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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œdipus, araspes, dimas,Attendants.
- Weep not for me, my friends, nor thus regret
- Your sovereign’s fate: I wish for banishment;
- To me ’tis pleasure; for I know ’twill make
- My people happy: you must lose your king,
- But shall preserve his country. When I first
- Came to the throne of Thebes, I served it well;
- And, as I mounted, now I shall descend
- In glory: honor shall attend my fall:
- I leave my country, kingdom, children, all.
- Then hear me now, hear my last parting words;
- A king you must have; let him be my choice;
- Take Philoctetes: he is generous, noble,
- Virtuous, and brave; his father was a king,
- And he the friend of Hercules; let him
- Succeed me: I must hence.—Go, search out Phorbas;
- Bid him not fear, but come this moment hither,
- I must bequeath him something; he deserves it:
- I’ll take my farewell as a monarch ought.
- Go, bring the stranger to me—stay ye here.
œdipus, araspes, icarus,Attendants.
- Ha! is it thou, my much-loved Icarus!
- The faithful guardian of my infant years,
- Favorite and friend of Polybus, my father,
- What brought thee hither?
- ’Twas what we expected;
- For he had filled the measure of his days,
- And died in good old age; these eyes beheld it.
- Where are ye now, mistaken oracles!
- That shook my timid virtue, and foretold
- That I should prove a guilty parricide?
- My father’s dead, ye meant but to deceive me;
- These hands are not polluted with his blood:
- The slave of error, I have wandered long
- In darkness, busied in a fruitless toil,
- And to remove imaginary ills,
- Have made my life a scene of real woes,
- The offspring of my fond credulity.
- How deep must be the color of my fate
- When miseries like this can bring relief!
- Bliss spring from sorrow, and a father’s death
- Shall be accepted as the gift of heaven!
- But I must hence, and to his ashes pay
- The tribute due:—ha! silent, and in tears!
- Ought I to speak? O heaven!
- Hast thou aught more
- Of ill to tell me?
- For a moment grant me
- Your private ear.
- Retire.—[To the attendants.
- What can this mean?
- Think not of Corinth: thither, if thou goest,
- Thy death is certain.
- Who shall banish me
- From my own kingdom?
- To the throne of Corinth
- Another heir succeeds.
- Ye gods! is this
- The last sad stroke which I am born to suffer,
- Or will ye still pursue me? Fate, go on
- And persecute, thou shalt not conquer me:
- Let us away to my rebellious subjects,
- I’ll go to be their scourge, if not their king,
- And find at least an honorable death.
- But say, what stranger has usurped my throne?
- He is the son-in-law of Polybus,
- Who on his head did place the diadem
- In his last moments; the obedient people
- Hail their new sovereign.
- Has my father too
- Betrayed me, sided with my faithless subjects,
- And drove me from my throne?
- He did but justice,
- For thou wert not his son.
- With terror and regret I must reveal
- The dreadful secret, Corinth—
- Thou art not. Polybus, oppressed by conscience,
- Dying declared it; to the royal blood
- Of Corinth’s kings he yielded up his throne:
- I who alone enjoyed his confidence,
- And therefore dreaded the new sovereign’s power,
- Fled to implore thy aid.
- Who am I then,
- If not the son of Polybus?
- The gods,
- Who trusted to my hands thy infant years,
- In shades of darkest night conceal thy birth;
- I only know, that soon as born condemned
- To death, and on a desert hill exposed,
- Thou but for me hadst perished.
- Thus with life
- Began my sorrows, a detested object
- Even from my cradle, and accursed by all.
- Where didst thou light on me?
- In that deserted place, a Theban,
- Who called himself thy father, left thee; there
- To perish: some kind God conducted me
- That way; I pitied, took thee in my arms,
- Revived, and cherished thee: to Corinth then
- Carried my little charge, and to the king
- Presented thee; who, mark thy wondrous fate!
- His child just dead, adopted thee his son,
- And by that stroke of policy confirmed
- His tottering power: As son of Polybus
- Thou wert brought up by him who had preserved thee:
- The throne of Corinth never was thy right,
- But conscience robbed thee of what chance bestowed.
- Immortal powers, who rule the fate of kings!
- Am I thus doomed in one unhappy day
- To suffer such variety of woe!
- On a frail mortal shall your miracles
- Be thus exhausted! But inform me, friend,
- This old man, from whose hands you took me, say,
- Hast thou beheld him since that fatal hour?
- Never: perhaps he’s dead, he who alone
- Could tell thee the strange secret of thy birth;
- But on my mind his image is engraved
- So deeply, I should know him well.
- Wretch that I am! why should I wish to find him?
- Rather, submissive to the will of heaven
- Should I keep close the veil that o’er my eyes
- Spreads its benignant shade: too well already
- I see my fate; more knowledge would but show
- New horrors; and yet, spite of all my woes,
- Urged on by fatal curiosity,
- I thirst for more: I cannot bear to rest
- In sad suspense: to doubt is to be wretched:
- I dread the torch that lights me to my ruin:
- I fear to know myself, yet cannot long
- Remain unknown.
œdipus, icarus, phorbas.
- Ha! Phorbas! come this way.
