Lacrimandum

[THESEVS. PHAEDRA.]

[TH.] Reserate clausos regii postes laris.
o socia thalami, sicine adventum viri
et expetiti coniugis vultum excipis?
quin ense viduas dexteram atque animum mihi
restituis et te quidquid e vita fugat
expromis?
[PH.] eheu, per tui sceptrum imperi,
magnanime Theseu, perque natorum indolem
tuosque reditus perque iam cineres meos,
permitte mortem.
[TH.] causa quae cogit mori?
[PH.] si causa leti dicitur, fructus perit.
[TH.] nemo istud alius, me quidem excepto, audiet.
[PH.] aures pudica coniugis solas timet.
[TH.] effare: fido pectore arcana occulam.
[PH.] alium silere quod voles, primus sile.
[TH.] leti facultas nulla continget tibi.
[PH.] mori volenti desse mors numquam potest.
[TH.] quod sit luendum morte delictum indica.
[PH.] quod vivo.
[TH.] lacrimae nonne te nostrae movent?
[PH.] mors optima est perire lacrimandum suis.
(Seneca, Phaedra 863-881)

[THESEVS. PHAEDRA.]

[TH.] [To slaves] Unbar the closed doors of the royal house. [The interior scene is revealed, with Phaedra holding Hippolytus’ sword] O consort of my marriage bed, is this how you respond to your man’s arrival, the face of your long-missed spouse? Why not uncouple your hand from the sword, restore my spirit to me, and explain whatever it is that drives you from life?
[PH.] Alas! By your sceptred power, great-souled Theseus, by the promise of our sons, by your own return, and by my ashes soon to be, let me decide on death.
[TH.] What cause compels your death?
[PH.] If the cause is told, the profit of my death is lost.
[TH.] No one else will hear it but me.
[PH.] A chaste woman fears her husband’s ears above all.
[TH.] Speak out: I shall hide your secret in my faithful heart.
[PH.] If you want another to keep a secret, first keep it yourself.
[TH.] You will be given no opportunity for death.
[PH.] If someone wants to die, death is always in reach.
[TH.] Let me know the offence that needs to be punished by death.
[PH.] The fact that I live.
[TH.] Do my tears not move you?
[PH.] To die mourned by loved ones is the best of deaths.

(tr. John G. Fitch)

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