In this interview-essay, artist Rosanna Bruno talks with the author about her illustrations of The Trojan Women, a comic-book made in collaboration with Anne Carson. Bruno’s illustrations offer the reader an oblique entry into a devastated Troy: they are translation “at a slant.” The artist speaks on going against what is visually expected or plausible, in her use of surprising imagery to convey and counterpoint suffering, and touches upon the use of humor to bring the tragedy into sharp focus. Bruno explains how the comic-book format can communicate radical ideas in the interdependence of word and image. She talks through creating the feeling of live theater and the emotional tenor brought about by an almost entirely non-human cast: dogs, cows, a huge wave, a turnip-like rootling, a pair of dungarees. The illustrator elucidates the collaborative process between herself and Carson, revealing the various iterations of characters before they settled on their final forms, and the materials and methodologies Bruno employed in its rendering.

Obliquity is the only entry point to a cosmos in disarray and devastation. “With The Trojan Women, the only way I could handle the incredibly dark and tragic story was to push the images far away from what is plausible,” says Rosanna Bruno, illustrator of Anne Carson’s translation of Euripides’ The Trojan Women. The tragedy follows the fates of the eponymous captives as they are apportioned as spoils after the Greeks have ravaged the city. In 415 BC, Euripides’ drama was, if not radical in its subject matter, at least unusual in its approach. Rather than examine the imperialist exploits of the Greek victors, Euripides shifted the tragic focus onto the aftermath of the war as experienced by the weakest and most vulnerable group of survivors, setting this play in a fairly unique position among other Greek texts such as the Homeric epics, Aeschylus’ Agamemnon, and Sophocles’ Ajax. If Euripides’ tragedy was already unconventional, then this comic-book version pulls out all the stops. Carson is well-versed in the brazen exercise of poetic license and her translation here is also gloriously loose. She is, at heart, a visual not verbal artist, and her metaphors are luminous and devastating. Bruno tenderly works with Carson’s words to drive home the poignant tragedy, her black-and-white illustrations stark yet generous and never austere. Thumbing my way slowly through the comic, I am filled with the sense that this collaboration catches in its palm the sad scraps and suggestive images that were dropped by the ancient text centuries ago, and unfurls its fingers to reveal something dear, misshapen, and immediate. I spoke with Bruno over email in early 2022 about tragedy, humor, and seeing things at a slant.

“I think I make art to be surprised,” says the artist. “I was also responding to Anne’s text, which is always full of surprises! It gave me permission to go anywhere, and I did.” The Trojan Women is surprising, not least because the women are, in fact, a crestfallen mob of dogs and cows (Fig. 1). At their head is the play’s pivotal character, Hekabe, “an ancient emaciated sled dog of filth and wrath”—literally.1 Bruno limns this figure, the dethroned queen of Troy in mourning for the death of her fifty children, as a prostrate dog of supreme dignity, with a mangy coat and wary eyes. In other ancient texts, Hekabe is described after her death as a “she-dog with fiery eyes.” To cast Hekabe as a dog here implies that the conditions of her life are such that they border on death itself. Though the translation steers entirely clear of animal onomatopoeias, Bruno’s illustrations stir up a soundscape of howls, yips, and bays that reveals something about the incommunicability of pain. These doleful cries enact and amplify the choral task of ritual lament, and the gregarious nature of dogs and cows unites them in mournful, interspecies camaraderie as they cling together among the wreckage, reduced to livestock behind sharp scratches of barbed wire fence. Yes, it is surprising to see the Greek chorus canine-ized—but it does make it all the more dear and moving.

FIG. 1:

Bruno’s canine-ized chorus. Carson and Bruno 2021: 16.

FIG. 1:

Bruno’s canine-ized chorus. Carson and Bruno 2021: 16.

