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Trachiniae   


with an evil name, if she rejoices that her nature is not evil.
LEADER
Mischief must needs be feared; but it is not well to doom our hope
before the event.
DEIANEIRA
Unwise counsels leave no room even for a hope which can lend
courage.
LEADER
Yet towards those who have erred unwittingly, men's anger is
softened; and so it should be towards thee.
DEIANEIRA
Nay, such words are not for one who has borne a part in the ill
deed, but only for him who has no trouble at his own door.
LEADER
'Twere well to refrain from further speech, unless thou would'st
tell aught to thine own son; for he is at hand, who went erewhile to
seek his sire.
(Enter HYLLUS)
HYLLUS
O mother, would that one of three things had befallen thee!
Would that thou wert dead,- or, if living, no mother of mine,- or that
some new and better spirit had passed into thy bosom.
DEIANEIRA
Ah, my son, what cause have I given thee to abhor me?
HYLLUS
I tell thee that thy husband- yea, my sire-bath been done to death
by thee this day
DEIANEIRA
Oh, what word hath passed thy lips, my child!
HYLLUS
A word that shall not fail of fulfilment; for who may undo that
which bath come to pass?
DEIANEIRA
What saidst thou, my son? Who is thy warranty for charging me with
a deed so terrible?
HYLLUS
I have seen my father's grievous fate with mine own eyes; I
speak not from hearsay.
DEIANEIRA
And where didst thou find him,- where didst thou stand at his
side?
HYLLUS
If thou art to hear it, then must all be told.
After sacking the famous town of Eurytus, he went his way with the
trophies and first-fruits of victory. There is a sea-washed headland
of Euboea, Cape Cenaeum, where he dedicated altars and a sacred
grove to the Zeus of his fathers; and there I first beheld him, with
the joy of yearning love.
He was about to celebrate a great sacrifice, when his own
herald, Lichas, came to him from home, bearing thy gift, the deadly
robe; which he put on, according to thy precept; and then began his
offering with twelve bulls, free from blemish, the firstlings of the
spoil; but altogether he brought a hundred victims, great or small, to
the altar.
At first, hapless one, he prayed with serene soul, rejoicing in
his comely garb. But when the blood-fed flame began to blaze from
the holy offerings and from the resinous pine, a sweat broke forth
upon his flesh, and the tunic clung to his sides, at every joint,
close-glued, as if by a craftsman's hand; there came a biting pain
that racked his bones; and then the venom, as of some deadly, cruel
viper, began to devour him.
Thereupon he shouted for the unhappy Lichas,- in no wise to
blame for thy crime,- asking what treason had moved him to bring
that robe; but he, all-unknowing, hapless one, said that he had

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