Medea

Euripides

Illustration by Andrea Popyordanova

JASON:  I've said it many times before there's no
Affliction worse than anger. Don't you know
If only you had patiently endured
And bended to your betters be assured
You might have been most welcome to remain
Within this city and this house? Complain
To everyone from here to there you'll find
You've sealed your banishment. Though I don't mind
The slander that you speak of me just say
That I'm the basest bastard. But the way
You speak against our royalty you are
Quite fortunate to be but banished far
I did all that I could to hold them back
And see that you stay here. But you attack
With rabid rage and scream all day and night
And call out curses to our king with spite
And venom. Now you're banished for all time
In spite of that my lady know that I'm
Committed to providing for you all
As you are cast beyond the city wall
Yes you and both my sons shall see each need
Is well-fulfilled. I'd say it's guaranteed
That banishment brings suffering it's true
And though you scream you hate me through and through
I never wished you harm I never could.

MEDEA:  You vile villain spineless coward! Would
There only be worse words to speak of you
You call yourself a man? It isn't true
And now you dare to face your foe and think
Yourself so full of honor with the stink
Of cowardice around you? You can look
Upon the one whose innocence you took
And have no sense of shame? This man I see
Who stabs a friend then swaggers happily
I'd say he is diseased and curse his name
There's nothing sicker than a lack of shame
But still I'm glad you're here my pain will ease
For cursing your existence knowing these
Great details of your failings surely can
Cause pain between your ears. This all began
So long ago and far away your men
That sailed The Argo can remember when
I saved your life. Do you remember that?
And how my great enchantments saved you at
Your time of greatest need to charm the bull
Whose breath was fire as you sought the wool
Of purest gold The Golden Fleece oh yes
I helped you sow the deadly seeds distress
Was not an option and there was no fear
Within these eyes as we drew closer near
The deadly serpent guarding by the gold
His hard sharp scales surrounding it each fold
Impenetrable yet I slew the beast
I was your guiding beacon as I fleeced
My father all for you yes I betrayed
My brother and my country as I laid
A path that only followed you so mad
With love for you consumed by it I had
More passion than I needed but no sense
And then my skills caused greatest consequence
For Pelias. For you I caused his death
And made his children steal his final breath
As I released their minds of every fear
Yet after all I've done you're standing here
You vile traitor to our vows you throw
Me out and take a new wife even though
I bore you sons. If it were not for them
I might excuse you I could not condemn
Desire for a better future. But
With this my faith is gone the door is shut
How can I ever trust a vow again?
Though words sound true there's treachery within
Do you believe The Gods above aren't there?
That they do not have power? They don't care
If mortal men should break a vow? Do you
Have consciousness of what you've done? Just view
This hand a hand you've touched and held my right
Hand and these knees that you've passed through at night
But it was but a traitor's touch that took
My innocence without a second look
For you have fouled me with your touch I'm lost
My hopes and dreams are shattered at a cost
Beyond what you or I can pay. But come
Converse with me as though I'm only some
Old friend without an expectation yet
I'll speak of you so you will not forget
How base you are. Just tell me where to go
Shall I flee to my father's house? You know
I can't I burned that bridge when I betrayed
Him and my country for your love and made
My home here in Corinth. So I should flee
Off to the house of Pelias and see
If his kind daughters might just take me in
No I betrayed them helping you again
And that's my fate I'm now the enemy
Of those I was the closest to and see
How even those I barely know despise
Me for my arts and actions. My demise
Is all because of you. What's my reward?
Through all of Greece all women think my lord
The handsome hero Jason is a prize
And there is jealousy within their eyes
What will they say now that you cast me out?
This hero they admire they will doubt
His faithfulness for sure as I am thrown
Aside and flee this country all alone
Except for my abandoned children. Go
Parade yourself you happy bridegroom so
Esteemed while both your sons go wandering
Like beggars in the wild suffering
Beside their mother who protected you
Great Zeus I call your name why is it true
Great Father tell me tell me why is it
That mortals know when gold is counterfeit
But when it comes to men there is no mark
To show us all his heart is cold and dark.

CHORUS LEADER
:  When friend has turned to foe there's nothing worse
The anger it awakens is a curse.

