou deny

To misery short space for tears? 300

Creon. Deep dread

Warns me against thy prayer; yet I will grant

One day in which thou mayst prepare for flight.

Medea. Too great the favor! Of the time allowed,

Something withdraw. I would depart in haste.

Creon. Before the coming day is ushered in 305

By Ph?bus, leave the city or thou diest.

The bridal calls me, and I go to pay

My vows to Hymen.

Scene III

Chorus. He rashly ventured who was first to make

In his frail boat a pathway through the deep; 310

Who saw his native land behind him fade

In distance blue; who to the raging winds

Trusted his life, his slender keel between

The paths of life and death. Our fathers dwelt

In an unspotted age, and on the shore 315

Where each was born he lived in quietness,

Grew old upon his father's farm content;

With little rich, he knew no other wealth

Than his own land afforded. None knew yet

The changing constellations, nor could use 320

As guides the stars that paint the ether; none

Had learned to shun the rainy Hyades,

The Goat, or Northern Wain, that follows slow

By old Bo?tes driven; none had yet

To Boreas or Zephyr given names. 325

Rash Tiphys was the first to tempt the deep

With spreading canvas; for the winds to write

New laws; to furl the sail; or spread it wide

When sailors longed to fly before the gale,

And the red topsail fluttered in the breeze. 330

The world so wisely severed by the seas

The pine of Thessaly united, bade

The distant waters bring us unknown fears.

The cursed leader paid hard penalty

When the two cliffs, the gateway of the sea, 335

Moved as though smitten by the thunderbolt,

And the imprisoned waters smote the stars.

Bold Tiphys paled, and from his trembling hand

Let fall the rudder; Orpheus' music died,

His lyre untouched; the Argo lost her voice. 340

When, belted by her girdle of wild dogs,

The maid of the Sicilian straits gives voice

From all her mouths, who fears not at her bark?

Who does not tremble at the witching song

With which the Sirens calm the Ausonian sea? 345

The Thracian Orpheus' lyre had almost forced

Those hinderers of ships to follow him!

What was the journey's prize? The golden fleece,

Medea, fiercer than the raging sea,-

Worthy reward for those first mariners! 350

The sea forgets its former wrath; submits

To the new laws; and not alone the ship

Minerva builded, manned by sons of kings,

Finds rowers; other ships may sail the deep.

Old metes are moved, new city walls spring up 355

On distant soil, and nothing now remains

As it has been. The cold Araxes' stream

The Indian drinks; the Persian quaffs the Rhine;

And the times come with the slow-rolling years

When ocean shall strike off the chains from earth, 360

And a great world be opened. Tiphys then,

Another Tiphys, shall win other lands,

And Thule cease to be earth's utmost bound.


Scene I

Medea, Nurse.

Nurse. Stay, foster-child, why fly so swiftly hence?

Restrain thy wrath! curb thy impetuous haste! 365

As a Bacchante, frantic with the god

And filled with rage divine, uncertain walks

The top of snowy Pindus or the peak

Of Nyssa, so Medea wildly goes

Hither and thither; on her cheek the stain 370

Of bitter tears, her visage flushed, her breast

Shaken by sobs. She cries aloud, her eyes

Are drowned in scalding tears; again she laughs;

All passions surge within her soul; she stays

Her steps, she threatens, makes complaint, weeps, groans. 375

Where will she fling the burden of her soul?

Where wreak her vengeance? where will break this wave

Of fury? Passion overflows! she plans

No easy crime, no ordinary deed.

She conquers self; I recognize old signs 380

Of raging; something terrible she plans,

Some deed inhuman, devilish, and wild.

Ye gods, avert the horrors I foresee!

Medea. Dost thou seek how to show thy hate, poor wretch?

Imitate love! And must I then endure 385

Without revenge the royal marriage-torch?

Shall this day prove unfruitful, sought and gained

Only by earnest effort? While the earth

Hangs free within the heavens; while the vault

Of heaven sweeps round the earth with changeless change; 390

While the sands lie unnumbered; while the day

Follows the sun, the night brings up the stars;

Arcturus never wet in ocean's wave

Rolls round the pole; while rivers seaward flow,

My hate shall never cease to seek revenge. 395

Did ever fierceness of a ravening beast;

Or Scylla or Charybdis sucking down

The waters of the wild Ausonian

And the Sicilian seas; or ?tna fierce,

That holds imprisoned great Enceladus 400

Breathing forth flame, so glow as I with threats?

Not the swift rivers, nor the force of flame

By storm-wind fanned, can imitate my wrath.

I will o'erthrow and bring to naught the world!

Does Jason fear the king? Thessalian war? 405

True love fears nothing. He was forced to yield,

Unwillingly he gave his hand. But still

He might have sought his wife for one farewell.

This too he feared to do. He might have gained

From Creon some delay of banishment. 410

One day is granted for my two sons' sake!

I do not make complaint of too short time,

It is enough for much; this day shall see

What none shall ever hide. I will attack

The very gods, and shake the universe! 415

Nurse. Lady, thy spirit so disturbed by ills

Restrain, and let thy storm-tossed soul find rest.

Medea. Rest I can never find until I see

All dragged with me to ruin; all shall fall

When I do;-so to share one's woe is joy. 420

Nurse. Think what thou hast to fear if thou persist;

No one can safely fight with princely power.

Scene II

The Nurse withdraws; enter Jason.

Jason. The lot is ever hard; bitter is fate,

Equally bitter if it slay or spare;

God gives us remedies worse than our ills. 425

Would I keep faith with her I deem my wife

I must expect to die; would I shun death

I must forswear myself. Not fear of death

Has conquered honor, love has cast out fear

In that the father's death involves the sons. 430

O holy Justice, if thou dwell in heaven,

I call on thee to witness that the sons

Vanquish their father! Say the mother's love

Is fierce and spurns the yoke, she still will deem

Her children of more worth than marriage joys. 435

My mind is fixed, I go to her with prayers.

She starts at sight of me, her look grows wild,

Hatred she shows and grief.

Medea. Jason, I flee!

I flee, it is not new to change my home,

The cause of banishment alone is new; 440

I have been exiled hitherto for thee.

I go, as thou compellst me, from thy home,

But whither shall I go? Shall I, perhaps,

Seek Phasis, Colchis, and my father's realm

Whose soil is watered by a brother's blood? 445

What land dost thou command me seek? what sea?

The Euxine's jaws through which I led that band

Of noble princes when I followed thee,

Adulterer, through the Symplegades?

Little Iolchos? Tempe? Thessaly? 450

Whatever way I opened up for thee

I closed against myself. Where shall I go?

Thou drivest into exile, but hast given

No place of banishment. I will go hence.

The king, Creusa's father, bids me go, 455

And I will do his bidding. Heap on me

Most dreadful punishment, it is my due.

With cruel penalties let royal wrath

Pursue thy mistress, load my hands with chains,

And in a dungeon of eternal night 460

Imprison me-'tis less than I deserve!

Ungrateful one, recall the fiery bull;

The earth-born soldiers, who at my command

Slew one another; and the golden fleece

Of Phrixus' ram, whose watchful guardian, 465

The sleepless dragon, at my bidding slept;

The brother slain; the many, many crimes

In one crime gathered. Think how, led by me,

By me deceived, that old man's daughters dared

To slay their aged father, dead for aye! 470

By thy hearth's safety, by thy children's weal,

By the slain dragon, by these blood-stained hands

I never spared from doing aught for thee,

By thy past fears, and by the sea and sky

Witnesses of our marriage, pity me! 475

O happy one, give me some recompense!

Of all the ravished gold the Scythians brought

From far, as far as India's burning plains,

Wealth our wide palace hardly could contain,

So that we hung our groves with gold, I took 480

Nothing. My brother only bore I thence,

And him for thee I sacrificed. I left

My country, father, brother, maiden shame:

This was my marriage portion; give her own

To her who goes an exile. 485

Jason. When angry Creon thought to have thee slain,

Urged by my prayers, he gave thee banishment.

Medea. I looked for a reward; the gift I see

Is exile.

Jason. While thou mayst fly, fly in haste!

The wrath of kings is ever hard to bear. 490

Medea. Thou giv'st me such advice because thou lov'st

Creusa, wouldst divorce a hated wife!

Jason. And does Medea taunt me with my loves?

Medea. More-treacheries and murders.

Jason. Canst thou charge

Such sins to me? 495

Medea. All I have ever done.

Jason. It only needs that I should share the guilt

Of these thy crimes!

Medea. Thine are they, thine alone;

He is the criminal who reaps the fruit.

Though all should brand thy wife with infamy,

Thou shouldst defend and call her innocent: 500

She who has sinned for thee, toward thee is pure.

Jason. To me my life is an unwelcome gift

Of which I am ashamed.

Medea. Who is ashamed

To owe his life to me can lay it down.

Jason. For thy sons' sake control thy fiery heart. 505

Medea. I will have none of them, I cast them off,

Abjure them; shall Creusa to my sons

Give brothers?

Jason. To an exile's wretched sons

A mighty queen will give them.

Medea. Never come

That evil day that mingles a great race 510

With race unworthy,-Ph?bus' glorious sons

With sons of Sisyphus.

Jason. What, cruel one,

Wouldst thou drag both to banishment? Away!

Medea. Creon has heard my prayer.

Jason. What can I do?

Medea. For me? Some crime perhaps. 515

Jason. A prince's wrath

Is here and there.

Medea. Medea's wrath more fierce!

Let us essay our power, the victor's prize

Be Jason.

Jason. Passion-weary, I depart;

Fear thou to trust a fate too often tried.

Medea. Fortune has ever served me faithfully. 520

Jason. Acastus comes.

Medea. Creon's a nearer foe,

But both shall fall. Medea does not ask

That thou shouldst arm thyself against the king,

Or soil thy hands with murder of thy kin;

Fly with me innocent. 525

Jason. Who will oppose

If double war ensue, and the two kings

Join forces?

Medea. Add to them the Colchian troops

And King ??tes, Scythian hosts and Greeks,

Medea conquers them!

Jason. I greatly fear

A scepter's power. 530

Medea. Do not covet it.

Jason. We must cut short our converse, lest it breed


Medea. Now from high Olympus send

Thy thunder, Jupiter; stretch forth thy hand,

Prepare thy lightning, from the riven clouds

Make the world tremble, nor with careful hand 535

Spare him or me; whichever of us dies

Dies guilty; thy avenging thunderbolt

Cannot mistake the victim.

