The Trojan Women


Euripides. The Plays of Euripides, Translated into English Prose from the Text of Paley. Vol. I. Coleridge, Edward P., translator. London: George Bell and Sons, 1906.

  1. Leave me, my maidens—unwelcome service does not grow welcome—lying where I fell; my sufferings now, my troubles past, afflictions yet to come, all claim this lowly posture. Gods of heaven! small help I find in calling such allies,
  2. yet is there something in the form of invoking heaven, whenever we fall on evil days. First I will sing of my former blessings; so shall I inspire the greater pity for my present woes. Born to royal estate and wedded to a royal lord,
  3. I was the mother of a race of gallant sons; no mere ciphers they, but Phrygia’s chiefest pride, children such as no Trojan or Hellenic or barbarian mother ever had to boast. All these have I seen slain by the spear of Hellas,
  4. and at their tombs have I shorn off my hair; with these my eyes I saw their father, Priam, butchered on his own hearth, and my city captured, nor did others bring this bitter news to me. The maidens I brought up
  5. to see chosen for some marriage high, for strangers have I reared them, and seen them snatched away. Nevermore can I hope to be seen by them, nor shall my eyes behold them ever in the days to come. And last, to crown my misery,
  6. I shall be brought to Hellas, a slave in my old age. And there the tasks that least befit the evening of my life will they impose on me, Hector’s mother, to watch their gates and keep the keys, or bake their bread, and on the ground instead of my royal bed
  7. lay down my shrunken limbs, with tattered rags about my wasted frame, a shameful garb for those who once were prosperous. Ah, woe is me! and this is what I bear and am to bear for one woman’s marriage!
  8. O my daughter, O Cassandra! whom gods have summoned to their frenzied train, how cruel the lot that ends your virgin days! And you, Polyxena! my child of sorrow, where, oh! where are you? None of all the many sons and daughters I have born comes to aid a wretched mother.
  9. Why then raise me up? What hope is left us? Guide me, who before trod so daintily the streets of Troy, but now am a slave, to a bed upon the ground, near some rocky ridge, that from there I may cast myself down and perish, after I have wasted my body with weeping.
  10. Of all the prosperous crowd, count none a happy man before he die.
  1. Sing me, Muse, a tale of Troy, a funeral dirge in strains unheard as yet, with tears;
  2. for now I will uplift for Troy a piteous chant, telling how I met my doom and fell a wretched captive to the Argives by reason of a four-footed beast that moved on wheels, when Achaea’s sons left at our.gates that horse,
  3. loud rumbling to the sky, with its trappings of gold and its freight of warriors; and our people cried out as they stood upon the rocky citadel, Up now, you whose toil is over,
  4. and drag this sacred image to the shrine of the Zeus-born maiden, goddess of our Ilium! Forth from his house came every youth and every grey-head too; and with songs of joy
  5. they took the fatal snare within.
  1. Then hastened all the race of Phrygia to the gates, to make the goddess a present of an Argive band ambushed in the polished mountain-pine,
  2. Dardania’s ruin, a welcome gift to be to her, the virgin queen of deathless steeds; and with nooses of cord they dragged it, as it had been a ship’s dark hull, to the stone-built
  3. temple of the goddess Pallas, and set it on that floor so soon to drink our country’s blood. But, as they labored and made merry, came on the pitchy night; loud the Libyan flute was sounding,
  4. and Phrygian songs awoke, while maidens beat the ground with airy foot, uplifting their glad song; and in the halls a blaze of torchlight shed its flickering shadows
  5. on sleeping eyes.