Scene: Trachis in front of the palace of Heracles and Deianeira.
Enter Deianeira and Nurse.

There is an ancient proverb people tell
that none can judge the life of any man
for good or bad until that man is dead;
but I, for my part, though I am still living,
know well that mine is miserable and hard.
Even while I was living with my father
Oeneus in Pleuron I was plagued by fear
of marriage more than any other woman.
My suitor was the river Achelóüs,
10who took three forms to ask me of my father:
a rambling bull once - then a writhing snake
of gleaming colors - then again a man
with ox-like face: and from his beard's dark shadows
stream upon stream of water tumbled down.
Such was my suitor. As I waited there
I prayed my agony might end in death
before I ever shared my bed with him.
But later on, to my great joy, the glorious
child of Alcména, son of Zeus, arrived,
20and joined in combat with the river god,
and freed me. How they fought I cannot say,
I do not know: for only he who saw
that sight, yet did not tremble, could describe it;
but I sat petrified with terror, lest
my beauty might bring sorrow down upon me.
Then Zeus the warrior-king brought forth good issue -
if it was good . . . for though I am the wife
of Heracles I nourish fear on fear
in my concern for him, since each night brings
30a sorrow which the next night steals away.
We have had children, yet he only sees them
as migrant farmers see their distant crops:
once when they sow and once again at harvest.
Such was his life that he came home but briefly;
then left again to serve his hard taskmaster.
But now that he is free from all his labors,
now I am seized by greater dread than ever.
For since the time he slew strong Iphitus,
we have been exiled here in Trachis, living
40in a strange household; and where Heracles
has gone, no one can say. I only know
the bitter pangs his going left with me.
Surely he has endured some grave misfortune;
for no small time has passed since he departed,
but fifteen months already without tidings.
It must be some misfortune - as the tablets
he left with me forewarned. How often I
have prayed to God they would not bring me grief!

load focus Notes (Sir Richard C. Jebb, 1902)
load focus Greek (Francis Storr, 1913)
load focus English (Sir Richard Jebb, 1892)
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