Main Body

Act Four




Ah! what do I hear? A traitor, a reckless
Prepared this outrage to his father’s honor!
With what rigor, fate, you pursue me!
I don’t know where I’m going, I don’t know where I am.
O tenderness! O goodness too badly rewarded!
Bold project! hateful thought!
To achieve the goal of his dark loves,
The insolent force borrowed help!
I recognized the iron, the instrument of his rage,
This iron with which I armed it for a nobler use.
All the ties of blood could not hold him back!
And Phèdre deferred having him punished!
Phèdre’s silence spared the culprit!
Phèdre rather spared a deplorable father:
Ashamed of the design of a furious lover,
And the arson he caught in his eyes,
Phaedrus was dying, lord, and his murderous hand
She put out the innocent light with her eyes.
I saw raise my arm, I ran to save her.
I alone in your love I knew how to preserve it.
And complaining both of his trouble and your alarms,
I served, in spite of myself, as an interpreter to his tears.
The treacherous! he couldn’t help but turn pale:
As I approached me, I saw him quiver.
I was astonished at his lack of joy;
Her cold embraces froze my tenderness.
But this guilty love by which he is devoured
In Athens had he already declared himself?
Lord, remember the queen’s complaints:
A criminal love caused all his hatred.
And this fire in Trézène has therefore started again?
I told you, lord, everything that happened.
It is too much to leave the queen to her mortal pain,
Suffer that I leave you and line up with her.




Ah! here it is. Great gods! to this noble bearing
Which eye would not be deceived like mine?
Must it be that on the forehead of an adulterous layman
Shine with virtue the sacred character!
And shouldn’t we at certain signs
Recognize the hearts of treacherous humans!
May I ask you what a fatal cloud,
Lord, could you trouble your august face?
Don’t you dare to confide this secret to my faith?
Perfidious! do you dare to show yourself in front of me?
Monster, whom thunder has spared for too long,
The robbers whose land I have purged remain unclean,
After the transport of a love full of horror
Your fury carried your fury to your father’s bed,
You dare present me with an enemy head!
You appear in places full of your infamy!
And don’t go looking, under an unknown sky,
From countries where my name has not reached?
Flee, traitor. Do not come here to defy my hatred,
And tempt a wrath that I barely remember:
It’s enough for me eternal reproach
To have been able to bring to light such a criminal son,
Without your death still, shameful in my memory,
From my noble works come to defile the glory.
Flee: and if you only want a sudden punishment
Add to the scoundrels punished by this hand,
Beware that ever the star that lights us up
Do not see yourself in these places putting a reckless footing.
Flee, I say; and without rushing back your steps,
Your horrible appearance purges all my states.
And you, Neptune, and you, so once my courage
Infamous assassins cleaned your shore,
Remember that, at the price of my happy efforts,
You promised to grant my first wish.
In the long rigors of a cruel prison
I did not implore your immortal power;
Miserly with the help I expect from your care,
My wishes have reserved for you for greater needs:
I implore you today. Avenge an unhappy father;
I abandon this traitor to all your anger;
Stifles his brazen desires in his blood:
Theseus in your fury will know your kindness.
Of a criminal love Phèdre accuses Hippolyte!
Such excess of horror makes my soul dumbfounded;
So many unforeseen blows overwhelm me at the same time,
Let them take away my speech, and stifle my voice.
Traitor, you claimed that in cowardly silence
Phèdre would bury your brutal insolence:
It was necessary, while fleeing, not to give up
The iron which in his hands helps to condemn you;
Or rather it was necessary, filling your perfidy,
All of a sudden, to steal his speech and his life.
Of a lie so dark, justly irritated,
I should make the truth speak here,
Lord; but I am removing a secret that touches you.
Approve the respect that closes my mouth,
And without wanting to increase your troubles yourself,
Examine my life, and consider who I am.
Some crimes always precede great crimes;
Whoever was able to cross the legitimate boundaries
Can finally violate the most sacred rights:
Like virtue, crime has its degrees;
And we never saw the timid innocence
Suddenly switch to the extreme license.
One day alone does not make a virtuous mortal
A perfidious assassin, an incestuous coward.
Raised in the womb of a chaste heroine,
I have not denied the origin of his blood.
Pitthea, considered wise among all humans,
Deigned to instruct me again when leaving his hands.
I don’t want to paint myself too much;
But if some virtue has fallen into my hands,
Lord, I mostly believe I broke
The hatred of crimes that people dare to impute to me.
This is where Hippolytus is known in Greece.
I pushed virtue to the point of harshness:
We know the inflexible rigor of my sorrows.
The day is not purer than the bottom of my heart.
And we want Hippolytus, in love with a profane fire …
Yes, it’s that same pride, coward! who condemns you.
I see the odious principle of your coldness:
Phèdre alone charmed your shameless eyes;
And for any other object your indifferent soul
Disdained to burn with an innocent flame.
No, my father, this heart is too much for you to hide,
Has not a chaste love scorned to burn.
I confess my real offense to your feet:
I love, I love, it is true, in spite of your defense.
Aricia to his laws keeps my vows enslaved;
Pallante’s daughter defeated your son:
I love it ; and my soul, at your rebellious orders,
Can neither sigh nor burn except for her.
You love it ! sky! But no, the artifice is rude:
You pretend yourself a criminal to justify yourself.
Lord, for six months I have avoided him and I have loved him;
I came, trembling, to tell it to yourself.
What! nothing can get you out of your mistake!
By what dreadful oath should you be reassured?
That the earth, the sky, that all of nature …
Always scoundrels resort to perjury.
Cease, cease, and spare me an unwelcome speech,
If your false virtue has no other help.
It seems to you false and full of artifice:
Phèdre in the depths of his heart does me more justice.
Ah, how your impudence excites my wrath!
What time in my exile, what place do you prescribe?
Were you beyond the pillars of Alcide,
I would still believe myself too close to a perfidious man.
Charged with the awful crime you suspect me of,
What friends will pity me when you abandon me?
Go find friends whose disastrous esteem
Honor adultery, applaud incest;
Traitors, ingrates, without honor and without law,
Worthy to protect a villain like you.
You always talk to me about incest and adultery:
I am silent. However Phaedrus comes out of a mother,
Phaedrus is of a blood, lord, you know it too well,
Of all these horrors more filled than mine.
What! your rage in my eyes loses all restraint?
For the last time, get out of my sight;
Come out, traitor: don’t wait for a furious father
With reproach, tear you up from these places.



