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Hippolytus   

Before the royal palace at Troezen. There is a statue of APHRODITE
on one side; on the other, a statue of ARTEMIS. There is an altar
before each image. The goddess APHRODITE appears alone.

APHRODITE Wide o'er man my realm extends, and proud the name that
I, the goddess Cypris, bear, both in heaven's courts and 'mongst all
those who dwell within the limits of the sea and the bounds of Atlas,
beholding the sun-god's light; those that respect my power I advance
to honour, but bring to ruin all who vaunt themselves at me. For even
in the race of gods this feeling finds a home, even pleasure at the
honour men pay them. And the truth of this I soon will show; for that
son of Theseus, born of the Amazon, Hippolytus, whom holy Pittheus
taught, alone of all the dwellers in this land of Troezen, calls me
vilest of the deities. Love he scorns, and, as for marriage, will
none of it; but Artemis, daughter of Zeus, sister of Phoebus, he doth
honour, counting her the chief of goddesses, and ever through the
greenwood, attendant on his virgin goddess, he clears the earth of
wild beasts with his fleet hounds, enjoying the comradeship of one
too high for mortal ken. 'Tis not this I grudge him, no! why should
I? But for his sins against me, I will this very day take vengeance
on Hippolytus; for long ago I cleared the ground of many obstacles,
so it needs but trifling toil. For as he came one day from the home
of Pittheus to witness the solemn mystic rites and be initiated therein
in Pandion's land, Phaedra, his father's noble wife, caught sight
of him, and by my designs she found her heart was seized with wild
desire. And ere she came to this Troezenian realm, a temple did she
rear to Cypris hard by the rock of Pallas where it o'erlooks this
country, for love of the youth in another land; and to win his love
in days to come she called after his name the temple she had founded
for the goddess. Now, when Theseus left the land of Cecrops, flying
the pollution of the blood of Pallas' sons, and with his wife sailed
to this shore, content to suffer exile for a year, then began the
wretched wife to pine away in silence, moaning 'neath love's cruel
scourge, and none of her servants knows what disease afflicts her.
But this passion of hers must not fail thus. No, I will discover the
matter to Theseus, and all shall be laid bare. Then will the father
slay his child, my bitter foe, by curses, for the lord Poseidon granted
this boon to Theseus; three wishes of the god to ask, nor ever ask
in vain. So Phaedra is to die, an honoured death 'tis true, but still
to die; for I will not let her suffering outweigh the payment of such
forfeit by my foes as shall satisfy my honour. But lo! I see the son
of Theseus coming hither-Hippolytus, fresh from the labours of the
chase. I will get me hence. At his back follows a long train of retainers,
in joyous cries of revelry uniting and hymns of praise to Artemis,
his goddess; for little he recks that Death hath oped his gates for
him, and that this is his last look upon the light. (APHRODITE vanishes.
HIPPOLYTUS and his retinue of hunting ATTENDANTS enter, singing. They
move to worship at the altar of ARTEMIS.)

HIPPOLYTUS Come follow, friends, singing to Artemis, daughter of
Zeus, throned in the sky, whose votaries we are.
ATTENDANTS Lady goddess, awful queen, daughter of Zeus, all hail!
hail! of Latona and of Zeus, peerless mid the virgin choir, who hast
thy dwelling in heaven's wide mansions at thy noble father's court,
in the golden house of Zeus. All hail! most beauteous Artemis, lovelier
far than all the daughters of Olympus!
HIPPOLYTUS (speaking) For thee, O mistress mine, I bring this woven
wreath, culled from a virgin meadow, where nor shepherd dares to herd
his flock nor ever scythe hath mown, but o'er the mead unshorn the
bee doth wing its way in spring; and with the dew from rivers drawn
purity that garden tends. Such as know no cunning lore, yet in whose
nature self-control, made perfect, hath a home, these may pluck the
flowers, but not the wicked world. Accept, I pray, dear mistress,
mine this chaplet from my holy hand to crown thy locks of gold; for
I, and none other of mortals, have this high guerdon, to be with thee,
with thee converse, hearing thy voice, though not thy face beholding.

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