CREON Thou wastest words; thou wilt never persuade me.
MEDEA What, wilt thou banish me, and to my prayers no pity yield?
CREON I will, for I love not thee above my own family.
MEDEA O my country! what fond memories I have of thee in this hour!
CREON Yea, for I myself love my city best of all things save my children.
MEDEA Ah me! ah me! to mortal man how dread a scourge is love!
CREON That, I deem, is according to the turn our fortunes take.
MEDEA O Zeus! let not the author of these my troubles escape thee.
CREON Begone, thou silly woman, and free me from my toil.
MEDEA The toil is mine, no lack of it.
CREON Soon wilt thou be thrust out forcibly by the hand of servants.
MEDEA Not that, not that, I do entreat thee, Creon
CREON Thou wilt cause disturbance yet, it seems.
MEDEA I will begone; I ask thee not this boon to grant.
CREON Why then this violence? why dost thou not depart?
MEDEA Suffer me to abide this single day and devise some plan for
the manner of my exile, and means of living for my children, since
their father cares not to provide his babes therewith. Then pity them;
thou too hast children of thine own; thou needs must have a kindly
heart. For my own lot I care naught, though I an exile am, but for
those babes I weep, that they should learn what sorrow means.
CREON Mine is a nature anything but harsh; full oft by showing pity
have suffered shipwreck; and now albeit I clearly see my error, yet
shalt thou gain this request, lady; but I do forewarn thee, if tomorrow's
rising sun shall find thee and thy children within the borders of
this land, thou diest; my word is spoken and it will not lie. So now,
if abide thou must, stay this one day only, for in it thou canst not
do any of the fearful deeds I dread. (CREON and his retinue go out.)
CHORUS (chanting) Ah! poor lady, woe is thee! Alas, for thy sorrows!
Whither wilt thou turn? What protection, what home or country to save
thee from thy troubles wilt thou find? O Medea, in what a hopeless
sea of misery heaven hath plunged thee!
MEDEA On all sides sorrow pens me in. Who shall gainsay this? But
all is not yet lost! think not so. Still are there troubles in store
for the new bride, and for her bridegroom no light toil. Dost think
I would ever have fawned on yonder man, unless to gain some end or
form some scheme? Nay, would not so much as have spoken to him or
touched him with my hand. But he has in folly so far stepped in that,
though he might have checked my plot by banishing me from the land,
he hath allowed me to abide this day, in which I will lay low in death
three of my enemies-a father and his daughter and my husband too.
Now, though I have many ways to compass their death, I am not sure,
friends, which I am to try first. Shall I set fire to the bridal mansion,
or plunge the whetted sword through their hearts, softly stealing
into the chamber where their couch is spread? One thing stands in
my way. If I am caught making my way into the chamber, intent on my
design, I shall be put to death and cause my foes to mock, 'Twere
best to take the shortest way-the way we women are most skilled in-by
poison to destroy them. Well, suppose them dead; what city will receive
me? What friendly host will give me a shelter in his land, a home
secure, and save my soul alive? None. So I will wait yet a little
while in case some tower of defence rise up for me; then will I proceed
to this bloody deed in crafty silence; but if some unexpected mischance
drive me forth, I will with mine own hand seize the sword, e'en though
I die for it, and slay them, and go forth on my bold path of daring.
By that dread queen whom I revere before all others and have chosen
to share my task, by Hecate who dwells within my inmost chamber, not
one of them shall wound my heart and rue it not. Bitter and sad will
I make their marriage for them; bitter shall be the wooing of it,
bitter my exile from the land. Up, then, Medea, spare not the secrets
of thy art in plotting and devising; on to the danger. Now comes a
struggle needing courage. Dost see what thou art suffering? 'Tis not
for thee to be a laughing-stock to the race of Sisyphus by reason