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Now there is an ancient legend among the race of Cadmus that a certain Lycus in days gone by was husband to Dirce, and he was king of this city with its seven towers, before Amphion and Zethus, sons of Zeus, [30] lords of the milk-white steeds, became rulers in the land. His son, called by the same name as his father, although no Theban but a stranger from Euboea, slew Creon, and after that seized the government, having fallen on this city when weakened by dissension. [35] So this family connection with Creon is likely to prove to us a serious evil; for now that my son is in the bowels of the earth, this new monarch Lycus is bent on extirpating the children of Heracles, [40] to quench one bloody feud with another, likewise his wife and me, if useless age like mine is to rank among men, that the boys may never grow up to exact a blood-penalty of their uncle's family. So I, left here by my son, while he is gone into the pitchy darkness of the earth, [45] to tend and guard his children in his house, am taking my place with their mother, that the race of Heracles may not perish, here at the altar of Zeus the Savior, which my own gallant child set up [50] to commemorate his glorious victory over the Minyae. And here we are careful to keep our station, though in need of everything, of food, drink and clothes, huddled together on the hard bare ground; for we are barred out from our house and sit here for want of any other safety. [55] As for friends, some I see are unreliable; while others, who are staunch, have no power to help us further. This is what misfortune means to man; may it never fall to the lot of any who bears the least goodwill to me, to apply this never-failing test of friendship!

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