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reeks with preciosity. Doubtless we suffer much more keenly than did the contemporaries, who were quite inured to this sort of thing.
120 de lui: we should rather expect de soi, although the distinction is not always clearly preserved in modern French. Compare verse 1323:
Tout cela part d'un cœur toujours maître de soi.
128 la: object of presser. This was quite the usual order in verbphrases when the infinitive was not connected with the governing verb by a preposition. In modern French this order occurs only when the governing verb is voir, entendre, envoyer, sentir, laisser, or faire.
Scène II. Pyrrhus: i.e. 'red-haired'; another name for Neoptolemus, son of Achilles and Deidamia. After his father's death before Troy, he was brought thither through the intervention of Ulysses in order to fulfill a prophecy which related to the fall of the city. He distinguished himself, as his father had done, by reckless bravery; of the heroes who penetrated the city, shut up in the wooden horse, he is said to have been the only one to give no sign of fear. Later legends dwell upon his fierce cruelty. At the taking of Troy, he killed the aged Priam before the altar of Zeus, hurled the infant Astyanax from the city walls, and slaughtered Polyxena, daughter of Priam and Hecuba, betrothed to Achilles, upon the latter's tomb. He returned from Troy to his father's kingdom in southern Thessaly, and then, according to most writers, went to Epirus and founded a dynasty there. Our play, with its sources, deals with one of the principal legends which relate to the short time he had to live after the fall of Troy. — Phoenix: son of Amyntor, king of Argos. He was the preceptor of Achilles, whom he followed to the Trojan war. After the death of Achilles he was one of those commissioned to bring the young Pyrrhus to the war. After the fall of Troy he returned with this prince to Thessaly, where he spent his remaining years; tradition offers very little or no evidence of his presence in Epirus during the events treated in our play.
158 il n'est point = il n'y a point, usual in poetry to avoid a hiatus between y and a. It is also found frequently in elevated prose.
161 un jour: has often, as here and in v. 168, the meaning 'some (i.e. future) day.'
164 la flamme: an example of synecdoche; 'flame in hand,' i.e. torch in hand.
167 A reference to the fable of the woodchopper who, having found a serpent benumbed with cold, warmed it in his bosom, whereupon the serpent bit its benefactor.
172 essalra: for essaiera, from essayer. When e of the future or conditional is preceded by a vowel, the two make one syllable in poetry; and many authorities, in printing poetry, omit this e and use the circumflex accent — The diplomatically courteous language of this speech has been commented upon. Racine is said here to have grafted the contemporary etiquette of the court upon the primitive character of Orestes. We should rather admire the extreme cleverness of Orestes. He begins with pretended complimentary comparisons (147-148) of the deeds of Achilles with the blows of Pyrrhus: Hector (mainstay of Troy) falling before Achilles, Troy (thus weakened) expiring under Pyrrhus; then the very abrupt and provocative 'what Achilles would in no wise have done' and the transition to the final appeal to the fear of Pyrrhus — the one point best calculated to make his impetuous rival throw all discretion to the winds.
173 Observe the carefully-planned symmetry of the following speech: (173-192) the hot-headed indignation of Pyrrhus over this infringement of his rights; (193-204) his perception of the absurdity of the fears alleged by Orestes; finally (205-220) his revolt before the cold-blooded cruelty of an act of which he was quite capable in the heat of combat. This last is significant. Andromache later in the play declares him " violent but sincere." Note that while he perceives the groundlessness of the fears expressed by Orestes, he apparently never at all questions their sincerity.
189 Hecuba (Latinized form of Hecabe) was the wife of Priam, king of Troy. According to a tradition consecrated by a tragedy of Euripides, she was made a slave by the Greeks after the fall of Troy and carried to the Chersonesus, where dire calamities awaited her. According to other accounts she was given as a slave to Ulysses, whereupon some say she leaped into the Hellespont; others, that, being resolved to die, she uttered such invectives against the Greeks that they put her to death.
190 Cassandra was the fairest daughter of Priam and Hecuba. Gifted with the power of prophecy, she was condemned by Apollo, whose attentions she rejected, to be disbelieved in all her prophecies. When Troy fell she sought refuge in the sanctuary of Athena, goddess of wisdom. She was torn from her retreat and woefully maltreated by Ajax the Lesser. When the Greeks divided the spoils of the war Cassandra was given to Agamemnon, who took her with him to Mycene, where she was put to death by his wife Clytasmnestra.
196 je ne sais: savoir, as usually, to express mental ability as opposed to pouvoir expressing physical ability; translate ' I cannot.' 206 d'un an: de to express measure, 'by ': translate 'for.'
213 aux vaincus: where in modem French we should have pour or envers; a common usage in the seventeenth century.
214 survive: subjunctive after verb (to be supplied) of wishing or demanding: mais vouloir, demander que ma, etc. Same construction for je me baigne, v. 216.
223 le seul fils d'Hector = le fils d'Hector seul.
224 Ce n'est pas: as often in the seventeenth century, for modern ce ne sont pas.
225 sur: was often used in place of modern dans or à.
234 A reference to the action of Agamemnon in the Iliad. The Mycenaean king took from Achilles his lovely captive Briseis. Thereupon Achilles withdrew to his tent and refused to fight, in consequence of which the Trojans were victorious in many encounters.
236 en: the en of the preceding verse refers to the injustice of verse 233; this en refers to the threatened injustice.
246 Hermione and Orestes were first cousins.
252 en: 'by her.' En was much more frequently used referring to persons than in current French.
