Main Body

Act Five




What! can you be silent in this extreme peril?
Do you leave a father who loves you in error?
Cruel, if of my tears, contemptuous of power,
You easily agree not to see me again,
Go; separate yourself from sad Aricia;
But at least when you leave, secure your life.
Defend your honor from a shameful reproach,
And force your father to revoke his vows:
There is still time. Why, by what whim,
Are you leaving the field open to your accuser?
Clear up Theseus.
Hey! what did I not say?
Did I have to uncover the shame of his bed?
Should I, by telling him too sincere a story,
Cover a father’s forehead with an unworthy blush?
You alone have unraveled this odious mystery.
My heart to pour out has only you and the gods.
I couldn’t hide from you, judge if I love you,
Everything I wanted to hide from myself.
But think under what seal I revealed it to you:
Forget, if it is possible, that I spoke to you,
Mrs ; and that never a mouth so pure
Do not open to tell this horrible adventure.
On the equity of the gods we dare to confide;
They have too much interest in justifying me:
And Phèdre, sooner or later for his crime punished,
Cannot avoid its just ignominy.
This is the only respect I demand from you.
I allow all the rest to my wrath:
Get out of slavery where you are reduced;
Dare to follow me, dare to accompany my flight;
Tear yourself away from a deadly and profaned place,
Where virtue breathes a poisoned air;
Take advantage, to hide your early retirement,
From the confusion that my disgrace throws at it.
I can assure you of the means:
Up to now you have only my guards;
Mighty defenders will take our quarrel;
Argos reaches out to us, and Sparta calls us:
To our mutual friends let us bring our just cries;
Let us not suffer that Phèdre, assembling our debris,
From the father’s throne drives us both away,
And promise his son my remains and yours.
The opportunity is beautiful, it must be embraced …
What fear is holding you back? you seem to be swinging?
Your only interest inspires me this daring:
When I’m all on fire, where does this ice cream come from?
In the footsteps of an outcast do you fear to walk?
Alas! how dear such an exile, my lord!
In what raptures, to your fate bound,
From the rest of mortals I would live forgotten!
But not being united by such a sweet bond,
May I with honor steal with you?
I know that, without hurting the most severe honor,
I can free myself from the hands of your father:
It is not to tear me away from my parents’ womb;
And those who flee their tyrants are allowed to escape.
But you love me, lord; and my alarmed glory …
No, no, I care too much for your fame.
A nobler purpose brings me before you:
Flee your enemies, and follow your husband.
Free in our misfortunes, since heaven orders it,
The gift of our faith does not depend on anyone.
The hymen is not always surrounded by torches.
At the gates of Trézène, and among these tombs,
Of the princes of my race ancient burials,
Is a formidable sacred temple to perjurers.
This is where mortals dare not swear in vain:
The perfidious receives there a sudden punishment;
And fearing to find inevitable death there,
Lying has no more formidable brake.
There, if you believe me, with an eternal love
We will go and confirm the solemn oath;
We will take as witness the god who is revered there:
We will both pray to him to be our father.
Of the most sacred gods I will attest to the name,
And the chaste Diana, and the august Juno,
And finally all the gods, witnesses of my tenderness,
Will guarantee the faith of my holy promises.
The king is coming: flee, prince and leave quickly.
To hide my departure, I stay for a while.
Come on; and leave me some faithful guide,
Which leads my timid approach towards you.




Gods ! enlighten my confusion, and deign in my eyes
Show the truth that I am looking for in these places!
Think of everything, dear Ismene, and be ready to flee.




You change color, and seem forbidden,
Madame: what was Hippolyte doing in this place?
Lord, he was saying an eternal farewell to me.
Your eyes have been able to tame this rebellious courage;
And his first sighs are your happy work.
Lord, I cannot deny you the truth:
He has not inherited your unjust hatred;
He didn’t treat me like a criminal.
I hear: he swore eternal love to you.
Do not be sure about this inconstant heart;
Because to others than you he swore as much.
Him, lord?
You had to make it less fickle:
How did you suffer this horrible sharing?
And how do you suffer that horrible speeches
From such a good life dare to blacken the course?
Do you have so little knowledge of his heart?
Do you see crime and innocence so badly?
Must there be only an odious cloud in your eyes
Steals his virtue, which shines in all eyes?
Ah! it is too much to deliver him to treacherous tongues.
Cease: repent of your homicidal vows;
Fear, lord, fear the harsh sky
Don’t hate yourself enough to make your wishes come true.
Often in his anger he receives our victims:
His gifts are often the penalty for our crimes.
No, you want to cover up his attack in vain;
Your love blinds you in favor of the ungrateful.
But I believe certain, irreproachable witnesses:
I saw, I saw real tears flow.
Beware, Lord: your invincible hands
Have monsters without number freed humans;
But all is not destroyed, and you let it live
A … Your son, lord, forbids me to continue.
Knowing the respect he wants to keep you,
I would grieve him too much if I dared to finish.
I imitate her modesty, and flee your presence
So as not to be forced to break the silence.



