NURSE What! will Jason brook such treatment of his sons, even though
he be at variance with their mother?
ATTENDANT Old ties give way to new; he bears no longer any love to
NURSE Undone, it seems, are we, if to old woes fresh ones we add,
ere we have drained the former to the dregs.
ATTENDANT Hold thou thy peace, say not a word of this; 'tis no time
for our mistress to learn hereof.
NURSE O children, do ye hear how your father feels towards you? Perdition
catch him, but no he is my master still; yet is he proved a very traitor
to his nearest and dearest.
ATTENDANT And who 'mongst men is not? Art learning only now, that
every single man cares for himself more than for his neighbour, some
from honest motives, others for mere gain's sake? seeing that to indulge
his passion their father has ceased to love these children.
NURSE Go, children, within the house; all will be well. Do thou keep
them as far away as may be, and bring them not near their mother in
her evil hour. For ere this have I seen her eyeing them savagely,
as though she were minded to do them some hurt, and well I know she
will not cease from her fury till she have pounced on some victim.
At least may she turn her hand against her foes, and not against her
MEDEA (chanting within) Ah, me! a wretched suffering woman I! O
would that I could die!
NURSE (chanting) 'Tis as I said, my dear children; wild fancies
stir your mother's heart, wild fury goads her on. Into the house without
delay, come not near her eye, approach her not, beware her savage
mood, the fell tempest of her reckless heart. In, in with what speed
ye may. For 'tis plain she will soon redouble her fury; that cry is
but the herald of the gathering storm-cloud whose lightning soon will
flash; what will her proud restless soul, in the anguish of despair,
be guilty of? (The ATTENDANT takes the children into the house.) MEDEA
(chanting within) Ah, me! the agony I have suffered, deep enough
to call for these laments! Curse you and your father too, ye children
damned, sons of a doomed mother! Ruin seize the whole family!
NURSE (chanting) Ah me! ah me! the pity of it! Why, pray, do thy
children share their father's crime? Why hatest thou them? Woe is
you, poor children, how do I grieve for you lest ye suffer some outrage!
Strange are the tempers of princes, and maybe because they seldom
have to obey, and mostly lord it over others, change they their moods
with difficulty. 'Tis better then to have been trained to live on
equal terms. Be it mine to reach old age, not in proud pomp, but in
security! Moderation wins the day first as a better word for men to
use, and likewise it is far the best course for them to pursue; but
greatness that doth o'erreach itself, brings no blessing to mortal
men; but pays a penalty of greater ruin whenever fortune is wroth
with a family. (The CHORUS enters. The following lines between the
NURSE, CHORUS, and MEDEA are sung.)
CHORUS I heard the voice, uplifted loud, of our poor Colchian lady,
nor yet is she quiet; speak, aged dame, for as I stood by the house
with double gates I heard a voice of weeping from within, and I do
grieve, lady, for the sorrows of this house, for it hath won my love.
NURSE 'Tis a house no more; all that is passed away long since; a
royal bride keeps Jason at her side, while our mistress pines away
in her bower, finding no comfort for her soul in aught her friends
MEDEA (within) Oh, oh! Would that Heaven's levin bolt would cleave
this head in twain! What gain is life to me? Woe, woe is me! O, to
die and win release, quitting this loathed existence!
CHORUS Didst hear, O Zeus, thou earth, and thou, O light, the piteous
note of woe the hapless wife is uttering? How shall a yearning for
that insatiate resting-place ever hasten for thee, poor reckless one,
the end that death alone can bring? Never pray for that. And if thy
lord prefers a fresh love, be not angered with him for that; Zeus