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for making a tolerable hero out of the Euripidean Admetus, and has been adopted, I think, universally. Having said this, I naturally feel some reluctance and embarrassment in saying, what nevertheless after long consideration I must say, deliberately and respectfully, that this expedient exhibits the most extraordinary proof conceivable of our human capacity for ignoring what we do not wish to see, and believing not what we know but what we like.

It has been said in book after book, that the character of Admetus as presented by Euripides, however unattractive and undignified in other respects, is redeemed by one trait of true nobility, the ideal of friendship and hospitality which he exhibits, at the expense of his tenderest feelings, in the reception and entertainment of his guest. As a husband he is perhaps not up to the standard, but then what a host! How worthy of the prince, whose prosperity was founded upon his kind treatment of Apollo as a servant in his house, is the suppression of self, which enables him, by concealing the truth, to open his door to the traveller in the very instant of his bereavement! Here lies the unity of the whole play, the moral of which "undoubtedly is, that disinterested hospitality never fails of its reward". So, and with such emphasis of type, says Paley[1]; and so say the rest in a chorus. Let us then contemplate for a little the act of virtue, to which our reverence is thus powerfully invited.

The case, it will be remembered, is this. Heracles, on his way from Argos to the north, is passing through Pherae, in which town he has many friends, Admetus being one of the number. He is on an errand imposed by authority, and so pressing as not to admit of more than a few hours' delay[2]. With the purpose of requesting this temporary entertainment he selects the house of Admetus, who tells us that he has been very well entertained himself by Heracles on the occasion of visits to Argos. It happens that he arrives at the palace just when the master of it is on the point of carrying his wife to the tomb. Admetus, to account for his emotion and mourning garb, declares that he is about to perform the funeral of a girl who had been entrusted to him by her deceased parents and has died in his house. Heracles expresses his regret at having

  1. On v. 1147.
  2. v. 1152