Hekaba 438-517

Woe is me, I swoon; my limbs are loosed.
Oh daughter, clasp your mother, stretch out your hands,
give them. Do not leave me childless. I’ve been utterly destroyed, my loved ones…
Even so the Lakainan sister to the twin sons of Zeus,
Helena, would that I could see her thus: by her beautiful eyes
the worst disgraces took away blessed Troia.
The breeze, the breeze blowing off the sea,
just as you tend to sea-going,
swift skiffs upon the swell of your pool,
where unhappy me shall
you convey? As a slave at whose house-
hold, acquired, shall I arrive? At
an anchorage of Dorian earth?
Or Phthian, where the
father of the most beautiful waters
of the Apidanos, they say, anoints the plains?

Or of the islands, by sea-sweeping
oar this sent-off wretched
woman, leading a miserable life in halls,
where the first-born palm
frond and laurel do hold
aloft sacred sprouts for beloved Leto,
the glory of her divine birth-pangs?
And shall I, with Delian maidens
of the goddess Artemis,
deliver a pangyric upon the golden headband and bow?

Or in the city of Pallas,
Athenaia with beautiful chariot
to her saffron robe
shall I yoke foals in
cunningly embroidered
webs worked with flowers, or
the race of Titans
that Zeus with twin flames quenched,
the son of Kronos with fire?

Alas for my children,
Alas for my fathers and for my land,
which is cast down into smoke,
smouldering, won by the spear
of the Argeians; and I on foreign
soil am called a slave,
I have left Asia,
the dwelling of Europa have I ex-
changed for the chambers of Haides.

Where the once queen of Ilios,
Hekaba, might I find, oh Troian maidens?
She is nearby, with her back upon the earth,
Talthybios, she lies wrapped in her garment.
Oh Zeus, what shall I say? That you oversee men?
Or that this expectation was acquired in vain,
falsely expecting a race of spirits to be,
that chance regards all things for mortals?
Was she not the queen of much-gilded Phrygans?
Was she not the great spouse of blest Priamos?
And now her city is driven out at spearpoint,
and she a slave, a childless old woman, upon the earth
she is laid, rubbing her wretched head with dust.
Alas, alas: I am an old man, but for me to die,
would that it were so before falling to some shameful fortune.
Arise, oh wretched lady, and your frail
frame do raise up, and your white head.
What? Why does this man not permit my body
to rest? Why do you stir me, whoever you are, already aggrieved?
I am Talthybios, oarsman of the Danaids.
Agamemnon sent me for you, dear lady.
Oh dearest man, to slaughter me as well upon the tomb
have you come, as resolved by the Achaians? You would thus speak as a friend.
Let us make haste, let us be quick; lead me, old man.
As your child has died, so that you may bury her, dear lady,
I have come seeking you; they send me,
the two sons of Atreus and the Achaian people.
Oh woe! What are you saying? That not so I might be put to death
you have come, but to deliver misfortune?
You are destroyed, my daughter, snatched away from your mother;
I am childless, concerning you; oh I am wretched.
And how did you make an end of her? Did you show regard?
Or did you come for frightful purpose, as for a hated foe, old man,
were you murderers? Tell me, although you do not say anything welcome.

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