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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varus, nabal, albinus,Attendants onvarus.
- The king, my lord, the happy Herod, comes
- Triumphant, and the Hebrews flock in crowds
- To meet him: Salome, alarmed and fearful
- Of her declining interest, joins his train
- Of fawning courtiers, soothes his pride, and strives
- By every art to gain him to her purpose;
- The priests attend, and strew their palms before him.
- With Herod comes the faithful Idamas,
- Deputed by his sovereign to attend
- The noble Varus; he will soon be here.
- Still hath he proved himself the constant friend
- Of Mariamne, and by wholesome counsels
- Softened the rage of his impetuous master:
- The queen, still wavering and irresolute,
- Condemns herself; her rigid virtue fears
- To do what danger tells her must be done:
- She quits the palace, then returns; meanwhile
- Her anxious mother, falling at her feet,
- Bathes them in tears, points to her weeping children,
- And trembling begs her to depart: she stops,
- And doubts, and much I fear will stay too long:
- ’Tis thou must hasten her; on thee alone
- Depends the safety of the noblest being
- Heaven e’er gave birth to. O preserve her; save
- The race august sprung from a line of kings;
- Save Mariamne. Are your guards all ready?
- May I inform her of it?
- All’s prepared:
- I gave them orders: she may go this moment.
- And wilt thou too permit a faithful servant
- To follow his loved mistress?
- Go with her,
- Wait on her steps, and guard her as thy life:
- This hateful place deserves her not: may heaven,
- In pity to her sorrows, smile upon her;
- Light up a fairer sun to gild her journey,
- And bid the waves in smoother currents flow,
- Obedient to the sacred charge they bear!
- Thou, good old man, mayest follow and attend her;
- Thou art too happy, but thou hast deserved it.
varus, albinus,Attendants onvarus.
- Already Herod comes; the trumpet’s sound
- Speaks his return; unwelcome sound to me!
- I dread his presence: cruel as he is,
- Instant his wrath may fall on Mariamne:
- Would she had left forever these sad seats
- Of guilt and horror! would I might partake
- Her flight! but O! the more I love, the more
- I must avoid her: ’twere in me a crime
- To follow her; and all that Varus can—
- But Idamas approaches.
varus, idamas, albinus,Attendants onvarus.
- Ere the king,
- My royal master, comes, with gratitude
- To pay thy bounties, and receive from thee
- The holy sceptre, say, wilt thou permit me?—
- No more: your king may spare this idle homage,
- These practised arts of visionary friendship
- Amongst the great, drawn forth with pompous splendor
- But to amuse the gaping multitude
- And foreign to the heart: but say, at length
- Rome has consented; Herod is your king;
- Doth he deserve to reign? Is the queen safe,
- And will he spare the blood of innocence.
- May the just gods, who hate the perjured man,
- Open his eyes, now blinded by imposture!
- But who shall dive into his secret thoughts,
- Or trace the emotions of his troubled soul?
- Naught can we draw from him but sullen silence;
- Or if perchance the name of Mariamne
- Escape his lips, he sighs, and raves: this moment
- Gives secret orders, and the next revokes them:
- Herod detests the race from whence she sprang,
- And hates her more because he loved too well.
- Perfidious Zares, by thy order stopped,
- And by thy order freed, the artificer
- Of calumny and fraud, will serve the cause
- Of subtle Salome, whilst Mazael lends
- His secret aid: the jealous Herod listens
- To their suggestions; they besiege him closely;
- And their officious hatred still keeps truth
- At distance from him: this great conqueror,
- Who made so many potent monarchs tremble,
- This king, whose noble deeds even Rome admired,
- Whose name yet fills all Asia with alarms,
- In his own house beholds his glories fade:
- Torn by suspicions, and o’erwhelmed with grief;
- Led by his sister, hated by his wife:
- I pity him, and fear for Mariamne.
- Say, wilt thou not protect her?
- ’Tis enough:
- Albinus, follow me, the queen’s in danger:
- Away, for I must save the innocent.
- Will you not wait then for the king?
- I know
- I should receive him here: it is my duty,
- For so the senate wills: but other cares
- Inspire me now, and other interests guide:
- ’Tis my first duty to protect the wretched.
- [Exit Varus.
- What storms do I foresee? what new distresses
- Will soon o’ertake us? Now, O Israel’s God,
- Change Herod’s heart!
herod, mazael, idamas,Attendants onherod.
- Varus avoid me too!
- What horrors meet me here on every side!
- Good heaven! can Herod inspire naught but hatred
- And terror to mankind? Is every heart
- Thus shut against me? To myself disgustful,
- My people, and my queen; with grief oppressed
- I re-ascend my throne, and only come
- To see the sorrows my own hand hath made.
- O heaven!
- Be calm, my lord, let me entreat you.
- Wretch that I am, what have I done!
- Ha! weeping!
- Shall Herod weep, the great, the illustrious king,
- The dread of Parthia, and the friend of Rome,
- For wisdom and for valor long renowned!
