The Tragedies of Euripides Part 50

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HER. Why then dost weep? Who is he of thy friends that is dead?

ADM. A woman, a woman we were lately mentioning.

HER. A stranger by blood, or any by birth allied to thee?

ADM. A stranger; but on other account dear to this house.

HER. How then died she in thine house?

ADM. Her father dead, she lived an orphan here.

HER. Alas! Would that I had found thee, Admetus, not mourning!

ADM. As about to do what then, dost thou make use of these words?

HER. I will go to some other hearth of those who will receive a guest.

ADM. It must not be, O king: let not so great an evil happen!

HER. Troublesome is a guest if he come to mourners.

ADM. The dead are dead--but go into the house.

HER. 'Tis base however to feast with weeping friends.

ADM. The guest-chamber, whither we will lead thee, is apart.

HER. Let me go, and I will owe you ten thousand thanks.

ADM. It must not be that thou go to the hearth of another man. Lead on thou, having thrown open the guest-chamber that is separate from the house: and tell them that have the management, that there be plenty of meats; and shut the gates in the middle of the hall: it is not meet that feasting guests should hear groans, nor should they be made sad.

CHOR. What are you doing? when so great a calamity is before you, Admetus, hast thou the heart to receive guests? wherefore art thou foolish?

ADM. But if I had driven him who came my guest from my house, and from the city, would you have praised me rather? No in sooth, since my calamity had been no whit the less, but I the more inhospitable: and in addition to my evils, there had been this other evil, that mine should be called the stranger-hating house. But I myself find this man a most excellent host, whenever I go to the thirsty land of Argos.

CHOR. How then didst thou hide thy present fate, when a friend, as thou thyself sayest, came?

ADM. He never would have been willing to enter the house if he had known aught of my sufferings. And to him[29] indeed, I ween, acting thus, I appear not to be wise, nor will he praise me; but my house knows not to drive away, nor to dishonor guests.


O greatly hospitable and ever liberal house of this man, thee even the Pythian Apollo, master of the lyre, deigned to inhabit, and endured to become a shepherd in thine abodes, through the sloping hills piping to thy flocks his pastoral nuptial hymns. And there were wont to feed with them, through delight of his lays, both the spotted lynxes, and the b.l.o.o.d.y troop of lions[30] came having left the forest of Othrys; disported too around thy cithern, Phbus, the dappled fawn, advancing with light pastern beyond the lofty-feathered pines, joying in the gladdening strain. Wherefore he dwelleth in a home most rich in flocks by the fair-flowing lake of Bbe; and to the tillage of his fields, and the extent of his plains, toward that dusky _part of the heavens_, where the sun stays his horses, makes the clime of the Molossians the limit, and holds dominion as far as the portless sh.o.r.e of the aegean Sea at Pelion. And now having thrown open his house he hath received his guest with moistened eyelid, weeping over the corse of his dear wife, who but now died in the palace: for a n.o.ble disposition is to reverence [of the guest]. But in the good there is all manner of wisdom. And confidence is seated on my soul that the man who reveres the G.o.ds will fare prosperously.


ADM. Ye men of Pherae that are kindly present, my servants indeed bear aloft[31] the corse, having every thing fit for the tomb, and for the pyre.

But do you, as is the custom, salute[32] the dead going forth on her last journey.

CHOR. And lo! I see thy father advancing with his aged foot, and attendants bearing in their hands adornment for thy wife, due honors of those beneath.


PHE. I am at present sympathizing in thy misfortunes, my son: for thou hast lost (no one will deny) a good and a chaste wife; but these things indeed thou must bear, though hard to be borne. But receive this adornment, and let it go with her beneath the earth: Her body 'tis right to honor, who in sooth died to save thy life, my son, and made me to be not childless, nor suffered me to waste away deprived of thee in an old age of misery. But she has made most ill.u.s.trious the life of all women, having dared this n.o.ble action. O thou that hast preserved my son here, and hast raised us up who were falling, farewell,[33] and may it be well with thee even in the mansions of Pluto! I affirm that such marriages are profitable to men, or that it is not meet to marry.

ADM. Neither hast thou come bidden of me to this funeral, nor do I count thy presence among things acceptable. But she here never shall put on thy decorations; for in no wise shall she be buried indebted to what thou hast.

