Mother, mother, why are you shouting? For what news
heralded do you from my domicile like a bird
in startled fright so alarm me?
Oh child, oh woe!
Why such ill-omened words for me? An evil introduction for me.
Alas, your life!
Say it! Do not so long conceal;
I fear, I fear, mother,
whatever it is you bemoan…
Oh child, oh child of a wretched mother…
Why do you thus proclaim?
To slaughter you the common will
of Argeians strives, before the tomb
for the offspring of Peleus.
Oh woe! Oh mother, how can you voice
such unenviable evils: explain to me
explain, my mother.
Hear, my child, the ill-omened utterance;
they announced to me a decree of the Argeians
by ballot concerning your life.
Oh to suffer such terror, oh in every way wretched,
oh mother of an unfortunate life
how much and how much again outrage
most hateful and unspeakable
has some spirit incited upon you?
For no longer shall this abject
daughter, in your abject old age,
no longer shall I share in slavery.1
For like a mountain-bred lion-cub
an abject calf, oh abject lady
… you will look upon me2,
snatched away from your hands
by slitted throat for Haides
sent beneath the darkness of the earth, there with the dead
shall wretched me be laid.
But for you, my unfortunate mother,
I do weep with plaintive lamentation,
my own life, all disgrace and outrage
I do not afterward lament, but rather to die,
with me has met the better happenstance.
And now here comes Odysseus, hurried afoot,
oh Hekaba, to declare some new word to you.
1. I’ve changed up these lines. I couldn’t find a way to keep to the original content of each line and remain sensible. The Greek looks like, No longer with you this daughter no longer / in abject old age abject / I shall share in slavery.
2. There appears to be something missing from this line.