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.
  • HIPPOLYTUS: By a fair semblance to deceive the world,
    Wherefore, O Jove, beneath the solar beams
    That evil, woman, didst thou cause to dwell?
    For if it was thy will the human race
    Should multiply, this ought not by such means
    To be effected: better in thy fane
    Each votary, on presenting brass or steel,
    Or massive ingots of resplendent gold,
    Proportioned to his offering, might from thee
    Obtain a race of sons, and under roofs
    Which genuine freedom visits, unannoyed
    By women, live. But to receive this worst
    Of evils, now no sooner are our doors
    Thrown open than the riches of our house
    We utterly exhaust. How great a pest
    Is woman this one circumstance displays;
    The very father who begot and nurtured,
    A plenteous dower advancing, sends her forth,
    That of such loathed incumbrance he may rid
    His mansions: but the hapless youth, who takes
    This noxious inmate to his bed, exults
    While he caparisons a worthless image,
    In gorgeous ornaments and tissued vests
    Squandering his substance. With some noble race
    He who by wedlock a connection forms
    Is bound by hard necessity to keep
    The loathsome consort; if perchance he gain
    One who is virtuous sprung from worthless sires,
    He by the good compensates for the ills
    Attending such a union. Happier he,
    Unvexed by these embarrassments, whose bride
    Inactive through simplicity, and mild,
    To his abode is like a statue fixed.
    All female wisdom doth my soul abhor.
    Never may the aspiring dame, who grasps
    At knowing more than to her sex belongs,
    Enter my house: for in the subtle breast
    Are deeper stratagems by Venus sewn:
    But she whose reason is too weak to frame
    A plot, from amorous frailties lives secure.
    No female servant ever should attend
    The married dame, she rather ought to dwell
    Among wild beasts, who are by nature mute,
    Lest she should speak to any, or receive
    Their answers. But the wicked now devise
    Mischief in secret chambers, while abroad
    Their confidants promote it: thus, vile wretch,
    In privacy you came, with me to form
    An impious treaty for surrendering up
    My royal father's unpolluted bed.
    Soon from such horrors in the limpid spring
    My ears will I make pure: how could I rush
    Into the crime itself, when, having heard
    Only the name made mention of, I feel
    As though I some defilement thence had caught?
    Base woman, know 'tis my religion saves
    Your forfeit life, for by a solemn oath
    If to the gods I had not unawares
    Engaged myself, I ne'er would have refrained
    From stating these transactions to my sire;
    But now, while Theseus in a foreign land
    Continues, hence will I depart, and keep
    The strictest silence. But I soon shall see,
    When with my injured father I return,
    How you and your perfidious queen will dare
    To meet his eyes, then fully shall I know
    Your impudence, of which I now have made
    This first essay. Perdition seize you both:
    For with unsatiated abhorrence, still
    'Gainst woman will I speak, though some object
    To my repeating always the same charge:
    For they are ever uniformly wicked:
    Let any one then prove the female sex
    Possest of chastity, or suffer me,
    As heretofore, against them to inveigh.