Sophocles, creator; Sophocles the plays and fragments with critical notes, commentary, and translation in English prose, Part 5 The Trachiniae; Jebb, Richard Claverhouse, Sir, 1841-1905, editor, translator; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1892.
Leave me! Leave me in my misfortune! Leave me to sleep my last. Where, where do you touch me? Where do you lay me? You will kill me, you will kill me! If there was any pain that slumbered, you have aroused it!
It has seized me,—oh, the pest comes again!—What is your homeland, you men most ungrateful of all the Greeks? I wore out my wretched days in ridding the Greeks of pests both on the deep and throughout every forest. And now, when I am afflicted, will no man turn merciful fire or sword on me?
Oh! Oh! Will no one come and strike the head from this accursed body with one fierce stroke? Ah, me!
You are the man’s son, and this task exceeds my strength. Help him, for the strength to save him is at your command,
more than mine.
My hands reach out to him, but no resource in myself or from another can help me make his life forget its agonies. So strong is the destiny appointed by Zeus!
O my son, where are you?
Raise me, take hold of me here, here! Oh, oh, my god! Again, again the cruel pest leaps, leaps up to rend me, the
wild, uncombatable plague! O Pallas, Pallas, it tortures me again! oh, please, my son, pity your sire! Draw a sword—you will not be blamed for it—strike me beneath my collarbone.
Heal this pain with which your godless mother has enraged me! So may I see her fall to ruin, exactly, just exactly, as she has destroyed me!
Sweet Hades, brother of Zeus, give me sleep, give me sleep. Kill me in my misery by a swift-flying doom!
I shudder, friends, to hear these sorrows
which our King suffers. What a man is here, and what misfortunes lash at him!
Ah, many and hot and cruel not in name alone have been the labors of these hands, the burdens hoisted upon these shoulders! And yet no toil ever laid on me by the bedfellow of Zeus or by the hateful Eurystheus was as harsh
as this thing which the daughter of Oeneus, fair and false, has fastened upon my back, this woven net of the Erinyes in which I perish! Plastered to my sides, it has eaten away my inmost flesh and sucks the channels of my lungs,
making my body its home. Already it has drunk away my fresh lifeblood, and my whole body is wasted, conquered by these indescribable bonds. Not spearmen on the battlefield, nor the Giants’ earth-born army, nor the might of savage beasts,
not Hellas, nor the land of the barbarian, nor any land which I came to purify has ever done this to me. No, a woman, a weak woman, born not to the strength of man, all alone has brought me down without a stroke of the sword! Son, show yourself my trueborn son,
and do not honor your mother’s name above your father’s. Bring out the woman that bore you, and give her with your own hands into my hand, that I may know for certain which sight grieves you more—my tortured frame, or hers, when she suffers her just punishment!
Go, my son, be bold! Show your pity for me, whom many might think deserving of pity—pity me moaning and weeping like a girl! No one could say that he had ever seen this man do that before. No, always without complaint I used to pursue my troubles.