Front Page Titles (by Subject) ACT I. - The Works of Voltaire, Vol. VIII The Dramatic Works Part 1 (Mérope, Olympia, The Orphan of China, Brutus) and Part II (Mahomet, Amelia, Oedipus, Mariamne, Socrates).
ACT I. - Voltaire, The Works of Voltaire, Vol. VIII The Dramatic Works Part 1 (Mérope, Olympia, The Orphan of China, Brutus) and Part II (Mahomet, Amelia, Oedipus, Mariamne, Socrates). 
The Works of Voltaire. A Contemporary Version. A Critique and Biography by John Morley, notes by Tobias Smollett, trans. William F. Fleming (New York: E.R. DuMont, 1901). In 21 vols. Vol. VIII The Dramatic Works Part 1 (Mérope, Olympia, The Orphan of China, Brutus) and Part II (Mahomet, Amelia, Oedipus, Mariamne, Socrates).
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- —Yet it is too soon.
- When I possess the crown, your faithful eyes
- Shall be the witnesses of all my deeds.
- Stay in this porch, the priestesses to-day
- Present Olympia to the powers divine:
- This day in secret she must expiate,
- Sins which are even to herself unknown.
- This day a better life I shall begin.
- O! dear Olympia, may you never know
- The heinous crime that’s hardly yet effaced,
- To whom your birth you owe, what blood I’ve shed.
- Can then my lord, a girl in infancy.
- Stolen on Euphrates’ banks, and by your sire
- Condemned to slavery, in your royal breast
- Raise such a conflict?—
- —Sosthenes, respect
- A slave to whom the world should homage pay:
- The wrongs of fate I labor to repair.
- My father had his reasons to conceal
- The noble blood to which she owed her birth.
- What do I say? O cruel memory!
- He set her down amongst the victims doomed
- To bleed, that he might unmolested reign. . . . .
- Although in cruelty and carnage bred
- I pitied her, and turned my father’s heart;
- I who the mother stabbed, the daughter saved,
- My frenzy and my crime she never knew.
- Olympia, may thy error ever last,
- Though as a benefactor thou dost love
- Cassander, quickly he would have thy hate
- Wert thou to know what blood his hands have shed.
- I don’t into those secrets strive to pry.
- Of your true interest I speak alone.
- Of all the several monarchs who pretend
- To Alexander’s throne, Antigones,
- And he alone, is to your cause a friend.
- His friendship I have always held most dear.
- I will to him be faithful—
- —He to you
- Equal fidelity and friendship owes,
- But since we’ve seen him enter first these walls,
- His heart by secret jealousy seems filled,
- And from your love he seems to be estranged.
- What matters it? Oh, ever honored shades
- Of Alexander and Statira—Dust
- Of a famed hero, of a demi-god,
- By my remorse you are enough avenged.
- Olympia from their shades appeased obtain
- The peace for which my heart so long has sighed;
- Let your bright virtues all my fears dispel,
- Be my defence and heaven propitiate;
- But to this porch, just opened ere the day,
- I see Antigones the king advance.
cassander, sosthenes, antigones, hermas.
- [To Hermas behind.
- I must this secret know, it importunes me.
- Even in his heart I’ll read what he conceals.
- Depart, but be at hand—
- When scarce the sun
- Darts his first rays, what cause can bring you here?
- Your interests, Cassander, since the gods
- By penitence you have propitious made,
- The earth between us we must strive to share.
- No more war’s horrors Ephesus dismay;
- Your secret mysteries which awe inspire
- Have banished discord and calamities.
- Monarchs’ contentions are awhile composed,
- But this repose is short, and soon our climes
- By flames and by the sword will be laid waste;
- The sword’s not sheathed nor flames extinguished yet.
- Antipater’s no more, your courage, cares,
- His undertaking doubtless will complete,
- The brave Antipater had never borne
- To see Seleucus and the Lagides,
- And treacherous Antiochus, insult
- The tomb of Alexander, boldly seize
- His conquests and his great successors brave.
- Would to the gods that Alexander could
- From heaven’s height this daring man behold;
- Would he were still alive—
- Your words surprise;
- Can you then Alexander’s loss regret?
- What can to such a strange remorse give rise!
- Of Alexander’s death you’re innocent.
- Alas! I caused his death—
- —He justly fell.
- That victim loudly all the Grecians claimed.
- Long was the world of his ambition tired.
- The poison that he drank from Athens came,
- Perdiccas cast it in the sparkling bowl;
- The bowl your father put into your hand,
- But never intimated the design.
- You then were young, you at the banquet served,
- The banquet where the haughty tyrant died.
- The impious parricide excuse no more.
- Can you then abjectly thus deify
- The murderer of Clitus, whose fell rage
- Destroyed Parmenio, and who, madly vain,
- Dishonoring his mother durst aspire
- To be a god, and adoration claimed?
- ’Tis he deserves the name of parricide;
- And when at Babylon we cut him off,
- When fate o’ertook him in the poisoned bowl,
- We mortals and the gods at once revenged.
