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Euripidis Index


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ALCESTIS by Euripides, Part 15

Heracles
Time will heal this open wound.
ADMETUS
You might say Time, if Time were death!
Heracles
Another woman, a new marriage, shall console you.
ADMETUS
Oh, hush! What have you said? A thing unbelievable!
Heracles
What! You will not marry? Your bed will remain widowed?
ADMETUS
No other woman shall ever lie at my side.
Heracles
Do you think that avails the dead?
ADMETUS
Wherever she may be, I must do her honour.
Heracles
I praise you-but men will call you mad.
ADMETUS
Yet never more shall I be called a bridegroom.
Heracles
I praise your faithful love to your wife-
ADMETUS
May I die if I betray her even when dead!
Heracles (offering him the veiled woman's hand.)
Receive her then into your noble house.
ADMETUS
No, by Zeus who begot you, no!
Heracles
Yet you will do wrong if you do not take her.
ADMETUS
If I do it, remorse will tear my heart.
Heracles
Yield-perhaps it will be a good thing for you.
ADMETUS
Ah! If only you had not won her in the contest!
Heracles
But I conquered-and you conquered with me.
ADMETUS
It is true-but let the woman go hence.
Heracles
She shall go, if she must. But first-ought she to go?
ADMETUS
She must-unless it would anger you.
Heracles
There is good reason for my zeal.
ADMETUS
You have conquered then-but not for my pleasure.
Heracles
One day you will praise me for it-be persuaded.
ADMETUS (to his ATTENDANTs)
Lead her in, since she must be received in this house.
Heracles
No, I cannot leave such a woman to servants.
ADMETUS
Then lead her in yourself, if you wish.
Heracles
I must leave her in your hands.
ADMETUS
I must not touch her-let her go into the house.
Heracles
I trust only in your right hand.
ADMETUS
O King, you force me to this against my will.
Heracles
Put forth your hand and take this woman.
ADMETUS (turning aside his head)
It is held out.
Heracles
As if you were cutting off a Gorgon's head! Do you hold her?
ADMETUS
Yes.
Heracles
Then keep her. You shall not deny that the son of Zeus is a
grateful guest. (Takes off the veil and shows ALCESTIS.) Look at
her, and see if she is not like your wife. And may joy put an end to
all your sorrow!
ADMETUS (drops her hand and starts back)
O Gods! What am I to say? Unhoped-for wonder! Do I really look
upon my wife? Or I am snared in the mockery of a God?
Heracles
No you look upon your wife indeed.
ADMETUS
Beware! May it not be some phantom from the Underworld?
Heracles
Do not think your guest a sorcerer.
ADMETUS
But do I indeed look upon the wife I buried?
Heracles
Yes-but I do not wonder at your mistrust.
ADMETUS
Can I touch, speak to her, as my living wife?
Heracles
Speak to her-you have all you desired.
ADMETUS (taking ALCESTIS in his arms)
O face and body of the dearest of women! I have you once more,
when I thought I should never see you again!
Heracles
You have her-may the envy of the Gods be averted from you!
ADMETUS
O noble son of greatest Zeus, fortune be yours, and may your
Father guard you! But how did you bring her back from the Underworld
to the light of day?
Heracles
By fighting with the spirit who was her master.
ADMETUS
Then did you contend with Death?
Heracles
I hid by the tomb and leaped upon him.
ADMETUS
But why is she speechless?
Heracles
You may not hear her voice until she is purified from her
consecration to the Lower Gods, and until the third dawn has risen.
Lead her in.
And you, Admetus, show as ever a good man's welcome to your
guests.
Farewell! I go to fulfil the task set me by the King, the son of
Sthenelus.
ADMETUS
Stay with us, and share our hearth.
Heracles
That may be hereafter, but now I must be gone in haste.
(HERACLES departs.)
ADMETUS (gazing after him)
Good fortune to you, and come back here! (To the CHORUS) In all
the city and in the four quarters of Thessaly let there be CHORUSes to
rejoice at this good fortune, and let the altars smoke with the
flesh of oxen in sacrifice! To-day we have changed the past for a
better life. I am happy.
(He leads ALCESTIS into the Palace.)
CHORUS (singing)
Spirits have many shapes,
Many strange things are performed by the Gods.
The expected does not always happen,
And God makes a way for the unexpected.
So ends this action.


-THE END-

 

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