Hekaba 296-341

No man has a nature so stern,
which could hear the dirge
of your weeping and wailing aloud, and not cast tears.
Hekaba, be instructed, and do not, in the anger,
of your heart make hostile words well spoken.
For your life in exchange for what I chanced upon
I am at hand to save and I do not say otherwise;
but I shall not renounce what I said before everyone,
that from the captured Troians to the foremost man of the army,
I would give your daughter as the offering he demanded.
For in this way many cities go wrong
whenever any man who is stout-hearted and eager
is not brought more than those who are worse.
By us Achilleus is worthy of honour, my lady,
for he died on behalf the soil of Hellas, a most noble man.
Is this not shameful, if while a friend can perceive it
we make good use of him, but when he is destroyed, we have no more use for him?
Quite so! What indeed would someone say, if again should come about some
gathering of armies and contest of enemies?
Which shall we do, fight or cling to life,
when we see the dead man dishonoured?
For I myself, while I live, should I day by day
possess little, I would hold all enough;
but an honoured tomb I would wish
mine to seem; for this grace is lasting.
If you say that you suffer miseries, hear me in turn;
There are among us no less unhappy
old women and elder to you,
young brides in want of the best bridegrooms,
whose bodies the dust of Mt. Ida has covered.
Have courage here. And we, if we wrongly pay custom
to honour the good, we shall bring ignorance upon ourselves;
You barbarian, do not friends as friends
regard, nor those who have died nobly
do you honour, do this so that Hellas might fare well
and you might have alike to your resolutions.
Alas! Slavery has ever begotten such evil,
and she endures what she need not, conquered by force.
Oh daughter, into the aether my words
vanished have been launched in vain concerning your slaughter;
but you, if you have any more power than your mother,
endeavour all utterances, like the mouth of a nightingale,
to give voice, to not be robbed of life.
fall in your miseries to the knees of Odysseus
and persuade him—you have motive enough; for he has
children too—so as to have compassion for your fate.

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