- Although he had his faults, you still must own
- He was a hero and our lawful king.
- —Doubtless he deserves the name.
- It was our valor, ’twas our arms, our blood,
- To which the ungrateful wretch his conquests owed.
- Ye tutelary gods!
- Who could be more ungrateful than our sires?
- All to that rank exalted strove to rise.
- But wherefore were his wife and children slain?
- Who can relate the horrors of that day?
- This late repentance fills me with surprise.
- Jealous and quite suspicious of his friends
- He had become a Persian, and espoused
- A daughter of Darius; we were slaves.
- Do you then wish that, furious for revenge,
- Statira had his subjects roused to arms,
- And to his shade had sacrificed us all?
- She armed them all, Antipater himself
- That day with difficulty escaped her rage.
- A father’s life you saved—
- —’Tis true, but still
- This hand the wife of Alexander slew.
- It is the fate of combats, our success
- Should not be followed by regret and tears.
- After the fatal stroke I wept I own,
- And, stained with that august but hapless blood,
- Astonished at myself and mad with grief
- For what my father forced me to commit,
- I long have groaned in secret—
- —But declare
- Wherefore to-day you feel these pangs of grief.
- A friend should to a friend his heart disclose,
- You still dissemble—
- Friend, what can I say?
- Depend upon it there’s a time the heart
- To virtue’s paths by instinct’s force returns;
- And when the memory of former guilt
- With terror harrows up the frighted soul—
- Of murders expiated think no more,
- But let us to our interests still attend.
- If your soul must be ruffled by remorse,
- Repent that you’ve abandoned Asia’s plains
- To insolent Antiochus’s sway.
- May my brave warriors and your valiant Greeks
- Again with terror shake Euphrates’ shores:
- Of all these upstart kings, elate with pride,
- Not one is worthy of the name, not one
- Like us has served Darius’ conqueror.
- Our chiefs are all cut off—
- —Perhaps the gods
- Have sacrificed them to their monarch’s shade.
- We who still live should labor to restore
- The few who have survived the general wreck.
- The victor dying, to the worthiest left
- His host, who saves it is the man he meant.
- My fortune and your own at once secure,
- The strongest all men must the worthiest own.
- The fallen powers of Greece let’s raise again:
- Let discord from our councils be removed,
- Lest to these tyrants we should fall a prey;
- They were not born to vie with men like us.
- Say, will you second me?—
- —My friend, I swear
- I’m ready to assert our common cause.
- Unworthy hands have Asia’s sceptre seized,
- Nile and the Euphrates both are tyrannized;
- I’ll fight for you, for Greece and for myself.
- Interest your promise dictates; both I trust,
- But much more in your friendship I confide,
- That secret tie by which we both are bound.
- But of your friendship I require a proof:
- Do not refuse it.
- By your doubt I’m wronged.
- If what you ask is in my power, your will
- I as a sacred order shall obey.
- Perhaps you will consider with surprise
- The trifle which in friendship’s name I ask;
- ’Tis but a slave—.
- —All mine you may command,
- They’re prostrate at your feet, choose which you will.
- A foreign damsel, suffer me to ask,
- In Babylon made captive by your sire.
- She’s yours by lot, I claim her as the prize
- Of labors which for you I’ve undergone.
- Your father used her hardly I am told,
- But in my court she’ll meet with due respect.
- Her name’s Olympia—
- That’s the fair one’s name.
- How unexpectedly he wounds my heart!
- Must I resign Olympia?
- Hear me, friend,
- I hope I shall Cassander grateful find;
- In trifles a refusal may offend,
- And sure you do not mean to injure me.
- No, you shall soon the youthful slave behold:
- You shall yourself decide if ’twould be fit
- That I should give her up at your request:
- To this shrine none profane can find access.
- Under the inspection of the powers divine,
- Olympia ’midst the priestesses remains.
- The gates will open at the proper time
- Within this porch, to which access is free;
- My coming wait, and all complaint suspend.
- New mysteries may strike you with surprise;
- You quickly may determine whether kings
- Can to Olympia now have any claim.
- [He enters the temple again, and Sosthenes goes out.]
antigones and hermasin the porch.
- My lord, you move my wonder, whilst alarms
- Disturb all Asia, and a hundred kings
- For power supreme in fields of blood contend;
- When fortune Alexander’s wide domains
- Prepares amongst the valiant to divide.
- Whilst greatly you to sovereign sway lay claim,
- Can a slave be the object of your wish?
- Your wonder’s just; but reasons, which to none
- I dare disclose, to this pursuit excite.
- Perhaps this slave may of importance prove
- To Asia’s kings; to all men who aspire;
- To him who in his bosom bears a heart
- Which nobly aims at Alexander’s throne.
- Strangest conjectures long my soul has framed
- Upon the slave’s adventures, and her name.
- I sought for information; oft my eyes
- Have gazed upon her from these ramparts’ height.
- The time and place to which she owes her birth,
- The great respect which even a master shows her,
- Cassander’s sorrow and obscure discourse,
- With fresh suspicions have my soul inspired;
- The mystery dark, I think, I can see through.