Jason. Try to speak

More sanely; calm thyself. If aught can aid

Thy flight from Creon's house, thou needst but ask. 540

Medea. My soul is strong enough, and wont to scorn

The wealth of kings; this boon alone I crave,

To take my children with me when I go;

Into their bosoms I would shed my tears,

New sons are thine. 545

Jason. Would I might grant thy prayer;

Paternal love forbids me, Creon's self

Could not compel me to it. They alone

Lighten the sorrow of a grief-parched soul.

For them I live, I sooner would resign

Breath, members, light. 550

Medea [aside]. 'Tis well! He loves his sons,

This, then, the place where he may feel a wound!

[To Jason.] Before I go, thou wilt, at least, permit

That I should give my sons a last farewell,

A last embrace? But one thing more I ask:

If in my grief I've poured forth threatening words, 555

Retain them not in mind; let memory hold

Only my softer speech, my words of wrath


Jason. I have erased them all

From my remembrance. I would counsel thee

Be calm, act gently; calmness quiets pain. 560

[Exit Jason.

Scene III

Medea, Nurse.

Medea. He's gone! And can it be he leaves me so,

Forgetting me and all my guilt? Forgot?

Nay, never shall Medea be forgot!

Up! Act! Call all thy power to aid thee now;

This fruit of crime is thine, to shun no crime! 565

Deceit is useless, so they fear my guile.

Strike where they do not dream thou canst be feared.

Medea, haste, be bold to undertake

The possible-yea, that which is not so!

Thou, faithful nurse, companion of my griefs 570

And varying fortunes, aid my wretched plans.

I have a robe, gift of the heavenly powers,

An ornament of a king's palace, given

By Ph?bus to my father as a pledge

Of sonship; and a necklace of wrought gold; 575

And a bright diadem, inlaid with gems,

With which they used to bind my hair. These gifts,

Endued with poison by my magic arts,

My sons shall carry for me to the bride.

Pay vows to Hecate, bring the sacrifice, 580

Set up the altars. Let the mounting flame

Envelop all the house.

Scene IV

Chorus. Fear not the power of flame, nor swelling gale,

Nor hurtling dart, nor cloudy wain that brings

The winter storms; fear not when Danube sweeps 585

Unchecked between its widely severed shores,

Nor when the Rhone hastes seaward, and the sun

Has broken up the snow upon the hills,

And Hermes flows in rivers.

A wife deserted, loving while she hates, 590

Fear greatly; blindly burns her anger's flame,

For kings she cares not, will not bear the curb.

Ye gods, we ask your grace divine for him

Who safely crossed the seas; the ocean's lord

Is angry for his conquered kingdom's sake; 595

Spare Jason, we entreat!

Th' impetuous youth who dared to drive the car

Of Ph?bus, keeping not the wonted course,

Died in the furious fires himself had lit.

Few are the evils of the well-known way; 600

Seek the old paths your fathers safely trod,

The sacred federations of the world

Keep still inviolate.

The men who dipped the oars of that brave ship;

Who plundered of their shade the sacred groves 605

Of Pelion; passed between the unstable cliffs;

Endured so many hardships on the deep;

And cast their anchor on a savage coast,

Passing again with ravished foreign gold,

Atoned with fearful death upon the sea 610

For violated law.

The angry deep demanded punishment:

Tiphys to an unskillful pilot left

The rudder. On a foreign coast he fell,

Far from his father's kingdom, and he lies 615

With nameless shades, under a lowly tomb.

Becalmed in her still harbor Aulis held

The impatient ships, remembering in wrath

The king that she lost thence.

The fair Camena's son, who touched his lyre 620

So sweetly that the floods stood still, the winds

Were silent, and the birds forgot to sing,

And forests followed him, on Thracian fields

Lies dead, his head borne down by Hebrus' stream.

He touched again the Styx and Tartarus, 625

But not again returns.

Alcides overthrew the north wind's sons;

He slew that son of Neptune who could take

Unnumbered forms; but after he had made

Peace between land and sea, and opened wide 630

The realm of Dis, lying on ?ta's top

He gave his body to the cruel fire,

Destroyed by his wife's gift-the fatal robe

Poisoned with Centaur's blood.

Ank?us fell a victim to the boar 635

Of Caledonia; Meleager slew

His mother's brother, stained his hands with blood

Of his own mother. They have merited

Their lot, but what the crime that he atoned

By death whom Hercules long sought in vain- 640

The tender Hylas drawn beneath safe waves?

Go now, brave soldiers, boldly plow the main,

But fear the gentle streams.

Idmon the serpents buried in the sands

Of Libya, though he knew the future well. 645

Mopsus, to others true, false to himself,

Fell far from Thebes; and he who tried to burn

The crafty Greeks fell headlong to the deep:

Such death was meet for crime.

Oileus, smitten by the thunderbolt, 650

Died on the ocean; and Pher?us' wife

Fell for her husband, so averting fate;

He who commanded that the golden spoil

Be carried to the ships had traveled far,

But, plunged in seething cauldron, Pelias died 655

In narrow limits. 'Tis enough, ye gods;

Ye have avenged the sea!


Scene I

Nurse. I shrink with horror! Ruin threatens us!

How terribly her wrath inflames itself!

Her former force awakes, thus I have seen 660

Medea raging and attacking god,

Compelling heaven. Greater crime than then

She now prepares, for as with frantic step

She sought the sanctuary of her crimes,

She poured forth all her threats; and what before 665

She feared she now brings forth; lets loose a host

Of poisonous evils, arts mysterious;

With sad left hand outstretched invokes all ills

That Libyan sands with their fierce heat create,

Or frost-bound Taurus with perpetual snow 670

Encompasses. Drawn by her magic spell

The serpent drags his heavy length along,

Darts his forked tongue, and seeks his destined prey.

Hearing her incantation, he draws back

And knots his swelling body coiling it.- 675

'They are but feeble poisons earth brings forth,

And harmless darts,' she says, 'heaven's ills I seek.

Now is the time for deeper sorcery.

The dragon like a torrent shall descend,

Whose mighty folds the Great and Lesser Bear 680

Know well; Ophiuchus shall loose his grasp

And poison flow. Be present at my call,

Python, who dared to fight twin deities.

The Hydra slain by Hercules shall come

Healed of his wound. Thou watchful Colchian one, 685

Be present with the rest-thou, who first slept

Lulled by my incantations.' When the brood

Of serpents has been called she blends the juice

Of poisonous herbs; all Eryx' pathless heights

Bear, or the open top of Caucasus 690

Wet with Prometheus' blood, where winter reigns;

All that the rich Arabians use to tip

Their poisoned shafts, or the light Parthians,

Or warlike Medes; all the brave Suabians cull

In the Hyrcanian forests in the north; 695

All poisons that the earth brings forth in spring

When birds are nesting; or when winter cold

Has torn away the beauty of the groves

And bound the world in icy manacles.

Whatever herb gives flower the cause of death, 700

Or juice of twisted root, her hands have culled.

These on Thessalian Athos grew, and those

On mighty Pindus; on Pang?us' height

She cut the tender herbs with bloody scythe.

These Tigris nurtured with its current deep, 705

The Danube those; Hydaspes rich in gems

Flowing with current warm through levels dry,

B?tis that gives its name to neighboring lands

And meets the western ocean languidly,

Have nurtured these. Those have been cut at dawn; 710

These other herbs at dead of night were reaped;

And these were gathered with the enchanted hook.

Death-dealing plants she chooses, wrings the blood

Of serpents, and she takes ill-omened birds,

The sad owl's heart, the quivering entrails cut 715

From the horned owl living;-sorts all these.

In some the eager force of flame is found,

In some the bitter cold of sluggish ice;

To these she adds the venom of her words

As greatly to be feared. She stamps her feet; 720

She sings, and the world trembles at her song.

Scene II

Medea, before the altar of Hecate.

Medea. Here I invoke you, silent company,

Infernal gods, blind Chaos, sunless home

Of shadowy Dis, and squalid caves of Death

Bound by the banks of Tartarus. Lost souls, 725

For this new bridal leave your wonted toil.

Stand still, thou whirling wheel, Ixion touch

Again firm ground; come, Tantalus, and drink

Unchecked the wave of the Pirenian fount.

Let heavier punishment on Creon wait:- 730

Thou stone of Sisyphus, worn smooth, roll back;

And ye Dana?des who strive in vain

To fill your leaking jars, I need your aid.

Come at my invocation, star of night,

Endued with form most horrible, nor threat 735

With single face, thou three-formed deity!

To thee, according to my country's use,

With hair unfilleted and naked feet

I've trod the sacred groves; called forth the rain

From cloudless skies; have driven back the sea; 740

And forced the ocean to withdraw its waves.

Earth sees heaven's laws confused, the sun and stars

Shining together, and the two Bears wet

In the forbidden ocean. I have changed

The circle of the seasons:-at my word 745

Earth flourishes with summer; Ceres sees

A winter harvest; Phasis' rushing stream

Flows to its source; the Danube that divides

Into so many mouths restrains its flood

Of waters-hardly moving past its shores. 750

The winds are silent; but the waters speak,

The wild seas roar; the home of ancient groves

Loses its leafy shade; the day withdraws

At my command; the sun stands still in heaven.

My incantations move the Hyades. 755

It is thy hour, Diana!

For thee my bloody hands have wrought this crown

Nine times by serpents girt; those knotted snakes

Rebellious Typhon bore, who made revolt

Against Jove's kingdom; Nessus gave this blood 760

When dying; ?ta's funeral pyre provides

These ashes which have drunk the poisoned blood

Of dying Hercules; and here thou seest

Althea's vengeful brand. The harpies left

These feathers in the pathless den they made 765

A refuge when they fled from Zete's wrath;

And these were dropped by the Stymphalian birds

That felt the wound of arrows dipped in blood

Of the Lern?an Hydra.

The altars find a voice, the tripod moves 770

Stirred by the favoring goddess. Her swift car

I see approach-not the full-orbed that rolls

All night through heaven; but as, with darkened light,

Troubled by the Thessalians she comes,

So her sad face upon my altars sheds 775

A murky light. Terrify with new dread

The men of earth! Costly Corinthian brass

Sounds in thy honor, Hecate, and on ground

Made red with blood I pay these solemn rites

To thee; for thee have stolen from the tomb 780

This torch that gives its baleful funeral light;

To thee with bowed head I have made my prayer;

And in accordance with my country's use,

My loose hair filleted, have plucked for thee

This branch that grows beside the Stygian wave; 785

Like a wild M?nad, laying bare my breast,

With sacred knife I cut for thee my arm;

My blood is on the altars! Hand, learn well

To strike thy dearest! See, my blood flows forth!

Daughter of Perseus, have I asked too oft 790

Thine aid? Recall no more my former prayers.

