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Enter by Eisodos A Heracles with his characteristic lion-skin and club. A servant goes in to tell Admetus of the arrival.

Heracles
Strangers, citizens of this land of Pherae, do I find Admetus at home?

Chorus-Leader
Yes, Pheres' son is at home, Heracles. But tell us what need brings you to Thessaly [480] and to this city of Pherae.

Heracles
I am performing a certain labor for Eurystheus, king of Tiryns.

Chorus-Leader
Where are you bound? What is the wandering you are constrained to make?

Heracles
I go in quest of the four-horse chariot of Thracian Diomedes.

Chorus-Leader
How can you do that? Do you not know what kind of host he is?

Heracles
[485] I do not. I have never yet been to Bistonia.

Chorus-Leader
You cannot possess those horses without a fight.

Heracles
But all the same, I cannot decline these labors.

Chorus-Leader
Then you will either kill him and return or end your days there.

Heracles
This is not the first such race I shall have run.

Chorus-Leader
[490] If you defeat their master, what will it profit you?

Heracles
I will bring the horses back to the lord of Tiryns.

Chorus-Leader
You will not find it easy to put a bit in their mouths.

Heracles
Surely so, unless they breathe fire from their nostrils.

Chorus-Leader
No, but they tear men apart with their nimble jaws.

Heracles
[495] This is fodder for mountain beasts, not horses.

Chorus-Leader
You will see their feeding-troughs drenched with blood.

Heracles
Whose son does their master claim to be?

Chorus-Leader
Ares' son, and shield-bearing lord of Thrace rich in gold.

Heracles
Like the others this labor you name befits my destiny [500] (which is always hard and steep) since I am fated to do battle with all the sons of Ares: first Lycaon, then Cycnus, and now this is the third contest I enter, going off to fight horses and master alike. [505] But no one shall ever see Alcmene's son quake at the hand of an enemy.

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Tiryns (Greece) (2)
Thrace (Greece) (1)
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  • Commentary references to this page (1):
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Philoctetes, 336
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