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INFANT HERCULES AND THE SERPENTS.
Juno, jealous of the child which Jupiter has had by Alcmena, sends two dreadful serpents to devour the boy. The serpents come upon him, while he and his half-brother Iphiclus, the son of Amphitryon, are sleeping together. Iphiclus, the child of the mortal father, is terrified: Hercules, the infant demi-god, seizes and destroys them, as if they were living play-things. His mother consults the prophet Tiresias on the occasion, and is told of her son's future renown.
YOUNG Hercules had now beheld the light
Ηρακλέα δεκάμηνον ἐόντα ποχ ̓ ἁ Μιδεᾶτις
̓Αμφοτέρους λούσασα καὶ ἐμπλήσασα γάλακτος,
Their cradle was a noble shield of brass,
Won by her lord from slaughtered Pterelas.
Gently she laid them down, and gently laid
Her hand on both their heads, and yearned, and said,
Sleep, sleep, my boys, a light and pleasant sleep ;
My little souls, my twins, my guard and keep!
Sleep happy, and wake happy!” And she kept
At midnight, when the Bear went down, and broad Orion's shoulder lit the starry road,
Χαλκείαν κατέθηκεν ἐπ ̓ ἀσπίδα, τὰν Πτερελάου
Ολβιοι εὐνάξοισθε, καὶ ὄλβιοι ἀῶ ἵκοισθε.
Ὣς φαμένα δίνασε σάκος μέγα· τοὺς δ ̓ ἔλαβ ̓ ὕπνος.
Ωρίωνα κατ ̓ ἀυτὸν, ὁ δ ̓ ἀμφαίνει μέγαν ὦμον,
There came, careering through the opening halls,
Serpents; whom Juno, threatening as she drove,
And now they have arriv'd, and think to fall To their dread meal, when lo! (for Jove sees all),
Τάμος ἄρ αἰνὰ πέλωρα δύω πολυμήχανος Ηρη
The house is lit, as with the morning's break,
And the dear children of Alcmena wake.
The younger one, as soon as he beheld
The evil creatures coming on the shield,
And saw their loathsome teeth, began to cry
The other, grappling, seized them by the nape
Of either poisonous neck, for all their twists,
Buckled and bound he held them, struggling wild;
̓Αλκμήνας φίλα τέκνα ̇ φάος δ ̓ ἀνὰ οἶκον ἐτύχθη.
Τὼ δ ̓ αὖτε σπείρῃσιν ἑλισσέσθην περὶ παῖδα
The long-begetting boy, the suckling dear,
That never teazed his nurses with a tear.
Tired out at length, they trail their spires and gasp, Locked in that young indissoluble grasp.
Alemena heard the noise, and “ Wake,” she cried,
Up; stay not for the sandals : hark ! the child,
And see, the walls and windows!
The babe is wild:
'Tis as light As if 'twere day, and yet 'tis surely night.
Ὀψίγονον, γαλαθηνὸν, ὑπὸ τροφῷ αἰὲν ἄδακρυν.