PHAEDRA I am undone. Stand here at the door and hear the noise arising
in the house.
CHORUS (chanting) Thou art already by the bolted door; 'tis for
thee to note the sounds that issue from within. And tell me, O tell
me what evil can be on foot.
PHAEDRA 'Tis the son of the horse-loving Amazon who calls, Hippolytus,
uttering foul curses on my servant.
CHORUS (chanting) I hear a noise but cannot dearly tell which way
it comes. Ah! 'tis through the door the sound reached thee.
PHAEDRA Yes, yes, he is calling her plainly enough a go-between in
vice, traitress to her master's honour.
CHORUS (chanting) Woe, woe is me! thou art betrayed, dear mistress!
What counsel shall I give thee? thy secret is out; thou art utterly
PHAEDRA Ah me! ah me!
CHORUS (chanting) Betrayed by friends!
PHAEDRA She hath ruined me by speaking of my misfortune; 'twas kindly
meant, but an ill way to cure my malady.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS O what wilt thou do now in thy cruel dilemma?
PHAEDRA I only know one way, one cure for these my woes, and that
is instant death. (HIPPOLYTUS bursts out of the palace, followed
closely by the NURSE.)
HIPPOLYTUS O mother earth! O sun's unclouded orb! What words, unfit
for any lips, have reached my ears!
NURSE Peace, my son, lest some one hear thy outcry.
HIPPOLYTUS I cannot hear such awful words and hold my peace.
NURSE I do implore thee by thy fair right hand.
HIPPOLYTUS Let go my hand, touch not my robe.
NURSE O by thy knees I pray, destroy me not utterly.
HIPPOLYTUS Why say this, if, as thou pretendest, thy lips are free
NURSE My son, this is no story to be noised abroad.
HIPPOLYTUS A virtuous tale grows fairer told to many.
NURSE Never dishonour thy oath, my son.
HIPPOLYTUS My tongue an oath did take, but not my heart.
NURSE My son, what wilt thou do? destroy thy friends?
HIPPOLYTUS Friends indeed! the wicked are no friends of mine.
NURSE O pardon me; to err is only human, child.
HIPPOLYTUS Great Zeus, why didst thou, to man's sorrow, put woman,
evil counterfeit, to dwell where shines the sun? If thou wert minded
that the human race should multiply, it was not from women they should
have drawn their stock, but in thy temples they should have paid gold
or iron or ponderous bronze and bought a family, each man proportioned
to his offering, and so in independence dwelt, from women free. But
now as soon as ever we would bring this plague into our home we bring
its fortune to the ground. 'Tis clear from this how great a curse
a woman is; the very father, that begot and nurtured her, to rid him
of the mischief, gives her a dower and packs her off; while the husband,
who takes the noxious weed into his home, fondly decks his sorry idol
in fine raiment and tricks her out in robes, squandering by degrees,
unhappy wight! his house's wealth. For he is in this dilemma; say
his marriage has brought him good connections, he is glad then to
keep the wife he loathes; or, if he gets a good wife but useless kin,
he tries to stifle the bad luck with the good. But it is easiest for
him who has settled in his house as wife mere cipher, incapable from
simplicity. I hate a clever woman; never may she set foot in my house
who aims at knowing more than women need; for in these clever women
Cypris implants a larger store of villainy, while the artless woman
is by her shallow wit from levity debarred. No servant should ever
have had access to a wife, but men should put to live with them beasts,
which bite, not talk, in which case they could not speak to any one
nor be answered back by them. But, as it is, the wicked in their chambers
plot wickedness, and their servants carry it abroad. Even thus, vile
wretch, thou cam'st to make me partner in an outrage on my father's