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Hecuba comes out of the tent as Polymestor, his children and guards enter.

My dear friend Priam, and you no less, Hecuba, I weep to see you and your city thus, and your daughter lately slain. [955] Ah! there is nothing to be relied on; fair fame is insecure, nor is there any guarantee that prosperity will not be turned to woe. For the gods confound our fortunes, tossing them to and fro, and introduce confusion, so that our perplexity [960] may make us worship them. But what use is it to lament these things, and make no advance ahead of trouble? If you are blaming me at all for my absence, stop a moment; I happened to be away in the very heart of Thrace when you came here; but on my return, [965] just as I was starting from my home for the same purpose, your maid fell in with me, and gave me your message, which brought me here at once.

Polymestor, I am held in such wretchedness that I blush to meet your eye; [970] for my present evil case makes me ashamed to face you who saw me in happier days, and I could not look on you with unfaltering gaze. Do not then think it ill-will towards you, Polymestor; there is another cause as well, [975] I mean the custom which forbids women to meet men's gaze.

No wonder, surely. But what need do you have of me? Why did you send for me to come here from my house?

I wish to tell you and your children a private matter of my own; please bid [980] your attendants withdraw from the tent.

to his attendants
Retire; this desert spot is safe enough.The guards go out; to Hecuba You are my friend, and this Achaean army is well-disposed to me. But you must tell me how prosperity [985] is to help its unlucky friends; for I am ready to do so.

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  • Commentary references to this page (1):
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Philoctetes, 371
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