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THE TRACHINIAE by Sophocles, Part 10

DEIANEIRA moves towards the house.

Why dost thou depart in silence? Knowest thou not that such silence pleads for thine accuser?
DEIANEIRA goes in the house.

Let her depart. A fair wind speed her far from my sight! Why should the name of mother bring her a semblance of respect, when she is all unlike a mother in her deeds? No, let her go,- farewell to her; and may such joy as she gives my sire become her own!
Exit HYLLUS, into the house.

CHORUS singing
strophe 1

See, maidens, how suddenly the divine word of the old prophecy hath come upon us, which said that, when the twelfth year should have run through its full tale of months, it should end the series of toils for the true-born son of Zeus! And that promise is wafted surely to its fulfilment. For how shall he who beholds not the light have toilsome servitude any more beyond the grave?

antistrophe 1

If a cloud of death is around him, and the doom wrought by the Centaur's craft is stinging his sides, where cleaves the venom which Thanatos begat and the gleaming serpent nourished, how can he look upon tomorrow's sun,- when that appalling Hydra-shape holds him in its grip, and those murderous goads, prepared by the wily words of black-haired Nessus, have started into fury, vexing him with tumultuous pain?

strophe 2

Of such things this hapless lady had no foreboding; but she saw great mischief swiftly coming on her home from the new marriage. Her own hand applied the remedy; but for the issues of a stranger's counsel, given at a fatal meeting,- for these, I ween, she makes despairing lament, shedding the tender dew of plenteous tears. And the coming fate foreshadows a great misfortune, contrived by guile.

antistrophe 2

Our streaming tears break forth: alas, a plague is upon him more piteous than any suffering that foemen ever brought upon that glorious hero.

Ah, thou dark steel of the spear foremost in battle, by whose might yonder bride was lately borne so swiftly from Oechalia's heights! But the Cyprian goddess, ministering in silence, hath been plainly proved the doer of these deeds.

Is it fancy, or do I hear some cry of grief just passing through the house? What is this?

No uncertain sound, but a wail of anguish from within: the house hath some new trouble.

And mark how sadly, with what a cloud upon her brow, that aged woman approaches, to give us tidings.
Enter NURSE, from the house.

Ah, my daughters, great, indeed, were the sorrows that we were to reap from the gift sent to Heracles!

Aged woman, what new mischance hast thou to tell?

Deianeira hath departed on the last of all her journeys, departed without stirring foot.

Thou speakest not of death?

My tale is told.

Dead, hapless one?

Again thou hearest it.

Hapless, lost one! Say, what was the manner of her death?

Oh, a cruel deed was there!

Speak, woman, how hath she met her doom?

By her own hand hath she died.

What fury, what pangs of frenzy have cut her off by the edge of a dire weapon? How contrived she this death, following death,- all wrought by her alone?


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