Miserable, you run to your infallible doom!
Neptune, by the river to the very gods terrible,
Gave me his word, and go do it.
A vengeful god follows you, you cannot avoid him.
I loved you ; and I feel that, despite your offense,
My bowels for you are troubled in advance.
But to condemn you you have committed me too much:
Never was a father, in fact, more outraged?
Righteous gods who see the pain that overwhelms me,
Have I been able to bring to light such a guilty child!




Lord, I come to you, full of just dread;
Your dreadful voice has reached me:
I fear a swift effect followed the threat.
If there is still time, spare your race,
Respect your blood; I dare to ask you:
Save me from the horror of hearing him scream;
Do not prepare for me eternal pain
For having spread it in the paternal hand.
No, madame, my hand has not soaked in my blood;
But the ingrate, however, has not escaped me:
An immortal hand of her doom is loaded,
Neptune owes it to me; and you will be avenged.
Neptune owes it to you! What! your angry wishes …
What! are you already worried that they will be listened to?
Rather, join my legitimate wishes:
In all their darkness, trace to me his crimes,
Warm up my transports too slow, too restrained.
All his crimes are not yet known to you:
His fury against you is poured out in insults;
Your mouth, he said, is full of deceptions;
He maintains that Aricie has his heart, has his faith,
Let him love her.
What, lord!
He said it in front of me:
But I know how to reject a frivolous artifice.
Let us hope for speedy justice from Neptune:
I myself still go to the foot of its altars
Urge him to fulfill his immortal oaths.



He is leaving. What news hit my ear!
What a badly stifled fire in my heart is awakening!
What love at first sight, O heaven! and what a disastrous advice!
I flew entirely to the aid of his son;
And tearing me from the arms of a terrified Oenone,
I gave in to the remorse of which I was tormented.
Who even knows where this repentance was going to take me?
Perhaps to accuse myself I could have consented;
Maybe if my voice hadn’t been cut off,
The awful truth would have escaped me.
Hippolyte is sensitive, and feels nothing for me!
Aricie has his heart! Aricie has his faith!
Ah! gods ! When to my wishes the inexorable ungrateful
Armed himself with an eye so proud, with a forehead so formidable,
I thought that with love his heart always closed
Was against all my cock also armed:
Another, however, weakened its audacity;
Before his cruel eyes another found favor.
Perhaps he has an easy heart to be moved:
I am the only object he cannot suffer.
And I would take care of defending it!




