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THE TRACHINIAE by Sophocles, Part 13

LEADER

Ah, hapless Greece, what mourning do I forsee for her, if she must lose this man

HYLLUS
Father, since thy pause permits an answer, hear me, afflicted though thou art. I will ask thee for no more than is my due. Accept my counsels, in a calmer mood than that to which this anger stings thee: else thou canst not learn how vain is thy desire for vengeance, and how causeless thy resentment.

HERACLES
Say what thou wilt, and cease; in this my pain I understand nought of all thy riddling words.

HYLLUS
I come to tell thee of my mother,- how it is now with her, and how she sinned unwittingly.

HERACLES
Villain! What- hast thou dared to breathe her name again in my hearing,- the name of the mother who hath slain thy sire?

HYLLUS
Yea, such is her state that silence is unmeet.

HERACLES
Unmeet, truly, in view of her past crimes.

HYLLUS
And also of her deeds this day,- as thou wilt own.

HERACLES
Speak,- but give heed that thou be not found a traitor.

HYLLUS
These are my tidings. She is dead, lately slain.

HERACLES
By whose hand? A wondrous message, from a prophet of ill-omened voice!

HYLLUS
By her own hand, and no stranger's.

HERACLES
Alas, ere she died by mine, as she deserved!

HYLLUS
Even thy wrath would be turned, couldst thou hear all.

HERACLES
A strange preamble; but unfold thy meaning.

HYLLUS
The sum is this;- she erred, with a good intent.

HERACLES
Is it a good deed, thou wretch, to have slain thy sire?

HYLLUS
Nay, she thought to use a love-charm for thy heart, when she saw the new bride in the house; but missed her aim.

HERACLES
And what Trachinian deals in spells so potent?

HYLLUS
Nessus the Centaur persuaded her of old to inflame thy desire with such a charm.

HERACLES
Alas, alas, miserable that I am! Woe is me, I am lost,- undone, undone! No more for me the light of day! Alas, now I see in what a plight stand! Go, my son,- for thy father's end hath come,- summon, I pray thee, all thy brethren; summon, too, the hapless Alcmena, in vain the bride of Zeus,- that ye may learn from my dying lips what oracles know.

HYLLUS
Nay, thy mother is not here; as it chances, she hath her abode at Tiryns by the sea. Some of thy children she hath taken to live with her there, and others, thou wilt find, are dwelling in Thebe's town. But we who are with thee, my father, will render all service that is needed, at thy bidding.

 

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