To-day as always I invoke thine aid

For Jason's sake alone! Endue this robe

With such a baleful power that the bride

May feel at its first touch consuming fire 795

Of serpent's poison in her inmost veins;

Let fire lurk hid in the bright gold, the fire

Prometheus gave and taught men how to store-

He now atones his daring theft from heaven

With tortured vitals. Mulciber has given 800

This flame, and I in sulphur nurtured it;

I brought a spark from the destroying fire

Of Phaeton; I have the flame breathed forth

By the Chim?ra, and the fire I snatched

From Colchis' savage bull; and mixed with these 805

Medusa's venom. I have bade all serve

My secret sorcery; now, Hecate, add

The sting of poison, aid the seeds of flame

Hid in my gift; let them deceive the sight

But burn the touch; let the heat penetrate 810

Her very heart and veins, stiffen her limbs,

Consume her bones in smoke. Her burning hair

Shall glow more brightly than the nuptial torch!

My vows are paid, and Hecate thrice has barked,

And shaken fire from her funeral torch. 815

'Tis finished! Call my sons. My precious gifts,

Ye shall be borne by them to the new bride.

Go, go, my sons, a hapless mother's sons!

Placate with gifts and prayers your father's wife!

But come again with speed, that I may know 820

A last embrace!

Scene III

Chorus. Where hastes the blood-stained M?nad, headlong driven

By angry love? What mischief plots her rage?

With wrath her face grows rigid; her proud head

She fiercely shakes; threatens the king in wrath. 825

Who would believe her exiled from the realm?

Her cheeks glow crimson, pallor puts to flight

The red, no color lingers on her face;

Her steps are driven to and fro as when

A tiger rages, of its young bereft, 830

Beside the Ganges in the gloomy woods.

Medea knows not how to curb her love

Or hate. Now love and hate together rage.

When will she leave the fair Pelasgian fields,

The wicked Colchian one, and free from fear 835

Our king and kingdom? Drive with no slow rein

Thy car, Diana; let the sweet night hide

The sunlight. Hesperus, end the dreaded day.


Scene I

Messenger, Chorus.

Messenger [enters in haste]. All are destroyed, the royal empire falls,

Father and child lie in one funeral pyre. 840

Chorus. Destroyed by what deceit?

Messenger. That which is wont

To ruin princes-gifts.

Chorus. Could these work harm?

Messenger. I myself wonder, and can hardly deem

The wrong accomplished, though I know it done.

Chorus. How did it happen? 845

Messenger. A destructive fire

Spreads everywhere as at command; even now

The city is in fear, the palace burned.

Chorus. Let water quench the flames.

Messenger. It will not these,

As by a miracle floods feed the fire.

The more we fight it so much more it glows. 850

Scene II

Medea, Nurse.

Nurse. Up! up! Medea! Swiftly flee the land

Of Pelops; seek in haste a distant shore.

Medea. Shall I fly? I? Were I already gone

I would return for this, that I might see

These new betrothals. Dost thou pause, my soul? 855

This joy's but the beginning of revenge.

Thou dost but love if thou art satisfied

To widow Jason. Seek new penalties,

Honor is gone and maiden modesty,-

It were a light revenge pure hands could yield. 860

Strengthen thy drooping spirit, stir up wrath,

Drain from thy heart its all of ancient force,

Thy deeds till now call honor; wake, and act,

That they may see how light, how little worth,

All former crime-the prelude of revenge! 865

What was there great my novice hands could dare?

What was the madness of my girlhood days?

I am Medea now, through sorrow strong.

Rejoice, because through thee thy brother died;

Rejoice, because through thee his limbs were torn, 870

Through thee thy father lost the golden fleece;

Rejoice, that armed by thee his daughters slew

Old Pelias! Seek revenge! No novice hand

Thou bring'st to crime; what wilt thou do; what dart

Let fly against thy hated enemy? 875

I know not what my maddened spirit plots,

Nor yet dare I confess it to myself!

In folly I made haste-would that my foe

Had children by this other! Mine are his,

We'll say Creusa bore them! 'Tis enough; 880

Through them my heart at last finds full revenge;

My soul must be prepared for this last crime.

Ye who were once my children, mine no more,

Ye pay the forfeit for your father's crimes.

Awe strikes my spirit and benumbs my hand; 885

My heart beats wildly; mother-love drives out

Hate of my husband; shall I shed their blood-

My children's blood? Demented one, rage not,

Be far from thee this crime! What guilt is theirs?

Is Jason not their father?-guilt enough! 890

And worse, Medea claims them as her sons.

They are not sons of mine, so let them die!

Nay, rather let them perish since they are!

But they are innocent-my brother was!

Fear'st thou? Do tears already mar thy cheek? 895

Do wrath and love like adverse tides impel

Now here, now there? As when the winds wage war,

And the wild waves against each other smite,

My heart is beaten; duty drives out fear,

As wrath drives duty. Anger dies in love. 900

Dear sons, sole solace of a storm-tossed house,

Come hither, he may have you safe if I

May claim you too! But he has banished me;

Already from my bosom torn away

They go lamenting-perish then to both, 905

To him as me! My wrath again grows hot;

Furies, I go wherever you may lead.

Would that the children of the haughty child

Of Tantalus were mine, that I had borne

Twice seven sons! In bearing only two 910

I have been cursed! And yet it is enough

For father, brother, that I have borne two.-

Where does that horde of furies haste? whom seek?

For whom prepare their fires? or for whom

Intends the infernal band its bloody torch? 915

Whom does Megaera seek with hostile brand?

The mighty dragon lashes its fierce tail-

What shade uncertain brings its scattered limbs?

It is my brother, and he seeks revenge;

I grant it, thrust the torches in my eyes; 920

Kill, burn, the furies have me in their power!

Brother, command the avenging goddesses

To leave me, and the shades to seek their place

In the infernal regions without fear;

Here leave me to myself, and use this hand 925

That held the sword-your soul has found revenge. [Kills one of her sons.

What is the sudden noise? They come in arms

And think to drive me into banishment.

I will go up on the high roof, come thou;

I'll take the body with me. Now my soul, 930

Strike! hold not hid thy power, but show the world

What thou art able.

[She goes out with the nurse and the living boy, and carries with her the body of her dead son.

Scene III

Jason in the foreground, Medea with the children appears upon the roof.

Jason. Ye faithful ones, who share

In the misfortunes of your harassed king,

Hasten to take the author of these deeds. 935

Come hither, hither, cohorts of brave men;

Bring up your weapons; overthrow the house.

Medea. I have recaptured now my crown and throne,

My brother and my father; Colchians hold

The golden fleece; my kingdom is won back; 940

My lost virginity returns to me!

O gods appeased, marriage, and happy days,

Go now,-my vengeance is complete! Not yet-

Finish it while thy hands are strong to strike.

Why seek delay? Why hesitate, my soul? 945

Thou art able! All thine anger falls to nought!

I do repent of that which I have done!

Why did'st thou do it, miserable one?

Yea, miserable! Ruth shall follow thee!

'Tis done, great joy fills my unwilling heart, 950

And, lo, the joy increases. But one thing

Before was lacking-Jason did not see!

All that he has not seen I count as lost.

Jason. She threatens from the roof; let fire be brought,

That she may perish burned with her own flame. 955

Medea. Pile high the funeral pyre of thy sons,

And rear their tomb. To Creon and thy wife

I have already paid the honors due.

This son is dead, and this shall soon be so,

And thou shalt see him perish. 960

Jason. By the gods,

By our sad flight together, and the bond

I have not willingly forsaken, spare

Our son! If there is any crime, 'tis mine;

Put me to death, strike down the guilty one.

Medea. There where thou askest mercy, and canst feel 965

The sting, I thrust the sword. Go, Jason, seek

Thy virgin bride, desert a mother's bed.

Jason. Let one suffice for vengeance.

Medea. Had it been

That one could satisfy my hands with blood,

I had slain none. But two is not enough. 970

Jason. Then go, fill up the measure of thy crime,

I ask for nothing but that thou should'st make

A speedy end.

Medea. Now, grief, take slow revenge;

It is my day; haste not, let me enjoy.

[Kills the other child.

Jason. Slay me, mine enemy! 975

Medea. Dost thou implore

My pity? It is well! I am avenged.

Grief, there is nothing more that thou canst slay!

Look up, ungrateful Jason, recognize

Thy wife; so I am wont to flee. The way

Lies open through the skies; two dragons bend 980

Their necks, submissive to the yoke. I go

In my bright car through heaven. Take thy sons!

[She casts down to him the bodies of her children, and is borne away in a chariot drawn by dragons.

Jason. Go through the skies sublime, and going prove

That the gods dwell not in the heavens you seek. 984













An Old Man.


Chorus of Trojan Women.




Scene I

Hecuba. Let him who puts his trust in kingly crown,

Who rules in prince's court with power supreme,

Who, credulous of heart, dreads not the gods,

But in his happy lot confides, behold

My fate and Troy's. Never by clearer proof 5

Was shown how frail a thing is human pride.

Strong Asia's capital, the work of gods,

Is fallen; and she beneath whose banners fought

The men who drink the Tanais' cold stream

That flows by sevenfold outlet to the sea, 10

And those who see the new-born day where blends

Tigris' warm waters with the blushing strait,

Is fallen; her walls and towers, to ashes burned,

Lie low amid her ruined palaces.

The flames destroy the city; far and near 15

Smolders the home of King Assaracus.

But flames stay not the eager conqueror's hand

From plundering Troy. The sky is hid with smoke;

And day, as though enveloped in black cloud,

Is dark with ashes. Eager for revenge, 20

The victor stands and measures her slow fall;

Forgets the long ten years; deplores her fate;

Nor yet believes that he has vanquished her,

Although he sees her conquered in the dust.

The pillagers are busy with the spoil; 25

A thousand ships will hardly bear it hence.

Witness, ye adverse deities; and ye,

My country's ashes, and thou, Phrygia's king,

Buried beneath the ruins of thy realm;

Ye spirits of the mighty, in whose life 30

Troy lived; and ye my offspring, lesser shades;-

Whatever ills have happened; whatsoe'er

The priestess of Apollo, to whose word

The god denied belief, has prophesied,

I, going great with child, have earlier feared, 35

Nor feared in silence, though in vain I spoke;-

Cassandra too has prophesied in vain.

Alas, 'twas not the crafty Ithacan,

Nor the companions of his night attack,

Nor Sinon false, who flung into your midst 40

Devouring flame; the glowing torch was mine!

Aged, and sick of life, why weep for Troy?

Unhappy one, recall more recent woes;

The fall of Troy is now an ancient grief!

