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Enter the Tutor with the children by Eisodos B.

My lady, your sons here have been reprieved from exile, and the princess has been pleased to take the gifts into her hands. From that quarter the children have peace.

Medea turns away and weeps.
Ah! [1005] Why are you standing in distress when your fortune is good? [Why have you turned your face away and why do you show no pleasure at this news?]


This is not in tune with my tidings.

Alas once more!

Do I in ignorance report some mishap [1010] and wrongly think my news is good?

You have reported what you have reported. I find no fault with you.

Why then is your face downcast? Why do you weep?

I have every reason, old man. The gods, and I in my madness, have contrived it so.

[1015] Cheer up: one day your children will bring you home.

Before that there are others I shall bring home,1 wretch that I am.

You are not the only woman to be separated from her children. We mortals must bear misfortune with resignation.


I will do so. But go into the house [1020] and provide the children with their daily needs.

Exit Tutor into the house.
My children, my children, you have a city and a home,2 in which, leaving your poor mother behind, you will live henceforth, bereft of me. But I shall go to another land as an exile [1025] before I have the enjoyment of you and see you happy, before I have tended to your baths3 and wives and marriage-beds and held the wedding-torches aloft. How wretched my self-will has made me! It was all in vain, I see, that I brought you up, [1030] all in vain that I labored and was wracked with toils, enduring harsh pains in childbirth. Truly, many were the hopes that I, poor fool, once had in you, that you would tend me in my old age and when I died dress me for burial with your own hands, [1035] an enviable fate for mortals. But now this sweet imagining has perished. For bereft of you I shall live out my life in pain and grief. And you will no longer see your mother with loving eyes but pass into another manner of life.

[1040] Oh! What is the meaning of your glance at me, children? Why do you smile at me this last smile of yours? Alas, what am I to do? My courage is gone, women, ever since I saw the bright faces of the children. I cannot do it. Farewell, my former [1045] designs! I shall take my children out of the land. Why should I wound their father with their pain and win for myself pain twice as great? I shall not: farewell, my designs!

1 The grim word-play is untranslatable: κατάγωmeans both ‘bring home (from exile)’ and ‘bring down.’

2 To the children this means Corinth, to Medea it means the nether world. Such veiled discourse is characteristic of this speech, with the exception of the bracketed section below.

3 A special bath for the bride and the groom preceded the wedding.

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