I’m not arguing with you any more
about all this. But if you want me
to provide some money, some assistance
for you and the children in your exile,
just ask. I’m prepared to give you some,
and with a generous hand. I’ll send my friends
introductory tokens, so they’ll treat you well.
You’d be mad not to accept this offer.
Woman, stop being so angry. If you do,
things will turn out so much better for you.
I’ll accept no assistance from your friends,
nor anything from you. Don’t make the offer.
Gifts from a worthless man are without value.
All right, but I call the gods to witness
I’m willing to help you and the children.
But you reject my goods and stubbornly
push away your friends, and that the reason
you suffer still more pain.
Get out of here.
For someone so in love with his new bride
you’re spending far too long outside her home.
Go act married. The gods will see to it
your marriage will change into one of those
which makes you wish you’d turned it down.
Love with too much passion
brings with it no fine reputation,
brings nothing virtuous to men.
But if Aphrodite comes in smaller doses,
no other god is so desirable.
Goddess, I pray you never strike me
with one of those poisoned arrows
shot from that golden bow of yours.
I pray that moderation,
the gods’ most beautiful gift,
will always guide me.
I pray that Aphrodite
never packs my heart with jealousy
or angry quarreling.
May she never fill me with desire
for sex in other people’s beds.
May she bless peaceful unions,
using her wisdom to select
a woman’s marriage bed.
O my country and my home,
I pray I never lack a city,
never face a hopeless life,
one filled with misery and pain.
Before that comes, let death,
my death, deliver me,
bring my days to their fatal end.
For there’s no affliction worse
than losing one’s own country.
I say on this based on what I’ve seen,
not on what other people say.
For you are here without a city—
you have no friends to pity you,
as you suffer in this misery,
suffer in the harshest way.
The man who shames his family,
who doesn’t open up his heart
and treat them in all honesty—
may he perish unlamented.
With him I never could be friends.
I wish you all happiness, Medea.
There’s no better way to greet one’s friends.
All happiness to you, too, Aegeus,
wise Pandion’s son. Where are you coming from?
I’ve just left Apollo’s ancient oracle.
The prophetic centre of the earth?
What business took you there?
To ask a question.
I want to know how I can have some children.
In the gods’ name, have you lived so long
without ever having any children?
Not one. Some god is doing this to me.
Do you have a wife? Or have you stayed unmarried?
No, I’m married. My wife shares my bed.
So what did Apollo say about it?
Words too wise for human understanding.
It is appropriate for me to learn them?
Of course. They need a clever mind like yours.
What was the prophecy? Tell it to me—
if it’s all right for me to hear.
He told me this:
“Don’t untie the wineskin’s foot. . .”
Until you do what or reach what country?
“. . . until you come back to your hearth and home.”
What were you looking for when you sailed here?
A man called Pittheus, king of Troezen.
He’s Pelops’ son. They say he’s a very holy man.
I want to share the god’s prophecy with him.
He’s a wise man and skilled in things like that.
And the friendliest of all my allies.
Well, good luck. I hope you find what you desire.
Why are your eyes so sad, your cheeks so pale?
O Aegeus, my husband has been cruel—
of all men he’s treated me the worst.
What are you saying? Tell me truly—
what things have made you so unhappy?
Jason’s abusing me. I’ve done him no harm.
What has he done? Give me more details.
He’s taken a new wife. She now rules his home,
instead of me.
That’s completely shameful.
He hasn’t dared something like that, has he?
Indeed, he has. He’s dishonored me, the wife
he used to love.
Is this a new love affair,
or did he get fed up with you in bed?
A new love match—he’s betrayed his family.
Leave him, then, since, as you say, he’s worthless.
His passion is to marry royalty.
Who’s giving her to him? Tell me the rest.
Creon, who rules this land of Corinth.
Then, lady, it’s quite understandable
why you’re in such distress.
I’m done for, finished.
I’m being banished from this country.
By whom? You’re speaking now of some new trouble.
Creon is driving me out into exile,
shipping me off, away from Corinth.
With Jason’s full consent? I find that disgraceful.
He says not. Still, he’s planning to accept it.
But, Aegeus, I beg you by your beard,
and at your knees implore you—have pity.
Take pity on me in my misfortune.
Don’t let me be exiled without a friend.
Accept me as a suppliant in your home,
your native land. If you will take me in,
may the gods then answer your desire
to have children. May you die a happy man.
You don’t know what a lucky one you are
to find me here. I’ll end your childlessness.
I know the sorts of medicines to use,
and I can help you have many children.
Lady, I’d like to grant this favour to you,
for many reasons. First, there’s the gods.
Then, for the children you say I’ll produce.
For there I’ve lost all sense of what to try.
Here’s what I’ll do. If you get to my country,
I’ll strive to treat you as a foreign guest—
that’s the proper thing for me to do.
But, Medea, I’ll give you fair warning:
I won’t plot to get you out of Corinth.
If you can reach my household on your own,
you may stay there in safety. Rest assured—
I won’t surrender you to anyone.
But you must make your own escape from here.
I don’t want my hosts finding fault with me.
That’s fine with me. If you could promise this,
you’d have done me all the good you can.
Don’t you trust me? What in this still bothers you?
I do trust you. But the house of Pelias
dislikes me, and so does Creon’s, too.
If you bind yourself to a promise now,
you’ll not hand me over when they come,
seeking to remove me from your country.
If you use words, and don’t swear by the gods,
you may become their friend and then comply
with their political demands. I’m weak,
and they have wealth, a king’s resources.
What you’ve just said is very shrewd. All right,
if it’s what you want, I’m not unwilling
to do what you require. Your proposal
gives me some security. I can show
those hostile to you I’ve a good excuse.
And it makes your position safer.
Tell me the gods that I should swear by.
Swear by the plain of Earth, by Helios,
my father’s father, by the family of gods,
by all of them collectively.
what I must swear to do and not to do.
Never to cast me out from your own country.
And if some enemy of mine asks you
if he can take me off, you’ll not agree,
not while you’re still alive.
by the Earth, by Helios’ sacred light,
by all the gods—I’ll do what I’ve just heard.
That’s good. And if you betray this promise,
what happens to you then?
May I then suffer
the punishment that falls on profane men.
All is well. Now, go your way in peace.
I’ll come to your city as quickly as I can,
once I’ve completed what I mean to do,
and my plans here have been successful.
Medea by Euripides