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Ah! It is a bitter lottery, a bitter choice between lives, [385] you set before me: if I win my life I am in misery, and if I lose it I am luckless.

Mover of mountains because of trifles, be moved by my words! Why do you kill me? For what are you punishing me? What city have I betrayed? Which of your children have I killed? [390] What house of yours have I set fire to? I went to bed against my will with my master: will you then kill me rather than him, the man who is to blame? Will you let go the cause and attack the effect that came after? Alas for my misery! O my unhappy fatherland, [395] what injustice I suffer! Why must I even have given birth and doubled the burden I bear? [But why do I lament these things but do not consider to their last drop the misfortunes immediately before me?] I saw Hector dragged to death behind a chariot [400] and Troy put piteously to the torch, and I myself went, pulled by the hair, as a slave to the Argive ships. And when I came to Phthia, I was made the bride of Hector's slayer. How can life be sweet for me? To what shall I look? [405] To my past or my present fate? I had left a single son, the eye of my life: those who have decided these things mean to kill him. But no, not to save my wretched life! If he survives he bears our hopes, [410] while for me not to die on behalf of my child is a reproach.

She leaves the altar and puts her arms about Molossus.
There, I leave the altar and am in your hands, to cut my throat, slay, imprison, or hang me. My child, I, your mother go to the nether world so that you may not die. And if you escape death, [415] remember the sufferings I, your mother, endured and the death I died, and kissing your father and weeping and embracing him tell him what I have done. All mankind, it seems, find that children are their very souls. Whoever finds fault with this through inexperience, [420] although he has less pain, has a sorry happiness.

Chorus Leader
I hear and feel pity. For misfortune is pitiable in the eyes of all mortals, even if they are no kin. But you, Menelaus, must bring your daughter and this woman to an agreement so that she may be freed from misery.

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