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Carson and Bruno have no preservationist motivations toward the ancient text, but certain theatrical elements persevere. “[We decided] to keep the stage directions with the images [because we wanted to make it feel like] we are watching a play as opposed to simply reading it.” Jagged labels provide indications such as “Enter Poseidon, a large volume of water measuring 600 clear cubic feet”: how much more wildly affective can you get than a rumbling, snowcapped tsunami sweeping across the page? (Fig. 2).2 Bruno worked panel by A4 panel, illustrating mostly without reference to her previous pages. “I chose this way of dealing with each page ‘in real time’ mainly because I was overwhelmed by what I had to do. I don’t mean [overwhelmed] in a practical sense, in terms of deadlines, etc., I mean I was overwhelmed by the nature of the project. I would sit each day with these incredible words and the only way I could turn them into images was to stay there in that moment and zero in on what I saw.” Bruno’s real-time encountering of each tragic moment as it comes builds a cadence of shifting textures, greyscale combinations, and panel layouts. This working methodology contributes to the feeling of watching a play, where theatrical momentum is built by the replacement of each dramatic moment by the next. The tragedy’s slow and inevitable advance gains impetus until its full force is brought to bear on the unknowing characters, as if pitching down a hill. I note that even the hand-lettering becomes increasingly lean and spiky as each tragic consequence imprints itself onto me. Bruno is amused: “I would love to say that I thought all this out ahead of time, but really, it just happened naturally. . . . [But] I agree, the end result does have a sort of live theater feel to it.”

Poseidon and the canine chorus are not the only non-human forms. In fact, the only anthropomorph is Kassandra, whose clairvoyance casts her as supra-human, after all. Andromache is a poplar tree, and her baby son Astyanax a rootling. Helen, already a shapeshifter in Euripides and the cause of all this mess, is instantiated now as a silver, dew-clawed fox, now as a handheld mirror, and finally as a fox holding a mirror. For Bruno, the refusal to look back as she worked meant there was less opportunity to edit herself. “If I looked back too much, then I would question such choices as a talking tree, or a fox in stilettos wearing a fox fur coat. It might have been a totally different book!” The intuitive nature of her approach glints through, even when its effects feel mystifying or unobvious. “So much of what I do is just feeling my way around and I am lucky when I land on something.” This unseeingly feeling her way around, this palpating until she seizes on something minute that can billow out into something else entirely—it seems what Bruno is doing here is translation too, as long as we conceive of translation not as the necessary betrayal of a pure original, but rather as a force for the generation of meaning.

Bruno assents. “Images . . . carry with them a different sort of power.” They’re like “another layer to support and accentuate the emotional tenor of a work.” And “layering is like movement for me, or a kind of travelling.” For me, Bruno’s illustrations drive home the point that figuration and abstraction are, in fact, the same impulse: each brushstroke that is taken towards a far-flung representation is a step towards exactitude and specificity. “I . . . think of it as a way of going against what is expected and not accepting the outline of something but [pushing] the edges and see[ing] if you can’t make another form.” In the Bloodaxe Books launch of The Trojan Women, Carson remarks on the surprising plausibility of Bruno’s depiction of Andromache as a talking tree.3 For Bruno, the relationship between surprise and plausibility is a kind of distilling: “Categories do not move me closer to clarity, they move me further away—further from the center. . . . I find that when I push something . . . it often becomes very clear.”

Pushing, destabilizing, tilting. At the outset of The Trojan Women, Hekabe raises her hound head with the words “Start me up, left leg,” her lopsided body intimating the canted angle at which the story must be seen.4 Encountering Bruno’s illustrations feels as though the text were materializing outside of itself, in a sort of semantic emancipation. If in Autobiography of Red (1998) Carson was “undoing the latches of being,” here the illustrations are similarly unbridling. There are no latches where doors are left swinging off their hinges by troops whose ravages surpass the architectural. I ask Bruno about this instability, and how it spills out of the realm of the thematic and into the comic’s formal structuring. “I intentionally did not choose the standard grid-like sequential panel layout for this book, as I think the subject was too big for such constraints.” When Andromache learns that her son Astyanax is to be sacrificed, Bruno inks page after page in swathes of deep, desperate black, overlaid by the illustrations in white (Fig. 3).5 The effect is akin to a photographic negative. These panels are fragmented into three horizontal, tilting sections with Andromache’s willowy figure draped diagonally across the entire page. The sheer force of emotion in the face of this impossible act renders her body uncontainable. Bruno almost excuses this: “I come to comics from a messier background [i.e., painting]. I am not technically very proficient in the comics form, so everything has a very scruffy feel to it.” However, this portrayal pushes Andromache past the limits of humanity and across the physical borders of the panel—and perhaps we can see her pain more clearly now.

FIG. 3:

Inky background to Andromache’s woe. Carson and Bruno 2021: 46.

FIG. 3:

Inky background to Andromache’s woe. Carson and Bruno 2021: 46.

