FAREWELL TO ALCESTIS (from "Alcestis")

by: Euripides

When the life of Admetus could be saved if some one would die in his stead, no one was found willing except his wife, Alcestis.

      AUGHTERS of Pelias, with farewell from me,
      I' the house of Hades have thy unsunned home!
      Let Hades know, the dark-haired deity,--
      And he who sits to row and steer alike,
      Old corpse-conductor, let him know he bears
      Over the Acherontian lake this time,
      I' the two-oared boat, the best, --oh, best by far
      Of womankind! For thee, Alkestis Queen,
      Many a time those haunters of the Muse
      Shall sing to thee the seven stringèd mountain-shell,
      And glorify in hymns that need no harp,
      At Sparta when the cycle comes about,
      And that Karneian month wherein the moon
      Rises and never sets the whole night through:
      So too at splendid and magnificent
      Athenai. Such the spread of thy renown,
      And such the lay that, dying, thou hast left
      Singer and sayer. Oh that I availed
      Of my own might to send thee once again
      From Hades' hall, Kokutos' stream, by help
      O' the oar that dips the river, back to-day!
      Light from above thee, lady, fall the earth,
      Thou only one of womankind to die,
      Wife for her husband! If Admetos take
      Any thing to him like a second spouse, --
      Hate from his offspring and from us shall be
      His portion, let the king assure himself!
      No mind his mother had to hide in earth
      Her body for her son's sake, nor his sire
      Had heart to save whom he begot, -- not they,
      The white-haired wretches! Only thou it was,
      I' the bloom of youth, didst save him and so die!
      Might it be mine to chance on such a mate
      And partner! For there's penury in life
      Of such allowance: were she mine at least,
      So wonderful a wife, assuredly
      She would companion me throughout my days
      And never once bring sorrow!

This English translation, by Robert Browning, of 'Farewell to Alcestis' is reprinted from Greek Poets in English Verse. Ed. William Hyde Appleton. Cambridge: The Riverside Press, 1893.




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