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ALCESTIS by Euripides, Part 09

ADMETUS
And if I had driven away a guest who came to my house and city,
would you have praised me more? No, indeed! My misfortune would have
been no less, and I inhospitable. One more ill would have been added
to those I have if my house were called inhospitable. I myself find
him the best of hosts when I enter the thirsty land of Argos.
LEADER
But why did you hide from him the fate that has befallen, if the
man came as a friend, as you say?
ADMETUS
Never would he have entered my house if he had guessed my
misfortune.
To some, I know, I shall appear senseless in doing this, and
they will blame me; but my roof knows not to reject or insult a guest.

(He goes into the Palace, as the CHORUS begins its song.)

CHORUS (singing)

strophe 1

O house of a bountiful lord,
Ever open to many guests,
The God of Pytho,
Apollo of the beautiful lyre,
Deigned to dwell in you
And to live a shepherd in your lands!
On the slope of the hillsides
He played melodies of mating
On the Pipes of Pan to his herds.

antistrophe 1

And the dappled lynxes fed with them
In joy at your singing;
From the wooded vale of Orthrys
Came a yellow troop of lions;
To the sound of your lyre, O Phoebus,
Danced the dappled fawn
Moving on light feet
Beyond the high-crested pines,
Charmed by your sweet singing.

strophe 2

He dwells in a home most rich in flocks
By the lovely moving Boebian lake.
At the dark stabling-place of the Sun
He takes the sky of the Molossians
As a bourne to his ploughing of fields,
To the soils of his plains;
He bears sway
As far as the harbourless
Coast of the Aegean Sea,
As far as Pelion.
antistrophe 2
Even to-day he opened his house
And received a guest,
Though his eyelids were wet
With tears wept by the corpse
Of a dear bedfellow dead in the house.
For the noble spirit is proclaimed by honour;
All wisdom lies with the good.
I admire him:
And in my soul I know
The devout man shall have joy.

(The funeral procession of ALCESTIS enters from the door of the
women's quarters. The body, carried on a bier by men servants, is
followed by ADMETUS and his two children. Behind them comes a train of
ATTENDANTs and servants carrying the funeral offerings. All are in
mourning. ADMETUS addresses the CHORUS.)

ADMETUS
O friendly presence of you men of Pherae! Now that the body is
prepared, and the servants bear it on high to the tomb and the fire,
do you, as is fitting, salute the dead as she goes forth on her last
journey.

(PHERES, the father of ADMETUS, enters, followed
by ATTENDANTs bearing funeral offerings.)

LEADER OF THE CHORUS
But I see your father, tottering with an old man's walk, and his
followers bearing in their hands for your wife garments as an offering
to the dead.
PHERES
My son, I have come to share your sorrow, for the wife you have
lost was indeed noble and virtuous-none can deny it. But these
things must be endured, however intolerable they may be.
Take these garments, and let her descend under the earth. Her body
must be honoured, for she died to save your life, my son; she has
not made me childless, nor left me to be destroyed without you in my
hapless old age; and she has given glorious fame to all women by
daring so noble a deed! (He lifts his hand in salutation to the body
of ALCESTIS.) O woman, who saved my son, who raised me up when I had
fallen, hail! Be happy in the halls of Hades! I declare it-such
marriages are profitable to mankind; otherwise, it is foolish to
marry.

 

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