Last Updated on August 7, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 918
In this passage, Cassandra the seer, daughter of Hecuba and Priam (erstwhile Queen and King of Troy), attempts to convince a group of women that Troy is better off than most Greek states. This seems at first to be a preposterous argument because Troy has just lost a decade-long war that resulted in much bloodshed. Most of the Trojan heroes are dead, and all of the Trojan women have been enslaved. It is hard to imagine a state more wretched than Troy, and yet Cassandra, always someone who is disbelieved and treated as delusional, manages to offer some interesting arguments:
Instead I shall show that this city of ours is more fortunate than Greece is: although I am possessed by the god, yet to this extent I will step aside from my frenzy. In their quest for Helen the Greeks lost countless lives for the sake of one woman and one passion. Their general, so clever a man, destroyed what he loved best for the sake of what he hated most, surrendering to his brother his own pleasure in his children for a woman’s sake, and at that a woman who was abducted of her own free will, not forcibly.
When they came to the banks of the Scamander, they began to perish, though they had not been deprived of territory or of their homeland’s high towers. Those whom Ares slew did not see their children and were not clothed for burial by the hands of their wives but lie buried in foreign earth. Matters at home were just as bad: <wives were losing their valiant husbands> and dying in widowhood, while others died childless in their houses, having reared children all for nothing. There is no one who near their tombs will give the earth an offering of blood. [This is the praise the army deserves. Better to say nothing of disgraceful matters: may my Muse not be a singer who hymns disaster.]
As for the Trojans, in the first place—their greatest glory—they died on behalf of their country. Those who were slain by the spear were carried into the house by their kin and were covered with earth in the land of their fathers, and those who ought to do so dressed them for burial. Any Phrygians who were not killed in battle lived day by day with their wives and children, a pleasure the Greeks were denied. As for Hector’s fate, grievous in your eyes, hear how things stand. He perished after winning repute for the greatest valor, and it was the coming of the Greeks that brought this about. Had they stayed at home, his bravery would have gone unnoticed. Paris married Zeus’s daughter, and had he not done so, he would have had a wife in his house no one talked of.
These are Andromache's moving lines about death; her son is about to be murdered and her husband has already been slain. She seems to have lost all hope and embraces the prospect of death. She addresses these lines to Hecuba:
Never to have been born I count as death,
a death superior to a life of bitterness.
In death there is no pain, no awareness of struggle;
but one who falls from happiness to tragedy
is driven with regret and memories of blessedness.
In death it is as if Polyxena had never known the light
and nothing of her trials.
This is Hecuba addressing the Achaeans after they murder the young boy Astyanax, son of Hector and Andromache, by throwing him from the...
(The entire section contains 918 words.)
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