I've seen the murder of a king-base crime! 45

And, at the altar's foot allowed, I've seen

A baser crime, when ?acus' fierce son,

His left hand in the twisted locks, bent back

That royal head, and drove the iron home

In the deep wound; freely it was received, 50

And buried deep, and yet drawn forth unstained,

So sluggish is the blood of frozen age.

This old man's cruel death at the last mete

Of human life; and the immortal gods,

Witnesses of the deed; and fallen Troy's 55

Fair altars, cannot stay the savage hand.

Priam, the father of so many kings,

Has found no grave, and in the flames of Troy

No funeral pyre, and yet the wrathful gods

Are not appeased; behold, the lot is cast 60

That gives to Priam's daughters and his sons

A master; and I go to servitude.

This one seeks Hector's wife, this Helenus';

And this Antenor's; nor are wanting those

Who long for thee, Cassandra; me alone 65

They shun, and I alone affright the Greeks.

Why cease your lamentations, captive ones?

Make moan, and smite your breasts, pay funeral rites;

Let fatal Ida, home of your harsh judge,

Re?cho long your sorrowful lament. 70

Scene II

Hecuba, Chorus of Trojan Women.

Chorus. You bid those weep who are not new to grief;

Our lamentations have not ceased to rise

From that day when the Phrygian stranger sought

Grecian Amycl?; and the sacred pine

Of Mother Cybele, through Grecian seas 75

A pathway cut. Ten times the winter snows

Have whitened Ida-Ida stripped of t


To furnish Trojan dead with funeral pyres-

Ten times the trembling reaper has gone forth

To cut the bearded grain from Ilium's fields, 80

Since any day has seen us free from tears.

New sorrows ask new mourning, lift thy hand

And beat upon thy breast: thy followers, queen,

Are not inept at weeping.

Hecuba. Faithful ones,

Companions of my grief, unbind your hair; 85

About your shoulders let it flow defiled

With Troy's hot ashes; come with breast exposed,

Carelessly loosened robes, and naked limbs;

Why veil your modest bosoms, captive ones?

Gird up your flowing tunics, free your hands 90

For fierce and frequent beating of your breasts.

So I am satisfied, I recognize

My Trojan followers; again I hear

Their wonted lamentations. Weep indeed;

We weep for Hector. 95

Chorus. We unbind our hair,

So often torn in wild laments, and strew

Troy's glowing ashes on our heads; permit

Our loosened robe to drop from shoulders bare;

Our naked bosoms now invite our blows.

O sorrow, show thy power; let Rh?ta's shores 100

Give back the blows, nor from her hollow hills

Faint Echo sound the closing words alone,

But let her voice repeat each bitter groan,

And earth and ocean hear. With cruel blows

Smite, smite, nor be content with faint laments: 105

We weep for Hector.

Hecuba. For thee our hands have torn our naked arms

And bleeding shoulders; Hector, 'tis for thee

We beat our brows and lacerate our breasts;

The wounds inflicted in thy funeral rites 110

Still gape and flow with blood. Thou, Hector, wast

The pillar of thy land, her fates' delay,

The prop of wearied Phrygians, and the wall

Of Troy; by thee supported, firm she stood,

Ten years upheld. With thee thy country fell, 115

Her day of doom and Hector's were the same.

Weep now for Priam, smite for him your breasts;

Hector has tears enough.

Chorus. Pilot of Phrygia, twice a captive made,

Receive our tears, receive our wild laments. 120

Whilst thou wast king, Troy suffered many woes;

Twice by Greek weapons were her walls assailed;

Twice were they made a target for the darts

Of Hercules; and when that kingly band,

Hecuba's offspring, had been offered up, 125

With thee, their sire, the funeral rites were stayed;

An offering to great Jove, thy headless trunk

Lies on Sigea's plain.

Hecuba. Women of Troy,

For others shed your tears; not Priam's death

I weep; say rather all, thrice happy he! 130

Free he descended to the land of shades,

Nor will he ever bear on conquered neck

The Grecian yoke; nor the Atrides see;

Nor look on shrewd Ulysses; nor, a slave,

Carry the trophies on his neck to grace 135

A Grecian triumph; feel his sceptered hands

Bound at his back; nor add a further pomp

To proud Mycene, forced in golden chains

To follow Agamemnon's royal car.

Chorus. Thrice happy Priam! as a king he went 140

Into the land of spirits; wanders now

Through the safe shadows of Elysian Fields,

In happiness among the peaceful shades,

And seeks for Hector. Happy Priam say!

Thrice happy he, who, dying in the fight, 145

Bears with him to destruction all his land.


Scene I

Talthybius, Chorus of Trojan Women.

Talthybius. O long delay, that holds the Greeks in port,

Whether they seek for war or for their homes.

Chorus. Say what the reason of the long delay,

What god forbids the Greeks the homeward road? 150

Talthybius. I tremble, and my spirit shrinks with fear;

Such prodigies will hardly find belief.

I saw them, I myself; Titan had touched

The mountain summits, dayspring conquered night,

When, on a sudden, with a muttered groan, 155

Earth trembled, in the woods the tree-tops shook;

The lofty forests and the sacred grove

Thundered with mighty ruin; Ida's cliffs

Fell from her summit; nor did earth alone

Tremble, the ocean also recognized 160

Achilles' coming, and laid bare her depths;

In the torn earth a gloomy cavern yawned;

A way was opened up from Erebus

To upper day; the tomb gave up its dead;

The towering shade of the Thessalian chief 165

Leaped forth as when, preparing for thy fate,

O Troy, he put to flight the Thracian host,

And struck down Neptune's shining, fair-haired son;

Or as when, breathing battle from the field,

He filled the rivers with the fallen dead, 170

And Xanthus wandered over bloody shoals

Seeking slow channels; or as when he stood

In his proud car, a victor, while he dragged

Hector and Troy behind him in the dust.

His wrathful voice rang out along the shore: 175

'Go, go, ye slothful ones, pay honors due

My manes. Let the thankless ships be freed

To sail my seas. Not lightly Greece has felt

Achilles' wrath; that wrath shall heavier fall.

Polyxena, betrothed to me in death, 180

Must die a sacrifice at Pyrrhus' hand,

And make my tomb glow crimson.' Thus he spake,

Shadowed the day with night, and sought again

The realm of Dis. He took the riven path;

Earth closed above him, and the tranquil sea 185

Lay undisturbed, the raging wind was still,

Softly the ocean murmured, Tritons sang

From the blue deep their hymeneal chant.

Scene II

Agamemnon, Pyrrhus.

Pyrrhus. When, homeward turning, you would fain have spread

Your happy sails, Achilles was forgot. 190

By him alone struck down, Troy fell; her fall,

Ev'n at his death, was but so long delayed

As she stood doubtful whither she should fall;

Haste as you will to give him what he asks

You give too late. Already all the chiefs 195

Have carried off their prizes; what reward

Of lesser price have you to offer him

For so great valor? Does he merit less?

He, bidden shun the battle and enjoy

A long and happy age, outnumbering 200

The many years of Pylos' aged king,

Threw off his mother's mantle, stood confessed

A man of arms. When Telephus in vain

Refused Achilles entrance to the coast

Of rocky Mysia, with his royal blood 205

He stained Achilles' hand, but found that hand

Gentle as strong. When Thebes was overcome

E?tion, its conquered ruler, saw

His realm made captive. With like slaughter fell

Little Lyrnessus, built at Ida's foot; 210

Briseia's land was captured; Chryse, too,

The cause of royal strife, is overthrown;

And well-known Tenedos, and Sciro's isle

That, rich with fertile pastures, nourishes

The Thracian herd, and Lesbos that divides 215

The ?gean straits, Cilla to Ph?bus dear,

Yes, and whatever land Ca?cus laves

With its green depths of waters. This had been

To any other, glory, honor, fame,-

Achilles is but on the march; so sped 220

My father, and so great the war he waged

While he made ready for his great campaign.

Though I were silent of his other deeds,

Would it not be enough that Hector died?

My father conquered Ilium; as for you, 225

You have but made it naught. It gives me joy

To speak the praises and illustrious deeds

Of my great sire: how Hector in the eyes

Of fatherland and father prostrate fell,

How Memnon, too, lies slain, whose mother shuns 230

The gloomy light of day, with pallid cheek

Mourning his fate; and at his own great deeds

Achilles trembles, and, a victor, learns

That death may touch the children of a god.

The Amazons' harsh queen, thy final fear, 235

Last yielded. Wouldst thou honor worthily

His mighty arms, then yield him what he will,

Though he should ask a virgin from the land

Of Argos or Mycene. Dost thou doubt;

Too soon content, art loth to offer up 240

A maiden, Priam's child, to Peleus' son?

Thy child was sacrificed to Helenus,

'Tis not an unaccustomed gift I ask.

Agamemnon. To have no power to check the passions' glow

Is ever found a fault of youthful hearts; 245

That which in others is the zeal of youth,

In Pyrrhus is his father's fiery heart.

Thus mildly once I stood the savage threats

Of ?acus' fierce son; most patiently

He bears, who is most strong. With slaughter harsh 250

Why sprinkle our illustrious leader's shade?

Learn first how much the conqueror may do,

The conquered suffer. 'Tis the mild endure,

But he who harshly rules, rules not for long.

The higher Fortune doth exalt a man, 255

Increasing human power, so much the more-

Fearing the gods who too much favor him,

And not unmindful of uncertain fate-

He should be meek. In conquering, I have learned

How in a moment greatness is o'erthrown. 260

Has Trojan triumph too soon made us proud?

We stand, we Greeks, in that place whence Troy fell.

Imperious I have been, and borne myself

At times too proudly; Fortune's gifts correct

In me the pride they oft in others rouse. 265

Priam, thou mak'st me proud, but mak'st me fear.

What can I deem my scepter, but a name

Made bright with idle glitter; or my crown,

But empty ornament? Fate overthrows

Swiftly, nor will it need a thousand ships, 270

Perchance, nor ten years' war. I own, indeed,

(This can I do, oh Argive land, nor wound

Thy honor) I have troubled Phrygia

And wished her conquered; but I would have stayed

The hand that crushed and laid her in the dust. 275

A foe enraged, who gains the victory

By night, checks not his raging at command;

Whatever cruel or unworthy deed

Appeared in any, anger was the cause-

Anger and darkness and the savage sword 280

Made glad with blood and seeking still for more.

All that yet stands of ruined Troy shall stand,

Enough of punishment-more than enough-

Has been exacted; that a royal maid

Should fall, and, offered as a sacrifice 285

Upon a tomb, should crimson with her blood

The ashes, and this hateful crime be called

A marriage-I will never suffer it.

