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.
  • 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.