Then oughtest thou to have grieved with me, when I was in danger of peris.h.i.+ng.[34] But dost thou, who stoodest aloof, and permittedst another, a young person, thyself being old, to die, weep over this dead body? Thou wert not then really the father of me, nor did she, who says she bore me, and is called my mother, bear me; but born of slavish blood I was secretly put under the breast of thy wife. Thou showedst when thou camest to the test, who thou art; and I deem that I am not thy son. Or else surely thou exceedest all in nothingness of soul, who being of the age thou art, and having come to the goal of life, neither hadst the will nor the courage to die for thy son; but sufferedst this stranger lady, whom alone I might justly have considered both mother and father. And yet thou mightst have run this race for glory, hadst thou died for thy son. But at any rate the remainder of the time thou hadst to live was short: and I should have lived and she the rest of our days, and I should not, bereft of her, be groaning at my miseries. And in sooth thou didst receive as many things as a happy man should receive; thou pa.s.sedst the vigor of thine age indeed in sovereign sway, but I was thy son to succeed thee in this palace, so that thou wert not about to die childless and leave a desolate house for others to plunder. Thou canst not however say of me, that I gave thee up to die, dishonoring thine old age, whereas I was particularly respectful toward thee; and for this behavior both thou, and she that bare me, have made me such return. Wherefore you have no more time to lose[35] in getting children, who will succor thee in thine old age, and deck thee when dead, and lay out thy corse; for I will not bury thee with this mine hand; for I in sooth died, as far as in thee lay; but if, having met with, another deliverer, I view the light, I say that I am both his child, and the friendly comforter of his old age. In vain then do old men pray to be dead, complaining of age, and the long time of life: but if death come near, not one is willing to die, and old age is no longer burdensome to them.[36]

CHOR. Desist, for the present calamity is sufficient; and do not, O son, provoke thy father's mind.

PHE. O son, whom dost thou presume thou art gibing with thy reproaches, a Lydian or a Phrygian bought with thy money?[37] Knowest thou not that I am a Thessalian, and born from a Thessalian father, truly free? Thou art too insolent, and casting the impetuous words of youth against us, shalt not having cast them thus depart. But I begat thee the lord of my house, and brought thee up, but I am not thy debtor to die for thee; for I received no paternal law like this, nor Grecian law, that fathers should die for their children; for for thyself thou wert born, whether unfortunate or fortunate, but what from us thou oughtest to have, thou hast. Thou rulest indeed over many, and I will leave thee a large demesne of lands, for these I received from my father. In what then have I injured thee? Of what do I deprive thee? Thou joyest to see the light, and dost think thy father does not joy?[38] Surely I count the time we must spend beneath long, and life is short, but still sweet. Thou too didst shamelessly fight off from dying, and livest, having pa.s.sed over thy destined fate, by slaying her; then dost thou talk of my nothingness of soul, O most vile one, when thou art surpa.s.sed by a woman who died for thee, the handsome youth? But thou hast made a clever discovery, so that thou mayst never die, if thou wilt persuade the wife that is thine from time to time to die for thee: and then reproachest thou thy friends who are not willing to do this, thyself being a coward? Hold thy peace, and consider, if thou lovest thy life, that all love theirs; but if thou shalt speak evil against us, thou shalt hear many reproaches and not false ones.

CHOR. Too many evil things have been spoken both now and before, but cease, old man, from reviling thy son.

ADM. Speak, for I have spoken; but if thou art grieved at hearing the truth, thou shouldst not err against me.

PHE. But had I died for thee, I had erred more.

ADM. What? is it the same thing for a man in his prime, and for an old man to die?

PHE. We ought to live with one life, not with two.

ADM. Mayst thou then live a longer time than Jove!

PHE. Dost curse thy parents, having met with no injustice?

ADM. _I said it_, for I perceived thou lovedst a long life.

PHE. But art not thou bearing forth this corse instead of thyself?

ADM. A proof this, O most vile one, of thy nothingness of soul.

PHE. She died not by us at least; thou wilt not say this.

ADM. Alas! Oh that you may ever come to need my aid!

PHE. Wed many wives, that more may die.

ADM. This is a reproach to thyself, for thou wert not willing to die.

PHE. Sweet is this light of the G.o.d, sweet is it.

ADM. Base is thy spirit and not that of men.

PHE. Thou dost not laugh as carrying an aged corse.

ADM. Thou wilt surely however die inglorious, when thou diest.

PHE. To bear an evil report is no matter to me when dead.

The Tragedies of Euripides Part 50

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The Tragedies of Euripides Part 50 summary

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