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Medea   


die with thee!" He ceased his sad lament, and would have raised his
aged frame, but found himself held fast by the fine-spun robe as ivy
that clings to the branches of the bay, and then ensued a fearful
struggle. He strove to rise, but she still held him back; and if ever
he pulled with all his might, from off his bones his aged flesh he
tore. At last he gave it up, and breathed forth his soul in awful
suffering; for he could no longer master the pain. So there they lie,
daughter and aged sire, dead side by side, a grievous sight that calls
for tears. And as for thee, I leave thee out of my consideration,
for thyself must discover a means to escape punishment. Not now for
the first time I think this human life a shadow; yea, and without
shrinking I will say that they amongst men who pretend to wisdom and
expend deep thought on words do incur a serious charge of folly; for
amongst mortals no man is happy; wealth may pour in and make one luckier
than another, but none can happy be. (The MESSENGER departs.)
LEADER OF THE CHORUS This day the deity, it seems, will mass on Jason,
as he well deserves, heavy load of evils. Woe is thee, daughter of
Creon We pity thy sad fate, gone as thou art to Hades' halls as the
price of thy marriage with Jason.
MEDEA My friends, I am resolved upon the deed; at once will I slay
my children and then leave this land, without delaying long enough
to hand them over to some more savage hand to butcher. Needs must
they die in any case; and since they must, I will slay them-I, the
mother that bare them. O heart of mine, steel thyself! Why do I hesitate
to do the awful deed that must be done? Come, take the sword, thou
wretched hand of mine! Take it, and advance to the post whence starts
thy life of sorrow! Away with cowardice! Give not one thought to thy
babes, how dear they are or how thou art their mother. This one brief
day forget thy children dear, and after that lament; for though thou
wilt slay them yet they were thy darlings still, and I am a lady of
sorrows. (MEDEA enters the house.)
CHORUS (chanting) O earth, O sun whose beam illumines all, look,
look upon this lost woman, ere she stretch forth her murderous hand
upon her sons for blood; for lo! these are scions of thy own golden
seed, and the blood of gods is in danger of being shed by man. O light,
from Zeus proceeding, stay her, hold her hand, forth from the house
chase this fell bloody fiend by demons led. Vainly wasted were the
throes thy children cost thee; vainly hast thou borne, it seems, sweet
babes, O thou who hast left behind thee that passage through the blue
Symplegades, that strangers justly hate. Ah! hapless one, why doth
fierce anger thy soul assail? Why in its place is fell murder growing
up? For grievous unto mortal men are pollutions that come of kindred
blood poured on the earth, woes to suit each crime hurled from heaven
on the murderer's house.
FIRST SON (within) Ah, me; what can I do? Whither fly to escape
my mother's blows?
SECOND SON (within) I know not, sweet brother mine; we are lost.
CHORUS (chanting) Didst hear, didst hear the children's cry? O lady,
born to sorrow, victim of an evil fate! Shall I enter the house? For
the children's sake I am resolved to ward off the murder.
FIRST SON (within) Yea, by heaven I adjure you; help, your aid is
needed.
SECOND SON (within) Even now the toils of the sword are closing
round us.
CHORUS (chanting) O hapless mother, surely thou hast a heart of
stone or steel to slay the offspring of thy womb by such a murderous
doom. Of all the wives of yore I know but one who laid her hand upon
her children dear, even Ino, whom the gods did madden in the day that
the wife of Zeus drove her wandering from her home. But she, poor
sufferer, flung herself into the sea because of the foul murder of
her children, leaping o'er the wave-beat cliff, and in her death was
she united to her children twain. Can there be any deed of horror
left to follow this? Woe for the wooing of women fraught with disaster!
What sorrows hast thou caused for men ere now! (JASON and his attendants

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