A verse translation by Bruce Van Deventer

Copyright 2012 All Rights Reserved


The scene opens with Andromache as suppliant at the temple of Thetis.



Thebe! Beautiful Asian land!

I came from you so long ago

Wearing bridal robes rich with gold

To Priam's royal hearth.

I, Andromache, wife of Hector,

Envied in times past,

Am now the most unblessed of women [now or evermore].

I saw my husband Hector slain by Achilles,

My child, Astyanax, who I bore for my lord,

Thrown down from a high tower

On the day the Hellenes won the plains of Troy.

A slave now, though once accounted

A child of a free house [none freer],

I came to Hellas as spear-prize

Chosen among Troy's spoils

For the island-prince Neoptolemus.

Here on the boundaries between Pharsalia town

And the plain of Phthia is where I live now,

Where the sea-nymph Thetis

Lived with Peleus, aloof from mankind,

And so, because of her marriage

Thessalians call it Thetideion.

Here lives Achilles' son,

And leaves Peleus still King of Pharsalia,

Unwilling to grasp his sceptre

While the old man lives.



I bore a man-child in this house

Moulded from Achille’s son, my master,

And, though I was sunk in misery,

I was still consoled by my son’s preservation,

And found strength to shield myself from evils pressing in.

But since my lord married that Laconian woman Hermione

And thrust aside my slave’s couch,

She persecutes me with cruel wrongs,

Saying that I use secret charms

To make her barren, hated by her lord,

And that in her place I would be lady of the house,

And cast her out, the lawful wife, by force.



This was a prize I never wanted,

But now, I've left it behind.

Great Zeus, witness that I did not freely take up this bed!

Still she does not believe, and seeks my death,

And her father Menelaus helps her.

Now he has come from Sparta,

And dwells within, for this purpose.

So in fear I have fled to this temple of Thetis,

Next to the house, and crouch here, to be saved from death.

For Peleus and his children hold this place holy,

This witness to the wedding of Nereus’ child.

But secretly I send him, my only son, to another house,

In fear that he too will be slain.

For his father is not here to help him,

He has gone to the land of Delphi,

To atone to Loxias Apollo

For that time of madness when he went to Pytho

To claim redress from Phoebus for his murdered father

As if prayer for the sins of the past

Might win the god’s goodwill for the days to come.

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