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O land of Cadmus, and all you people of Thebes! [1390] cut off your hair, and mourn with me; go to my children's burial, and with one dirge lament us all, the dead and me; for on all of us has Hera inflicted the same cruel blow of destruction.

Theseus
Rise, unhappy man! you have had your fill of tears.

Heracles
[1395] I cannot rise; my limbs are rooted here.

Theseus
Yes, even the strong are overthrown by misfortunes.

Heracles
Ah! Would I could become a stone upon this spot, oblivious of trouble.

Theseus
Peace! give your hand to a friend and helper.

Heracles
No, let me not wipe off the blood upon your robe.

Theseus
[1400] Wipe it off and spare not; I will not refuse you.

Heracles
Bereft of my own sons, I find you as a son to me.

Theseus
Throw your arm about my neck; I will be your guide.

Heracles
A pair of friends indeed, but one a man of sorrows. Ah! aged father, this is the kind of man to make a friend.

Amphitryon
[1405] Blessed in her sons, the country that gave him birth!

Heracles
Theseus, turn me back again to see my children.

Theseus
What for? Do you think to find a drug in this to soothe your soul?

Heracles
I long to do so, and would embrace my father.

Amphitryon
Here am I, my son; your wish is no less dear to me.

Theseus
[1410] Have you so short a memory for your troubles?

Heracles
All that I endured before was easier to bear than this.

Theseus
If anyone sees you play the woman, they will scoff.

Heracles
Have I by living grown so abject in your sight? It was not so once, I think.

Theseus
Yes, too much so; in your sickness you are not the glorious Heracles.

Heracles
[1415] What about you? What kind of hero were you when in trouble in the world below?

Theseus
I was worse than anyone as far as courage went.

Heracles
How then can you say of me, that I am abased by my troubles?

Theseus
Forward!

Heracles
Farewell, my aged father!

Amphitryon
Farewell to you, my son!

Heracles
Bury my children as I said.

Amphitryon
But who will bury me, my son?

Heracles
[1420] I will.

Amphitryon
When wil you come?

Heracles
After you have buried my children.

Amphitryon
How?

Heracles
I will fetch you from Thebes to Athens. But carry my children within, a grievous burden to the earth. And I, after ruining my house by deeds of shame, will follow as a little boat in the wake of Theseus, totally destroyed. [1425] Whoever prefers wealth or might to the possession of good friends, thinks wrongly.Theseus and his attendants lead Heracles away.

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  • Commentary references to this page (1):
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Oedipus Tyrannus, 1110-1185
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