The Tragedies of Euripides, Volume I.
by Euripides
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[52] Probably meaning Adonis. See Monk. B.

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Apollo desired of the Fates that Admetus, who was about to die, might give a substitute to die for him, that so he might live for a term equal to his former life; and Alcestis, his wife, gave herself up, while neither of his parents were willing to die instead of their son. But not long after the time when this calamity happened, Hercules having arrived, and having learned from a servant what had befallen Alcestis, went to her tomb, and having made Death retire, covers the lady with a robe; and requested Admetus to receive her and keep her for him; and said he had borne her off as a prize in wrestling; but when he would not, he unveiled her, and discovered her whom he was lamenting.

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O mansions of Admetus, wherein I endured to acquiesce in the slave's table,[1] though a God; for Jove was the cause, by slaying my son AEsculapius, hurling the lightning against his breast: whereat enraged, I slay the Cyclops, forgers of Jove's fire; and me my father compelled to serve for hire with a mortal, as a punishment for these things. But having come to this land, I tended the herds of him who received me, and have preserved this house until this day: for being pious I met with a pious man,[2] the son of Pheres, whom I delivered from dying by deluding the Fates: but those Goddesses granted me that Admetus should escape the impending death, could he furnish in his place another dead for the powers below. But having tried and gone through all his friends, his father and his aged mother who bore him, he found not, save his wife, one who was willing to die for him, and view no more the light: who now within the house is borne in their hands, breathing her last; for on this day is it destined for her to die, and to depart from life. But I, lest the pollution[3] come upon me in the house, leave this palace's most dear abode. But already I behold Death near, priest of the dead, who is about to bear her down to the mansions of Pluto; but he comes at the right time, observing this day, in the which it was destined for her to die.


DEA. Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! What dost thou at the palace? why tamest here, Phoebus? Art thou again at thy deeds of injustice, taking away and putting an end to the honors of the powers beneath? Did it not suffice thee to stay the death of Admetus, when thou didst delude the Fates by fraudful artifice?[5] But now too dost thou keep guard for her, having armed thine hand with thy bow, who then promised, in order to redeem her husband, herself, the daughter of Pelias, to die for him?

AP. Fear not, I cleave to justice and honest arguments.

DEA. What business then has your bow, if you cleave to justice?

AP. It is my habit ever to bear it.

DEA. Yes, and without regard to justice to aid this house.

AP. Ay, for I am afflicted at the misfortunes of a man that is dear to me.

DEA. And wilt thou deprive me of this second dead?

AP. But neither took I him from thee by force.

DEA. How then is he upon earth, and not beneath the ground?

AP. Because he gave in his stead his wife, after whom thou art now come.

DEA. Yes, and will bear her off to the land beneath.

AP. Take her away, for I know not whether I can persuade thee.

DEA. What? to slay him, whom I ought? for this was I commanded.

AP. No: but to cast death upon those about to die.

DEA. Yes, I perceive thy speech, and what thou aim'st at.

AP. Is it possible then for Alcestis to arrive at old age?

DEA. It is not: consider that I too am delighted with my due honors.

AP. Thou canst not, however, take more than one life.

DEA. When the young die I earn the greater glory.

AP. And if she die old, she will be sumptuously entombed.[6]

DEA. Thou layest down the law, Phoebus, in favor of the rich.

AP. How sayest thou? what? hast thou been clever without my perceiving it?

DEA. Those who have means would purchase to die old.

AP. Doth it not then seem good to thee to grant me this favor?

DEA. No in truth; and thou knowest my ways.

AP. Yes, hostile to mortals, and detested by the Gods.

DEA. Thou canst not have all things, which thou oughtest not.

AP. Nevertheless, thou wilt stop, though thou art over-fierce; such a man will come to the house of Pheres, whom Eurystheus hath sent after the chariot and its horses,[7] to bring them from the wintry regions of Thrace, who in sooth, being welcomed in the mansions of Admetus, shall take away by force this woman from thee; and there will be no obligation to thee at my hands, but still thou wilt do this, and wilt be hated by me.

DEA. Much though thou talkest, thou wilt gain nothing. This woman then shall descend to the house of Pluto; and I am advancing upon her, that I may begin the rites on her with my sword; for sacred is he to the Gods beneath the earth, the hair of whose head this sword hath consecrated.[8]


SEMICH. Wherefore in heaven's name is this stillness before the palace? why is the house of Admetus hushed in silence?

SEMICH. But there is not even one of our friends near, who can tell us whether we have to deplore the departed queen, or whether Alcestis, daughter of Pelias, yet living views this light, who has appeared to me and to all to have been the best wife toward her husband.

CHOR. Hears any one either a wailing, or the beating of hands within the house, or a lamentation, as though the thing had taken place?[9] There is not however any one of the servants standing before the gates. Oh would that thou wouldst appear, O Apollo, amidst the waves of this calamity!

SEMICH. They would not however be silent, were she dead.

SEMICH. For the corse is certainly not gone from the house.

SEMICH. Whence this conjecture? I do not presume this. What is it gives you confidence?

SEMICH. How could Admetus have made a private funeral of his so excellent wife?

CHOR. But before the gates I see not the bath of water from the fountain,[10] as is the custom at the gates of the dead: and in the vestibule is no shorn hair, which is wont to fall in grief for the dead; the youthful[11] hand of women for the youthful wife sound not.

SEMICH. And yet this is the appointed day,—

SEMICH. What is this thou sayest?

SEMICH. In the which she must go beneath the earth.

SEMICH. Thou hast touched my soul, hast touched my heart.

SEMICH. When the good are afflicted, he must mourn, who from the beginning has been accounted good.

CHOR. But there is not whither in the earth any one having sent naval equipment, or to Lycia, or to the thirsty site of Hammon's temple, can redeem the unhappy woman's life, for abrupt fate approaches, and I know not to whom of those that sacrifice at the hearths of the Gods I can go. But only if the son of Phoebus were viewing with his eyes this light, could she come, having left the darksome habitations and the gates of Pluto: for he raised up the dead, before that the stroke of the lightning's fire hurled by Jove destroyed him. But now what hope of life can I any longer entertain? For all things have already been done by the king, and at the altars of all the Gods abound the victims dropping with blood, and no cure is there of these evils.


CHOR. But here comes one of the female attendants from the house, in tears; what shall I hear has happened? To mourn indeed, if any thing happens to our lords, is pardonable: but whether the lady be still alive, or whether she be dead, we would wish to know.

ATT. You may call her both alive and dead.

CHOR. And how can the same woman be both alive and dead?

ATT. Already she is on the verge of death,[12] and breathing her life away.

CHOR. Oh wretched man, being what thyself of what a wife art thou bereft!

ATT. My master knows not this yet, until he suffer.

CHOR. Is there no longer hope that she may save her life?

ATT. No, for the destined day makes its attack upon her.

CHOR. Are not then suitable preparations made for these events?

ATT. Yes, the adornments[13] are ready, wherewith her husband will bury her.

CHOR. Let her know then that she will die glorious, and by far the best of women under the sun.

ATT. And how not the best? who will contest it? What must the woman be, who has surpassed her? and how can any give greater proof of esteeming her husband, than by being willing to die for him? And these things indeed the whole city knoweth. But what she did in the house you will marvel when you hear. For, when she perceived that the destined day was come, she washed her fair skin with water from the river; and having taken from her closets of cedar vesture and ornaments, she attired herself becomingly; and standing before the altar she prayed: "O mistress, since I go beneath the earth, adoring thee for the last time, I will beseech thee to protect my orphan children, and to the one join a loving wife, and to the other a noble husband: nor, as their mother perishes, let my children untimely die, but happy in their paternal country let them complete a joyous life."—But all the altars, which are in the house of Admetus, she went to, and crowned, and prayed, tearing the leaves from off the myrtle boughs, tearless, without a groan, nor did the approaching evil change the natural beauty of her skin. And then rushing to her chamber, and her bed, there indeed she wept and spoke thus: "O bridal bed, whereon I loosed my virgin zone with this man, for whom I die, farewell! for I hate thee not; but me alone hast thou lost; for dreading to betray thee, and my husband, I die; but thee some other woman will possess, more chaste there can not, but perchance more fortunate."[14]—And falling on it she kissed it; but all the bed was bathed with the flood that issued from her eyes. But when she had satiety of much weeping, she goes hastily forward,[15] rushing from the bed. And ofttimes having left her chamber, she oft returned, and threw herself upon the bed again. And her children, hanging to the garments of their mother, wept; but she, taking them in her arms, embraced them, first one and then the other, as about to die. But all the domestics wept throughout the house, bewailing their mistress, but she stretched out her right hand to each, and there was none so mean, whom she addressed not, and was answered in return. Such are the woes in the house of Admetus. And had he died indeed, he would have perished; but now that he has escaped death, he has grief to that degree which he will never forget.

CHOR. Surely Admetus groans at these evils, if he must be deprived of so excellent a wife.

ATT. Yes, he weeps, holding his dear wife in his hands, and prays her not to leave him, asking impossibilities; for she wastes away, and is consumed by sickness, but fainting a wretched burden in his arms, yet still though but feebly breathing, she fain would glance toward the rays of the sun; as though never again, but now for the last time she is to view the sun's beam and his orb. But I will go and announce your presence, for it is by no means all that are well-wishers to their lords, so as to come kindly to them in their misfortunes; but you of old are friendly to my master.

