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Jean Racine (1639–1699). Phædra.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.

Act I

Scene V



Dear lady, I had almost ceased to urge

The wish that you should live, thinking to follow

My mistress to the tomb, from which my voice

Had fail’d to turn you; but this new misfortune

Alters the aspect of affairs, and prompts

Fresh measures. Madam, Theseus is no more,

You must supply his place. He leaves a son,

A slave, if you should die, but, if you live,

A King. On whom has he to lean but you?

No hand but yours will dry his tears. Then live

For him, or else the tears of innocence

Will move the gods, his ancestors, to wrath

Against his mother. Live, your guilt is gone,

No blame attaches to your passion now.

The King’s decease has freed you from the bonds

That made the crime and horror of your love.

Hippolytus no longer need be dreaded,

Him you may see henceforth without reproach.

It may be, that, convinced of your aversion,

He means to head the rebels. Undeceive him,

Soften his callous heart, and bend his pride.

King of this fertile land, in Trœzen here

His portion lies; but as he knows, the laws

Give to your son the ramparts that Minerva

Built and protects. A common enemy

Threatens you both, unite them to oppose



To your counsel I consent.

Yes, I will live, if life can be restored,

If my affection for a son has pow’r

To rouse my sinking heart at such a dangerous hour.