- O! think my lord, of those distinguished honors
- Which Antony and victory bestowed;
- Think of thy fame, when seen by great Augustus,
- He chose thee from a crowd of conquered kings,
- And marked thee for his friend: call back the time,
- When great Jerusalem, by thee subdued,
- Submitted to thy laws: by thee defended,
- Once more she shines with all her ancient lustre,
- And sees her sovereign crowned with fair success:
- Never was king in peace or war more happy.
- There is no happiness on earth for me;
- Fate points its poisoned arrows at my breast;
- And, to complete my woes, I have deserved them.
- Permit me, sir, the freedom to observe,
- Your throne, by fears and jealousies surrounded,
- Would stand more firmly on love’s nobler basis:
- The king who makes his people’s happiness
- Secures his own; thy soul, thus racked with tortures,
- Might trace the poisoned waters to their spring.
- O, my lord, suffer not malicious tongues
- To wound the peace and honor of thy life;
- Nor servile flatterers to estrange the hearts
- Of those who long to serve their royal master:
- Israel shall then enamored with thy virtues—
- And thinkest thou Herod might again be loved?
- Zares, my lord, still faithful to his charge,
- Burns with the same unwearied zeal to serve thee:
- He comes from Salome, and begs admittance.
- What! both forever persecute me! No!
- Let not that monster e’er appear before me;
- I’ve heard too much already: hence, begone,
- And leave me to myself: what shall I do
- To calm my troubled soul? Stay, Idamas,
- And, Mazael, stay.
herod, mazael, idamas.
- Behold this dreadful monarch,
- This mighty king, who made the nations tremble;
- Who knew so well to conquer and to reign.
- To break his chains, and make the world admire
- His wisdom and his power: behold him now,
- Alas! how little like his former self!
- All own thy greatness, and adore thy virtues.
- One heart alone resists, and that perhaps
- May still be thine.
- No: Herod’s a barbarian,
- Unworthy of his throne.
- Thy grief is just,
- And if for Mariamne—
- Fatal name!
- ’Tis that condemns me; that reproaches still
- My tortured soul with cruelty and weakness.
- My lord, your goodness but augments her hatred;
- She loathes your sight, and flies from your embraces.
- I did:
- This sudden change, this grief that hangs upon me,
- These shameful tears, do they not all declare
- That Herod is returned from Mariamne?
- With love and hatred mingled in my soul,
- I left the crowd of flatterers in my court,
- And flew to her: but what was my reward?
- How did we meet! in anger, frowns, and strife:
- In her indignant eyes I read my fate,
- And my injustice: she scarce deigned to cast
- A look upon me; even my tears availed not;
- They only served to make her scorn me more.
- You see, my lord, her soul’s implacable,
- And never will be softened by indulgence;
- It but inflames her pride.
- I know she hates me;
- But I’ve deserved it, and I must forgive her:
- She has but too much cause from one so guilty.
- Guilty, my lord? hast thou forgot her flights,
- Contempt, and pride, and wrath, and fierce resentment;
- Her father’s plot, her own designs against thee,
- And all her race thy mortal foes? Hircanus
- Had oft betrayed thee; the Asmonæan league
- Was firmly knit; and by such dangerous powers,
- That nothing but a master-stroke could save—
- No matter: that Hircanus was her father,
- I should have spared him; but I only listened
- To proud ambition, and the love of empire:
- My cruel policy destroyed her race;
- I killed the father, and proscribed his daughter:
- I wanted but to hate and to oppress,
- And heaven, to punish me, hath made me love her.
- To feel a passion for a worthy object
- Is not a weakness in us, but a virtue,
- Worthy of every good which heaven hath given thee;
- Esteem thy love amongst its choicest blessings.
- What hath my rashness done! ye sacred manes,
- Hircanus, Oh!
- Banish the sad remembrance,
- And grant, kind heaven, the queen too may forget it!
- Unhappy father! more unhappy husband!
- The injuries I have done my Mariamne
- Make her more dear: O! if her heart—her faith—
- But I have stayed too long: now, Idamas,
- I’ll make amends for all; go, haste, and tell her,
- My soul, obedient to her will, shall lay
- My throne, my life, my glory at her feet:
- Amongst her sons I’ll choose a successor.
- She has accused my sister as the cause
- Of her misfortunes, henceforth I disclaim her;
- A nearer tie demands the sacrifice,
- And Salome must yield to Mariamne:
- My queen shall rule with power unlimited!
- Yes: I am resolved:
- I know her now; she is the choicest gift
- Of bounteous heaven; as such I shall revere her:
- What cannot love, the mighty conqueror, do?
- To Mariamne I shall owe my virtue.
- In savage pomp, and barbarous majesty,
- Too long hath Asia seen her sovereign rule
- Respected by his people; feared, admired,
- Yet hated still; with crowds of worshippers,
- But not one friend. My sister, whom long time
- This foolish heart believed, hath ne’er consulted
- My happiness, my interest, or my fame:
- For Salome, more cruel than myself,
- And more revengeful, dipped her hands in blood,
- And ruled my subjects with a rod of iron:
- Whilst Mariamne felt for the unhappy,
- Forgot her own distress to pity theirs,
- And told me all their sorrows: but ’tis past:
- Henceforth I will be just, but not severe;
- I’ll strive to please her by promoting still
- The public weal: Judah shall bless my reign,
- For I am changed. From this auspicious hour,
- Far from my throne, shall every jealous fear
- Be now removed: I will dry up the tears
- Of the oppressed, and reign o’er Palestine,
- Not as a tyrant, but a citizen;
- Gain every heart to merit Mariamne’s.
