Hekaba 1251-1295

Polymestor:
Oh woe, worsted, so it seems, by a woman,
a slave, I shall lose my case to my inferiors.
Agamemnon:
Is it not then righteous, if indeed you have wrought evils?
Polymestor:
Alas for my children and my eyes, oh wretched me!
Hekaba:
So you grieve, and why? Do you think that I do not grieve for my child?
Polymestor:
So you rejoice and commit outrage against me, you villain?
Hekaba:
Should I not rejoice for taking my vengeance against you?
Polymestor:
But you shall soon not, for when the spray of the sea should—
Hekaba:
Shall it not convey me to the boundaries of Hellenic earth?
Polymestor:
No but it shall cover you over when you fall from the halyards.
Hekaba:
By whose violence shall I meet with the salt-waters?
Polymestor:
You yourself shall mount your feet upon the mast of the ship.
Hekaba:
By wings on my back or some other way?
Polymestor:
You shall be a cur with fiery glances.
Hekaba:
And how are you aware of this change in my shape?
Polymestor:
A Threkan prophet, Dionysos, has said it.
Hekaba:
And did he not prophesy to you of your present misfortunes?
Polymestor:
No, for you would not have taken me thus with your deceit.
Hekaba:
And dead or alive hence; shall I fulfil this fate?
Polymestor:
Dead: for the name on your tomb will have been called—
Hekaba:
Singing after my form, or what, do you ask of me?
Polymestor:
Grave of the wretched dog, a landmark for sailors.1
Hekaba:
I care not, since you have paid your penalty to me.
Polymestor:
There is also compulsion that your child Kasandra die.
Hekaba:
I spit it out! I give it to you to have for yourself!
Polymestor:
The bedfellow of this man will kill her, a bitter mistress.
Hekaba:
May the daughter of great Tyndareus never be so mad!
Polymestor:
And this same man too, lifting an axe overhead.
Agamemnon:
You there, are you mad and do you speak to meet with further misfortune?
Polymestor:
Kill me, then! But a bloody bath awaits you in Argos.
Agamemnon:
Slaves! Drag him away by force!
Polymestor:
Oh, does it grieve you to hear?
Agamemnon:
Shut up his mouth!
Polymestor:
Gag me then; but it has been spoken.
Agamemnon:
As quick as you can,
Cast him out to some spot of desolate islands,
since he runs his mouth so very much.
And you, Hekaba most sorrowful, the two-fold corpses,
go now and bury them; and you, Troian ladies,
must go to the tents of your masters; for indeed I detect
now a breeze here to conduct us toward home.
May we have good sailing to our homeland, and in our home
may we know all holds well, once we’ve been discharged from these toils

1. This is a real place, it was known as the Cynossema (“dog-grave”) in ancient times and is present-day Kilitbahir. It was treacherous spot on the sea, and it was indeed a landmark for sailors. The story that Hecuba was transformed into a dog is, as far as we know, original to Euripides. We have no earlier tradition about it. Later, Ovid elaborated on the story. Either Euripides made use of a known landmark, or the spot was named from his play.

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