Instant Monologues
Racine Phaedra Theseus Instant Monologue

by Jean Baptiste Racine


What terror has possessed

My family to make them fly before me?

If I return to find myself so feared,

So little welcome, why did Heav'n release me

From prison? My sole friend, misled by passion,

Was bent on robbing of his wife the tyrant

Who ruled Epirus. With regret I lent

The lover aid, but Fate had made us blind,

Myself as well as him. The tyrant seized me

Defenseless and unarmed. Pirithous

I saw with tears cast forth to be devoured

By savage beasts that lapped the blood of men.

Myself in gloomy caverns he enclosed,

Deep in the bowels of the earth, and nigh

To Pluto's realms. Six months I lay ere Heav'n

Had pity, and I 'scaped the watchful eyes

That guarded me. Then did I purge the world

Of a foul foe, and he himself has fed

His monsters. But when with expectant joy

To all that is most precious I draw near

Of what the gods have left me, when my soul

Looks for full satisfaction in a sight

So dear, my only welcome is a shudder,

Embrace rejected, and a hasty flight.

Inspiring, as I clearly do, such terror,

Would I were still a prisoner in Epirus!

Phaedra complains that I have suffered outrage.

Who has betrayed me? Speak. Why was I not

Avenged? Has Greece, to whom mine arm so oft

Brought useful aid, sheltered the criminal?

You make no answer. Is my son, mine own

Dear son, confederate with mine enemies?

I'll enter. This suspense is overwhelming.

I'll learn at once the culprit and the crime,

And Phaedra must explain her troubled state.

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