A certain man has two sons,
as a king may have three daughters.
The younger of his sons says to the father,
give me the portion of goods that falls to me.
The youngest daughter will say to her father,
I love you in a portion that cannot be measured in goods.
And the father-king, if he is old,
may confuse, through pride, her meaning.
The father of the two sons divides his living between them,
with the result that the younger gathers all together
and takes a journey to a far country
where he wastes his substance with riotous living.
Her sisters, taking advantage of their father’s confusion,
may claim to love him without qualification of his living.
There arises a famine in that far land
and the younger son begins to be in want,
so much so that he takes up with the swine
of the herd he is tending and eats as they eat.
A king may punish an ungrateful child,
send her into exile into a far country.
He may deprive her of all his goods.
He may dote on her sisters.
At last the son comes to his senses
and returns home to his father’s fields,
knowing he has sinned: Father, he will say, I am no more
worthy to be called your son, make me as one of your servants.
But the father sees him coming yet a great way off
he has compassion and runs to greet his prodigal son.
Bring forth the best robe and rings and shoes,
he instructs the servants, let us kill the fatted calf,
for this my son was dead, and is alive again,
he was lost and is found. The lost sister may not be found.
The king, like old Saturn, will be blind
to what surrounds him. He is a tragic figure,
and thus his true daughter must suffer her father.
A king will punish an ungrateful child. The elder son,
working in the fields, hears the music of the meal,
and goes and stands outside the house demanding explanation.
Lo, these many years have I served you and your commandments,
yet you never killed for me the fatted calf.
My brother wastes his goods on harlots,
and for him you make a feast. Son, says the father,
you are always with me, all that I have is yours.
But is was meet that we should feast and be glad.
Your brother was dead and is alive again.
The king, however, cannot bring back his daughter,
nor any of the family he has broken. He will die,
like many of us, without children.