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Alcestis   


You enjoyed all that a happy man can enjoy-you passed the flower
of your age as a king, and in me your son you had an heir to your
dominion; you would not have died childless, leaving an orphaned house
to be plundered by strangers. You will not say that you abandoned me
to death because I dishonoured your old age, for above all I was
respectful to you-and this is the gratitude I have from you and my
mother!
Beget more sons, and quickly, to cherish your old age and wrap you
in a shroud when dead and lay your body out in state! This hand of
mine shall not inter you. I am dead to you. I look upon the light of
day because another saved me-I say I am her son, and will cherish
her old age!
Vainly do old men pray for death, regretting their age and the
long span of life. If death draws near, none wants to die, and age
is no more a burden to him.
LEADER
Admetus! The present misfortune is enough. Do not provoke your
father's spirit.

(ADMETUS turns angrily to depart, but PHERES prevents him.)

PHERES
My son, do you think you are pursuing some hireling Lydian or
Phrygian with your taunts? Do you know I am a Thessalian, a free man
lawfully begotten by a Thessalian father? You are over-insolent, and
you shall not leave thus, after wounding me with your boyish
insults. I indeed begot you, and bred you up to be lord of this
land, but I am not bound to die for you. It is not a law of our
ancestors or of Hellas that the fathers should die for the children!
You were born to live your own life, whether miserable or fortunate;
and what is due to you from me you have. You rule over many men, and I
shall leave you many wide fields even as received them from my own
father. How, then, have I wronged you? Of what have I robbed you? Do
not die for me, any more than I die for you. You love to look upon the
light of day-do you think your father hates it? I tell myself that
we are a long time underground and that life is short, but sweet.
But you-you strove shamelessly not to die, and you are alive,
you shirked your fate by killing her! And you call me a coward, you,
the worst of cowards, surpassed by a woman who died for you, pretty
boy? And now you insult those who should be dear to you, when they
refuse to die for a coward like you!
Be silent! Learn that if you love your life, so do others. If
you utter insults, you shall hear many, and true ones too!
LEADER
These insults and those that went before suffice. Old man, cease
to revile your son.
ADMETUS (to PHERES)
Speak on! I shall refute you. If the truth wounds you when you
hear it you should not have wronged me.
PHERES
I should have wronged you far more if I had died for you.
ADMETUS
It is the same then to die an old man and in the flower of life?
PHERES
We should live one life, not two.
ADMETUS
May you live longer than God!
PHERES
Do you curse your parents when they have done you no wrong?
ADMETUS
I see you are in love with long life.
PHERES
But you are not carrying her dead body in place of your own?
ADMETUS

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