fury of her soul. For this is law amongst us gods; none of us will
thwart his neighbour's will, but ever we stand aloof. For be well
assured, did I not fear Zeus, never would I have incurred the bitter
shame of handing over to death a man of all his kind to me most dear.
As for thy sin, first thy ignorance absolves thee from its villainy,
next thy wife, who is dead, was lavish in her use of convincing arguments
to influence thy mind. On thee in chief this storm of woe hath burst,
yet is it some grief to me as well; for when the righteous die, there
is no joy in heaven, albeit we try to destroy the wicked, house and
CHORUS (chanting) Lo! where he comes, this hapless youth, his fair
young flesh and auburn locks most shamefully handled. Unhappy house!
what two-fold sorrow doth o'ertake its halls, through heaven's ordinance!
(HIPPOLYTUS enters, assisted by his attendants.)
HIPPOLYTUS (chanting) Ah! ah! woe is me! foully undone by an impious
father's impious imprecation! Undone, undone! woe is me! Through my
head dart fearful pains; my brain throbs convulsively. Stop, let me
rest my worn-out frame. Oh, oh! Accursed steeds, that mine own hand
did feed, ye have been my ruin and my death. O by the gods, good sirs,
beseech ye, softly touch my wounded limbs. Who stands there at my
right side? Lift me tenderly; with slow and even step conduct a poor
wretch cursed by his mistaken sire. Great Zeus, dost thou see this?
Me thy reverent worshipper, me who left all men behind in purity,
plunged thus into yawning Hades 'neath the earth, reft of life; in
vain the toils I have endured through my piety towards mankind. Ah
me! ah me! O the thrill of anguish shooting through me! Set me down,
poor wretch I am; come Death to set me free! Kill me, end my sufferings.
O for a sword two-edged to hack my flesh, and close this mortal life!
Ill-fated curse of my father! the crimes of bloody kinsmen, ancestors
of old, now pass their boundaries and tarry not, and upon me are they
come all guiltless as I am; ah! why? Alas, alas! what can I say? How
from my life get rid of this relentless agony? O that the stern Death-god,
night's black visitant, would give my sufferings rest!
ARTEMIS Poor sufferer! cruel the fate that links thee to it! Thy
noble soul hath been thy ruin.
HIPPOLYTUS Ah! the fragrance from my goddess wafted! Even in my agony
I feel thee near and find relief; she is here in this very place,
my goddess Artemis.
ARTEMIS She is, poor sufferer! the goddess thou hast loved the best.
HIPPOLYTUS Dost see me, mistress mine? dost see my present suffering?
ARTEMIS I see thee, but mine eyes no tear may weep.
HIPPOLYTUS Thou hast none now to lead the hunt or tend thy fane.
ARTEMIS None now; yet e'en in death I love thee still.
HIPPOLYTUS None to groom thy steeds, or guard thy shrines.
ARTEMIS 'Twas Cypris, mistress of iniquity, devised this evil.
HIPPOLYTUS Ah me! now know I the goddess who destroyed me.
ARTEMIS She was jealous of her slighted honour, vexed at thy chaste
HIPPOLYTUS Ah! then I see her single hand hath struck down three
ARTEMIS Thy sire and thee, and last thy father's wife.
HIPPOLYTUS My sire's ill-luck as well as mine I mourn.
ARTEMIS He was deceived by a goddess's design.
HIPPOLYTUS Woe is thee, my father, in this sad mischance!
THESEUS My son, I am a ruined man; life has no joys for me.
HIPPOLYTUS For this mistake I mourn thee rather than myself.
THESEUS O that I had died for thee, my son!
HIPPOLYTUS Ah! those fatal gifts thy sire Poseidon gave.
THESEUS Would God these lips had never uttered that prayer!
HIPPOLYTUS Why not? thou wouldst in any case have slain me in thy
THESEUS Yes; Heaven had perverted my power to think.
HIPPOLYTUS O that the race of men could bring a curse upon the gods!
ARTEMIS Enough! for though thou pass to gloom beneath the earth,