Andromache (an-DRO-muh-kee), the widow of Hector, allotted at the fall of Troy as a slave to Neoptolemus, son of Achilles. The prologue, spoken by Andromache, gives the necessary background. Andromache has borne a son, Molossus, to Neoptolemus; he then married a Spartan princess, Hermione, who blames her own sterility on the machinations of Andromache. For this reason, Hermione wishes to kill both Andromache and her son and has called her father, King Menelaus, from Sparta to help her. Andromache has hidden her son and taken refuge at the altar of Thetis, for Neoptolemus has gone to Delphi to atone for his insolence to Apollo. The speech is restrained and dignified; Andromache, though a slave, is still the daughter of a great people. Hermione appears to see if her enemy will leave the sanctuary to face death. Andromache refuses and answers the accusations of Hermione directly, displaying the pride that at times gets the better of her discretion. Menelaus appears and reveals that he has found Andromache’s son and that she must either surrender herself to be killed or sacrifice the child. In her pride, she cannot resist insulting Menelaus as an example of undeserved reputation, but she does give a reasoned and effective plea for her life and that of her child. Menelaus then reveals that the son will be surrendered to Hermione to do with as she likes. Betrayed, Andromache delivers a violent tirade against Spartans and ends with a dignified statement that she will never flatter the Spartans with a plea for mercy. Peleus appears, however, and saves both mother and child, who then disappear from the play.
Hermione (hur-MI-eh-nee), the daughter of Menelaus and Helen, wife of Neoptolemus. Proud of her Spartan heritage and independent of her husband, she attributes her sterility to Andromache. She states a major theme of the play,...
(The entire section is 798 words.)