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Trachiniae   


LICHAS
I will go, I was foolish to hear thee so long.
MESSENGER
No, not till thou hast answered a brief question.
LICHAS
Ask what thou wilt; thou art not taciturn.
MESSENGER
That captive, whom thou hast brought home- thou knowest whom mean?
LICHAS
Yes; but why dost thou ask?
MESSENGER
Well, saidst thou not that thy prisoner- she, on whom thy gaze now
turns so vacantly- was Iole, daughter of Eurytus?
LICHAS
Said it to whom? Who and where is the man that will be thy witness
to hearing this from me?
MESSENGER
To many of our own folk thou saidst it: in the public gathering of
Trachinians, a great crowd heard thus much from thee.
LICHAS
Ay- said they heard-but 'tis one thing to report a fancy, and
another to make the story good.
MESSENGER
A fancy! Didst thou not say on thine oath that thou wast
bringing her us a bride for Heracles?
LICHAS
I? bringing a bride?- In the name of the gods, dear mistress, tell
me who this stranger may be?
MESSENGER
One who heard from thine own lips that the conquest of the whole
city was due to love for this girl: the Lydian woman was not its
destroyer, but the passion which this maid has kindled.
LICHAS
Lady, let this fellow withdraw: to prate with the brainsick befits
not sane man.
DEIANEIRA
Nay, I implore thee by Zeus whose lightnings go forth over the
high glens of Oeta, do not cheat me of the truth! For she to whom thou
wilt speak is not ungenerous, nor hath she yet to learn that the human
heart is inconstant to its joys. They are not wise, then, who stand
forth to buffet against Love; for Love rules the gods as he will,
and me; and why not another woman, such as I am? So I am mad indeed,
if I blame my husband, because that distemper hath seized him; or this
woman, his partner in a thing which is no shame to them, and no
wrong to me. Impossible! No; if he taught thee to speak falsely,
'tis not a noble lesson that thou art learning; or if thou art thine
own teacher in this, thou wilt be found cruel when it is thy wish to
prove kind. Nay, tell me the whole truth. To a free-born man, the name
of liar cleaves as a deadly brand. If thy hope is to escape detection,
that, too, is vain; there are many to whom thou hast spoken, who
will tell me.
And if thou art afraid, thy fear is mistaken. Not to learn the
truth,-that, indeed, would pain me; but to know it- what is there
terrible in that? Hath not Heracles wedded others ere now,- ay, more
than living man,- and no one of them hath bad harsh word or taunt from
me; nor shall this girl, though her whole being should be absorbed
in her passion; for indeed I felt a profound pity when I beheld her,
because her beauty hath wrecked her life, and she, hapless one, all
innocent, hath brought her fatherland to ruin and to bondage.
Well, those things must go with wind and stream.- To thee I
say,-deceive whom thou wilt, but ever speak the truth to me.
LEADER
Hearken to her good counsel, and hereafter thou shalt have no
cause to complain of this lady; our thanks, too, will be thine.

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