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ANDROMACHE by Euripides, Part 03

LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Women are by nature somewhat jealous, and do ever show the keenest
hate to rivals in their love.
ANDROMACHE
Ah! well-a-day! Youth is a bane to mortals, in every case, that
is, where a man embraces injustice in his early days. Now I am
afraid that my being a slave will prevent thee listening to me in
spite of many a just plea, or if I win my case, I fear I may be
damaged on this very ground, for the high and mighty cannot brook
refuting arguments from their inferiors; still I will not be convicted
of betraying my own cause. Tell me, proud young wife, what assurance
can make me confident of wresting from thee thy lawful lord? Is it
that Laconia's capital yields to Phrygia? is it that my fortune
outstrips thine? or that in me thou seest a free woman? Am I so elated
by my youth, my full healthy figure, the extent of my city, the number
of my friends that I wish to supplant thee in thy home? Is my
purpose to take thy place and rear myself a race of slaves, mere
appendages to my misery? or, supposing thou bear no children, will any
one endure that sons of mine should rule o'er Phthia? Ah no! there
is the love that Hellas bears me, both for Hector's sake and for my
own humble rank forsooth, that never knew a queen's estate in Troy.
'Tis not my sorcery that makes thy husband hate thee, nay, but thy own
failure to prove thyself his help-meet. Herein lies love's only charm;
'tis not beauty, lady, but virtuous acts that win our husbands'
hearts. And though it gall thee to be told so, albeit thy city in
Laconia is no doubt mighty fact, yet thou findest no place for his
Scyros, displaying wealth 'midst poverty and setting Menelaus above
Achilles: and that is what alienates thy lord. Take heed; for a woman,
though bestowed upon worthless husband, must be with him content,
and ne'er advance presumptuous claims. Suppose thou hadst wedded a
prince of Thrace, the land of flood and melting snow, where one lord
shares his affections with a host of wives, wouldst thou have slain
them? If so, thou wouldst have set a stigma of insatiate lust on all
our sex. A shameful charge! And yet herein we suffer more than men,
though we make a good stand against it. Ah! my dear lord Hector, for
thy sake would I e'en brook a rival, if ever Cypris led thee astray,
and oft in days gone by I held thy bastard babes to my own breast,
to spare thee any cause for grief. By this course I bound my husband
to me by virtue's chains, whereas thou wilt never so much as let the
drops of dew from heaven above settle on thy lord, in thy jealous
fear. Oh! seek not to surpass thy mother in hankering after men, for
'tis well that all wise children should avoid the habits of such
evil mothers.
LEADER
Mistress mine, be persuaded to come to terms with her, as far as
readily comes within thy power.
HERMIONE
Why this haughty tone, this bandying of words, as if, forsooth,
thou, not I, wert the virtuous wife?
ANDROMACHE
Thy present claims at any rate give thee small title thereto.
HERMIONE
Woman, may my bosom never harbour such ideas as thine!
ANDROMACHE
Thou art young to speak on such a theme as this.
HERMIONE
As for thee, thou dost not speak thereof, but, as thou canst, dost
put it into action against me.
ANDROMACHE
Canst thou not conceal thy pangs of jealousy?
HERMIONE
What! doth not every woman put this first of all?
ANDROMACHE
Yes, if her experiences are happy; otherwise, there is no honour
in speaking of them.
HERMIONE
Barbarians' laws are not a standard for our city.
ANDROMACHE
Alike in Asia and in Hellas infamy attends base actions.
HERMIONE
Clever, clever quibbler! yet die thou must and shalt.
ANDROMACHE
Dost see the image of Thetis with her eye upon thee?
HERMIONE
A bitter foe to thy country because of the death of Achilles.
ANDROMACHE
'Twas not I that slew him, but Helen that mother of thine.
HERMIONE
Pray, is it thy intention to probe my wounds yet deeper?
ANDROMACHE
Behold, I am dumb, my lips are closed.
HERMIONE
Tell me that which was my only reason for coming hither.
ANDROMACHE
No! all I tell thee is, thou hast less wisdom than thou needest.
HERMIONE
Wilt thou leave these hallowed precincts of the sea-goddess?
ANDROMACHE
Yes, if I am not to die for it; otherwise, I never will.
HERMIONE
Since that is thy resolve, I shall not even wait my lord's return.
ANDROMACHE
Nor yet will I, at any rate ere that, surrender to thee.

 

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