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Some panels occupy an entire page, others spread across two. At other points, Bruno alternates between circular, spotlight-like frames and amorphous, slippery ones. Some frames provide a cinematic zoom-in to an expression, such as Hekabe’s wide-eyed howl of “NO NO NO NO NO” reflected in her eyes, the words peppered in her pupils.6 Every time I encounter the panels anew, I find another detail, something that has escaped me in previous visitations. The comic book genre often evinces a concern for knowledge and access to knowledge: details glimpsed out of the corner of an eye, subtextual nuances tucked away in the corners of panels, or nimble word-image play. With Bruno’s illustrations, too, it takes sitting with an image to fully or even partially take in its content. “I am always interested in making connections, whether visual, textual, or verbal,” says Bruno. “[It’s] like movement for me, or a kind of travelling . . . [a] way to see the same thing from all angles.”

Such are the sequences that have Troy in ruins as their backdrop—the ransacked city comes into being as “Hotel Troy,” a derelict motel of torn-down blinds and boarded-up windows.7 Nearby lies a sea of graves. One is garlanded with a minuscule wreath that proclaims “#1 DAD.” Another spells out “HERO.” A third, simply “LOVE.” Euripides’ play has little action—it is a play of ululating laments rather than dramatic peaks—and characters take on a largely explanatory role to further the narrative. Here Bruno has shifted the narrative propulsion out of these bodies and into another form: a tiny facsimile of the tabloid newspaper WAR-EXPRESS announces: “HERO HEKTOR FALLS! Trojan Warrior Loses Fight and Gains Fame (full story on page 6).”8

I ask Bruno about her first and critically acclaimed comic The Slanted Life of Emily Dickinson (2017), convinced that I discern a drive to “Tell all the truth but tell it slant” in The Trojan Women too. “I see everything as slanted to begin with, so why not exploit that?” replies Bruno, whose Instagram handle is @aslantedlife. “[Dickinson] encourages a circuitous route to the truth and that resonates with me.” Here, again, is the sense that the anguish of murder, slavery, and rape cannot be encountered head-on. It must be deconstructed, muddled, reassembled. There may be something improbable about a child depicted as a turnip-like rootling; however, there is something even more unthinkable about a child whose broken skull bones “show through as if trying to smile.”9 Bruno’s bold slanting has an epistemologically destabilizing effect, and her crude and evocative imagery knocks our perception to an angle.

One of these angles, says Bruno, is comedy. “Another element in my work is always humor, which is a great tool to shake things up and it also bring things into sharp focus.” Tell this to sharp-witted Athene, who materializes as a pair of Carhartt dungarees with an owl mask tucked under one strap (Fig. 4). Humor as a counterpoint to tragedy is a well-known and exercised device: Carson even includes a quote from the master of dark humor, Samuel Beckett, as the chorus’s closing remark.10 Much of The Trojan Women’s verbal humor pulls from the ancient text itself. It is Euripides who, when Hekabe warns Menelaus not to share a boat with Helen lest she seduce him, has Menelaus ask stupidly: “What, has she put on weight?” (Eur. Tro. 1050). Bruno and Carson push this further by depicting Menelaus as a complicated “gearbox or coupling mechanism”—critically, it is “last year’s model,” intimating the fact that Helen will, in fact, swindle him.11 “The combination of word and image can operate on many levels.” Most of the time, “the words make all the difference!”

Visual humor and word-image play become a caesura, a point of respite from the tragic happenings. Polyxena, sacrificed at Achilles’ tomb as an offering to the gods, is shown crouching next to the grave reading The Foot Book: could she possibly be reading up on heels?12 A self-confessed lover of bad puns, Bruno stylizes the forlorn motel sign as “HOTEL TROY,” its neon flashing arrow still angling towards the door.13 “Making The Trojan Women was a lot of fun. I did make most of it during lockdown, so to immerse myself in an ancient tragedy took me out of our current one.” What I learn from Bruno is that looking at things sideways is a prolific endeavor, full of dynamism and emotion.

When I ask Bruno about what she’s currently working on, she mentions another comic book. “I have been thinking of a graphic memoir centered around my mother. I have a collection of notes I’ve written for that. When she died in 2017, I found I could not go there. Lately, I have been thinking maybe I can. . . . I am also working on a graphic essay about my experience with sleep apnea. I find it very difficult to make overtly autobiographical work. I’m hoping my self-deprecating sense of humor might help with that!”

