Front Page Titles (by Subject) ACT V. - 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 V. - 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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- [In the porch.
- Vengeance is vain, compassion now should speak,
- A hapless rival is not worth your hate.
- Fly from this dire abode; Olympia, sir,
- Is lost both to Cassander and yourself.
- —Cassander’s fate
- Has made him fatal to the conqueror’s race.
- Statira sinking with a load of woe,
- Expires with horror in her daughter’s arms.
- Tender Olympia stretched upon the corpse,
- Seems scarcely to retain the breath of life.
- The priests and priestesses dissolved in tears,
- Increase their griefs by mixing them with hers.
- With cries and groans the temple’s vaults resound,
- A funeral pile’s prepared, and all the pomp
- With which man’s vanity adorns the dead.
- ’Tis said Olympia in this solitude
- Will dwell where once her mother lived retired;
- And that renouncing marriage and the world,
- She’ll dedicate to heaven her future life,
- And that she’ll in eternal silence weep
- Her family, her mother, and her birth.
- No, no, her duty’s law she must obey,
- My right to her admits of no dispute.
- Statira gives her to me, and her will
- When at the point of death’s a law divine.
- Frantic Cassander and his fatal love
- Statira’s daughter must with horror fill.
- She herself declares
- That her sad heart disclaims this barbarous man.
- Should he persist in his audacious love.
- He shall with life for his presumption pay.
- Would you mix blood with tears, and with the flames
- Of the sad pile where burns the royal corpse?
- Your awe-struck soldiers will with horror start
- From such an object, they’ll not follow you.
- No, I will not disturb the funeral rites;
- This I have sworn; Cassander will revere them,
- Awhile Olympia shall my rage suspend,
- But when the funeral’s o’er I’ll give it scope.
- [The temple opens.
antigones, hermas, the hierophants, the priests.
[Advancing slowly] olympia [in mourning, and supported by the priestesses.]
- Olympia scarce alive, is this way led.
- I see the pontiff of the sacred shrine,
- Who following bathes her tracks with floods of tears.
- The priestesses support her in their arms.
- I own these objects in the hardest heart
- Would raise emotion. Madam, give me leave
- [To Olympia
- To mix with yours my sorrows, and to swear
- That I’ll avenge the wrongs you have sustained.
- The wretch by whom you twice a mother lost,
- A hope presumptuous madly entertains,
- But know his punishment is not far off.
- To your afflictions add not trembling fear:
- But all his rash attempts defy secure.
- Ah! speak not now of vengeance and of blood,
- Statira’s dead, I’m dead to human kind.
- Her loss I mourn, and I pity you,
- Her sacred will I justly might allege,
- Dear to my hopes, and by yourself revered;
- But I know what is in this juncture due,
- Both to her shade, her daughter, and your grief.
- Madam, consult yourself, her will obey.
- [Exit with Hermas.
olympia, the hierophants, priests, priestesses.
- You who alone compassionate my woes,
- Priest of a God of mildness and of peace,
- Can I not forever dedicate my woe
- To this sad shrine bathed with my mother’s tears?
- Sure, sir, you cannot have so hard a heart
- To shut this place of refuge from my grief?
- ’Tis all that’s claimed by one of royal race,
- Do not refuse this poor inheritance.
- I mourn your fate, but how can I assist you?
- Your mother dying has your husband named
- You yourself heard her her last will declare,
- Whilst with our hands we closed her dying eyes.
- And if you will not her commands obey,
- Cassander still may claim you as his right.
- ’Tis true, I to my dying mother swore
- Ne’er to receive Cassander’s bloody hand,
- My oath I’ll keep.—
- —You freedom still enjoy,
- The gods alone can of your hand dispose.
- Things soon will change; you now, Olympia, may
- Determine and dispose your future life.
- Indeed it fits not that the self-same day
- Should light the funeral pile and hymen’s torch.
- Such marriage would be shocking, but a word
- Suffices, and that word I want to hear.
- In this extremity your heart should know
- What to your royal race is justly due.
- Sir, I have told you any nuptial tie
- Is hateful to my heart, and should be to yours.
- A mother’s injured shade I’ll not betray:
- A husband I forsake, that should suffice.
- Both from the throne and marriage let me fly.
- Antigones or else Cassander choose.
- Those armed rivals, jealous as they’re proud,
- Are forced by your decision to abide.
