Cho. When in excess and past all limits Love doth come, he brings not glory or repute to man; but if the Cyprian queen in moderate might approach, no goddess is so full of charm as she. Never, O never, lady mine, discharge at me from thy golden bow a shaft invincible, in passion’s venom dipped. On me may chastity, heaven’s fairest gift, look with a favouring eye; never may Cypris, goddess dread, fasten on me a temper to dispute, or restless jealousy, smiting my soul with mad desire for unlawful love, but may she hallow peaceful married life and shrewdly decide whom each of us shall wed. O my country, O my own dear home! God grant I may never be an outcast from my city, leading that cruel helpless life, whose every day is misery. Ere that may I this life complete and yield to death, ay, death; for there is no misery that doth surpass the loss of fatherland. I have seen with mine eyes, nor from the lips of others have I the lesson learnt; no city, not one friend doth pity thee in this thine awful woe. May he perish and find no favour, whoso hath not in him honour for his friends, freely unlocking his heart to them. Never shall he be friend of mine.
Æg. All hail, Medea! no man knoweth fairer prelude to the greeting of friends than this.
Med. All hail to thee likewise, Ægeus, son of wise Pandion. Whence comest thou to this land?
Æg. From Phœbus’ ancient oracle.
Med. What took thee on thy travels to the prophetic centre of the earth?
Æg. The wish to ask how I might raise up seed unto myself.
Med. Pray tell me, hast thou till now dragged on a childless life?
Æg. I have no child owing to the visitation of some god.
Med. Hast thou a wife, or hast thou never known the married state?
- Verrall proposes to read στέγοι “protect,” for MSS. στέργοι.