OENONE What fruit will they enjoy of their vain love? They will not see each other more.
PHAEDRA That love Will last for ever. Even while I speak, Ah, fatal thought, they laugh to scorn the madness Of my distracted heart. In spite of exile That soon must part them, with a thousand oaths They seal yet closer union. Can I suffer A happiness, Oenone, which insults me? I crave your pity. She must be destroy'd. My husband's wrath against a hateful stock Shall be revived, nor must the punishment Be light: the sister's guilt passes the brothers'. I will entreat him in my jealous rage. What am I saying? Have I lost my senses? Is Phaedra jealous, and will she implore Theseus for help? My husband lives, and yet I burn. For whom? Whose heart is this I claim As mine? At every word I say, my hair Stands up with horror. Guilt henceforth has pass'd All bounds. Hypocrisy and incest breathe At once thro' all. My murderous hands are ready To spill the blood of guileless innocence. Do I yet live, wretch that I am, and dare To face this holy Sun from whom I spring? My father's sire was king of all the gods; My ancestors fill all the universe. Where can I hide? In the dark realms of Pluto? But there my father holds the fatal urn; His hand awards th' irrevocable doom: Minos is judge of all the ghosts in hell. Ah! how his awful shade will start and shudder When he shall see his daughter brought before him, Forced to confess sins of such varied dye, Crimes it may be unknown to hell itself! What wilt thou say, my father, at a sight So dire? I think I see thee drop the urn, And, seeking some unheard-of punishment, Thyself become my executioner. Spare me! A cruel goddess has destroy'd Thy race; and in my madness recognize Her wrath. Alas! My aching heart has reap'd No fruit of pleasure from the frightful crime The shame of which pursues me to the grave, And ends in torment life-long misery.
OENONE Ah, Madam, pray dismiss a groundless dread: Look less severely on a venial error. You love. We cannot conquer destiny. You were drawn on as by a fatal charm. Is that a marvel without precedent Among us? Has love triumph'd over you, And o'er none else? Weakness is natural To man. A mortal, to a mortal's lot Submit. You chafe against a yoke that others Have long since borne. The dwellers in Olympus, The gods themselves, who terrify with threats The sins of men, have burn'd with lawless fires.
PHAEDRA What words are these I hear? What counsel this You dare to give me? Will you to the end Pour poison in mine ears? You have destroy'd me. You brought me back when I should else have quitted The light of day, made me forget my duty And see Hippolytus, till then avoided. What hast thou done? Why did your wicked mouth With blackest lies slander his blameless life? Perhaps you've slain him, and the impious pray'r Of an unfeeling father has been answer'd. No, not another word! Go, hateful monster; Away, and leave me to my piteous fate. May Heav'n with justice pay you your deserts! And may your punishment for ever be A terror to all those who would, like you, Nourish with artful wiles the weaknesses Of princes, push them to the brink of ruin To which their heart inclines, and smooth the path Of guilt. Such flatterers doth the wrath of Heav'n Bestow on kings as its most fatal gift.
OENONE (alone) O gods! to serve her what have I not done? This is the due reward that I have won.
ARICIA Can you keep silent in this mortal peril? Your father loves you. Will you leave him thus Deceived? If in your cruel heart you scorn My tears, content to see me nevermore, Go, part from poor Aricia; but at least, Going, secure the safety of your life. Defend your honor from a shameful stain, And force your father to recall his pray'rs. There yet is time. Why out of mere caprice Leave the field free to Phaedra's calumnies? Let Theseus know the truth.
HIPPOLYTUS Could I say more, Without exposing him to dire disgrace? How should I venture, by revealing all, To make a father's brow grow red with shame? The odious mystery to you alone Is known. My heart has been outpour'd to none Save you and Heav'n. I could not hide from you (Judge if I love you), all I fain would hide E'en from myself. But think under what seal I spoke. Forget my words, if that may be; And never let so pure a mouth disclose This dreadful secret. Let us trust to Heav'n My vindication, for the gods are just; For their own honour will they clear the guiltless; Sooner or later punish'd for her crime, Phaedra will not escape the shame she merits. I ask no other favour than your silence; In all besides I give my wrath free scope. Make your escape from this captivity, Be bold to bear me company in flight; Linger not here on this accursed soil, Where virtue breathes a pestilential air. To cover your departure take advantage Of this confusion, caused by my disgrace. The means of flight are ready, be assured; You have as yet no other guards than mine. Pow'rful defenders will maintain our quarrel; Argos spreads open arms, and Sparta calls us. Let us appeal for justice to our friends, Nor suffer Phaedra, in a common ruin Joining us both, to hunt us from the throne, And aggrandise her son by robbing us. Embrace this happy opportunity: What fear restrains? You seem to hesitate. Your interest alone prompts me to urge Boldness. When I am all on fire, how comes it That you are ice? Fear you to follow then A banish'd man?
ARICIA Ah, dear to me would be Such exile! With what joy, my fate to yours United, could I live, by all the world Forgotten! but not yet has that sweet tie Bound us together. How then can I steal Away with you? I know the strictest honour Forbids me not out of your father's hands To free myself; this is no parent's home, And flight is lawful when one flies from tyrants. But you, Sir, love me; and my virtue shrinks--