The people here are well disposed to [Medea],
An exile and Jasons's all obedient wife:
That's the best way for a woman to keep safe –
Not to cross her husband.
But now her deepest love is sick, all turns to hate.
Good servants share their masters' sufferings –
They touch our hearts. I find it so distressing,
I had to come out her to tell my mistress' woes
To the earth and sky.
I hear the first danger sign,
Her wailing. It is a cloud she will ignite
To flame as her fury grows.
The middle course is best in name
And practice, the best policy by far.
Excess brings no benefit to us,
Only greater disasters on a house,
When God is angry.
Tell us, Nurse. At the gate I heard [Medea]
Crying inside the house.
I don't like to see the family suffering.
I sympathize with them.
There is no justice in the judgments that men make:
Before they know a man's inner self,
They hate at sight, though they've never been wronged.
A foreigner must take special care to conform to the state –
Even a citizen who is fool enough
To let his stubborn pride offend his fellow-citizens
Wins no praise from me.
My husband has turned out to be the most despicable of men.
Of all the creatures that have life and reason
We women have the worst lot.
A woman, coming to new ways and laws,
Needs to be a clairvoyant – she can't find out at home,
What sort of man will share her bed.
If we work at it, and our husband is content
Beneath the marriage yoke,
Life can be enviable. If not, better to be dead.
The fools! I would rather fight three times
In war, than go through childbirth once!
Medea, scowling there with fury at your husband!
I have given orders that you should leave the country:
Take your two sons and go, into exile. No delay!
You sound harmless, but in your heart
I'm terrified you're plotting some evil.
I trust you know even less than before.
A passionate woman—or a man, for that matter—
Is easier to guard against, than one who's clever,
And holds her tongue.
It's not my nature to be a tyrant.
My concern for others has often cost me dearly.
Now too, madam, I see I'm making a mistake,
But, still, I grant your request…
Do you think I would have fawned on Creon
Except to win some profit by my schemes?
I would not have spoken to him – nor touched him.
But he is such a fool that,
When he could have arrested all my plans
By banishing me, he has allowed me
To stay this one day, in which three of my enemies
I'll send to their death…
The direct way is best, the one at which
I am most skilled: I'll poison them.
…But we are women too:
We may not have the means to achieve nobility;
Our cleverness lies in crafting evil.
Sacred rivers flow uphill:
Justice and all things are reversed.
Consider yourself lucky that your punishment
Is merely exile…
You vile coward! Yes, I can call you that,
The worst name that I know for your unmanliness!
Zeus, you granted men sure signs to tell
When gold is counterfeit. But when we need to tell
Which men are false, why do our bodies bear no stamp
To show our worth?
As for your spiteful words about my marriage with the princess,
I'll show that what I've done is wise and prudent;
And I've acted out of love for you
And for my sons…
Jason, you have put a fine gloss on your words.
But – I may not be wise to say this – I think
You've acted wrongly: you have betrayed your wife.
I'll send her gifts, the finest in the world:
A finely woven dress and crown of beaten gold.
The boys will take them.
All for nothing tortured myself with toil and care,
And bore the cruel pains when you were born.
Once I placed great hopes in you, that you
Would care for my old age and yourselves
Shroud my corpse. That would make me envied.
Now that sweet thought is no more. Parted from you
I shall lead a grim and painful life.
Hateful creature! O most detestable of women
To the gods and me and all the human race!
You could bring yourself to put to the sword
The children of your womb. You have taken my sons
and destroyed me.
No Greek woman
Could ever have brought herself to do that.
Yet I rejected them to marry you, a wife
Who brought me enmity and death,
A lioness, not human…