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Rosanna Bruno is a New York-based artist who makes paintings, ceramics, comics, and bad puns. She received a New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship in 2012 and has received additional fellowships from Yaddo, the Rauschenberg Foundation, and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. Her work has been published in The Paris Review, BOMB, The Times Literary Supplement, The Toast, and The Daily Beast, among others. Bruno’s first publication, The Slanted Life of Emily Dickinson (2017), is a book of cartoons based on the myth of the poet’s life.

Gina Prat Lilly.

A revelation that I had when encountering your illustrations in The Trojan Women was that figuration and abstraction are, in fact, the same impulse. I have since realized that I’ve probably arrived at this idea quite late, but your work really drove this point home for me! Each step your illustrations take towards something that is far-flung and unimaginable is also a step towards exactitude and specificity. In the Bloodaxe Books launch, Anne Carson speaks of your depiction of Andromache as a talking tree as “surprisingly plausible.” What’s the relationship between surprise and plausibility in your work?

Rosanna Bruno.

Wow, what a great revelation you had! You’d be shocked at how many artists do not realize that about abstraction/figuration. I find categories do not move me closer to clarity, they move me further away—further from the center. In the end, it is all about communicating something. With The Trojan Women, the only way I could handle the incredibly dark and tragic story was to push the images far away from what is plausible. This was mainly because the process of drawing the tragedy in the human/plausible realm would’ve been unbearable for me emotionally and artistically. I find that when I push something to an uncomfortable place, it often becomes very clear. I was also responding to Anne’s text, which is always full of surprises! It gave me permission to go anywhere, and I did. Another element in my work is always humor, which is a great tool to shake things up and it also brings things into sharp focus. But to answer your question more simply, I think I make art to be surprised.

GPL.

Your first comic book is called The Slanted Life of Emily Dickinson, and your Instagram handle is @aslantedlife. Could you tell me more about the slant and slanting, because I see the drive to “Tell all the truth but tell it slant” in The Trojan Women too!

RB.

I can’t tell anything straight because I see everything as slanted to begin with, so why not exploit that? Dickinson’s poem encourages a circuitous route to the truth and that resonates with me. I also think of it as a way of going against what is expected and not accepting the outline of something but [pushing] the edges and see[ing] if you can’t make another form.

GPL.

You mentioned with Bloodaxe Books that when you were drawing the comic book you worked mostly without reference to your previous pages. I was thinking about this in relation to theater, where each dramatic moment is replaced by the next, continuously. Was this a conscious choice or did it just occur naturally? What effect did it have on The Trojan Women, both in your experience of making the work and in the final piece?

RB.

This is a great observation. I would love to say that I thought all this out ahead of time, but really, it just happened naturally. So much of what I do is just feeling my way around and I am lucky when I land on something. I chose this way of dealing with each page “in real time” mainly because I was overwhelmed by what I had to do. I don’t mean it in a practical sense, in terms of deadlines, etc., I mean I was overwhelmed by the nature of the project. I would sit each day with these incredible words and the only way I could turn them into images was to stay there in that moment and zero in on what I saw. Another reason I worked this way was to have less opportunity to edit myself. If I looked back too much, then I would question such choices as a talking tree, or a fox in stilettos wearing a fox fur coat. It might have been a totally different book! I agree, the end result does have a sort of live theater feel to it. Our decision to keep the stage directions with the images also supports this sense that we are watching a play as opposed to simply reading it. Making The Trojan Women was a lot of fun. I did make most of it during lockdown, so to immerse myself in an ancient tragedy took me out of our current one.

GPL.

Euripides’ The Trojan Women explored subject matter that was deeply rooted in the Greek imaginary: the Trojan War. However, Euripides’ focus on the suffering of the weakest and most vulnerable group of survivors is a fairly unique position among other Greek texts. This political emphasis on collective suffering is beautifully rendered by your illustrations: the chorus as a baying mob of dogs and cows; the tragic sequences dealing with Hekabe, Kassandra, and Andromache. How does the comic book format in general work to unbridle and run with radical ideas? I’m thinking here of comic books as spaces for speculation; political commentary; political possibility; and maybe even hope?

RB.

I think the comic book format is perfect for communicating radical ideas because the combination of word and image can operate on many levels. If you take the text of The Trojan Women and remove the illustrations, you will have a uniquely vivid, piercing story with all the elements in Euripides’ tragedy (and then some). The imagery adds another layer to support and accentuate the emotional tenor of the work. Images are also more immediate and carry with them a different sort of power. I intentionally did not choose the standard grid-like sequential panel layout for this book, as I think the subject was too big for such constraints.

