ANDROMACHE by Euripides, Part 01
translated by E. P. Coleridge
CHARACTERS IN THE PLAY
MAID OF ANDROMACHE
CHORUS OF PHTHIAN WOMEN
HERMIONE, daughter of MENELAUS and wife of Neoptolemus
MENELAUS, King of Sparta
MOLOSSUS, son of ANDROMACHE and Neoptolemus
PELEUS, father of Achilles
NURSE OF HERMIONE
ORESTES , son of AGAMEMNON
THETIS, the goddess, wife of PELEUS
(SCENE:-Before the temple of THETIS in Thessaly.
ANDROMACHE, dressed as a suppliant, is clinging
to the altar in front of the temple. The palace
of Achilles is nearby.)
O CITY of Thebes, glory of Asia, whence on a day I came to Priam's
princely home with many a rich and costly thing in my dower, affianced
unto Hector to be the mother of his children, I Andromache, envied
name in days of yore, but now of all women that have been or yet shall
be the most unfortunate; for I have lived to see my husband Hector
slain by Achilles, and the babe Astyanax, whom I bore my lord,
hurled from the towering battlements, when the Hellenes sacked our
Trojan home; and I myself am come to Hellas as a slave, though I was
esteemed a daughter of a race most free, given to Neoptolemus that
island-prince, and set apart for him as his special prize from the
spoils of Troy. And here I dwell upon the boundaries of Phthia and
Pharsalia's town, where Thetis erst, the goddess of the sea, abode
with Peleus apart from the world, avoiding the throng of men;
wherefore the folk of Thessaly call it the sacred place of Thetis,
in honour of the goddess's marriage. Here dwells the son of Achilles
and suffers Peleus still to rule Pharsalia, not wishing to assume
the sceptre while the old man lives. Within these halls have borne a
boy to the son of Achilles, my master. Now aforetime for all my misery
I ever had a hope to lead me on, that, if my child were safe, I
might find some help and protection from my woes; but since my lord in
scorn of his bondmaid's charms hath wedded that Spartan Hermione, I am
tormented by her most cruelly; for she saith that I by secret
enchantment am making her barren and distasteful to her husband, and
that I design to take her place in this house, ousting her the
rightful mistress by force; whereas I at first submitted against my
will and now have resigned my place; be almighty Zeus my witness
that it was not of my own free will I became her rival!
But I cannot convince her, and she longs to kill me, and her
father Menelaus is an accomplice in this. E'en now is he within,
arrived from Sparta for this very purpose, while I in terror am come
to take up position here in the shrine of Thetis adjoining the
house, if haply it may save me from death; for Peleus and his
descendants hold it in honour as symbol of his marriage with the
Nereid. My only son am I secretly conveying to a neighbour's house
in fear for his life. For his sire stands not by my side to lend his
aid and cannot avail his child at all, being absent in the land of
Delphi, where he is offering recompense to Loxias for the madness he
committed, when on a day he went to Pytho and demanded of Phoebus
satisfaction for his father's death, if haply his prayer might avert
those past sins and win for him the god's goodwill hereafter.
(The MAID OF ANDROMACHE enters.)
Mistress mine, be sure I do not hesitate to call thee by that
name, seeing that I thought it thy right in thine own house also, when
we dwelt in Troy-land; as I was ever thy friend and thy husband's
while yet he was alive, so now have I come with strange tidings, in
terror lest any of our masters learn hereof but still out of pity
for thee; for Menelaus and his daughter are forming dire plots against
thee, whereof thou must beware.
Ah! kind companion of my bondage, for such thou art to her, who,
erst thy queen, is now sunk in misery; what are they doing? What new
schemes are they devising in their eagerness to take away my
Alas! poor lady, they intend to slay thy son, whom thou hast
privily conveyed from out the house.
Ah me! Has she heard that my babe was put out of her reach? Who
told her? Woe is me! how utterly undone!
I know not, but thus much of their schemes I heard myself; and
Menelaus has left the house to fetch him.
Then am I lost; ah, my child! those vultures twain will take and
slay thee; while he who is called thy father lingers still in Delphi.
True, for had he been here thou wouldst not have fared so
hardly, am sure; but, as it is, thou art friendless.
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