Front Page Titles (by Subject) ACT I. - The Works of Voltaire, Vol. X The Dramatic Works Part 1 (Zaire, Caesar, The Prodigal, Prefaces) and Part II (The Lisbon Earthquake and Other Poems).
ACT I. - Voltaire, The Works of Voltaire, Vol. X The Dramatic Works Part 1 (Zaire, Caesar, The Prodigal, Prefaces) and Part II (The Lisbon Earthquake and Other Poems). 
From The Works of Voltaire, A Contemporary Version, (New York: E.R. DuMont, 1901), A Critique and Biography by John Morley, notes by Tobias Smollett, trans. William F. Fleming. Vol. X The Dramatic Works Part 1 (Zaire, Caesar, The Prodigal, Prefaces) and Part II (The Lisbon Earthquake and Other Poems).
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- The Works of Voltaire
- The Dramatic Works of Voltaire Vol. X— Part I
- Dramatis PersonÆ.
- An Epistle Dedicatory to Mr. Falkener, an English Merchant, Since Ambassador At Constantinople, With the Tragedy of Zaïre.
- A Second Letter to Mr. Falkener, Then Ambassador to Constantinople.
- Act I.
- Act II.
- Act III.
- Act IV.
- Act V.
- Dramatis PersonÆ.
- Act I.
- Act II.
- Act III.
- The Prodigal
- Dramatis PersonÆ.
- Act I.
- Act II.
- Act III.
- Act IV.
- Act V.
- Preface to Mariamne.
- Preface to Orestes.
- Preface to Catiline.
- Preface to MÉrope.
- Preface to the Prodigal.
- Preface to Nanine.
- 1 Preface to Socrates.
- Note On Mahomet.
- Preface to Julius CÆsar.
- Voltaire the Lisbon Earthquake and Other Poems Vol. X— Part Ii
- Author’s Preface to the Lisbon Earthquake.
- The Lisbon Earthquake. *
- Preface to the Poem On the Law of Nature.
- The Law of Nature.
- The Temple of Taste. *
- The Temple of Friendship.
- Thoughts On the Newtonian Philosophy, Addressed to the Marchioness Du ChÂtelet.
- On the Death of Adrienne Lecouvreur, a Celebrated Actress.
- To the King of Prussia On His Accession to the Throne.
- From Love to Friendship.
- The Worldling. *
- On Calumny.
- The King of Prussia to M. Voltaire.
- The Answer.
- On the English Genius.
- What Pleases the Ladies.
- The Education of a Prince.
- The Education of a Daughter.
- The Three Manners.
- Thelema and Macareus.
- The Origin of Trades.
- The Battle of Fontenoy.
- The Man of the World. *
- The Padlock. *
- In Camp Before Philippsburg, July 3, 1734.
- Answer to a Lady, Or a Person Who Wrote to Voltaire As Such. *
- The Nature of Virtue.
- To the King of Prussia.
- To M. De Fontenelle.
- To Count Algarotti At the Court of Saxony.
- To Cardinal Quirini.
- To Her Royal Highness, the Princess of ***.
- To M. De Cideville.
- To ****.
- Epistle XIII. *
- To the Duke of Richelieu, Marshal of France, In Whose Honor the Senate of Genoa Had Just Before Caused a Statue to Be Erected. *
- To Madam De ***, On the Manner of Living At Paris and Versailles.
- To the Prince of Vendôme.
- To Madam De Gondoin, Afterward Countess of Toulouse, On the Danger She Had Been Exposed to In Passing the Loire In 1719.
- To the Duke Delafeuillade.
- To Marshal Villars. *
- To Monsieur Genonville.
- To the Countess of Fontaine-martel. *
- Written From PlombiÉres to M. Pallu, Intendant of Lyons.
- The Nature of Pleasure.
- The Utility of Sciences to Princes. to the Prince Royal of Prussia, Since King of Prussia.
- Epistle In Answer to a Letter, With Which, Upon His Accession to the Throne, the King of Prussia Honored the Author.
- Epistle to the King, Presented to His Majesty At the Camp Before Freiburg.