- He loves her, I am told; and, with the care
- Of a kind father, educates her youth.
- We’ll know the truth, but see, the temple opens
- And shows the sacred altar decked with flowers.
- The priestesses are ranged on either side;
- The high priest sits within the sacred shrine,
- Cassander and Olympia now advance.
The three doors of the temple are opened. The inside of the temple is discovered. The priests advance slowly on one side, and the priestesses on the other. They are all clothed in white raiment, with blue girdles, the ends of which touch the ground. Cassander and Olympia lay their hands on the altar. Antigones and Hermas stand in the porch.
- Oh God of kings and gods, eternal mind
- Who in these sacred mysteries stand revealed;
- Who dost the wicked punish, and the just
- Support, with whom remorse atones for crimes:
- Great God confirm the vows which here I make.
- Olympia, heavenly fair! those vows receive;
- To you my throne, my life I dedicate.
- A love as pure, as holy as the fire
- Of Vesta, which ne’er dies, I promise here,
- To heaven devoted, priestesses august,
- Receive the vows and promises I make;
- Bear them in clouds of incense to the throne
- Of listening gods, and may they still avert
- The punishment that’s due to crimes like mine.
- Protect, O gods! in whom I put my trust,
- The master who supplied a father’s care;
- Let my kind lover and my husband still
- Be dear to you, and worthy of your care.
- My heart is to you known, his rank, his crown
- Are the least gifts which on me he bestows:
- ’Tis yours to answer for my ardent flame,
- Who here bear witness to its purity.
- May I from him to please you learn, and may
- Your justice doom me to the infernal shades,
- If faithless to your laws I e’er forget
- My former state, and what I owe to him.
- Let’s to the shrine return, where bliss invites.
- The solemn pomp you priestesses prepare,
- The pomp from which my happiness I date;
- Sanctify both my passion and my life,
- I’ve at the temple seen the gods, in her
- I see them; may they hate me if I am false.
- Antigones, you hear what I have said,
- Sufficient answer have I now returned?
- Acknowledge now that you should cease to claim
- Cassander’s slave; know even my throne itself,
- And all my grandeur, are below her worth.
- Whatever friendship may unite our hearts,
- You cannot such a sacrifice expect.
- [They enter the temple again, and the doors are shut.]
- I doubt no more, I have discovered all.
- He braved me, but his ruin is at hand.
- He’s ardent and impetuous, and prone
- Sometimes to serve the gods, sometimes offend;
- The world has many characters like his,
- Made up of passion and religious zeal.
- With headlong passion, tenderness they mix,
- They oft repent, and all things undertake.
- He says he weds a slave, ah, never think
- That love could make him so debase himself.
- That slave is of a race himself respects,
- His secret machinations I surmise.
- He thinks in virtue of Olympia’s rights
- He one day may become supreme of kings.
- Had love alone been master of his breast,
- He had not from me kept it thus concealed.
- His friendship weak, you’ll quickly see give place
- To rancor and inveterate enmity.
- Perhaps to his infatuated heart,
- Designs too deep for lovers you ascribe;
- Our actions oft, even in our great concerns,
- Are but effects which from our passions spring.
- Their power tyrannic, we in vain disguise,
- The weak is oft a politician deemed;
- Cassander’s not the first king who has stooped
- To love a slave, and raise her to his bed.
- Heroes have often, by their flames subdued,
- Yielded to women, whilst they monarchs braved.
- What you have said is just, you reason right,
- But all I see, suspicion has confirmed.
- Shall I avow the truth? Olympia’s charms
- Have jealousy excited in my soul:
- My secret sentiments too plain you see.
- Perhaps love mingles with these great concerns.
- More than I thought, their marriage grieves my soul.
- Cassander’s not the only man that’s weak.
- But he relied upon you. Can then kings
- Never be to the laws of friendship true?
- Nor your alliance, nor your fellowship
- In arms, the dangers which you both have shared,
- Nor oaths redoubled, nor united cares,
- Can save you from the woes that discord brings.
- Is then true friendship banished from the earth?
- I know to friendship Greece has temples raised,
- To interest none, though interest’s there adored.
- At once with love and with ambition blind
- Cassander hides from me Olympia’s birth.
- Cassander views me with a jealous eye:
- He’s in the right; perhaps this very day
- The object of his wishes will be mine.
- [The initiated, the priests and the priestesses pass over the stage in procession, with garlands of flowers in their hands.]
- He has received her hand, the sacred shrine
- Already sees their nuptial pomp prepared:
- The initiated, followed by the priests,
- With garlands in their hands, attend in crowds,
- Over the rites love’s sacred power presides.
- His conquest may be ravished from him soon:
- I shall on your fidelity rely.
- Gods, laws, and people, will for me declare.
- Let us a moment fly these odious pomps,
- And take the measures my designs require;
- Let us pollute this sanctuary o’er,
- Not with the blood of bulls, but human gore.
End of the firstAct.