Daily Classics: The Lament Of The Murdered Polydoros

(No, not like some Shakespearean play or an opera where a character manages to reel off a thousand word soliloquy or aria before they die. Just his ghost come back to haunt people: much more realistic!

Euripides is having more fun with grammar in this than even his usual self, or it feels that way to me.)


I have come, departing from corpses’ graves and darkness’
gates where Haides has settled himself, away from the gods.
I, Polydoros! The son of Hekabe the daughter of Kisseus;
and Priam was my father. He sent me away, when Phrygia’s citadel
was threatening to fall to the Greek spear,
fearing that possibility. I was shipped covertly from the land of Troy
to the house of Polymestor the Thracian, joined to Priam by the bonds of hospitality.
Polymestor sows these most fertile plains of the Khersonese,
ruling with his spear a host that loves horses.
My father sent a great hoard of gold with me
in secret, so that, if the walls of Ilion were to fall,
there would be nothing in life that I would lack.
I was the youngest of Priam’s line, a fact that meant I was actually
sent away covertly because I could neither carry my armour
or my spear with my young arms.
So while my country’s defences still stood strong and
the towers of my Trojan land were unbroken and
my brother Hektor fared well with his spear in battle,
I grew up well, like a sapling, at the court of the Thracian man,
my father’s guest-friend, and ate his food - O wretched me!
But when Troy and Hektor both breathed their
last, and the hearth of my father’s line was dug up,
and he himself fell at the shrine to his household gods,
slaughtered at the hands of the bloodstained murderer, Akhilleus’ son:
then he killed poor me for our gold (some thanks for it!),
that guest-friend of my father. And when he laid his hands on it, he cast me
into the salty swells so he could keep the gold to himself in his house.

(Euripides, Hekabe 1-27; my translation)

Ἥκω νεκρῶν κευθμῶνα καὶ σκότου πύλας
λιπών, ἵν᾽ Ἅιδης χωρὶς ᾤκισται θεῶν,

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