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.
  • ANDROMACHE: Hear, that with pleasure I may touch thy soul
    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.