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Megara, Amphitryon, and the children enter from the palace.

Come now, who is to sacrifice or butcher these poor children? [or rob me of my wretched life?] These victims are ready to be led to Hades' halls. O my children! an ill-matched company are we hurried off to die, [455] old men and young ones and mothers, all together. Alas! for my sad fate and my children's, whom these eyes now for the last time behold. So I gave you birth and reared you only for our foes to mock, to jeer at, and slay. [460] Ah me! how bitterly my hopes have disappointed me in the expectation I once formed from the words of your father. Addressing each of her sons in turn To you your dead father was for giving Argos; and you were to dwell in the halls of Eurystheus, lording it over the fair fruitful land of Argolis; [465] and over your head would he throw that lion's skin with which he himself was armed. And you were to be king of Thebes, famed for its chariots, receiving as your heritage my broad lands, for so you coaxed your dear father; [470] and to your hand he used to resign the carved club, his sure defence, pretending to give it to you. And to you he promised to give Oechalia, which once his archery had wasted. Thus with three principalities [475] would your father exalt you, his three sons, proud of your manliness; while I was choosing the best brides for you, scheming to link you by marriage to Athens, Thebes, and Sparta, that you might live a happy life with a fast sheet-anchor to hold by. [480] And now that is all vanished; fortune's breeze has veered and given to you for brides the maidens of death in their stead, and my tears will be the marriage bath; woe is me for my foolish thoughts! and your grandfather here is celebrating your marriage-feast, the cares of a father, accepting Hades as the father of your brides. [485] Ah me! which of you shall I first press to my bosom, which last? on which bestow my kiss, or clasp close to me? Oh! would that like the bee with russet wing, I could collect from every source my sighs in one, and, blending them together, shed them in one copious flood! [490] O my dearest Heracles, to you I call, if perhaps mortal voice can make itself heard in Hades' halls; your father and children are dying, and I am doomed, I who once because of you was counted blessed as men count bliss. Come to our rescue; appear, I pray, if only as a phantom, [495] since your arrival, even as a dream, would be enough, for they are cowards who are slaying your children.

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