But your life and your spirit are safe.
She is dead,
She has left your love.
Is this so new?
Ere now many men
Death has severed from wives.
O friends, whatsoever may be thought by others, to me it seems
that my wife's fate is happier than mine. Now, no pain ever shall
touch her again; she has reached the noble end of all her
sufferings. But I, I who should have died, I have escaped my fate,
only to drag out a wretched life. Only now do I perceive it.
How shall I summon strength to enter this house? Whom shall I
greet? Who will greet me in joy at my coming? Whither shall I turn
my steps? I shall be driven forth by solitude when I see my bed
widowed of my wife, empty the chairs on which she sat, a dusty floor
beneath my roof, my children falling at my knees and calling for their
mother, and the servants lamenting for the noble lady lost from the
Such will be my life within the house. Without, I shall be
driven from marriage-feasts and gatherings of the women of Thessaly. I
shall not endure to look upon my wife's friends. Those who hate me
will say: 'See how he lives in shame, the man who dared not die, the
coward who gave his wife to Hades in his stead! Is that a man? He
hates his parents, yet he himself refused to die!'
This evil fame I have added to my other sorrows. O my friends,
what then avails it that I live, if I must live in misery and shame?
(He covers his head with his robe, and crouches
in abject misery on the steps of his Palace.)
I have lived with the Muses
And on lofty heights:
Many doctrines have I learned;
But Fate is above us all.
Nothing avails against Fate
Neither the Thracian tablets
Marked with Orphic symbols,
Nor the herbs given by Phoebus
To the children of Asclepius
To heal men of their sickness.
None can come near to her altars,
None worship her statues;
She regards not our sacrifice.
O sacred goddess,
Bear no more hardly upon me
Than in days overpast!
With a gesture Zeus judges,
But the sentence is yours.
Hard iron yields to your strength;
Your fierce will knows not gentleness.
And the Goddess has bound you
Ineluctably in the gyves of her hands.