Front Page Titles (by Subject) ACT III. - 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 III. - 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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(The Temple is shut.)
- [Within the porch.
- The truth prevails, no more can I suppress
- The fatal secret by my sire concealed:
- Forced to the public voice at length to yield
- To a king’s daughter I have justice done;
- Should I then longer injure royal blood
- By cruel silence keeping it concealed?
- Already I’ve incurred enough of guilt.
- A jealous rival of Olympia’s name
- Avails himself intent upon your ruin;
- The people he excites, the town’s alarmed.
- Antigones religious zeal contemns,
- And yet has blown its fire to tenfold rage.
- ’Tis thought a shocking crime in you to wed
- The daughter, you who had the mother slain.
- Ye gods, the keen reproaches of my heart
- Torture me more than all the Ephesians say.
- The hearts of all the citizens I’ve calmed,
- Yet still my own is by the furies torn
- Victim of love and of my cruelty.
- I would have had her all things owe to me,
- Not know a fate replete with horrors dire.
- Her sire’s dominions to her I restored.
- Transmitted from Antipater to me.
- Blest in the favors on my love conferred,
- I was to calm tranquillity restored,
- I had repaired all wrongs, and justice done.
- My heart indeed was conscious of no crime;
- I killed Statira by the chance of war,
- Even whilst I strove to save a father’s life.
- ’Twas in the heat of slaughter and of rage
- When duty to excess my valor drove;
- ’Twas in the blindness which a sable cloud
- Of horror shed upon my darkened eyes;
- I shuddered to think on it e’er I felt
- The fatal passion which enslaved my soul,
- I thought myself acquitted in the sight
- Of God and of the world, not in my own.
- Nor in Olympia’s, that’s what racks my soul:
- Despair lies that way: she must either choose
- To seal my pardon or to pierce my heart,
- This heart that burns with love’s consuming fire.
- ’Tis said, Olympia to this temple brought
- Can here retract the faith which she has sworn.
- I know it, Sosthenes, and if this law
- Should be abused by her my soul adores,
- Woe to my rival and the temple too;
- Though I am here a model of true zeal,
- The temple I’d a scene of vengeance make.
- But let me banish far this terror vain;
- I am beloved, her heart was ever mine;
- The god of love shall undertake my cause:
- To her upon the wings of love I fly.
cassander, sosthenes, the hierophants.
[Coming out of the Temple.
- Interpreter of heaven and minister
- Of clemency, I in this solemn day
- Have from your temple banished war’s alarms:
- I have not fought against Antigones.
- Days to peace consecrated I revered;
- That peace to my distracted soul restore.
- My rites are numerous, I’ll defend them all;
- Let us conclude this marriage. But first say
- What does the daughter of the conqueror?
- My lord, Olympia duties now fulfils,
- Duties most sacred, to her heart most dear.
- Mine shares them. Where’s the priestess whose kind hand
- Is to present the bride and bless our loves?
- She’ll bring her quickly, may such glorious ties
- Not end in the destruction of you both.
- Alas! upon this very day the woes
- I long groaned under seemed to have an end.
- For the first time a moment of repose
- Seemed to becalm the troubles of my soul
- Perhaps Olympia’s woe surpasses yours.
- What do you say? can she have aught to fear?
- Stay, explain yourself.
- Do you espouse Antigones’s cause?
- Forbid it, Heaven, that I should pass the bounds
- Which to my zeal my duty has prescribed.
- The din of factions, the intrigues of courts,
- The passions that distract the human soul
- Have never troubled our obscure retreats;
- We lift pure hands unto the God we serve.
- Contests of kings too much to discord prone
- We learn but with intention to compose:
- And of their greatness we should never hear
- Did they not often need our friendly prayers.
- I go, my lord, to invoke the immortal gods
- For you, Olympia, and for many more.
- This moment to the temple she returns.
- Try if she still will own you for her lord.
- I leave you.
- [He goes out, and the temple opens.
cassander, sosthenes, statira, olympia.
- By heaven she trembles! and I quake all o’er;
- You cast upon the ground your streaming eyes!
