Fiction > Harvard Classics > Jean Racine > Phædra
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Jean Racine (1639–1699).  Phædra.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
 
Act V
 
Scene VII
 
 
THESEUS,  PHÆDRA,  THERAMENES,  PANOPE,  GUARDS

Theseus

Madam, you’ve triumph’d, and my son is kill’d!
Ah, but what room have I for fear! How justly
Suspicion racks me that in blaming him
I err’d! But he is dead; accept your victim;
Rightly or wrongly slain, let your heart leap        5
For joy. My eyes shall be for ever blind:
Since you accuse him, I’ll believe him guilty.
His death affords me cause enough for tears,
Without a foolish search for further light
Which, pow’rless to restore him to my grief,        10
Might only serve to make me more unhappy.
Far from this shore and far from you I’ll fly,
For here the image of my mangled son
Would haunt my memory and drive me mad.
From the whole world I fain would banish me,        15
For all the world seems to rise up in judgment
Against me; and my very glory weights
My punishment; for, were my name less known
’Twere easier to hide me. All the favours
The gods have granted me I mourn and hate,        20
Nor will I importune them with vain pray’rs
Henceforth for ever. Give me what they may,
What they have taken will all else outweigh.
 
Phædra

Theseus, I cannot hear you and keep silence:
I must repair the wrong that he has suffer’d—        25
Your son was innocent.
 
Theseus

        Unhappy father!
And it was on your word that I condemn’d him!
Think you such cruelty can be excused—
 
Phædra

Moments to me are precious; hear me, Theseus.
        30
’Twas I who cast an eye of lawless passion
On chaste and dutiful Hippolytus.
Heav’n in my bosom kindled baleful fire,
And vile Œnone’s cunning did the rest.
She fear’d Hippolytus, knowing my madness,        35
Would make that passion known which he regarded
With horror; so advantage of my weakness
She took, and hasten’d to accuse him first.
For that she has been punish’d, tho’ too mildly;
Seeking to shun my wrath she cast herself        40
Beneath the waves. The sword ere now had cut
My thread of life, but slander’d innocence
Made its cry heard, and I resolved to die
In a more lingering way, confessing first
My penitence to you. A poison, brought        45
To Athens by Medea, runs thro’ my veins.
Already in my heart the venom works,
Infusing there a strange and fatal chill;
Already as thro’ thickening mists I see
The spouse to whom my presence is an outrage;        50
Death, from mine eyes veiling the light of heav’n,
Restores its purity that they defiled.
 
Panope

She dies, my lord!
 
Theseus

        Would that the memory
Of her disgraceful deed could perish with her!        55
Ah, disabused too late! Come, let us go,
And with the blood of mine unhappy son
Mingle our tears, clasping his dear remains,
In deep repentance for a pray’r detested.
Let him be honour’d as he well deserves;        60
And, to appease his sore offended ghost,
Be her near kinsmen’s guilt whate’er it may,
Aricia shall be held my daughter from to-day.
 

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