SEMICH. O Jove, what means of escape can there in any way be, and what method to rid us of the fortune which attends my master?

SEMICH. Will any appear? or must I cut my locks, and clothe me even now in black array of garments?

SEMICH. 'Tis plain, my friends, too plain; but still let us pray to the Gods, for the power of the Gods is mightiest.

SEMICH. O Apollo, king of healing, find out some remedy for the evils of Admetus, procure it, O! procure it. For before this also thou didst find remedy, and now become our deliverer from death, and stop the murderous Pluto.

SEMICH. Alas! alas! woe! woe! O son of Pheres, how didst thou fare when thou wert deprived of thy wife?

SEMICH. Alas! alas! these things would even justify self-slaughter, and there is more, than whereat one might thrust one's neck in the suspending noose.[16]

SEMICH. For not a dear, but a most dear wife, wilt thou see dead this day.

SEMICH. Behold, behold; lo! she doth come from the house, and her husband with her. Cry out, O groan, O land of Pheres, for the most excellent woman, wasting with sickness, departing beneath the earth to the infernal Pluto. Never will I aver that marriage brings more joy than grief, forming my conjectures both from former things, and beholding this fortune of the king; who, when he has lost this most excellent wife, will thenceforward pass a life not worthy to be called life.[17]


ALC. Thou Sun, and thou light of day, and ye heavenly eddies of the fleeting clouds—

ADM. He beholds[18] thee and me, two unhappy creatures, having done nothing to the Gods, for which thou shouldst die.

ALC. O earth, and ye roofs of the palace, and thou bridal bed of my native Iolcos.

ADM. Lift up thyself, unhappy one, desert me not; but entreat the powerful Gods to pity.

ALC. I see—I see the two-oared boat—and the ferryman of the dead, holding his hand on the pole—Charon even now calls me—"Why dost thou delay? haste, thou stoppest us here"—with such words vehement he hastens me.

ADM. Ah me! a bitter voyage this thou speakest of! Oh! unhappy one, how do we suffer!

ALC. He pulls me, some one pulls me—do you not see?—to the hall of the dead, the winged Pluto, staring from beneath his black eyebrows—What wilt thou do?—let me go—what a journey am I most wretched going!

ADM. Mournful to thy friends, and of these especially to me and to thy children, who have this grief in common.

ALC. Leave off[19] supporting me, leave off now, lay me down, I have no strength in my feet. Death is near, and darkling night creeps upon mine eyes—my children, my children, no more your mother is—no more.—Farewell, my children, long may you view this light!

ADM. Ah me! I hear this sad word, and more than any death to me. Do not by the Gods have the heart to leave me: do not by those children, whom thou wilt make orphans: but rise, be of good courage: for, thee dead, I should no longer be: for on thee we depend both to live, and not to live: for thy love we adore.

ALC. Admetus, thou seest both thy affairs and mine, in what state they are, I wish to tell thee, ere I die, what I would have done. I, honoring thee, and causing thee at the price of my life to view this light, die, it being in my power not to die, for thee: but though I might have married a husband from among the Thessalians whom I would, and have lived in a palace blessed with regal sway, was not willing to live, bereft of thee, with my children orphans; nor did I spare myself, though possessing the gifts of bloomy youth, wherein I delighted. And yet thy father and thy mother forsook thee, though they had well arrived at a point of life, in which they might have died, and nobly delivered their son, and died with glory: for thou wert their only one, and there was no hope, when thou wert dead, that they could have other children.[20] And I should have lived, and thou, the rest of our time. And thou wouldst not be groaning deprived of thy wife, and wouldst not have to bring up thy children orphans. But these things indeed, some one of the Gods hath brought to pass, that they should be thus. Be it so—but do thou remember to give me a return for this; for never shall I ask thee for an equal one, (for nothing is more precious than life,) but just, as thou wilt say: for thou lovest not these children less than I do, if thou art right-minded; them bring up lords over my house, and bring not in second marriage a step-mother over these children, who, being a worse woman than me, through envy will stretch out her hand against thine and my children. Do not this then, I beseech thee; for a step-mother that is in second marriage is enemy to the children of the former marriage, no milder than a viper. And my boy indeed has his father, a great tower of defense; but thou, O my child, how wilt thou be, brought up during thy virgin years? Having what consort of thy father's? I fear, lest casting some evil obloquy on thee, she destroys thy marriage in the bloom of youth.[21] For neither will thy mother ever preside over thy nuptials, nor strengthen thee being present, my daughter, at thy travails, where nothing is more kind than a mother. For I needs must die, and this evil comes upon me not to-morrow, nor on the third day of the month, but immediately shall I be numbered among those that are no more. Farewell, and may you be happy; and thou indeed, my husband, mayst boast, that thou hadst a most excellent wife, and you, my children, that you were born of a most excellent mother.

CHOR. Be of good cheer; for I fear not to answer for him: he will do this, if he be not bereft of his senses.

ADM. These things shall be so, they shall be, fear not: since I, when alive also, possessed thee alone, and when thou art dead, thou shalt be my only wife, and no Thessalian bride shall address me in the place of thee: there is not woman who shall, either of so noble a sire, nor otherwise most exquisite in beauty. But my children are enough; of these I pray the Gods that I may have the enjoyment; for thee we do not enjoy. But I shall not have this grief for thee for a year, but as long as my life endures, O lady, abhorring her indeed that brought me forth, and hating my father; for they were in word, not in deed, my friends. But thou, giving what was dearest to thee for my life, hast rescued me. Have I not then reason to groan deprived of such a wife? But I will put an end to the feasts, and the meetings of those that drink together, and garland and song, which wont to dwell in my house. For neither can I any more touch the lyre, nor lift up my heart to sing to the Libyan flute; for thou hast taken away my joy of life. But by the cunning hand of artists imaged thy figure shall be lain on my bridal bed, on which I will fall, and clasping my hands around, calling on thy name, shall fancy that I hold my dear wife in mine arms, though holding her not:[22] a cold delight, I ween; but still I may draw off the weight that sits upon my soul: and in my dreams visiting me, thou mayst delight me, for a friend is sweet even to behold at night, for whatever time he may come. But if the tongue of Orpheus and his strain were mine, so that invoking with hymns the daughter of Ceres or her husband, I could receive thee from the shades below, I would descend, and neither the dog of Pluto, nor Charon at his oar, the ferryman of departed spirits, should stay me before I brought thy life to the light. But there expect me when I die and prepare a mansion for me, as about to dwell with me. For I will enjoin these[23] to place me in the same cedar with thee, and to lay my side near thy side: for not even when dead may I be separated from thee, the only faithful one to me!

CHOR. And I indeed with thee, as a friend with a friend, will bear this painful grief for her, for she is worthy.

ALC. My children, ye indeed hear your father saying that he will never marry another wife to be over you, nor dishonor me.

ADM. And now too, I say this, and will perform it

ALC. For this receive these children from my hand.

ADM. Yes, I receive a dear gift from a dear hand.

ALC. Be thou then a mother to these children in my stead.

ADM. There is much need that I should, when they are deprived of thee.

ALC. O my children, at a time when I ought to live I depart beneath.

ADM. Ah me; what shall I do of thee bereaved!

ALC. Time will soften thy grief: he that is dead is nothing.

ADM. Take me with thee, by the Gods take me beneath.

ALC. Enough are we to go, who die for thee.

ADM. O fate, of what a wife thou deprivest me!

ALC. And lo! my darkening eye is weighed down.

ADM. I am undone then, if thou wilt leave me, my wife.

ALC. As being no more, you may speak of me as nothing.

ADM. Lift up thy face; do not leave thy children.

ALC. Not willingly in sooth, but—farewell, my children.

ADM. Look on them, O! look.

ALC. I am no more.

ADM. What dost thou? dost thou leave us?

ALC. Farewell!

ADM. I am an undone wretch!

CHOR. She is gone, Admetus' wife is no more.

EUM. Alas me, for my state! my mother is gone indeed below; she is no longer, my father, under the sun; but unhappy leaving me has made my life an orphan's. For look, look at her eyelid, and her nerveless arms. Hear, hear, O mother. I beseech thee; I, I now call thee, mother, thy young one falling on thy mouth—

ADM. Who hears not, neither sees: so that I and you are struck with a heavy calamity.

EUM. Young and deserted, my father, am I left by my dear mother: O! I that have suffered indeed dreadful deeds!—and thou hast suffered with me, my sister. O father, in vain, in vain didst thou marry, nor with her didst thou arrive at the end of old age, for she perished before, but thou being gone, mother, the house is undone.

CHOR. Admetus, you must bear this calamity; for in no wise the first, nor the last of mortals hast thou lost thy dear wife: but learn, that to die is a debt we must all of us discharge.

ADM. I know it, and this evil hath not come suddenly on me; but knowing it long ago I was afflicted. But be present, for I will have the corse borne forth, and while ye stay, chant a hymn to the God below that accepteth not libations. And all the Thessalians, over whom I reign, I enjoin to share in the grief for this lady, by shearing their locks with steel, and by arraying themselves in sable garb. And harness[24] your teams of horses to your chariots, and cut from your single steeds the manes that fall upon their necks. And let there be no noise of pipes, nor of the lyre throughout the city for twelve completed moons. For none other corse more dear shall I inter, nor one more kind toward me. But she deserves to receive honor from me, seeing that she alone hath died for me.


