Thy words show no desire to do my bidding.
What! When she alone is to blame for my mother's death, and for
thy present plight besides? Lives there the man who would make such
choice, unless he were maddened by avenging fiends?
Better were it, father, that I too should die, rather than live
united to the worst of our foes!
He will render no reverence, it seems, to my dying prayer.- Nay,
be sure that the curse of the gods will attend thee for disobedience
to my voice.
Ah, thou wilt soon show, methinks, how distempered thou art!
Yea, for thou art breaking the slumber of my plague.
Hapless that I am! What perplexities surround me!
Yea, since thou deignest not to hear thy sire.
But must I learn, then, to be impious, my father?
'Tis not impiety, if thou shalt gladden my heart.
Dost thou command me, then, to do this deed, as a clear duty?
I command thee,- the gods bear me witness!
Then will I do it, and refuse not,- calling upon the gods to
witness thy deed. I can never be condemned for loyalty to thee, my
Thou endest well; and to these words, my son, quickly add the
gracious deed, that thou mayest lay me on the pyre before any pain
returns to rend or sting me.
Come, make haste and lift me! This, in truth, is rest from
troubles; this is the end, the last end, of Heracles!
Nothing, indeed, hinders the fulfilment of thy wish, since thy
command constrains us, my father.
Come, then, ere thou arouse this plague, O my stubborn soul,
give me a curb as of steel on lips set like stone to stone, and let no
cry escape them; seeing that the deed which thou art to do, though
done perforce, is yet worthy of thy joy!
Lift him, followers! And grant me full forgiveness for this; but
mark the great cruelty of the gods in the deeds that are being done.
They beget children, they are hailed as fathers, and yet they can look
upon such sufferings.
(The attendants raise HERACLES
on the litter and move slowly off, as HYLLUS chants
to the CHORUS in the closing lines.)
No man foresees the future; but the present is fraught with
mourning for us, and with shame for the powers above, and verily
with anguish beyond compare for him who endures this doom.
Maidens, come ye also, nor linger at the house; ye who have lately
seen a dread death, with sorrows manifold and strange: and in all this
there is nought but Zeus.