Upon my head would rest the guilt of all;

He who forbids not crime when he has power, 290

Commands it.

Pyrrhus. Shall Achilles then go hence

With empty hand?

Agamemnon. No, all shall tell his praise,

And unknown lands shall sing his glorious name;

And if his shade would take delight in blood

Poured forth upon his ashes, let us slay 295

A Phrygian sheep, rich sacrifice. No blood

Shall flow to cause a sorrowing mother's tears.

What fashion this, by which a living soul

Is sacrificed to one gone down to hell?

Think not to soil thy father's memory 300

With such revenge, commanding us to pay

Due reverence with blood.

Pyrrhus. Harsh king of kings!

So arrogant while favoring fortune smiles,

So timid when aught threatens! Is thy heart

So soon inflamed with love and new desire; 305

And wilt thou bear away from us the spoil?

I'll give Achilles back, with this right hand,

His victim, and, if thou withholdest her,

I'll give a greater, and whom Pyrrhus gives

Will prove one worthy. All too long our hand 310

Has ceased from slaughter, Priam seeks his peer.

Agamemnon. That was, indeed, the worthiest warlike act

Of Pyrrhus: with relentless hand he slew

Priam, whose suppliant prayer Achilles heard.

Pyrrhus. We know our father's foes were suppliants, 315

But Priam made his prayer himself, whilst thou,

Not brave to ask, and overcome with fear,

Lurked trembling in thy tent, and sought as aid

The intercessions of the Ithacan

And Ajax.

Agamemnon. That thy father did not fear, 320

I own; amid the slaughter of the Greeks

And burning of the fleet, forgetting war,

He idly lay, and with his plectrum touched

Lightly his lyre.

Pyrrhus. Mighty Hector then

Laughed at thy arms but feared Achilles' song; 325

By reason of that fear peace reigned supreme

In the Thessalian fleet.

Agamemnon. There was in truth

Deep peace for Hector's father in that fleet.

Pyrrhus. To grant kings life is kingly.

Agamemnon. Why wouldst thou

With thy right hand cut short a royal life? 330

Pyrrhus. Mercy gives often death instead of life.

Agamemnon. Mercy seeks now a virgin for the tomb?

Pyrrhus. Thou deemst it crime to sacrifice a maid?

Agamemnon. More than their children, kings should love their land.

Pyrrhus. No law spares captives or denies revenge. 335

Agamemnon. What law forbids not, honor's self forbids.

Pyrrhus. To victors is permitted what they will.

Agamemnon. He least should wish to whom is granted most.

Pyrrhus. And this thou sayest to us, who ten long years

Have borne thy heavy yoke, whom my hand freed? 340

Agamemnon. Is this the boast of Scyros?

Pyrrhus. There no stain

Of brother's blood is found.

Agamemnon. Shut in by waves-

Pyrrhus. Nay, but the seas are kin. I know thy house-

Yea, Atreus' and Thyestes' noble house!

Agamemnon. Son of Achilles ere he was a man, 345

And of the maid he ravished secretly-

Pyrrhus. Of that Achilles, who, by right of race,

Through all the world held sway, inherited

The ocean from his mother, and the shades

From ?acus, from Jupiter the sky. 350

Agamemnon. Achilles, who by Paris' hand was slain.

Pyrrhus. One whom the gods attacked not openly.

Agamemnon. To curb thy insolence and daring words

I well were able, but my sword can spare

The conquered. 355

[To some of the soldiers, who surround him.

Call the god's interpreter.

[A few of the soldiers go out, Calchas comes in.

Scene III

Agamemnon, Pyrrhus, Calchas.

Agamemnon. [To Calchas.] Thou, who hast freed the anchors of the fleet;

Ended the war's delay; and by thy arts

Hast opened heaven; to whom the secret things

Revealed in sacrifice, in shaken earth,

And star that draws through heaven its flaming length, 360

Are messengers of fate; whose words have been

To me the words of doom; speak, Calchas, tell

What thing the god commands, and govern us

By thy wise counsels.

Calchas. Fate a pathway grants

To Grecians only at the wonted price. 365

A virgin must be slain upon the tomb

Of the Thessalian leader, and adorned

In robes like those Thessalian virgins wear

To grace their bridals, or Ionian maids,

Or damsels of Mycene; and the bride 370

Shall be by Pyrrhus to his father brought-

So is she rightly wed. Yet not alone

Is this the cause that holds our ships in port,

But blood must flow for blood, and nobler blood

Than thine, Polyxena. Whom fate demands- 375

Grandchild of Priam, Hector's only son-

Hurled headlong from Troy's wall shall meet his death;

Then shall our thousand sails make white the strait.

Scene IV

Chorus of Trojan Women.

Is it true, or does an idle story

Make the timid dream that after death, 380

When the loved one shuts the wearied eyelids,

When the last day's sun has come and gone,

And the funeral urn has hid the ashes,

He shall still live on among the shades?

Does it not avail to bear the dear one 385

To the grave? Must misery still endure

Longer life beyond? Does not all perish

When the fleeting spirit fades in air

Cloudlike? When the dreaded fire is lighted

'Neath the body, does no part remain? 390

Whatsoe'er the rising sun or setting

Sees; whatever ebbing tide or flood

Of the ocean with blue waters washes,

Time with Pegasean flight destroys.

Like the sweep of whirling constellations, 395

Like the circling of their king the sun,

Haste the ages. As obliquely turning

Hecate speeds, so all must seek their fate;

He who touches once the gloomy water

Sacred to the god, exists no more. 400

As the sordid smoke from smoldering embers

Swiftly dies, or as a heavy cloud,

That the north wind scatters, ends its being,

So the soul that rules us slips away;

After death is nothing; death is nothing 405

But the last mete of a swift-run race,

Which to eager souls gives hope, to fearful

Sets a limit to their fears. Believe

Eager time and the abyss engulf us;

Death is fatal to the flesh, nor spares 410

Spirit even; T?naris, the kingdom

Of the gloomy monarch, and the door

Where sits Cerberus and guards the portal,

Are but empty rumors, senseless names,

Fables vain, that trouble anxious sleep. 415

Ask you whither go we after death?

Where they lie who never have been born.


Scene I

Andromache, An Old Man.

Andromache. Why tear your hair, my Phrygian followers,

Why beat your breasts and mar your cheeks with tears?

The grief is light that has the power to weep. 420

Troy fell for you but now, for me long since

When fierce Achilles urged at speed his car,

And dragged behind his wheel my very self;

The axle, made of wood from Pelion's groves,

Groaned heavily, and under Hector's weight 425

Trembled. O'erwhelmed and crushed, I bore unmoved

Whate'er befell, for I was stunned with grief.

I would have followed Hector long ago,

And freed me from the Greeks, but this my son

Held me, subdued my heart, forbade my death, 430

Compelled me still to ask the gods a boon,

Added a longer life to misery.

He took away my sorrow's richest fruit-

To know no fear. All chance of better things

Is snatched away, and worse are yet to come; 435

'Tis wretchedness to fear where hope is lost.

Old Man. What sudden fear assails thee, troubled one?

Andromache. From great misfortunes, greater ever spring;

Troy needs must fill the measure of her woes.

Old Man. Though he should wish, what can the god do more?440

Andromache. The entrance of the bottomless abyss

Of gloomy Styx lies open; lest defeat

Should lack enough of fear, the buried foe

Comes forth from Dis. Can Greeks alone return?

Death certainly is equal; Phrygians feel 445

This common fear; a dream of dreadful night

Me only terrified.

Old Man. What dream is this?

Andromache. The sweet night's second watch was hardly passed,

The Seven Stars were turning from the height;

At length there came an unaccustomed calm 450

To me afflicted; on my eyes there stole

Brief sleep, if that dull lethargy be sleep

That comes to grief-worn souls; when, suddenly,

Before my eyes stood Hector, not as when

He bore against the Greeks avenging fire, 455

Seeking the Argive fleet with Trojan torch;

Nor as he raged with slaughter 'gainst the Greeks,

And bore away Achilles' arms-true spoil,

From him who played Achilles' part, nor was

A true Achilles. Not with flame-bright face 460

He came, but marred with tears, dejected, sad,

Like us, and all unkempt his loosened hair;

Yet I rejoiced to see him. Then he said,

Shaking his head: 'O faithful wife, awake!

Bear hence thy son and hide him, this alone 465

Is safety. Weep not! Do you weep for Troy?

Would all were fallen! Hasten, seek a place

Of safety for the child.' Then I awoke,

Cold horror and a trembling broke my sleep.

Fearful, I turned my eyes now here, now there. 470

Me miserable, careless of my son,

I sought for Hector, but the fleeting shade

Slipped from my arms, eluded my embrace.

O child, true son of an illustrious sire;

Troy's only hope; last of a stricken race; 475

Too noble offspring of an ancient house;

Too like thy father! Such my Hector's face,

Such was his gait, his manner, so he held

His mighty hands, and so his shoulders broad,

So threatened with bold brow when shaking back 480

His heavy hair! Oh, born too late for Troy,

Too soon for me, will ever come that time,

That happy day, when thou shalt build again

Troy's walls, and lead from flight her scattered hosts,

Avenging and defending mightily, 485

And give again a name to Troy's fair land?

But, mindful of my fate, I dare not wish;

We live, and life is all that slaves can hope.

Alas, what place of safety can I find,

Where hide thee? That high citadel, god-built, 490

Is dust, her streets are flame, and naught remains

Of all the mighty city, not so much

As where to hide an infant. Oh, what place

Of safety can I find? The mighty tomb,

Reared to my husband-this the foe must fear. 495

His father, Priam, in his sorrow built,

With no ungenerous hand, great Hector's tomb;

I rightly trust a father. Yet I fear

The baleful omen of the place of tombs,

And a cold sweat my trembling members bathes. 500

Old Man. The safe may choose, the wretched seize defense.

Andromache. We may not hide him without heavy fear

Lest some one find him.

Old Man. Cover up the trace

Of our device.

Andromache. And if the foe should ask?

Old Man. In the destruction of the land he died,- 505

It oft has saved a man that he was deemed

Already dead.

Andromache. No other hope is left.

He bears the heavy burden of his name;

If he must come once more into their power

What profits it to hide him? 510

Old Man. Victors oft

Are savage only in the first attack.

Andromache. [To Astyanax] What distant, pathless land will keep thee safe,

Or who protect thee, give thee aid in fear?

O Hector, now as ever guard thine own,

Preserve the secret of thy faithful wife, 515

And to thy trusted ashes take thy child!

My son, go thou into thy father's tomb.