O daughter of Pelias, farewell where thou dwellest in sunless dwelling within the mansions of Pluto. And let Pluto know, the God with ebon locks, and the old man, the ferryman of the dead, who sits intent upon his oar and his rudder, that he is conducting by far the most excellent of women in his two-oared boat over the lake of Acheron. Oft shall the servants of the Muses sing of thee, celebrating thee both on the seven-stringed lute on the mountains, and in hymns unaccompanied by the lyre: in Sparta, when returns the annual circle in the season of the Carnean month,[25] when the moon is up the whole night long; and in splendid[26] and happy Athens. Such a song hast thou left by thy death to the minstrels of melodies. Would that it rested with me, and that I could waft thee to the light from the mansions of Pluto, and from Cocytus' streams, by the oar of that infernal river. For thou, O unexampled, O dear among women, thou didst dare to receive thy husband from the realms below in exchange for thine own life. Light may the earth from above fall upon thee, lady! and if thy husband chooses any other alliance, surely he will be much detested by me and by thy children. When his mother was not willing for him to hide her body in the ground, nor his aged father, but these two wretches, having hoary locks, dared not to rescue him they brought forth, yet thou in the vigor of youth didst depart, having died for thy husband. May it be mine to meet with another[27] such a dear wife; for rare in life is such a portion, for surely she would live with me forever without once causing pain.


HER. Strangers, inhabitants of the land of Pheres, can I find Admetus within the palace?

CHOR. The son of Pheres is within the palace, O Hercules. But tell me, what purpose sends thee to the land of the Thessalians, so that thou comest to this city of Pheres?

HER. I am performing a certain labor for the Tirynthian Eurystheus.

CHOR. And whither goest thou? on what wandering expedition art bound?

HER. After the four chariot-steeds of Diomed the Thracian.

CHOR. How wilt thou be able? Art thou ignorant of this host?

HER. I am ignorant; I have not yet been to the land of the Bistonians.

CHOR. Thou canst not be lord of these steeds without battle.

HER. But neither is it possible for me to renounce the labors set me.

CHOR. Thou wilt come then having slain, or being slain wilt remain there.

HER. Not the first contest this that I shall run.

CHOR. But what advance will you have made, when you have overcome their master?

HER. I will drive away the horses to king Eurystheus.

CHOR. 'Tis no easy matter to put the bit in their jaws.

HER. 'Tis, except they breathe fire from their nostrils.

CHOR. But they tear men piecemeal with their devouring jaws.

HER. The provender of mountain beasts, not horses, you are speaking of.

CHOR. Their stalls thou mayst behold with blood bestained.

HER. Son of what sire does their owner boast to be?

CHOR. Of Mars, prince[28] of the Thracian target, rich with gold.

HER. And this labor, thou talkest of, is one my fate compels me to (for it is ever hard and tends to steeps); if I must join in battle with the children whom Mars begat, first indeed with Lycaon, and again with Cycnus, and I come to this third combat, about to engage with the horses and their master. But none there is, who shall ever see the son of Alcmena fearing the hand of his enemies.

CHOR. And lo! hither comes the very man Admetus, lord of this land, from out of the palace.


ADM. Hail! O son of Jove, and of the blood of Perseus.

HER. Admetus, hail thou too, king of the Thessalians!

ADM. I would I could receive this salutation; but I know that thou art well disposed toward me.

HER. Wherefore art thou conspicuous with thy locks shorn for grief?

ADM. I am about to bury a certain corse this day.

HER. May the God avert calamity from thy children!

ADM. My children whom I begat, live in the house.

HER. Thy father however is of full age, if he is gone.

ADM. Both he lives, and she who bore me, Hercules.

HER. Surely your wife Alcestis is not dead?

ADM. There are two accounts which I may tell of her.

HER. Speakest thou of her as dead or as alive?

ADM. She both is, and is no more, and she grieves me.

HER. I know nothing more; for thou speakest things obscure.

ADM. Knowest thou not the fate which it was doomed for her to meet with?

HER. I know that she took upon herself to die for thee.

ADM. How then is she any more, if that she promised this?

HER. Ah! do not weep for thy wife before the time; wait till this happens.

ADM. He that is about to die is dead, and he that is dead is no more.

HER. The being and the not being is considered a different thing.

ADM. You judge in this way, Hercules, but I in that.

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 bloody troop of lions[30] came having left the forest of Othrys; disported too around thy cithern, Phoebus, 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 Boebe; 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 shore 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 noble disposition is prone 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 Gods 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 illustrious the life of all women, having dared this noble 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 perishing.[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 passedst 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 passed over thy destined fate, by slaying her; then dost thou talk of my nothingness of soul, O most vile one, when thou art surpassed 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 God, 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.

ADM. Alas! alas! how full of shamelessness is old age!

PHE. She was not shameless: her you found mad.

ADM. Begone, and suffer me to bury this dead.

PHE. I will depart; but you will bury her, yourself being her murderer. But you will render satisfaction to your wife's relatives yet: or surely Acastus no longer ranks among men, if he shall not revenge the blood of his sister.

ADM. Get thee gone, then, thou and thy wife; childless, thy child yet living, as ye deserve, grow old; for ye no more come into the same house with me: and if it were necessary for me to renounce by heralds thy paternal hearth, I would renounce it. But let us (for the evil before us must be borne) proceed, that we may place the corse upon the funeral pyre.

CHOR. O! O! unhappy because of thy bold deed, O noble, and by far most excellent, farewell! may both Mercury[39] that dwells beneath, and Pluto, kindly receive thee; but if there too any distinction is shown to the good, partaking of this mayst thou sit by the bride of Pluto.


I have now known many guests, and from all parts of the earth that have come to the house of Admetus, to whom I have spread the feast, but never yet did I receive into this house a worse one than this stranger. Who, in the first place, indeed, though he saw my master in affliction, came in, and prevailed upon himself to pass the gates. And then not at all in a modest manner received he the entertainment that there happened to be, when he heard of the calamity: but if we did not bring any thing, he hurried us to bring it. And having taken in his hands the cup wreathed with ivy,[40] he quaffs the neat wine of the purple mother, until the fumes of the liquor coming upon him inflamed him; and he crowns his head with branches of myrtles howling discordantly; and there were two strains to hear; for he was singing, not caring at all for the afflictions of Admetus, but we the domestics, were bewailing our mistress, and we showed not that we were weeping to the guest, for thus Admetus commanded. And now indeed I am performing the offices of hospitality to the stranger in the house, some deceitful thief and robber. But she is gone from the house, nor did I follow, nor stretched out my hand in lamentation for my mistress, who was a mother to me, and to all the domestics, for she saved us from ten thousand ills, softening the anger of her husband. Do I not then justly hate this stranger, who is come in our miseries?


HER. Ho there! why dost thou look so grave and thoughtful? The servant ought not to be of woeful countenance before guests, but should receive them with an affable mind. But thou, though thou seest a companion of thy lord present, receivest him with a morose and clouded countenance, fixing thy attention on a calamity that thou hast nothing to do with. Come hither, that thou mayst become more wise. Knowest thou mortal affairs, of what nature they are? I think not; from whence should you? but hear me. Death is a debt that all mortals must pay: and there is not of them one, who knows whether he shall live the coming morrow: for what depends on fortune is uncertain how it will turn out, and is not to be learned, neither is it detected by art. Having heard these things then, and learned them from me, make thyself merry, drink, and think the life allowed from day to day thine own, but the rest Fortune's. And honor also Venus, the most sweet of deities to mortals, for she is a kind deity. But let go these other things, and obey my words, if I appear to speak rightly: I think so indeed. Wilt thou not then leave off thy excessive grief, and drink with me, crowned with garlands, having thrown open these gates? And well know I that the trickling of the cup falling down thy throat will change thee from thy present cloudy and pent state of mind. But we who are mortals should think as mortals. Since to all the morose, indeed, and to those of sad countenance, if they take me as judge at least, life is not truly life, but misery.

SERV. I know this; but now we are in circumstances not such as are fit for revel and mirth.

HER. The lady that is dead is a stranger; grieve not too much, for the lords of this house live.

SERV. What live! knowest thou not the misery within the house?

HER. Unless thy lord hath told me any thing falsely.

SERV. He is too, too hospitable.

HER. Is it unmeet that I should be well treated, because a stranger is dead?

SERV. Surely however she was very near.

HER. Has he forborne to tell me any calamity that there is?

SERV. Depart and farewell; we have a care for the evils of our lords.

HER. This speech is the beginning of no foreign loss.

SERV. For I should not, had it been foreign, have been grieved at seeing thee reveling.

HER. What! have I received so great an injury from mine host?

SERV. Thou camest not in a fit time for the house to receive thee, for there is grief to us, and thou seest that we are shorn, and our black garments.

HER. But who is it that is dead? Has either any of his children died, or his aged father?

SERV. The wife indeed of Admetus is dead, O stranger.

HER. What sayst thou? and yet did ye receive me?

SERV. Yes, for he had too much respect to turn thee from his house.

HER. O unhappy man, what a wife hast thou lost!

SERV. We all are lost, not she alone.

