AmphitryonHusband of Alcmena, the mother of Heracles. He
will appear abbreviated as AMP in the script.
MegaraWife of Hercales, daughter of Creon. She will appear
abbreviated as MEG in the script.
Lycusunlawful King of Thebes. He will appear abbreviated as
LYC in the script.
IrisThe messenger Goddess
MadnessMadness will appear abbreviated as
MessengerMessenger will appear abbreviated as
HeraclesSon of Zeus and Alcmena. He will appear abbreviated
TheseusKing of Athens. He will appear abbreviated as
Chorus of Old Men of ThebesChorus will appear abbreviated as
After reading the short summary provided in the previous file, please keep in mind that
it is essential to read the actual play of Heracles in order to understand the Greek
version of this hero. You will find that certain characters and place names differ from
the Roman version of Heracles.
After the Massacre, Heracles is awakening at the altar of Zeus, his
Aha! my breath returnsUnfortunately, Heracles has no idea what he just did and
he will never forgive himself for this tragedy.; I am alive; and my eyes
resume their function, opening on the sky and earth and yon "Yon" is another
word for young sun referencing to the morning sun.sun's darting beam; but
how my senses reel! in what strange turmoil am I plunged! my fevered breath in quick
spasmodic gasps escapes my lungs. How now? why am I lying here, made fast with cables
like a ship, my brawny chest and arms tied to a shattered piece of masonry, with
corpses for my neighbors; while o'er the floor my bow and arrows are scattered, that
erst like trusty squires to my arm both kept me safe and were kept safe by me? Surely
I am not come a second time to Hades' halls, having just returned from thence for
Eurystheus? No, I do not see Sisyphus with his stone, or Pluto, or his queen,
Demeter's child. Surely I am distraught; I cannot remember where I am. Ho, there!
which of my friends is near or far to help me in my perplexity? For I have no clear
knowledge of things once familiar.
My aged friends, shall I approach the scene of my sorrow?
Yes, and let me go with thee, nor desert thee in thy trouble.
Father, why dost thou weep and veil thy eyes, standing aloof from thy beloved son?
My child!Amphitryon, speaks to Heracles in denial after witnessing such a
horrifying scene. mine still, for all thy misery.
Why, what is there so sad in my case that thou dost weep?
That which might make any of the gods weep, were he to suffer so.
A bold assertion that, but thou art not yet explaining what has happened.
Thine own eyes see that, if by this time thou art restored to thy senses.
Fill in thy sketch if any change awaits my life.
I will explain, if thou art no longer mad as a fiend of hell.
God help us! what suspicions these dark hints of thine again excite!
I am still doubtful whether thou art in thy sober senses.
I never remember being mad.
Am I to loose my son, old friends, or what?
Loose and say who bound me; for I feel shame at this.
Rest content with what thou knowest of thy woes; the rest forego.
Enough! I have no wish to probe thy silence
O Zeus, dost thou behold these deeds proceeding from the throne of Hera?
What! have I suffered something from her enmity?
A truce to the goddess! attend to your own troubles.
I am undone; what mischance wilt thou unfold?
See here the corpses of thy children.
O horror! what hideous sight is here? ah me!
My son, against thy children hast thou waged unnatural war.
War! what meanst thou? who killed these?
Thou and thy bow and some god, whoso he be that is to blame.
What sayst thou? what have I done? Speak, father, thou messenger of evil!
Thou wert distraught; 'tis a sad explanation thou art asking.
Was it I that slew my wife also?
Thy own unaided arm hath done all this.
Ah, woe is me! a cloud of sorrow wraps me round.
The reason this that I lament thy fate.
Did I dash my house to pieces or incite others thereto?
Naught know I save this, that thou art utterly undone.
Where did my frenzy seize me? where did it destroy me?
In the moment thou wert purifying thyself with fire at the altar.
Ah me! [why do I spare my own life when I have taken that of my dear children?]
Shall I not hasten to leap from some sheer rock, or aim the sword against my heart
and avenge my children's blood, or burn my body in the fire and so avert from my life
the infamy which now awaits me?
