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HECUBA by Euripides, Part 07

CHORUS (singing)

strophe

Woe and tribulation were made my lot in life, soon as ever Paris
felled his beams of pine in Ida's woods, to sail across the heaving
main in quest of Helen's hand, fairest bride on whom the sun-god turns
his golden eye.

antistrophe

For here beginneth trouble's cycle, and, worse than that,
relentless fate; and from one man's folly came a universal curse,
bringing death to the land of Simois, with trouble from an alien
shore. The strife the shepherd decided on Ida 'twixt three daughters
of the blessed gods,

epode

brought as its result war and bloodshed and the ruin of my home;
and many a Spartan maiden too is weeping bitter tears in her halls
on the banks of fair Eurotas, and many a mother whose sons are
slain, is smiting her hoary head and tearing her cheeks, making her
nails red in the furrowed gash.

MAID
(entering excitedly, attended by bearers bringing in a covered corpse)

Oh! where, ladies, is HECUBA, our queen of sorrow, who far
surpasses all in tribulation, men and women both alike? None shall
wrest the crown from her.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
What now, thou wretched bird of boding note? Thy evil tidings
never seem to rest.
MAID
'Tis to HECUBA I bring my bitter news; no easy task is it for
mortal lips to speak smooth words in sorrow's hour.
LEADER
Lo! she is coming even now from the shelter of the tent
appearing just in time to hear thee speak.
(HECUBA comes out of the tent.)
MAID
Alas for thee! most hapless queen, ruined beyond all words of mine
to tell; robbed of the light of life; of children, husband, city reft;
hopelessly undone!
HECUBA
This is no news but insult; I have heard it all before. But why
art thou come, bringing hither to me the corpse of Polyxena, on
whose burial Achaea's host was reported to be busily engaged?
MAID (aside)
She little knows what I have to tell, but mourns Polyxena, not
grasping her new sorrows.
HECUBA
Ah! woe is me! thou art not surely bringing hither mad
Cassandra, the prophetic maid?
MAID
She lives, of whom thou speakest; but the dead thou dost not
weep is here. (Uncovering the corpse) Mark well the body now laid
bare; is not this a sight to fill thee with wonder, and upset thy
hopes?
HECUBA
Ah me! 'tis the corpse of my son Polydorus I behold, whom he of
Thrace was keeping safe for me in his halls. Alas! this is THE END
of all; my life is o'er.
(Chanting) O my son, my son, alas for thee! a frantic strain I now
begin; thy fate I learnt, a moment gone, from some foul fiend.
MAID
What! so thou knewest thy son's fate, poor lady.
HECUBA (chanting)
I cannot, cannot credit this fresh sight I see. Woe succeeds to
woe; time will never cease henceforth to bring me groans and tears.
LEADER
Alas poor lady, our sufferings are cruel indeed.
HECUBA (chanting)
O my son, child of a luckless mother, what was the manner of thy
death? what lays thee dead at my feet? Who did the deed?
MAID
I know not. On the sea-shore I found him.
HECUBA (chanting)
Cast up on the smooth sand, or thrown there after the murderous
blow?
MAID
The waves had washed him ashore.
HECUBA (chanting)
Alas! alas! I read aright the vision I saw in my sleep, nor did
the phantom dusky-winged escape my ken, even the vision I saw
concerning my son, who is now no more within the bright sunshine.
LEADER
Who slew him then? Can thy dream-lore tell us that?
HECUBA (chanting)
'Twas my own, own friend, the knight of Thrace, with whom his aged
sire had placed the boy in hiding.
LEADER
O horror! what wilt thou say? did he slay him to get the gold?
HECUBA (chanting)
O awful crime! O deed without a name! beggaring wonder! impious!
intolerable! Where are now the laws 'twixt guest and host? Accursed
monster! how hast thou mangled his flesh, slashing the poor child's
limbs with ruthless sword, lost to all sense of pity!

 

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