What, do you turn and shun the dark retreat?

I recognize thy father's strength of soul,

Ashamed of fear. Put by thy inborn pride, 520

Thy courage; take what fortune has to give.

See what is left of all the Trojan host:

A tomb, a child, a captive! We succumb

To such misfortunes. Dare to enter now

Thy buried father's sacred resting-place; 525

If fate is kind thou hast a safe retreat,

If fate refuse thee aid, thou hast a grave.

Old Man. The sepulcher will safely hide thy son;

Go hence lest thou shouldst draw them to the spot.

Andromache. One's fear is lightlier borne when near at hand,530

But elsewhere will I go, since that seems best.

Old Man. Stay yet a while, but check the signs of grief;

This way the Grecian leader bends his steps.

Scene II

Andromache, Ulysses with a retinue of warriors. [The old man withdraws.]

Ulysses. Coming a messenger of cruel fate,

I pray you deem not mine the bitter words 535

I speak, for this is but the general voice

Of all the Greeks, too long from home detained

By Hector's child: him do the fates demand.

The Greeks can hope for but a doubtful peace,

Fear will compel them still to look behind 540

Nor lay aside their armor, while thy child,

Andromache, gives strength to fallen Troy.

So prophesies the god's interpreter;

And had the prophet Calchas held his peace,

Hector had spoken; Hector and his son 545

I greatly fear: those sprung of noble race

Must needs grow great. With proudly lifted head

And haughty neck, the young and hornless bull

Leads the paternal herd and rules the flock;

And when the tree is cut, the tender stalk 550

Soon rears itself above the parent trunk,

Shadows the earth, and lifts its boughs to heaven;

The spark mischance has left from some great fire,

Renews its strength; like these is Hector's son.

If well you weigh our act, you will forgive, 555

Though grief is harsh of judgment. We have spent

Ten weary winters, ten long harvests spent

In war; and now, grown old, our soldiers fear,

Even from fallen Troy, some new defeat.

'Tis not a trifling thing that moves the Greeks, 560

But a young Hector; free them from this fear;

This cause alone holds back our waiting fleet,

This stops the ships. Too cruel think me not,

By lot commanded Hector's son to seek;

I sought Orestes once; with patience bear 565

What we ourselves have borne.

Andromache. Alas, my son,

Would that thou wert within thy mother's arms!

Would that I knew what fate encompassed thee,

What region holds thee, torn from my embrace!

Although my breast were pierced with hostile spears, 570

My hands bound fast with wounding chains, my side

By biting flame were girdled, not for this

Would I put off my mother-guardianship!

What spot, what fortune holds thee now, my son?

Art thou a wanderer in an unknown land, 575

Or have the flames of Troy devoured thee?

Or does the conqueror in thy blood rejoice?

Or, snatched by some wild beast, perhaps thou liest

On Ida's summit, food for Ida's birds?

Ulysses. No more pretend. Thou mayst not so deceive 580

Ulysses; I have power to overcome

A mother's wiles, although she be divine.

Put by thy empty plots; where is thy son?

Andromache. Where is my Hector? Where the Trojan host?

Where Priam? Thou seek'st one, I seek them all. 585

Ulysses. What thou refusest willingly to tell,

Thou shalt be forced to say.

Andromache. She rests secure

Who can, who ought, nay, who desires to die.

Ulysses. Near death may put an end to such proud boast.

Andromache. Ulysses, if thou hop'st through fear to force590

Andromache to speak, threat longer life;

Death is to me a wished-for messenger.

Ulysses. With fire, scourge, torment, even death itself,

I will compel thy heart's deep-hidden thought;

Necessity is stronger far than death. 595

Andromache. Threat flames, wounds, hunger, thirst, the bitter stings

Of cruel grief, all torments, sword plunged deep

Within this bosom, or the prison dark-

Whatever angry, fearful victors may;

Learn that a loving mother knows no fear. 600

Ulysses. And yet this love, in which thou standst entrenched

So stubbornly, admonishes the Greeks

To think of their own children. Even now,

After these long ten years, this weary war,

I should fear less the danger Calchas threats, 605

If for myself I feared-but thou prepar'st

War for Telemachus.

Andromache. Unwillingly

I give the Grecians joy, but I must give.

Ulysses, anguish must confess its pain;

Rejoice, O son of Atreus, carry back 610

As thou art wont, to the Pelasgian host

The joyous news: great Hector's son is dead.

Ulysses. How prove it to the Greeks?

Andromache. Fall on me else

The greatest ill the victor can inflict:

Fate free me by an easy, timely death, 615

And hide me underneath my native soil!

Lightly on Hector lie his country's earth

As it is true that, hidden from the light,

Deep in the tomb, among the shades he rests.

Ulysses. Accomplished then the fate of Hector's race; 620

A joyous message of established peace

I take the Greeks. [He turns to go, then hesitates.

Ulysses, wouldst thou so?

The Greeks have trusted thee, thou trustest-whom?

A mother. Would a mother tell this lie

Nor fear the augury of dreaded death? 625

They fear the auguries, who fear naught else.

She swears it with an oath-yet, falsely sworn,

What has she worse to fear? Now call to aid

All that thou hast of cunning, stratagem,

And guile, the whole Ulysses; truth dies not. 630

Watch well the mother; see-she mourns, she weeps,

She groans, turns every way her anxious steps,

Listens with ear attentive; more she fears

Than sorrows; thou hast need of utmost care.

[To Andromache.] For other mothers' loss 'tis right to grieve;635

Thee, wretched one, we must congratulate

That thou hast lost a son whose fate had been

To die, hurled headlong from the one high tower

Remaining of the ruined walls of Troy.

Andromache [aside]. Life fails, I faint, I fall, an icy fear640

Freezes my blood.

Ulysses [aside]. She trembles; here the place

For my attack; she is betrayed by fear;

I'll add worse fear. [To his followers.

Go quickly; somewhere lies,

By mother's guile concealed, the hidden foe-

The Greeks last enemy of Trojan name. 645

Go, seek him, drag him hither. [After a pause as though the child were found.] It is well;

The child is taken; hasten, bring him me.

[To Andromache.] Why do you look around and seem to fear?

The boy is dead.

Andromache. Would fear were possible!

Long have I feared, and now too late my soul 650

Unlearns its lesson.

Ulysses. Since by happier fate

Snatched hence, the lad forestalls the sacrifice,

The lustral offering from the walls of Troy

And may not now obey the seer's command,

Thus saith the prophet: this may be atoned, 655

And Grecian ships at last may find return,

If Hector's tomb be leveled with the ground,

His ashes scattered on the sea; the tomb

Must feel my hand, since Hector's child escapes

His destined death.

Andromache [aside]. Alas, what shall I do? 660

A double fear distracts me; here my son,

And there my husband's sacred sepulcher,

Which conquers? O inexorable gods,

O manes of my husband-my true god,

Bear witness; in my son 'tis thee I love, 665

My Hector, and my son shall live to bear

His father's image! Shall the sacred dust

Be cast upon the waves? Nay, better death.

Canst thou a mother bear to see him die,-

To see him from Troy's tower downward hurled? 670

I can and will, that Hector, after death,

Be not the victor's sport. The boy may feel

The pain, where death has made the father safe.

Decide, which one shall pay the penalty.

Ungrateful, why in doubt? Thy Hector's here! 675

'Tis false, each one is Hector; this one lives,

Perchance th' avenger of his father's death.

I cannot save them both, what shall I do?

Oh, save the one whom most the Grecians fear!

Ulysses. I will fulfill the oracle, will raze 680

The tomb to its foundations.

Andromache. Which ye sold?

Ulysses. I'll do it, I will level with the dust

The sepulcher.

Andromache. I call the faith of heaven,

Achilles' faith, to aid; come, Pyrrhus, save

Thy father's gift. 685

Ulysses. The tomb shall instantly

Be leveled with the plain.

Andromache. This crime alone

The Greeks had shunned; ye've sacked the holy fanes

Even of favoring gods, ye've spared the tomb.

I will not suffer it, unarmed I'll stand

Against your armored host; rage gives me strength, 690

And as the savage Amazon opposed

The Grecian army, or the M?nad wild,

Armed with the thyrsus, by the god possessed,

Wounding herself spreads terror through the grove,

Herself unpained, I'll rush into your midst, 695

And in defending the dear ashes die. [She places herself before the grave.

Ulysses [angrily to the shrinking soldiers.

Why pause? A woman's wrath and feeble noise

Alarms you so? Do quickly my command.

[The soldiers go toward the grave, Andromache throws herself upon them.

Andromache. The sword must first slay me.-Ah, woe is me,

They drive me back. Hector, come forth the tomb; 700

Break through the fate's delay, and overwhelm

The Grecian chief-thy shade would be enough!

The weapon clangs and flashes in his hand;

Greeks, see you Hector? Or do I alone

Perceive him?

Ulysses. I will lay it in the dust. 705

Andromache [aside]. What have I done? To ruin I have brought

Father and son together; yet, perchance,

With supplications I may move the Greeks.

The tomb's great weight will presently destroy

Its hidden treasure; O my wretched child, 710

Die wheresoe'er the fates decree,-not here!

Oh, may the father not o'erwhelm the son,

The son fall not upon his father's dust!

[She casts herself at the feet of Ulysses.

Ulysses, at thy feet a suppliant

I fall, and with my right hand clasp thy knees; 715

Never before a suppliant, here I ask

Thy pity on a mother; hear my prayer

With patience; on the fallen, lightly press,

Since thee the gods lift up to greater heights!

The gifts thou grantst the wretched are to fate 720

A hostage; so again thou mayst behold

Thy wife; and old Laertes' years endure

Until once more he see thee; so thy son

Succeed thee and outrun thy fairest hopes

In his good fortune, and his age exceed 725

Laertes', and his gifts outnumber thine.

Have pity on a mother to whose grief

Naught else remains of comfort.

Ulysses. Bring forth the boy, then thou mayst ask for grace.

Andromache. Come hither from thy hiding-place, my son,730

Thy wretched mother's lamentable theft.

Scene III

Ulysses, Andromache, Astyanax.

Andromache. Ulysses, this is he who terrifies

The thousand keels, behold him. Fall, my son,

A suppliant at the feet of this thy lord,

And do him reverence; nor think it base, 735

Since Fortune bids the wretched to submit.

Forget thy royal race, the power of one

Renowned through all the world; Hector forget;

Act the sad captive on thy bended knee,

And imitate thy mother's tears, if yet 740

Thou feelest not thy woes. [To Ulysses.] Troy saw long since

The weeping of a royal child: the tears

Of youthful Priam turned aside the threats

Of stern Alcides; he, the warrior fierce

Who tamed wild beasts, who from the shattered gates 745

Of shadowy Dis a hidden, upward path

Opened, was conquered by his young foe's tears.

