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[1255] Hear me a moment, that I may enter the contest with words in answer to your admonitions; and I will unfold to you why life now as well as formerly has been unbearable to me. First I am the son of a man who incurred the guilt of blood, before he married my mother Alcmena, [1260] by slaying her aged father. Now when the foundation is badly laid at birth, it is necessary for the race to be cursed with woe; and Zeus, whoever this Zeus may be, begot me as an enemy to Hera; yet do not be vexed, old man; [1265] for you rather than Zeus I regard as my father. Then while I was being suckled, that bedfellow of Zeus foisted into my cradle fearsome snakes to cause my death. After I took on a cloak of youthful flesh, [1270] of all the toils I then endured what need to tell? what did I not destroy, whether lions, or triple-bodied Typhons, or giants or the battle against the hosts of four-legged Centaurs? or how when I had killed the hydra, [1275] that monster with a ring of heads with power to grow again, I passed through a herd of countless other toils besides and came to the dead to fetch to the light at the bidding of Eurystheus the three-headed hound, hell's porter. Last, ah, woe is me! I have dared this labor, [1280] to crown the sorrows of my house with my children's murder. I have come to this point of necessity; no longer may I dwell in Thebes, the city that I love; for suppose I stay, to what temple or gathering of friends shall I go? For mine is no curse that invites greetings. [1285] Shall I go to Argos? how can I, when I am an exile from my country? Well, is there a single other city I can rush to? Am I then to be looked at askance as a marked man, held by cruel stabbing tongues: “Is not this the son of Zeus that once murdered children [1290] and wife? Plague take him from the land!” Now to one who was once called happy, such changes are a grievous thing; though he who is always unfortunate feels no such pain, for sorrow is his birthright.

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