A monologue from the
play by Euripides
NOTE: This monologue is reprinted
from The Plays of Euripides in English, vol. ii. Trans.
Shelley Dean Milman. London: J.M. Dent & Sons, 1922.
MONOLOGUES BY EURIPIDES
- MEDEA: O my sons!
- My sons! ye have a city and a house
- Where, leaving hapless me behind, without
- A mother ye for ever shall reside.
- But I to other realms an exile go,
- Ere any help from you I could derive,
- Or see you blest; the hymeneal pomp,
- The bride, the genial couch, for you adorn,
- And in these hands the kindled torch sustain.
- How wretched am I through my own perverseness!
- You, O my sons, I then in vain have nurtured,
- In vain have toiled, and, wasted with fatigue,
- Suffered the pregnant matron's grievous throes.
- On you, in my afflictions, many hopes
- I founded erst: that ye with pious care
- Would foster my old age, and on the bier
- Extend me after death--much envied lot
- Of mortals; but these pleasing anxious thoughts
- Are vanished now; for, losing you, a life
- Of bitterness and anguish shall I lead.
- But as for you, my sons, with those dear eyes
- Fated no more your mother to behold,
- Hence are ye hastening to a world unknown.
- Why do ye gaze on me with such a look
- Of tenderness, or wherefore smile? for these
- Are your last smiles. Ah wretched, wretched me!
- What shall I do? My resolution fails.
- Sparkling with joy now I their looks have seen,
- My friends, I can no more. To those past schemes
- I bid adieu, and with me from this land
- My children will convey. Why should I cause
- A twofold portion of distress to fall
- On my own head, that I may grieve the sire
- By punishing his sons? This shall not be:
- Such counsels I dismiss. But in my purpose
- What means this change? Can I prefer derision,
- And with impunity permit the foe
- To 'scape? My utmost courage I must rouse:
- For the suggestion of these tender thoughts
- Proceeds from an enervate heart. My sons,
- Enter the regal mansion. [Exuent SONS.] As for those
- Who deem that to be present were unholy
- While I the destined victims offer up,
- Let them see to it. This uplifted arm
- Shall never shrink. Alas! alas! my soul
- Commit not such a deed. Unhappy woman,
- Desist and spare thy children; we will live
- Together, they in foreign realms shall cheer
- Thy exile. No, by those avenging fiends
- Who dwell with Pluto in the realms beneath,
- This shall not be, nor will I ever leave
- My sons to be insulted by their foes.
- They certainly must die; since then they must,
- I bore and I will slay them: 'tis a deed
- Resolved on, nor my purpose will I change.
- Full well I know that now the royal bride
- Wears on her head the magic diadem,
- And in the variegated robe expires:
- But, hurried on by fate, I tread a path
- Of utter wretchedness, and them will plunge
- Into one yet more wretched. To my sons
- Fain would I say: "O stretch forth your right hands
- Ye children, for your mother to embrace.
- O dearest hands, ye lips to me most dear,
- Engaging features and ingenuous looks,
- May ye be blest, but in another world;
- For by the treacherous conduct of your sire
- Are ye bereft of all this earth bestowed.
- Farewell, sweet kisses--tender limbs, farewell!
- And fragrant breath! I never more can bear
- To look on you, my children." My afflictions
- Have conquered me; I now am well aware
- What crimes I venture on: but rage, the cause
- Of woes most grievous to the human race,
- Over my better reason hath prevailed.