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.
  • NURSE: O queen, at first, an instantaneous shock,
    I, from the history of thy woes, received:
    Now am I sensible my fears were groundless.
    But frequently the second thoughts of man
    Are more discreet; for there is nothing strange
    Nought, in thy sufferings, foreign to the course
    Of nature: thee the goddess in her rage
    Invades. Thou lov'st. And why should this surprise?
    Many as well as thee have done the same.
    Art thou resolved to cast thy life away
    Because thou lov'st? How wretched were the state
    Of those who love, and shall hereafter love,
    If death must thence ensue! For though too strong
    To be withstood, when she with all her might
    Assails us, Venus gently visits those
    Who yield; but if she light on one who soars
    With proud and overweening views too high,
    As thou mayst well conceive, to utter scorn
    Such she exposes; through the boundless tracts
    Of air she glides, and reigns 'midst ocean's waves:
    All things from her their origin derive,
    'Tis she that in each breast the genial seeds
    Of potent love infuses, and from love
    Descends each tribe that fills the peopled earth.
    Thy who with ancient writings have conversed,
    And ever dwell among the tuneful Nine,
    Know how to Theban Semele's embrace
    Flew amorous Jove, how bright Aurora stole
    Young Cephalus, and placed among the gods
    The object of her passion: yet in Heaven
    They still reside, where unabashed they meet
    Their kindred gods; those gods, because they feel
    A sympathetic wound, I deem, indulge
    Their weakness: and wilt thou refuse to bear
    Like imperfections? Nature on these terms
    Decreed thou from thy father shouldst receive
    Thy being: look for other gods, or yield
    Submission to these laws. Hast thou observed,
    How many husbands, men who are endued
    With a superior wisdom, when they see
    The nuptial bed by secret lust defiled,
    Appear as though they saw not: and how oft
    The fathers, if their sons transgress, connive
    At their unhappy passion? To conceal
    Unseemly actions is no trifling part
    Of human wisdom; nor should man his life
    Form with too great precision; for the roof,
    The covering from the storm, the builder leaves
    Less fair, less highly finished. If immersed
    In evils great as those thou hast described,
    How canst thou hope to 'scape? But if thy virtues,
    Since thou art only human, far exceed
    Thy failings, it is well with thee: desist,
    O my loved daughter, from thy evil purpose,
    And cease to utter these reproachful words:
    For there is nought but contumelious pride
    In thy endeavour to be yet more perfect
    Than the immortal gods: endure thy passion
    With fortitude, since 'twas the will divine
    That thou shouldst love: but give a prosperous turn,
    If possible, to thy disease. For songs
    There are with magic virtues fraught, and words
    Which soothe the soul: hence an effectual cure
    May be obtained: in such discovery man
    Would long in vain be busied, to our sex
    If no spontaneous stratagem occur.