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Pages of Trachiniae

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Even thy wrath would be turned, couldst thou hear all.
A strange preamble; but unfold thy meaning.
The sum is this;- she erred, with a good intent.
Is it a good deed, thou wretch, to have slain thy sire?
Nay, she thought to use a love-charm for thy heart, when she saw
the new bride in the house; but missed her aim.
And what Trachinian deals in spells so potent?
Nessus the Centaur persuaded her of old to inflame thy desire with
such a charm.
Alas, alas, miserable that I am! Woe is me, I am lost,- undone,
undone! No more for me the light of day! Alas, now I see in what a
plight stand! Go, my son,- for thy father's end hath come,- summon,
I pray thee, all thy brethren; summon, too, the hapless Alcmena, in
vain the bride of Zeus,- that ye may learn from my dying lips what
oracles know.
Nay, thy mother is not here; as it chances, she hath her abode
at Tiryns by the sea. Some of thy children she hath taken to live with
her there, and others, thou wilt find, are dwelling in Thebe's town.
But we who are with thee, my father, will render all service that is
needed, at thy bidding.
Hear, then, thy task: now is the time to show what stuff is in
thee, who art called my son.
It was foreshown to me by my Sire of old that I should perish by
no creature that had the breath of life, but by one that had passed to
dwell with Hades. So I have been slain by this savage Centaur, the
living by the dead, even as the divine will had been foretold.
And I will show thee how later oracles tally therewith, confirming
the old prophecy. I wrote them down in the grove of the Selli,
dwellers on the hills, whose couch is on the ground; they were given
by my Father's oak of many tongues; which said that, at the time which
liveth and now is, my release from the toils laid upon me should be
accomplished. And I looked for prosperous days; but the meaning, it
seems, was only that should die; for toil comes no more to the dead.
Since, then, my son, those words are clearly finding their
fulfilment, thou, on thy part, must lend me thine aid. Thou must not
delay, and so provoke me to bitter speech: thou must consent and
help with a good grace, as one who hath learned that best of laws,
obedience to a sire.
Yea, father,- though I fear the issue to which our talk hath
brought me,- I will do thy good pleasure.
First of all, lay thy right hand in mine.
For what purpose dost thou insist upon his pledge?
Give thy hand at once- disobey me not!
Lo, there it is: thou shalt not be gainsaid.
Now, swear by the head of Zeus my sire!
To do what deed? May this also be told?
To perform for me the task that I shall enjoin.

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