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THE TRACHINIAE by Sophocles, Part 04

LEADER OF THE CHORUS

Now, O Queen, thy joy is assured; part is with thee, and thou hast promise of the rest.

DEIANEIRA
Yea, have I not the fullest reason to rejoice at these tidings of my lord's happy fortune? To such fortune, such joy must needs respond. And yet a prudent mind can see room for misgiving lest he who prospers should one day suffer reverse. A strange pity hath come over me, friends, at the sight of these ill-fated exiles, homeless and fatherless in a foreign land; once the daughters, perchance, of free-born sires, but now doomed to the life of slaves. O Zeus, who turnest the tide of battle, never may I see child of mine thus visited by thy hand; nay, if such visitation is to be, may it not fall while Deianeira lives! Such dread do I feel, beholding these.
To IOLE
Ah, hapless girl, say, who art thou? A maiden, or a mother? To judge by thine aspect, an innocent maiden, and of a noble race. Lichas, whose daughter is this stranger? Who is her mother, who her sire? Speak, I pity her more than all the rest, when I behold her; as she alone shows due feeling for her plight.

LICHAS
How should I know? Why should'st thou ask me? Perchance the off, spring of not the meanest in yonder land.

DEIANEIRA
Can she be of royal race? Had Eurytus a daughter?

LICHAS
I know not; indeed, I asked not many questions.

DEIANEIRA
And thou hast not heard her name from any of her companions?

LICHAS
No, indeed, I went through my task in silence.

DEIANEIRA
Unhappy girl, let me, at least, hear it from thine own mouth. It is indeed distressing not to know thy name.
IOLE maintains her silence.

LICHAS
It will be unlike her former behaviour, then, I can tell thee, if she opens her lips: for she hath not uttered one word, but hath ever been travailing with the burden of her sorrow, and weeping bitterly, poor girl, since she left her wind-swept home. Such a state is grievous for herself, but claims our forbearance.

DEIANEIRA
Then let her be left in peace, and pass under our roof as she wishes; her present woes must not be crowned with fresh pains at my hands; she hath enough already.-Now let us all go in, that thou mayest start speedily on thy journey, while I make all things ready in the house.
LICHAS leads the captives into the house. DEIANEIRA starts to follow them, but the MESSENGER, who has been present during the entire scene, detains her. He speaks as he moves nearer to her.

MESSENGER
Ay, but first tarry here a brief space, that thou mayest learn, apart from yonder folk, whom thou art taking to thy hearth, and mayest gain the needful knowledge of things which have not been told to thee. Of these I am in full possession.

DEIANEIRA
What means this? Why wouldest thou stay my departure?

MESSENGER
Pause and listen. My former story was worth thy hearing, and so will this one be, methinks.

DEIANEIRA
Shall I call those others back? Or wilt thou speak before me and these maidens?

MESSENGER
To thee and these I can speak freely; never mind the others.

DEIANEIRA
Well, they are gone;- so thy story can proceed.

MESSENGER
Yonder man was not speaking the straight-forward truth in aught that he has just told. He has given false tidings now, or else his former report was dishonest.

DEIANEIRA
How sayest thou? Explain thy whole drift clearly; thus far, thy words are riddles to me.

 

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