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Heracles   


share of suffering or been more fatally deceived.
THESEUS Why doth he veil his head, poor wretch, in his robe?
AMPHITRYON He is ashamed to meet thine eye; his kinsman's kind intent
and his children's blood make him abashed.
THESEUS But I come to sympathize; uncover him.
AMPHITRYON My son, remove that mantle from thine eyes, throw it from
thee, show thy fare unto the sun; a counterpoise to weeping is battling
for the mastery. In suppliant wise I entreat thee, as I grasp thy
beard, thy knees, thy hands, and let fall the tear from my old eyes.
O my child! restrain thy savage lion-like temper, for thou art rushing
forth on an unholy course of bloodshed, eager to join woe to woe.
THESEUS Ho! To thee I call who art huddled there in thy misery, show
to they friends thy face; for no darkness is black enough to hide
thy sad mischance. Why dost thou wave thy hand at me, signifying murder?
is it that I may not be polluted by speaking with thee? If I share
thy misfortune, what is that to me? For if I too had luck in days
gone by, must refer it to the time when thou didst bring me safe from
the dead to the light of life. I hate a friend whose gratitude grows
old; one who ready to enjoy his friends' prosperity but unwilling
to sail in the same ship with them when their fortune lours. Arise,
unveil thy head, poor wretch! and look on me. The gallant soul endures
without a word such blows as heaven deals.
HERACLES O Theseus, didst thou witness this struggle with my children?
THESEUS I heard of it, and now I see the horrors thou meanest.
HERACLES Why then hast thou unveiled my head to the sun?
THESEUS Why have I? Thou, a man, canst not pollute what is of God.
HERACLES Fly, luckless wretch, from my unholy taint.
THESEUS The avenging fiend goes not forth from friend to friend.
HERACLES For this I thank thee; I do not regret the service I did
thee.
THESEUS While I, for kindness then received, now show my pity for
thee.
HERACLES Ah yes! I am piteous, a murderer of my sons.
THESEUS I weep for thee in thy changed fortunes.
HERACLES Didst ever find another more afflicted?
THESEUS Thy misfortunes reach from earth to heaven.
HERACLES Therefore am I resolved on death.
THESEUS Dost thou suppose the gods attend to these thy threats?
HERACLES Remorseless hath heaven been to me; so I will prove the
like to it.
THESEUS Hush! lest thy presumption add to thy sufferings.
HERACLES My barque is freighted full with sorrow; there is no room
to stow aught further.
THESEUS What wilt thou do? whither is thy fury drifting thee?
HERACLES I will die and return to that world below whence I have
just come.
THESEUS Such language is fit for any common fellow.
HERACLES Ah! thine is the advice of one outside sorrow's pale.
THESEUS Are these indeed the words of Heracles, the much-enduring?
HERACLES Though never so much as this. Endurance must have a limit.
THESEUS Is this man's benefactor, his chiefest friend?
HERACLES Man brings no help to me; no! Hera has her way.
THESEUS Never will Hellas suffer thee to die through sheer perversity.
HERACLES Hear me a moment, that I may enter the lists with words
in answer to thy admonitions; and I will unfold to thee why life now
as well as formerly has been unbearable to me. First I am the son
of a man who incurred the guilt of blood, before he married my mother
Alcmena, by slaying her aged sire. Now when the foundation is badly
laid at birth, needs must the race be cursed with woe; and Zeus, whoever
this Zeus may be, begot me as a butt for Hera's hate; yet be not thou
vexed thereat, old man; for thee rather than Zeus do I regard as my
father. Then whilst I was yet being suckled, that bride of Zeus did
foist into my cradle fearsome snakes to compass my death. After I
was grown to man's estate, of all the toils I then endured what need

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