ever have fallen on mankind.
LEADER This speech, O Jason, hast thou with specious art arranged;
but yet I think-albeit in speaking I am indiscreet-that thou hast
sinned in thy betrayal of thy wife.
MEDEA No doubt I differ from the mass of men on many points; for,
to my mind, whoso hath skill to fence with words in an unjust cause,
incurs the heaviest penalty; for such an one, confident that he can
cast a decent veil of words o'er his injustice, dares to practise
it; and yet he is not so very clever after all. So do not thou put
forth thy specious pleas and clever words to me now, for one word
of mine will lay thee low. Hadst thou not had a villain's heart, thou
shouldst have gained my consent, then made this match, instead of
hiding it from those who loved thee.
JASON Thou wouldest have lent me ready aid, no doubt, in this proposal,
if had told thee of my marriage, seeing that not even now canst thou
restrain thy soul's hot fury.
MEDEA This was not what restrained thee; but thine eye was turned
towards old age, and a foreign wife began to appear a shame to thee.
JASON Be well assured of this: 'twas not for the woman's sake I wedded
the king's daughter, my present wife; but, as I have already told
thee, I wished to insure thy safety and to be the father of royal
sons bound by blood to my own children-a bulwark to our house.
MEDEA May that prosperity, whose end is woe, ne'er be mine, nor such
wealth as would ever sting my heart!
JASON Change that prayer as I will teach thee, and thou wilt show
more wisdom. Never let happiness appear in sorrow's guise, nor, when
thy fortune smiles, pretend she frowns!
MEDEA Mock on; thou hast a place of refuge; I am alone, an exile
soon to be.
JASON Thy own free choice was this; blame no one else.
MEDEA What did I do? Marry, then betray thee?
JASON Against the king thou didst invoke an impious curse.
MEDEA On thy house too maybe I bring the curse.
JASON Know this, I will no further dispute this point with thee.
But, if thou wilt of my fortune somewhat take for the children or
thyself to help thy exile, say on; for I am ready to grant it with
ungrudging hand, yea and to bend tokens to my friends elsewhere who
shall treat thee well. If thou refuse this offer, thou wilt do a foolish
deed, but if thou cease from anger the greater will be thy gain.
MEDEA I will have naught to do with friends of thine, naught will
I receive of thee, offer it not to me; a villain's gifts can bring
JASON At least I call the gods to witness, that I am ready in all
things to serve thee and thy children, but thou dost scorn my favours
and thrustest thy friends stubbornly away; wherefore thy lot will
be more bitter still.
MEDEA Away! By love for thy young bride entrapped, too long thou
lingerest outside her chamber; go wed, for, if God will, thou shalt
have such a marriage as thou wouldst fain refuse. (JASON goes out.)
CHORUS (singing, strophe 1)
When in excess and past all limits Love doth come, he brings not
glory or repute to man; but if the Cyprian queen in moderate might
approach, no goddess is so full of charm as she. Never, O never, lady
mine, discharge at me from thy golden bow a shaft invincible, in passion's
On me may chastity, heaven's fairest gift, look with a favouring
eye; never may Cypris, goddess dread, fasten on me a temper to dispute,
or restless jealousy, smiting my soul with mad desire for unlawful
love, but may she hallow peaceful married life and shrewdly decide
whom each of us shall wed.
O my country, O my own dear home! God grant I may never be an outcast
from my city, leading that cruel helpless life, whose every day is