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[975] I love this city—no one shall say me nay—yet as for this man, since he has fallen into my hands there is no mortal who shall rescue him. In view of this, anyone who likes may call me ‘brash’ or ‘too proud for woman's estate’: [980] this deed is one I shall accomplish!

Chorus Leader
Terrible is the wrath you feel toward this man, and it is no wonder, I know it well.

You should know, madam, that I shall not truckle to you or say any word on behalf of my life [985] by which a man might win the name of coward. I did not choose this quarrel of my own will. I knew that I was full cousin to you and kin to your son Heracles. But whether I wished to or not—for a divinity was at work— [990] Hera caused me to suffer this disease. When I had taken up a quarrel with Heracles and realized that this was the struggle I would be engaged in, I became the inventor of much grief, and staying awake constantly in the night I thought up many ways [995] to thrust off and kill my enemies so as not to live the rest of my life a companion to fear. I knew that your son was no cipher but a true man—for though he is my enemy, he shall at all events have good things spoken of him as befits a noble man. [1000] But now that he is out of the way, should not I, who am hated by these children and aware of their inherited hatred of me, have left no stone unturned in machinations to kill or exile them? If I did so, my interests were likely to be safe. [1005] You, no doubt, claim that if you had taken up my fortunes you would not have hounded the hostile offspring of the lion your enemy but would have modestly allowed them to live in Argos. You will convince no one of this.

Now, accordingly, since they did not kill me on the battlefield [1010] when I was eager to die, by the usages of the Greeks my death, for the man who kills me, is an unholy act; and it was sober good judgment on the city's part that they spared my life, setting a much higher value on the god than on their hatred of me. You have spoken, you have heard my reply: henceforth you must [1015] invoke me as the Avenger and the Gracious One.1 Yet this is how things stand with me: while I do not wish to die, I would not be at all vexed at leaving my life.

1 I give Pearson's translation of the transmitted text. But the text is almost certainly wrong. In the apparatus I suggest a lacuna which would allow Eurystheus to finish a speech addressed entirely to Alcmene by offering her a choice of alternatives, either to kill a suppliant or to spare him and be called noble.

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