(An apartment. Iole and Oechalians)
Why was I born a princess, rais'd on high,
To fall with greater ruin? Had the gods
Made me the humble tenant of some cottage,
I had been happy.
How blest the maid ordained to dwell
With sweet content in humble cell,
From cities far remov'd,
By murm'ring rills on verdant plains
To tend the flocks with village swains,
By every swain belov'd;
Though low, yet happy in that low estate,
And safe from ills, which on a princess wait.
How blest…(da capo)
(To her Dejanira)
It must be so! Fame speaks aloud my wrongs,
And every voice proclaims Alcides' falsehood;
Love, jealousy and rage at once distract me!
What anxious cares untimely thus disturb
The happy consort of the son of Jove?
Insulting maid! I had indeed been happy,
But for the fatal lustre of thy beauty!
When beauty sorrow's livery wears,
Our passions take the fair one's part.
Love dips his arrows in her tears,
And sends them pointed to the heart.
When beauty... (da capo)
Whence this unjust suspicion?
Fame of thy beauty, so report informs me,
First brought Alcides to Oechalia's court.
He saw, he lov'd, he ask'd you of your father.
His suit rejected, in revenge he levell'd
The haughty town, and bore away the spoil:
But the rich prize, for which he fought and conquer'd,
Ah, no! It was ambition,
Not slighted love, that laid Oechalia low
And made the wretched Iole a captive.
Report, that in the garb of truth disguises
The blackest falsehood, has abus'd your ear
With a forg'd tale; but oh, let me conjure you
For your dear peace of mind, beware of jealousy!
Ah, think what ills the jealous prove!
Adieu to peace, adieu to love,
Exchang'd for endless pain.
With venom fraught the bosom swells,
And never-ceasing discord dwells
Where harmony should reign.
Ah, think what ills... (da capo)
It is too sure that Hercules is false.
My godlike master?
Is a traitor, Lichas.
Traitor to honour, love and Dejanira.
Alcides false? Impossible.
As stars, that rise and disappear,
Still in the same bright circle move,
So shines unchang'd thy hero's love,
Nor absence can his faith impair.
The breast where gen'rous valour dwells,
In constancy no less excels.
As stars.... (da capo)
In vain you strive his falsehood to disguise.
This is thy work, accursed jealousy.
Jealousy! Infernal pest,
Tyrant of the human breast!
How from slightest causes bred
Dost thou lift thy hated head!
Trifles, light as floating air,
Strongest proofs to thee appear!
She knows my passion, and has heard me breathe
My am'rous vows; but, deaf to the soft plea,
Rejects my offer'd love. See where she stands,
Like fair Diana, circled by her nymphs.
Too well, young prince,
I guess the cause that this way leads your steps.
Why will you urge a suit I must not hear?
Love finds no dwelling in that hapless breast
Where sorrow and her gloomy train reside.
The stealing hand of all-subduing time
May drive these black intruders from their seat,
And leave the heav'nly mansion of thy bosom
Serene and vacant to a softer guest.
Think'st thou Iole can ever love
The son of Hercules, whose arms depriv'd her
Of country, father, liberty? Impossible!
I own the truths that blast my springing hopes;
Yet, oh permit me, chairming maid, to gaze
On those dear beauties that enchant my soul
And view, at Ieast, that heav'n I must despair to gain.
Is this, is this the son of Hercules,
For labours fam'd and hardy deeds of arms?
O prince, exert the virtues of thy race,
And call forth all thy father in thy soul.
Banish love from thy breast,
'Tis a womanish guest,
Fit only mean thoughts to inspire.
Bright glory invites thee,
Fair honour excites thee,
To tread in the steps of thy sire.
Banish love... (da capo)
Forgive a passion, which resistless sways
Ev'n breasts immortal.
From celestial seats descending,
Joys divine a while suspending,
Gods have left their Heav'n above
To taste the sweeter heav'n of love.
Cease my passion then to blame,
Cease to scorn a godlike flame.
