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[7] Then Hercules said, “You just listen to me, and stop playing the fool. You have come to the place where the mice nibble iron.1 Out with the truth, and look sharp, or I'll knock your quips and quiddities out of you.” Then to make himself all the more awful, he strikes an attitude and proceeds in his most tragic vein:
"Declare with speed what spot you claim by birth,
Or with this club fall stricken to the earth!
This club hath oft times slaughtered haughty kings!
Why mumble unintelligible things?
What land, what tribe produced that shaking head?
Declare it! On my journey when I sped
Far to the Kingdom of the triple King,
And from the Main Hesperian did bring
The goodly cattle to the Argive town,
There I beheld a mountain looking down
Upon two rivers: this the Sun espies
Right opposite each day he doth arise.
Hence, mighty Rhone, thy rapid torrents flow,
And Arar, much in doubt which way to go,
Ripples along the banks with shallow roll.
Say, is this land the nurse that bred thy soul?"
These lines he delivered with much spirit and a bold front. All the same, he was not quite master of his[p. 387] wits, and had some fear of a blow from the fool.2 Claudius, seeing a mighty man before him, forgot his trifling and understood that here he had not quite the same pre-eminence as at Rome, where no one was his equal: the Gallic cock3 was worth most on his own dunghill. So this is what he was thought to say, as far as could be made out: “I did hope, Hercules, bravest of all the gods, that you would take my part with the rest, and if I should need a voucher, that I might name you who know me so well. Do but call it to mind, how it was I used to sit in judgment before your temple whole days together during July and August. You know what miseries I endured there, in hearing the lawyers plead day and night. If you had fallen amongst these, you may think yourself very strong, but you would have found it worse than the sewers of Augeas: I drained out more filth than you did. But since I want. . .”

(Some pages have fallen out, in which Hercules must have been persuaded. The gods are now discussing what Hercules tells them).

1 A proverb, found also in Herondas iii, 76: apparently fairyland, the land of Nowhere.

2 A parody of the phrase, θεοῦ πληγή, god's blow, or as in Apostolius viii, 89, c, θεοῦ δέ πληγὴν οὐχ ὑπερπηδᾷ βροτός (from Menander): no mortal can escape god's blow.

3 Gallum means both Gaul and cock; the proverb plays on his birthplace.

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