Page:Euripides the Rationalist.djvu/88

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but who wants it, and why should it be supposed that he has anything to 'deny'? Lastly we are left with the Chorus, whose behaviour is an appropriate climax. Which now will they give us, we naturally ask, of the many reflexions that must be suggested to them, in the light of their previous utterances, by the resurrection of Alcestis? They had expressed a hope that in some way or other Admetus would be further rewarded for his piety towards the gods, and particularly towards Apollo. Here is a miracle which more than fulfils their anticipation; and though they do not know, as we do having heard the prologue, that the Pythian deity had himself foreseen and foretold the precise event, Apollo, whom neither Heracles nor Admetus has found time to mention, will now perhaps come in for the tribute of a stanza. Whoever may be 'compelled to haste', the Chorus have leisure enough, for the play is still short. Or again there is the casuistry of hospitality, on which in the first instance they show so loyal a disposition to give up their own opinion for that of their master. Now that every one, as it would seem, agrees in their original view, it would not be unbecoming if they were to re-adopt it. But among the many topics on which we should like to hear them, there is one on which surely they are bound to be full and explicit. Within the last five minutes, if in the general hurry we rightly apprehend what has happened, the Chorus must have changed their belief on the most vital of problems, on nothing less than the whole nature and condition of humanity. At the very moment before Heracles enters with his prize, the poet has put in their mouths a creed, which by its solemnity (it is perhaps the only passage in the play to which this word can well be applied) and by its strong personal emphasis arrests the attention of every reader[1]. "For my part, after searching deep and long, I find that nothing, no charm, no spell, no prayer, can prevail against that Necessity, that fixed Order of things, by which our world from lowest to highest is bound. Of this invincible order I see one fresh example in him who here helplessly mourns for his wife, helplessly, for no weeping will raise up them that have perished. Even the noblest perish in death. Even of an Alcestis there remains only the love of her and the praise of her virtues." To such effect

  1. v. 962.