HER. But I did perceive it indeed, when I saw his eye streaming with tears, and his shorn hair, and his countenance; but he persuaded me, saying, that he was conducting the funeral of a stranger to the tomb: but spite of my inclination having passed over these gates, I drank in the house of the hospitable man, while he was in this case, and reveled, crowned as to my head with garlands. But 'twas thine to tell me not to do it, when such an evil was upon the house. Where is he burying her? whither going can I find her?

SERV. By the straight road that leads to Larissa, thou wilt see the polished tomb beyond the suburbs.


O my much-daring heart and my soul, now show what manner of son the Tirynthian Alcmena, daughter of Electryon, bare thee to Jove. For I must rescue the woman lately dead, Alcestis, and place her again in this house, and perform this service for Admetus. And going I will lay wait for the sable-vested king of the departed, Death, and I think that I shall find him drinking of the libations near the tomb. And if having taken him by lying in wait, rushing from my ambush, I shall seize hold of him, and make a circle around him with mine arms, there is not who shall take him away panting as to his sides, until he release me the woman. But if however I fail of this capture, and he come not to the clottered mass of blood, I will go a journey beneath to the sunless mansions of Cora and her king, and will prefer my request; and I trust that I shall bring up Alcestis, so as to place her in the hands of that host, who received me into his house, nor drove me away, although struck with a heavy calamity, but concealed it, noble as he was, having respect unto me. Who of the Thessalians is more hospitable than he? Who that dwelleth in Greece? Wherefore he shall not say, that he did a service to a worthless man, himself being noble.


ADM. Alas! alas! O hateful approach, and hateful prospect of this widowed house. Oh me! Alas! alas! whither can I go! where rest! what can I say! and what not! would that I could perish! Surely my mother brought me forth to heavy fortune. I count the dead happy, them I long for! those houses I desire to dwell in: for neither delight I in viewing the sunbeams, nor treading with my foot upon the earth; of such a hostage has death robbed me, and delivered up to Pluto.

CHOR. Advance, advance; go into the recesses of the house.

(ADM. Oh! Oh!)

Thou hast suffered things that demand groans.

(ADM. Alas! alas!)

Thou hast gone through grief, I well know.

(ADM. Woe! Woe!)

Thou nothing aidest her that is beneath.

(ADM. Ah me! me!)

Never to see thy dear wife's face again before thee, is severe.

ADM. Thou hast made mention of that which ulcerated my soul; for what can be greater ill to man than to lose his faithful wife? Would that I never had married and dwelt with her in the palace. But I judge happy those, who are unmarried and childless; for theirs is one only life, for this to grieve is a moderate burden: but to behold the diseases of children, and the bridal bed wasted by death, is not supportable, when it were in one's power to be without children and unmarried the whole of life.

CHOR. Fate, fate hard to be struggled with hath come.

(ADM. Oh! Oh!)

But puttest thou no bound to thy sorrows?

(ADM. Alas! alas!)

Heavy are they to bear, but still

(ADM. Woe! woe!)

endure, thou art not the first man that hast lost

(ADM. Ah me! me!)

thy wife; but calamity appearing afflicts different men in different shapes.

ADM. O lasting griefs, and sorrows for our friends beneath the earth!—Why did you hinder me from throwing myself[41] into her hallowed grave, and from lying dead with her, by far the most excellent woman? And Pluto would have retained instead of one, two most faithful souls having together passed over the infernal lake.

CHOR. I had a certain kinsman, whose son worthy to be lamented, an only child, died in his house; but nevertheless he bore his calamity with moderation, being bereft of child, though now hastening to gray hairs, and advanced in life.

ADM. O house, how can I enter in? and how dwell in thee now my fortune has undergone this change? Ah me! for there is great difference between: then indeed with Pelian torches, and with bridal songs I entered in, bearing the hand of my dear wife, and there followed a loud-shouting revelry hailing happy both her that is dead and me, inasmuch as being noble, and born of illustrious parents both, we were united together: but now the groan instead of hymeneals, and black array instead of white robes, usher me in to my deserted couch.

CHOR. This grief came quick on happy fortune to thee unschooled in evil: but thou hast saved thy life. Thy wife is dead, she left her love behind: what new thing this? Death has ere this destroyed many wives.

ADM. My friends, I deem the fortune of my wife more happy than mine own, even although these things appear not so. For her indeed no grief shall ever touch, and she hath with glory ceased from many toils. But I, who ought not to have lived, though I have scaped destiny, shall pass a bitter life; I but now perceive. For how can I bear the entering into this house? Whom speaking to, or by whom addressed,[42] can I have joy in entering? Whither shall I turn me? For the solitude within will drive me forth, when I see the place where my wife used to lie, empty, and the seat whereon she used to sit, and the floor throughout the house all dirty, and when my children falling about my knees weep their mother, and they lament their mistress, thinking what a lady they have lost from out of the house. Such things within the house; but abroad the nuptials of the Thessalians and the assemblies full of women will torture me: for I shall not be able to look on the companions of my wife. But whoever is mine enemy will say thus of me: "See that man, who basely lives, who dared not to die, but giving in his stead her, whom he married, escaped Hades, (and then does he seem to be a man?) and hates his parents, himself not willing to die."—Such report shall I have in addition to my woes; why then is it the more honorable course for me to live, my friends, having an evil character and an evil fortune?

CHOR. I too have both been borne aloft through song, and having very much handled arguments have found nothing more powerful than Necessity: nor is there any cure in the Thracian tablets which Orpheus[43] wrote, nor among those medicines, which Phoebus gave the sons of AEsculapius, dispensing[44] them to wretched mortals. But neither to the altars nor to the image of this Goddess alone, is it lawful to approach, she hears not victims. Do not, O revered one, come on me more severe, than hitherto in my life. For Jove, whatever he have assented to, with thee brings this to pass. Thou too perforce subduest the iron among the Chalybi; nor has thy rugged spirit any remorse.

And thee, Admetus, the Goddess hath seized in the inevitable grasp of her hand; but bear it, for thou wilt never by weeping bring back on earth the dead from beneath. Even the sons of the Gods by stealth begotten perish in death. Dear she was while she was with us, and dear even now when dead. But thou didst join to thy bed[45] the noblest wife of all women. Nor let the tomb of thy wife be accounted as the mound over the dead that perish, but let it be honored equally with the Gods, a thing for travelers to adore:[46] and some one, going out of his direct road, shall say thus: "She in olden time died for her husband, but now she is a blest divinity: Hail, O adored one, and be propitious!" Such words will be addressed to her.—And lo! here comes, as it seems, the son of Alcmena to thy house, Admetus.


HER. One should speak freely to a friend, Admetus, and, not in silence keep within our bosoms what we blame. Now I thought myself worthy as a friend to stand near thy calamities, and to search them out;[47] but thou didst not tell me that it was thy wife's corse that demanded thy attention; but didst receive me in thy house, as though occupied in grief for one not thine. And I crowned my head and poured out to the Gods libations in thy house which had suffered this calamity. And I do blame thee, I blame thee, having met with this treatment! not that I wish to grieve thee in thy miseries. But wherefore I am come, having turned back again, I will tell thee. Receive and take care of this woman for me, until I come hither driving the Thracian mares, having slain the king of the Bistonians. But if I meet with what I pray I may not meet with, (for may I return!) I give thee her as an attendant of thy palace. But with much toil came she into my hands; for I find some who had proposed a public contest for wrestlers, worthy of my labors, from whence I bear off her, having received her as the prize of my victory; for those who conquered in the lighter exercises had to receive horses, but those again who conquered in the greater, the boxing and the wrestling, cattle, and a woman was added to these; but in me, who happened to be there, it had been base to neglect this glorious gain. But, as I said, the woman ought to be a care to you, for I am come not having obtained her by stealth, but with labor; but at some time or other thou too wilt perhaps commend me for it.

ADM. By no means slighting thee, nor considering thee among mine enemies, did I conceal from thee the unhappy fate of my wife; but this had been a grief added to grief, if thou hadst gone to the house of another host: but it was sufficient for me to weep my own calamity. But the woman, if it is in any way possible, I beseech thee, O king, bid some one of the Thessalians, who has not suffered what I have, to take care of (but thou hast many friends among the Pheraeans) lest thou remind me of my misfortunes. I can not, beholding her in the house, refrain from weeping; add not a sickness to me already sick; for I am enough weighed down with misery. Where besides in the house can a youthful woman be maintained? for she is youthful, as she evinces by her garb and her attire; shall she then live in the men's apartment? And how will she be undefiled, living among young men? A man in his vigor, Hercules, it is no easy thing to restrain; but I have a care for thee. Or can I maintain her, having made her enter the chamber of her that is dead? And how can I introduce her into her bed? I fear a double accusation, both from the citizens, lest any should convict me of having betrayed my benefactress, and lying in the bed of another girl; and I ought to have much regard toward the dead (and she deserves my respect). But thou, O lady, whoever thou art, know that thou hast the same size of person with Alcestis, and art like her in figure. Ah me! take by the Gods this woman from mine eyes, lest you destroy me already destroyed. For I think, when I look upon her, that I behold my wife; and it agitates my heart, and from mine eyes the streams break forth; O unhappy I, how lately did I begin to taste this bitter grief!

CHOR. I can not indeed speak well of thy fortune; but it behooves thee, whatever thou art, to bear with firmness the dispensation of the Gods.