- You turn aside that face where nature’s hand
- With the most strong expression traced at once
- The noblest and the tenderest of souls!
- [Throwing herself into her mother’s arms.
- Ah cruel man! ah madam!
- Speak, explain
- This agitation. Wherefore do you fly me?
- Whose arms do you run into? What means this?
- Why must my anxious soul be thus alarmed?
- Who is’t attends and bathes you with her tears?
- [Unveiling and turning towards Cassander.
- Hast thou forgot me?—
- —At that voice, those looks
- My blood runs cold. Where am I? What means this?
- Behold, thou wretch, the widow of thy lord,
- Olympia’s mother.—
- Oh you bolts of Jove,
- Against my guilty head point all your rage.
- Thou shouldst have sooner for destruction prayed,
- Eternal enemy of me and mine,
- If ’twas the will of heaven that both my throne
- And husband to thy rage should owe their fall,
- If amidst carnage, in that day of crimes
- Thy cowardice and cruelty was such,
- That thou couldst pierce a woman’s breast, and plunge
- Her body in the flood of gore she shed,
- Leave me what of that hapless blood remains.
- Must you be ever fatal to my peace?
- Tear not my daughter from my heart, my arms,
- Deprive me not of her whom heaven restores,
- Respect the place of refuge which I’ve chosen,
- That from earth’s tyrants I might live retired.
- Monster to crimes inured, cease, cease at length
- In sacred tombs to persecute the dead.
- Less dread the voice of thunder would inspire;
- I dare not prostrate kiss the ground before you;
- I own I am made unworthy by my crimes,
- If in excuse war’s horrors I should urge,
- If I should say I was imposed upon
- When the illustrious hero was cut off;
- That I to serve my sire took arms against you,
- I should not pacify your angry soul.
- You’ll no excuse admit, though I might say
- I saved your daughter whom my soul adores;
- That at your feet I lay my crown and realms.
- All makes against me, no defence you’ll hear,
- Soon to my wretched life I’ll put an end,
- A life whose punishment outweighs its guilt,
- If your own child, spite of herself and me,
- Did not attach me to detested life.
- Your daughter I brought up with tender care,
- And to her friends’ and father’s place supplied;
- She has my every wish, my heart; the gods
- Perhaps have made us in this temple meet,
- That we by Hymen’s sacred ties might change,
- The horrors of our destiny to bliss.
- Heavens! what a match. Could you the villain wed
- Who slew your sire, and would have murdered me?
- No, no, extinguished ever be the torch,
- The guilty torch of nuptials so accursed:
- Blot from my heart the shocking memory
- Of those dire bands which were to join our hands.
- My soul prefers, you’ll wonder at the choice,
- Your ashes to the sceptre he bestows.
- I must not hesitate; in your kind arms,
- Let me forget his love, and all his crimes.
- Your daughter loving him partook his guilt.
- Forgive me, my dire sacrifice accept:
- Think not his villainies involve my heart,
- But keep me, keep me ever from his sight.
- Thou showest a spirit worthy of thy race,
- These sentiments revive my drooping soul.
- Eternal gods, could you have then decreed
- That with these hands I should Olympia give
- To the most barbarous of the human race?
- Can you exact it of me? Such a deed
- The priestess and the mother both disclaim.
- You pitied me, it was not your design
- That I so dire a duty should perform . . . .
- Villain, no more the altar and the throne
- Insult, the walls of Babylon you stained
- With this heart’s blood, but I would rather see
- That blood shed now by such a parricide,
- Than see my foe, my subject—see Cassander
- Presume audaciously to proffer love
- To Alexander’s daughter, and to mine.
- Still with more rigor I condemn myself;
- But then I love, to frantic love give way.
- Olympia’s mine; who was her sire I know;
- Like him I am a king, I have the right,
- I have the power, in fine, Olympia’s mine.
- Her fate and mine are not to be disjoined.
- Neither her fears nor you, the gods, my crimes,
- Nor aught shall break a tie so sanctified;
- The gods did not my penitence reject.
- When they united us they pardoned all.
