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Enter a serving-woman from the palace.

Chorus-Leader
But here comes one of the servants out of the house weeping. What turn of events will I hear from her? Addressing her If anything has befallen your master, it would be pardonable for you to grieve, but I would like to know [140] whether the queen yet lives or has died.

Serving-woman
You might call her both living and dead.

Chorus-Leader
And how could the same person be both dead and alive?

Serving-woman
She is already sinking and on the point of death.

Chorus-Leader
Is there then no hope that her life may be saved?

Serving-woman
[147] No: her fated day presses on.

Chorus-Leader
Are the necessary preparations then being made?

Serving-woman
The finery in which her husband will bury her is ready.

Chorus-Leader
Unhappy man, being so good a husband to lose so good a wife!

Serving-woman
My master will not know his loss until it happens.

Chorus-Leader
[150] Let her know then that she will die glorious and the noblest woman by far under the sun.

Serving-woman
Noblest indeed! Who will say she is not? What should we call the woman who surpasses her? How could any woman give greater proof [155] that she gives her husband the place of honor than by being willing to die for him? This, of course, the whole city knows, but what she did within the house you will be amazed to hear. When she learned that the fated day had come, she bathed her pale skin in flowing water, [160] and taking her finery from its chambers of cedar she dressed herself becomingly. And standing in front of the hearth-goddess' altar she made her prayer: ‘Lady, since I am going now beneath the earth, as my last entreaty I ask you to care for my orphaned children: marry my son [165] to a loving wife and give my daughter a noble husband. And may they not, like their mother, perish untimely but live out their lives in happiness in their ancestral land!’

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