GPL.

In The Slanted Life of Emily Dickinson and The Trojan Women, and in Anne Carson’s work too, there is such a joyous propensity for intertextuality. What is the role of intertextuality, inter-illustration, and layering in your work?

RB.

Layering is like movement for me, or a kind of traveling. I am always interested in making connections, whether visual, textual, or verbal. Dickinson was interested in intertextuality, so to incorporate that in a comic book about her made perfect sense. In The Slanted Life of Emily Dickinson, there are a few references to Emily Brontë, not only because Dickinson loved her work but because it drove certain points home about Dickinson herself. These things made the process of creating the book much more interesting and alive for me and fleshed out the ideas I wanted to communicate. A lot of research went into the book, believe it or not, and there is a point where you need to distill that research in a way that is meaningful for yourself and the reader/viewer. Layering is just another way to see the same thing from all angles.

GPL.

I have read that you conceive of your practice as a comic artist to be very distinct from your practice as a painter and ceramicist. How does this separation manifest and why? (I ask this because I feel The Trojan Women has such architectural and painterly components to it!)

RB.

I agree, The Trojan Women is very painterly. I come to comics from a messier background. I am not technically very proficient in the comics form. I just feel my way around there, so everything has a very scruffy feel to it. Painting is my greatest love and what differentiates it from comics is the vocabulary. When working with actual words, there is a basic understanding of what the words on the page mean. Painting has its own vocabulary, and it is purely visual, not attached to words. People try to write about paintings and talk about them, but I find the wonderful thing about the form is how slow it is—the meaning is communicated through purely visual means. Making comics is not unrelated to that, but the words make all the difference. Of course, there are comics without words, but there is still a specific narrative at play that connects us to language. Another main difference, and this goes back to your first question about surprise, is where I begin. I often begin paintings with something as simple as a color relationship I’d like to see or an idea about light or space, but it is a very loose, open process, which leads to discovery. When I start a comic, I have a very particular starting point that serves the narrative, so the surprises come later, if I am lucky. But with comics or painting or ceramics, there is always a sense of figuring something out and going down a new path, otherwise I wouldn’t do it.

GPL.

Translation might be considered, at its core, a collaboration. Could you speak to the collaborative process between you, Carson, and Euripides? Carson has said she is, at heart, a visual, not verbal artist (“Anne Carson,” Poetry Foundation). What was the give and take between you both as visual artists? Did you and Carson have an ongoing exchange in order to draft the emotional tenor of the book, or were you left to find your own images within her text? I wonder, too, if your illustrations shifted the way Carson conceived of her own text at all?

RB.

Anne and I talked about the book prior to her giving me the final text. We mainly discussed what form the characters would take. She knew she wanted the chorus (women of Troy) to be made up of cows and dogs, but we talked specifically about Hekabe’s breed, and whether or not the chorus would be mutts. There was a moment when Hekabe was going to be the sign for pi, but then Anne decided a sled dog was more appropriate. Kassandra was initially going to be a fall of snow, and we rattled off a bunch of tree varieties as possibilities for Andromache. A short time after that discussion, I received Anne’s text. While many decisions about the characters were as we discussed, there were some changes, notably Kassandra as a human.

Although Anne is a visual artist, and her writing is full of imagery, she allowed me to have total freedom to interpret the text visually. Her primary request was that the text should be legible! Once I read her translation, I went back to her with questions about little things like stage directions. I thought it would be important to keep them even though they seem strange in the context of a graphic version of the play. I also asked a few questions about some of the dialogue. Once I had about thirty pages drawn, I showed them to her in order to make sure I wasn’t off the mark with the tone of her translation. She commented that the images added another layer to the text in a surprising way. I was pleased with that response and continued. She was very generous in giving over her work with no demands. I think we were on the same page, so to speak.

GPL.

Texture leaps from the page in The Trojan Women : the dilapidation and scrappiness of the Hotel Troy, the sharp scratch of tragic emotion; the deep, dank darkness of despair in the sinking swathes of black; the faded duplicated panels of the chorus. . . . I particularly liked the varied ways you depicted smoke/fog: pen scratches (p.23), watercolors. . . . It was facinating to see the different inks, nibs, watercolors, graphites, paper, and other materials involved in etching these textures (from your interview with Zach Davidson at BOMB). What guided your use of these materials to create textures and communicate specific emotions?

