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Lady, prepare the funeral rites; but I, O Zeus, stretching out my hand to heaven, call on you to help these children, [500] if such is your intention; for soon any aid of yours will be unavailing; and yet you have been often invoked; my toil is in vain; death seems inevitable. You aged friends, the joys of life are few; so take heed that you pass through it as gladly as you may, [505] without a thought of sorrow from morning until night; for time takes little heed of preserving our hopes; and, when he has busied himself on his own business, away he flies. Look at me, a man who had made a mark among his fellows by deeds of note; yet fortune in a single day [510] has robbed me of it as of a feather that floats away toward the sky. I know not any whose plenteous wealth and high reputation is fixed and sure; fare you well, for now you have seen the last of your old friend, my comrades.

Megara catches sight of Heracles approaching.

Ah! Old friend, is it my own, my dearest I see? or what am I to say?

[515] I do not know, my daughter; I too am struck dumb.

Is this he who they told us was beneath the earth?It is, unless some day-dream mocks our sight. What am I saying? What visions do these anxious eyes behold? Old man, this is no one other than your own son. [520] Come here, my children, cling to your father's robe, hurry, never loose your hold, for here is one to help you, not at all behind our savior Zeus.

Heracles enters.

All hail! my house and gates of my home, how glad I am to emerge to the light and see you. [525] Ah! what is this? I see my children before the house in the robes of death, with chaplets on their heads and my wife amid a throng of men, and my father weeping—what misfortune? Let me draw near to them and inquire; [530] lady, what strange stroke of fate has fallen on the house?

Dearest of all mankind to me!

O ray of light appearing to your father!

Are you safe and is your coming just in time to help your dear ones?

What do you mean? What is this confusion I find on my arrival, father?

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