JASON:  It seems I have to speak through stormy air
And like the helmsman of a ship I'll dare
The sea that rolls and rages when you speak
I have to say your argument is weak
And you exaggerate your usefulness
For only Aphrodite saved me yes
No other god or mortal guided me
Your mind is sharp my dear can you not see
How Aphrodite's arrows found your heart
To see that love compelled you from the start
To rescue me? But even so I can't
Dismiss your great assistance. Yes I grant
You are amazing in your arts but still
You have received great gifts from me. Until
I rescued you from that barbarian
Existence. I might say when I was done
You truly learned the way that you should live
We Greeks have gifts we truly love to give
We've shown you laws and justice not brute force
And now your name is famous your resource-
-fulness and gifts are known both far and wide
You're celebrated. If you chose to hide
Far in the hinterlands they'd never know
Your name at all. I don't need gold to glow
Upon my walls or gifts of music as
Great Orpheus was blessed with. If one has
A famous name it's like a fortune. So
That's all I have to say to you just know
It was your words that caused this argument
As for those insults you will not repent
For in regards to my new marriage I
Will only say my choice is wise and my
Deep love for her is true just as I'm true
In my devotion to my sons and you
Just hold your tongue Medea listen please
When I returned I brought calamities
With me from my adventures lost and poor
A man without a city every door
Was bolted then I see the strangest thing
Within my sights the daughter of a king
I never was unhappy in the bed
I shared with you Medea nothing led
Me from your arms. No don't think it oh please
I didn't want another wife but these
Things just can happen. I thought I was done
With planting seeds who needs another son
The two we have are quite enough I'm glad
We have them. But that said it's very sad
That in this world we need some comforts yes
We're slaves to want and won't accept much less
Than what we are accustomed to. A poor
Man suffers as he begs upon the floor
As our friends fly right by. Our sons will see
A future worthy of my name they'll be
So proud their father gave them brothers that
Will grow to be great kings a future at
The highest ranks of greatness. Don't you see
I'll make two houses all one family
And I will flourish all will flourish. You
Don't need to have more children but it's true
That I can help the ones you have with my
New elevation in the world. Just try
To see what's true and see my way is right
But you won't see it blinded by your spite
And jealousy. You women have one mind
You see us in your bed and you grow blind
To everything beyond the bedroom walls
But pity all of us if Fate befalls
And shakes the marriage-bed then poison flows
Where love once flowed and we become your foes
If only there could be another way
To bring-forth children only then I say
Could we scrub women from this world and then
How peaceful it would be with only men.
 
CHORUS LEADER:  Your arguments are clever Jason and
Thought out so we may hope to understand
Though meek we are the way that you've betrayed
Your wife and all the sacred vows you've made.
 
MEDEA:  I must be different from all common men
The way I see it they make speeches when
They spit on justice. Let them all be cursed
For using pretty words for all the worst
Injustices that they inflict. His tongue
Flies rapidly then suddenly he's hung
Yes he is not as clever as he thought
He was. Now by his words at last he's caught
So spare me from your speeches I can see
Right through your ruse. You speak so cleverly
But don't you know that I can speak one word
And stop you where you stand? Has it occurred
To you if you were not so cruel and came
To me instead of sneaking full of shame
Behind my back I might have come to see
Your views and understood? That we should be
The last to know we're just your wife and sons.

JASON:  You're saying if you weren't the final ones
To know then you'd approve? I don't believe
It. See how you lash out and scream and grieve
You're saying you'd approve and you'd assist?
Your heart is hot with fire you persist
In all your raging and there is no cure.

MEDEA:  That's not what held your tongue you can be sure
Of it. It was a future that you fear
That sent you to a foreign bed my dear
Now you can lie there in your shame.
 
JASON:                                     You can
Assure yourself it never was my plan
To take her as my wife she has no hold
Upon my heart. It's only as I told
You. It was all for your security
And knowing that our sons would grow to be
The brothers of great kings.

MEDEA:                       A life like that
So prosperous but sacrificing at
The altar of great suffering? Oh no
I'll never let your bargain deal that blow
Upon my heavy heart.
 
JASON:                     Then you should pray
As I instruct you so you'll find the way
To wisdom. You are blind to happiness
Though Fortune stands before you smiling.

MEDEA:                                               Yes
Insult me from your sanctuary I
Must wander lost and destitute and fly
Far from these walls.
 
JASON:                   You have yourself to blame
Your will is still your own.

MEDEA:                        Should I feel shame
Because I married you and then betrayed
You?

JASON:  It's the threats and curses that you made
Against the House of Creon.

MEDEA:                          You forget
I curse your house and name as well.

JASON:                                       Then let
That end our argument. But you should know
If my wealth can assist as you now go
With both our sons beyond these walls just say
The word and I will help you on your way
With money I will give all I can spare
And give you tokens useful anywhere
My friends can show you hospitality
I know they'll take you in. Now can't you see
Refusing this would be so foolish? You
Must rise above your anger start anew
You've only good to gain.

MEDEA:                       I have no need
Of any man who calls you “friend.”  Your greed
Has brought you wealth and you can keep it. All
Your treasure and your name is cursed.

JASON:                                      I call
The Gods to witness all I offered you
And both my sons in hopes to see you through
Your troubles but your scorn has ruled again
Rejecting my assistance. On your way
As you subsist on stubbornness.

(JASON starts to exit, MEDEA calls after him.)

MEDEA:                                  Away
With you as well. You're so in love you say
With your new bride? Then go to her just go
I think you have neglected her for so
Long she must now be missing you as well.

(JASON has now exited.)

And now within new walls where you now dwell
The Gods will see right through and they'll agree
That marriage made from broken vows will be
Unworthy in their eyes. Now see how they
Will find their vows will bring their darkest day.

(MEDEA collapses in anger and frustration.)

translated from the Greek by Brian Vinero