HER. Oh would that I had such power as to bring thy wife to the light from the infernal mansions, and to do this service for thee!

ADM. Well know I that thou hast the will: but how can this be? It is not possible for the dead to come into the light.

HER. Do not, I pray, go beyond all bound, but bear it decently,

ADM. Tis easier to exhort, than suffering to endure.

HER. But what advantage can you gain if you wish to groan forever?

ADM. I know that too myself; but a certain love impels me.

HER. For to love one that is dead draws the tear.

ADM. She hath destroyed me, and yet more than my words express.

HER. Thou hast lost an excellent wife; who will deny it?

ADM. Ay, so that I am no longer delighted with life.

HER. Time will soften the evil, but now it is yet in its vigor[48] on thee.

ADM. Time thou mayst say, if to die be time.

HER. A wife will bid it cease, and the desire of a new marriage.

ADM. Hold thy peace—What saidst thou? I could not have supposed it.

HER. But why? what, wilt not marry, but pass a widowed life alone?

ADM. There is no woman that shall lie with me.

HER. Dost thou think that thou art in aught benefiting her that is dead?

ADM. Her, wherever she is, I am bound to honor.

HER. I praise you indeed, I praise you; but you incur the charge of folly.

ADM. Praise me, or praise me not; for you shall never call me bridegroom.

HER. I do praise thee, because thou art a faithful friend to thy wife.

ADM. May I die, when I forsake her, although she is not!

HER. Receive then this noble woman into thine house.

ADM. Do not, I beseech thee by thy father Jove.

HER. And yet you will be acting wrong, if you do not this.

ADM. Yes, and if I do it, I shall have my heart gnawed with sorrow.

HER. Be prevailed upon: perhaps this favor may be proved a duty.

ADM. Ah! would that you had never borne her off from the contest!

HER. Yet with me conquering thou'rt victorious too.

ADM. Thou hast well spoken; but let the woman depart.

HER. She shall depart, if it is needful; but first see whether it be needful.

ADM. It is needful, if thou at least dost not mean to make me angry.

HER. I too have this desire, for I know somewhat.

ADM. Conquer then. Thou dost not however do things pleasing to me.

HER. But some time or other thou wilt praise me; only be persuaded.

ADM. Lead her in, if I must receive her in my house.

HER. I will not deliver up the woman into the charge of the servants.

ADM. But do thou thyself lead her into the house if it seems fit.

HER. I then will give her into thine hands.

ADM. I will not touch her; but she is at liberty to enter the house.

HER. I trust her to thy right hand alone.

ADM. O king, thou compellest me to do this against my will.

HER. Dare to stretch out thy hand and touch the stranger.

ADM. And in truth I stretch it out, as I would to the Gorgon with her severed head.[49]

HER. Have you her?

ADM. I have.

HER. Then keep her fast; and some time or other thou wilt say that the son of Jove is a generous guest. But look on her, whether she seems aught to resemble thy wife; and being blest leave off from thy grief.

ADM. O Gods, what shall I say? An unexpected wonder this! Do I truly see here my wife, or does the mocking joy of the Deity strike me from my senses?

HER. It is not so; but thou beholdest here thy wife.

ADM. Yet see, whether this be not a phantom from the realms beneath.

HER. Thou hast not made thine host an invoker of spirits.

ADM. But do I behold my wife, whom I buried?

HER. Be well assured thou dost; but I wonder not at thy disbelief of thy fortune.

ADM. May I touch her, may I speak to her as my living wife?[50]

HER. Speak to her; for thou hast all that thou desirest.

ADM. O face and person of my dearest wife, have I thee beyond my hopes, when I thought never to see thee more?

HER. Thou hast: but take care there be no envy of the Gods.

ADM. O noble son of the most powerful Jove, mayst thou be blest, and may thy father, who begot thee, protect thee, for thou alone hast restored me! How didst thou bring her from beneath into this light!

HER. Having fought a battle with the prince of those beneath.

ADM. Where dost thou say thou didst have this conflict with Death!

HER. At the tomb itself, having seized him from ambush with my hands.

ADM. But why, I pray, does this woman stand here speechless?

HER. It is not yet allowed thee to hear her address thee, before she is unbound from her consecrations[51] to the Gods beneath, and the third day come. But lead her in, and as thou oughtest, henceforward, Admetus, continue in thy piety with respect to strangers. And farewell! But I will go and perform the task that is before me for the imperial son of Sthenelus.

ADM. Stay with us, and be a companion of our hearth.

HER. This shall be some time hence, but now I must haste.

ADM. But mayst thou be prosperous, and return on thy journey back. But to the citizens, and to all the tetrarchy I issue my commands, that they institute dances in honor of these happy events, and make the altars odorous with their sacrifices of oxen that accompany their vows. For now are we placed in a better state of life than the former one: for I will not deny that I am happy.

CHOR. Many are the shapes of the things the deities direct, and many things the Gods perform contrary to our expectations. And those things which we looked for are not accomplished; but the God hath brought to pass things not looked for. Such hath been the event of this affair.

* * * * *


[1] Lactant. i. 10. "Quid Apollo? Nonne ... turpissime gregem pavit alienum?" B.

[2] Hygin. Fab. li. "Apollo ab eo in servitutem liberaliter acceptus." B.

[3] Cf. Hippol. 1437. B.

[4] No one will, I believe, object to this translation of [Greek: THANATOS]; it seems rather a matter of surprise that Potter has kept the Latin ORCUS, a name clearly substituted as the nearest to [Greek: THANATOS] of the masculine gender.

[5] Cf. AEsch. Eum. 723 sqq. B.

[6] It was customary to bury those, who died advanced in years, with greater magnificence than young persons.

[7] The horses of Diomed, king of Thrace. The construction is, [Greek: Eurystheos pempsantos [auton] meta hippeion ochema [axonta] ek topon dyschei meron Threikes]. MONK.

[8] On this custom, see Monk, and Lomeier de Lustrationibus Sec. xxviii. B.

[9] Perhaps, "as though all were over," B.

[10] Casaubon on Theophr. Sec. 16, observes that it was customary to place a large vessel filled with lustral water before the doors of a house during the time the corpse was lying out, with which every one who came out sprinkled himself. See also Monk's note, Kirchmann de Funeribus, iii. 9. The same custom was observed on returning from the funeral. See Pollux, viii. 7. p. 391, ed. Seber. B.

[11] See Dindorf. B.

[12] Potterus, Arch. Gr. mortuos a Graecis [Greek: pronopeis] vocari tradit, quod solebant ex penitiore aedium parte produci, ac in vestibulo, i.e. [Greek: pronopioi] collocari: atque hunc locum adducit, sed frustra, ut opinor. Non enim mortua jam erat, nec producta, sed, ut recte hanc vocem interpretatur schol. [Greek: eis thanaton proneneukyia], i.e. morti propinqua. Proprie [Greek: pronopes] is dicitur, qui corpore prono ad terram fertur, ut AEschyl. Agam. 242. Inde, quia moribundi virium defectu terram petere solent, ad hos designandos translatum est. KUINOEL.

[13] The old word "dizening" is perhaps the most literal translation of [Greek: kosmos], which, however, here means the whole preparations for the funeral. Something like it is implied in Hamlet, v. 1.

... her virgin rites, Her maiden strewments, and the bringing home Of bell and burial. B.

[14] Aristophanes is almost too bad in his burlesque, Equit. 1251. [Greek: se d' allos tis labon kektesetai, kleptes men ouk an mallon, eutyches d' hisos]. B.

[15] Some would translate [Greek: pronopes] in the same manner as in verse 144.

[16] Conf. Ter.: Phorm. iv. 4, 5. Opera tua ad restim mihi quidem res rediit planissume.

[17] Perhaps it is unnecessary to remark, that [Greek: abioton] agrees with [Greek: bion] implied in [Greek: bioteusei].

[18] [Greek: horai] scilicet [Greek: helios]. MONK.

[19] Cf. Hippol. 1372. B.

[20] It must be remembered that to survive one's children was considered the greatest of misfortunes. Cf. Plaut. Mil. Glor. l. 1. "Ita ut tuum vis unicum gnatum tuae Superesse vitae, sospitem et superstitem." B.

[21] Kuinoel carries on the interrogation to [Greek: gamous], and Buchanan has translated it according to this punctuation. Monk compares Iliad, p. 95; [Greek: mepos me peristelos' hena polloi].

[22] Compare my note on AEsch. Ag. 414 sqq. B.

[23] These, my children.

[24] Reiske proposes to read [Greek: tethrippa de zeuge te kai]—And both from your chariot teams, and from your single horses cut the manes.

[25] This festival was celebrated in honor of Apollo at Sparta, from the seventh to the sixteenth day of the month Carneus. See Monk. B.

[26] On [Greek: liparais Athanais], see Monk. B.

[27] Literally, the duplicate of such a wife.

[28] [Greek: anax peltes], so [Greek: anax kopes] in AEsch. Pers. 384, of a rower. Wakefield compares Ovid's Clypei dominus septemplicis Ajax. MONK.

[29] Heath and Markland take [Greek: toi] for [Greek: tini].

