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Andromache

Andromache
Hear, O mother of children! give ear to what I urge so well, [635] that I may cheer my drooping spirit. It is all one, I say, never to have been born and to be dead, and better far is death than life with misery. For the dead feel no sorrow any more and know no grief; but he who has known prosperity and has fallen on evil days [640] feels his spirit straying from the scene of former joys. Now that child of yours is dead as though she never had seen the light, and little she knows of her calamity; whereas I, who aimed at a fair repute, though I won a higher lot than most, yet missed my luck in life. [645] For all that stamps the wife a woman chaste, I strove to do in Hector's home. In the first place, whether there is a slur upon a woman, or whether there is not, the very fact of her not staying at home brings in its train an evil name; [650] therefore I gave up any longing to do so, and stayed within my house; nor would I admit indoors the clever gossip women love, but conscious of a heart that told an honest tale I was content. And ever would I keep a silent tongue and modest eye before my husband; [655] and well I knew where I might rule him, and where it was best to yield.

Report of this has reached the Achaean army, and proved my ruin; for when I was taken captive, Achilles' son would have me [660] as his wife, and I must serve in the house of murderers. And if I set aside my love for Hector, and open my heart to this new lord, I shall appear a traitress to the dead, while, if I hate him, I shall incur my master's displeasure. [665] And yet they say a single night removes a woman's dislike for her husband; I despise the woman who, when she has lost her former husband, transfers her love by marrying another. Not even the horse, if parted from her stablemate, [670] will cheerfully draw the yoke; and animals have neither speech nor sense to help them, and are by nature man's inferiors.

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    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Oedipus at Colonus, 1229
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