- Surprising! sure the more I look, the more—
- ’Tis he, my lord, it must be he.
- Forgive me [To Icarus
- If still that face unknown—
- Dost thou remember?
- On mount Citheron—
- The child you gave me,
- The child to death—
- What dost thou say? remember,
- Remember what?
- Thou hast no cause to fear;
- Le not alarmed: thou mayest rejoice, that infant
- The lightning blast thee, wretch!
- What hast thou said?
- Doubt not, my lord, whatever
- [To Œdipus.
- This Theban says, he gave thee to my arms;
- Thy fate is known; this old man is thy father.
- What complicated misery! Alas!
- [To Phorbas.
- If thou art indeed my father, will the gods
- Ever suffer me to shed thy blood?
- O no!
- For thou art not my son.
- And didst not thou
- Expose me in my infancy?
- My lord,
- Permit me to retire, and hide from thee
- The dreadful truth.
- No, Phorbas; by the gods
- I beg thee, tell me all.
- Begone, avoid
- Thy children, and thy queen.
- Now answer me,
- For to resist is vain: that infant, doomed
- To death by thee, say, didst thou give it him?
- [Pointing to Icarus.
- I did: and would that day had been my last!
- And of what country was that child?
- And thou art not his father?
- No: alas!
- Sprung from a nobler, but more wretched race—
- My lord, what would you do?
- [Throwing himself at the feet of Œdipus.
- [Looking at Œdipus.
- Behold the fruit of all my generous care!
- Away, begone, this moment leave me:
- The dreadful gifts ye have bestowed on me
- Must have their recompense; and ye have cause
- To fear my wrath, for ye preserved my life.
- At length the dire prediction is fulfilled,
- And Œdipus is now, though innocent,
- A base, incestuous parricide: O virtue!
- Thou fatal empty name; thou who didst guide
- My hapless days, thou hadst not power to stop
- The current of my fate: alas! I fell
- Into the snare by trying to avoid it:
- Heaven led me on to guilt, and sunk a pit
- Beneath my sliding feet: I was the slave
- Of some unknown, some unrelenting power,
- That used me for its instrument of vengeance:
- These are my crimes, remorseless cruel gods!
- Yours was the guilt, and ye have punished me.
- Where am I? what dark shade thus from my eyes
- Covers the light of heaven? the walls are stained
- With blood; the furies shake their torches at me;
- The lightnings flash; hell opens her wide gates:
- O Laius! O my father! art thou there?
- I see the deadly wound these hands had made;
- Revenge thee now on this abhorred monster,
- A monster who defiled the bed of her
- Who bore him: lead me to the dark abode,
- That I may strike fresh terror to the hearts
- Of guilty beings by my punishment:
- Lead on, I’ll follow thee.
œdipus, jocaste, ægina, chorus.
- O Œdipus,
- Dispel my fears, thy dreadful cries alarm me.
- Open, thou earth, and swallow me!
- What sad misfortune moves thee thus?
- O stop! what name is that? am I thy husband?
- Do not say husband: we shall hate each other.
- ’Tis enough: I have fulfilled
- My horrid fate: know, Laius was my father;
- I am thy son.
leader of the chorus.
second person of the chorus.
- Ægina, drag me from this horrid place!
- If thou hast pity on Jocaste,
- If without horror thou canst now approach me,
- Assist me now, compassionate thy queen!
leader of the chorus.
- Ye gods! and is it thus your vengeance ceases?
- Take back your cruel gifts, ’twere better far
- That we had suffered still.
jocaste, ægina, high priest, chorus.
- Attend, ye people,
- And know, a milder sun now beams upon you:
- At length the baleful pestilence is fled,
- The graves once more are closed, and death hath left us;
- The God of heaven and earth declares his goodness
- In peals of thunder: hark!
- [Thunder and lightning.
- What dreadful flashes!
- Where am I? heaven! what do I hear! Barbarians—
- ’Tis done: the gods are satisfied: no more
- Doth Laius from the tomb cry out for vengeance:
- Jocaste, thou mayest live and reign; the blood
- Of Œdipus sufficeth.
- My son! and must I call him husband too!
- Dear dreadful names! is he then dead?
- He lives,
- But from the living and the dead cut off,
- Deprived of light: I saw him plunge this sword,
- Stained with his father’s blood, into his eyes:
- This fatal moment has to Thebes restored
- Her safety: such are the decrees of heaven:
- Which, as it wills, decides the fate of mortals,
- All-powerful to save or to destroy.
- Its wrath is all exhausted on thy son,
- And thou art pardoned.
- Punish then thyself.
- [Stabs herself.
- Jocaste, thus reserved for horrid incest,
- Death is the only good remaining for me:
- Laius, receive my blood: I follow thee:
- I have lived virtuous, and shall die with pleasure.
- Unhappy queen, and sad calamity!
- Weep only for my son, who still survives.
- Priests, and you Thebans, who were once my subjects,
- Honor my ashes, and remember ever,
- That midst the horrors which oppressed me, still
- I could reproach the gods; for heaven alone
- Was guilty of the crime, and not Jocaste.
The End of the Fifth and Last Act.