own children, and I am one with her. Come then, maid unwed, child
of murky Night, harden thy heart relentlessly, send forth frenzy upon
him, confound his mind even to the slaying of his children, drive
him, goad him wildly on his mad career, shake out the sails of death,
that when he has sent o'er Acheron's ferry that fair group of children
by his own murderous hand, he may learn to know how fiercely against
him the wrath of Hera burns and may also experience mine; otherwise,
if he escape punishment, the gods will become as naught, while man's
power will grow.
MADNESS Of noble parents was I born, the daughter of Night, sprung
from the blood of Uranus; and these prerogatives I hold, not to use
them in anger against friends, nor have I any joy in visiting the
homes of men; and fain would I counsel Hera, before I see her err,
and thee too, if ye will hearken to my words. This man, against whose
house thou art sending me, has made himself a name alike in heaven
and earth; for, after taming pathless wilds and raging sea, he by
his single might raised up again the honours of the gods when sinking
before man's impiety; wherefore I counsel thee, do not wish him dire
IRIS Spare us thy advice on Hera's and my schemes.
MADNESS I seek to turn thy steps into the best path instead of into
this one of evil.
IRIS 'Twas not to practice self-control that the wife of Zeus sent
MADNESS I call the sun-god to witness that herein I am acting against
my will; but if indeed I must forthwith serve thee and Hera and follow
you in full cry as hounds follow the huntsman, why go I will; nor
shall ocean with its moaning waves, nor the earthquake, nor the thunderbolt
with blast of agony be half so furious as the headlong rush I will
make into the breast of Heracles; through his roof will I burst my
way and swoop upon his house, after first slaying his children; nor
shall their murderer know that he is killing his own-begotten babes,
till he is released from my madness. Behold him! see how even now
he is wildly tossing his head at the outset, and rolling his eyes
fiercely from side to side without word; nor can he control his panting
breath; but like a bull in act to charge, he bellows fearfully, calling
on the goddesses of nether hell. Soon will I rouse thee to yet wilder
dancing and sound a note of terror in thine ear. Soar away, O Iris,
to Olympus on thy honoured course; while I unseen will steal into
the halls of Heracles. (IRIS and MADNESS vanish.)
CHORUS (chanting) Alas! alas! lament, O city; the son of Zeus, thy
fairest bloom, is being cut down.
Woe is thee, Hellas! that wilt cast from thee thy benefactor, and
destroy him as he madly, wildly dances where no pipe is heard.
She is mounted on her car, the queen of sorrow and sighing, and is
goading on her steeds, as if for outrage, the Gorgon child of Night,
with hundred hissing serpent-heads, Madness of the flashing eyes.
Soon hath the god changed his good fortune; soon will his children
breathe their last, slain by a father's hand.
Ah me! alas! soon will vengeance, mad, relentless, lay low by cruel
death thy unhappy son, O Zeus, exacting a full penalty.
Alas, O house! the fiend begins her dance of death without the cymbal's
crash, with no glad waving of the wine-god's staff.
Woe to these halls toward bloodshed she moves, and not to pour libations
of the juice of the grape.
O children, haste to fly; that is the chant of death her piping plays.
Ah, yes! he is chasing the children. Never, ah! never will Madness
lead her revel rout in vain.
Ah me! how I lament that aged sire, that mother too that bore his
babes in vain.
A tempest rocks the house; the roof is falling with it.
Oh! what art thou doing, son of Zeus?