[30] Cf. Theocrit. Id. i. 71 sqq. of Daphnis, [Greek: tenon men thoes, tenon lykoi orysanto, Tenon choi 'k drymoio leon aneklause thanonta ... pollai men par possi boes, polloi de te tauroi, pollai d' au damalai kai porties odyranto]. Virg. Ecl. v. 27 sqq. Calpurnius, Ecl. ii. 18. Nemesianus, Ecl. i. 74 sqq.; ii. 32. B.

[31] [Greek: arden ginetai apo tou airein. deloi de to phoraden]. Schol.

[32] Cf. Suppl. 773. [Greek: Aidou te molpas ekcheo dakryrroous, philous prosaudon, hon leleimmenos talas erema klaio]. See Gorius Monum. sive Columbar. Libert. Florent. mdccxxvii. p.186, who observes, "[Greek: chaire] was the accustomed salutation addressed to the dead. Catullus, Carm. xcvii. Accipe fraterno multum manantia fletu, atque in perpetuum frater HAVE, atque VALE." The same scholar compares a monument, apud Fabretti, cap. v. p. 392, n. 265,


which is very apposite to the present occasion. B.

[33] Wakefield reads [Greek: chaire kain Aidou domois]; having in his mind probably Hom. Il. [Greek: Ps]. 19. [Greek: Chaire moi ho Patrokle, kai ein Aidao domoisi].

[34] I should scarcely have observed that this is the proper sense of the imperfect, had not the former translator mistaken it. B.

[35] Cf. Iph. Taur. 244. [Greek: chernibas de kai katargmata ouk an phthanois an eutrepe poioumene]. B.

[36] An apparent allusion to the fable of Death and the Old Man. B

[37] Aristophanes' version of this line is, [Greek: o pai, tin aucheis, potera Lydon e Phryga Mormolyttesthai dokeis]. B.

[38] Turned by Aristophanes into an apology for beating one's father, Nub. 1415. [Greek: klaousi paides, patera d' ou klaein dokeis]. See Thesmoph. 194. B.

[39] Cf. AEsch. Choeph. sub init. and Gorius, Monum. Libert. p. 24. ad Tab. x. lit. A.

[40] Theocrit. i. 27. [Greek: Kai bathy kissybion keklysmenon hadei karoi, To peri men cheile mareuetai hypsothi kissos.] B.

[41] Hamlet, v. 1.

—Hold off the earth awhile, Till I have caught her once more in mine arms: [ leaps into the grave.] Now pile your dust upon the quick and dead. B.

[42] Cf. vs. 195. [Greek: hon ou proseipe kai proserrethe palin]. B.

[43] [Greek: Orpheia garys], a paraphrasis for [Greek: Orpheus].

[44] [Greek: antitemon, metaphorikos apo ton tas rhizas temnonton kai heuriskonton.] SCHOL. TR. Cf. on AEsch. Agam. 17. B.

[45] In Phavorinus, among the senses of [Greek: klisia] is [Greek: kline kai klineterion].

[46] It will be remembered that the tombs were built near the highways, with great magnificence, and sometimes very lofty, especially when near the sea-coast (cf. AEsch. Choeph. 351. D'Orville on Charit. lib. i. sub fin. Eurip. Hecub. 1273). They are often used as landmarks or milestones, as in Theocr. vi. 10, and as oratories or chapels, Apul. Florid, i. p.340, ed. Elm. B.

[47] This appears the most obvious sense, as connected with what follows. All the interpreters, however, translate it, I thought myself worthy, standing, as I did, near thy calamities,(i.e. near thee in thy calamities,) to be proved thy friend.

[48] In the same manner [Greek: hebai] is used in Orestes, 687, [Greek: hotan gar hebai demos eis orgen peson].

[49] i.e. the severed head of the Gorgon. Valckenaer observes, that this is an expression meaning facie aversa, and compares l. 465 of the Phoenissae.

[50] Winter's Tale, v. 3.

Start not: her actions shall be holy, as, You hear, my spell is lawful: do not shun her, Until you see her die again; for then You kill her double: Nay, present your hand: When she was young you woo'd her; now, in age, Is she become the suitor?

Compare also Much Ado about Nothing, v. 4. B.

[51] [Greek: haphagnizein] h. l. non purificare sed desecrare. Orcus enim, quando gladio totondisset Alcestidis capillos, eam diis manibus sacram dicaverat, quod diserte [Greek: hegnisai] appellat noster, vide 75—77. Contraria igitur aliqua ceremonia desecranda erat, antequam Admeto ejus consuetudine et colloquio frui liceret. HEATH.

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* * * *

Bacchus, the son of Jove by Semele, had made Thebes, his mother's birth-place, his favorite place of abode and worship. Pentheus, the then reigning king, who, as others say, preferred the worship of Minerva, slighted the new God, and persecuted those who celebrated his revels. Upon this, Bacchus excited his mother Agave, together with the sisters of Semele, Autonoe and Ino, to madness, and visiting Pentheus in disguise of a Bacchanal, was at first imprisoned, but, easily escaping from his bonds, he persuaded Pentheus to intrude upon the rites of the Bacchants. While surveying them from a lofty tree, the voice of Bacchus was heard inciting the Bacchants to avenge themselves upon the intruder, and they tore the miserable Pentheus piecemeal. The grief and banishment of Agave for her unwitting offense conclude the play.

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I, Bacchus, the son of Jove, am come to this land of the Thebans, whom formerly Semele, the daughter of Cadmus, brought forth, delivered by the lightning-bearing flame. And having taken a mortal form instead of a God's, I am present at the fountains of Dirce and the water of Ismenus. And I see the tomb of my thunder-stricken mother here near the palace, and the remnants of the house smoking, and the still living name of Jove's fire, the everlasting insult of Juno against my mother. But I praise Cadmus, who has made this place hallowed, the shrine of his daughter; and I have covered it around with the cluster-bearing leaf of the vine. And having left the wealthy lands of the Lydians and Phrygians, and the sun-parched plains of the Persians, and the Bactrian walls; and having come over the stormy land of the Medes, and the happy Arabia, and all Asia which lies along the coast of the salt sea, having fair-towered cities full of Greeks and barbarians mingled together; and there having danced and established my mysteries, that I might be a God manifest among men, I have come to this city first of the Grecian [cities,] and I have raised my shout first in Thebes of this land of Greece, fitting a deer-skin on my body, and taking a thyrsus in my hand, an ivy-clad[2] weapon, because the sisters of my mother, whom, it least of all became, said that I, Bacchus, was not born of Jove; but that Semele, having conceived by some mortal, charged the sin of her bed upon Jove, a trick of Cadmus; on which account they said that Jove had slain her, because she told a false tale about her marriage. Therefore I have now driven them from the house with frenzy, and they dwell on the mountain, insane of mind; and I have compelled them to wear the dress of my mysteries. And all the female seed of the Cadmeans, as many as are women, have I driven maddened from the house. And they, mingled with the sons of Cadmus, sit on the roofless rocks beneath the green pines. For this city must know, even though it be unwilling, that it is not initiated into my Bacchanalian rites, and that I plead the cause of my mother, Semele, in appearing manifest to mortals as a God whom she bore to Jove. Cadmus then gave his honor and power to Pentheus, born from his daughter, who fights against the Gods as far as I am concerned, and drives me from sacrifices, and in his prayers makes no mention of me; on which account I will show him and all the Thebans that I am a God. And having set matters here aright, manifesting myself, I will move to another land. But if the city of the Thebans should in anger seek by arms to bring down the Bacchae from the mountain, I, general of the Maenads, will join battle.[3] On which account I have changed my form to a mortal one, and transformed my shape into the nature of a man. But, O ye who have left Tmolus, the bulwark of Lydia; ye women, my assembly, whom I have brought from among the barbarians as assistants and companions to me; take your drums, your native instruments in the Phrygian cities, the invention of the mother Rhea[4] and myself, and coming beat them around this royal palace of Pentheus, that the city of Cadmus may see it. And I, with the Bacchae, going to the dells of Cithaeron, where they are, will share their dances.