So what is his thought, and what hides a speech
Started so many times, always interrupted?
Do they want to dazzle me with a vain feint?
Do they both agree to embarrass me?
But myself, despite my severe severity,
What plaintive voice cries from the bottom of my heart?
A secret pity that grieves and astonishes me.
A second time, let’s question Oenone:
I want the whole crime to be better clarified.
Guards, let Oenone go out and come here alone.




I ignore the project that the queen is meditating,
Lord; but I fear all of the transport which agitates it.
A deadly despair on her face is painted;
The pallor of death is already on her complexion.
Already from his presence with shame driven away,
In the deep sea, Oenone launched herself.
We do not know where this furious design started from;
And the waves forever delighted her in our eyes.
What do I hear?
His death did not calm the queen;
Trouble seems to be growing in his uncertain soul.
Sometimes, to flatter her secret pains,
She takes her children and bathes them in tears;
And suddenly, renouncing maternal love,
Her hand in horror pushes them away from her;
She takes her unresolved steps at random;
His stray eye no longer recognizes us;
She has written three times; and changing of mind,
Three times she broke her started letter.
Deign to see her, my lord; deign to help her.
O heaven! Oenone is dead, and Phèdre wants to die!
Call my son back, come and defend himself;
Let him come talk to me, I’m ready to hear him.


Do not rush your fatal benefits,
Neptune; I prefer never to be heard.
I may have believed too little faithful witnesses,
And too soon I raised my cruel hands to you.
Ah! with what despair my wishes would be followed!




Theramenes, is that you? What have you done with my son?
I entrusted it to you from the earliest age.
But where do the tears that I see you shed come from?
What is my son doing?
O late and superfluous care!
Useless tenderness! Hippolyte is no more.
Gods !
I have seen the most lovable mortals perish,
And I dare say again, Lord, the least culpable.
My son is no more! What! when I hold out my arms to him,
The impatient gods hastened his demise!
What stroke delighted me, what sudden lightning?
We had barely left the gates of Trézène,
He was in his chariot; his distressed guards
Imitated his silence, around him ranged;
He followed the road to Mycenae with all thought;
His hand on the horses let the reins float;
His superb couriers that we once saw
Full of such noble ardor to obey his voice,
With gloomy eyes now, and lowered head,
Seemed to conform to his sad thought.
A terrible cry from the bottom of the waves,
Airs at this moment disturbed the rest;
And from the bosom of the earth a formidable voice
Responds with a moan to this dreadful cry.
To the bottom of our hearts our blood is frozen;
Attentive couriers the horsehair bristled.
However on the back of the liquid plain,
A damp mountain rises with great boils;
The wave approaches, breaks, and vomits in our eyes,
Among waves of foam, a furious monster.
His broad forehead is armed with threatening horns;
His whole body is covered with yellowing scales,
Indomitable bull, fiery dragon,
Its rump curves in tortuous folds;
Its long roars shake the shore.
The sky with horror sees this wild monster;
The earth is moved by it, the air is infected with it;
The flood which brought it recoils in terror.
Everything leaks; and without arming yourself with unnecessary courage,
In the neighboring temple everyone is looking for an asylum.
Hippolyte alone, worthy son of a hero,
Stop his steeds, grab his javelins,
Push to the monster, and with a sting thrown with a sure hand,
He gives him a large wound in the side.
With rage and pain the leaping monster
Comes at the feet of the horses, howling,
Rolls up, and presents them with a flaming mouth
Who covers them with fire, blood and smoke.
Fear takes them away; and, deaf at this time,
They no longer know the brake or the voice;
In powerless efforts their master consumes himself;
They redden the bit with bloody foam.
They say that we have even seen, in this dreadful disorder,
A god who stings pressed their powdery flanks.
Across the rocks fear precipitates them;
The axle cries and breaks: the intrepid Hippolyte
Sees his entire smashed tank shattered;
In the reins himself he falls embarrassed.
Excuse my pain: this cruel image
An eternal source of tears will be for me.
I saw, lord, I saw your unhappy son
Dragged by the horses his hand fed.
He wants to call them back, and his voice frightens them;
They run: her whole body is soon a wound.
With our painful cries the plain resounds.
Their impetuous ardor finally slows down:
They stop not far from these ancient tombs
Where kings are his ancestors cold relics.
I run there with a sigh, and his guard follows me:
With his generous blood the trace leads us;
The rocks are stained with it; the dripping brambles
Bears the bloody remains of his hair.
I arrive, I call him; and holding out my hand,
He opens a dying eye that he suddenly closes:
“The sky,” he said, “is taking an innocent life from me.
“Take care of sad Aricia after my death.
“Dear friend, if my father one day disillusioned
“Pity the misfortune of a falsely accused son,
“To appease my blood and my plaintive shadow,
“Tell him how gently he treats his captive;
“May he give him back …” At that word, this expired hero
Left in my arms only a disfigured body:
Sad object where gods triumphs over wrath,
And that even his father’s eye would ignore.
O my son! dear hope that I delighted myself!
Inexorable gods, who have served me too much!
What mortal regrets my life is reserved for!
The shy Aricie then arrived:
She was coming, lord, fleeing your wrath,
In the face of the gods to accept him as a husband.
She approaches; she sees the red and smoking grass;
She sees (what an object for a lover’s eyes!)
Hippolyte stretched out, without form and without color …
She wants to doubt her misfortune for a while;
And, no longer knowing this hero she adores,
She sees Hippolyte, and asks again.
But too sure in the end that he’s in front of her eyes,
With a sad look she accuses the gods;
And cold, moaning, and almost lifeless,
At her lover’s feet she falls swooning.
Ismene is near her; Ismene, all in tears,
Calls her back to life, or rather to pain.
And I, I came, hating the light,
Tell you of a hero the last will,
And discharge me, lord, of the unfortunate job
Whose dying heart rested on me.
But I see his deadly enemy coming.




