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Diogenes. Heracles

Diog. Surely this is Heracles I see? By his godhead, ’tis no other! The bow, the club, the lion's-skin, the giant frame; ’tis Heracles complete. Yet how should this be?--a son of Zeus, and mortal? I say, Mighty Conqueror, are you dead? I used to sacrifice to you in the other world; I understood you were a God!

Her. Thou didst well. Heracles is with the Gods in Heaven,

And hath white-ankled Hebe there to wife.

[paragraph continues] I am his phantom.

Diog. His phantom! What then, can one half of any one be a God, and the other half mortal?

Her. Even so. The God still lives. ’Tis I, his counterpart, am dead.

Diog. I see. You're a dummy; he palms you off upon Pluto, instead of coming himself. And here are you, enjoying his mortality!

Her. ’Tis somewhat as thou hast said.

Diog. Well, but where were Aeacus's keen eyes, that he let

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a counterfeit Heracles pass under his very nose, and never knew the difference?

Her. I was made very like to him.

Diog. I believe you! Very like indeed, no difference at all! Why, we may find it's the other way round, that you are Heracles, and the phantom is in Heaven, married to Hebe!

Her. Prating knave, no more of thy gibes; else thou shalt presently learn how great a God calls me phantom.

Diog. H’m. That bow looks as if it meant business. And yet,--what have I to fear now? A man can die but once. Tell me, phantom,--by your great Substance I adjure you--did you serve him in your present capacity in the upper world? Perhaps you were one individual during your lives, the separation taking place only at your deaths, when he, the God, soared heavenwards, and you, the phantom, very properly made your appearance here?

Her. Thy ribald questions were best unanswered. Yet thus much thou shalt know.--All that was Amphitryon in Heracles, is dead; I am that mortal part. The Zeus in him lives, and is with the Gods in Heaven.

Diog. Ah, now I see! Alcmena had twins, you mean,--Heracles the son of Zeus, and Heracles the son of Amphitryon? You were really half-bothers all the time?

Her. Fool! not so. We twain were one Heracles.

Diog. It's a little difficult to grasp, the two Heracleses packed into one. I suppose you must have been like a sort of Centaur, man and God all mixed together?

Her. And are not all thus composed of two elements,--the body and the soul? What then should hinder the soul from being in Heaven, with Zeus who gave it, and the mortal part--myself--among the dead?

Diog. Yes, yes, my esteemed son of Amphitryon,--that would be all very well if you were a body; but you see you are a

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phantom, you have no body. At this rate we shall get three Heracleses.

Her. Three?

Diog. Yes; look here. One in Heaven: one in Hades, that's you, the phantom: and lastly the body, which by this time has returned to dust. That makes three. Can you think of a good father for number Three?

Her. Impudent quibbler! And who art thou?

Diog. I am Diogenes's phantom, late of Sinope. But my original, I assure you, is not 'among th' immortal Gods,' but here among dead men; where he enjoys the best of company, and snaps my ringers at Homer and all hair-splitting.


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