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ANDROMACHE by Euripides, Part 11

Thou hast given thy tongue too free a rein regarding thy own
sex. I can pardon thee in this case, but still women ought to smooth
over their sisters' weaknesses.
'Twas sage counsel he gave who taught men to hear the arguments on
both sides. I, for instance, though aware of the confusion in this
house, the quarrel between thee and Hector's wife, waited awhile and
watched to see whether thou wouldst stay here or from fear of that
captive art minded to quit these halls. Now it was not so much
regard for thy message that brought me thither, as the intention of
carrying thee away from this house, if, as now, thou shouldst grant me
a chance of saying so. For thou wert mine formerly, but art now living
with thy present husband through thy father's baseness; since he,
before invading Troy's domains, betrothed thee to me, and then
afterwards promised thee to thy present lord, provided he captured the
city of Troy.
So, as soon as Achilles' son returned hither, I forgave thy
father, but entreated the bridegroom to forego his marriage with thee,
telling him all I had endured and my present misfortune; I might get a
wife, I said, from amongst friends, but outside their circle 'twas
no easy task for one exiled like myself from home. Thereat he grew
abusive, taunting me with my mother's murder and those
blood-boltered fiends. And I was humbled by the fortunes of my
house, and though 'tis true, I grieved, yet did I bear my sorrow,
and reluctantly departed, robbed of thy promised hand. Now
therefore, since thou findest thy fortune so abruptly changed and
art fallen thus on evil days and hast no help, I will take thee
hence and place thee in thy father's hands. For kinship hath strong
claims, and in adversity there is naught better than a kinsman's
kindly aid.
As for my marriage, my father must look to it; 'tis not for me
to decide. Yes, take me hence as soon as may be, lest my husband
come back to his house before I am gone, or Peleus hear that I am
deserting his son's abode and pursue me with his swift steeds.
Rest easy about the old man's power; and, as for Achilles' son
with all his insolence to me, never fear him; such a crafty net this
hand hath woven and set for his death with knots that none can
loose; whereof I will not speak before the time, but, when my plot
begins to work, Delphi's rock will witness it. If but my allies in the
Pythian land abide by their oaths, this same murderer of his mother
will show that no one else shall marry thee my rightful bride. To
his cost will he demand satisfaction of King Phoebus for his
father's blood; nor shall his repentance avail him though he is now
submitting to the god. No! he shall perish miserably by Apollo's
hand and my false accusations; so shall he find out my enmity. For the
deity upsets the fortune of them that hate him, and suffers them not
to be high-minded.
(ORESTES and HERMIONE depart.)
CHORUS (singing)

strophe 1

O Phoebus! who didst fence the hill of Ilium with a fair coronal
of towers, and thou, ocean-god! coursing o'er the main with thy dark
steeds, wherefore did ye hand over in dishonour your own handiwork
to the war-god, master of the spear, abandoning Troy to wretchedness?

antistrophe 1

Many a well-horsed car ye yoked on the banks of Simois, and many a
bloody tournament did ye ordain with never a prize to win; and Ilium's
princes are dead and gone; no longer in Troy is seen the blaze of fire
on altars of the gods with the smoke of incense.

strophe 2

The son of Atreus is no more, slain by the hand of his wife, and
she herself hath paid the debt of blood by death, and from her
children's hands received her doom. The god's own bidding from his
oracle was levelled against her, in the day that AGAMEMNON's son set
forth from Argos and visited his shrine; so he slew her, aye, spilt
his own mother's blood. O Phoebus, O thou power divine, how can I
believe the story?

antistrophe 2

Anon wherever Hellenes gather, was heard the voice of lamentation,
mothers weeping o'er their children's fate, as they left their homes
to mate with strangers. Ah! thou art not the only one, nor thy dear
ones either, on whom the cloud of grief hath fallen. Hellas had to
bear the visitation, and thence the scourge crossed to Phrygia's
fruitful fields, raining the bloody drops the death-god loves.
(PELEUS enters in haste.)
Ye dames of Phthia, answer my questions. I heard a vague rumour
that the daughter of Menelaus had left these halls and fled; so now
I am come in hot haste to learn if this be true; for it is the duty of
those who are at home to labour in the interests of their absent
Thou hast heard aright, O Peleus; ill would it become me to hide
the evil case in which I now find myself; our queen has fled and
left these halls.


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