A monologue from the play by Sophocles

  • NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from Dramas. Sophocles. London: J.M. Dent & Sons, 1906.
  • DEIANIRA: You come, having been told, as I suppose,
    Of my distress; but you are ignorant--
    And may you never by experience learn--
    What canker gnaws my heart. For Girlhood feeds
    In the same place, in pastures such as these,
    Where neither heat of the Sun-god, nor rain,
    Nor any breath of tempest, vexes it;
    But in delights it rears an untasked life,
    Up to the point where we obtain the name
    Of wife instead of maiden, and receive
    Share, in the night-time, of solicitudes,
    Portioned with fears, either for spouse or child.
    Hence might each see, regarding her own case,
    Under what burdens I am labouring.
    Troubles indeed right many do I mourn;
    But one, such as I never felt before,
    I will forthwith disclose. For when our lord
    Heracles sped from home on his last journey,
    He left indoors an ancient tablet, graven
    With characters, which never theretofore
    At any time, starting for fight on fight,
    Would he declare to me; rather he would march
    As to achievement, not as to his death;
    While now, as though his life were done, he told me
    What of his goods I was to take for dower,
    Told me what portion of his heritage
    He would assign for his children, share by share,
    Setting a date beforehand, in such sort
    As, when he had been absent from the land
    Full fifteen months, either at that same hour
    He must needs die, or, overpassing it,
    Live ever afterwards without annoy.
    So, he declared, it was decreed of Heaven
    The toils of Heracles should have their end;
    Even as Dodona's ancient oak, he said,
    By the two Peleads uttered. And of this
    The true fulfilment, as it was to be,
    Points to this present hour. Wherefore, dear friends,
    As I sleep quietly I start up for fear,
    Dreading that I my have to linger on,
    The widow of the foremost man of men.