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Admetus
He turns away as he reaches out his hand behind him and grasps Alcestis' hand.
There, I stretch it out, as if I were cutting off a Gorgon's head.1

Heracles
Do you have her?

Admetus
Yes, I have her.

Heracles
Then keep her safe, and one day [1120] you will say that Zeus's son is a noble guest-friend.

Heracles throws back the veil to reveal Alcestis.
Look at her! See whether she bears any resemblance to your wife. Now that you are fortunate, cease your grieving!

Stepping back in astonishment

Admetus
O gods, what shall I say? Here is a wonder past all hoping. Is this truly my wife I see here, [1125] or does some delusive joy sent by a god steal my wits?

Heracles
It is none other: the woman you see here is your wife.

Admetus
Perhaps it is some ghost from the Underworld.

Heracles
No raiser of spirits is the man you made your guest-friend.

Admetus
But do I see my wife, whom I buried?

Heracles
[1130] Certainly, though I am not surprised that you disbelieve your luck.

Admetus
Shall I embrace and greet her as my living wife?

Heracles
Greet her. You have all your heart's desire.

Admetus
Grasping her once more
O face and form of the wife I love, I have you back against all expectation, never thinking to see you again!

Heracles
[1135] You have her. May no ill-will come from the gods!

Admetus
O noble son of mighty Zeus, may good fortune attend you, and may the father who begot you preserve your life! For you alone have raised up my fortunes. How did you bring her up from below to the light of day?

Heracles
[1140] I fought with the divinity who controlled her.

Admetus
Where, say you, did you join this battle with Death?

Heracles
Lying in wait hard by the tomb, I seized him with my arms.

Admetus
But why on earth does she stand silent?

Heracles
You are not yet allowed to hear her speak to you, [1145] not until she becomes purified in the sight of the nether gods when the third day comes. But take her in. Continue, Admetus, to show your guests the piety of a righteous man. And now farewell. I shall go and perform the labor that lies at hand [1150] for the king who is Sthenelus' son.2

Admetus
Stay with us and share our hearth.

Heracles
There will be another day for that, but now I must hurry.Exit Heracles by Eisodos A.

Admetus
May you have good fortune and run your homeward course! But to the citizens and to the whole region of my four cities [1155] I now give orders to raise songs of choruses for these happy events and to fatten the altars of the gods with prayer and the sacrifice of bulls. For now we have taken on a better life than before. I will not deny that I am blessed by fortune.Exeunt Admetus and Alcestis into the palace.

1 A stage-direction in the text: Perseus in order to avoid being turned to stone by the Gorgon's appearance, reached behind him with his sword as he cut off her head.

2 Eurystheus, who set Heracles his labors.

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hide References (2 total)
  • Commentary references to this page (1):
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Electra, 670
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