Table of Contents:
There was no measure of his paine. The frying venim hent
His inwards, and a purple swet from all his body went.
His sindged sinewes shrinking crakt, and with a secret strength
The povson even within his bones the Maree melts at length.
And holding up his hands to heaven, he sayd, with hideous reere:
O Saturnes daughter, feede thy selfe on my distresses heere.
Yea feede, and, cruell wyght, this plage behold thou from above
And glut thy savage hart therewith. Or if thy fo may move
Thee unto pitie, (for to thee I am an utter fo)
Bereeve mee of my hatefull soule distrest with helplesse wo,
And borne to endlesse toyle. For death shall unto mee bee sweete,
And for a cruell stepmother is death a gift most meetc.
And is it I that did destroy Busiris, who did foyle
His temple floores with straungers blood? Ist I that did dispoyle
Antaeus of his mothers help? Ist I that could not bee
Abashed at the Spanyard who in one had bodies three?
Nor at the trypleheaded shape, O Cerberus, of thee?
Are you the hands that by the homes the Bull of Candie drew?
Did you king Augies stable clenze whom afterward yee slew?
Are you the same by whom the fowles were scaard from Stymphaly?
Caught you the Stag in Maydenwood which did not runne but fly?
Are you the hands whose puissance receyved for your pay
The golden belt of Thermodon? Did you convey away
The Apples from the Dragon fell that waked nyght and day?
Ageinst the force of mee, defence the Centaures could not make,
Nor yit the Boare of Arcadie: nor yit the ougly Snake
Of Lerna, who by losse did grow and dooble force still take.
What? is it I that did behold the pampyred Jades of Thrace
With Maungers full of flesh of men on which they fed apace?
Ist I that downe at syght thereof theyr greazy Maungers threw,
And bothe the fatted Jades themselves and eke their mayster slew?
The Nemean Lyon by theis armes lyes dead uppon the ground.
Theis armes the monstruous Giant Cake by Tyber did confound.
Uppon theis shoulders have I borne the weyght of all the skie.
Joves cruell wyfe is weerye of commaunding mee. Yit I
Unweerie am of dooing still. But now on mee is lyght
An uncoth plage, which neyther force of hand, nor vertues myght,
Nor Arte is able to resist. Like wasting fyre it spreedes
Among myne inwards, and through out on all my body feedes.
But all this whyle Eurysthye lives in health. And sum men may
Beeleve there bee sum Goddes in deede. Thus much did Hercule say.
And wounded over Oeta hygh, he stalking gan to stray,
As when a Bull in maymed bulk a deadly dart dooth beare,
And that the dooer of the deede is shrunke asyde for feare.
Oft syghing myght you him have seene, oft trembling, oft about
To teare the garment with his hands from top to toe throughout,
And throwing downe the myghtye trees, and chaufing with the hilles,
Or casting up his handes to heaven where Jove his father dwelles.
Behold as Lychas trembling in a hollow rock did lurk,
He spyed him. And as his greef did all in furie woork,
He sayd: Art thou, syr Lychas, he that broughtest unto mee
This plagye present? of my death must thou the woorker bee?
Hee quaakt and shaakt, and looked pale, and fearfully gan make
Excuse. But as with humbled hands hee kneeling to him spake,
The furious Hercule caught him up, and swindging him about
His head a halfe a doozen tymes or more, he floong him out
Into th'Euboyan sea with force surmounting any sling.
He hardened into peble stone as in the ayre he hing.
And even as rayne conjeald by wynd is sayd to turne to snowe,
And of the snow round rolled up a thicker masse to growe,
Which falleth downe in hayle: so men in auncient tyme report,
That Lychas beeing swindgd about by violence in that sort,
(His blood then beeing drayned out, and having left at all
No moysture,) into peble stone was turned in his fall.
Now also in th'Euboyan sea appeeres a hygh short rocke
In shape of man ageinst the which the shipmen shun to knocke,
As though it could them feele, and they doo call it by the name
Of Lychas still. But thou Joves imp of great renowme and fame,
Didst fell the trees of Oeta high, and making of the same
A pyle, didst give to Poeans sonne thy quiver and thy bow,
And arrowes which should help agein Troy towne to overthrow.
He put to fyre, and as the same was kindling in the pyle,
Thy selfe didst spred thy Lyons skin upon the wood the whyle,
And leaning with thy head ageinst thy Club, thou laydst thee downe
As cheerfully, as if with flowres and garlonds on thy crowne
Thou hadst beene set a banquetting among full cups of wyne.
Anon on every syde about those carelesse limbes of thyne
The fyre began to gather strength, and crackling noyse did make,
Assayling him whose noble hart for daliance did it take.
The Goddes for this defender of the earth were sore afrayd
To whom with cheerefull countnance Jove perceyving it thus sayd:
This feare of yours is my delyght, and gladly even with all
My hart I doo rejoyce, O Gods, that mortall folk mee call
Their king and father, thinking mee ay myndfull of their weale,
And that myne offspring should doo well your selves doo show such zeale.
For though that you doo attribute your favor to desert,
Considring his most woondrous acts: yit I too for my part
Am bound unto you. Nerethelesse, for that I would not have
Your faythfull harts without just cause in fearfull passions wave,
I would not have you of the flames in Oeta make account.
For as he hath all other things, so shall he them surmount.
Save only on that part that he hath taken of his mother,
The fyre shall have no power at all. Eternall is the tother,
The which he takes of mee, and cannot dye, ne yeeld to fyre.
When this is rid of earthly drosse, then will I lift it hygher,
And take it unto heaven: and I beleeve this deede of myne
Will gladsome bee to all the Gods. If any doo repyne,
If any doo repyne, I say, that Hercule should become
A God, repyne he still for mee, and looke he sowre and glum.
But let him know that Hercules deserveth this reward,
And that he shall ageinst his will alow it afterward.
The Gods assented everychone. And Juno seemd to make
No evill countnance to the rest, untill hir husband spake
The last. For then her looke was such as well they might perceyve,
Shee did her husbands noting her in evil part conceyve.
Whyle Jove was talking with the Gods, as much as fyre could waste
So much had fyre consumde. And now, O Hercules, thou haste
No carkesse for to know thee by. That part is quyght bereft
Which of thy mother thou didst take. Alonly now is left
The likenesse that thou tookst of Jove. And as the Serpent slye
In casting of his withered slough, renewes his yeeres thereby,
And wexeth lustyer than before, and looketh crisp and bryght
With scoured scales: so Hercules as soone as that his spryght
Had left his mortall limbes, gan in his better part to thryve,
And for to seeme a greater thing than when he was alyve,
And with a stately majestie ryght reverend to appeere.
His myghty father tooke him up above the cloudy spheere,
And in a charyot placed him among the streaming starres.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.