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And though he did abyde
In all parts else bothe sauf and sound, yit this deformitye
Did cut his comb: and for to hyde this blemish from the eye
He hydes his hurt with Sallow leaves, or else with sedge and reede.
But of the selfsame Mayd the love killd thee, feerce Nesse, in deede,
When percing swiftly through thy back an arrow made thee bleede.
For as Joves issue with his wyfe was onward on his way
In going to his countryward, enforst he was to stay
At swift Euenus bank, bycause the streame was risen sore
Above his bounds through rage of rayne that fell but late before.
Agein so full of whoorlpooles and of gulles the channell was,
That scarce a man could any where fynd place of passage. As
Not caring for himself but for his wyfe he there did stand,
This Nessus came unto him (who was strong of body and
Knew well the foordes), and sayd: Use thou thy strength, O Hercules,
In swimming. I will fynd the meanes this Ladie shall with ease
Bee set uppon the further bank. So Hercules betooke
His wyfe to Nessus. Shee for feare of him and of the brooke
Lookte pale. Her husband as he had his quiver by his syde
Of arrowes full, and on his backe his heavy Lyons hyde,
(For to the further bank he erst his club and bow had cast)
Said: Sith I have begonne, this brooke bothe must and shalbee past.
He never casteth further doubts, nor seekes the calmest place,
But through the roughest of the streame he cuts his way apace.
Now as he on the furthersyde was taking up his bow,
His heard his wedlocke shreeking out, and did hir calling know:
And cryde to Nesse (who went about to deale unfaythfully
In running with his charge away): Whoa, whither doost thou fly,
Thou Royster thou, uppon vaine hope by swiftnesse to escape
My hands? I say give eare thou Nesse for all thy double shape,
And meddle not with that thats myne. Though no regard of mee
Might move thee to refrayne from rape, thy father yit might bee
A warning, who for offring shame to Juno now dooth feele
Continuall torment in his limbes by turning on a wheele.
For all that thou hast horses feete which doo so bolde thee make,
Yit shalt thou not escape my hands. I will thee overtake
With wound and not with feete. He did according as he spake.
For with an arrow as he fled he strake him through the backe,
And out before his brist ageine the hooked iron stacke.
And when the same was pulled out, the blood amayne ensewd
At both the holes with poyson foule of Lerna Snake embrewd:
This blood did Nessus take, and said within himselfe: Well: sith
I needes must dye, yet will I not dye unrevendgd. And with
The same he staynd a shirt, and gave it unto Dyanyre,
Assuring hir it had the powre to kindle Cupids fyre.
A greate whyle after when the deedes of worthy Hercules
Were such as filled all the world, and also did appease
The hatred of his stepmother, as he uppon a day
With conquest from Oechalia came, and was abowt to pay
His vowes to Jove uppon the Mount of Cenye, tatling fame
(Who in reporting things of truth delyghts to sauce the same
With tales, and of a thing of nowght dooth ever greater grow
Through false and newly forged lyes that shee hirself dooth sow)
Told Dyanyre that Hercules did cast a liking to
A Ladie called Iolee. And Dyanyra (whoo
Was jealous over Hercules,) gave credit to the same.
And when that of a Leman first the tidings to hir came,
She being striken to the hart, did fall to teares alone,
And in a lamentable wise did make most wofull mone.
Anon she said: what meene theis teares thus gushing from myne eyen?
My husbands Leman will rejoyce at theis same teares of myne.
Nay, sith she is to come, the best it were to shonne delay,
And for to woork sum new devyce and practyse whyle I may,
Before that in my bed her limbes the filthy strumpet lay.
And shall I then complayne? or shall I hold my toong with skill?
Shall I returne to Calydon? or shall I tarry still?
Or shall I get me out of doores, and let them have their will?
What if that I (Meleager) remembring mee to bee
Thy suster, to attempt sum act notorious did agree?
And in a harlots death did shew (that all the world myght see)
What greef can cause the womankynd to enterpryse among?
And specially when thereunto they forced are by wrong.
With wavering thoughts ryght violently her mynd was tossed long.
At last shee did preferre before all others, for to send
The shirt bestayned with the blood of Nessus to the end
To quicken up the quayling love. And so not knowing what
She gave, she gave her owne remorse and greef to Lychas that
Did know as little as herself: and wretched woman, shee
Desyrd him gently to her Lord presented it to see.
The noble Prince receyving it without mistrust therein,
Did weare the poyson of the Snake of Lerna next his skin.
To offer incense and to pray to Jove he did begin,
And on the Marble Altar he full boawles of wyne did shed,
When as the poyson with the heate resolving, largely spred
Through all the limbes of Hercules. As long as ere he could,
The stoutnesse of his hart was such, that sygh no whit he would.
But when the mischeef grew so great all pacience to surmount,
He thrust the altar from him streight, and filled all the mount
Of Oeta with his roring out. He went about to teare
The deathfull garment from his backe, but where he pulled, there
He pulld away the skin: and (which is lothsum to report)
It eyther cleaved to his limbes and members in such sort
As that he could not pull it off, or else it tare away
The flesh, that bare his myghty bones and grisly sinewes lay.
The scalding venim boyling in his blood, did make it hisse,
As when a gad of steel red hot in water quenched is.

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Nesse (Thuringia, Germany) (2)
Leman (Switzerland) (2)
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Lerna (Greece) (1)

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hide References (4 total)
  • Commentary references to this page (1):
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Trachiniae, 7
  • Cross-references to this page (1):
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), CA´LYDON
  • Cross-references in general dictionaries to this page (2):
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