Front Page Titles (by Subject) ACT IV. - 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 IV. - 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).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
[In the porch.
- You warned me well; the holy place profaned,
- Will soon of strife and slaughter be the scene.
- Your soldiers guard our passage near the shrine,
- Cassander mad with love, with grief, and rage,
- Daring the gods whom he before invoked,
- Advances towards you by another path.
- The signal’s given, but in this enterprise
- The people doubt whose cause they should espouse.
- [Going out.
antigones, hermas, cassander, sosthenes.
- —Stay unworthy friend,
- False ally, and detested enemy,
- How durst thou claim what heaven bestows on me?
- I do—should that in thee excite surprise?
- The conqueror’s daughter has sufficient right
- To make the sons of Asia rise in arms,
- And haughty tyrants tremble on their thrones.
- Her portion’s Babylon, but she may claim
- The empire’s wide extent in right of birth.
- I, to possess them both, aspire, and know
- Thy tears, thy expiations and thy grief,
- The piercing eyes of nations cannot blind.
- Think not Olympia’s love still prone to doubt,
- If thou art guilty of her father’s death.
- In her opinion you are now condemned.
- Your heart, enslaved and tyrannized by love,
- Seduced Olympia, and you hid her birth.
- You thought to bury in oblivion’s night
- The fatal secret which to me is known.
- Her love you owe to baseness and deceit.
- But time at length her eyes has opened, and now
- Cassander his pretensions must forego.
- What, were thy hopes presumptuous? Didst thou think
- By her right, to become the king of kings? . . .
- By arms I may defend Statira’s cause,
- But would you our alliance still preserve?
- In your new kingdom would you reign in peace,
- Regain my friendship, on my arm depend?
- Olympia yield, and we are friends:
- For you I’ll spill my blood; if you refuse
- I’ll henceforth be the greatest of your foes.
- Maturely weigh your interests, and choose.
- My choice is easy, and I hither came
- To make to you an offer that may please.
- You know nor law nor pity, nor remorse;
- Friendship to violate, to you is sport.
- The gods I feared, you heavenly justice mock;
- The fruit of all your crimes you now enjoy;
- You shall not long.—
- —What mean these swelling words?
- If your fierce soul of virtue is not void,
- Let us not to our soldiers have recourse
- Our rage to second, and our anger serve.
- Our people should not in our quarrels bleed,
- They should not in our contests be involved.
- You, if you’re bold enough, alone should brave
- My courage, and my single arm oppose:
- I was not to the commerce of the gods
- Admitted in their sight to slay my friend;
- ’Tis an unheard-of crime prepared by you:
- Come, we were born to act this bloody part.
- Come on, decide both of my fate and yours,
- Pour out your blood, or glut yourself with mine.
- With joy the combat I accept; be sure
- Olympia weds the man by whom thou art slain.
- [They draw.
The Hierophants come precipitately from the temple with the priests and the initiated, who, with a multitude of the populace, part Cassander and Antigones, and disarm them.
- Hold your audacious hands, you men profane!
- Respect our god, respect his sacred rites!
- Haste, priests and people, part these barbarous men:
- Banish fierce discord from this sacred shrine.
- Your crimes atone—swords quickly disappear—
- Ye gods grant pardon—monarchs heaven obey.
- To you and heaven I yield.—
- —I still persist,
- I call to witness Alexander’s shade,
- I call to witness the avenging gods,
- That whilst I live, Olympia, my beloved,
- Ne’er shall be folded in my rival’s arms.
- The impious match on Ephesus would bring
- Shame, and make Asia’s sons with horror shrink.
- It would, no doubt, had it been made by you.
- With spirit calmer, and with heart less fierce.
- Yield to the law obedience and respect.
- All men it binds, by all should be fulfilled.
- The poor man’s hut, the haughty monarch’s throne,
- Alike subjected hear the voice of law;
- The weak she aids, transgressors she restrains,
- And her power sets the blameless victim free.
- Whene’er a husband of whatever rank
- Has chanced the parents of his wife to slay,
- Though he be by our mysteries purified,
- By Vesta’s fire, and by her healthful stream,
- And by repentance more essential still,
- His wife that day may new engagements form.
- She may, without offence, except she choose
- To imitate the gods and pardon him.
- As still Statira lives, you well may think
- That she will of her daughter’s fate dispose.
- A mother’s woes, a mother’s rights respect;
- The law of nations, and the character
- Which nature gives, and nothing can efface.
- Her voice august Olympia must obey.
- All your attempts are vain since you must wait,
- The widow’s and her daughter’s final will.
- [Exit with his followers.
- I to these terms subscribe, she’s surely mine.
- [Exit Antigones with Hermas.
[In the porch.
- You shall not find her treacherous, cruel man.
