Sophocles the plays and fragments, Part 5: The Trachiniae. Jebb, Richard Claverhouse, Sir, translator. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1892.
Of her own accord she set her hand to the deed.
What are you saying?
The certain truth.
The firstborn, the firstborn of that newly arisen bride is
a great Erinys on this house!
Too true. And had you been close at hand and seen her do it, you would have pitied her even more.
And could a woman’s hand dare to carry out such deeds?
Yes, with fierce daring. You shall hear, and then you will bear me witness.
When she came alone into the house and saw her son preparing a deep litter in the court, with which to go back and meet his father, she hid herself where none would see. Falling before the altars, she moaned that
they were left desolate, and whenever she touched any household thing that she, poor lady, had habitually used in the past, her tears would flow. If, as she roamed hither and thither through the house, she beheld the form of any well-loved servant, she wept in misery at the sight,
crying aloud upon her own fate, and her childless existence thereafter. But when she finished this, I saw her suddenly rush into the bedchamber of Heracles. I hid in the shadows to keep my observation secret and was watching over her
when I saw her spread coverings on the bedstead of Heracles. When she had done this, she sprang up on them and sat in the middle of the bed. Then she broke out in warm streams of tears
and said: “Ah, my bridal bed and bridal chamber, farewell now and for ever, since you will never more receive me in these covers as his wife.” She says no more, but with a vehement hand she loosens her robe where the brooch of beaten gold
lies above her breasts and bares all her left side and arm. Then I run with all my strength, and warn her son of her intent. But even in the space between my going and our return,
we find that she has driven a two-edged sword up through her side to the heart. At that sight, her son gave a great cry. For he knew, poor boy, that in his anger he had driven her to that action. He had learned too late from the servants in the house
that she had acted without knowledge and at the will of the monster. Then and there the youth in his misery left no cry of grief unmade as he lamented over her, nor as he fell to kiss her lips; he threw himself at her side, loudly moaning
that he had rashly attacked her with a false accusation and weeping that he must now live orphaned of both alike, of his father and of her. Such are the fortunes of this house. Rash, indeed, is he who reckons on tomorrow, or perchance on days beyond it.
There is no tomorrow, until today is safely past.Exit the Nurse.
Which disaster shall I bewail first? Which is more to be pitied? In my grief I cannot decide.
One sorrow may be seen in the house; for one we wait with apprehension. To have and to await are one and the same.