So be it mine to end my life as I began.
LEADER OF THE ATTENDANTS My prince! we needs must call upon the gods,
our lords, so wilt thou listen to a friendly word from me?
HIPPOLYTUS Why, that will I! else were I proved a fool.
LEADER Dost know, then, the way of the world?
HIPPOLYTUS Not I; but wherefore such a question?
LEADER It hates reserve which careth not for all men's love.
HIPPOLYTUS And rightly too; reserve in man is ever galling.
LEADER But there's a charm in courtesy?
HIPPOLYTUS The greatest surely; aye, and profit, too, at trifling
LEADER Dost think the same law holds in heaven as well?
HIPPOLYTUS I trow it doth, since all our laws we men from heaven
LEADER Why, then, dost thou neglect to greet an august goddess?
HIPPOLYTUS Whom speak'st thou of? Keep watch upon thy tongue lest
it same mischief cause.
LEADER Cypris I mean, whose image is stationed o'er thy gate.
HIPPOLYTUS I greet her from afar, preserving still my chastity.
LEADER Yet is she an august goddess, far renowned on earth.
HIPPOLYTUS 'Mongst gods as well as men we have our several preferences.
LEADER I wish thee luck, and wisdom too, so far as thou dost need
HIPPOLYTUS No god, whose worship craves the night, hath charms for
LEADER My son, we should avail us of the gifts that gods confer.
HIPPOLYTUS Go in, my faithful followers, and make ready food within
the house; a well-filled board hath charms after the chase is o'er.
Rub down my steeds ye must, that when I have had my fill I may yoke
them to the chariot and give them proper exercise. As for thy Queen
of Love, a long farewell to her. (HIPPOLYTUS goes into the palace,
followed by all the ATTENDANTS except the LEADER, who prays before
the statue of APHRODITE.)
LEADER Meantime I with sober mind, for I must not copy my young master,
do offer up my prayer to thy image, lady Cypris, in such words as
it becomes a slave to use. But thou should'st pardon all, who, in
youth's impetuous heat, speak idle words of thee; make as though thou
hearest not, for gods must needs be wiser than the sons of men. (The
LEADER goes into the palace. The CHORUS OF TROEZENIAN WOMEN enters.)
CHORUS (singing, strophe 1)
A rock there is, where, as they say, the ocean dew distils, and from
its beetling brow it pours a copious stream for pitchers to be dipped
therein; 'twas here I had a friend washing robes of purple in the
trickling stream, and she was spreading them out on the face of warm
sunny rock; from her I had the tidings, first of all, that my mistress-
Was wasting on the bed of sickness, pent within her house, a thin
veil o'ershadowing her head of golden hair. And this is the third
day I hear that she hath closed her lovely lips and denied her chaste
body all sustenance, eager to hide her suffering and reach death's
Maiden, thou must be possessed, by Pan made frantic or by Hecate,
or by the Corybantes dread, and Cybele the mountain mother. Or maybe
thou hast sinned against Dictynna, huntress-queen, and art wasting
for thy guilt in sacrifice unoffered. For she doth range o'er lakes'
expanse and past the bounds of earth upon the ocean's tossing billows.
Or doth some rival in thy house beguile thy lord, the captain of
Erechtheus' sons, that hero nobly born, to secret amours hid from
thee? Or hath some mariner sailing hither from Crete reached this
port that sailors love, with evil tidings for our queen, and she with
sorrow for her grievous fate is to her bed confined?