Well ! you triumph, and my son is lifeless!
Ah! that I have reason to fear, and that a cruel suspicion,
The excusing in my heart, alarms me with reason!
But, madame, he is dead, take your victim;
Enjoy its loss, unjust or legitimate:
I agree that my eyes are still being abused.
I believe him to be a criminal, since you are accusing him.
His death to my tears offers enough material
Without going to look for hateful lights,
Who, unable to return it to my just pain,
Maybe would only increase my unhappiness.
Leave me, far from you, and far from this shore,
From my torn son flee the bloody image.
Confused, persecuted by a deadly memory,
From the whole universe I would like to banish myself.
Everything seems to speak out against my injustice;
The shine of my very name increases my torment:
Less known to mortals, I would hide better.
I hate even the cares with which the gods honor me;
And I’m going to mourn their murderous favors,
Without tiring them of useless prayers.
Whatever they do for me, their fatal kindness
Cannot pay me for what they have taken from me.
No, Theseus, we must break an unjust silence;
Your son must restore his innocence:
He was not guilty.
Ah! unfortunate father!
And it is on your faith that I condemned him!
Cruel! do you think you’re sorry enough …
Times are dear to me; listen to me, Theseus
It is I who on this son, chaste and respectful,
Dare to take a profane, incestuous eye.
Heaven put a fatal flame in my bosom:
The detestable Oenone led all the rest.
She feared that Hippolytus, informed of my fury,
Did not discover a fire which horrified him:
The perfidious, abusing my extreme weakness,
Has hastened in your eyes to accuse him himself.
She punished herself, and fleeing my wrath,
Searched the waves for too sweet a torment.
Iron would have already decided my destiny;
But I let the suspected virtue moan:
I wanted, in front of you exposing my remorse,
By a slower path descend to the dead.
I took, I ran through my hot veins
A poison that Medea brought to Athens.
Already to my heart the venom has reached
Into this dying heart throws an unknown cold;
Already I can only see through a cloud
And heaven and the bridegroom whom my presence insults;
And death in my eyes stealing the clarity,
Brings back to the day that they defiled all its purity.
It expires, lord!
Of such a black action
What cannot with it expire the memory!
Come, my mistake, alas! too bright,
To mingle our tears with the blood of my unhappy son!
Let us go of this dear son to embrace what remains,
Atone for the fury of a wish I hate:
Let us give him the honors he has too deserved;
And, to better appease his angry spirits,
That, despite the plots of an unjust family,
Her lover today takes the place of a girl for me!



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Phaedra: A Tragedy by "Phèdre (Racine), Didot, 1854." Wikisource. 14 Oct 2017, 22:30 UTC. Oct. 14, 2017. The English version was transferred to Pressbooks by Ryerson Library. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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