You guardians of the grey-haired Hecuba, see how your mistress is sinking speechless to the ground! Take hold of her! will you let her fall,
you worthless slaves? lift up again, from where it lies, her withered body.
Leave me, my maidens—unwelcome service does not grow welcome—lying where I fell; my sufferings now, my troubles past, afflictions yet to come, all claim this lowly posture. Gods of heaven! small help I find in calling such allies,
yet is there something in the form of invoking heaven, whenever we fall on evil days. First I will sing of my former blessings; so shall I inspire the greater pity for my present woes.
Born to royal estate and wedded to a royal lord,
I was the mother of a race of gallant sons; no mere ciphers they, but Phrygia's chiefest pride, children such as no Trojan or Hellenic or barbarian mother ever had to boast. All these have I seen slain by the spear of Hellas,
and at their tombs have I shorn off my hair; with these my eyes I saw their father, Priam, butchered on his own hearth, and my city captured, nor did others bring this bitter news to me. The maidens I brought up
to see chosen for some marriage high, for strangers have I reared them, and seen them snatched away. Nevermore can I hope to be seen by them, nor shall my eyes behold them ever in the days to come. And last, to crown my misery,
I shall be brought to Hellas, a slave in my old age. And there the tasks that least befit the evening of my life will they impose on me, Hector's mother, to watch their gates and keep the keys, or bake their bread, and on the ground instead of my royal bed
lay down my shrunken limbs, with tattered rags about my wasted frame, a shameful garb for those who once were prosperous. Ah, woe is me! and this is what I bear and am to bear for one woman's marriage!
O my daughter, O Cassandra! whom gods have summoned to their frenzied train, how cruel the lot that ends your virgin days! And you, Polyxena! my child of sorrow, where, oh! where are you? None of all the many sons and daughters I have born comes to aid a wretched mother.
Why then raise me up? What hope is left us? Guide me, who before trod so daintily the streets of Troy, but now am a slave, to a bed upon the ground, near some rocky ridge, that from there I may cast myself down and perish, after I have wasted my body with weeping.
Of all the prosperous crowd, count none a happy man before he die.
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