Dear Oenone, do you know what I have just learned?
No ; but I come trembling, not to lie to you
I have turned pale at the design which brought you out;
I feared a fatal fury to yourself.
Oenone, who would have believed it? I had a rival!
How? ‘Or’ What !
Hippolyte loves; and I cannot doubt it.
This fierce enemy that could not be tamed,
What offended respect, what annoyed complaint,
This tiger, that I never approached without fear,
Subdued, tamed, recognizes a winner:
Aricie has found the way to her heart.
Ah! pain not yet experienced!
What new torment I have reserved for myself!
All that I suffered, my fears, my transports,
The fury of my fires, the horror of my remorse,
And with a cruel refusal the unbearable insult,
Was only a faint test of the torment I endured.
They love each other ! By what charm have they deceived my eyes?
How did they see each other? since when ? in which places?
You knew it: why did you let me seduce?
Could you not instruct me with their furtive ardor?
Have we often seen them talking to each other, looking for each other?
In the depths of the forests were they going to hide?
Alas! they saw each other with full license:
The sky of their sighs approved of innocence;
They followed their amorous inclination without remorse;
Every day rose clear and serene for them!
And I, sad scum of all nature,
I hid myself in daylight, I fled from the light;
Death is the only god I dared to implore.
I waited for the moment when I was going to breathe out;
Feeding me gall, watered tears,
Still, in my misfortune observed too closely,
I dared not drown myself at leisure in my tears.
I tasted this fatal pleasure with trembling;
And under a serene brow disguising my alarms,
I often had to deprive me of my tears.
What fruit will they receive from their vain love?
They won’t see each other anymore.
They will always love each other!
As I speak, ah, deadly thought!
They brave the fury of a foolish lover!
Despite this same exile that will drive them away,
They take a thousand oaths not to leave each other …
No, I cannot endure a happiness which outrages me;
Oenone, have pity on my jealous rage.
We must lose Aricie; it takes my husband
Against hateful blood to awaken wrath:
Let him not limit himself to light sentences;
The crime of the sister passes that of the brothers.
In my jealous transports I want to implore him.
What do I do ? where does my reason go astray?
Me jealous! and Theseus is the one I implore!
My husband is alive, and I am still burning!
For who ? what is the heart where my vows claim?
Every word on my forehead makes my hair stand on end.
My crimes have now filled the measure:
I breathe incest and fraud at the same time;
My homicide hands, quick to avenge myself,
Into the innocent blood burn to plunge.
Wretched ! and I saw ! and I support the view
From that sacred Sun from which I came!
My ancestor is the father and master of the gods;
The sky, the whole universe is full of my ancestors:
Where to hide? Let’s flee into the hellish night.
But what am I saying? my father holds the fatal urn there;
Fate, they say, put her in his severe hands:
Minos judges all pale humans in hell.
Ah! how his terrified shadow will tremble,
When he sees his daughter presented to him,
Forced to admit so many various crimes,
And perhaps unknown crimes in the underworld!
What will you say, father, to this horrible spectacle?
I think I see the terrible urn fall from your hand;
I think I see you looking for a new torture,
You yourself become the executioner of your blood …
Forgive: a cruel god has lost your family;
Recognize his revenge on the fury of your daughter.
Alas! of the terrible crime whose shame follows me
Never has my sad heart gathered the fruit:
Until the last continued sigh of misfortunes,
I restore a painful life in torments.
Hey! repel, madame, an unjust terror!
Look differently at an excusable mistake.
You like ; you cannot conquer your destiny:
By a fatal charm you were carried away.
So is this an incredible wonder among us?
Has love only triumphed over you yet?
Weakness to humans is all too natural:
Mortal, suffer the fate of a mortal.
You complain about a long imposed yoke:
The very gods, the inhabitants of Olympian gods,
Who terrify crimes with such a terrible noise,
Sometimes burned with illegitimate fires.
What do I hear! what advice do they dare give me?
So until the end you want to poison me,
Unhappy! this is how you lost me;
On the day that I was fleeing it was you who gave me back.
Your prayers made me forget my duty;
I was avoiding Hippolyte, and you showed it to me.
What were you doing? why your impious mouth
Did she, by accusing him, dare to blacken her life?
He may die of it, and of a foolish father
The sacrilege may have been granted.
I don’t listen to you anymore. Go away, execrable monster;
Go, leave me the care of my deplorable fate.
May the just heaven worthily pay you!
And may your torment forever scare
All those who, like you, by cowardly addresses,
Unhappy princes feed weaknesses,
Lead them to the inclination to which their heart is inclined,
And their crime dares to level the way!
Despicable flatterers, the most fatal present
What can heavenly wrath do to kings!
ŒNONE , alone.
Oh gods! to serve her I have done everything, left everything;
And I get this award! I have deserved it.
In what raptures, to your fate bound,


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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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