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Chorus Leader
You have sorrows, I know; but it is best to bear as lightly as we can the necessary evils of life.


[255] Dear friends, to what a fate am I yoked? Did my mother bear me as a wonder to mankind? [For no other woman, Hellene or barbarian, gives birth to a white vessel of chicks, in which they say Leda bore me to Zeus.] [260] My life and all I do is a wonder, partly because of Hera, and partly my beauty is to blame. If only I could be rubbed out like a painting, and have again in turn a plainer form instead of beauty, and the Hellenes would have forgotten the evil fate that I now have, [265] and would remember what part of my life is not evil, as they now remember what is.

When someone looks to one event only, and is ill-treated by the gods, it is hard, but all the same it can be borne. But I am involved in countless troubles. [270] First, although I never acted wrongly, my good name is gone. And this trouble is stronger than the reality, if someone incurs blame for wrongs that are not his own. Next, the gods have removed me from my native country to barbarian customs, and bereft of friends [275] I have become a slave although I am free by birth; for among barbarians all are slaves except one. And the only anchor of my fortunes is gone, the hope that my husband would come one day and free me of my woes—he is dead, he no longer exists.

[280] My mother is dead, and I am called her murderer—unjustly, but that injustice is mine to bear; while the one who was born the glory of the house, my daughter, is growing gray as a virgin, without a husband; and those two Dioskouroi, called the sons of Zeus, are no more. [285] But with all my misfortunes, I am as good as dead in my circumstances, though not in fact. And this is the last evil of all: if ever I should come home, I would be shut out by barred doors, for people would think I was that Helen of Troy, coming back with Menelaos. [290] If my husband were still alive, we could have recognized each other by recourse to tokens which are evident to us alone. But now this is not so, and he can never be saved.

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