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

Act IV

Scene IV



My lord, I come to you, fill’d with just dread.

Your voice raised high in anger reach’d mine ears,

And much I fear that deeds have follow’d threats.

Oh, if there yet is time, spare your own offspring.

Respect your race and blood, I do beseech you.

Let me not hear that blood cry from the ground;

Save me the horror and perpetual pain

Of having caused his father’s hand to shed it.


No, Madam, from that stain my hand is free.

But, for all that, the wretch has not escaped me.

The hand of an Immortal now is charged

With his destruction. ’Tis a debt that Neptune

Owes me, and you shall be avenged.


A debt

Owed you? Pray’rs made in anger—


Never fear

That they will fail. Rather join yours to mine.

In all their blackness paint for me his crimes,

And fan my tardy passion to white heat.

But yet you know not all his infamy;

His rage against you overflows in slanders;

Your mouth, he says, is full of all deceit,

He says Aricia has his heart and soul,

That her alone he loves.





He said it to my face! an idle pretext!

A trick that gulls me not! Let us hope Neptune

Will do him speedy justice. To his altars

I go, to urge performance of his oaths.