- On the Death of the Emperor Charles.
- To the Queen of Hungary.
- Inscribed to the Gentlemen of the Academy of Sciences, Who Sailed to the Polar Circle and the Equator, In Order to Ascertain the Figure of the Earth.
- To M. De Gervasi, the Physician. *
- The Requisites to Happiness.
- To a Lady, Very Well Known to the Whole Town.
- Fanaticism. *
- On Peace Concluded In 1736.
- To AbbÉ Chaulieu. *
- Answer to the Foregoing.
- To President HÉnault, Author of an Excellent Work Upon the History of France.
- Canto of an Epic Poem. *
- Epistle On the Newtonian Philosophy. * to the Marchioness of ChÂtelet.
- Yes, Cæsar, thou shalt reign; the day is come,
- Propitious to thy vows, when haughty Rome
- At length shall know, and shall reward thy virtues,
- Long time unjust to thee and to herself,
- Shall hail thee on the throne her great avenger,
- Her conqueror, and her king: on Antony
- Thou mayest depend, who never felt the sting
- Of envy, but still held thy honor dear,
- Even as his own: thou knowest I formed the chain
- Which for the neck of Rome thou hast prepared,
- Content to be the second of mankind;
- Fonder to bind the wreath on Cæsar’s brows
- Than rule myself: thou answerest me with sighs,
- And the fair prospect that elates my soul
- Depresses thine; the master of the world,
- The king of Rome complains: can Cæsar mourn?
- Can Cæsar fear? what can inspire a soul
- Like thine with terror?
- Friendship, Antony:
- But I must open all my heart to thee.
- Thou knowest that I must leave thee, fate decrees
- We must transport our arms to Babylon,
- To wash out, in the savage Parthian’s blood,
- The shame of Crassus, and the Roman people:
- My touring eagle to the Bosphorus
- Shall wing his way, my faithful legions wait
- But for the royal wreath around my brows,
- The wished-for signal: wherefore should not Cæsar
- Subdue a kingdom Alexander conquered?
- The Rhine submitted, why should not Euphrates
- To Cæsar’s arms? that hope shall animate
- The bosom of thy friend, yet blind him not;
- Fortune perhaps, grown weary of her favors,
- At length may leave me; Pompey she betrayed,
- And may quit Cæsar too; the deepest wisdom
- Is oft deceived: where faction reigns, our fate
- Suspended hangs, as on the battle’s edge,
- ’Tis but a step from triumph to disgrace.
- Cæsar, thou knowest, these forty years hath served,
- Commanded, conquered, seen the fate of empires
- Lodged in my hands, and trust me, Antony,
- In every action the decisive stroke
- Depended on a moment: but whate’er
- Chance may bring forth, my heart has nought to fear,
- Cæsar shall conquer without pride, or die
- Without complaint: but from thy tender friendship
- One precious boon I must demand of thee;
- My children, Antony, will find a friend,
- I hope, in thee: I hope that Rome, by me
- Defended, and by me subdued, will own
- Thy power; thou shalt, with my sons, enjoy
- The name of king, and rule o’er all mankind;
- Remember, ’tis the last request I make,
- That thou wilt be a father to my children;
- I ask not for thy oaths, those idle sureties
- Of human faith; thy promise is sufficient;
- For purer is thy word than sacred altars,
- Oft stained with human perjury and falsehood.
- It was enough to leave thy Antony,
- And seek for death in foreign climes without him;
- To Asia’s plains when glory calls my friend,
- That I must stay in Italy to plead
- My Cæsar’s cause, but it afflicts me more
- To see thy noble heart dejected thus,
- Distrusting fortune, and presaging ills
- That ne’er may happen: wherefore talkest thou thus,
- Of Antony’s dividing with thy sons,
- Thy fortunes, and thy fame? thou hast no son
- But thy Octavius, no adopted heir.
- I can no longer hide from thee, my friend,
- The griefs that prey upon a father’s heart;
- Octavius, by the laws, is made the son
- Of Cæsar’s choice, I have appointed him
- My successor; but fate (or shall I call it
- Propitious, or unkind I know not which)
- Hath made me father to a real son,
- One whom I love with tenderness, alas!
