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as Agamemnon is turning away. Ah! woe is me! where would you withdraw your steps from me? My efforts then will be in vain, ah me! Why, oh! why do we mortals toil, as we must, and seek out all other sciences, [815] but Persuasion, the only real mistress of mankind, we take no further pains to master completely by offering to pay for the knowledge, so that any man could convince his fellows as he pleased and gain his point at once? [820] How shall anyone hereafter hope for prosperity? All those my sons are gone from me, and she, my daughter, is a slave and suffers shame. I am lost; I see the smoke leaping over my city.

Further—though this is perhaps idly urged, [825] to plead your love, still I will put the case—at your side lies my daughter, Cassandra, the inspired maiden, as the Phrygians call her. How then, king, will you acknowledge those nights of rapture, or what return shall my daughter or I her mother have [830] for the love she has lavished on her lord? [For from darkness and the endearments of the night mortals have their keenest joys.] Listen, then; do you see this corpse? By doing him a service, you will do it to a kinsman of your bride's. [835] I have only one thing yet to urge. Oh! would I had a voice in arms, in hands, in hair and feet, placed there by the arts of Daedalus or some god, that all together they might with tears embrace your knees, [840] bringing a thousand pleas to bear on you! O my lord and master, most glorious light of Hellas, listen, stretch forth a helping hand to this aged woman, for all she is a thing of nothing; still do so. For it is always a good man's duty to help the right, [845] and to punish evil-doers wherever found.

Chorus Leader
It is strange how each extreme meets in human life! Custom determines even our natural ties, making the most bitter foes friends, and regarding as foes those who formerly were friends.

[850] Hecuba, I feel compassion for you and your son and your ill-fortune, as well as for your suppliant gesture, and I would gladly see that impious host pay you this forfeit for the sake of heaven and justice, if I could only find some way to help you [855] without appearing to the army to have plotted the death of the Thracian king for Cassandra's sake. For on one point I am assailed by perplexity: the army count this man their friend, the dead their foe; that he is dear to you [860] is a matter apart, in which the army has no share. Reflect on this; for though you find me ready to share your toil and quick to lend my aid, yet the risk of being reproached by the Achaeans makes me hesitate.

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  • Commentary references to this page (2):
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Oedipus at Colonus, 113
    • E.C. Marchant, Commentary on Thucydides: Book 2, 2.88
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