previous next

My children, we are like sailors who have escaped the wild blast of the storm and have the dry land in their grasp, [430] then are driven by winds into the deep again! That is how we are being thrust from this land when we are already at its shores and feeling safe. Ah me! Why did you once give me pleasure, wretched hope, if you did not intend to carry your favor to its end? [435] For, of course, Demophon's position is quite understandable, that he is unwilling to kill the children of his citizens. But I can find words of praise even for what has happened here: if it is the gods' will that I should fare thus, you have not lost the gratitude we owe you.

My children, I do not know what I am to do with you. [440] Where shall we turn? What god's altars have we not garlanded? What land have we not come to as a bulwark? We shall be killed, my children, we shall be given over. I do not care for myself, that I must die, unless my death gives pleasure to my enemies. [445] It is you I weep for, you I pity, my children, and Alcmene your aged grandmother. How unlucky you are in your long life! I too am luckless for having toiled so long in vain. It was fated, fated, I see it now, that we must fall into the hands [450] of our enemy and lose our lives in disgrace and pain!

To Demophon But here is what you must help me to do (for I have not completely lost hope for the safety of the children): hand me over to the Argives, my lord, in place of these children. Do not put yourself in danger, but let these my children [455] be saved. I must not try to save my own life: let it pass. Eurystheus would most like to get hold of me and outrage Heracles' old ally. The man lacks all feeling. Wise men must pray that they will have a wise man for a foe, not one who is proud and insensate: [460] for in that case a man gets mercy and justice in full measure.

Chorus Leader
Old sir, do not lay this charge against the city. For though it may be false, it is still a painful reproach, that we have betrayed strangers.

The suggestion you make is noble but impossible. [465] It is not from desire for you that the king has marched his army here (for what profit does Eurytheus have in the death of an old man?) but to kill these children. Noble offspring are a terror to enemies when they grow to manhood and remember the outrage committed [470] against their father. Eurystheus must consider all these things. But if you know of any other more suitable plan, put it at our disposal, for I have heard the oracles and am helpless and fearful.

load focus Greek (David Kovacs)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: