Alcestis, the queen of Thessaly and wife of Admetus, has died. She
My son, do you think you are pursuing some hireling Lydian
or Phrygian with your taunts? Do you know I am a Thessalian, a free
man lawfully begotten by a Thessalian father? You are over-insolent,
and you shall not leave thus, after wounding me with your boyish insults.
I indeed begot you, and bred you up to be lord of this land, but I
am not bound to die for you. It is not a law of our ancestors or of
Hellas that the fathers should die for the children! You were born
to live your own life, whether miserable or fortunate; and what is
due to you from me you have. You rule over many men, and I shall leave
you many wide fields even as received them from my own father. How,
then, have I wronged you? Of what have I robbed you? Do not die for
me, any more than I die for you. You love to look upon the light of
day-do you think your father hates it? I tell myself that we are a
long time underground and that life is short, but sweet.
But you-you strove shamelessly not to die, and you are alive, you
shirked your fate by killing her! And you call me a coward, you, the
worst of cowards, surpassed by a woman who died for you, pretty boy?
And now you insult those who should be dear to you, when they refuse
to die for a coward like you!
Be silent! Learn that if you love your life, so do others. If you
utter insults, you shall hear many, and true ones too!
Euripides, Alcestis. Trans. Richard Aldington. http://classics.mit.edu/Euripides/alcestis.html
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