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Chorus Leader
See where Odysseus comes in haste, to announce some fresh command to you, Hecuba.

Odysseus enters with his attendants.

Odysseus
Lady, I think you know already the intention of the army, and the vote that has been passed; still I will declare it. [220] It is the Achaeans' will to sacrifice your daughter Polyxena at the mound heaped over Achilles' grave; and they appoint me to take the maid and bring her there, while the son of Achilles is chosen to preside over the sacrifice and act as priest. [225] Do you know then what to do? Do not be forcibly torn from her, nor match your might against mine; recognize the limits of your strength, and the presence of your troubles. Even in adversity it is wise to yield to reason's dictates.

Hecuba
Alas! a dreadful trial is near, it seems, [230] full of mourning, rich in tears. Yes, I too escaped death where death had been my due, and Zeus did not destroy me but is still preserving my life, that I may witness in my misery fresh sorrows surpassing all before. But if the bond may ask the free [235] of things that do not grieve them or wrench their heart-strings, you ought to speak in answer to my questions and I ought to hear what you have to say.

Odysseus
Granted; put your questions; I do not grudge you that delay.

Hecuba
Do you know when you came to spy on Ilium, [240] disguised in rags and tatters, while down your cheek ran drops of blood?

Odysseus
I do; for it was no slight impression it made upon my heart.

Hecuba
Did Helen recognize you and tell me only?

Odysseus
I well remember the great risk I ran.

Hecuba
[245] Did you embrace my knees in all humility?

Odysseus
Yes, so that my hand grew dead and cold upon your robe.

Hecuba
Was it I that saved and sent you forth again?

Odysseus
You did, and so I still behold the light of day.

Hecuba
What did you say then, when in my power?

Odysseus
[250] Doubtless I found plenty to say, to save my life.

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    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Oedipus at Colonus, 761
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