Scène IV. Andromaque: the "white-armed " daughter of Eetion, king of Cilician Thebes; famous in antiquity as the wife of Hector. For the story of her later life as told in ancient literature, see Introduction, p. xxvi f. In Homer, Euripides, Seneca, and Virgil there is no attempt at characterization, except in a negative way. They leave an impression of one who suffered endless sorrow with a patient resignation.— Céphise: not mentioned in the classical dictionaries.
259 me serait-il permis: the conditional denoting possibility, 'may (can) be granted,' etc. This speech of Pyrrhus, so urbane and so gallant, has often been remarked upon as utterly at variance with the legendary barbarianism of the man.
264 Tout son caractère, toute son âme est dans ces vers: sa tendresse pour son fils, sa fidélité inviolable au vaillant Hector, le chef des Troyens, et aussi sa mélancolie résignée et touchante. Elle ne pousse pas de cris, elle n'a pas d'emportements farouches: elle a la conscience de son état, comme elle a la pudeur de ses larmes. (Robert.)
268 Quelque Troyen: do not overlook the intense bitterness suggested in this apparently ingenuous question: 'did some Trojan escape you,' implying something like 'you bloodthirsty wretch.'
278 essuyât: note again the imperfect following a present. Translate by English conditional, 'fear that he would dry,' as if it read que s'il vivait, il n'essuyât.
280 par vos coups: it was Achilles who had killed her father and husband. Is this the injustice of extreme grief, or does the last threatened offense swallow up all the rest, or is it a premeditated attempt to enlist the support of Pyrrhus by an appeal to his humanity? See note to verse 946.
283 dussent-ils, coûtât-il, dussé-je: these subjunctives thus inverted form strong conditional, concessive clauses; 'even though they were to,' ' even though it were to cost,' etc.
286 dix ans: the time consumed in the siege of Troy.
288 Note the very striking tense-sequence of this whole passage.
311 a eu: translate ' has run' (out).
313 Note the contrast between verses 3i3-3i4and 315-322. The first is the confession of a barbarian, startling in its bluntness. The second is the sentimental, one may almost say "gushy," language of the seventeenth-century gallant. It has been severely and quite generally criticized as entirely out of keeping with the traditional character of the man. Is it not just possible that Racine was truer to nature here than we might at first think? It might be said that this artificial elegance is the result of the very awkwardness of Pyrrhus, his distrust in the power of his simple speech to present attractively to a woman the sentiments which had so long been strangers to him. This consideration, however, is not presented with any great degree of conviction.
323 tour à tour: 'each in turn.'
325 espère: subjunctive after dites in the sense of command: 'only bid me hope '; or, 'say only that I may hope.'
331 les Grecs: supply a verb; 'than the Greeks took for its capture.'
336 sacrés murs: personification; 'O sacred walls.' Note the position of the past participle, which was not unusual in the seventeenth century.
352 y régnez: the y is here synonymous with ici, as occasionally in this period.
354 y porterait: note here y for the indirect object lui; usage quite common in the seventeenth century.
355, 356 seraient, aurait: the first is a real conditional, the second denotes possibility, 'can she have.'
363 Hé bien: the passion of Pyrrhus blazes up so hotly that for a moment he can find no words in which to express himself. Andromache must feel that she has courted disaster by her indiscreet tribute to her dead husband. The barbarian is aroused: no more urbanity, no more preciosity.
366 plus: has here the force of désormais, 'henceforth.'
368 n'aime: up to the sixteenth century ne alone expressed negation. Modern usage was becoming fixed in Racine's time.
370 répondra: remember that the future often has an imperative force: 'he shall answer for.'
384 Here, at least, the words of Pyrrhus are brief and to the point. This verse is the mainspring of the play.
Scène I. Hermione was the only daughter of Menelaus and Helen. (See notes to Orestes, Act I, scene i, and Pyrrhus, Act I, scene ii; and also the Introduction.) Cléone does not appear in the classical dictionaries; she is, like Céphise, a stage confidante. In his portrayal of Hermione, Racine was left quite free; for she has"no special character in the ancient legends except a suggestion of jealousy. In studying her here, it will be necessary to keep in mind the difficulties of the position which the poet with consummate tact has made for her. It is in reality more complicated and humiliating than that of Andromache. And to meet these difficulties she has none of the resources which maturity and hard experiences bring. She is the plaything of cross interests and conflicting passions upon which she has no hold. She was one of the poet's favorite characters; it is said that the actress Champmeslé won Racine's love by her representation of the rôle.
385 Je consens: in modern French, je consens à ce qu'il.
386 cette joie: how take this phrase? Is Hermione making sport of her gloomy lover?
388 si je m'en croyais: 'if I followed my own counsel '; compare frequent colloquial croyez-m'en 'take my word for it.'
391, 392 Note the tenses, avez souhaité, regrettiez.
403 vienne: cited by Haase among the examples in which the subjunctive is found, contrary to modern usage, after affirmative verbs of thinking, believing, etc. However, in modern French the subjunctive is found after such verbs used interrogatively and thus implying doubt.
413 il y va de ma gloire: gloire has here its frequent seventeenthcentury meaning of 'reputation,' 'esteem '; one may translate freely, 'my pride ' or ' my self-respect is at stake.'
416 On peut presque dire que pour la première fois l'amour entre dans la tragédie. . . . Non pas l'amour-goût, non pas l'amour-galanterie, non pas l'amour romanesque, mais l'amour sans plus, l'amour pour de