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[895] Menelaus! this prelude well may fill me with alarm; for I am taken with violence by your servants' hands and brought before these tents. Still, though I am sure you hate me, yet I want to inquire [900] what you and Hellas have decided about my life.

To judge your case required no great exactness; the army with one consent, that army whom you wronged, handed you over to me to die.

May I answer this decision, proving that my death, if I am to die, will be unjust?

[905] I came not to argue, but to slay you.

Hear her, Menelaus; let her not die for want of that, and let me answer her again, for you know nothing of her villainies in Troy; and the whole case, if summed up, [910] will insure her death against all chance of an escape.

This gift needs leisure; still, if she wishes to speak, she may. Yet I will grant her this because of your words, that she may hear them, and not for her own sake.


Perhaps you will not answer me, from counting me a foe, [915] whether my words seem good or ill. Yet I will put my charges and yours over against each other, and then reply to the accusations I suppose you will advance against me. First, then, that woman was the author of these troubles [920] by giving birth to Paris; next, old Priam ruined Troy and me, because he did not slay his child Alexander, baleful semblance of a fire-brand,1 long ago. Hear what followed. This man was to judge the claims of three rival goddesses; [925] so Pallas offered him command of all the Phrygians, and the destruction of Hellas; Hera promised he should spread his dominion over Asia, and the utmost bounds of Europe, if he would decide for her; but Cypris spoke in rapture of my loveliness, [930] and promised him this gift, if she should have the preference over those two for beauty. Now mark the inference I deduce from this; Cypris won the day over the goddesses, and thus far has my marriage proved of benefit to Hellas, that you are not subject to barbarian rule, neither vanquished in the strife, nor yet by tyrants crushed. [935] What Hellas gained, was ruin to me, sold for my beauty, and now I am reproached for that which should have set a crown upon my head. But you will say I am silent on the real matter at hand, how it was I started forth and left your house by stealth. [940] With no small goddess at his side he came, my evil genius, call him Alexander or Paris, as you will; and you, villain, left him behind in your house, and sailed away from Sparta to the land of Crete.

1 Hecuba had dreamed she would hear a son who would cause the ruin of Troy; on the birth of Paris an oracle confirmed her fears.

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