Old warrior, who once razed the citadel of the Taphians leading on the troops of Thebes to glory, how uncertain are the gods' dealings with man! For I, as far as concerned my father, was never an outcast of fortune, for he was once accounted a man of might by reason of his wealth,
possessed as he was of royal power, for which long spears are launched at the lives of the fortunate through love of it; children too he had; and he gave me to your son, matching me in glorious marriage with Heracles. And now all that is dead and gone from us;
and I and you, old friend, are doomed to die, and these children of Heracles, whom I am guarding beneath my wing as a bird keeps her tender chicks under her. And they one after another keep asking me: “Mother, tell us, where is our father gone from the land?
what is he doing? when will he return?” Thus they inquire for their father, in childish perplexity; while I put them off with excuses, inventing stories; but still I wonder if it is he whenever a door creaks on its hinges, and up they all start, thinking to embrace their father's knees.
What hope or way of salvation are you now devising, old friend? for I look to you. We can never steal beyond the boundaries of the land unseen, for there is too strict a watch set on us at every outlet, nor have we any longer hopes of safety
in our friends. Whatever your scheme is, declare it, lest our death be made ready.
It is by no means easy, my daughter, to give one's earnest advice on such matters easily, without weary thought; but let us prolong the time, since we are powerless to escape.
Do you need a further taste of grief, or do you cling so fast to life?
Yes, I love this life, and cling to its hopes.
So do I; but you should not expect the unexpected, old friend.
In these delays the only cure for our evils is left.
It is the biting pain of that interval I feel so.
Daughter, there may yet be a happy escape from present troubles for me and you; my son, your husband, may yet arrive. So calm yourself, and wipe those tears from your children's eyes, and soothe them with soft words,
inventing a tale to delude then, piteous though such fraud be. Yes, for even men's misfortunes often flag, and the stormy wind does not always blow so strong, nor are the prosperous ever so; for all things change, making way for each other.
The bravest man is he who relies ever on his hopes, but despair is the mark of a coward.