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Euripides, Alkestis 477-1163

Heracles
Strangers, citizens of this land of Pherae, do I find Admetus at home?

Chorus-Leader
Yes, Pheres’ son is at home, Heracles. But tell us what need brings you to Thessaly and to this city of Pherae.

Heracles
I am performing a certain labor for Eurystheus, king of Tiryns.

Chorus-Leader
Where are you bound? What is the wandering you are constrained to make?

Heracles
I go in quest of the four-horse chariot of Thracian Diomedes.

Chorus-Leader
How can you do that? Do you not know what kind of host he is?

Heracles
I do not. I have never yet been to Bistonia.

Chorus-Leader
You cannot possess those horses without a fight.

Heracles
But all the same, I cannot decline these labors.

Chorus-Leader
Then you will either kill him and return or end your days there.

Heracles
This is not the first such race I shall have run.

Chorus-Leader
If you defeat their master, what will it profit you?

Heracles
I will bring the horses back to the lord of Tiryns.

Chorus-Leader
You will not find it easy to put a bit in their mouths.

Heracles
Surely so, unless they breathe fire from their nostrils.

Chorus-Leader
No, but they tear men apart with their nimble jaws.

Heracles
[495] This is fodder for mountain beasts, not horses.

Chorus-Leader
You will see their feeding-troughs drenched with blood.

Heracles
Whose son does their master claim to be?

Chorus-Leader
Ares’ son, and shield-bearing lord of Thrace rich in gold.

Heracles
Like the others this labor you name befits my destiny which is always hard and steep since I am fated to do battle with all the sons of Ares: first Lycaon, then Cycnus, and now this is the third contest I enter, going off to fight horses and master alike. But no one shall ever see Alcmene’s son quake at the hand of an enemy. Continue reading. Greek Text

Plato, Symposium 179b-c

Furthermore, only such as are in love will consent to die for others; not merely men will do it, but women too. Sufficient witness is borne to this statement before the people of Greece by Alcestis, daughter of Pelias, who alone was willing to die for her husband, though he had both father and mother. So high did her love exalt her over them in kindness, that they were proved alien to their son and but nominal relations; and when she achieved this deed, it was judged so noble by gods as well as men that, although among all the many doers of noble deeds they are few and soon counted to whom the gods have granted the privilege of having their souls sent up again from Hades, hers they thus restored in admiration of her act. Greek Text

ApB 1.9.15 – Apollodoros, Bibliotheke (Library)

And when the day of his death came neither his father nor his mother would die for him, but Alcestis died in his stead. But the Maiden sent her up again, or, as some say, Hercules fought with Hades and brought her up to him. Greek Text

 

Literary sources edited by Elena Bianchelli, Retired Senior Lecturer of Classical Languages and Culture, Univ. of Georgia, January 2021

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