- But ill repaid by him.
- Can there be one
- So base and so ungrateful, so unworthy
- The noble blood from whence he sprang?
- And mark me well: thou knowest the unhappy Brutus,
- Instructed in the school of savage virtue
- By the stern Cato, he whose furious zeal
- Defends our ancient laws, the rigid foe
- Of arbitrary power, who, still in arms
- Against me, gives my enemies new hope
- And new support, who in Thessalia’s plains
- Was late my captive, whose life twice I saved
- Spite of himself, was born amongst my foes,
- And bred up far from me.
- Believe not me, but read this paper.
- The fierce Servilia! Cato’s haughty sister!
- The same; a private marriage made us one.
- Cato, when first our public discord rose,
- Indignant forced her to another’s arms,
- But her new husband, on the very day
- That he espoused her, died; and Cæsar’s son
- Was brought up in the name of Brutus, still
- Was he reserved, ye gods, to hate his father!
- But read, this fatal scroll will tell thee all.
- [Reads the paper.
- Cæsar, I die; the wrath of heaven, that cuts
- My thread of life, alone can end my love.
- Farewell: remember, Brutus is thy son:
- And may that tender friendship for his father,
- Which at her latest hour Servilia felt,
- Live in his mind, and make him worthy of thee.
- Has cruel fate to Cæsar given a son
- So much unlike him!
- Brutus hath his virtues:
- His haughty courage, though it angers me,
- Flatters my pride; I feel a secret pleasure,
- Though it offends me: his undaunted heart
- Rises superior, and even conquers mine;
- I am astonished at him, and his firmness
- So shakes my soul I know not how to blame him,
- When he condemns the arbitrary power
- I have assumed: his genius towers above me:
- As man and father, some bewitching charm
- Deceives me still, and pleads his cause within;
- Or, born a Roman, still my country’s voice,
- Spite of myself, breaks forth, and calls me tyrant:
- Perhaps that liberty I mean to oppress,
- Stronger than Cæsar, forces me to love him:
- Nay, more: if Brutus owes to me his life,
- The son of Cæsar must abhor a master;
- For in my early years I thought like him,
- Detested Sulla, and the name of tyrant:
- Myself had been like him, a citizen,
- The partisan of liberty and Rome,
- Had not that proud usurper Pompey strove
- To crush my fame beneath his growing power;
- For I was born ambitious, fierce of soul,
- Yet brave and virtuous; if I were not Cæsar,
- I would be Brutus—but we all must yield
- To our condition: Brutus soon will talk
- Another language, when he knows his birth:
- Trust me, the royal wreath that’s destined for him
- Will bend the stubborn temper of his soul:
- For manners change with fortune: nature, blood
- My favors, thy advice, united all
- With interest and with duty, must restore him.
- I doubt it much; I know his savage firmness;
- The sect he follows is a sect of fools,
- Perverse and obstinate, whom nothing moves,
- Intractable and bold; they make a merit
- Of hardening minds against humanity,
- Whilst angry nature falls subdued before them;
- To these he listens, and to these alone.
- The horrid tenets which these sons of pride
- Call duty, hold dominion absolute,
- And lord it o’er their adamantine hearts.
- Cato himself, that wretched stoic, he
- Who fell at Utica, that brain-sick hero,
- Who spurned thy proffered pardon, and preferred
- A shameful death to Cæsar’s tender friendship,
- Even Cato was less stern, less proud, than he,
- Less to be feared than this ungrateful son,
- Whom thy good heart would thus endear to thee.
- What hast thou said, my friend? thy words alarm me.
- I love thee, Cæsar, and must not deceive thee.
- Well, no matter:
- I am a father still: I oft have served,
- Nay saved, my bitterest foes: I would be loved
- By Rome and by my son; my clemency
- Shall conquer every heart; the world subdued,
- Shall join with Brutus to adore my power.
