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.

  1. he never ordered me to conceal the fact and never denied it. Instead I, lady, fearing to wound your heart by such news, erred—if you regard this in any way an error. Since, however, you now know the whole story,
  2. for his sake and for yours equally bear with the woman, and be willing that the gentle words which you spoke about her have been spoken unalterably. For though by the strength of his hands he is victorious in all else, Heracles has been utterly subdued by his passion for this girl.
  1. My own thoughts move me to act as you advise. Rest assured that I will not earn another affliction for myself by waging a fruitless fight against the gods. But let us go into the house, so that you may carry him my messages and since gifts should be given in due recompense for gifts received,
  2. so that you may take these also. It would not be right that you should go back with empty hands, after coming with such a rich cargo.Exit Lichas, the Messenger and Deianeira into the house.
  1. Great and mighty is the victory which the Cyprian queen always bears away. I bypass the tales of the gods,
  2. and do not narrate how she beguiled the son of Cronus, and Hades, the lord of darkness, or Poseidon, shaker of the earth. But, when this bride was to be won,
  3. who were the massive rivals that entered the contest for her nuptials? Who stepped forward to the ordeal of battle full of blows and raising dust?
  1. One was a mighty river-god, the form of a bull, high-horned and four-legged,
  2. Achelous, from Oeniadae. The other came from Thebes, home of Bacchus, brandishing his resilient bow, his spears and club; he was the son of Zeus. These two then met in a mass, lusting to win a bride,
  3. and the Cyprian goddess of nuptial joy was there with them, acting as sole umpire.
  1. There was clatter of fists and clang of bow and crash of a bull’s horns mixed together;
  2. then there were close-locked grapplings and deadly blows from foreheads and loud deep cries from both. Meanwhile the delicate beauty sat on the side of a hill that could be seen from afar,
  3. awaiting the husband that would be hers. So the battle rages, as I narrate. But the face of the bride which is the prize of the strife awaits the end in piteous anguish. And suddenly she has left her mother,
  4. like an orphaned calf.
Enter Deianeira.
  1. Dear friends, while our guest is saying his farewell to the captive girls in the house, I have stolen away partly to tell you what these hands have devised,
  2. and partly to grieve over my sufferings in your company. I have received a maiden—or, I believe, no longer a maiden, but an experienced woman—into my home, just as a mariner takes on cargo, a merchandise to wreck my peace of mind. And now we are two, a pair waiting under
  3. a single bedspread for one man’s embrace. Such is the reward that Heracles has sent me—he whom I called true and loyal—for guarding his home through all that long time. I do not know how to be angry with him, even though he is infected with this disease.
  4. But, then again, to live with her, sharing the same marriage—what woman could endure it? For I see that the flower of her youth is blossoming, while mine is fading. The eyes of men love to pluck off the bloom of youth, but they turn their steps from the old.
  5. On this account I am afraid lest Heracles, in name my husband, should be the younger woman’s man. But, as I said, anger brings shame to a woman of understanding. I will tell you, my friends, the way by which I will have deliverance and relief.
  6. I had a gift, an old one given to me by a monster of long ago, and kept it hidden in a bronze urn. While yet a girl, I took this gift from the shaggy-chested Nessus—from his lifeblood, as he lay dying. He is the one who used to carry men