And yet they say we live secure at home, while they are at the wars,
with their sorry reasoning, for I would gladly take my stand in battle
array three times o'er, than once give birth. But enough! this language
suits not thee as it does me; thou hast a city here, a father's house,
some joy in life, and friends to share thy thoughts, but I am destitute,
without a city, and therefore scorned by my husband, a captive I from
a foreign shore, with no mother, brother, or kinsman in whom to find
a new haven of refuge from this calamity. Wherefore this one boon
and only this I wish to win from thee,-thy silence, if haply I can
some way or means devise to avenge me on my husband for this cruel
treatment, and on the man who gave to him his daughter, and on her
who is his wife. For though woman be timorous enough in all else,
and as regards courage, a coward at the mere sight of steel, yet in
the moment she finds her honour wronged, no heart is filled with deadlier
thoughts than hers.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS This will I do; for thou wilt be taking a just
vengeance on thy husband, Medea. That thou shouldst mourn thy lot
surprises me not. But lo! I see Creon, king of this land coming hither,
to announce some new resolve. (CREON enters, with his retinue.)
CREON Hark thee, Medea, I bid thee take those sullen looks and angry
thoughts against thy husband forth from this land in exile, and with
thee take both thy children and that without delay, for I am judge
in this sentence, and I will not return unto my house till I banish
thee beyond the borders of the land.
MEDEA Ah, me! now is utter destruction come upon me, unhappy that
I am! For my enemies are bearing down on me full sail, nor have I
any landing-place to come at in my trouble. Yet for all my wretched
plight I will ask thee, Creon, wherefore dost thou drive me from the
CREON I fear thee,-no longer need I veil my dread 'neath words,-lest
thou devise against my child some cureless ill. Many things contribute
to this fear of mine; thou art a witch by nature, expert in countless
sorceries, and thou art chafing for the loss of thy husband's affection.
I hear, too, so they tell me, that thou dost threaten the father of
the bride, her husband, and herself with some mischief; wherefore
I will take precautions ere our troubles come. For 'tis better for
me to incur thy hatred now, lady, than to soften my heart and bitterly
repent it hereafter.
MEDEA Alas! this is not now the first time, but oft before, O Creon,
hath my reputation injured me and caused sore mischief. Wherefore
whoso is wise in his generation ought never to have his children taught
to be too clever; for besides the reputation they get for idleness,
they purchase bitter odium from the citizens. For if thou shouldst
import new learning amongst dullards, thou wilt be thought a useless
trifler, void of knowledge; while if thy fame in the city o'ertops
that of the pretenders to cunning knowledge, thou wilt win their dislike.
I too myself share in this ill-luck. Some think me clever and hate
me, others say I am too reserved, and some the very reverse; others
find me hard to please and not so very clever after all. Be that as
it may, thou dost fear me lest I bring on thee something to mar thy
harmony. Fear me not, Creon, my position scarce is such that should
seek to quarrel with princes. Why should I, for how hast thou injured
me? Thou hast betrothed thy daughter where thy fancy prompted thee.
No, 'tis my husband I hate, though I doubt not thou hast acted wisely
herein. And now I grudge not thy prosperity; betroth thy child, good
luck to thee, but let me abide in this land, for though I have been
wronged I will be still and yield to my superiors.
CREON Thy words are soft to hear, but much I dread lest thou art
devising some mischief in thy heart, and less than ever do I trust
thee now; for cunning woman, and man likewise, is easier to guard
against when quick-tempered than when taciturn. Nay, begone at once!
speak me no speeches, for this is decreed, nor hast thou any art whereby
thou shalt abide amongst us, since thou hatest me.
MEDEA O, say not so! by thy knees and by thy daughter newlywed, I