'Take back,' he said, 'the reins of government,

Receive thy father's kingdom, but maintain

Thy scepter with a better faith than he;' 750

So fared the captives of this conqueror;

Study the gentle wrath of Hercules!

Or do the arms alone of Hercules

Seem pleasing to thee? Of as noble race

As Priam's, at thy feet a suppliant lies, 755

And asks of thee his life; let fortune give

To whom she will Troy's kingdom.

Ulysses. Indeed the mother's sorrow moves me much!

Our Grecian mothers' sorrow moves me more,

To cause whose bane this child would grow a man. 760

Andromache. These ruins of a land to ashes burned

Could he arouse? Or could these hands build Troy?

Troy has no hope, if such is all remains.

We Trojans can no longer cause thee fear.

And has the child his father's spirit? Yes, 765

But broken. Troy destroyed, his father's self

Had lost that courage which great ills o'ercame.

If vengeance is your wish, what worse revenge

Than to this noble neck to fit the yoke?

Make him a slave. Who ever yet denied 770

This bounty to a king?

Ulysses. The seer forbids,

'Tis not Ulysses who denies the boon.

Andromache. Artificer of fraud, plotter of guile,

Whose warlike valor never felled a foe;

By the deceit and guile of whose false heart 775

E'en Greeks have fallen, dost thou make pretense

Of blameless god or prophet? 'Tis the work

Of thine own heart. Thou, who by night mak'st war,

Now dar'st at last one deed in open day-

A brave boy's death. 780

Ulysses. My valor to the Greeks

Is known, and to the Phrygians too well known.

We may not waste the day in idle talk-

Our ships weigh anchor.

Andromache. Grant a brief delay,

While I, a mother, for my son perform

The last sad office, satiate my grief, 785

My mother's sorrow, with a last embrace.

Ulysses. I would that I might pity! What I may,

Time and delay, I grant thee; let thy tears

Fall freely; weeping ever softens grief.

Andromache. O pledge of love, light of a fallen house,790

Last of the Trojan dead, fear of the Greeks,

Thy mother's empty hope, for whom I prayed-

Fool that I was-that thou mightst have the years

Of Priam, and thy father's warlike soul,

The gods despise my vows; thou ne'er shalt wield 795

A scepter in the kingly halls of Troy,

Mete justice to thy people, nor shalt send

Thy foes beneath thy yoke, nor put to flight

The Greeks, drag Pyrrhus at thy chariot wheels,

Nor ever in thy slender hands bear arms; 800

Nor wilt thou hunt the dwellers in the wood,

Nor on high festival, in Trojan games,

Lead forth the noble band of Trojan youth;

Nor round the altars with swift-moving steps,

That the re?choing of the twisted horn 805

Makes swifter, honor with accustomed dance

The Phrygian temples. Oh, most bitter death!

Ulysses. Great sorrow knows no limit, cease thy moans!

Andromache. How narrow is the time we seek for tears!

Grant me a trivial boon: that with these hands 810

His living eyes be bound. My little one,

Thou diest, but feared already by thy foes;

Thy Troy awaits thee; go, in freedom go,

To meet free Trojans.

Astyanax. Mother, pity me!

Andromache. Why hold thy mother's hands and clasp her neck,815

And seek in vain a refuge? The young bull,

Thus fearful, seeks his mother when he hears

The roaring of the lion; from her side

By the fierce lion driv'n, the tender prey

Is seized, and crushed, and dragged apart; so thee 820

Thy foeman snatches from thy mother's breast.

Child, take my tears, my kisses, my torn locks,

Go to thy father, bear him these few words

Of my complaint: 'If still thy spirit keeps

Its former cares, if died not on the flames 825

Thy former love, why leave Andromache

To serve the Grecians? Hector, cruel one,

Dost thou lie cold and vanquished in the grave?

Achilles came again.' Take then these locks,

These tears, for these alone I have to give, 830

Since Hector's death, and take thy mother's kiss

To give thy father; leave thy robe for me,

Since it has touched his tomb and his dear dust;

I'll search it well so any ashes lurk

Within its folds. 835

Ulysses. Weep no more, bear him hence;

Too long he stays the sailing of the fleet.

Scene IV

Chorus of Trojan Women.

What country calls the captives? Tempe dark?

Or the Thessalian hills? or Phthia's land

Famous for warriors? Trachin's stony plains,

Breeders of cattle? or the great sea's queen, 840

Iolchos? or the spacious land of Crete

Boasting its hundred towns? Gortyna small?

Or sterile Tricca? or Mothone crossed

By swift and frequent rivers? She who lies

Beneath the shadow of the ?tean woods, 845

Whose hostile bowmen came, not once alone,

Against the walls of Troy?

Or Olenos whose homes lie far apart?

Or Pleuron, hateful to the virgin god?

Or Tr?zen on the ocean's curving shore? 850

Or Pelion, mounting heavenward, the realm

Of haughty Prothous? There in a vast cave

Great Chiron, teacher of the savage child,

Struck with his plectrum from the sounding strings

Wild music, stirred the boy with songs of war. 855

Perchance Carystus, for its marbles famed,

Calls us; or Chalcis, lying on the coast

Of the unquiet sea whose hastening tide

Beats up the strait; Calydna's wave-swept shore;

Or stormy Genoessa; or the isle 860

Of Peparethus near the seaward line

Of Attica; Enispe smitten oft

By Boreas; or Eleusis, reverenced

For Ceres' holy, secret mysteries?

Or shall we seek great Ajax' Salamis? 865

Or Calydon the home of savage beasts?

Or countries that the Titaressus laves

With its slow waters? Scarphe, Pylos old,

Or Bessus, Pharis, Pisa, Elis famed

For the Olympian games? 870

It matters not what tempest drives us hence,

Or to what land it bears us, so we shun

Sparta, the curse alike of Greece and Troy;

Nor seek the land of Argos, nor the home

Of cruel Pelops, Neritus hemmed in 875

By narrower limits than Zacynthus small,

Nor threatening cliffs of rocky Ithaca.

O Hecuba, what fate, what land, what lord

Remains for thee? In whose realm meetst thou death?


Scene I

Helen, Hecuba, Andromache, Polyxena.

Helen [soliloquizing]. Whatever sad and joyless marriage bond880

Holds slaughter, lamentations, bloody war,

Is worthy Helen. Even to fallen Troy

I bring misfortune, bidden to declare

The bridal that Achilles' son prepares

For his dead father, and demand the robe 885

And Grecian ornaments. By me betrayed,

And by my fraud, must Paris' sister die.

So be it, this were happier lot for her;

A fearless death must be a longed-for death.

Why shrink to do his bidding? On the head 890

Of him who plots the crime remains the guilt.

[Aloud to Polyxena.

Thou noble daughter of Troy's kingly house,

A milder god on thy misfortune looks,

Prepares for thee a happy marriage day.

Not Priam nor unfallen Troy could give 895

Such bridal, for the brightest ornament

Of the Pelasgian race, the man who holds

The kingdom of the wide Thessalian land,

Would make thee his by lawful marriage bonds.

Great Tethys, and the ocean goddesses, 900

And Thetis, gentle nymph of swelling seas,

Will call thee theirs; when thou art Pyrrhus' bride

Peleus will call thee kin, as Nereus will.

Put off thy robe of mourning, deck thyself

In gay attire; unlearn the captive's mien, 905

And suffer skillful hands to smooth thy hair

Now so unkempt. Perchance fate cast thee down

From thy high place to seat thee higher still;

It may be profit to have been a slave.

Andromache. This one ill only lacked to fallen Troy: 910

Pleasure, while Pergamus still smoking lies!

Fit hour for marriage! Dare one then refuse?

When Helen would persuade, who doubtful weds?

Thou curse! Two nations owe to thee their fall!

Seest thou the royal tomb, these bones that lie 915

Unburied, scattered over all the field?

Thy bridal is the cause. All Asia's blood,

All Europe's flows for thee, whilst thou, unstirred,

Canst see two husbands fighting, nor decide

Which one to wish the victor! Go, prepare 920

The marriage bed; what need of wedding torch

Or nuptial lights, when burning Troy provides

The fires for these new bridals? Celebrate,

O Trojan women, honor worthily

The marriage feast of Pyrrhus. Smite your breasts, 925

And weep aloud.

Helen. Soft comfort is refused

By deep despair, which loses reason, hates

The very sharers of its grief. My cause

I yet may plead before this hostile judge,

Since I have suffered heavier ills than she. 930

Andromache mourns Hector openly,

Hecuba weeps for Priam, I, alone,

In secret, weep for Paris. Is it hard,

Grievous, and hateful to bear servitude?

For ten long years I bore the captive's yoke. 935

Is Ilium laid low, her household gods

Cast down? To lose one's land is hard indeed-

To fear is worse. Your sorrow friendship cheers,

Me conquerors and conquered hate alike.

For thee, there long was doubt whom thou shouldst serve, 940

My master drags me hence without the chance

Of lot. Was I the bringer of the war?

Of so great Teucrian carnage? Think this true

If first a Spartan keel thy waters cut;

But if of Phrygian oars I am the prey, 945

By the victorious goddess as a prize

Given for Paris' judgment, pardon me!

An angry judge awaits me, and my cause

Is left to Menelaus. Weep no more,

Andromache, put by thy grief. Alas, 950

Hardly can I myself restrain my tears.

Andromache. How great the ill that even Helen weeps!

Why does she weep? What trickery or crime

Plots now the Ithacan? From Ida's top,

Or Troy's high tower, will he cast the maid 955

Upon the rocks? Or hurl her to the deep

From the great cliff which, from its riven side,

Out of the shallow bay, Sigeon lifts?

What wouldst thou cover with deceitful face?

No ill were heavier than this: to see 960

Pyrrhus the son of Priam's Hecuba.

Speak, plainly tell the penalty thou bringst.

Take from defeat at least this evil,-fraud.

Thou seest thou dost not find us loth to die.

Helen. Would that Apollo's prophet bade me take 965

The long delay of my so hated life;

Or that, upon Achilles' sepulcher,

I might be slain by Pyrrhus' cruel hand,

The sharer of thy fate, Polyxena,

Whom harsh Achilles bids them give to him- 970

To offer to his manes, as his bride

In the Elysian Fields.

[Polyxena shows great joy, Hecuba sinks fainting to the ground.

