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.
  • IPHIS: Why was this privilege, alas! denied
    To mortals, twice to flourish in the bloom
    Of youth, and for a second time grow old?
    For in our houses, we, if aught is found
    To have been ill contrived, amend the fault
    Which our maturer judgment hath descried;
    While each important error in our life
    Admits of no reform: but if with youth
    And ripe old age we twice had been indulged,
    Each devious step that marked our first career
    We in our second might set right. For children,
    Seeing that others had them, much I wished,
    And pined away with vehement desire;
    But if I had already felt these pangs,
    And from my own experience learnt how great
    Is the calamity to a fond father
    To be bereft of all his hopeful race,
    I into such distress had never fallen
    As now o'erwhelms me, who begot a youth
    Distinguished by his courage, and of him
    Am no deprived. No more. But what remains
    For me--wretch that I am? Shall I return
    To my own home, view many houses left
    Without inhabitants, and waste the dregs
    Of life in hopeless anguish, or repair
    To the abode of Capaneus, with joy
    By me frequented while my daughter lived?
    But she is now no more, who loved to kiss
    My furrowed cheeks and stroked this hoary head.
    Nought can delight us more than the attention
    Which to her aged sire a daughter pays:
    Though our male progeny have souls endued
    With courage far superior, yet less gently
    Do they these soothing offices perform.
    Will ye not quickly drag me to my home,
    And in some dungeon's gloomy hold confine,
    To wear away these aged limbs by famine?
    Me, what, alas! can it avail to touch
    My daughter's bones! What hatred do I bear
    To thee, O irresistible old age!
    Them, too, my soul abhors who vainly strive
    To lengthen out our little span of life;
    By th' easy vehicle, the downy couch,
    And by the boasted aid of magic song,
    Labouring to turn aside from his career
    Remorseless death: when they who have no longer
    The strength required to serve their native land
    Should vanish, and to younger men give place.