- But if you’d rob me of my charming bride,
- Whose hand I have received and plighted faith,
- This blood you first must shed, pluck out this heart
- Which beats for her alone, which you detest.
- No privilege your altars shall protect,
- Who murdered now shall sacrilege commit.
- I’ll from this temple, from your very arms,
- From the unpitying gods bear off my wife.
- I seek for death, ’tis my desire, my wish.
- But I’ll the husband of Olympia die.
- In spite of you I’ll carry to the grave
- The tenderest love, and most illustrious name,
- And grief for an involuntary crime,
- Which will the manes of her sire appease.
- [Exit Cassander with Sosthenes.
- What horrid blasphemies have reached my ear?
- Daughter, how dearly for thy life I pay!
- The horrors which I feel you suffer, too,
- My grief I in your eyes conspicuous read;
- Our hearts still sympathize. Your kind embraces
- And deep-fetched sighs console my wounded soul;
- Because you share my griefs, I feel them less;
- In you I find a shelter from the storm.
- I brave my fate since you possess a heart
- Worthy of Alexander and of me.
- Heaven knows my heart was ne’er by nature formed
- To copy after yours, to be inspired
- By such high sentiments, such swelling virtues.
- O widow of famed Alexander, sprung
- From famed Darius, wherefore being torn
- From thy maternal arms, was I brought up
- By this Cassander, thy most mortal foe?
- Why on Olympia did your assassin
- Unasked new favors every day confer?
- Why did he not with cruel hand oppress me?
- Too dangerous favors! why was I beloved?
- Heavens, who do I behold in this retreat!
- [Antigones advances.
statira, olympia, antigones.
- —Retire not queen.
- You see a king by Alexander taught.
- His widow I respect and will defend.
- You from that altar’s foot again might rise
- To the high rank which you possessed before;
- Replace your daughter there, and vengeance take
- Of that proud ravisher who injures both.
- Your story’s known, and every heart is yours;
- All men are weary of those tyrants’ yoke,
- Who at your husband’s death the empire seized.
- Your name this revolution will support;
- As your defender will you own me here?
- Yes, if ’tis pity that directs your heart,
- And if this friendly offer is sincere.
- I will not suffer an audacious youth
- To gain a double right to Cyrus’ throne,
- When of your virtuous daughter’s hand possessed.
- He is unworthy, and I cannot doubt
- But you will never grant him your consent.
- I have not to the priest explained myself:
- Though I came hither as a worshipper,
- Who to the gods for clemency applies,
- I come before you with fierce vengeance armed.
- The widow of the conqueror may forget
- Her greatness, but the honor of her race
- She never can forget or overlook.
- I’m weary both of life and of the throne;
- One’s taken from me, the other near an end.
- If from an impious ravisher you snatch
- The only comfort heaven has left my woe:
- If you protect her and avenge her sire,
- I’ll own you as my tutelary god.
- Oh! sir, whilst on life’s utmost verge I stand,
- Preserve my daughter from the dangerous crime
- Of marrying him whose bloody malice strove
- Her hapless mother to deprive of life.
- Say worthy offspring of the conqueror,
- Dost thou accept the offer which I make?
- Cassander I should hate.—
- —You then must grant
- The prize, the noble prize I come to ask.
- Against my all I will assert your cause,
- Since I deserve you be my recompense.
- ’Tis this I ask, all other prize I scorn,
- Such worth should never be Cassander’s lot;
- Speak: the unequalled glory I will owe
- To this right arm, the queen, and to yourself.
- —My scattered spirits let me first
- Awhile recover. Scarce my eyes are opened,
- Trembling and terrified from slavery,
- I to this temple’s hallowed cells retire,
- Sprung from Statira and a demi-god;
- A mother in this shrine august I find
- Divested of her name, her rank, her all,
- And hardly from a dream of death awakened.
- I as a benefactor wed the man
- Whose dagger had my mother’s bosom gored.
- While thus disasters compass me about,
- Your arm you offer to avenge my cause.
- What answer can I make? . . . At such a time
- [Embracing her mother.
- ’Tis here that my first duties are required.
