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Sophocles Index


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THE TRACHINIAE by Sophocles, Part 05

MESSENGER

I heard this man declare, before many witnesses, that for this maiden's sake Heracles overthrew Eurytus and the proud towers of Oechalia; Love, alone of the gods, wrought on him to do those deeds of arms,- not the toilsome servitude to Omphale in Lydia, nor the death to which Iphitus was hurled. But now the Herald has thrust Love out of sight, and tells different tale.

Well, when he could not persuade her sire to give him the maiden for his paramour, he devised some petty complaint as a pretext, and made war upon her land,- that in which, as he said, this Eurytus bore sway,- and slew the prince her father, and sacked her city. And now, as thou seest, he comes sending her to this house not in careless fashion, lady, nor like slave:-no, dream not of that,- it is not likely, if his heart is kindled with desire.

I resolved, therefore, O Queen, to tell thee all that I had heard from yonder man. Many others were listening to it, as I was, in the public place where the Trachinians were assembled; and they can convict him. If my words are unwelcome, I am grieved; but nevertheless I have spoken out the truth.

DEIANEIRA
Ah me unhappy! In what plight do I stand? What secret bane have received beneath my roof? Hapless that I am! Is she nameless, then, as her convoy sware?

MESSENGER
Nay, illustrious by name as by birth; she is the daughter of Eurytus, and was once called Iole; she of whose parentage Lichas could say nothing, because, forsooth, he asked no questions.

LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Accursed, above other evil-doers, be the man whom deeds of treachery dishonour!

DEIANEIRA
Ah, maidens, what am I to do? These latest tidings have bewildered me!

LEADER
Go and inquire from Lichas; perchance he will tell the truth, if thou constrain him to answer.

DEIANEIRA
Well, I will go; thy counsel is not amiss.

MESSENGER
And I, shall I wait here? Or what is thy pleasure?

DEIANEIRA
Remain;- here he comes from the house of his own accord, without summons from me.
Enter LICHAS

LICHAS
Lady, what message shall I bear to Heracles? Give me thy commands, for, as thou seest, I am going.

DEIANEIRA
How hastily thou art rushing away, when thy visit had been so long delayed,- before we have had time for further talk.

LICHAS
Nay, if there be aught that thou would'st ask, I am at thy service.

DEIANEIRA
Wilt thou indeed give me the honest truth?

LICHAS
Yes, be great Zeus my witness,- in anything that I know,

DEIANEIRA
Who is the woman, then, whom thou hast brought?

LICHAS
She is Euboean; but of what birth, I cannot say.

MESSENGER
Sirrah, look at me:- to whom art thou speaking, think'st thou?

LICHAS
And thou- what dost thou mean by such a question?

MESSENGER
Deign to answer me, if thou comprehendest.

LICHAS
To the royal Deianeira, unless mine eyes deceive me,- daughter of Oeneus, wife of Heracles, and my queen.

MESSENGER
The very word that I wished to hear from thee:- thou sayest that she is thy queen?

LICHAS
Yes, as in duty bound.

MESSENGER
Well, then, what art thou prepared to suffer, if found guilty of failing in that duty?

LICHAS
Failing in duty? What dark saying is this?

MESSENGER
'Tis none; the darkest words are thine own.

LICHAS
I will go, I was foolish to hear thee so long.

MESSENGER
No, not till thou hast answered a brief question.

 

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