ANDROMACHE by Euripides, Part 13
Lo! e'en now our prince is being carried on a bier from Delphi's
land unto his home. Woe for him and his sad fate, and woe for thee,
old sire! for this is not the welcome thou wouldst give Achilles' son,
the lion's whelp; thyself too by this sad mischance dost share his
Ah! woe is me! here is a sad sight for me to see and take unto
my halls! Ah me! ah me! I am undone, thou city of Thessaly! My line
now ends; I have no children left me in my home. Oh! the sorrows
seem born to endure! What friend can I look to for relief? Ah, dear
lips, and cheeks, and hands! Would thy destiny had slain the 'neath
Ilium's walls beside the banks of Simois!
Had he so died, my aged lord, he had won him honour thereby, and
thine had been the happier lot.
O marriage, marriage, woe to thee! thou bane of my home, thou
destroyer of my city! Ah my child, my boy, would that the honour of
wedding thee, fraught with evil as it was to my children and house,
had not thrown o'er thee, my son, Hermione's deadly net! that the
thunderbolt had slain her sooner! and that thou, rash mortal, hadst
never charged the great god Phoebus with aiming that murderous shaft
that spilt thy hero-father's blood!
Woe! woe! alas! With due observance of funeral rites will I
begin the mourning for my dead master.
Alack and well-a-day! I take up the tearful dirge, ah me! old
and wretched as I am.
'Tis Heaven's decree; God willed this heavy stroke.
O darling child, thou hast left me all alone in my halls, old
and childless by thy loss.
Thou shouldst have died, old sire, before thy children.
Shall I not tear my hair, and smite upon my head with grievous
blows? O city! of both my children hath Phoebus robbed me.
What evils thou hast suffered, what sorrows thou hast seen, thou
poor old man! what shall be thy life hereafter?
Childless, desolate, with no limit to my grief, I must drain the
cup of woe, until I die.
'Twas all in vain the gods wished thee joy on thy wedding day.
All my hopes have flown away, fallen short of my high boasts.
A lonely dweller in a lonely home art thou.
I have no city any longer; there! on the ground my sceptre do
cast; and thou, daughter of Nereus, 'neath thy dim grotto, shalt see
me grovelling in the dust, a ruined king.
Look, look! (A dim form of divine appearance is seen hovering
mid air.) What is that moving? what influence divine am I conscious
of? Look, maidens, mark it well; see, yonder is some deity, wafted
through the lustrous air and alighting on the plains of Phthia, home
THETIS (from above)
O Peleus! because of my wedded days with thee now long agone, I
Thetis am come from the halls of Nereus. And first I counsel thee
not to grieve to excess in thy present distress, for I too who need
ne'er have borne children to my sorrow, have lost the child of our
love, Achilles swift of foot, foremost of the sons of Hellas. Next
will I declare why I am come, and do thou give ear. Carry yonder
corpse, Achilles' son, to the Pythian altar and there bury it, a
reproach to Delphi, that his tomb may proclaim the violent death he
met at the hand of ORESTES . And for his captive wife Andromache,-she
must dwell in the Molossian land, united in honourable wedlock with
Helenus, and with her this babe, the sole survivor as he is of all the
line of Aeacus, for from him a succession of prosperous kings of
Molossia is to go on unbroken; for the race that springs from thee and
me, my aged lord, must not thus be brought to naught; no! nor Troy's
line either; for her fate too is cared for by the gods, albeit her
fall was due to the eager wish of Pallas. Thee too, that thou mayst
know the saving grace of wedding me, will I, a goddess born and
daughter of a god, release from all the ills that flesh is heir to and
make a deity to know not death nor decay. From henceforth in the halls
of Nereus shalt thou dwell with me, god and goddess together; thence
shalt thou rise dry-shod from out the main and see Achilles, our
dear son, settled in his island-home by the strand of Leuce, that is
girdled by the Euxine sea. But get thee to Delphi's god-built town,
carrying this corpse with thee, and, after thou hast buried him,
return and settle in the cave which time hath hollowed in the Sepian
rock and there abide, till from the sea I come with choir of fifty
Nereids to be thy escort thence; for fate's decree thou must fulfil;
such is the pleasure of Zeus. Cease then to mourn the dead; this is
the lot which heaven assigns to all, and all must pay their debt to
Great queen, my honoured wife, from Nereus sprung, all hail!
thou art acting herein as befits thyself and thy children. So I will
stay my grief at thy bidding, goddess, and, when I have buried the
dead, will seek the glens of Pelion, even the place where I took thy
beauteous form to my embrace. Surely after this every prudent man will
seek to marry a wife of noble stock and give his daughter to a husband
good and true, never setting his heart on a worthless woman, not
even though she bring a sumptuous dowry to his house. So would men
ne'er suffer ill at heaven's hand.
Many are the shapes of Heaven's denizens, and many a thing they
bring to pass contrary to our expectation; that which we thought would
be is not accomplished, while for the unexpected God finds out a
way. E'en such hath been the issue of this matter.