A monologue from the play by Seneca
NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from Seneca’s Tragedy, v. ii. Trans. Frank Justus Miller. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1917.
Where am I? Fled is the kindly light, deep darkness blinds my eyes, and the sky, buried in gloom, is hidden away.
But see! with double sun the day gleams forth, and double Argos lifts up twin palaces! Ida’s groves I see; there sits the shepherd, fateful judge midst mighty goddesses.–
Fear him, ye kings, I warn you, fear the child of stolen love; that rustic foundling shall overturn your house.
What means that mad woman with drawn sword in hand? What hero seeks she with her right hand, a Spartan in her garb, but carrying an Amazonian axe?–
What sight is that other which now employs mine eyes? The king of beasts with his proud neck, by a base fang lies low,
an Afric lion, suffering the bloody bites of his bold lioness.– Why do ye summon me, saved only of my house, my kindred shades?
Thee, father, do I follow, eye-witness of Troy’s burial; thee, brother, help of the Phrygians, terror of the Greeks,
I see not in thine old-time splendour, or with thine hands hot from the burning of the ships, but mangled of limb,
with those arms wounded by the deep-sunk thongs; thee, Troilus, I follow, too early with Achilles met; unrecognizable the face thou wearest,
Deiphobus, the gift of thy new wife. ‘Tis sweet to fare along the very Stygian pools; sweet to behold Tartarus savage dog and the realms of greedy Dis!
To-day this skiff of murky Phlegethon shall bear royal souls, vanquished and vanquisher. Ye shades, I pray;
thou stream on which the gods make oath, thee no less I pray: for a little withdrawn the covering of that dark world,
that on Mycenae the shadowy throng of Phrygians may look forth. Behold, poor souls; the fates turn backward on themselves.
They press on, the squalid sisters, their bloody lashes brandishing; their left hands half-burned torches bear;
bloated are their pallid cheeks, and dusky robes of death their hollow loins encircle; the fearsome cries of night resound,
and a huge body’s bones, rotting with long decay, lie in a slimy marsh. And see! that spent old man, forgetting thirst,
no longer catches at the mocking waters, grieving at death to come; but father Dardanus exults and walks along with stately tread.