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HECUBA by Euripides, Part 01

420 BC
HECUBA
by Euripides
translated by E. P. Coleridge
CHARACTERS IN THE PLAY
THE GHOST OF POLYDORUS, son of HECUBA and Priam, King of Troy
HECUBA, wife of Priam
CHORUS OF CAPTIVE TROJAN WOMEN
POLYXENA, daughter of HECUBA and Priam
ODYSSEUS
TALTHYBIUS, HeraLD of AGAMEMNON
MAID OF HECUBA
AGAMEMNON
POLYMESTOR, King of the Thracian Chersonese
Children Of POLYMESTOR, ATTENDANTs, and guards


HECUBA
HECUBA


(SCENE:-Before AGAMEMNON'S tent in the Greek
camp upon the shore of the Thracian Chersonese.
The GHOST OF POLYDORUS appears.)

GHOST
Lo! I AM come from out the charnel-house and gates of gloom, where
Hades dwells apart from gods, I Polydorus, a son of HECUBA the
daughter of Cisseus and of Priam. Now my father, when Phrygia's
capital was threatened with destruction by the spear of Hellas, took
alarm and conveyed me secretly from the land of Troy unto Polymestor's
house, his friend in Thrace, who sows these fruitful plains of
Chersonese, curbing by his might a nation delighting in horses. And
with me my father sent great store of gold by stealth, that, if ever
Ilium's walls should fall, his children that survived might not want
for means to live. I was the youngest of Priam's sons; and this it was
that caused my stealthy removal from the land; for my childish arm
availed not to carry weapons or to wield the spear. So long then as
the bulwarks of our land stood firm, and Troy's battlements abode
unshaken, and my brother Hector prospered in his warring, I, poor
child, grew up and flourished, like some vigorous shoot, at the
court of the Thracian, my father's friend. But when Troy fell and
Hector lost his life and my father's hearth was rooted up, and himself
fell butchered at the god-built altar by the hands of Achilles'
murderous son; then did my father's friend slay me his helpless
guest for the sake of the gold, and thereafter cast me into the
swell of the sea, to keep the gold for himself in his house. And there
I lie one time upon the strand, another in the salt sea's surge,
drifting ever up and down upon the billows, unwept, unburied; but
now am I hovering o'er the head of my dear mother HECUBA, a
disembodied spirit, keeping my airy station these three days, ever
since my poor mother came from Troy to linger here in Chersonese.
Meantime all the Achaeans sit idly here in their ships at the shores
of Thrace; for the son of Peleus, even Achilles, appeared above his
tomb and stayed the whole host of Hellas, as they were making straight
for home across the sea, demanding to have my sister Polyxena
offered at his tomb, and to receive his guerdon. And he will obtain
this prize, nor will they that are his friends refuse the gift; and on
this very day is fate leading my sister to her doom. So will my mother
see two children dead at once, me and that ill-fated maid. For I, to
win a grave, ah me! will appear amid the rippling waves before her
bond-maid's feet. Yes! I have won this boon from the powers below,
that I should find tomb and fall into my mother's hands; so shall I
get my heart's desire; wherefore I will go and waylay aged HECUBA, for
yonder she passeth on her way from the shelter of AGAMEMNON's tent,
terrified at my spectre. Woe is thee! ah, mother mine! from a palace
dragged to face a life of slavery! how sad thy lot, as sad as once
'twas blest! Some god is now destroying thee, setting this in the
balance to outweigh thy former bliss.

(The GHOST vanishes. HECUBA enters from the tent
of AGAMEMNON, supported by her ATTENDANTs, captive Trojan women.)

HECUBA (chanting)
Guide these aged steps, my servants, forth before the house;
support your fellow-slave, your queen of yore, ye maids of Troy.
Take hold upon my aged hand, support me, guide me, lift me up; and I
will lean upon your bended arm as on a staff and quicken my halting
footsteps onwards. O dazzling light of Zeus! O gloom of night! why
am I thus scared by fearful visions of the night? O earth, dread
queen, mother of dreams that flit on sable wings! I am seeking to
avert the vision of the night, the sight of horror which I saw so
clearly in my dreams touching my son, who is safe in Thrace, and
Polyxena my daughter dear. Ye gods of this land! preserve my son,
the last and only anchor of my house, now settled in Thrace, the
land of snow, safe in the keeping of his father's friend. Some fresh
disaster is in store, a new strain of sorrow will be added to our woe.
Such ceaseless thrills of terror never wrung my heart before. Oh!
where, ye Trojan maidens, can I find inspired Helenus or Cassandra,
that they may read me my dream? For I saw a dappled hind mangled by
a wolf's bloody fangs, torn from my knees by force in piteous wise.
And this too filled me with affright; o'er the summit of his tomb
appeared Achilles' phantom, and for his guerdon he would have one of
the luckless maids of Troy. Wherefore, I implore you, powers divine,
avert this horror from my daughter, from my child.

(The CHORUS OF CAPTIVE TROJAN WOMEN enters.)

 

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