- Thou must assist me in the great design;
- Thou, Antony, didst lend thy useful arm
- To aid me in the conquest of mankind,
- Thou too must conquer Brutus; try to soften
- His spirit, and prepare his savage virtue
- For the important secret which my heart
- Dreads to reveal; yet he must know it soon.
- I will do all, but cannot hope success.
cæsar, antony, dolabella.
- Cæsar, the senators attend your pleasure,
- Wait your supreme command, and crave admittance.
- They’ve staid too long already; let them enter.
- They come, with hatred and sour discontent
- On every brow.
cæsar, antony, brutus, cassius, cimber, decimus, cinna, casca, etc., lictors.
- Welcome, ye pillars of immortal Rome,
- And friends to Cæsar: Cimber, Decimus,
- Cassius, and Cinna, and thou, dearest Brutus,
- Come near: at length behold the important hour
- When Cæsar, if the gods shall smile upon me,
- Goes to complete the conquest of the world,
- To seize the throne of Cyrus, and appease
- Our Crassus’ angry shade: the time is come
- When what remains of universal empire,
- Still unsubdued, shall yield to Rome and me:
- Euphrates calls; to-morrow I depart.
- Brutus and Cassius follow me to Asia;
- Antony’s care is Gaul and Italy;
- Cimber must rule o’er the subjected kings
- Of Betis’ borders, and the Atlantic sea;
- Lycia and Greece I give to Decimus;
- Pontus to thee, Marcellus; and to Casca
- All Syria’s wide domain. Our conquests thus
- Protected, and Rome left in happiness
- And union, naught remains but to determine
- What title Cæsar, arbiter of Rome,
- And of the world, shall wear: by your command
- Sulla was called Dictator; Marius, Consul;
- And Pompey, Emperor: I subdued the last,
- Let that suffice; new empires will demand
- New names; we must have one more great, more sacred,
- Less liable to change; one long revered
- In ancient Rome, and dear to all mankind.
- ’Tis rumored through the world, that Rome, in vain,
- Wars on the Persian; that a king alone
- Must conquer there, and only kings can rule:
- Cæsar will go, but Cæsar is no king,
- An humble citizen alone, but famed
- For his past service, subject to the will
- And fond caprice of an uncertain people,
- Who yet may thwart—you understand me, Romans,
- You know my hopes, my merit, and—my power.
- Cæsar, I’ll answer thee. Those crowns, and sceptres,
- That world you give us, to the people’s eye,
- And to the senate, jealous of their rights,
- Appear an injury, not a favor done,
- On such conditions: Marius, Pompey, Sulla,
- Those proud usurpers of the people’s power,
- Never pretended thus to canton out
- Rome’s conquests, or to dictate thus, like kings:
- We hoped from Cæsar’s clemency a gift
- More precious, and a nobler treasure, far
- Above the kingdoms which thy bounty gave.
- What wouldst thou ask of Cæsar?
- It was thy promise; thou didst swear thyself
- Forever to uproot despotic power.
- I thought the happy moment now was come,
- When the world’s conqueror should have made us happy:
- Rome bathed in blood, deserted, and enslaved,
- Found comfort in that hope: we were her children
- Before we were thy slaves—I know thy power,
- And know what thou hast sworn.
- Be Cæsar great,
- But Rome still free: the mistress of the world
- Abroad, shall she be manacled at home!
- Rule o’er the universe, be called a queen,
- And yet be fettered! What will it avail
- My wretched country, and her sons, to know
- That Cæsar has new slaves to trample on?
- Perhaps the Persians are not our worst foes,
- We may have greater. I’ve no more to offer.
- [Aside to Cæsar.
- Mark their insolence;
- And see if they are worthy of thy favor.
- And dare ye thus, ungrateful as ye are,
- Abuse my patience, and exhaust my love?
- My subjects all, by right of conquest mine,
- I bought you with my sword; ye spurned indeed
- At Marius, but ye were the slaves of Pompey,
- And only breathed till Cæsar’s wrath, too long
- Restrained already, bursts with fury on you.
