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Medea   


whether thou thinkest that the gods of old no longer rule, or that
fresh decrees are now in vogue amongst mankind, for thy conscience
must tell thee thou hast not kept faith with me. Ah! poor right hand,
which thou didst often grasp. These knees thou didst embrace! All
in vain, I suffered a traitor to touch me! How short of my hopes I
am fallen! But come, I will deal with the as though thou wert my friend.
Yet what kindness can I expect from one so base as thee? But yet I
will do it, for my questioning will show thee yet more base. Whither
can I turn me now? to my father's house, to my own country, which
I for thee deserted to come hither? to the hapless daughters of Pelias?
A glad welcome, I trow, would they give me in their home, whose father's
death I compassed! My case stands even thus: I am become the bitter
foe to those of mine own home, and those whom I need ne'er have wronged
I have made mine enemies to pleasure thee. Wherefore to reward me
for this thou hast made me doubly blest in the eyes of many wife in
Hellas; and in thee I own a peerless, trusty lord. O woe is me, if
indeed I am to be cast forth an exile from the land, without one friend;
one lone woman with her babes forlorn! Yea, a fine reproach to thee
in thy bridal hour, that thy children and the wife who saved thy life
are beggars and vagabonds! O Zeus! why hast thou granted unto man
clear signs to know the sham in gold, while on man's brow no brand
is stamped whereby to gauge the villain's heart?
LEADER OF THE CHORUS There is a something terrible and past all cure,
when quarrels arise 'twixt those who are near and dear.
JASON Needs must I now, it seems, turn orator, and, like a good helmsman
on a ship with close-reefed sails, weather that wearisome tongue of
thine. Now, I believe, since thou wilt exaggerate thy favours, that
to Cypri, alone of gods or men I owe the safety of my voyage. Thou
hast a subtle wit enough; yet were it a hateful thing for me to say
that the Love-god constrained thee by his resistless shaft to save
my life. However, I will not reckon this too nicely; 'twas kindly
done, however thou didst serve me. Yet for my safety hast thou received
more than ever thou gavest, as I will show. First, thou dwellest in
Hellas, instead of thy barbarian land, and hast learnt what justice
means and how to live by law, not by the dictates of brute force;
and all the Hellenes recognize thy cleverness, and thou hast gained
a name; whereas, if thou hadst dwelt upon the confines of the earth,
no tongue had mentioned thee. Give me no gold within my halls, nor
skill to sing a fairer strain than ever Orpheus sang, unless there-with
my fame be spread abroad! So much I say to thee about my own toils,
for 'twas thou didst challenge me to this retort. As for the taunts
thou urgest against my marriage with the princess, I will prove to
thee, first, that I am prudent herein, next chastened in my love,
and last powerful friend to thee and to thy sons; only hold thy peace.
Since I have here withdrawn from Iolcos with many a hopeless trouble
at my back, what happier device could I, an exile, frame than marriage
with the daughter of the king? 'Tis not because I loathe thee for
my wife-the thought that rankles in thy heart; 'tis not because I
am smitten with desire for a new bride, nor yet that I am eager to
vie with others in begetting many children, for those we have are
quite enough, and I do not complain. Nay, 'tis that we-and this is
most important-may dwell in comfort, instead of suffering want (for
well I know that every whilom friend avoids the poor)
, and that
I might rear my sons as doth befit my house; further, that I might
be the father of brothers for the children thou hast borne, and raise
these to the same high rank, uniting the family in one,-to my lasting
bliss. Thou, indeed, hast no need of more children, but me it profits
to help my present family by that which is to be. Have I miscarried
here? Not even thou wouldest say so unless a rival's charms rankled
in thy bosom. No, but you women have such strange ideas, that you
think all is well so long as your married life runs smooth; but if
some mischance occur to ruffle your love, all that was good and lovely
erst you reckon as your foes. Yea, men should have begotten children
from some other source, no female race existing; thus would no evil

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