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[170] Let Zeus defend his his own share in his son; but as for me, Heracles, it is my concern on your behalf to prove by what I say this tyrant's ignorance; for I cannot allow you to be ill spoken of. First then for that which should never have been said—for to speak [175] of you, Heracles, as a coward is, I think, outside the pale of speech—of that must I clear you with heaven to witness. I appeal then to the thunder of Zeus, and the chariot in which he rode, when he pierced the Giants, earth's brood, to the heart with his winged shafts, [180] and with gods uplifted the glorious triumph song; or go to Pholoe and ask the insolent tribe of four-legged Centaurs, you craven king, ask them who they would judge the bravest of men; will they not say my son, who according to you is but a pretender? [185] Were you to ask Euboean Dirphys, your native place, it would not sing your praise, for you have never done a single gallant deed to which your country can witness. Next you disparage that clever invention, an archer's weapon; [190] come, listen to me and learn wisdom. A man who fights in line is a slave to his weapons, and if his fellow-comrades want for courage he is slain himself through the cowardice of his neighbors, or, if he breaks his spear, he cannot defend his body from death, having only one means of defence; [195] whereas all who are armed with the trusty bow, though they have but one weapon, yet is it the best; for a man, after discharging countless arrows, still has others with which to defend himself from death, and standing at a distance keeps off the enemy, wounding them for all their watchfulness with invisible shafts, [200] and never exposing himself to the foe, but keeping under cover; and this is by far the wisest course in battle, to harm the enemy and keep safe oneself, independent of chance. These arguments are completely opposite to yours [205] with regard to the point at issue. Next, why are you desirous of slaying these children? What have they done to you? One piece of wisdom I credit you with, your coward terror of a brave man's descendants. Still it is hard on us, [210] if for your cowardice we must die; a fate that ought to have overtaken you at our braver hands, if Zeus had been fairly disposed towards us. But, if you are so anxious to make yourself supreme in the land, let us go into exile; [215] abstain from all violence, else you will suffer by it whenever the god causes fortune's breeze to veer round.

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