- Ye vile republicans, by mercy taught
- But to rebel, ye dared not thus have talked
- To Sulla; but my clemency provokes
- Your base ungrateful spirit to insult me:
- Cæsar, you think, will never condescend
- To take revenge, this makes you talk so bravely
- Of Rome and of your country, and affect
- This patriot pride, this grandeur of the soul,
- Before your conqueror: to Pharsalia’s plains
- You should have brought them; fortune now has placed us
- At distance from each other: henceforth learn,
- Who knows not how to conquer, must obey.
- No: Cæsar we shall only learn to die.
- Who begged his life in Thessaly? Thou gavest
- What was not asked indeed, but to debase us,
- And we abhor the gift on such conditions.
- Obey thee? No: pour forth thy wrath upon us;
- Begin with me; strike here, if thou wouldst reign.
- Brutus attend—you may retire.
- [To the senators, who go out.
- What words
- Are these? away! They pierce my very soul;
- Cæsar is far from wishing for thy death:
- Leave this rash senate, I entreat thee—stay,
- Thou only canst disarm me; thee alone
- Cæsar would wish to love: stay with me, Brutus.
- But keep thy promise, and I’m thine forever:
- If thou art a tyrant, I detest thy love;
- I will not stay with Antony or thee:
- He is no Roman, for he wants a king.
- What says my friend? Did Antony deceive him?
- Thinkest thou that nature e’er can move a soul
- So fierce, and so inflexible? No: leave,
- I beg thee, unrevealed the fatal secret
- That weighs upon thy heart: let him deplore
- The fall of Rome, but never let him know
- Whose blood he persecutes: he merits not
- His noble birth, ungrateful to thy goodness,
- Ungrateful to thy love; henceforth renounce him.
- I cannot, for I love him still.
- Then cease
- To love thy power, renounce the diadem,
- Descend from the high rank which thou hast borne;
- Mercy ill suits with thy authority:
- It checks thy growing power, and mars thy purpose.
- What! Rome beneath thy laws, and suffer Cassius
- To thwart thee thus; and Cimber, too, and Cinna;
- Shall senators like these, obscure and low,
- Talk thus before the sovereign of mankind?
- The vanquished wretches breathe, and brave their master?
- My equals born, they yielded to my arms;
- Too much above to fear them, I forgive
- Their trembling at the yoke which they must bear.
- Marius had been less sparing of their blood,
- And Sulla would have punished them.
- That Sulla
- Was a barbarian, born but to oppress:
- Murder and rage were all his policy,
- And all his grandeur: amidst sighs and groans,
- And punishments and death, he governed Rome:
- He was its terror, I would be its joy,
- And its delight: I know the people well;
- A day will change them; lavish of their love
- And of their hatred; both are gained with ease:
- My grandeur galls them, but my clemency
- Attracts them still: ’tis policy to pardon
- The foe that cannot hurt us, and an air
- Of liberty will reconcile their minds,
- And make their chains fit easy: I must cover
- The pit with flowers, if I would draw them to it,
- And soothe the tiger ere I bind him fast.
- Yes, I will please them, even whilst I oppress,
- Charm, and enslave them, and revenge myself
- On every foe by forcing him to love me.
- You must be feared, or you will never reign.
- In battle only Cæsar would be feared.
- The people will abuse thy easy nature.
- I tell thee, no; the people worship me.
- Behold that temple there, which Rome hath raised
- To Cæsar’s clemency.
- They’ll raise another
- Perhaps to vengeance: thou hast cause to dread
- Their rancorous hearts, still cherished by despair,
- Cruel by duty, and the slaves of Rome.
- Cassius alarmed foresees that Antony
- This day shall place the crown on Cæsar’s head,
- And even before thy face they murmured at it.
- ’Twere best to gain the most impetuous of them,
- And win them to our interest: to prevent
- All danger, Cæsar must constrain himself.
- Could I have feared, I would have punished them;
- Advise me not to make myself detested:
- Cæsar has learned to fight, has learned to conquer,
- But knows not how to punish: let us hence,
- And, strangers to suspicion and revenge,
- Rule without violence o’er the conquered world.
End of the First Act.