- Judge if the torch of Hymen’s e’er was made
- To yield its light amidst this gloom of woe:
- See in one day how I’m with ills o’erwhelmed,
- And think not I can listen now to love.
- I’ll answer for her, heaven decrees her to you.
- Perhaps in former times the majesty—
- Or call it pride—of my imperial throne,
- My daughter to a subject had denied,
- But you deserve her since you would defend,
- ’Twas you that Alexander meant his heir.
- He named the worthiest, you the worthiest prove.
- His throne you have a right to, who support.
- May the unceasing favor of the gods
- Second you, may their power to empire raise.
- Both Alexander and his queen interred
- He in his tomb, and I within these walls,
- Will see you on our throne without regret:
- And may henceforth the fates, grown less severe,
- Oppose for you that strange fatality,
- Which oft has overwhelmed that throne in blood.
- It shall be raised by fair Olympia’s hand.
- To Asia’s people show yourself and her.
- Quit this asylum. All things I’ll prepare
- Your husband to avenge, and fill his place.
- [Exit Antigones.
- By your means, daughter, I the barrier break
- That keeps me distant from all human kind;
- Again I enter this degenerate world
- My husband to avenge, and break thy chains.
- New strength the gods will to a mother give,
- And soon thou shalt be set at liberty.
- Help me to keep my word, by a new oath
- Help me to wipe away the former’s guilt.
- Must then this fatal day
- Twice light up Hymen’s inauspicious torch?
- —Permit me, this first time,
- My thoughts to utter with a trembling voice.
- So much I love thee, mother, I would shed
- The blood which from thee I derive, if so
- The gods would, by new added years, protract
- Thy life, or render it completely blessed.
- Shall I tell those gods
- I ask no throne except this calm retreat?
- In it you’ll see me lead my life resigned
- And look with scorn on crowns forgot by you.
- Thinkest thou my father, in the silent tomb,
- Desires his foe should perish by our hands?
- Amidst the horrors of the fight, let kings
- Destroy each other, and avenge his death:
- But we, the victims of so many ills,
- Shall we, with feeble hands, assist their rage?
- Shall we a fruitless murder undertake?
- Tears are our portion, crimes for them were made.
- Our portion tears! For whom thus dost thou weep?
- Is Alexander’s daughter by the gods
- Restored me? Heavens, is it her whose voice I hear!
- Explain yourself, my soul is shocked to hear you.
- —You wound me to the heart.
- End this anxiety, I charge thee, speak.
- Madam, too well I see I give you pain,
- But whom I love I never will deceive.
- Although forever I am resolved to shun
- My guilty husband, I must love him still.
- Oh words accursed! ah, daughter since you love
- This cruel husband, you will never fly him.
- Thus Alexander you betray and me!
- Ye gods, I saw my sire and husband die:
- My daughter from me torn, your cruel will
- Restores to make me perish by her fault.
- —Daughter ever dear,
- But cruel and unnatural—
- Oppressed with woe I bathe your knees with tears.
- Mother forgive me.—
- I swear by heaven, by my own name, by you,
- By nature, I the punishment will bear
- Of my own guilt. This hand to-day should shed
- My blood ere I’d consent to be his wife.
- You know my heart, I’ve told you that I love;
- By this confession and my weakness judge
- If my heart’s yours, if love for you prevails
- Over that love which has subdued my senses.
- Consider not my sex or tender age,
- Courage from my great parents I derive.
- I might offend them, I cannot betray;
- You’ll know Olympia, when you see her die.
- Dear, but inhuman daughter, can you die,
- And yet not hate the assassin of your sire!
- Tear out my heart, examine it, you’ll find,
- Though dear, my husband reigned not there like you.
- The blood which animates it then you’ll know;
- Your daughter sacrifice.—
- —I know your heart.
- I pity you, my child, and don’t condemn.
- Your courage and your duty give me hope,
- I pity even the love that injures me.
- You tear my heart, yet you affect it too.
- Console your mother whilst you cause her death.
- Alas! I am wretched, but you’re not to blame.
- Which bears, oh heavens, of woe the greatest weight!
- Which has most reason, to complain, of fate!
End of the thirdAct.