Hekaba Hypothesis and 1-27

greek-tragedy-mask-L1DIn Greek this term we are translating Hecuba, by Euripides and Eumenides, by Aeschylus. I will make no attempt to preserve the meter (or to replace it with a meter more suitable to English), but I will, wherever possible, try to preserve the content of each line. This does lead to some awkward phrasing in English. I’ve decided to simply transliterate Greek names and places, not use the more standard Anglicized versions, just because.

Hypothesis of Hekaba
After the siege of Ilios the Hellenes anchored at the coast of a peninsula opposite Troia; Achilleus, seen during the night, demanded one of the daughters of Priamos as a sacrifice. So the Hellenes, to honour the hero, dragged Polyxena from Hekaba and sacrificed her; meanwhile, Polymestor, king of the Threkans, slaughtered Polydoros, one of the sons of Priamos. Polymestor had received the boy from Priamos for safekeeping along with wealth. Once the city was captured, he desired to seize the riches and he hastened to murder, feeling little regard for the luckless friendship. After the body was cast out into the sea, a wave tossed it up near the tents of the captives, and Hekaba, when she beheld the corpse, came to a decision. After she communicated her intent to Agamemnon, she summoned Polymestor and his children to her, hiding what had occurred, as if to reveal to him the treasuries in Ilios. In his presence, she killed his sons and robbed him of sight. Speaking before the Hellenes, she defeated her accuser; for she was judged not to have ruled with savagery, but to have defended herself from the ruler.

Ghost of Polydoros:
I have come from the vaults of the dead, and the gates of darkness
I have left them behind, where Hades has settled separated from the gods.
I am Polydoros, the child born of Hekaba of Kisseus
and my father Priamos, who, since the city of the Phrygians
was in danger of falling to Hellenic spears,
fearfully spirited me from Troian lands
to the home of Polymestor, a Threkian host,
who tills the finest plain of Chersonese,
ruling by spearpoint a horse-loving people.
With me, my father secretly sent much gold,
so that, if ever the walls of Ilios should fall,
for his living children there would be no scarcity of means.
And I was the youngest of Priamos, for which from the land
he spirited me; for neither arms nor a sword
was I able to bear in my young arm.
For so long, therefore, as the boundary-stones were set upright in the earth,
and the towers of the Troian land were unbroken,
and my brother Hector prospered by the spear,
nobly with the Threkian man, fatherly host,
was I raised, like a sapling I grew up, wretched me;
but when Troia and the life of Hector were destroyed,
and the ancestral hearth was overthrown
and my father fell before the raised altar, made for gods,
slaughtered by the bloody son of Achilleus,
murder wretched me for the sake of the gold,
did my fatherly host, and having murdered, into the surge of the salty sea
he flung me, so he himself could keep the gold in his house.

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