Hera. Zeus! What is your opinion of this man Ixion?
Zeus. Why, my dear, I think he is a very good sort of man; and the best of company. Indeed, if he were unworthy of our company, he would not be here.
Hera. He is unworthy! He is a villain! Discard him!
Zeus. Eh? What has he been after? I must know about this.
Hera. Certainly you must; though I scarce know how to tell you. The wretch!
Zeus. Oh, oh; if he is a 'wretch,' you must certainly tell me all about it. I know what 'wretch' means, on your discreet tongue. What, he has been making love?
Hera. And to me! to me of all people! It has been going on for a long time. At first, when he would keep looking at me, I had no idea--. And then he would sigh and groan; and when I handed my cup to Ganymede after drinking, he would insist on having it, and would stop drinking to kiss it, and lift it up to his eyes; and then he would look at me again. And then of course I knew. For a long time I didn't like to say anything to you; I thought his mad fit would pass. But when he actually dared to speak to me, I left him weeping and groveling about, and stopped my ears, so that I might not hear his impertinences, and came to tell you. It is for you to consider what steps you will take.
Zeus. Whew! I have a rival, I find; and with my own lawful wife. Here is a rascal who has tippled nectar to some purpose. Well, we have no one but ourselves to blame for it: we make too much of these mortals, admitting them to our table like this. When they drink of our nectar, and behold the beauties of Heaven (so different from those of Earth!), ’tis no
wonder if they fall in love, and form ambitious schemes! Yes, Love is all-powerful; and not with mortals only: we Gods have sometimes fallen beneath his sway.
Hera. He has made himself master of you; no doubt of that. He does what he likes with you;--leads you by the nose. You follow him whither he chooses, and assume every shape at his command; you are his chattel, his toy. I know how it will be: you are going to let Ixion off, because you have had relations with his wife; she is the mother of Pirithous.
Zeus. Why, what a memory you have for these little outings of mine!--Now, my idea about Ixion is this. It would never do to punish him, or to exclude him from our table; that would not look well. No; as he is so fond of you, so hard hit--even to weeping point, you tell me,--
Hera. Zeus! What are you going to say?
Zeus. Don't be alarmed. Let us make a cloud-phantom in your likeness, and after dinner, as he lies awake (which of course he will do, being in love), let us take it and lay it by his side. 'Twill put him out of his pain: he will fancy he has attained his desire.
Hera. Never! The presumptuous villain!
Zeus. Yes, I know. But what harm can it do to you, if Ixion makes a conquest of a cloud?
Hera. But he will think that I am the cloud; he will be working his wicked will upon me for all he can tell.
Zeus. Now you are talking nonsense. The cloud is not Hera, and Hera is not the cloud. Ixion will be deceived; that is all.
Hera. Yes, but these men are all alike--they have no delicacy. I suppose, when he goes home, he will boast to every one of how he has enjoyed the embraces of Hera, the wife of Zeus! Why, he may tell them that I am in love with him! And they will believe it; they will know nothing about the cloud.
Zeus. If he says anything of the kind he shall soon find himself in Hades, spinning round on a wheel for all eternity. That will keep him busy! And serve him right; not for falling in love--I see no great harm in that--but for letting his tongue wag.