صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

If head and heart be sound in thee at least.
Uphold them, make them masters of my house,
Nor wed and give a step-dame to the pair,
Who, being a worse wife than I, through spite
Will raise her hand against both thine and mine;
Never do this at least, I pray to thee !

Farewell, be happy! And to thee, indeed,
Husband, the boast remains permissible,
Thou hadst a wife was worthy! and to you
Children, as good a mother gave you birth.

The chorus cheerfully undertake for Admetus that he will perform his wife's wishes. Admetus also answers up for himself. He mixes, it will be seen, a bitter dash of the unfilial with the overflowing sweet of his conjugal : Admetos. Fear not, and, since I had thee living, dead

Alone wilt thou be called my wife: no fear
That some Thessalian ever styles herself
Bride, hails this man for husband in thy place!

And I shall bear for thee no year-long grief,
But grief that lasts while my own days last, love-
Love, for my hate is she who bore me, now,
And him I hate, my father : loving ones,
Truly, in word, not deed! But thou didst pay
All dearest to thee down, and buy my life,
Saving me so! Is there not cause enough
That I, who part with such companionship
In thee, should make my moan?

But were the tongue and tune of Orpheus mine,
So that to Koré crying, or her lord,
In hymns, from Hades I might rescue thee,
Down would I go, and neither Plouton's dog
Nor Charon, he whose oar sends souls across,
Should stay me till again I made thee stand
Living, within the light! But, failing this,
There, where thou art, await me when I die,
Make ready our abode, my house-mate still !

For in the self-same cedar, me with thee,
Will I provide that these our friends shall place,
My side lay close by thy side! Never, corpse
Although I be, would I division bear

From thee, my faithful one of all the world!
Alkestis. O, children ! now yourselves have heard these things-

Your father saying he will never wed
Another woman to be over you,

Nor yet dishonor me!

And now at least
I say it, and I will accomplish too !
Alk. Then, for such promise of accomplishment,

Take from my hand these children !

Thus I take
Dear gift from the dear hand !

Do thou become
Mother, now, to these children in my place !
Adm. Great the necessity I should be so,

At least to these bereaved of thee !

Child-child !
Just when I needed most to live, below

Am I departing from you both!

Ah me !
And what shall I do then left lonely thus?
Alk. Time will appease thee : who is dead is naught.
Adm. Take me with thee: take, by the gods below!

Alk. We are sufficient, we who die for thee.
Adm. O, Powers ! ye widow me of what a wife !

Alk. And truly the dimmed eye draws earthward now !
Adm. Wife, if thou leav'st me, I am lost indeed !

Alk. She once was—now is nothing, thou may'st say.
Adm. Raise thy face, nor forsake thy children thus !
Alk. Ah, willingly indeed I leave them not !

But-fare ye well, my children !

Look on them-

I am nothingness.

What dost thou ! Leav'st
Alk. Farewell !

The most pathetic of the tragedians, Aristotle considers Euripides to be. Here, exercising good art, the poet prolongs the pathos of the scene of death with additional exclamations from Admetus, from the children, and from the chorus of bystanders. Admetus bids his Thessalian subjects share his grief with him. They must clip their own locks, and shear their horses' manes. Twelve months they must refrain from cheerful music.

The chorus hereupon chant, moving in mystic dance the while, as follows (for this lyric strain we use Mr. Potter's rhymed version) :


Immortal bliss be thine,
Daughter of Pelias, in the realms below ;

Immortal pleasures round thee flow,
Though never there the sun's bright beams shall shine.

Be the black-brow'd Pluto told,

And the Stygian boatman old,
Whose rude hands grasp the oar, the rudder guide,

The dead conveying o'er the tide,
Let him he told, so rich a freight before

His light skiff never bore:
Tell him, that o'er the joyless lakes
The noblest of her sex her dreary passage takes.


Thy praise the bards shall tell,
When to their hymning voice the echo rings ;

Or when they sweep the solemn strings,
And wake to rapture the seven-chorded shell ;

Or in Sparta's jocund bowers

Circling when the vernal hours
Bring the Carnean feast ; while through the night

Full-orb'd the high moon rolls her light;
Or where rich Athens, proudly elevate,

Shows her magnific state;
Their voice thy glorious death shall raise,
And swell the enraptured strain to celebrate thy praise.

O, that I had the power,
Could I but bring thee from the shades of night

Again to view this golden light,

To leave that boat, to leave that dreary shore,

Where Cocytus, deep and wide,

Rolls along his sullen tide!
For thou, O best of women, thou alone

For thy lord's life daredst give thy own.
Light lie the earth upon that gentle breast,

And be thou ever bless'd !
But should he choose to wed again,
Mine and thy children's hearts would hold him in disdain.


When, to avert his doom,
His mother in the earth refused to lie;

Nor would his ancient father die
To save his son from an untimely tomb;

Though the hand of time had spread

Hoar hairs o'er each aged head ;
In youth's fresh bloom, in beauty's radiant glow,

The darksome way thou daredst to go,
And for thy youthful lord's to give thy life.

Be mine so true a wife,
Though rare the lot : then should I prove
The indissoluble bond of faithfulness and love.

In the foregoing version of this Euripidean chorus, our readers have the opportunity of studying the symmetry, or correspondence in measure, between line and line, in strophe and antistrophe of the elaborate Greek choral ode.

The sorrowful monotony of the play now suffers a sudden, almost staggering, interruption. Heracles (Hercules) bursts in with a gruff and bluff heartiness of unconscious discord, which Mr. Browning well reproduces. He conceives this demigod as a great, wholesome-hearted, generous champion of mankind, feeding enormously, but not gluttonously, simply to repair the waste of his prodigious exertions on behalf of the suffering. He thus, through his Greek girl Balaustion puts a fine poetic gloss upon what otherwise would seem gross conduct on Heracles's part,


We must shorten the story of how Admetus concealed from Heracles the true situation of affairs and got him to stay as guest, under the impression that only a stranger woman of the house had died. Admetus did not quite lie outright to his guest-friend. Who is the man that has died ? inquires Heracles. Not a man-a woman, evades Admetus. Alien, then, or born kin of thine ? pursues Heracles. Alien, parries Admetus, though still related to my house. Bystanders and domestics are surprised to see Admetus insist at such cost on being hospitable to the stranger. However, the complaisant chorus laud the hospitality of the house in a strain which, fortunately, we are able to show our readers under a noble form given to it by one who signs only the initials “T. E. W." to this choice fragment of translation, published first as a contribution to the “ College Magazine," Dublin, October, 1857 :

Hail, house of the open door,

To the guest and the wanderer free!
The lord of the lyre himself of yore

Deigned to inhabit thee.
In thy halls disguised in his shepherd's weeds
He endured for a while to stay,

Through the upland rocks

To the feeding flocks
Piping his pastoral lay.
And the spotted lynx was tame

With the joy of the mighty spell ;
And a tawny troop, the lions came

From the leafy Othrys' dell;
And where the tall pines waved their locks,
Still as thy lute would play,

Light tripped fawn

O'er the level lawn
Entranced by the genial lay.

The house where the lord Admetus bides
Is blest for the Pythian's sake-
Fast by the shores that skirt the tides

Of the pleasant Beebian lake;

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