set my price above all wealth.
MEDEA Say not so; 'tis said that gifts tempt even gods; and o'er
men's minds gold holds more potent sway than countless words. Fortune
smiles upon thy bride, and heaven now doth swell her triumph; youth
is hers and princely power; yet to save my children from exile I would
barter life, not dross alone. Children, when we are come to the rich
palace, pray your father's new bride, my mistress, with suppliant
voice to save you from exile, offering her these ornaments the while;
for it is most needful that she receive the gifts in her own hand.
Now go and linger not; may ye succeed and to your mother bring back
the glad tidings she fain would hear (JASON, the ATTENDANT, and the
children go out together.)
CHORUS (singing, strophe 1)
Gone, gone is every hope I had that the children yet might live;
forth to their doom they now proceed. The hapless bride will take,
ay, take the golden crown that is to be her ruin; with her own hand
will she lift and place upon her golden locks the garniture of death.
Its grace and sheen divine will tempt her to put on the robe and
crown of gold, and in that act will she deck herself to be a bride
amid the dead. Such is the snare whereinto she will fall, such is
the deadly doom that waits the hapless maid, nor shall she from the
And thou, poor wretch, who to thy sorrow art wedding a king's daughter,
little thinkest of the doom thou art bringing on thy children's life,
or of the cruel death that waits thy bride. Woe is thee! how art thou
fallen from thy high estate!
Next do I bewail thy sorrows, O mother hapless in thy children, thou
who wilt slay thy babes because thou hast a rival, the babes thy husband
hath deserted impiously to join him to another bride. (The ATTENDANT
enters with the children.)
ATTENDANT Thy children, lady, are from exile freed, and gladly did
the royal bride accept thy gifts in her own hands, and so thy children
made their peace with her.
ATTENDANT Why art so disquieted in thy prosperous hour? Why turnest
thou thy cheek away, and hast no welcome for my glad news?
MEDEA Ah me!
ATTENDANT These groans but ill accord with the news I bring.
MEDEA Ah me! once more I say.
ATTENDANT Have I unwittingly announced some evil tidings? Have I
erred in thinking my news was good?
MEDEA Thy news is as it is; I blame thee not.
ATTENDANT Then why this downcast eye, these floods of tears?
MEDEA Old friend, needs must I weep; for the gods and I with fell
intent devised these schemes.
ATTENDANT Be of good cheer; thou too of a surety shalt by thy sons
yet be brought home again.
MEDEA Ere that shall I bring others to their home, ah! woe is me
ATTENDANT Thou art not the only mother from thy children reft. Bear
patiently thy troubles as a mortal must.
MEDEA I will obey; go thou within the house and make the day's provision
for the children. (The ATTENDANT enters the house. MEDEA turns to
the children.) O my babes, my babes, ye have still a city and a home,
where far from me and my sad lot you will live your lives, reft of
your mother for ever; while I must to another land in banishment,
or ever I have had my joy of you, or lived to see you happy, or ever
I have graced your marriage couch, your bride, your bridal bower,
or lifted high the wedding torch. Ah me! a victim of my own self-will.
So it was all in vain I reared you, O my sons; in vain did suffer,
racked with anguish, enduring the cruel pangs of childbirth. 'Fore
Heaven I once had hope, poor me! high hope of ye that you would nurse