|Medea Monologue by Euripides|
- JASON: I ought not to be rash, it seems, in speech,
- But like the skilful pilot, who, with sails
- Scarce half unfurled, his bark more surely guides,
- Escape, O woman, your ungoverned tongue.
- Since you the benefits on me conferred
- Exaggerate in so proud a strain, I deem
- That I to Venus only, and no god
- Or man beside, my prosperous voyage owe.
- Although a wondrous subtlety of soul
- To you belong, 'twere an invidious speech
- For me to make should I relate how Love
- By his inevitable shafts constrained you
- To save my life. I will not therefore state
- This argument too nicely, but allow,
- As you did aid me, it was kindly done.
- But by preserving me have you gained more
- Than you bestowed, as I shall prove: and first,
- Transplanted from barbaric shores, you dwell
- In Grecian regions, and have here been taught
- To act as justice and the laws ordain,
- Nor follow the caprice of brutal strength.
- By all the Greeks your wisdom is perceived,
- And you acquire renown; but had you still
- Inhabited that distant spot of earth,
- You never had been named. I would not wish
- For mansions heaped with gold, or to exceed
- The sweetest notes of Orpheus' magic lyre,
- Were those unfading wreaths which fame bestows
- From me withheld by fortune. I thus far
- On my own labours only have discoursed.
- For you this odious strife of words began.
- But in espousing Creon's royal daughter,
- With which you have reproached me, I will prove
- That I in acting thus am wise and chaste,
- That I to you have been the best of friends,
- And to our children. But make no reply.
- Since hither Iolchos' land I came,
- Accompanied by many woes, and such
- As could not be avoided, what device
- More advantageous would an exile frame
- Than wedding the king's daughter? Not through hate
- To you, which you reproach me with, not smitten
- With love for a new consort, or a wish
- The number of my children to augment:
- For those we have already might suffice,
- And I complain not. But to me it seemed
- Of great importance that we both might live
- As suits our rank, nor suffer abject need,
- Well knowing that each friend avoids the poor.
- I also wished to educate our sons
- In such a manner as befits my race
- And with their noble brothers yet unborn,
- Make them one family, that thus, my house
- Cementing, I might prosper. In some measure
- Is it your interest too that by my bride
- I should have sons, and me it much imports,
- By future children, to provide for those
- Who are in being. Have I judged amiss?
- You would not censure me, unless your soul
- Were by a rival stung. But your whole sex
- Hath these ideas; if in marriage blest
- Ye deem nought wanting, but if some reverse
- Of fortune e'er betide the nuptial couch,
- All that was good and lovely ye abhor.
- Far better were it for the human race
- Had children been produced by other means,
- No females e'er existing: hence might man
- Exempt from every evil have remained.
Credits: Reprinted from The Plays of Euripides in English, vol. ii. Trans. Shelley Dean Milman. London: J.M. Dent & Sons, 1922.