- Let us remove her from this fatal shrine,
- And disappoint this daring villain’s hopes,
- He laughs at my remorse, insults my grief,
- And would with calm serenity and joy
- Concealed, destroy my peace and tear my heart.
- Statira he seduces, sir, the deed
- He justifies by laws he violates,
- And by the gods his impious soul contemns.
- Let’s take her from the gods whom I have served,
- Those cruel gods by whom I am betrayed.
- I’d gladly die, the thunderer’s stroke I’d bless;
- But that my wife should in this fatal day
- Pass from Cassander’s to his rival’s hand:
- Ere that I bear, this temple shall be laid
- In ashes, oh ye gods, you pardoned me!
- My soul grown calm with blessed tranquillity,
- Gave itself up to that delusive hope,
- Ye gods, you snatch Olympia from my arms,
- Thus do you pardon expiated crimes?
- You have not lost the fair; her tender heart
- To you obedient and devoted still
- Cannot so soon the man she loved forget;
- Changes so quick are to the heart unknown.
- By loving you she breaks not nature’s law;
- The wounds which you in fight at random dealt
- Have, I will grant you, shed most precious blood!
- The gods permitted that calamity.
- You are not guilty of her father’s death.
- Your tears have for her mother’s blood atoned;
- Her woes are past, your favors present still.
- The anguish of my soul you sooth in vain:
- Statira’s blood and Alexander’s ghost
- Cry from the ground and fill my soul with dread
- She is their daughter, and may justly hate
- Her hapless husband with relentless rage;
- Olympia hates me, she whom I prefer
- To Cyrus’ throne, to all the thrones on earth.
- Those expiations, secret mysteries
- By kings neglected, sought with care by me,
- She was their object, and my guilty soul
- Approached the gods her presence to enjoy.
- [Seeing Olympia.
- Alas! behold her to her griefs a prey,
- She clasps the altar, bathes it with her tears.
- ’Tis time to take her from this shrine by force:
- Go, lose no time, but everything prepare.
- [Exit Sosthenes.
- [Reclined upon the altar without seeing Cassander.
- How my heart rises in my throbbing breast!
- How in despair ’tis plunged! how self-condemned!
- [Seeing Cassander.
- What do I see?—
- Your husband plunged in woe.
- Cassander, to that name no more pretend,
- That you should be my husband’s not in fate.
- I own myself unworthy of such bliss.
- I know the crimes which cruel destiny
- For both our ruin made my hand commit.
- Thinking to expiate I’ve their measure filled.
- My presence hurts you and my love insults.
- Howe’er, vouchsafe to answer: has my aid
- From war and from destruction saved your youth?
- Even in infancy
- Was not your innocence by me revered?
- Did I not idolize you?—
- After acknowledging the purest flame,
- Free in your choice and mistress of yourself,
- Did you not in the presence of the gods
- Before this shrine receive my solemn vows?
- It is too true. May pitying Heaven avert
- The punishment I have thereby incurred
- I had your heart, Olympia.—
- Do not add
- To my distress by such a keen reproach.
- My youth ’twas easy for you to seduce;
- My ignorance and weakness you deceived:
- Your guilt’s by this enhanced, fly hence. To hear
- Your conversation is in me a crime.
- Beware how you a greater crime commit
- In listening to a treacherous villain’s vows.
- If for Antigones—
- Cease, wretched man,
- My soul rejects his vows as well as yours.
- Since I was once deluded and this hand
- Was joined to thine stained with my parents’ blood,
- No mortal to my heart shall e’er lay claim:
- Marriage, the world, and life alike I hate.
- Since now my soul is mistress of her choice,
- I without hesitation choose these tombs
- Which hide my mother, for my last retreat;
- I this asylum choose whose God alone
- My heart by thee deceived shall now possess.
- These altars I embrace, all thrones detest,
- All Asia’s thrones, but far above the rest
- That which by proud Antigones is filled.
- See me no more, go, let me mourn alone
- That promised love which now I must abhor.
- If then your heart my rival’s love rejects,
- You can’t deprive me of a ray of hope;
- And when your virtue a new husband shuns,
- I think a favor is conferred on me.
- Although I with your parents’ blood am stained,
- My soul, my being must depend on you;
- Wife ever dear, whose virtues turned aside
- The thunders aimed at my devoted head,
- Still o’er my soul maintained a sovereign sway
- And should your mother’s rigor have disarmed.
- My mother! can your tongue pronounce her name!
- Ah, if repentance, pity or soft love
- Have any influence upon your heart,
- Fly from the places she inhabits, fly
- The altars I embrace.—
- No, without you
- I cannot go, you must my steps attend.
- [He takes her by the hand.
- Come, dearest wife.—
- [Pulling back her hand.