- O seek her, tell her how my soul repents;
- That my remorse is equal to my rashness.
- Run, fly, begone, and instantly return.
- What do I see? my sister? hence: O heaven,
- Finish the woes of my unhappy life!
- Well, sir, you’ve seen your dear deceitful foe,
- And suffered more affronts; I know you have.
- Madam, permit me to inform you, this
- Is not a time to add to my misfortunes;
- I would remove them: my imperious temper
- Made me more feared indeed, but more unhappy:
- Too long already o’er this house of sorrow
- Hath vengeance poured her black and deadly poison:
- The queen and you, thus at perpetual variance,
- Would be a spring of endless misery; therefore,
- My sister, for our mutual happiness,
- For thy repose and mine, ’tis best to part;
- Immediately, away: it must be so.
- What do I hear! O fatal enemy!
- A king commands, a brother begs it of thee:
- O may he ne’er again be forced to give
- One cruel order, ne’er take vengeance more,
- Nourish suspicions, or shed guiltless blood!
- Thou shalt no longer make my life a burden;
- Complain of me, lament thyself, but go.
- Alas! my lord, I shall make no complaints;
- Since I am doomed to banishment by thee,
- It must be just, and fitting that I should be;
- For I have ever learned to make thy will
- My law: if thou commandest, I must obey;
- I never shall resent the injury,
- Or call on nature and the ties of blood,
- Or to attest, or vindicate my wrongs;
- The voice of nature’s seldom heard by kings,
- The ties of blood are much too weak to bind them:
- I will not boast that tender friendship now
- Whose zeal offends thee; much less would I call
- To thy remembrance all my service past;
- One look I see from Mariamne soon
- Effaces all: but canst thou ever think
- She will forget the attempt upon her life
- Which Herod made? thee she must fear: thou therefore
- Shouldst dread her more: thou knowest her vows, her thoughts
- Are bent against thee, and whose counsels now
- Shall stay her vengeance? Where’s the faithful heart
- Devoted to thee? where’s the watchful eye,
- Ever awake, to guard the life of Herod?
- Who shall unravel all her subtle plots,
- Or who restrain her wrath? Dost thou believe,
- When thou hast put thy life within her power,
- That love will plead for thee? O no! such hate,
- Such scorn as hers, such desperate resentment—
- Permit me, Salome, at least to doubt,
- At least delude me with the flattering hopes
- I may regain her heart: in this alone
- I wish to be deceived: show some regard,
- Some kind compassion for a brother’s weakness:
- I must believe, thou knowest I’ve too much reason.
- Thy hatred was a barrier to our love:
- Thy malice hardened Mariamne’s heart,
- And, but for thee, I had been less detested.
- Couldst thou but know, O! couldst thou but conceive
- To what excess—
- Sister, I’ll hear no more:
- Let Mariamne threaten; let her take
- This loathesome life, for I am weary of it;
- So shall I perish by the hand I love.
- It would be cruel to deceive you longer
- By guilty silence, or conceal her crimes:
- I know the dangerous hazard that I run
- By serving you; but I must speak, though death
- Were my reward: poor, blind, deluded husband,
- Enslaved by love for a vile worthless woman;
- Know Mariamne now, and know thy shame:
- ’Tis not her pride, her hatred, and disdain,
- Should make thee loathe her, but that—she is false;
- She loves another.
- Mariamne love
- Another! barbarous sister! to suspect
- Her spotless virtue! Is it thus thou meanest
- To murder Herod? Are these poisoned darts
- The best farewell that thou canst leave thy brother?
- To light up discord, shame, and rage, and horror,
- In my distracted mind! Could Mariamne—
- But thou already hast too oft deceived me;
- Too long have I given credit to thy falsehood:
- Now heaven has punished my credulity,
- But it has ever been my fate to love
- Those who abhor me. You are all my foes;
- All sworn to persecute the wretched Herod.
- Stir not hence, I charge thee;
- Another is beloved? Speak, tell me, who
- Must fall a sacrifice to Herod’s vengeance?
- Pursue thy work, and make my woes complete.
- Strike here: behold my heart:
- Who has dishonored me? Whoe’er he be,
- Thou, Salome, perhaps mayest answer for it,
- For thou art guilty: thou hast undeceived me:
- Now at thy peril speak.
herod, salome, mazael.
- Bear not this indignity, my lord,
- The queen is fled, accompanied by Varus.
- Varus, and Mariamne! gods! where am I?
- Varus, my lord, and all his troops have left
- The palace, and a secret band is placed
- About the walls to favor her retreat;
- Your Mariamne will be lost forever.
- The charm is broke, and day shines full upon me:
- Come, Salome, acknowledge now thy brother,
- And know him by his wrath; let us surprise
- The infidel: now judge if Herod still
- Acts like himself, and like himself revenges.
End of the Third Act.