CHOR. Coming from the land of Asia, having left the sacred Tmolus, I dance in honor of Bromius, a sweet labor and a toil easily borne, celebrating the god Bacchus. Who is in the way? who is in the way? who is in the halls? Let him depart. And let every one be pure as to his mouth speaking propitious things; for now I will with hymns celebrate Bacchus according to custom:—Blessed is he,[5] whoever being favored, knowing the mysteries of the gods, keeps his life pure, and has his soul initiated into the Bacchic revels, dancing o'er the mountains with holy purifications, and reverencing the mysteries of the mighty mother Cybele, and brandishing the thyrsus, and being crowned with ivy, serves Bacchus! Go, ye Bacchae; go, ye Bacchae, escorting Bromius, a God, the son of a God, from the Phrygian mountains to the broad streets of Greece! Bromius! whom formerly, being in the pains of travail, the thunder of Jove flying upon her, his mother cast from her womb, leaving life by the stroke of the thunder-bolt. And immediately Jupiter, the son of Saturn, received him in a chamber fitted for birth; and covering him in his thigh, shuts him with golden clasps hidden from Juno. And he brought him forth, when the Fates had perfected the horned God, and crowned him with crowns of snakes, whence the thyrsus-bearing Maenads are wont to cover their prey with their locks. O Thebes, thou nurse of Semele, crown thyself with ivy, flourish, flourish with the verdant yew bearing sweet fruit, and be ye crowned in honor of Bacchus with branches of oak or pine, and adorn your garments of spotted deer-skin with fleeces of white-haired sheep,[6] and sport in holy games with the insulting wands, straightway shall all the earth dance, when Bromius leads the bands to the mountain, to the mountain, where the female crowd abides, away from the distaff and the shuttle,[7] driven frantic by Bacchus. O dwelling of the Curetes, and ye divine Cretan caves,[8] parents to Jupiter, where the Corybantes with the triple helmet invented for me in their caves this circle o'erstretched with hide; and with the constant sweet-voiced breath of Phrygian pipes they mingled a sound of Bacchus, and put the instrument in the hand of Rhea, resounding with the sweet songs of the Bacchae. And hard by the raving satyrs went through the sacred rites of the mother Goddess. And they added the dances of the Trieterides;[9] in which Bacchus rejoices; pleased on the mountains, when after the running dance he falls upon the plain, having a sacred garment of deer-skin, seeking a sacrifice of goats, a raw-eaten delight,[10] on his way to the Phrygian, the Lydian mountains; and the leader is Bromius, Evoe![11] but the plain flows with milk, and flows with wine, and flows with the nectar of bees; and the smoke is as of Syrian frankincense. But Bacchus bearing a flaming torch of pine on his thyrsus, rushes about arousing in his course the wandering Choruses, and agitating them with shouts, casting his rich locks loose in the air,—and with his songs he shouts out such words as this: O go forth, ye Bacchae; O go forth, ye Bacchae, delight of gold-flowing Tmolus. Sing Bacchus 'neath the loud drums, Evoe, celebrating the God Evius in Phrygian cries and shouts. When the sweet-sounding sacred pipe sounds a sacred playful sound suited to the frantic wanderers, to the mountain, to the mountain—and the Bacchant rejoicing like a foal with its mother at pasture, stirs its swift foot in the dance.

TIRESIAS. Who at the doors will call out Cadmus from the house, the son of Agenor, who, leaving the city of Sidon, erected this city of the Thebans? Let some one go, tell him that Tiresias seeks him; but he himself knows on what account I come, and what agreement I, an old man, have made with him, yet older; to twine the thyrsi, and to put on the skins of deer, and to crown the head with ivy branches.

CADMUS. O dearest friend! how I, being in the house, was delighted, hearing your voice, the wise voice of a wise man; and I am come prepared, having this equipment of the God; for we needs must extol him, who is the son sprung from my daughter, Bacchus, who has appeared as a God to men, as much as is in our power. Whither shall I dance, whither direct the foot, and wave the hoary head? Do you lead me, you, an old man! O Tiresias, direct me, an old man; for you are wise. Since I shall never tire, neither night nor day, striking the earth with the thyrsus. Gladly we forget that we are old.

TI. You have the same feelings indeed as I; for I too feel young, and will attempt the dance.

CA. Then we will go to the mountain in chariots.[12]

TI. But thus the God would not have equal honor.

CA. I, an old man, will lead you, an old man.[13]

TI. The God will without trouble guide us thither.

CA. But shall we alone of the city dance in honor of Bacchus?

TI. [Ay,] for we alone think rightly, but the rest ill.

CA. We are long in delaying;[14] but take hold of my hand.

TI. See, take hold, and join your hand to mine.

CA. I do not despise the Gods, being a mortal.

TI. We do not show too much wiseness about the Gods. Our ancestral traditions, and those which we have kept throughout our life, no argument will overturn them; not if any one were to find out wisdom with the highest genius. Some one will say that I do not respect old age, being about to dance, having crowned my head with ivy; for the God has made no distinction as to whether it becomes the young man to dance, or the elder; but wishes to have common honors from all; but does not at all wish to be extolled by a few.

CA. Since you, O Tiresias, do not see this light, I will be to you an interpreter of things. Hither is Pentheus coming to the house in haste, the son of Echion, to whom I give power over the land. How fluttered he is! what strange thing will he say?

PENTHEUS. I happened to be at a distance from this land, and I hear of strange evils in this city, that the women have left our palace in mad-wandering Bacchic rites; and that they are rushing about in the shady mountains, honoring with dances this new God Bacchus, whoever he is; and that full goblets stand in the middle of their assemblies, and that flying each different ways into secrecy, they yield to the embraces of men, on pretence, indeed, as [being] worshiping Maenads; but that they consider Venus before Bacchus. As many then as I have taken, the servants keep them bound as to their hands in the public strong-holds, and as many as are absent I will hunt from the mountain, Ino, and Agave who bore me to Echion, and the mother of Actaeon, I mean Autonoe; and having bound them in iron fetters, I will soon stop them from this ill-working revelry. And they say that some stranger has come hither, a juggler, a charmer, from the Lydian land, fragrant in hair with golden curls, florid, having in his eyes the graces of Venus, who days and nights is with them, alluring the young maidens with Bacchic mysteries—but if I catch him under this roof, I will stop him from making a noise with the thyrsus, and waving his hair, by cutting off his neck from his body. He says he is the God Bacchus, [He was once on a time sown in the thigh of Jove,[15] ] who was burned in the flame of lightning, together with his mother, because she falsely claimed nuptials with Jove. Are not these things deserving of a terrible halter, for a stranger to insult us with these insults, whoever he be? But here is another marvel—I see Tiresias the soothsayer, in dappled deer-skins, and the father of my mother, most great absurdity, raging about with a thyrsus—I deprecate it, O father, seeing your old age destitute of sense; will you not dash away the ivy?[16] will you not, O father of my mother, put down your hand empty of the thyrsus? Have you persuaded him to this, O Tiresias? do you wish, introducing this new God among men, to examine birds and to receive rewards for fiery omens? If your hoary old age did not defend you, you should sit as a prisoner in the midst of the Bacchae, for introducing these wicked rites; for where the joy of the grape-cluster is present at a feast of women, I no longer say any thing good of their mysteries.

CHOR. Alas for his impiety! O host, do you not reverence the Gods! and being son of Echion, do you disgrace your race and Cadmus, who sowed the earth-born crop?

TI. When any wise man takes a good occasion for his speech, it is not a great task to speak well; but you have a rapid tongue, as if wise, but in your words there is no wisdom; but a powerful man, when bold, and able to speak, is a bad citizen if he has not sense. And this new God, whom you ridicule, I am unable to express how great he will be in Greece. For, O young man, two things are first among men; Ceres, the goddess, and she is the earth, call her whichever name you will.[17] She nourishes mortals with dry food; but he who is come as a match to her, the son of Semele, has invented the liquid drink of the grape, and introduced it among mortals, which delivers miserable mortals from grief,[18] when they are filled with the stream of the vine; and gives sleep an oblivion of daily evils: nor is there any other medicine for troubles. He who is a God is poured out in libations to the Gods, that by his means men may have good things—and you laugh at him, as to how he was sewn up in the thigh of Jove; I will teach you that this is well—when Jove snatched him out of the lightning flame, and bore him, a young infant, up to Olympus, Juno wished to cast him down from heaven; but Jove had a counter contrivance, as being a God. Having broken a part of the air which surrounds the earth, he placed in it, giving him as a pledge, Bacchus, safe from Juno's enmity; and in time, mortals say, that he was nourished in the thigh of Jove; changing his name, because a God gave him formerly as a pledge to a Goddess, they having made agreement.[19] But this God is a prophet—for Bacchanal excitement and frenzy have much divination in them.[20] For when the God comes violent[21] into the body, he makes the frantic to foretell the future; and he also possesses some quality of Mars; for terror flutters sometimes an army under arms and in its ranks, before they touch the spear; and this also is a frenzy from Bacchus. Then you shall see him also on the Delphic rocks, bounding with torches along the double-pointed district, tossing about, and shaking the Bacchic branch, mighty through Greece. But be persuaded by me, O Pentheus; do not boast that sovereignty has power among men, nor, even if you think so, and your mind is disordered, believe that you are at all wise. But receive the God into the land, and sacrifice to him, and play the Bacchanal, and crown your head. Bacchus will not compel women to be modest[22] with regard to Venus, but in his nature modesty in all things is ever innate. This you must needs consider, for she who is modest will not be corrupted by being at Bacchanalian revels. Dost see? Thou rejoicest when many stand at thy gates, and the city extols the name of Pentheus; and he, I ween, is pleased, when honored. I, then, and Cadmus whom you laugh to scorn, will crown ourselves with ivy, and dance, a hoary pair; but still we must dance; and I will not contend against the Gods, persuaded by your words—for you rave most grievously; nor can you procure any cure from medicine, nor are you now afflicted beyond their power.[23]

CHOR. O old man, thou dost not shame Apollo by thy words, and honoring Bromius, the mighty God, thou art wise.

CAD. My son, well has Tiresias advised you; dwell with us, not away from the laws. For now you flit about, and though wise are wise in naught; for although this may not be a God, as you say, let it be said by you that he is; and tell a glorious falsehood, that Semele may seem to have borne a God, and that honor may redound to all our race. You see the hapless fate of Actaeon,[24] whom his blood-thirsty hounds, whom he had reared up, tore to pieces in the meadows, having boasted that he was superior in the chase to Diana. This may you not suffer; come, that I may crown thy head with ivy, with us give honor to the God—

PEN. Do not bring your hand toward me; but departing, play the Bacchanal, and wipe not off your folly on me; but I will follow up with punishment this teacher of your madness; let some one go as quickly as possible, and going to his seat where he watches the birds, upset and overthrow it with levers, turning every thing upside down; and commit his crowns to the winds and storms; for doing this, I shall gnaw him most. And some of you going along the city, track out this effeminate stranger, who brings this new disease upon women, and pollutes our beds. And if you catch him, convey him hither bound; that meeting with a judgment of stoning he may die, having seen a bitter revelry of Bacchus in Thebes.