- You with a word confusion may prevent,
- And slaughter which would quickly rage again;
- Were not men filled with reverence and respect
- By all that funeral pomp, that pile, those altars,
- Those duties, and those honors which awhile
- To serious contemplation souls dispose.
- Piety lasts not long amongst the great;
- Their rage I hardly could awhile suspend;
- To-morrow blood will Ephesus o’erflow.
- Princess, decide, and all will be appeased:
- The people ever to the law adhere.
- When you have spoken they’ll support your choice;
- If not, with sword in hand within this shrine,
- Cassander will your plighted faith require;
- What he possessed he has a right to claim,
- Though with just horror he inspires your soul.
- Enough, your apprehensions I conceive,
- My soul shall never to complaint give way:
- To fate I yield, you all its rigor know. . . . .
- My choice already in my heart is made:
- I have resolved.—
- —Then shall Antigones
- Be happy, and your plighted faith receive?
- Howe’er that be, this juncture, Sir, ill suits
- With such engagements; you yourself must own
- The fatal day on which a mother died,
- Should quite engross a daughter’s every thought. . .
- Must you not bear her to the funeral pile?
- ’Tis ours that mournful duty to perform:
- All that remains of her an urn shall hold;
- Her ashes to deposit be your care.
- Alas! her guilty daughter caused her death,
- Something that daughter owes her injured shade.
- All things I’ll now prepare.—
- —Say, do your laws
- Permit me to behold her on the pile?
- May I approach the funeral pomp, and shed
- Tears on her body while the flames ascend?
- It is your duty, we partake your grief.
- You’ve naught to dread, those armed rivals now
- Will not presume your sorrows to disturb.
- Present perfumes, your veils and locks of hair,
- And a libation, offering sad, but pure.
- [The priestesses lay these offerings on the altar.
[To the Hierophants.
- This is the only favor I require.
- [To the inferior priestess.
- You who attended her in this abode
- Of death, and shared the horrors of her fate,
- Return and give me notice when the fire
- Is ready to consume those loved remains:
- Since ’tis permitted, let my last farewell
- Her manes satisfy.—
- [To the Hierophants.
- Go, holy priest, the sacred pile erect,
- Prepare the wreaths of cypress and the urn:
- Bid the two rivals to the pile repair,
- I in their presence will explain myself
- Before my mother’s corpse, and in the sight
- Of holy priestesses, who to my woes
- And to my promises can witness bear,
- My sentiments, my choice shall be declared;
- You must approve them, though perhaps you’ll grieve.
- You still are mistress of your destiny:
- This day expired, your freedom will be o’er.
- [Exit with the priests.
[At the front of the stage, the priestesses in a semi-circle at the bottom.]
- Oh thou who to my shame dost still enslave
- My heart, which has deliberately made choice;
- Who o’er Statira dead dost triumph still,
- O’er Alexander and their hapless race!
- O’er earth and heaven against thee both conspired.
- Reign, hapless lover, o’er my tortured sense:
- If you still love me, which I scarce can wish,
- Your fatal victory will cost you dear.
olympia, cassander, the priestesses.
- Your wishes to fulfil, I hither come;
- This fatal pile shall with my blood be stained.
- Accept my death; the only hope I’ve left
- Is that your pity, not you vengeance, asks it.
- No pardon for this criminal remains,
- The hapless slave of cruel destiny;
- To be a parricide was still my fate:
- Still I am thy husband: Spite of all my crimes,
- My soul Olympia idolizes still.
- Although you hate me, Hymen’s rites respect:
- You have no tie on earth except to me:
- ’Tis death alone can separate our fates;
- I must, in dying, see you and adore.
- [He throws himself at her feet.
- Wreak vengeance on my guilty head, my crimes
- Severely punish, but forsake me not.
- Hymen’s more sacred are than nature’s ties.
- Rise, rise, the funeral rites profane no more,
- No more profane the ashes of the dead.
- Whilst on the dreadful pile the flames consume
- My mother’s body, don’t pollute the gifts
- Which here I at the funeral pile present:
- Do not approach, but at a distance hear me.
olympia, cassander, antigones and the priestesses.
- Your virtue cannot still decline a choice:
- Her will Statira at her death explained:
- This day of terror filled my soul with awe,
- And I the dead respected; else this arm,
- This vengeful arm had plunged the shrine in blood:
- And, in obedience to your orders, now
- I come as to my rival’s judge and mine:
- From apprehensions free, pronounce our doom.
