Translator: Anne Carson
Synopsis: A tragedy set before the Greek forces depart after the sacking of Troy. Trojan Queen Hecuba, wife of Priam, has been reduced to servitude. Her daughter Polyxena (a “shooting star that wipes itself across the play and disappears” [Carson, 2006]) is sacrificed by Odysseus and Agamemnon to appease the ghost of Achilles, who has immobilised their fleet. Hecuba’s grief is compounded when her son Polydorus is murdered by his guardian, King Polymester of Thrace, out of greed. Hecuba seeks her revenge with other Trojan women by blinding Polymester and killing his two sons.
[I have reread Hecuba because of the stark differences in translation, which should be accounted for in this project, and because of my undying love for Anne Carson. If you’ve never encountered her, get a taste here.]
What moved me: The layer of Anne that sits atop Euripides like the rainbow in a puddle of oil.
And Odysseus is on his way here now,
any minute now,
to drag the young colt away from your breast,
away from your poor old hands.
Go to the temples,
go to the altars,
bend as a suppliant at the knees of Agamemnon.
Call on the gods of the sky
and the gods underground.
Surely prayers will spare your child!
Or you will have to watch
at the tomb
and spray red blood
from a blackbright hole
as it opens her throat wide.
I supplicate you:
do not rip the child from my hands.
Do not kill her.
This one is my joy. This one is my forgetting of evils.
She comforts my soul –
she is my city, my walking stick, my way on the road.