ε΄ ΗΡΑΚΛΗΣ ΕΝ ΣΠΑΡΓΑΝΟΙΣ
(1) Ἀθύρεις, Ἡράκλεις, ἀθύρεις καὶ γελᾷς ἤδη 20τὸν ἆθλον, ἐν σπαργάνοις ὢν καὶ ταῦτα, καὶ τοὺς ἐξ Ἥρας δράκοντας ἑκάτερον ἑκατέρᾳ χειρὶ ἀπολαβὼν οὐδὲν ἐπιστρέφῃ τῆς μητρὸς ἔκφρονος παρεστώσης καὶ περιδεοῦς. ἀλλ᾿ οἱ μὲν ἤδη παρεῖνται μηκύναντες ἐς γῆν τοὺς ὁλκοὺς καὶ τὰς κεφαλὰς 25ἐπικλίναντες ταῖς τοῦ νηπίου χερσὶν ὑποφαινούσας τι καὶ τῶν ὀδόντων· κάρχαροι δὲ οὗτοι καὶ ἰώδεις λοφιαί τε αὐτοῖς ὑπὸ τοῦ θανάτου ἐς θάτερα ἐπικρεμεῖς καὶ τὰ ὄμματα οὐ δεδορκότα ἥ τε φολὶς οὐκ ἐξανθοῦσα χρυσῷ καὶ φοίνικι 30ἔτι οὐδὲ πρὸς τὰς κινήσεως τροπὰς ὑπαυγάζουσα, ἀλλ᾿ ὕπωχρος καὶ ἐν τῷ δαφοινῷ πελιδνή.
(2) Τὸ δὲ τῆς Ἀλκμήνης εἶδος ἀνασκοποῦντι ἀναφέρειν μὲν ἀπὸ τῆς πρώτης ἐκπλήξεως δοκεῖ, 399 K.ἀπιστεῖ δὲ νῦν οἷς ἤδη ὁρᾷ, ἡ δ᾿ ἔκπληξις αὐτὴν οὐδὲ λεχὼ κεῖσθαι ξυνεχώρησεν· ὁρᾷς γάρ που, ὡς ἄβλαυτος καὶ μονοχίτων ἀναπηδήσασα τῆς εὐνῆς σὺν ἀτάκτῳ τῇ κόμῃ τὰς χεῖρας ἐκπετάσασα 5βοᾷ, θεράπαιναί τε, ὅσαι παρῆσαν τικτούσῃ, ἐκπλαγεῖσαι ἄλλη ἄλλο τι προσδιαλέγονται τῇ πλησίον. (3) Οἱ δὲ ἐν ὅπλοις οὗτοι
5. Heracles in Swaddling Clothes1
You are playing, Heracles, playing, and already laughing at your labour, though you are still in swaddling clothes; and taking the serpents sent by Hera one in each hand you pay no heed to your mother, who stands near by crazed with fear.2 But the serpents, already exhausted, are stretching out their coils upon the ground and drooping their heads towards the babe’s hands, showing withal a glimpse of their teeth; these are jagged and poisonous, and their crests sag to one side as death approaches, their eyes have no vision in them, their scales are no longer resplendent with golden and purple colours, nor do they gleam with the various movements of their bodies, but are pale and, where they were once blood-red, are livid.
Alcmene, if one looks carefully at her face, seems to be recovering from her first fright, but she now distrusts what she really sees, and her fright has not permitted her to remain in bed even though she has lately given birth to a child. For doubtless you see how, leaping from her bed, unsandalled and only in her shift, with disordered hair and throwing out her arms she utters a shout, while the maidservants that were attending her in her travail are in consternation, talking confusedly each to her neighbour. Here are men in armour, and one man
- 1Cf. the treatment of the birth of Hermes by the elder Philostratus. I, 26, p. 99.
- 2The description of the scene follows closely the story as told by Pindar, Nem. I. 41 f., viz. the attack of two serpents on the new-born babe, Alcmene’s rush to the rescue, the approach of Theban chiefs led by Amphitryon, and the prophecy of Teiresias. Theocritus, XXIV. 55 f., gives the story in much the same form, except that here the babe Heracles is ten months old. Cf. Fig. 27, from a coin of Thebes.