|Hecuba Monologue by Euripides|
- HECUBA: Not one
- Exists, whose sorrows equal mine, unless
- You of Calamity herself would speak.
- Yet hear the motive why I clasp your knees.
- If I appear to merit what I suffer,
- I must be patient; but if not, avenge
- My wrongs upon the man who 'gainst his guest
- Such treachery could commit, who, nor the gods
- Of Erebus beneath, nor those who rule
- In Heaven above regarding, this vile deed
- Did perpetrate, e'en he with whom I oft
- Partook the feast, on whom I showered each bounty,
- Esteeming him the first of all my friends;
- Yet, when at Ilion's palace with respect
- He had been treated, a deliberate scheme
- Of murder forming, he destroyed my son,
- On whom he deigned not to bestow a tomb,
- But threw his corse into the briny deep.
- Though I indeed am feeble, and a slave,
- Yet mighty are the gods, and by their law
- The world is ruled: for by that law we learn
- That there are gods, and can mark out the bounds
- Of justice and injustice; if such law
- To you transmitted, be infringed, if they
- Who kill their guests, or dare with impious hand
- To violate the altars of the gods,
- Unpunished 'scape, no equity is left
- Among mankind. Deeming such base connivance
- Unworthy of yourself, revere my woes,
- Have pity on me, like a painter take
- Your stand to view me, and observe the number
- Of my afflictions; once was I a queen,
- But now am I a slave; in many a son
- I once was rich, but now am I both old
- And of my children reft, without a city,
- Forlorn, and of all mortals the most wretched.
- That band of my heroic sons is now no more,
- Myself a captive, am led forth to tasks
- Unseemly, and e'en now these eyes behold
- The air obscured by Ilion's rising smoke.
- It might be vain perhaps, were I to found
- A claim to your assistance on your love:
- Yet must I speak: my daughter, who in Troy
- Was called Cassandra, the prophetic dame,
- Partakes your bed; and how those rapturous nights
- Will you acknowledge, or to her show
- Your gratitude for all the fond embraces
- Which she bestows, O king, or in her stead
- To me her mother? In the soul of man
- Th' endearments of the night, by darkness veiled,
- Create the strongest interest. To my tale
- Now listen: do you see that breathless corse?
- Each act of kindness which to him is shown,
- Upon a kinsman of the dame you love
- Will be conferred. But, in one point my speech
- Is yet deficient. By the wondrous arts
- Of Daedalus, or some benignant god,
- Could I give voice to each arm, hand, and hair,
- And each extremest joint, they round your knees
- Should cling together, and together weep,
- At once combining with a thousand tongues.
- O monarch, O thou light of Greece, comply,
- And stretch forth that avenging arm to aid
- An aged woman, though she be a thing
- Of nought, O succour: for the good man's duty
- Is to obey the dread behests of justice,
- And ever punish those who act amiss.
Credits: Reprinted from The Plays of Euripides in English, vol. i. Trans. Shelley Dean Milman. London: J.M. Dent & Sons, 1920.