not utterly. O luckless curse of a father! Will no one come and save
me for all my virtue?" Now we, though much we longed to help, were
left far behind. At last, I know not how, he broke loose from the
shapely reins that bound him, a faint breath of life still in him;
but the horses disappeared, and that portentous bull, among the rocky
ground, I know not where. I am but a slave in thy house, 'tis true,
O king, yet will I never believe so monstrous a charge against thy
son's character, no! not though the whole race of womankind should
hang itself, or one should fill with writing every pine-tree tablet
grown on Ida, sure as I am of his uprightness.
LEADER Alas! new troubles come to plague us, nor is there any escape
from fate and necessity.
THESEUS My hatred for him who hath thus suffered made me glad at
thy tidings, yet from regard for the gods and him, because he is my
son, I feel neither joy nor sorrow at his sufferings.
MESSENGER But say, are we to bring the victim hither, or how are
we to fulfil thy wishes? Bethink thee; if by me thou wilt be schooled,
thou wilt not harshly treat thy son in his sad plight.
THESEUS Bring him hither, that when I see him face to face, who hath
denied having polluted my wife's honour, I may by words and heaven's
visitation convict him. (The MESSENGER departs.)
CHORUS (singing) Ah! Cypris, thine the hand that guides the stubborn
hearts of gods and men; thine, and that attendant boy's, who, with
painted plumage gay, flutters round his victims on lightning wing.
O'er the land and booming deep on golden pinion borne flits the god
of Love, maddening the heart and beguiling the senses of all whom
he attacks, savage whelps on mountains bred, ocean's monsters, creatures
of this sun-warmed earth, and man; thine, O Cypris, thine alone the
sovereign power to rule them all. (ARTEMIS appears above.)
ARTEMIS (chanting) Hearken, I bid thee, noble son of Aegeus: lo!
'tis I, Latona's child, that speak, I, Artemis. Why, Theseus, to thy
sorrow dost thou rejoice at these tidings, seeing that thou hast slain
thy son most impiously, listening to a charge not clearly proved,
but falsely sworn to by thy wife? though clearly has the curse therefrom
upon thee fallen. Why dost thou not for very shame hide beneath the
dark places of the earth, or change thy human life and soar on wings
to escape this tribulation? 'Mongst men of honour thou hast now no
share in life. (She now speaks.) Hearken, Theseus; I will put thy
wretched case. Yet will it naught avail thee, if I do, but vex thy
heart; still with this intent I came, to show thy son's pure heart,-that
he may die with honour,-as well the frenzy and, in a sense, the nobleness
of thy wife; for she was cruelly stung with a passion for thy son
by that goddess whom all we, that joy in virgin purity, detest. And
though she strove to conquer love by resolution, yet by no fault of
hers she fell, thanks to her nurse's strategy, who did reveal her
malady unto thy son under oath. But he would none of her counsels,
as indeed was right, nor yet, when thou didst revile him, would he
break the oath he swore, from piety. She meantime, fearful of being
found out, wrote a lying letter, destroying by guile thy son, but
yet persuading thee.
THESEUS Woe is me!
ARTEMIS Doth my story wound thee, Theseus? Be still awhile; hear
what follows, so wilt thou have more cause to groan. Dost remember
those three prayers thy father granted thee, fraught with certain
issue? 'Tis one of these thou hast misused, unnatural wretch, against
thy son, instead of aiming it at an enemy. Thy sea-god sire, 'tis
true, for all his kind intent, hath granted that boon he was compelled,
by reason of his promise, to grant. But thou alike in his eyes and
in mine hast shewn thy evil heart, in that thou hast forestalled all
proof or voice prophetic, hast made no inquiry, nor taken time for
consideration, but with undue haste cursed thy son even to the death.
THESEUS Perdition seize me! Queen revered!
ARTEMIS An awful deed was thine, but still even for this thou mayest
obtain pardon; for it was Cypris that would have it so, sating the