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ANDROMACHE by Euripides, Part 04

HERMIONE
I will bring fire to bear on thee, and pay no heed to thy
entreaties.
ANDROMACHE
Kindle thy blaze then; the gods will witness it.
HERMIONE
And make thy flesh to writhe by cruel wounds.
ANDROMACHE
Begin thy butchery, stain the altar of the goddess with blood, for
she will visit thy iniquity.
HERMIONE
Barbarian creature, hardened in impudence, wilt thou brave death
itself? Still will I find speedy means to make these quit this seat of
thy free will; such a bait have I to lure thee with. But I will hide
my meaning, which the event itself shall soon declare. Yes, keep thy
seat, for I will make thee rise, though molten lead is holding thee
there, before Achilles' son, thy trusted champion, arrive.
(HERMIONE departs.)
ANDROMACHE
My trusted champion, yes! how strange it is, that though some
god hath devised cures for mortals against the venom of reptiles, no
man ever yet hath discovered aught to cure a woman's venom, which is
far worse than viper's sting or scorching flame; so terrible a curse
are we to mankind.
CHORUS (singing)

strophe 1

Ah! what sorrows did the son of Zeus and Maia HeraLD, in the day
he came to Ida's glen, guiding that fair young trio of goddesses,
all girded for the fray in bitter rivalry about their beauty, to the
shepherd's fold where dwelt the youthful herdsman all alone by the
hearth of his lonely hut.

antistrophe 1

Soon as they reached the wooded glen, in gushing mountain
springs they bathed their dazzling skin, then sought the son of Priam,
comparing their rival charms in more than rancorous phrase. But Cypris
won the day by her deceitful promises, sweet-sounding words, but
fraught with ruthless overthrow to Phrygia's hapless town and
Ilium's towers.

strophe 2

Would God his mother had smitten him a cruel death-blow on the
head before he made his home on Ida's slopes, in the hour Cassandra,
standing by the holy bay-tree, cried out, "Slay him, for he will bring
most grievous bane on Priam's town." To every prince she went, to
every elder sued for the babe's destruction.

antistrophe 2

Ah! had they listened, Ilium's daughters neer had felt the yoke of
slavery, and thou, lady, hadst been established in the royal palace;
and Hellas had been freed of all the anguish she suffered during those
ten long years her sons went wandering, spear in hand, around the
walls of Troy; brides had never been left desolate, nor hoary
fathers childless.

(MENELAUS and his retinue enter. He is leading MOLOSSUS by the hand.)

MENELAUS
Behold I bring thy son with me, whom thou didst steal away to a
neighbour's house without my daughter's knowledge. Thou wert so sure
this image of the goddess would protect thee and those who hid him,
but thou hast not proved clever enough for Menelaus. And so if thou
refuse to leave thy station here, he shall be slain instead of thee.
Wherefore weigh it well: wilt die thyself, or see him slain for the
sin whereof thou art guilty against me and my daughter?
ANDROMACHE
O fame, fame! full many a man ere now of no account hast thou to
high estate exalted. Those, indeed, who truly have a fair repute, I
count blest; but those who get it by false pretences, I will never
allow have aught but the accidental appearance of wisdom. Thou for
instance, caitiff that thou art, didst thou ever wrest Troy from Priam
with thy picked troops of Hellenes? thou that hast raised such a
storm, at the word of thy daughter, a mere child, and hast entered the
lists with a poor captive; unworthy I count thee of Troy's capture,
and Troy still more disgraced by thy victory. Those who only in
appearance are men of sense make an outward show, but inwardly
resemble the common herd, save it be in wealth, which is their
chiefest strength.
Come now, Menelaus, let us carry through this argument. Suppose
I am slain by thy daughter, and she work her will on me, yet can she
never escape the pollution of murder, and public opinion will make
thee too an accomplice in this deed of blood, for thy share in the
business must needs implicate thee. But even supposing I escape
death myself, will ye kill my child? Even then, how will his father
brook the murder of his child? Troy has no such coward's tale to
tell of him; nay, he will follow duty's call; his actions will prove
him a worthy scion of Peleus and Achilles. Thy daughter will be thrust
forth from his house; and what wilt thou say when seeking to betroth
her to another? wilt say her virtue made her leave a worthless lord?
Nay, that will be false. Who then will wed her? wilt thou keep her
without a husband in thy halls, grown grey in widowhood? Unhappy
wretch! dost not see the flood-gates of trouble opening wide for thee?
How many a wrong against a wife wouldst thou prefer thy daughter to
have found to suffering what I now describe? We ought not on
trifling grounds to promote great ills; nor should men, if we women
are so deadly a curse, bring their nature down to our level. No! if,
as thy daughter asserts, I am practising sorcery against her and
making her barren, right willingly will I, without any crouching at
altars, submit in my own person to the penalty that lies in her
husband's hands, seeing that I am no less chargeable with injuring him
if I make him childless. This is my case; but for thee, there is one
thing I fear in thy disposition; it was a quarrel for a woman that
really induced thee to destroy poor Ilium's town.

 

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