our hearth, to bear me far from this land, lest I die of terror,
when look but once upon the mighty son of Zeus!
For they say that he is approaching the house in torments from
which there is no deliverance, a wonder of unutterable woe.
Ah, it was not far off, but close to us, that woe of which my
lament gave warning, like the nightingale's piercing note!
Men of an alien race are coming yonder. And how, then, are they
bringing him? In sorrow, as for some loved one, they move on their
mournful, noiseless march.
Alas, he is brought in silence! What are we to think; that he is
dead, or sleeping?
(Enter HYLLUS and an OLD MAN,
with attendants,bearing HERACLES upon a litter.)
Woe is me for thee, my father, woe is me for thee, wretched that I
am! Whither shall I turn? What can I do? Ah me!
OLD MAN (whispering)
Hush, my son! Rouse not the cruel pain that infuriates thy sire!
He lives, though prostrated. Oh, put a stern restraint upon thy lips!
How sayest thou, old man- is he alive?
OLD MAN (whispering)
Thou must not awake the slumberer! Thou must not rouse and
revive the dread frenzy that visits him, my son!
Nay, I am crushed with this weight of misery- there is madness
in my heart!
O Zeus, to what land have I come? Who are these among whom I
lie, tortured with unending agonies? Wretched, wretched that I am! Oh,
that dire pest is gnawing me once more!
OLD MAN (to HYLLUS)
Knew I not how much better it was that thou shouldest keep
silence, instead of scaring slumber from his brain and eyes?
Nay, I cannot be patient when I behold this misery.
O thou Cenaean rock whereon mine altars rose, what a cruel
reward hast thou won me for those fair offerings,- be Zeus my witness!
Ah, to what ruin hast thou brought me, to what ruin! Would that I
had never beheld thee for thy sorrow! Then had I never come face to
face with this fiery madness, which no spell can soothe! Where is
the charmer, where is the cunning healer, save Zeus alone, that
shall lull this plague to rest? I should marvel, if he ever came
within my ken!
Leave me, hapless one, to my rest- leave me to my last rest!
Where art thou touching me? Whither wouldst thou turn me? Thou
wilt kill me, thou wilt kill me! If there be any pang that slumbers,
thou hast aroused it!
It hath seized me,- oh, the pest comes again!- Whence are ye, most
ungrateful of all the Greeks? I wore out my troublous days in
ridding Greece of pests, on the deep and in all forests; and now, when