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Alcestis   


ADMETUS
To-day I must bury a dead body.
HERACLES
May a God avert harm from your children!
ADMETUS
The children I have begotten are alive in the house.
HERACLES
Your father was ripe for death-if it is he has gone?
ADMETUS
He lives-and she who brought me forth, O Heracles.
HERACLES
Your wife-Alcestis-she is not dead?
ADMETUS (evasively)
Of her I might make a double answer.
HERACLES
Do you mean that she is dead or alive?
ADMETUS (ambiguously)
She is and is not-and for this I grieve.
HERACLES (perplexed)
I am no wiser-you speak obscurely.
ADMETUS
Did you not know the fate which must befall her?
HERACLES
I know she submitted to die for you.
ADMETUS
How then can she be alive, having consented to this?
HERACLES
Ah! Do not weep for your wife till that time comes.
ADMETUS
Those who are about to die are dead, and the dead are nothing.
HERACLES
Men hold that to be and not to be are different things.
ADMETUS
You hold for one, Heracles, and I for the other.
HERACLES
Whom, then, do you mourn? Which of your friends is dead?
ADMETUS
A woman. We spoke of her just now.
HERACLES (mistaking his meaning)
A stranger? Or one born of your kin?
ADMETUS
A stranger, but one related to this house.
HERACLES
But how, then, did she chance to die in your house?
ADMETUS
When her father died she was sheltered here.
HERACLES
Alas! Would I had not found you in this grief, Admetus!
ADMETUS
What plan are you weaving with those words?
HERACLES
I shall go to the hearth of another friend.
ADMETUS
Not so, O King! This wrong must not be.
HERACLES (hesitating)
The coming of a guest is troublesome to those who mourn.
ADMETUS (decisively)
The dead are dead. Enter my house.
HERACLES
But it is shameful to feast among weeping friends.
ADMETUS
We shall put you in the guest-rooms, which are far apart.
HERACLES
Let me go, and I will give you a thousand thanks.

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