Alcestis

SERVANT
How should she not be the best! Who shall deny it? What should the best among women be? How better might a woman hold faith to her lord than gladly to die for him? This the whole city knows, but you will marvel when you hear what she has done within the house. When she knew that the last of her days was come she bathed her white body in river water, she took garments and gems from her rooms of cedar wood, and clad herself nobly; then, standing before the hearth-shrine, she uttered this prayer:'O Goddess, since now I must descend beneath the earth, for the last time I make supplication to you: and entreat you to protect my motherless children. Wed my son to a fair bride, and my daughter to a noble husband. Let not my children die untimely, as I their mother am destroyed, but grant that they live out happy lives with good fortune in their own land!'To every altar in Admetus's house she went, hung them with garlands. offered prayer, cut myrtle boughs-unweeping, unlamenting; nor did the coming doom change the bright colour of her face.Then to her marriage-room she went, flung herself down upon her bed, and wept, and said:'O my marriage-bed, wherein I loosed my virgin girdle to him for whom I die! Farewell! I have no hatred for you. Only me you lose. Because I held my faith to you and to my lord-I must die. Another woman shall possess you, not more chaste indeed than I, more fortunate perhaps.'She fell upon her knees and kissed it, and all the bed was damp with the, tide of tears which flooded to her eyes. And when she was fulfilled of many tears, drooping she rose from her bed and made as if to go, and many times she turned to go and many times turned back, and flung herself once more upon the bed.Her children clung to their mother's dress, and wept; and she clasped them in her arms and kissed them turn by turn, as a dying woman.All the servants in the house wept with compassion for their Queen, But she held out her hand to each, and there was none so base to whom she did not speak, and who did not reply again.Such is the misery in Admetus's house. If he had died, he would be nothing now; and, having escaped, he suffers an agony he will never forget.
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Word count: 421
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