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Pages of Hippolytus

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NURSE What keener grief for me than failing to win thee?
PHAEDRA 'Twill be death to thee; though to me that brings renown.
NURSE And dost thou then conceal this boon despite my prayers?
PHAEDRA I do, for 'tis out of shame I am planning an honourable escape.
NURSE Tell it, and thine honour shall the brighter shine.
PHAEDRA Away, I do conjure thee; loose my hand.
NURSE I will not, for the boon thou shouldst have granted me is denied.
PHAEDRA I will grant it out of reverence for thy holy suppliant touch.
NURSE Henceforth I hold my peace; 'tis thine to speak from now.
PHAEDRA Ah! hapless mother, what a love was thine!
NURSE Her love for the bull? daughter, or what meanest thou?
PHAEDRA And woe to thee! my sister, bride of Dionysus.
NURSE What ails thee, child? speaking ill of kith and kin.
PHAEDRA Myself the third to suffer! how am I undone!
NURSE Thou strik'st me dumb! Where will this history end?
PHAEDRA That "love" has been our curse from time long past.
NURSE I know no more of what I fain would learn.
PHAEDRA Ah! would thou couldst say for me what I have to tell.
NURSE I aw no prophetess to unriddle secrets.
PHAEDRA What is it they mean when they talk of people being in "love-"?
NURSE At once the sweetest and the bitterest thing, my child.
PHAEDRA I shall only find the latter half.
NURSE Ha! my child, art thou in love?
PHAEDRA The Amazon's son, whoever he may be-
NURSE Mean'st thou Hippolytus?
PHAEDRA 'Twas thou, not I, that spoke his name.
NURSE O heavens! what is this, my child? Thou hast ruined me. Outrageous!
friends; I will not live and bear it; hateful is life, hateful to
mine eyes the light. This body I resign, will cast it off, and rid
me of existence by my death. Farewell, my life is o'er. Yea, for the
chaste I have wicked passions, 'gainst their will maybe, but still
they have. Cypris, it seems, is not goddess after all, but something
greater far, for she hath been the ruin of my lady and of me and our
whole family.
CHORUS (chanting) O, too clearly didst thou hear our queen uplift
her voice to tell her startling tale of piteous suffering. Come death
ere I reach thy state of feeling, loved mistress. O horrible! woe,
for these miseries! woe, for the sorrows on which mortals feed! Thou
art undone! thou hast disclosed thy sin to heaven's light. What hath
each passing day and every hour in store for thee? Some strange event
will come to pass in this house. For it is no longer uncertain where
the star of thy love is setting, thou hapless daughter of Crete.
PHAEDRA Women of Troezen, who dwell here upon the frontier edge of
Pelops' land, oft ere now in heedless mood through the long hours
of night have I wondered why man's life is spoiled; and it seems to
me their evil case is not due to any natural fault of judgment, for
there be many dowered with sense, but we must view the matter in this
light: by teaching and experience to learn the right but neglect it
in practice, some from sloth, others from preferring pleasure of some
kind or other to duty. Now life has many pleasures, protracted talk,
and leisure, that seductive evil; likewise there is shame which is
of two kinds, one a noble quality, the other a curse to families;
but if for each its proper time were clearly known, these twain could
not have had the selfsame letters to denote them. So then since I
had made up my mind on these points, 'twas not likely any drug would
alter it and make me think the contrary. And I will tell the too the
way my judgment went. When love wounded me, I bethought me how I best
might bear the smart. So from that day forth I began to hide in silence
what I suffered. For I put no faith in counsellors, who know well
to lecture others for presumption, yet themselves have countless troubles
of their own. Next I did devise noble endurance of these wanton thoughts,
striving by continence for victory. And last when I could not succeed
in mastering love hereby, methought it best to die; and none can gainsay
my purpose. For fain I would my virtue should to all appear, my shame

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