Andromache. See with what joy a noble woman meets

Death-sentence, bids them bring the royal robe,

And fitly deck her hair. She deemed it death 975

To be the bride of Pyrrhus, but this death

A bridal seems. The wretched mother faints,

Her sinking spirit fails; unhappy one,

Arise, lift up thy heart, be strong of soul!

Life hangs but by a thread-how slight a thing 980

Glads Hecuba! She breathes, she lives again,

Death flies the wretched.

Hecuba. Lives Achilles still

To vex the Trojans? Still pursues his foes?

Light was the hand of Paris; but the tomb

And ashes of Achilles drink our blood. 985

Once I was circled by a happy throng

Of children, by their kisses weary made,

Parted my mother love amongst them all.

She, now, alone is left; for her I pray,

Companion, solace, healer of my grief, 990

The only child of Hecuba, her voice

Alone may call me mother! Bitter life,

Pass from me, slip away, spare this last blow!

Tears overflow my cheeks-a storm of tears

Falls from her eyes! 995

Andromache. We are the ones should weep,

We, Hecuba, whom, scattered here and there,

The Grecian ships shall carry far away.

The maid will find at least a sepulcher

In the dear soil of her loved native land.

Helen. Thy own lot known, yet more thou'lt envy hers.1000

Andromache. Is any portion of my lot unknown?

Helen. The fatal urn has given thee a lord.

Andromache. Whom call I master? Speak, who bears me hence

A slave?

Helen. Lot gave thee to the Scyrian king.

Andromache. Happy Cassandra, whom Apollo's wrath 1005

Spared from such fate!

Helen. The prince of kings claims her.

Hecuba. Be glad, rejoice, my child; Andromache

Desires thy bridals, and Cassandra, too,

Desires them. Is there any one would choose

Hecuba for his bride? 1010

Helen. Thou fallst a prey

To the unwilling Ithacan.

Hecuba. Alas,

What powerless, cruel, unrelenting god

Gives kings by lot to be the prey of kings?

What god unfriendly thus divides the spoil?

What cruel arbiter forbids us choose 1015

Our masters? With Achilles' arms confounds

Great Hector's mother?

To Ulysses' lot!

Conquered and captive am I now indeed,

Besieged by all misfortunes! 'Tis my lord

Puts me to shame, and not my servitude! 1020

Harsh land and sterile, by rough seas enclosed,

Thou wilt not hold my grave! Lead on, lead on,

Ulysses, I delay not, I will go-

Will follow thee; my fate will follow me.

No tranquil calm will rest upon the sea; 1025

Wind, war, and flame shall rage upon the deep,

My woes and Priam's! When these things shall come,

Respite from punishment shall come to Troy.

Mine is the lot, from thee I snatch the prize!

But see where Pyrrhus comes with hasty steps 1030

And troubled face. Why pause? On, Pyrrhus, on!

Into this troubled bosom drive the sword,

And join to thy Achilles his new kin!

Slayer of aged men, up, here is blood,

Blood worthy of thy sword; drag off thy spoil, 1035

And with thy hideous slaughter stain the gods-

The gods who sit in heaven and those in hell!

What can I pray for thee? I pray for seas

Worthy these rites; I pray the thousand ships,

The fleet of the Pelasgians, may meet 1040

Such fate as that I fain would whelm the ship

That bears me hence a captive.

Scene II

Chorus. Sweet is a nation's grief to one who grieves-

Sweet are the lamentations of a land!

The sting of tears and grief is less when shared 1045

By many; sorrow, cruel in its pain,

Is glad to see its lot by many shared,

To know that not alone it suffers loss.

None shuns the hapless fate that many bear;

None deems himself forlorn, though truly so, 1050

If none are happy near him. Take away

His riches from the wealthy, take away

The hundred cattle that enrich his soil,

The poor will lift again his lowered head;

'Tis only by comparison man's poor. 1055

O'erwhelmed in hopeless ruin, it is sweet

To see none happy. He deplores his fate

Who, shipwrecked, naked, finds the longed-for port

Alone. He bears with calmer mien his fate

Who sees, with his, a thousand vessels wrecked 1060

By the fierce tempest, sees the broken planks

Heaped on the shore, the while the northwest wind

Drives on the coast, nor he alone returns

A shipwrecked beggar. When the radiant ram,

The gold-fleeced leader of the flock, bore forth 1065

Phryxus and Helle, Phryxus mourned the fall

Of Helle dropped into the Hellespont.

Pyrrha, Deucalion's wife, restrained her tears,

As he did, when they saw the sea, naught else,

And they alone of living men remained. 1070

The Grecian fleet shall scatter far and wide

Our grief and lamentations. When shall sound

The trumpet, bidding spread the sails? When dip

The laboring oars, and Troy's shores seem to flee?

When shall the land grow faint and far, the sea 1075

Expand before, Mount Ida fade behind?

Then grows our sorrow; then what way Troy lies

Mother and son shall gaze. The son shall say,

Pointing the while, 'There where the curving line

Of smoke floats, there is Ilium.' By that sign 1080

May Trojans know their country.


Scene I

Hecuba, Andromache, Messenger.

Messenger. O bitter, cruel, lamentable fate!

In these ten years of crime what deed so hard,

So sad, has Mars encountered? What decree

Of fate shall I lament? Thy bitter lot, 1085

Andromache? Or thine, thou aged one?

Hecuba. Whatever woe thou mournst is Hecuba's;

Their own griefs only others have to bear,

I bear the woes of all, all die through me,

And sorrow follows all who call me friend. 1090

Andromache. Suffering ever loves to tell its woes,

Tell of the deaths-the tale of double crime;

Speak, tell us all.

Messenger. One mighty tower remains

Of Troy, no more is left; from this high seat

Priam, the arbiter of war, was wont 1095

To view his troops; and in this tower he sat

And, in caressing arms, embraced the son

Of Hector, when that hero put to flight

With fire and sword the trembling, conquered Greeks.

From thence he showed the child its father's deeds. 1100

This tower, the former glory of our walls,

Is now a lonely, ruined mass of rock;

Thither the throng of chiefs and people flock;

From the deserted ships the Grecian host

Come pouring; on the hills some find a place, 1105

Some on the rising cliffs, upon whose top

They stand tiptoe; some climb the pines, and birch,

And laurel, till beneath the gathered crowd

The whole wood trembles; some have found the peaks

Of broken crags; some climb a swaying roof, 1110

Or toppling turret of the falling wall;

And some, rude lookers-on, mount Hector's tomb.

Through all the crowded space, with haughty mien,

Passes the Ithacan, and by the hand

Leads Priam's grandson; nor with tardy step 1115

Does the young hero mount the lofty wall.

Standing upon the top, with fearless heart

He turns his eagle glance from side to side.

As the young, tender cub of some wild beast,

Not able yet to raven with its teeth, 1120

Bites harmlessly, and proudly feels himself

A lion; so this brave and fearless child,

Holding the right hand of his enemy,

Moves host and leaders and Ulysses' self.

He only does not weep for whom all weep, 1125

But while the Ithacan begins the words

Of the prophetic message and the prayers

To the stern gods, he leaps into the midst

Of his and Priam's kingdom, willingly.

Andromache. Was ever such a deed by Colchians done, 1130

Or wandering Scythians, or the lawless race

That dwells beside the Caspian? Never yet

Has children's blood Busiris' altars stained,

Nor Diomedes feasted his fierce steeds

On children's limbs! Who took thy body up, 1135

My son, and bore it to the sepulcher?

Messenger. What would that headlong leap have left? His bones

Lie dashed in pieces by the heavy fall,

His face and noble form, inheritance

From his illustrious father, are with earth 1140

Commingled; broken is his neck; his head

Is dashed in pieces on the cruel stones

So that the brains gush forth; his body lies

Devoid of form.

Andromache. Like Hector, too, in this.

Messenger. When from the wall the boy was headlong cast1145

And the Achaians wept the crime they did,

Then turned these same Achaians to new crimes,

And to Achilles' tomb. With quiet flow

The Rh?tean waters beat the further side,

And opposite the tomb the level plain 1150

Slopes gently upward, and surrounds the place

Like a wide amphitheater; here the strand

Is thronged with lookers-on, who think to end

With this last death their vessels' long delay,

And glad themselves to think the foeman's seed 1155

At last cut off. The fickle, common crowd

Look coldly on; the most part hate the crime.

The Trojans haste with no less eagerness

To their own funeral rites, and, pale with fear,

Behold the final fall of ruined Troy. 1160

As at a marriage, suddenly they bring

The bridal torches; Helen goes before,

Attendant to the bride, with sad head bent.

'So may the daughter of Hermione

Be wed,' the Phrygians pray, 'base Helen find 1165

Again her husband.' Terror seizes both

The awe-struck peoples. With her glance cast down,

Modestly comes the victim; but her cheeks

Glow, and her beauty shines unwontedly;

So shines the light of Ph?bus gloriously 1170

Before his setting, when the stars return

And day is darkened by approaching night.

The throng is silenced; all men praise the maid

Who now must die: some praise her lovely form,

Her tender age moves some, and some lament 1175

The fickleness of fortune; every one

Is touched at heart by her courageous soul,

Her scorn of death. She comes, by Pyrrhus led;

All wonder, tremble, pity; when the hill

Is reached, and on his father's grave advanced, 1180

The young king stands, the noble maid shrinks not,

But waits unflinchingly the fatal blow.

Her unquelled spirit moves the hearts of all;

And-a new prodigy-Pyrrhus is slow

At slaughter; but at length, with steady hand, 1185

He buries to the hilt the gleaming sword

Within her breast; the life-blood gushes forth

From the deep wound; in death as heretofore

Her soul is strong; with angry thud she falls

As she would make the earth a heavy load 1190

Upon Achilles' breast. Both armies weep;

The Trojans offer only feeble moans;

The victors mourn more freely. So was made

The sacrifice; her blood lay not for long

Upon the soil, nor flowed away; the tomb 1195

Drank cruelly the gore.

Hecuba. Go, conquering Greeks,

Securely seek your homes; with all sail set,

Your fleet may safely skim the longed-for sea.

The lad and maid are dead, the war is done!

Where can I hide my woe, where lay aside 1200

The long delay of the slow-passing years?

Whom shall I weep? my husband, grandson, child,

Or country? Mourn the living or the dead?

O longed-for death, with violence dost thou come

To babes and maidens, but thou fleest from me! 1205

Through long night sought, mid fire, and swords, and spears,

Why fly me? Not the foe, nor ruined home,

Nor flame could slay me, though so near I stood

To Priam!

Messenger. [Talthybius, coming from the Greek camp.

Captive women, seek with speed

The sea; the sails are filled, the vessels move. 1210

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