The Trojan Women

Talthybius Character Analysis

A Greek soldier, who acts as a herald and a messenger. He is one of only two mortal men in the play, and the one with the most face time with the women of Troy. Although he represents an enemy state, his relationship with the women is surprisingly sympathetic. He must carry out his orders, and many of his orders will hurt the women either directly or indirectly, but he does his best to mitigate their suffering. He is a complicated figure, but does his best to be a sensitive person, even as he enables the rape and enslavement of the women of Troy.

Talthybius Quotes in The Trojan Women

The The Trojan Women quotes below are all either spoken by Talthybius or refer to Talthybius. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Cost of War Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the University of Chicago Press edition of The Trojan Women published in 2013.
Line 98-294 Quotes

Hecuba: Who was given my child? Tell me, who shall be lord
of my poor abused Cassandra?
Talthybius: King Agamemnon chose her. She was given to him.
Hecuba: Slave woman to that Lacedaemonian wife?
My unhappy child!
Talthybius: No. Rather to be joined with him in a dark bed of love.
Hecuba: She, Apollo’s virgin, blessed in the privilege
the gold-haired god gave her, a life forever unwed?
Talthybius: Love’s archery and the prophetic maiden struck him hard.
Hecuba: Dash down, my daughter,
the twigs of your consecration,
break the god’s garland to your throat gathered.
Talthybius: Is it not high favor to be brought to a king’s bed?

Related Characters: Hecuba (speaker), Talthybius (speaker), Cassandra, Agamemnon
Page Number: 247
Explanation and Analysis:
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Line 294-461 Quotes

But see! What is the burst of a torch flame inside?
What can it mean? Are the Trojan women setting fire
to their chambers, at point of being torn from their land
to sail for Argos? Have they set themselves aflame
in longing for death? I know it is the way of freedom
in times like these to stiffen the neck against disaster.
Open, there, open; let not the fate desired by these,
dreaded by the Achaeans, hurl their wrath on me.

Related Characters: Talthybius (speaker), Cassandra
Page Number: 298
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Line 568-797 Quotes

Andromache: She is dead, and this was death indeed; and yet to die
as she did was happier than to live as I live now.
Hecuba: Child, no. No life, no light is any kind of death,
since death is nothing, and in life the hopes live still.
Andromache: O Mother, our mother, hear me while I reason through
this matter fairly—might it even hush your grief!
Death, I am sure, is like never being born, but death
is better thus by far than to live a life of pain,
since the dead, with no perception of evil, feel no grief,
while he who was happy once and then unfortunate
finds his heart driven far from the old lost happiness.
She died; it is as if she never saw the light
of the day, for she knows nothing now of what she suffered.

Related Characters: Hecuba (speaker), Andromache (speaker), Talthybius
Page Number: 630
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

He must be hurled down from the battlements of Troy.
Let it happen this way. It will be wiser in the end.
Do not fight it. Take your grief nobly, as you were born;
give up the struggle where your strength is feebleness
with no force anywhere to help. Listen to me!
Your city is gone, your husband. You are in our power.
How can one woman hope to struggle against the arms
of Greece? Think, then. Give up the passionate contest.
Don’t…do any shameful thing, or any deed of hatred.
And please—I request you—hurl no curse at the Achaeans
for fear the army, save over some reckless word,
forbid the child his burial and the dirge of honor.
Be brave, be silent; out of such patience you’ll be sure
the child you leave behind will not lie unburied here,
and that to you the Achaeans will be less unkind.

Related Characters: Talthybius (speaker), Hecuba, Andromache, Astyanax
Page Number: 725
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Line 1060-1332 Quotes

Achaeans! All your strength is in your spears, not in
the mind. What were you afraid of, that it made you kill
this child so savagely? That Troy, which fell, might be
raised from the ground once more? Your strength meant nothing, then.
When Hector’s spear was fortunate, and numberless
strong hands were there to help him, we were still destroyed.
Now when the city is fallen and the Phrygians slain,
this baby terrified you? I despise the fear
which is pure terror in a mind unreasoning.

Related Characters: Hecuba (speaker), Andromache, Talthybius, Astyanax, Hector
Page Number: 1158
Explanation and Analysis:
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Talthybius Character Timeline in The Trojan Women

The timeline below shows where the character Talthybius appears in The Trojan Women. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Line 98-294
The Cost of War Theme Icon
Duty, Obligation, and Integrity  Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
Talthybius, along with a group of soldiers, enters from offstage. Although he is a Greek herald,... (full context)
The Cost of War Theme Icon
Fate, Fortune, and the Gods Theme Icon
Duty, Obligation, and Integrity  Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
Hecuba wonders where her daughter Cassandra will go. Talthybius says Agamemnon has claimed her as a sex slave. Hecuba is distraught. Not only will... (full context)
The Cost of War Theme Icon
Fate, Fortune, and the Gods Theme Icon
Duty, Obligation, and Integrity  Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
...garlands of the gods off of her body in protest of her upcoming forced marriage. Talthybius, confused, wonders why Hecuba does not think it “high favor to be brought to a... (full context)
The Cost of War Theme Icon
Duty, Obligation, and Integrity  Theme Icon
Hecuba asks who has claimed her youngest daughter, Polyxena. Talthybius tells her Polyxena no longer feels pain, and will guard Achilles’ tomb, which confuses Hecuba.... (full context)
Line 294-461
The Cost of War Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
Talthybius calls forth Cassandra. He has been ordered to bring her to Agamemnon as soon as... (full context)
Duty, Obligation, and Integrity  Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
Talthybius, who is still onstage standing guard, threatens Cassandra for threatening Agamemnon. However, he lets her... (full context)
The Cost of War Theme Icon
Fate, Fortune, and the Gods Theme Icon
Duty, Obligation, and Integrity  Theme Icon
Cassandra takes a moment to gather herself. She demands that Talthybius take her “quick to the house of death where I shall take my mate.” In... (full context)
Line 568-797
The Cost of War Theme Icon
Duty, Obligation, and Integrity  Theme Icon
...another daughter; Polyxena was killed to “pleasure dead Achilles’ corpse.” Hecuba, who had not understood Talthybius earlier, finally understands what he was gently trying to tell her. (full context)
Duty, Obligation, and Integrity  Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
Talthybius returns to the stage with his entourage of soldiers. He has come with terrible news,... (full context)
The Cost of War Theme Icon
Duty, Obligation, and Integrity  Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
Astyanax will be thrown over the wall of Troy, Talthybius says, and he advises Andromache not to fight this decree. He asks her to consider... (full context)
Fate, Fortune, and the Gods Theme Icon
...the gods “damn us to death,” and there is nothing she can do. She demands Talthybius take her to “that sweet bridal bed,” which she can only reach “across the death... (full context)
The Cost of War Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
Talthybius speaks to Astyanax sweetly before passing him to a set of Greek guards, who carry... (full context)
Line 1060-1332
The Cost of War Theme Icon
Duty, Obligation, and Integrity  Theme Icon
Talthybius enters from the city, accompanied by Greek soldiers. They carry Astyanax’s lifeless body on Hector’s... (full context)
Duty, Obligation, and Integrity  Theme Icon
Talthybius urges Hecuba to hurry, but promises to give her the time she needs. He has... (full context)
Fate, Fortune, and the Gods Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
Talthybius reenters the stage, flanked by soldiers. He announces that is time for the Greeks to... (full context)
The Cost of War Theme Icon
Fate, Fortune, and the Gods Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
...tries to rally her fellow women to jump into the fires now consuming Troy, but Talthybius orders his soldiers to hold her back—“She is Odysseus’ property,” and must be kept safe... (full context)