Nay, then, dear mistress,- since I see that thou thinkest as
mortals should think, and canst allow for weakness,- I will tell
thee the whole truth, and hide it not. Yes, it is even as yon man
saith. This girl inspired that overmastering love which long ago smote
through the soul of Heracles; for this girl's sake the desolate
Oechalia, her home, was made the prey of his spear. And he,- it is
just to him to say so,- never denied this,- never told me to conceal
it. But I, lady, fearing to wound thy heart by such tidings, have
sinned, if thou count this in any sort a sin.
Now, however, that thou knowest the whole story, for both your
sakes,- for his, and not less for thine own,- bear with the woman, and
be content that the words which thou hast spoken regarding her
should bind thee still. For he, whose strength is victorious in all
else, hath been utterly vanquished by his passion for this girl.
Indeed, mine own thoughts move me to act thus. Trust me, I will
not add a new affliction to my burdens by waging a fruitless fight
against the gods.
But let us go into the house, that thou mayest receive my
messages; and, since gifts should be meetly recompensed with gifts,-
that thou mayest take these also. It is not right that thou
shouldest go back with empty hands, after coming with such a goodly
(Exit MESSENGER, as LICHAS and DEIANEIRA go into the house.)
Great and mighty is the victory which the Cyprian queen ever bears
away. I stay not now to speak of the gods; I spare to tell how she
beguiled the son of Cronus, and Hades, the lord of darkness, or
Poseidon, shaker of the earth.
But, when this bride was to be won, who were the valiant rivals
that entered the contest for her hand? Who went forth to the ordeal of
battle, to the fierce blows and the blinding dust?
One was a mighty river-god, the dread form of a horned and
four-legged bull, Achelous, from Oeniadae: the other came from
Thebe, dear to Bacchus, with curved bow, and spears, and brandished
club, the son of Zeus: who then met in combat, fain to win a bride:
and the Cyprian goddess of nuptial joy was there with them, sole
umpire of their strife.
Then was there clatter of fists and clang of bow, and the noise of
bull's horns therewith; then were there close-locked grapplings, and
deadly blows from the forehead, and loud deep cries from both.
Meanwhile, she, in her delicate beauty, sat on the side of a
hill that could be seen afar, awaiting the husband that should be
So the battle rages, as I have told; but the fair bride who is the
prize of the strife abides the end in piteous anguish. And suddenly
she is parted from her mother, as when a heifer is taken from its dam.
(DEIANEIRA enters from the house alone, carrying in her arms a
casket containing a robe.)