A monologue from the play by Euripides

  • NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from The Plays of Euripides in English, vol. ii. Trans. Shelley Dean Milman. London: J.M. Dent & Sons, 1922.
  • JASON: I ought not to be rash, it seems, in speech,
    But like the skilful pilot, who, with sails
    Scarce half unfurled, his bark more surely guides,
    Escape, O woman, your ungoverned tongue.
    Since you the benefits on me conferred
    Exaggerate in so proud a strain, I deem
    That I to Venus only, and no god
    Or man beside, my prosperous voyage owe.
    Although a wondrous subtlety of soul
    To you belong, 'twere an invidious speech
    For me to make should I relate how Love
    By his inevitable shafts constrained you
    To save my life. I will not therefore state
    This argument too nicely, but allow,
    As you did aid me, it was kindly done.
    But by preserving me have you gained more
    Than you bestowed, as I shall prove: and first,
    Transplanted from barbaric shores, you dwell
    In Grecian regions, and have here been taught
    To act as justice and the laws ordain,
    Nor follow the caprice of brutal strength.
    By all the Greeks your wisdom is perceived,
    And you acquire renown; but had you still
    Inhabited that distant spot of earth,
    You never had been named. I would not wish
    For mansions heaped with gold, or to exceed
    The sweetest notes of Orpheus' magic lyre,
    Were those unfading wreaths which fame bestows
    From me withheld by fortune. I thus far
    On my own labours only have discoursed.
    For you this odious strife of words began.
    But in espousing Creon's royal daughter,
    With which you have reproached me, I will prove
    That I in acting thus am wise and chaste,
    That I to you have been the best of friends,
    And to our children. But make no reply.
    Since hither Iolchos' land I came,
    Accompanied by many woes, and such
    As could not be avoided, what device
    More advantageous would an exile frame
    Than wedding the king's daughter? Not through hate
    To you, which you reproach me with, not smitten
    With love for a new consort, or a wish
    The number of my children to augment:
    For those we have already might suffice,
    And I complain not. But to me it seemed
    Of great importance that we both might live
    As suits our rank, nor suffer abject need,
    Well knowing that each friend avoids the poor.
    I also wished to educate our sons
    In such a manner as befits my race
    And with their noble brothers yet unborn,
    Make them one family, that thus, my house
    Cementing, I might prosper. In some measure
    Is it your interest too that by my bride
    I should have sons, and me it much imports,
    By future children, to provide for those
    Who are in being. Have I judged amiss?
    You would not censure me, unless your soul
    Were by a rival stung. But your whole sex
    Hath these ideas; if in marriage blest
    Ye deem nought wanting, but if some reverse
    Of fortune e'er betide the nuptial couch,
    All that was good and lovely ye abhor.
    Far better were it for the human race
    Had children been produced by other means,
    No females e'er existing: hence might man
    Exempt from every evil have remained.