RB.

You’ve really zoomed in on the very hand-madeness of this book and how that correlates with the characters and their situations. I am a big believer in the “form follows function” way of making things. If I had drawn this on a digital drawing pad and heavily edited the images in Photoshop or any illustration program, the emotional tenor of the book would be quite different. This is not a story told with cool detachment. Though the text is minimal, the emotional intensity is maximal. I chose materials and methods that reflect the heightened emotional state of play. The page you singled out, with Hekabe facing Kassandra’s torches, is a page where I used a very fine nib to draw the tiny scratches for the trail of smoke. Somehow, the more tedious act of etching out that space seemed appropriate to speak to Hekabe’s sense of overwhelm. The physical nature of making those marks was a way of inhabiting that space. Compare that to pages 32 and 33, where Hekabe has a long lament: these two images are set in her memory and are formed with light ink wash and a collection of tiny dots forming the images in her mind. They are real but mediated by the thinking space. They are also enclosed in central shapes surrounded by flat black ink, so they exist through a kind of peephole. The method of making something should align with what you are trying to convey. Sometimes, these choices were very deliberate and other times, they just came out of connecting strongly to the text. The latter is always more fun.

GPL.

You stayed away from the sequential grid-like format because the subject matter was too big for that. Could you talk about your choice to fragment the background of the Andromache pages into three sections? Is there a similar concern there? Does this manifest at other points of the comic?

RB.

My decision on those pages relates to the imminent separation of Andromache from her child. There is a fracture there, and we know this is not going to end well. She is saying goodbye to her son and the way the two pages face each other, the cuts in the panels are moving outward, almost in a thrusting motion. I wasn’t thinking so much about the subject being too big for the pages here, but rather, this is where Andromache breaks. She is handing over her only son, knowing he will be killed. A different formatting device I rely on in the book is framing pages with the faces of the chorus. They sort of contain the narrative and form a boundary for the action, while also communicating what has happened. It is very different than having multiple scenes in a grid where we see the chorus repeatedly. It more closely aligns with the function of the chorus.

GPL.

Which sequences or characters were the most difficult to capture and why?

RB.

Coincidentally, after talking so much about the Andromache pages, all of the pages between Hekabe and Andromache were extremely difficult. I have a strong physical memory of what it was like to sit down to those pages of text and try to do justice to the intensity of their exchanges. It was overwhelming. I distinctly recall the moment when I finally figured out how to draw the page where Andromache lets loose and spins out of control. It was cathartic, much in the way that action was cathartic to Andromache in the play. I think these pages were the most difficult, and I remember sending snapshots to a good friend just to make sure I was doing the words justice.

GPL.

For me, a recurring consideration of the comic book is what is hidden in corners of panels, subtextually, visual puns, wordplay, “getting it.” Knowledge and access to knowledge is also a concern of Greek tragedy (the chorus acts as this vehicle in addressing the public or the characters). This is also a concern of Kassandra: her access to knowledge is contingent on others’ disbelief. Could you speak a bit about the slant and “circuitous access to truth” in The Trojan Women?

RB.

This is such a good question, and I am not sure I can answer it as well as I would like. We have the fact of war and its aftermath, which is a truth that the women of Troy must face. Poseidon gives us an overview at the beginning of the play, which neatly sums up the story without much nuance. To stop there would have denied the survivors, Hekabe and her crew, their truth. There are many instances in the book where we are getting different versions of the truth. We can leave Kassandra out for obvious reasons! But we have Hekabe, speaking her truth through her grief and loss. I think there is no more circuitous route to the truth than a lament. You must wade through thick layers of emotion to get to the heart of what is there, but then, that emotional response is another kind of truth. This play is one long series of laments. Andromache must remind Hekabe that her son started this war—it as though she has thrown a glass of ice water in Hekabe’s face. Then there is Helen, who is to blame for everything, as far as Hekabe is concerned. Helen is given the floor to tell her version, and there she implicates the gods. The chorus responds to her version of events with a cool: “Sweet speech! Don’t let her draw you off the track. She’ll have you thinking bad is good and white is black.” As she is telling her story, however, she is shifting from the form of a fox to a hand mirror, which calls everything she says into question. But I find the ultimate statement of truth in the work is when Hekabe states that the gods do not give a damn about them. This is the basis of everything.