Andromache

Andromache
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第8章

My child, what wilt thou do? Wilt thou disfigure thyself?

HERMIONE (chanting)

Ah me! ah me! Begone, thou fine-spun veil! float from my head away!

NURSE

Daughter, cover up thy bosom, fasten thy robe.

HERMIONE (chanting)

Why should I cover it? My crimes against my lord are manifest and clear, they cannot be hidden.

NURSE

Art so grieved at having devised thy rival's death?

HERMIONE (chanting)

Yea, I deeply mourn my fatal deeds of daring; alas! I am now accursed in all men's eyes!

NURSE

1

HERMIONE (chanting)

Oh! why didst thou hunt me to snatch away my sword? Give, oh! give it back, dear nurse, that I may thrust it through my heart Why dost thou prevent me hanging myself?

NURSE

What! was I to let thy madness lead thee on to death?

HERMIONE (chanting)

Ah me, my destiny! Where can I find some friendly fire? To what rocky height can I climb above the sea or 'mid some wooded mountain glen, there to die and trouble but the dead?

NURSE

Why vex thyself thus? on all of us sooner or later heaven's visitation comes.

HERMIONE (chanting)

Thou hast left me, O my father, left me like a stranded bark, all alone, without an oar. My lord will surely slay me; no home is mine henceforth beneath my husband's roof. What god is there to whose statue I can as a suppliant haste? or shall I throw myself in slavish wise at slavish knees? Would I could speed away from Phthia's land on bird's dark pinion, or like that pine-built ship, the first that ever sailed betwixt the rocks Cyanean!

NURSE

My child, I can as little praise thy previous sinful excesses, committed against the Trojan captive, as thy present exaggerated terror. Thy husband will never listen to a barbarian's weak pleading and reject his marriage with thee for this. For thou wast no captive from Troy whom he wedded, but the daughter of a gallant sire, with a rich dower, from a city too of no mean prosperity. Nor will thy father forsake thee, as thou dreadest, and allow thee to be cast out from this house. Nay, enter now, nor show thyself before the palace, lest the sight of thee there bring reproach upon thee, my daughter.

(The NURSE departs as ORESTES and his attendants enter.)LEADER

Lo! a stranger of foreign appearance from some other land comes hurrying towards us.

ORESTES

Women of this foreign land! is this the home, the palace of Achilles' son?

LEADER

Thou hast it; but who art thou to ask such a question?

ORESTES

The son of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra, by name Orestes, on ply way to the oracle of Zeus at Dodona. But now that I am come to Phthia, Iam resolved to inquire about my kinswoman, Hermione of Sparta; is she alive and well? for though she dwells in a land far from my own, Ilove her none the less.

HERMIONE

Son of Agamemnon, thy appearing is as a haven from the storm to sailors; by thy knees I pray, have pity on me in my distress, on me of whose fortunes thou art inquiring. About thy knees I twine my arms with all the force of sacred fillets.

ORESTES

Ha! what is this? Am I mistaken or do I really see before me the queen of this palace, the daughter of Menelaus?

HERMIONE

The same, that only child whom Helen, daughter of Tyndareus, bore my father in his halls; never doubt that.

ORESTES

O saviour Phoebus, grant us respite from our woe! But what is the matter? art thou afflicted by gods or men?

HERMIONE

Partly by myself, partly by the man who wedded me, and partly by some god. On every side I see ruin.

ORESTES

Why, what misfortune could happen to a woman as yet childless, unless her honour is concerned?

HERMIONE

My very ill! Thou hast hit my case exactly.

ORESTES

On whom has thy husband set his affections in thy stead?

HERMIONE

On his captive, Hector's wife.

ORESTES

An evil case indeed, for a man to have two wives!

HERMIONE

'Tis even thus. So I resented it.

ORESTES

Didst thou with woman's craft devise a plot against thy rival?

HERMIONE

Yes, to slay her and her bastard child.

ORESTES

And didst thou slay them, or did something happen to rescue them from thee?

HERMIONE

It was old Peleus, who showed regard to the weaker side.

ORESTES

Hadst thou any accomplice in this attempted murder?

HERMIONE

My father came from Sparta for this very purpose.

ORESTES

And was he after all defeated by that old man's prowess?

HERMIONE

Oh no! but by shame; and he hath gone and left me all alone.

ORESTES

I understand; thou art afraid of thy husband for what thou hast done.

HERMIONE

Thou hast guessed it; for he will have a right to slay me. What can say for myself? Yet I beseech thee by Zeus the god of our family, send me to a land as far as possible from this, or to my father's house; for these very walls seem to cry out "Begone!" and all the land of Phthia hates me. But if my lord return ere that from the oracle of Phoebus, he will put me to death on a shameful charge, or enslave me to his mistress, whom ruled before. Maybe some one will say, "How was it thou didst go thus astray?" I was ruined by evil women who came to me and puffed me up with words like these: "Wait!

wilt thou suffer that vile captive, a mere bondmaid, to dwell within thy house and share thy wedded rights? By Heaven's queen! if it were my house she should not live to reap my marriage-harvest!" And Ilistened to the words of these Sirens, the cunning, knavish, subtle praters, and was filled with silly thoughts. What need had I to care about my lord? I had all I wanted, wealth in plenty, a house in which I was mistress, and as for children, mine would be born in wedlock, while hers would be bastards, half-slaves to mine. Oh! never, never,-this truth will I repeat,-should men of sense, who have wives, allow women-folk to visit them in their homes, for they teach them evil; one, to gain some private end, helps to corrupt their honour; another, having made a slip herself, wants a companion in misfortune, while many are wantons; and hence it is men's houses are tainted. Wherefore keep strict guard upon the portals of your houses with bolts and bars; for these visits of strange women lead to no good result, but a world of ill.

LEADER

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