A monologue from the play by Jean Racine
NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from The Dramatic Works of Jean Racine. Trans. Robert Bruce Boswell. London: George Bell and Sons, 1911.
MITHRIDATE: It well becomes a traitress to talk thus,
Who, nursing in her heart illicit loves,
When I was raising her to glory’s height,
The blackest treason had prepared for me!
Have you forgotten, false, ungrateful woman,
Worse than the Romans, my sworn enemies,
From what exalted rank I dared to stoop,
To offer you a throne, little expected?
See me not as I am, defeated, hunted–
But as I was, victorious and renown’d.
Think how in Ephesus I you preferr’d
To all the daughters of a hundred kings,
And, for your sake neglecting their alliance,
Laid at your feet innumerable realms.
Ah, if the vision of another love
Made you insensible to gifts so splendid,
Why did you leave your home to find a husband
You hated, keeping silence till to-day?
Did you postpone confession so unwelcome
Till Fate had robb’d me of all other treasure,
Till, whelm’d beneath a flood of countless evils,
I had no hope of happiness but you?
And now, when I am willing to forgive
The grievous wrong and bury its remembrance,
Dare you to bring the past before my eyes
Again, accusing him whom you have injured?
I see infatuation for a traitor
Flatters your hopes. Gods! How ye try my patience!
What was the secret charm that check’d a wrath
So prompt to punish with severity?
Seize the brief moment that my love affords you:
Come, this shall be my last appeal, nor draw
Superfluous perils on your head for one
Whom you shall never see again, a son
Who scorns me. Boast not of your faith to him;
‘Tis due to me. Let him be lost to mind
As well as sight. And henceforth by your sense
Of gratitude deserve this proffer’d pardon.