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Chorus Leader
Alas for you! how some deity, whose hand is heavy on you, has sent you troubles beyond all other mortals! But I see our lord and master [725] Agamemnon; so let us be still from now on, my friends.

Agamemnon enters.

Agamemnon
Hecuba, why are you delaying to come and bury your daughter? for it was for this that Talthybius brought me your message begging that no one of the Argives should touch your child. And so we granted this, and are not touching her, [730] but this delay of yours fills me with wonder. And so I have come to send you from here; for our part there is well performed—if here there is any place for “well.”

He sees the body. Oh! what man is this I see near the tents, some Trojan's corpse? It is not an Argive's body; [735] that the garments it is clad in tell me.

Hecuba
aside
Unhappy one! in naming you I name myself; Hecuba, what shall I do? throw myself here at Agamemnon's knees, or bear my sorrows in silence?

Agamemnon
Why do you turn your back towards me and [740] weep, refusing to say what has happened? Who is this?

Hecuba
aside
But if he should count me as a slave and foe and spurn me from his knees, I would add to my anguish.

Agamemnon
I am no prophet born; therefore, if I am not told, I cannot learn the current of your thoughts.

Hecuba
aside
[745] Can it be that in estimating this man's feelings I make him out too ill-disposed, when he is not really so?

Agamemnon
If your wish really is that I should remain in ignorance, we are of one mind; for I have no wish myself to listen.

Hecuba
aside
Without his aid I shall not be able to avenge [750] my children. Why do I still ponder the matter? I must do and dare whether I win or lose. Turning to Agamemnon Agamemnon, by your knees, by your beard and conquering hand I implore you—

Agamemnon
What is your desire? to be [755] set free? that is easily done.

Hecuba
Not that; give me vengeance on the wicked, and I am willing to lead a life of slavery forever.

Agamemnon
Well, but why do you call me to your aid?

Hecuba
It is a matter you little know of, king. [760] Do you see this corpse, for whom my tears now flow?

Agamemnon
I do; but what is to follow, I cannot guess.

Hecuba
He was once my child; I bore him in my womb.

Agamemnon
Which of your sons is he, poor sufferer?

Hecuba
Not one of Priam's race who fell beneath Ilium's walls.

Agamemnon
[765] Did you indeed have another son besides those, lady?

Hecuba
Yes, the one you see here, of whom it seems I have small gain.

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    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Philoctetes, 1200
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