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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Hecuba Hears the Story of her Daughter’s Death
By Euripides (c. 480–406 B.C.)
 
Translation of John Addington Symonds

THE WHOLE vast concourse of the Achaian hast
Stood round the tomb to see your daughter die.
Achilleus’s son, taking her by the hand,
Placed her upon the mound, and I stayed near;
And youths, the flower of Greece, a chosen few,        5
With hands to check thy heifer, should she bound,
Attended. From a cup of carven gold,
Raised full of wine, Achilleus’s son poured forth
Libation to his sire, and bade me sound
Silence throughout the whole Achaian host.        10
I, standing there, cried in the midst these words:—
“Silence, Achaians! let the host be still!
Hush, hold your voices!” Breathless stayed the crowd;
But he:—“O son of Peleus, father mine,
Take these libations pleasant to thy soul,        15
Draughts that allure the dead: come, drink the black
Pure maiden’s blood wherewith the host and I
Sue thee: be kindly to us; loose our prows,
And let our barks go free; give safe return
Homeward from Troy to all, and happy voyage.”        20
Such words he spake, and the crowd prayed assent.
Then from the scabbard, by its golden hilt,
He drew the sword, and to the chosen youths
Signaled that they should bring the maid; but she,
Knowing her hour was come, spake thus, and said:—        25
“O men of Argos, who have sacked my town,
Lo, of free will I die! Let no man touch
My body: boldly will I stretch my throat.
Nay, but I pray you set me free, then slay;
That free I thus may perish: ’mong the dead,        30
Being a queen, I blush to be called slave.”
The people shouted, and King Agamemnon
Bade the youths loose the maid, and set her free:
She, when she heard the order of the chiefs,
Seizing her mantle, from the shoulder down        35
To the soft centre of her snowy waist
Tore it, and showed her breasts and bosom fair
As in a statue. Bending then with knee
On earth, she spake a speech most piteous:—
“See you this breast, O youth? If breast you will,        40
Strike it; take heart: or if beneath my neck,
Lo! here my throat is ready for your sword!”
He, willing not, yet willing,—pity-stirred
In sorrow for the maiden,—with his blade
Severed the channels of her breath: blood flowed;        45
And she, though dying, still had thought to fall
In seemly wise, hiding what eyes should see not.
But when she breathed her life out from the blow,
Then was the Argive host in divers way
Of service parted; for some, bringing leaves,        50
Strewed them upon the corpse; some piled a pyre,
Dragging pine trunks and boughs; and he who bore none,
Heard from the bearers many a bitter word:—
“Standest thou, villain? hast thou then no robe,
No funeral honors for the maid to bring?        55
Wilt thou not go and get for her who died
Most nobly, bravest-souled, some gift?” Thus they
Spake of thy child in death:—“O thou most blessed
Of women in thy daughter, most undone!”
 
 
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