My Tears Fell in Streams (Andromache’s Theme)

Andromache’s opening solo is unusual in ancient Greek theater: not only is she singing alone, even before the Chorus of the play appears (Euripides has a character sing on their entrance in several of his plays), but she sings a song in a special kind of rhythm known as “elegiac“–often used for love poetry in the Greek literature that we have, it was also known as the preeminent rhythm for laments. This is very fitting, since her song is in fact a lament of her own losses and her fall into slavery after the war, but also a love song, to her lost city of Troy, and her lost husband Hector, savagely killed by Achilles, who (as she says in her song) actually tried to abuse Hector’s corpse, tying it to his own chariot and dragging it around the walls of Troy, in the dust behind. In our version, the Chorus (as Thetis’ sea-goddess kin, the Nereids) sing with her.

LYRICS: Paris brought back to the sheer heights of Troy no bride for his bedroom when he brought Helen home; no, he brought madness and ruin.  It was for her, O Troy, that the Greeks came and took you at spearpoint, burning my city: the swift war god a thousand ships strong, taking my husband too—my Hector was dragged past the ramparts, lashed to the chariot rail of sea-dwelling Thetis’ son. Led from my own bedroom, I was brought to the edge of the seashore, wrapping myself in grief, servitude thrown like a veil over my head, and my tears fell in streams; I was leaving behind my city, my bedroom, my poor husband, a corpse in the dust. Here to the goddess’s altar I come, throwing my arms round her image, melting in tears; and my tears fell in streams, like a spring trickling down a sheer rock face.