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Scene: Before Agamemnon's tent in the Greek camp upon the shore of the Thracian Chersonese. The Ghost of Polydorus appears. Ghost I have come from out of the charnel-house and gates of gloom, where Hades dwells apart from gods, I Polydorus, a son of Hecuba, the daughter of Cisseus, and of Priam. Now my father, when Phrygia's capital was threatened with destruction by the spear of Hellas, took alarm and conveyed me secretly from the land of Troy to Polymestor's house, his guest-friend in Thrace, who sows these fruitful plains of Chersonese, curbing by his might a nation delighting in horses. And with me my father sent much gold by stealth, so that, if ever Ilium's walls should fall, his children that survived might not want for means to live. I was the youngest of Priam's sons; and this it was that caused my secret removal from the land; for my childish arm was not able to carry weapons or to wield the spear. So long then as the bulwarks of our land stood firm, and Troy's battlemen
Now the zeal of the rival disputants was almost equal, until that shifty, smooth-mouthed liar, the son of Laertes, whose tongue is always at the service of the mob, persuaded the army not to put aside the best of all the Danaids for want of a servant-maid's sacrifice, nor have it said by any of the dead that stand beside Persephone that the Danaids have left the plains of Troy without gratitude for their companions who died for Hellas. Odysseus will be here in an instant, to drag the tender maiden from your breast and tear her from your aged arms. Go to the temples, go to the altars, at Agamemnon's knees sit as a suppliant! Invoke the gods, both those in heaven and those beneath the earth. For either your prayers will avail to spare you the loss of your unhappy child, or you must see your daughter fall before the tomb, her crimson blood spurting in deep dark jets from her neck encircled with gold.
Meanwhile all the Achaeans sit idly here in their ships at the shores of Thrace; for the son of Peleus, Achilles, appeared above his tomb and stopped the whole army of Hellas, as they were making straight for home across the sea, demanding to have my sister Polyxena offered at his tomb, and to receive his reward. And he will obtain this prize, nor will they that are his friends refuse the gift; and on this very day fate is leading my sister to her doom. So will my mother see two children dead at once, me and that ill-fated maid. For I, to win a grave, ah me! will appear among the rippling waves before her servant-maid's feet. Yes! I have begged this from the powers below, to find a tomb and fall into my mother's hands. So shall I have my heart's desire; but now I will get out of the way of aged Hecuba, for here she passes on her way from the shelter of Agamemnon's tent, terrified at my spectre. Alas! O mother, from a palace to face a life of slavery, how sad your lot, as sad as o
Chorus And I was braiding my tresses beneath a tight-drawn head-band before my golden mirror's countless rays, so that I might lie down to rest; when through the city rose a din, and a cry went ringing down the streets of Troy: “You sons of Hellas, when, oh! when will you sack the citadel of Ilium, and seek your homes
Chorus Leader It is pardonable, for a man suffering from evils too heavy to bear, to rid himself of a wretched existence. Agamemnon and his retinue enter. Agamemnon Hearing a cry I have come here; for Echo, child of the mountain-rock, has sent her voice loud-ringing through the army, causing a tumult. If we had not known that Troy's towers were levelled by the might of Hellas, this uproar would have caused no slight terror. Polymestor Best of friends! for by your voice I know you, Agamemnon; do you see my piteous state? Agamemnon What! hapless Polymestor, who has stricken you? who has blinded your eyes, staining the pupils with blood? who has slain these children? whoever he was, fierce must have been his wrath against you and your children. Polymestor Hecuba, helped by the captive women, has destroyed me—not destroyed, far worse than that. Agamemnon addressing Hecuba What do you say? Was it you that did this deed, as he says? You, Hecuba, that have ventured on this inconceiv