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ANDROMACHE by Euripides, Part 09

CHORUS (singing)

strophe

Oh! to have never been born, or sprung from noble sires, the
heir to mansions richly stored; for if aught untoward e'er befall,
there is no lack of champions for sons of noble parents, and there
is honour and glory for them when they are proclaimed scions of
illustrious lines; time detracts not from the legacy these good men
leave, but the light of their goodness still burns on when they are
dead.

antistrophe

Better is it not to win a discreditable victory, than to make
justice miscarry by an invidious exercise of power; for such a
victory, though men think it sweet for the moment, grows barren in
time and comes near being a stain on a house. This is the life I
commend, this the life I set before me as my ideal, to exercise no
authority beyond what is right either in the marriage-chamber or in
the state.

epode

O aged son of Aeacus! now am I sure that thou wert with the
Lapithae, wielding thy famous spear, when they fought the Centaurs;
and on Argo's deck didst pass the cheerless strait beyond the sea-beat
Symplegades on her voyage famed; and when in days long gone the son of
Zeus spread slaughter round Troy's famous town, thou too didst share
his triumphant return to Europe.
(The NURSE OF HERMIONE enters.)
NURSE
Alas! good friends, what a succession of troubles is to-day
provided us! My mistress Hermione within the house, deserted by her
father and in remorse for her monstrous deed in plotting the death
of Andromache and her child, is bent on dying; for she is afraid her
husband will in requital for this expel her with dishonour from his
house or put her to death, because she tried to slay the innocent. And
the servants that watch her can scarce restrain her efforts to hang
herself, scarce catch the sword and wrest it from her hand. So
bitter is her anguish, and she hath recognized the villainy of her
former deeds. As for me, friends, I am weary of keeping my mistress
from the fatal noose; do ye go in and try to save her life; for if
strangers come, they prove more persuasive than the friends of every
day.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Ah yes! I hear an outcry in the house amongst the servants,
confirming the news thou hast brought. Poor sufferer! she seems
about to show lively grief for her grave crimes; for she has escaped
her servants' hands and is rushing from the house, eager to end her
life.

(HERMIONE enters, in agitation. She is carrying
a sword which the NURSE wrests from her.)

HERMIONE (chanting)
Woe, woe is me! I will rend my hair and tear cruel furrows in my
cheeks.
NURSE
My child, what wilt thou do? Wilt thou disfigure thyself?
HERMIONE (chanting)
Ah me! ah me! Begone, thou fine-spun veil! float from my head
away!
NURSE
Daughter, cover up thy bosom, fasten thy robe.
HERMIONE (chanting)
Why should I cover it? My crimes against my lord are manifest
and clear, they cannot be hidden.
NURSE
Art so grieved at having devised thy rival's death?
HERMIONE (chanting)
Yea, I deeply mourn my fatal deeds of daring; alas! I am now
accursed in all men's eyes!
NURSE
Thy husband will pardon thee this error.
HERMIONE (chanting)
Oh! why didst thou hunt me to snatch away my sword? Give, oh! give
it back, dear NURSE, that I may thrust it through my heart Why dost
thou prevent me hanging myself?
NURSE
What! was I to let thy madness lead thee on to death?
HERMIONE (chanting)
Ah me, my destiny! Where can I find some friendly fire? To what
rocky height can I climb above the sea or 'mid some wooded mountain
glen, there to die and trouble but the dead?
NURSE
Why vex thyself thus? on all of us sooner or later heaven's
visitation comes.
HERMIONE (chanting)
Thou hast left me, O my father, left me like a stranded bark,
all alone, without an oar. My lord will surely slay me; no home is
mine henceforth beneath my husband's roof. What god is there to
whose statue I can as a suppliant haste? or shall I throw myself in
slavish wise at slavish knees? Would I could speed away from
Phthia's land on bird's dark pinion, or like that pine-built ship, the
first that ever sailed betwixt the rocks Cyanean!

 

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