THYESTES – Monologue (The Fury)

A monologue from the play by Seneca

NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from Seneca’s Tragedy, v. ii. Trans. Frank Justus Miller. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1917.


Onward, damned shade, and goad thy sinful house to madness. Let there be rivalry in guilt of every kind;

let the sword be drawn on this side and on that; let their passions know no bounds, no shame; let blind fury prick on their souls;

heartless be parents’ rage, and to children’s children let the long trail of sin lead down; let time be given to none to hate old sins–

ever let new arise, many in one, and let crime, e’en midst its punishment, increase. From haughty brothers’ hands let kingdoms fall,

and in turn let them call back the fugitives; let the wavering fortune of a home of violence midst changing kings totter to its fall;

from power to wretchedness, from wretchedness to power–may this befall, and may chance with her ever-restless waves bear the kingdom on.

For crimes’ sake exiled, when God shall bring them home, to crime may they return, and may they be as hateful to all men as to themselves;

let there be naught which passion deems unallowed; let brother fear brother, father fear son, and son father;

let children vilely perish and be yet more vilely born; let a murderous wife lift hand against her husband, let wars pass over seas,

let streaming blood drench every land, and over the mighty chiefs of earth let Lust exult, triumphant.

In this sin-stained house let shameful defilement be a trivial thing; let fraternal sanctity and faith and every right be trampled under foot.

By our sins let not heaven be untainted–why do the stars glitter in the sky? Why do their fires preserve the glory due the world?

Let the face of night be changed, let day fall from heaven. Embroil thy household gods, summon up hatred,

slaughter, death, and fill the whole house with Tantalus. Adorn the lofty pillar and with laurel let the festal doors be green;

let torches worthy of thine approach shine forth–then let the Thracian crime be done with greater number. Why is the uncle’s hand inactive?

Not yet does Thyestes bewail his sons–and when will he lift his hand? Now set o’er the flames let cauldrons foam;

let the rent members one by one pass in; let the ancestral hearth be stained with blood, let the feast be spread–

to no novel feast of crime wilt come as banqueter. To-day have we made thee free, have loosed thy hunger to the banquet yonder;

go, feed full thy fasting, and let blood, with wine commingled, be drunk before thine eyes.

I have found feast which thou thyself wouldst flee–but stay! Whither dost thou headlong rush?

Read the play here

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