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Medea   


will judge 'twixt thee and him herein. Then mourn not for thy husband's
loss too much, nor waste thyself away.
MEDEA (within) Great Themis, and husband of Themis, behold what
I am suffering now, though I did bind that accursed one, my husband,
by strong oaths to me! O, to see him and his bride some day brought
to utter destruction, they and their house with them, for that they
presume to wrong me thus unprovoked. O my father, my country, that
I have left to my shame, after slaying my own brother.
NURSE Do ye hear her words, how loudly she adjures Themis, oft invoked,
and Zeus, whom men regard as keeper of their oaths? On no mere trifle
surely will our mistress spend her rage.
CHORUS Would that she would come forth for us to see, and listen
to the words of counsel we might give, if haply she might lay aside
the fierce fury of her wrath, and her temper stern. Never be my zeal
at any rate denied my friends! But go thou and bring her hither outside
the house, and tell her this our friendly thought; haste thee ere
she do some mischief to those inside the house, for this sorrow of
hers is mounting high.
NURSE This will I do; but I doubt whether I shall persuade my mistress;
still willingly will I undertake this trouble for you; albeit, she
glares upon her servants with the look of a lioness with cubs, whenso
anyone draws nigh to speak to her. Wert thou to call the men of old
time rude uncultured boors thou wouldst not err, seeing that they
devised their hymns for festive occasions, for banquets, and to grace
the board, a pleasure to catch the ear, shed o'er our life, but no
man hath found a way to allay hated grief by music and the minstrel's
varied strain, whence arise slaughters and fell strokes of fate to
o'erthrow the homes of men. And yet this were surely a gain, to heal
men's wounds by music's spell, but why tune they their idle song where
rich banquets are spread? For of itself doth the rich banquet, set
before them, afford to men delight.
CHORUS I heard a bitter cry of lamentation! loudly, bitterly she
calls on the traitor of her marriage bed, her perfidious spouse; by
grievous wrongs oppressed she invokes Themis, bride of Zeus, witness
of oaths, who brought her unto Hellas, the land that fronts the strand
of Asia, o'er the sea by night through ocean's boundless gate. (As
the CHORUS finishes its song, MEDEA enters from the house.)

MEDEA From the house I have come forth, Corinthian ladies, for fear
lest you be blaming me; for well I know that amongst men many by showing
pride have gotten them an ill name and a reputation for indifference,
both those who shun men's gaze and those who move amid the stranger
crowd, and likewise they who choose a quiet walk in life. For there
is no just discernment in the eyes of men, for they, or ever they
have surely learnt their neighbour's heart, loathe him at first sight,
though never wronged by him; and so a stranger most of all should
adopt a city's views; nor do I commend that citizen, who, in the stubbornness
of his heart, from churlishness resents the city's will.
But on me hath fallen this unforeseen disaster, and sapped my life;
ruined I am, and long to resign the boon of existence, kind friends,
and die. For he who was all the world to me, as well thou knowest,
hath turned out the worst of men, my own husband. Of all things that
have life and sense we women are the most hapless creatures; first
must we buy a husband at a great price, and o'er ourselves a tyrant
set which is an evil worse than the first; and herein lies the most
important issue, whether our choice be good or bad. For divorce is
not honourable to women, nor can we disown our lords. Next must the
wife, coming as she does to ways and customs new, since she hath not
learnt the lesson in her home, have a diviner's eye to see how best
to treat the partner of her life. If haply we perform these tasks
with thoroughness and tact, and the husband live with us, without
resenting the yoke, our life is a happy one; if not, 'twere best to
die. But when a man is vexed with what he finds indoors, he goeth
forth and rids his soul of its disgust, betaking him to some friend
or comrade of like age; whilst we must needs regard his single self.

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