since they for their sire were doomed; else what shall we find so
noble in having fought a hydra and a lion at the hests of Eurystheus,
if I make no effort to save my own children from death? No longer
I trow, as heretofore, shall I be called Heracles the victor.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS 'Tis only right that parents should help their
children, their aged sires, and the partners of their marriage.
AMPHITRYON My son, 'tis like thee to show thy love for thy dear ones
and thy hate for all that is hostile; only curb excessive hastiness.
HERACLES Wherein, father, am I now showing more than fitting haste?
AMPHITRYON The king hath a host of allies, needy villains though
pretending to be rich, who sowed dissension and o'erthrew the state
with a view to plundering their neighbours; for the wealth they had
in their houses was ali spent, dissipated by their sloth. Thou wast
seen entering the city; and, that being so, beware that thou bring
not thy enemies together and be slain unawares.
HERACLES Little I reck if the whole city saw me; but chancing to
see a bird perched in an ill-omened spot, from it I learnt that some
trouble had befallen my house; so I purposely made my entry to the
land by stealth.
AMPHITRYON For thy lucky coming hither, go salute thy household altar,
and let thy father's halls behold thy face. For soon will the king
be here in person to drag away thy wife and children and murder them,
and to add me to the bloody list. But if thou remain on the spot all
will go well, and thou wilt profit by this security; but do not rouse
thy city ere thou hast these matters well in train, my son.
HERACLES I will do so; thy advice is good; I will enter my house.
After my return at length from the sunless den of Hades and the maiden
queen of hell, I will not neglect to greet first of all the gods beneath
AMPHITRYON Why, didst thou in very deed go to the house of Hades,
HERACLES Aye, and brought to the light that three-headed monster.
AMPHITRYON Didst worst him in fight, or receive him from the goddess?
HERACLES In fair fight; for I had been lucky enough to witness the
rites of the initiated.
AMPHITRYON Is the monster really lodged in the house of Eurystheus?
HERACLES The grove of Demeter and the city of Hermione are his prison.
AMPHITRYON Does not Eurystheus know that thou hast returned to the
HERACLES He knows not; I came hither first to learn your news.
AMPHITRYON How is it thou wert so long beneath the earth?
HERACLES I stayed awhile attempting to bring back Theseus from Hades,
AMPHITRYON Where is he? gone to his native land?
HERACLES He set out for Athens right glad to have escaped from the
lower world. Come, children, attend your father to the house. My entering
in is fairer in your eyes, I trow, than my going out. Take heart,
and no more let the tears stream from your eyes; thou too, dear wife,
collect thy courage, cease from fear; let go my robe; for I cannot
fly away, nor have I any wish to flee from those I love. Ah! they
do not loose their hold, but cling to my garments all the more; were
ye in such jeopardy? Well, I must lead them, taking them by the hand
to draw them after me, like a ship when towing; for I too do not reject
the care of my children; here all mankind are equal; all love their
children, both those of high estate and those; who are naught; 'tis
wealth that makes distinctions among them; some have, others want;
but all the human race loves its offspring. (HERACLES, MEGARA, AMPHITRYON
and the children enter the palace.)
CHORUS (singing, strophe 1)
Dear to me is youth, but old age is ever hanging o'er my head, a
burden heavier than Aetna's crags, casting its pall of gloom upon
my eyes. Oh! never may the wealth of Asia's kings tempt me to barter
for houses stored with gold my happy youth, which is in wealth and
poverty alike most fair! But old age is gloomy and deathly; I hate