Home  »  Phædra  »  Act IV

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

Act IV

Scene I



Ah! What is this I hear? Presumptuous traitor!

And would he have disgraced his father’s honour?

With what relentless footsteps Fate pursues me!

Whither I go I know not, now where know

I am. O kind affection ill repaid!

Audacious scheme! Abominable thought!

To reach the object of his foul desire

The wretch disdain’d not to use violence.

I know this sword that served him in his fury.

The sword I gave him for a nobler use.

Could not the sacred ties of blood restrain him?

And Phædra,—was she loath to have him punish’d?

She held her tongue. Was that to spare the culprit?


Nay, but to spare a most unhappy father.

O’erwhelm’d with shame that her eyes should have kindled

So infamous a flame and prompted him

To crime so heinous, Phædra would have died.

I saw her raise her arm, and ran to save her.

To me alone you owe it that she lives;

And, in my pity both for her and you,

Have I against my will interpreted

Her tears.


The traitor! He might well turn pale.

’Twas fear that made him tremble when he saw me.

I was astonish’d that he show’d no pleasure;

His frigid greeting chill’d my tenderness.

But was this guilty passion that devours him

Declared already ere I banish’d him

From Athens?


Sire, remember how the Queen

Urged you. Illicit love caused all her hatred.


And then this fire broke out again at Trœzen?


Sire, I have told you all. Too long the Queen

Has been allow’d to bear her grief alone

Let me now leave you and attend to her.