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Alcestis   


caring nothing for Admetus's misery, and we servants weeping for our
Queen; and yet we hid our tear-laden eyes from the guest, for so
Admetus had commanded.
And now in the Palace I must entertain this stranger, some
villainous thief and brigand, while she, the Queen I mourn, has gone
from the house unfollowed, unsaluted, she who was as a mother to me
and all us servants, for she sheltered us from a myriad troubles by
softening her husband's wrath.
Am I not right, then, to hate this stranger, who came to us in the
midst of sorrow?

(HERACLES comes from the Palace. He is drunkenly merry, with a
myrtle wreath on his head, and a large cup and wine-skin in his hands.
He staggers a little.)


HERACLES
Hey, you! Why so solemn and anxious? A servant should not be
sullen with guests, but greet them with a cheerful heart.
You see before you a man who is your lord's friend, and you
greet him with a gloomy, frowning face, because of your zeal about a
strange woman's death. Come here, and let me make you a little wiser!
(With drunken gravity) Know the nature of human life? Don't
think you do. You couldn't. Listen to me. All mortals must die.
Isn't one who knows if he'll be alive to-morrow morning. Who knows
where Fortune will lead? Nobody can teach it. Nobody learn it by
rules. So, rejoice in what you hear, and learn from me! Count each day
as it comes as Life-and leave the rest to Fortune. Above all, honour
the Love Goddess, sweetest of all the Gods to mortal men, a kindly
goddess! Put all the rest aside. Trust in what I say, if you think I
speak truth-as I believe. Get rid of this gloom, rise superior to
Fortune. Crown yourself with flowers and drink with me, won't you? I
know the regular clink of the wine-cup will row you from darkness
and gloom to another haven. Mortals should think mortal thoughts. To
all solemn and frowning men, life I say is not life, but a disaster.
SERVANT
We know all that, but what we endure here to-day is far indeed
from gladness and laughter.
HERACLES
But the dead woman was a stranger. Lament not overmuch, then,
for the Lords of this Palace are still alive.
SERVANT
How, alive? Do you not know the misery of this house?
HERACLES
Your lord did not lie to me?
SERVANT
He goes too far in hospitality!
HERACLES
But why should I suffer for a stranger's death?
SERVANT
It touches this house only too nearly.
HERACLES
Did he hide some misfortune from me?
SERVANT
Go in peace! The miseries of our lords concern us.
HERACLES
That speech does not imply mourning for a stranger!
SERVANT
No, or I should not have been disgusted to see you drinking.
HERACLES
Have I then been basely treated by my host?
SERVANT
You did not come to this house at a welcome hour. We are in
mourning. You see my head is shaved and the black garments I wear.
HERACLES

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