JASON Ladies, stationed near this house, pray tell me is the author
of these hideous deeds, Medea, still within, or hath she fled from
hence? For she must hide beneath the earth or soar on wings towards
heaven's vault, if she would avoid the vengeance of the royal house.
Is she so sure she will escape herself unpunished from this house,
when she hath slain the rulers of the land? But enough of this! I
am forgetting her children. As for her, those whom she hath wronged
will do the like by her; but I am come to save the children's life,
lest the victim's kin visit their wrath on me, in vengeance for the
murder foul, wrought by my children's mother.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS Unhappy man, thou knowest not the full extent
of thy misery, else had thou never said those words.
JASON How now? Can she want to kill me too?
LEADER Thy sons are dead; slain by their own mother's hand.
JASON O God! what sayest thou? Woman, thou hast sealed my doom.
LEADER Thy children are no more; be sure of this.
JASON Where slew she them; within the palace or outside?
LEADER Throw wide the doors and see thy children's murdered corpses.
JASON Haste, ye slaves, loose the bolts, undo the fastenings, that
I may see the sight of twofold woe, my murdered sons and her, whose
blood in vengeance I will shed. (MEDEA appears above the house, on
a chariot drawn by dragons; the children's corpses are beside her.)
MEDEA Why shake those doors and attempt to loose their bolts, in
quest of the dead and me their murderess? From such toil desist. If
thou wouldst aught with me, say on, if so thou wilt; but never shalt
thou lay hand on me, so swift the steeds the sun, my father's sire,
to me doth give to save me from the hand of my foes.
JASON Accursed woman! by gods, by me and all mankind abhorred as
never woman was, who hadst the heart to stab thy babes, thou their
mother, leaving me undone and childless; this hast thou done and still
dost gaze upon the sun and earth after this deed most impious. Curses
on thee! now perceive what then I missed in the day I brought thee,
fraught with doom, from thy home in a barbarian land to dwell in Hellas,
traitress to thy sire and to the land that nurtured thee. On me the
gods have hurled the curse that dogged thy steps, for thou didst slay
thy brother at his hearth ere thou cam'st aboard our fair ship, Argo.
Such was the outset of thy life of crime; then didst thou wed with
me, and having borne me sons to glut thy passion's lust, thou now
hast slain them. Not one amongst the wives of Hellas e'er had dared
this deed; yet before them all I chose thee for my wife, wedding a
foe to be my doom, no woman, but a lioness fiercer than Tyrrhene Scylla
in nature. But with reproaches heaped thousandfold I cannot wound
thee, so brazen is thy nature. Perish, vile sorceress, murderess of
thy babes! Whilst I must mourn my luckless fate, for I shall ne'er
enjoy my new-found bride, nor shall I have the children, whom I bred
and reared, alive to say the last farewell to me; nay, I have lost
MEDEA To this thy speech I could have made a long reply, but Father
Zeus knows well all I have done for thee, and the treatment thou hast
given me. Yet thou wert not ordained to scorn my love and lead a life
of joy in mockery of me, nor was thy royal bride nor Creon, who gave
thee a second wife, to thrust me from this land and rue it not. Wherefore,
if thou wilt, call me e'en a lioness, and Scylla, whose home is in
the Tyrrhene land; for I in turn have wrung thy heart, as well I might.
JASON Thou, too, art grieved thyself, and sharest in my sorrow.
MEDEA Be well assured I am; but it relieves my pain to know thou
canst not mock at me.
JASON O my children, how vile a mother ye have found!
MEDEA My sons, your father's feeble lust has been your ruin!
JASON 'Twas not my hand, at any rate, that slew them.
MEDEA No, but thy foul treatment of me, and thy new marriage.
JASON Didst think that marriage cause enough to murder them?
MEDEA Dost think a woman counts this a trifling injury?