From the Play: No More Trojan Wennen
Author: Justin “Justy” DeForest
Character: Andromache, Daughter-in-Law to Hecuba, Queen of Troy
Monologue Title: “Such Pretty Work!”
Setting: Before the Palace of Ancient Troy
Background: Andromache has been in isolation with her young son, Astyanax, since the death of her spouse, Hector, in battle. She now appears before the Palace of Troy to tell Hecuba of a new sorrow.
A Greek soldier came to my apartment this morning —
to the happy home I once shared with Hector. —
where we spoiled Astyanax together.
He introduced himself as Bulamachos. Well-named! –
He was a bull of a man.
He said he had orders from Agamemnon
to pay his respects to Hector’s widow.
I thought I knew what that meant!
But, instead, he turned to Astyanax.
Asty screamed when he saw his fierce armor.
Remember, Hecuba, how he had cried the day
Hector donned his plumed helmet? —
as if he feared Daddy had become
some great feathered beast!
Hector removed it immediately
and swooped Asty up in his mantle,
assuring him he was safe in his sights.
He never wore his helmet in front of Asty again.
He was a kind man, Hecuba, your son.
Troy’s deadliest warrior, yet a dear to his family.
The Greek was gruff.
He snatched Astyanax up like a sack of flour
and moved quickly towards the archway.
‘Don’t forget his blanket!’ I called after him.
‘It gets so cold at night anymore.’
Remember this blanket, Hecuba?
You told me you had embroidered it
when you were expecting Hector,
You gave it to me
when I was expecting Astyanax,
my only born.
Was there really such a time
when we had time
for such pretty work?
What happy colors! —
Gold of sand, green of hill, blue of sea. —
They’re faded now, of course.
I bet this red never made you think of blood.
When you cradled Hector in your arms,
you foresaw for him a kingly future
that you truly believed would be.
No Trojan mother now dares dream to the end of the day!
How intricate this pattern is!
Some threads long, some short. —
So like the threads that dread Atropos cuts.
Even Mighty Zeus fears that Fate Sister
who holds the Knife of Destiny. (pause)
Death is the Power Supreme, is it not?
It always wins in the end.
‘Don’t forget his blanket!’ I cried after Bulamachos.
‘Asty gets so cold at night.’
But the Greek neither heeded nor halted.
He carried Astyanax like a sack of flour
through the archway, across the balcony
to the balustrade, and dangled him
over its smooth, cold marble.
“What a glorious view of the battlefield
your mommy had from this height! ” He chimed
“Was she watching the day Achilles killed Daddy?”
He turned his head towards me.
I did not answer.
“No matter,” he smiled.
“She’s watching now!”
And he let Astyanax go. He let my baby go.
(ANDROMACHE buries her face in the blanket. Pause.
She lifts her head and takes a deep breath.)
Look! Here’s a lock of Asty’s hair caught in the embroidery.
I had wrapped him in this last night.
(ANDROMACHE pulls the hair from the blanket and exams it.)
Such pretty work! Such a short thread!
Have you made your decision yet, Hecuba? —
Whether to surrender at dusk or fight on to the death? —
For I have made mine!
(ANDROMACHE reveals a dagger.)
Oh, Hector! Wrap our baby in your mantle this day!
Tonight, wrapped in a red mantle of my own and Greek blood dyed,
I shall join you both in Elysium!
© Justy DeForest 1987, 2009, 2021, 2022