- I hope you will a just distinction make
- Between the man by whom your mother bled,
- And him who strove her murder to avenge.
- Nature has sacred rites; Statira, placed
- By Alexander, looks on you from heaven.
- Within this darksome shrine you’re buried now,
- But heaven and earth attentive mark your deeds:
- Between us two Olympia must decide.
- I shall, but you must treat me with respect.
- You see these preparations and these gifts,
- Which to the infernal gods I must present;
- And you, like furious rivals, choose this time,
- Midst tombs, to talk of marriage and of love!
- You soldiers of the potent king, my sire,
- Who, by his death, are kings become yourselves,
- If I am dear to you, I charge you swear
- You’ll not oppose my duties or my choice.
- I swear it solemnly, and you shall find
- That I respect you as I scorn that traitor.
- I swear it too, for sure I am, your heart
- Must from my barbarous rival shocked recoil.
- Declare yourself.—
- Think then what e’er befalls,
- That Alexander’s present, that he hears us.
- Then know the heart which thus you persecute,
- And judge what resolution I should take.
- Whatever choice I make, must fatal prove;
- The grief that racks my soul too well you know,
- Know likewise that I have deserved it all.
- My parents I betrayed, who might have known
- I caused the death of her who gave me birth:
- I found a mother in this dire abode,
- I quickly lost her, in these arms she died.
- To her sad daughter, dying thus she spoke,
- “Marry Antigones, I die content.”
- Then she was seized with agonies, and I
- Her death to hasten, her desire opposed.
- Thus do you brave me and insult my love,
- Your mother injure, nature’s laws betray.
- Her shade I injure not, nor injure you;
- I justice do to all and to myself. . . . .
- Cassander, first to you my faith I gave:
- Think you the gods our union could approve?
- Decide this point yourself: you know your crimes,
- I will not now reproach you with your guilt.
- Repair it when you can.—
- —I can’t appease you!
- I can’t assuage the horror I inspire,
- My heart you soon shall know: your promise keep.
- [The temple opens, and the pile is seen in flames.
SCENE the Last.
olympia, cassander, antigones, the hierophants, priests, priestesses.
the inferior priestess.
Princess, ’tis time.—
- Behold you flaming pile.
- Now mourn, Cassander, your unhappy fate.
- Those royal ashes and that pile remark;
- Remember Alexander and my chains!
- Behold his widow! Tell me how to act.
- —You pronounce your doom. . . . .
- To mine bear witness. Oh thou sacred shade,
- [She mounts the steps before the altar, which is near the funeral pile. The priestesses present her the offerings.]
- Shade of my mother! I this duty pay
- To thee, who justly may be still incensed;
- Perhaps these gifts your manes may appease,
- They may prove worthy of my sire and you.
- [To Cassander.
- Thou husband of Olympia, who by fate
- Wert ne’er intended for her; who preserved
- My life, by whom I both my parents lost;
- Thou who so loved me, and for whom my soul
- Felt all the weakness of a tender love;
- Thou thinkest my guilty passion from my breast
- Is banished; know that I adore thee still,
- And will upon myself that guilt revenge.
- Oh ever-honored ashes of Statira,
- The body of Olympia now receive!
- [She stabs herself, and throws herself into the pile.
- All present cry out,
- Oh heavens!
- [Running to the pile.
- [Running also to the pile.
- Oh, frenzy strange!
- She’s now no more, our efforts all are vain.
- [Returning to the porch.
- Gods, are you satisfied? My hands accursed,
- A royal pair have of their lives deprived.
- Still dost thou envy me, Antigones?
- Canst thou, unmoved, this shocking death behold,
- And thinkest thou still Cassander’s fate is blessed?
- If my felicity provokes thy rage,
- Share it, this dagger take and do like me.
- [Stabs himself.
- Oh, holy shrine! Just, but vindictive gods,
- In courts profane were e’er such horrors seen!
- Thus Alexander and his family,
- Successors, assassins, are all destroyed!
- Gods! since the world must ever feel your rage,
- Why into being did you mortals call?
- What were Statira’s or Olympia’s crimes?
- To what am I reserved in future times!
End of Fifth and last Act.
THE ORPHAN OF CHINA
The Hierophants, the priests and the priestesses, all show their astonishment and consternation.