ANDROMACHE by Euripides, Part 06
Never, oh! never will I commend rival wives or sons of different
mothers, a cause of strife, of bitterness, and grief in every house.
would have a husband content with one wife whose rights he shareth
with no other.
Not even in states is dual monarchy better to bear than
undivided rule; it only doubles burdens and causes faction amongst the
citizens. Often too will the Muse sow strife 'twixt rivals in the
art of minstrelsy.
Again, when strong winds are drifting mariners, the divided
counsel of the wise does not best avail for steering, and their
collective wisdom has less weight than the inferior mind of the single
man who has sole authority; for this is the essence of power alike
in house and state, whene'er men care to find the proper moment.
This Spartan, the daughter of the great chief Menelaus, proves
this; for she hath kindled hot fury against a rival, and is bent on
slaying the hapless Trojan maid and her child to further her bitter
quarrel. 'Tis a murder gods and laws and kindness all forbid. Ah!
lady, retribution for this deed will yet visit thee.
But lo! before the house I see those two united souls, condemned
to die. Alas! for thee, poor lady, and for thee, unhappy child, who
art dying on account of thy mother's marriage, though thou hast no
share therein and canst not be blamed by the royal house.
(ANDROMACHE enters, her arms bound. Her son clings
to her. MENELAUS and the guards follow, intent
on accomplishing the murder. The following
lines are chanted responsively.)
Behold me journeying on the downward path, my hands so tightly
bound with cords that they bleed.
O mother, mother mine! I too share thy downward path, nestling
'neath thy wing.
A cruel sacrifice! ye rulers of Phthia!
Come, father! succour those thou lovest.
Rest there, my babe, my darling! on thy mother's bosom, e'en in
death and in the grave.
Ah, woe is me! what will become of me and thee too, mother mine?
Away, to the world below! from hostile towers ye came, the pair of
you; two different causes necessitate your deaths; my sentence takes
away thy life, and my daughter Hermione's requires his; for it would
be the height of folly to leave our foemen's sons, when we might
kill them and remove the danger from our house.
O husband mine! I would I had thy strong arm and spear to aid
me, son of Priam.
Ah, woe is me! what spell can I now find to turn death's stroke
Embrace thy master's knees, my child, and pray to him.
Spare, O spare my life, kind master!
Mine eyes are wet with tears, which trickle down my cheeks, as
doth a sunless spring from a smooth rock. Ah me!
What remedy, alas! can I provide me 'gainst my ills?
Why fall at my knees in supplication? hard as the rock and deaf as
the wave am I. My own friends have I helped, but for thee have no
tie of affection; for verily it cost me a great part of my life to
capture Troy and thy mother; so thou shalt reap the fruit thereof
and into Hades' halls descend.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Behold! I see Peleus drawing nigh; with aged step he hasteth
(PELEUS enters with an ATTENDANT.)