- Then like my mother treat me,
- This bosom, to its duty faithful, pierce:
- A surer dagger plunge in this sad heart,
- To shed my blood that cruel hand was formed.
- Strike here.—
- Your vengeance carries you too far.
- My cruelty and violence were less.
- Heaven pardons man, you how to punish know:
- But your ingratitude exceeds all bounds
- When thus a benefactor feels your hate.
- Have you not by your deeds incurred my hate?
- Cassander, had thy fierce, thy bloody hand,
- Which with the murderous steel my mother gored,
- Stabbed me alone and shed no other blood,
- I could have pardoned thee and loved thee still.
- Fly, cruel man, fate wills that we should part.
- No, destiny itself can’t separate
- Our fates, did you Cassander more detest;
- Had you even married me to pierce my heart,
- You must my steps attend; ’tis fate’s decree.
- Let me still love you as a punishment:
- I swear by you it never will have end:
- Punish, detest your husband, don’t forsake.
cassander, olympia, sosthenes.
- Appear, or soon Antigones prevails:
- The gate he blocks, your warriors he harangues,
- Your friends assembled near the sacred shrine
- He strives to gain, and their fidelity
- Seems to be shaken by his daring words:
- He on Olympia calls, and on her sire;
- Tremble both for your love and for your life;
- Is it thus you sacrifice me then
- To a detested rival? I in quest
- Of death will go, since you my death desire.
- Alas! Olympia cannot wish thy death.
- Live distant from her.—
- Without thee the light
- Of heaven is odious to my eyes, and life
- An object full of horror; if I escape
- Death’s rage, I to this temple will return
- And force thee hence, or with the vital drops
- That warm my heart the sacred pavement stain.
- [Exit with Sosthenes.
- Ah, wretch! ’tis he that causes my alarms!
- Wherefore, Cassander, should I weep for you?
- Is it so hard our duty to perform?
- The blood from whence I sprung shall o’er my mind
- Rule with despotic sway. By nature’s voice
- I’ll be directed, by her power I swear
- To sacrifice my sentiments to you.
- Far different oaths I at this altar made,
- Gods, you received them, and your clemency
- Approved the passion which inspired my soul.
- My state your power has changed, then change my heart,
- Give me a virtue suited to my woe.
- Pity a soul by ruthless passion torn,
- Which must its nature or its faith forego.
- Whilst yet obscure, I lived in perfect bliss,
- The world forgetting in captivity;
- Both to my parents and myself unknown.
- Ruin to my illustrious name I owe,
- At least I’ll strive to merit it. Cassander
- I must forsake, must fly thee; can I hate?
- How little power has woman o’er her heart!
- Weeping, I tear the wound that rankles there,
- And whilst my hand, with trembling, seeks the dart,
- I plunge it deeper, make the wound more wide.
olympia, the hierophants,Attendants.
- Pontiff, where go you? Oh! protect the weak:
- You tremble, and your eyes with tears o’erflow.
- I grieve, unhappy Princess! at your lot.
- Since I am forlorn, afford me then thy aid.
- With resignation to their heavenly will
- Expect protection from the gods alone.
- Alas! what words are these!—
- —O daughter dear!
- The widow of great Alexander.—
- Has aught befallen my mother? quickly speak.
- All’s lost, both kings roused up to furious rage,
- Trampling on law, and armed against the gods,
- Within this temple’s consecrated porch,
- Their troops spurred on to murder and to rage.
- Blood flowed on every side, with sword in hand,
- To you Cassander cut himself a path.
- I marched against him, having no defence
- But laws neglected and offended gods.
- Your mother in despair his fury met—
- She thought him master of the shrine and you.
- Tired of such horrors, tired of such black deeds,
- She seized the knife with which we victims slay,
- And plunged it in those loins wherein you found
- The source of life and of calamity.
- I die! Support me—is she yet alive?
- Cassander’s with her, he laments her fate,
- And even presumes to offer her relief,
- To second those whose virtuous hands assist her.
- He raves, himself he blames, throws down his arms,
- Her feet embraces, bathes them with his tears.
- Hearing his cries, her dying eyes she opes,
- And looks upon him as a monster fierce
- Come to deprive her of life’s poor remains,
- By the same hand which she had escaped before;
- She makes an effort weak to raise herself,
- Then falls again and gasps for her last breath:
- Cassander and the light she hates alike,
- Then opening with regret her half-closed eyes,
- Go, says she to me, hapless minister
- Of a sad shrine profaned with human gore,
- Console Olympia, she her mother loves,
- Tell her it is my pleasure that she wed
- Antigones, he will avenge my death.
- I’ll go and near her die; now hear me gods,
- Accompany my steps and close my eyes.
- Intrepid courage to your ills oppose.
- Perhaps I soon may show to proud mankind,
- That courage may inspire the female mind.