TI. O wretched man! how little knowest thou what thou sayest! You are mad now, and before you was out of your mind. Let us go, O Cadmus, and entreat the God, on behalf of him, savage though he be, and on behalf of the city, to do him no ill: but follow me with the ivy-clad staff, and try to support my body, and I will yours; for it would be shameful for two old men to fall down: but let that pass, for we must serve Bacchus, the son of Jove; but beware lest Pentheus bring grief into thy house, O Cadmus. I do not speak in prophecy, but judging from the state of things, for a foolish man says foolish things.

CHOR. O holy venerable Goddess! holy, who bearest thy golden pinions along the earth, hearest thou these words of Pentheus? Hearest thou his unholy insolence against Bromius, the son of Semele, the first deity of the Gods, at the banquets where the guests wear beautiful chaplets! who has this office, to join in dances, and to laugh with the flute, and to put an end to cares, when the juice of the grape comes at the feast of the Gods, and in the ivy-bearing banquets the goblet sheds sleep over man? Of unbridled mouths and lawless folly misery is the end, but the life of quiet and wisdom remains unshaken, and supports a house; for the heavenly powers are afar indeed, but still inhabiting the air, they behold the deeds of mortals. But cleverness[25] is not wisdom, nor is the thinking on things unfit for mortals. Life is short; and in it who, pursuing great things, would not enjoy the present? These are the manners of maniacs; and of ill-disposed men, in my opinion. Would that I could go to Cyprus, the island of Venus, where the Loves dwell, soothing the minds of mortals, and to Paphos, which the waters of a foreign river flowing with an hundred[26] mouths, fertilize without rain—and to the land of Pieria, where is the beautiful seat of the Muses, the holy hill of Olympus. Lead me thither, O Bromius, Bromius, O master thou of Bacchanals! There are the Graces, and there is Love, and there is it lawful for the Bacchae to celebrate their orgies; the God, the son of Jove, delights in banquets, and loves Peace, giver of riches, the Goddess the nourisher of youths. And both to the rich and the poor[27] has she granted to enjoy an equal delight from wine, banishing grief; and he who does not care for these things, hates to lead a happy life by day and by friendly night—but it is wise[28] to keep away the mind and intellect proceeding from over-curious men; what the baser multitude thinks and adopts, that will I say.

SERVANT. Pentheus, we are here; having caught this prey, for which you sent us: nor have we gone in vain; but the beast was docile in our hands, nor did he withdraw his foot in flight, but yielded not unwillingly; nor did he [turn] pale nor change his wine-complexioned cheek, but laughing, allowed us to bind and lead him away; and remained still, making my work easy; and I for shame said, O stranger, I do not take you of my own will, but by order of Pentheus who sent me. And the Bacchae whom you shut up, whom you carried off and bound in the chains of the public prison, they being set loose are escaped, and are dancing in the meadows, invoking Bromius as their God, and of their own accord the fetters were loosed from their feet, and the keys opened the doors without mortal hand, and full of many wonders is this man come to Thebes; but the rest must be thy care.

PEN. Take hold of him by the hands; for being in the toils, he is not so swift as to escape me: but in your body you are not ill-formed, O stranger, for women's purposes, on which account you have come to Thebes. For your hair is long, not through wrestling, scattered over your cheeks, full of desire, and you have a white skin from careful preparation; hunting after Venus by your beauty not exposed to strokes of the sun, but [kept] beneath the shade. First then tell me who thou art in family.

BAC. There is no boast; but this is easy to say; thou knowest by hearsay of the flowery Tmolus?

PEN. I know, [the hill] which surrounds the city of Sardis.

BAC. Thence am I; and Lydia is my country.

PEN. And whence do you bring these rites into Greece?

BAC. Bacchus persuaded us, the son of Jove.

PEN. Is Jove then one who begets new Gods?

BAC. No, but having married Semele here,—

PEN. Did he compel you by night, or in your sight [by day]?

BAC. Seeing me who saw him; and he gave me orgies.

PEN. And what appearance have these orgies?

BAC. It is unlawful for the uninitiated among mortals to know.

PEN. And have they any profit to those who sacrifice?

BAC. It is not lawful for you to hear, but they are worth knowing.

PEN. You have well coined this story, that I may wish to hear.

BAC. The orgies of the God hate him who works impiety.

PEN. For you say, forsooth, that you saw the God clearly what he was like?

BAC. As he chose; I did not order this.

PEN. This too you have well contrived, saying mere nonsense.

BAC. One may seem, speaking wisely to one ignorant, not to be wise.

PEN. And did you come hither first, bringing the God?

BAC. Every one of the barbarians celebrates these orgies.

PEN. [Ay,] for they are much less wise than Greeks.

BAC. In these things they are wiser, but their laws are different.

PEN. Do you practice these rites at night, or by day?

BAG. Most of them at night;[29] darkness conveys awe.

PEN. This is treacherous toward women, and unsound.

BAC. Even by day some may devise base things.

PEN. You must pay the penalty of your evil devices.

BAC. And you of your ignorance, being impious to the God.

PEN. How bold is Bacchus, and not unpracticed in speech.

BAC. Say what I must suffer, what ill wilt thou do me?

PEN. First I will cut off your delicate hair.

BAC. The hair is sacred, I cherish it for the God.[30]

PEN. Next yield up this thyrsus out of your hands.

BAC. Take it from me yourself, I bear it as the ensign of Bacchus.

PEN. And we will guard your body within in prison.

BAC. The God himself will release me when I wish.[31]

PEN. Ay, when you call him, standing among the Bacchae.

BAC. Even now, being near, he sees what I suffer.

PEN. And where is he? for at least he is not apparent to my eyes.

BAC. Near me, but you being impious, see him not.

PEN. Seize him, he insults me and Thebes!

BAC. I warn you not to bind me: I in my senses command you not in your senses.

PEN. And I bid them to bind you, as being mightier than you.

BAC. You know not why you live, nor what you do, nor who you are.

PEN. Pentheus, son of Agave, and of my father Echion.

BAC. You are suited to be miserable according to your name.[32]

PEN. Begone! confine him near the stable of horses that he may behold dim darkness! There dance; and as for these women whom you bring with you, the accomplices in your wickedness, we will either sell them away, or stopping their hand from this noise and beating of skins, I will keep them as slaves at the loom.

BAC. I will go—for what is not right it is not right to suffer; but as a punishment for these insults Bacchus shall pursue you, who you say exists not; for, injuring us, you put him in bonds.

CHOR. O daughter of Achelous, venerable Dirce, happy virgin, for thou didst receive the infant of Jove in thy fountains when Jove who begat him saved him in his thigh from the immortal fire; uttering this shout: Go, O Dithyrambus, enter this my male womb, I will make you illustrious, O Bacchus, in Thebes, so that they shall call you by this name. But you, O happy Dirce, reject me having a garland-bearing company about you. Why dost thou reject me? Why dost thou avoid me? Yet, I swear by the clustering delights of the vine of Bacchus, yet shall you have a care for Bacchus. What rage, what rage does the earth-born race show, and Pentheus once descended from the dragon, whom the earth-born Echion begat, a fierce-faced monster, not a mortal man, but like a bloody giant, an enemy to the Gods, who will soon bind me, the handmaid of Bacchus, in halters, he already has within the house my fellow-reveler, hidden in a dark prison. Dost thou behold this, O son of Jove, Bacchus, thy prophets in the dangers of restraint? Come, O thou of golden face, brandishing your thyrsus along Olympus, and restrain the insolence of the blood-thirsty man. Where art thou assembling thy bands of thyrsus-bearers, O Bacchus, is it near Nysa which nourishes wild beasts, or in the summits of Corycus?[33] or perhaps in the deep-wooded lairs of Olympus, where formerly Orpheus playing the lyre drew together the trees by his songs, collected the beasts of the fields; O happy Pieria, Evius respects you, and will come to lead the dance with revelings having crossed the swiftly-flowing Axius, he will bring the dancing Maenads, and [leaving] Lydia[34] the giver of wealth to mortals, and the father whom I have heard fertilizes the country renowned for horses with the fairest streams.

BAC. Io! hear ye, hear ye my song, Io Bacchae! O Bacchae!

CHOR. Who is here, who? from what quarter did the shout of Evius summon me?

BAC. Io, Io, I say again! I, the son of Semele, the son of Jove!

CHOR. Io! Io! Master, master! come now to our company. O Bromius! Bromius! Shake this place, O holy Earth![35] O! O! quickly will the palace of Pentheus be shaken in ruin—Bacchus is in the halls. Worship him. We worship him. Behold these stone buttresses shaken with their pillars. Bacchus will shout in the palace.

BAC. Light the burning fiery lamp; burn, burn the house of Pentheus.

SEM. Alas! Dost thou not behold the fire, nor perceive around the sacred tomb of Semele the flame which formerly the bolt-bearing thunder of Jupiter left?

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