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Amphitryon
See here the corpses of your children.

Heracles
O horror! what sight is here? ah me!

Amphitryon
My son, against your children you have waged unnatural war.

Heracles
War! what do you mean? who killed these?

Amphitryon
[1135] You and your bow and some god, whoever is to blame.

Heracles
What are you saying? what have I done? Speak, father, you messenger of evil!

Amphitryon
You were insane; it is a sad explanation you are asking.

Heracles
Was it I that slew my wife also?

Amphitryon
Your own unaided arm has done all this.

Heracles
[1140] Alas! a cloud of mourning wraps me round.

Amphitryon
For this reason I lament your fate.

Heracles
Did I dash my house to pieces in my frenzy?

Amphitryon
I know nothing but this, that you are utterly undone.

Heracles
Where did the madness seize me? where did it destroy me?

Amphitryon
[1145] When you were purifying yourself with fire at the altar.

Heracles
Ah me! why do I spare my own life when I have become the murderer of my dear children? Shall I not hasten to leap from some sheer rock, or aim the sword against my heart [1150] and avenge my children's blood, or burn my body, which she drove mad, in the fire and so avert from my life the infamy which now awaits me?

But here I see Theseus coming to check my deadly counsels, my kinsman and friend. [1155] Now shall I stand revealed, and the dearest of my friends will see the pollution I have incurred by my children's murder. Ah, woe is me! what am I to do? Where can I find freedom from my sorrows? shall I take wings or plunge beneath the earth? Come, let me veil my head in darkness; [1160] for I am ashamed of the evil I have done, and, since for these I have incurred fresh blood-guiltiness, I do not want to harm the innocent.

Theseus and his retinue enter.

Theseus
I have come, and others with me, young warriors from the land of Athens, encamped by the streams of Asopus, [1165] to bring an allied army to your son, old friend. For a rumour reached the city of the Erechtheidae, that Lycus had usurped the scepter of this land and had become your enemy even to battle. Wherefore I came making recompense for the former kindness of Heracles [1170] in saving me from the world below, if you have any need of such aid as I or my allies can give, old man.

Ha! why this heap of dead upon the floor? Surely I have not delayed too long and come too late to check new ills? Who slew these children? [1175] whose wife is this I see? Boys do not go to battle; no, it must be some other strange mischance I here discover.

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