But hither I see Theseus coming to check my deadly counsels, my kinsman and friend.
Now shall I stand revealed, and the dearest of my friends will see the pollution I
have incurred by my children's murder. Ah, woe is me! what am I to do? Where can I
find release from my sorrows? shall I take wings or plunge beneath the earth? Come,
let me veil my head in darkness;for I am ashamed of the evil I have done, and, since
for these I have incurred fresh blood-guiltiness, I would fain not want to harm the
Theseus and his retinue enter.
I am come, and others with me, young warriors from the land of
Athens , encamped at present by the streams of Asopus, to
help thy son, old friend. For a rumour reached the city of the Erechtheidae, that
Lycus had usurped the scepter of this land and had become your enemy even to battle.
Wherefore I came making recompense for the former kindness of Heracles in saving me
from the world below, if haply ye have any need of such aid as I or my allies can
give, old prince.
Ha! what means this heap of dead upon the floor? Surely I have not delayed too long
and come too late to check a revolution? Who slew these children? whose wife is this
I see? Boys do not go to battle; nay, it must be some other strange mischance I here
O king, whose home is that olive-clad hill!
Why this piteous prelude in addressing me?
Heaven has afflicted us with grievous suffering.
Whose are these children, o'er whom thou weepest?
My own son's children, woe to him! their father and butcher both was he, hardening
his heart to the bloody deed.
Hush! good words only!
Theseus, being heracles good friend, is in awe about what he is being told. He
cannot believe that heracles would commit such a horrifying crime to his own family.
When he says "Hush! good words only!", he does not want Amphitryon to say another
word about what just happen because he sincerely wants to believe it is just a bad
joke. In reality it is not.
I would I could obey!
What dreadful words!
Fortune has spread her wings, and we are ruined, ruined.
Whatmeanst thou? what hath he done?
Slain them in a wild fit of frenzy with arrows dipped in the venom of the
hundred-headed hydra.The Hundred-headed hydra in Greek mythology has been
considered one of the most ferocious monsters that is known to be the largest
This is Hera's work; but who lies there among the dead, old man?
My son, my own enduring son, that marched with gods to Phlegra's plain, there to
battle with giants and slay them, warrior that he was.
Ah! woe for him! whose fortune was e'er so curst as his? Is Heracles life
cursed because he was born with some much strength? are trying to vengate against
Never wilt thou find another that hath borne a larger share of suffering or been
more fatally deceived.
Why doth he veil his head, poor wretch, in his robe?
He is ashamed to meet thine eye; his kinsman's kind intent and his children's blood
make him abashed.
But I come to sympathize; uncover him.
My son, remove that mantle from thine eyes, throw it from thee, show your face unto
the sun; a counterpoise to weeping is battling for the mastery. In suppliant wise I
entreat thee, as I grasp thy beard, thy knees, thy hands, and let fall the tear from
my old eyes. O my child! restrain thy savage lion-like temper, for thou art rushing
forth on an unholy course of bloodshed, eager to join mischief to mischief.
What ho! To thee I call who art huddled there in thy misery, show to thy friends thy
face; for no darkness is black enough to hide thy sad mischance. Why dost thou wave
thy hand at me, signifying murder? is it that I may not be polluted by speaking with
thee? If I share thy misfortune, what is that to me? For if I too had luck in days
gone by, I must refer it to the time when thou didst bring me safe from the dead to
the light of life. I hate a friend whose gratitude grows old; one who is ready to
enjoy his friends' prosperity but unwilling to sail in the same ship with them when
their fortune lours. Arise, unveil thy head, poor wretch! and look on me. The gallant
soul endures without such blows as heaven deals.
O Theseus, didst thou witness this struggle with my children?
I heard of it, and now I see the horrors thou meanest.
Why then hast thou unveiled my head to the sun?
Why have I? Thou, a man, canst not pollute what is of the God.
Fly, luckless wretch, from my unholy taint.
The avenging fiend does not go forth from friend to friend.
For this I thank thee; I do not regret the service I did thee.
While I, for kindness then received, now show my pity for thee.
Ah yes! I am piteous object, a murderer of my own sons.