the mother of your 'sire, absent from their place at this altar?
IOLAUS Here am I, so far as I can be here at all.
SERVANT Why dost thou lie there? Why that downcast look?
IOLAUS There is come a sorrow on my house, whereby I suffer.
SERVANT Arise, lift up thy head.
IOLAUS I am old, and all my strength is gone.
SERVANT But I come with tidings of great joy for thee.
IOLAUS Who art thou? Where have I met thee? I have no remembrance.
SERVANT I am a vassal of Hyllus; dost not recognize me now?
IOLAUS Best of friends, art thou come to save us twain from hurt?
SERVANT Assuredly; and moreover thou art lucky in the present case.
IOLAUS Alcmena, mother of a noble son, to thee I call! come forth,
hear this welcome news. For long has anguish caused thee inwardly
to waste, wondering if those, who now are here, would ever come.
(ALCMENA enters from the temple in answer to the call.)
ALCMENA What means that shout, that echoes throughout the house?
Hath there come yet a herald from Argos, O Iolaus, and is he treating
thee with violence? Feeble is any strength of mine; yet thus much
let me tell thee, stranger, never, whilst I live, shalt thou drag
them hence. Shouldst thou succeed, no more let me be thought the mother
of that hero. And if thou lay a finger on them, thou wilt struggle
to thy shame with two aged foes.
IOLAUS Courage, aged dame, fear not; not from Argos is a herald come,
with hostile messages.
ALCMENA Why then didst raise a cry, fear's harbinger?
IOLAUS I called thee to come to me in front of this temple.
ALCMENA I know not what it means; who is this?
IOLAUS A messenger who says thy grandson cometh hither.
ALCMENA All hail to thee for these thy tidings! But why is he not
here, where is he? if in this land he hath set foot. What hath happened
to keep him from coming hither with thee, to cheer my heart?
SERVANT He is posting the army he brought with him, and seeing it
ALCMENA Then have I no concern herein.
IOLAUS Yes, thou hast; though it is my business to inquire.
SERVANT What then wouldst thou learn of these events?
IOLAUS About how many allies has he with him?
SERVANT A numerous force; I cannot otherwise describe the number.
IOLAUS The leaders of the Athenians know this, I suppose?
SERVANT They do; already is their left wing set in array.
IOLAUS Is then the host already armed for battle?
SERVANT Yea, and already are the victims brought near the ranks.
IOLAUS About what distance is the Argive host from us?
SERVANT Near enough for their general to be plainly seen.
IOLAUS What is he about? marshalling the enemy's line?
SERVANT So we guessed; we could not hear exactly. But I must go,
for I would not that my master should engage the foe without me, if
I can help it.
IOLAUS I also will go with thee; for I like thee am minded, so it
seems, to be there and help my friends.
SERVANT It least of all becomes thee thus to utter words of folly.
IOLAUS Far less to shrink from sharing with my friends the stubborn
SERVANT Mere looks can wound no one, if the arm do naught.
IOLAUS Why, cannot I smite even through their shields?
SERVANT Smite perhaps, more likely be smitten thyself.
IOLAUS No foe will dare to meet me face to face.
SERVANT Friend, the strength, that erst was thine, is thine no more.
IOLAUS Well, at any rate, I will fight with as many as ever I did.
SERVANT Small the weight thou canst throw into the balance for thy
IOLAUS Detain me not, when I have girded myself for action.
SERVANT The power to act is thine no more, the will maybe is there.
IOLAUS Stay here I will not, say what else thou wilt.