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HECUBA by Euripides, Part 05

POLYXENA
Ah! bosom and breasts that fed me with sweet food!
HECUBA
Woe is thee, my child, for this untimely fate!
POLYXENA
Farewell, my mother! farewell, Cassandra!
HECUBA
"Fare well!" others do, but not thy mother, no!
POLYXENA
Thou too, my brother Polydorus, who art in Thrace, the home of
steeds!
HECUBA
Aye, if he lives, which much I doubt; so luckless am I every way.
POLYXENA
Oh yes, he lives; and, when thou diest, he will close thine eyes.
HECUBA
I am dead; sorrow has forestalled death here.
POLYXENA
Come veil my head, ODYSSEUS, and take me hence; for now, ere falls
the fatal blow, my heart is melted by my mother's wailing, and hers no
less by mine. O light of day! for still may I call thee by thy name,
though now my share in thee is but the time I take to go 'twixt this
and the sword at Achilles' tomb.

(ODYSSEUS and his ATTENDANTs lead POLYXENA away.)

HECUBA
Woe is me! I faint; my limbs sink under me. O my daughter, embrace
thy mother, stretch out thy hand, give it me again; leave me not
childless! Ah, friends! 'tis my death-blow. Oh! to see that Spartan
woman, Helen, sister of the sons of Zeus, in such a plight; for her
bright eyes have caused the shameful fall of Troy's once prosperous
town.
(HECUBA sinks fainting to the ground.)
CHORUS (singing)

strophe 1

O breeze from out the deep arising, that waftest swift galleys,
ocean's coursers, across the surging main! whither wilt thou bear me
the child of sorrow? To whose house shall I be brought, to be his
slave and chattel? to some haven in the Dorian land, or in Phthia,
where men say Apidanus, father of fairest streams, makes fat and
rich the tilth?

antistrophe 1

or to an island home, sent on a voyage of misery by oars that
sweep the brine, leading a wretched existence in halls where the
first-created palm and the bay-tree put forth their sacred shoots
for dear Latona, memorial fair of her divine travail? and there with
the maids of Delos shall I hymn the golden snood and bow of Artemis
their goddess?

strophe 2

Or in the city of Pallas, the home of Athena of the beauteous
chariot, shall I upon her saffron robe yoke horses to the car,
embroidering them on my web in brilliant varied shades, or the race of
Titans, whom Zeus the son of Cronos lays to their unending sleep
with bolt of flashing flame?

antistrophe 2

Woe is me for my children! woe for my ancestors, and my country
which is falling in smouldering ruin 'mid the smoke, sacked by the
Argive spear! while I upon a foreign shore am called a slave
for-sooth, leaving Asia, Europe's handmaid, and receiving in its place
deadly marriage-bower.

(The HeraLD, TALTHYBIUS, enters.)

TALTHYBIUS
Where can I find HECUBA, who once was queen of Ilium, ye Trojan
maidens?
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
There she lies near thee, Talthybius, stretched full length upon
the ground, wrapt in her robe.
TALTHYBIUS
Great Zeus! what can I say? that thine eye is over man? or that we
hold this false opinion all to no purpose, thinking there is any
race of gods, when it is chance that rules the mortal sphere? Was
not this the queen of wealthy Phrygia, the wife of Priam highly blest?
And now her city is utterly o'erthrown by the foe, and she, a slave in
her old age, her children dead, lies stretched upon the ground,
soiling her hair, poor lady in the dust. Well, well; old as I am,
may death be my lot before I am caught in any foul mischance. Arise,
poor queen! lift up thyself and raise that hoary head.
HECUBA (stirring)
Ah! who art thou that wilt not let my body rest? why disturb me in
my anguish, whosoe'er thou art?
TALTHYBIUS
'Tis I, Talthybius, who am here, the minister of the Danai;
AGAMEMNON has sent me for thee, lady.
HECUBA (rising)
Good friend, art come because the Achaeans are resolved to slay me
to at the grave? How welcome would thy tidings be! Let us hasten and
lose no time; prithee, lead the way, old sir.
TALTHYBIUS
I am come to fetch thee to bury thy daughter's corpse, lady; and
those that send me are the two sons of Atreus and the Achaean host.

 

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