From celestial seats... (da capo)
Wanton god of am'rous fires,
Wishes, sighs and soft desires,
All nature's sons thy laws maintain.
O'er liquid air, firm land and swelling main
Extends thy uncontroll'd and boundless reign.
(Another apartment. Hercules and Dejanira)
Yes, I congratulate your titles, swell'd
With proud Oechalia's fall; but oh, I grieve
To see the victor to the vanquish'd yield.
How lost, alas, how fall'n from what you were,
Your fame eclips'd, and all your laurels blasted!
Unjust reproach! No, Dejanira, no,
While glorious deeds demand a just applause!
Alcides' name in latest story
Shall with brightest lustre shine,
And future heroes rise to glory
By actions emulating mine.
Alcides' name... (da capo)
O glorious pattern of heroic deeds!
The mighty warrior, whom not Juno's hate,
Nor a long series of incessant labours
Could e'er subdue, a captive maid has conquer'd.
O shame to manhood! O disgrace of arms!
Resign thy club and lion's spoils,
And fly from war to female toils!
For the glitt'ring sword and shield
The spindle and the distaff wield!
Thund'ring Mars no more shall arm thee,
Glory's call no more shall warm thee,
Venus and her whining boy
Shall all thy wanton hours employ.
Resign thy club... (da capo)
You are deceiv'd! Some villain has bely'd
My ever-faithful love and constancy.
Would it were so, and that the babbler fame
Had not through all the Grecian cities spread
The shameful tale!
The priests of Jupiter
Prepare with solemn rites to thank the god
For the success of my victorious arms.
The ready sacrifice expects my presence.
I go. Meantime let these suspicions sleep
Nor causeless jealousy alarm your breast!
Dissembling, false, perfidious Hercules!
Did he not swear, when first he woo'd my love,
The sun should cease to dawn, the silver moon
Be blotted from her orb, ere he prov'd false?
Cease, ruler of the day, to rise,
Nor, Cynthia, gild the evening skies!
To your bright beams he made appeal,
With endless night his falsehood seal!
Some kinder pow'r inspire me to regain
His alienated love, and bring the wand'rer back!
Ah, lucky thought! I have a garment
Dipped in Nessus' blood,
when·from the wound he drew
The barbed shaft, sent by Alcides' hand.
It boasts a wondrous virtue, to revive
Th'expiring flame of love. So Nessus told me,
When dying to my hand he trusted it.
I will prevail with Hercules to wear it
And prove its magic force. And see, the herald,
Fit instrument to execute my purpose.
(To her Lichas)
Lichas, thy hands shall to the temple bear
A rich embroider'd robe, and beg thy lord
Will instant o'er his manly shoulders throw
His consort's gift, the pledge of love's renewal.
O pleasing task, O happy Hercules!
Constant lovers, never roving,
Never jealous torments proving,
Calm, imperfect pleasures taste.
But the bliss to rapture growing,
Bliss from reconcilement flowing,
This is love's sublime repast.
But see, the princess Iole. Retire!
Be still, my jealous fears, and let my tongue
Disguise the torture of my bleeding heart.
Forgive me, princess, if my jealous frenzy
Too roughly greeted you! I see and blame
The error that misled me to insult
That innocence and beauty.
Thank the gods
That have inspir'd your mind with calmer thoughts.
And from your breast remov'd the vulture, jealousy.
Live, and be happy in Alcides' love.
While wretched Iole...
Princess, no more! But lift those beauteous eyes
To the fair prospect of returning happiness.
At my request Alcides shall restore you
To liberty, and your paternal throne.
Joys of freedom, joys of pow'r,
Wait upon the coming hour
And court thee to be blest.
What heav'nly-pleasing sounds I hear,
How sweet they steal upon my ear
And charm my soul to rest!
Father of Hercules, great Jove, oh help
This last expedient of despairing love!
Love and Hymen, hand in hand,
Come, restore the nuptial band!
And sincere delights prepare
To crown the hero and the fair.
Love and Hymen... (da capo)