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The play begins with the god Poseidon lamenting the fall of Troy. He is joined by the goddess Athena, who is incensed by the Greek’s exoneration of Ajax the Lesser’s actions in dragging away the Trojan princess Cassandra from Athena's temple (and possibly raping her). Together, the two gods discuss ways to punish the Greeks, and conspire to destroy the home-going Greek ships in revenge.
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The Trojan Women
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Published by Sovereign Classic
First published in 2015
Copyright © 2015 Sovereign Classic
THE TROJAN WOMEN
PoseidonAthenaHecubaChorus of Captive Trojan WomenTalthybiusCassandraAndromacheMenelaus
THE TROJAN WOMEN
Before Agamemnon›s Tent in the Camp near Troy. HECUBA asleep. Enter POSEIDON.
Lo! From the depths of salt Aegean floods I, Poseidon, come,where choirs of Nereids trip in the mazes of the graceful dance; for sincethe day that Phoebus and myself with measurement exact set towers of stoneabout this land of Troy and ringed it round, never from my heart hath passedaway a kindly feeling for my Phrygian town, which now is smouldering ando›erthrown, a prey to Argive prowess. For, from his home beneath Parnassus,Phocian Epeus, aided by the craft of Pallas, framed a horse to bear withinits womb an armed host, and sent it within the battlements, fraught withdeath; whence in days to come men shall tell of «the wooden horse,» withits hidden load of warriors. Groves forsaken stand and temples of the godsrun down with blood, and at the altar›s very base, before the god who watchedhis home, lies Priam dead. While to Achaean ships great store of gold andPhrygian spoils are being conveyed, and they who came against this town,those sons Of Hellas, only wait a favouring breeze to follow in their wake,that after ten long years they may with joy behold their wives and children.Vanquished by Hera, Argive goddess, and by Athena, who helped to ruin Phrygia,I am leaving Ilium, that famous town, and the altars that I love; for whendrear desolation seizes on a town, the worship of the gods decays and tendsto lose respect. Scamander›s banks re-echo long and loud the screams ofcaptive maids, as they by lot receive their masters. Arcadia taketh some,and some the folk of Thessaly; others are assigned to Theseus› sons, theAthenian chiefs. And such of the Trojan dames as are not portioned out,are in these tents, set apart for the leaders of the host; and with themSpartan Helen, daughter of Tyndarus, justly counted among the captives.And wouldst thou see that queen of misery, Hecuba, thou canst; for thereshe lies before the gates, weeping many a bitter tear for many a tribulation;for at Achilles› tomb-though she knows not this-her daughter Polyxena hasdied most piteously; likewise is Priam dead, and her children too; Cassandra,whom the king Apollo left to be a virgin, frenzied maid, hath Agamemnon,in contempt of the god›s ordinance and of piety, forced to a dishonouredwedlock. Farewell, O city prosperous once! farewell, ye ramparts of hewnstone! had not Pallas, daughter of Zeus, decreed thy ruin, thou wert standingfirmly still.
May I address the mighty god whom Heaven reveres and who tomy own sire is very nigh in blood, laying aside our former enmity?
Thou mayst; for o’er the soul the ties of kin exert no feeblespell, great queen Athena.
For thy forgiving mood my thanks! Somewhat have I to impartaffecting both thyself and me, O king.
Bringst thou fresh tidings from some god, from Zeus, or fromsome lesser power?
From none of these; but on behalf of Troy, whose soil we tread,am I come to seek thy mighty aid, to make it one with mine.
What! hast thou laid thy former hate aside to take compassionon the town now that it is burnt to ashes?
First go back to the former point; wilt thou make common causewith me in the scheme I purpose?
Ay surely; but I would fain learn thy wishes, whether thouart come to help Achaens or Phrygians.
I wish to give my former foes, the Trojans, joy, and on theAchaean host impose a return that they will rue.
Why leap’st thou thus from mood to mood? Thy love and hateboth go too far, on whomsoever centred.
Dost not know the insult done to me and to the shrine I love?
Surely, in the hour that Aias tore Cassandra thence.
Yea, and the Achaeans did naught, said naught to him.
And yet ‘twas by thy mighty aid they sacked Ilium.
For which cause I would join with thee to work their bane.
My powers are ready at thy will. What is thy intent?
A returning fraught with woe will I impose on them.
While yet they stay on shore, or as they cross the briny deep?
When they have set sail from Ilium for their homes. On themwill Zeus also send his rain and fearful hail, and inky tempests from thesky; yea, and he promises to grant me his levin-bolts to hurl on the Achaeansand fire their ships. And do thou, for thy part, make the Aegean straitto roar with mighty billows and whirlpools, and fill Euboea›s hollow baywith corpses, that Achaeans may learn henceforth to reverence my templesand regard all other deities.
So shall it be, for the boon thou cravest needs but few words.I will vex the broad Aegean sea; and the beach of Myconus and the reefsround Delos, Scyros and Lemnos too, and the cliffs of Caphareus shall bestrown with many a corpse. Mount thou to Olympus, and taking from thy father›shand his lightning bolts, keep careful watch against the hour when Argos›host lets slip its cables. A fool is he who sacks the towns of men, withshrines and tombs, the dead man›s hallowed home, for at the last he makesa desert round himself, and dies. Exeunt.
Lift thy head, unhappy lady, from the ground; thy neck upraise; this isTroy no more, no longer am I queen in Ilium. Though fortune change, endurethy lot; sail with the stream, and follow fortune›s tack, steer not thybarque of life against the tide, since chance must guide thy course. Ahme! ah me! What else but tears is now my hapless lot, whose country, children,husband, all are lost? Ah! the high-blown pride of ancestors! how cabinednow how brought to nothing after all What woe must I suppress, or whatdeclare? What plaintive dirge shall I awake? Ah, woe is me! the anguishI suffer lying here stretched upon this pallet hard! O my head, my temples,my side! Ah! could I but turn over, and he now on this, now on that, torest my back and spine, while ceaselessly my tearful wail ascends. Fore‹en this is music to the wretched, to chant their cheerless dirge ofsorrow.Ye swift-prowed ships, rowed to sacred Ilium o›er the deep darksea, past the fair havens of Hellas, to the flute›s ill-omened music andthe dulcet voice of pipes, even to the bays of Troyland (alack the day!),
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