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Chorus Leader
Alcmene, I want to give you a little advice: release this man since that is what the city has decided.

Alcmene
[1020] What if he were to be killed and yet we were to comply with the city's wish?

Chorus Leader
That would be the best. How can this be done?

Alcmene
I shall easily show you. I shall kill him and then I will give the corpse to those of his kin who come to fetch it. As regards his body I shall not be disobeying the city, [1025] yet by his death he will pay the penalty to me.

Eurystheus
Kill me, I do not beg you not to. But as for this city, since it released me and shrank from killing me, I shall make a present to it of an ancient oracle of Loxias, an oracle which will do greater good than you think in time to come. [1030] For you will bury me in the place fated I was fated to lie, in front of the shrine of the divine maiden, Athena Pallene. I shall lie for all time beneath the earth, a foreign visitor who is kindly to you and protector of the city, but most hostile to the descendants of Heracles' children [1035] when they come here with a great army, betraying the kindness you showed them. That is the kind of guest-friends you protected. How then, you will ask, did I come here when I knew these things, rather than respect the oracle of the god? It was because I thought that Hera was far greater than oracles [1040] and would not betray me. But do not allow either libations or the blood of victims to drip onto my tomb.1 For in return for this I will give them a disastrous home-coming. And you shall have a double profit from me: by dying I shall bring benefit to you and harm to the Heraclids.

Alcmene
[1045] Why then do you hesitate if you can secure safety for the city and for your descendants [to kill this man, hearing these things]. He shows us the path of greatest safety. For the man is an enemy, and by dying he does us good. [1050] Take him away, servants, to the place where we must kill and bury him.2 For you must not hope that you will live to exile me yet again from my native land.

1 The tomb of a hero is characteristically given sacrifices of a liquid nature, which are imagined to seep into the ground to the hero buried below. It is odd that, in the transmitted text, Eurystheus asks that such offerings not be given him, especially since his next line says ‘in return for this,’ suggesting a positive service. It is conceivable that ἐάω here means ‘omit to’ or that either ἐάσητ᾽ or στάξαι is corrupt.

2 The transmitted texts says ‘kill and give him to the dogs.’ This cannot be correct, for it violates both the proposal Alcmene made in 1022-4 and the hero's tomb for Eurystheus on which his benefactions to Athens depend. Moreover, Alcmene's next words are a justification for killing, not for leaving to the dogs. Some editors put a lacuna after 1052. Had Alcmene suggested leaving Eurystheus unburied, of course, someone would have had to reply to her, if only to prevent the loss of the benefits to Athens of the hero's tomb. But 1053 joins nicely on to 1052, and there is no indication of incompleteness in syntax.

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1053 AD (1)
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