Ignoring the Cause, Assailing the Symptoms

Euripides, Andromache 170-180 (Hermione speaking) (Full text on the Scaife Viewer)

“You are so far into ignorance, you pitiful woman,
That you dare to sleep with the man who killed
Your husband and to rear a child from a family that killed yours.
This is completely the barbarian way—
A father has sex with a daughter, a child with his mother,
A daughter with her brother and the dearest of relatives
Turn on each other in murder and no law restrains them!
Don’t bring those laws here. It is also not noble
For a man to have two women in his reins.
Everyone who desires to live apart from evil
Is happy to look to a single bed for sex.”

ἐς τοῦτο δ᾿ ἥκεις ἀμαθίας, δύστηνε σύ,
ἣ παιδὶ πατρὸς ὃς σὸν ὤλεσεν πόσιν
τολμᾷς ξυνεύδειν καὶ τέκν᾿ αὐθεντῶν πάρα
τίκτειν. τοιοῦτον πᾶν τὸ βάρβαρον γένος·
πατήρ τε θυγατρὶ παῖς τε μητρὶ μείγνυται
κόρη τ᾿ ἀδελφῷ, διὰ φόνου δ᾿ οἱ φίλτατοι
χωροῦσι, καὶ τῶνδ᾿ οὐδὲν ἐξείργει νόμος.
ἃ μὴ παρ᾿ ἡμᾶς ἔσφερ᾿· οὐδὲ γὰρ καλὸν
δυοῖν γυναικοῖν ἄνδρ᾿ ἕν᾿ ἡνίας ἔχειν,
ἀλλ᾿ ἐς μίαν βλέποντες εὐναίαν Κύπριν
στέργουσιν, ὅστις μὴ κακῶς οἰκεῖν θέλῃ.

387-393 (Andromache speaking)

“You do huge things for minor reasons—
Listen to me! Why are you hurting me? What’s the reason
What city did I betray? Which child of yours did I kill?
What home did I burn down? I was forced to bed
With my master. You’ll kill me and not him
When he is the cause of these things? You’ll ignore
The cause and just keep pounding on the symptom?”

ὦ μεγάλα πράσσων αἰτίας σμικρᾶς πέρι,
πιθοῦ· τί καίνεις μ᾿; ἀντὶ τοῦ; ποίαν πόλιν
προύδωκα; τίνα σῶν ἔκτανον παίδων ἐγώ;
ποῖον δ᾿ ἔπρησα δῶμ᾿; ἐκοιμήθην βίᾳ
σὺν δεσπόταισι· κᾆτ᾿ ἔμ᾿, οὐ κεῖνον κτενεῖς,
τὸν αἴτιον τῶνδ᾿, ἀλλὰ τὴν ἀρχὴν ἀφεὶς
πρὸς τὴν τελευτὴν ὑστέραν οὖσαν φέρῃ;

Go here for a reading of the play and a discussion of its themes (and here for the Reading Greek Tragedy Online Series):

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