THE TROJAN WOMEN
A monologue from the
play by Euripides
NOTE: This monologue is reprinted
from The Plays of Euripides in English, vol. i. Trans.
Shelley Dean Milman. London: J.M. Dent & Sons, 1920.
MONOLOGUES BY EURIPIDES
- ANDROMACHE: Hear, that with pleasure I may touch thy
- Not to be born, I argue, and to die,
- Are equal: but to die is better far
- Than to live wretched; for he knows not grief
- Who hath no sense of misery: but to fall
- From fortune's blessed height, to the low state
- Of abject wretchedness, distracts the soul
- With the keen sense of former happiness.
- Like as the light of life she ne'er had seen,
- Polyxena is dead, and of her ills
- Knows nothing: I, who aimed at glorious rank,
- And reached my aim, from fortune widely erred:
- All that to prudent matrons gives a grace,
- In Hector's house was ever my employ.
- First, for in this to women blame is due,
- Charged or not charged, to such as rove abroad,
- I checked this wand'ring humour, and remained
- At home, within my house; nor gay discourse
- Of females there admitted, but intent
- On ordering what was useful, deemed myself
- Well occupied. With silence of the tongue
- And cheerfulness of look I entertained
- My husband: where my province to command
- I knew, and where to yield obedience to him.
- The fame of this was bruited through the host
- Of Greece, and wrought my ruin; for the son
- Of fierce Achilles, soon as I was made
- A captive, wished to take me as his wife,
- Doomed in the house of those, whose slaught'ring hands
- I rue, to be a slave. From my fond heart
- Could I rend Hector, and expand my breast
- To this new husband, faithless to the dead
- Should I appear: if I disdain his love,
- I shall excite the malice of my lords.
- Short time, they say, to a new lord disarms
- A woman's hate: but her my soul abhors,
- Who for new nuptials slights her former husband,
- And loves another: e'en the social steed,
- Divided from its fellow, draws the yoke
- Reluctant; yet the beast, by nature formed
- Less excellent, nor speech nor reason knows.
- O my loved Hector, I was blest in thee,
- Thou was the lord of all my wishes, great
- In understanding, noble birth, and wealth,
- And valour: from my father's house thou first
- Ledd'st me a virgin to the bridal bed:
- Now thou are perished, and I mount the bark
- For Greece, a captive to the servile yoke.
- Hath not the death then of Polyxena,
- Whom thou bewailest, lighter ills than mine!
- For not to me e'en Hope, which still is left
- To all of mortal race, remains; no thought
- That better fortune e'er will visit me
- With pleasing expectation cheats my mind.