Come, Cleanthis, let us attend the Gods, pay them our homage
for my husband's sake, and thank them for the glorious success, of
which Thebes, by his arm, reaps the advantage. O ye Gods!
Heaven grant that victorious Amphitryon may be met with
renewed pleasure by his wife: that this day may be favourable to my
passion, and restore you to me with the same heart: may I again find
as much love as my heart brings to you!
Really, you give me but a sorry proof of your love; this, 'Ah!
have you returned so soon?' is scarcely the language a heart really
inflamed with love would use on such an occasion as this. I dared to
flatter myself I had remained away from you too long. The
expectation of an ardently longed for return makes each moment seem
of great length; the absence of what we love, however brief it may
be, is always too long.
No, Alcmene, time is measured in such cases by one's
impatience; you count the moments of absence as one who does not
love. When we really love, the slightest separation kills us; the
one whom we love to see never returns too soon. I confess that the
love I bear you has cause to complain of your reception; I expected
different expressions of joy and tenderness from your heart.
I cannot understand on what you found the words you have just
uttered; if you complain of me, upon my word I do not know what
would satisfy you. I think I showed a sufficiently tender joy last
night, at your happy return; my heart responded by every means you
could wish to the claims of your affection.
That even your affection showed an inconceivable joy at my
reception; and that, as you left me at break of day, I do not see
that my surprise at this sudden return is so guilty.
Did you, in a dream last night, Alcmene, anticipate in idea
the reality of my hastened return; and having, perhaps, treated me
kindly in your sleep, does your heart think it has fully acquitted
itself of its duty to my passion?
Has some malignant vapour in your mind, Amphitryon, clouded the
truth of last night's return? Does your heart pretend to take away
from me the credit of all the gentle affection I showed you in my
This vapour you attribute to me seems to me somewhat strange.
It is in return for the dream which you attribute to me.
Unless it is because of a dream, what you have just now told
me is entirely inexcusable.
Unless it is a vapour which troubles your mind, what I have
heard from you cannot be justified.
Let us leave this vapour for a moment, Alcmene.
Let us leave this dream for a moment, Amphitryon.
One cannot jest on the subject in question without being carried too far.
Undoubtedly; and, as a sure proof of it, I begin to feel somewhat uneasy.
Is it thus you wish to try to make amends for the welcome of
which I complain?
Do you desire to try to amuse yourself by this feint?
For Heaven's, sake, I beseech you, Alcmene! Let us cease this,
and talk seriously.
You carry your amusement too far, Amphitryon: let there be an
end to this raillery.
Do you really dare maintain to my face that I was seen here
before this hour?
Have you really the assurance to deny that you came here early
Certainly; and you went away again before dawn.
Heavens! Was ever such a debate as this heard before? Who
would not be astonished at all this? Sosie?
She needs six grains of hellebore, Monsieur; her brain is turned.
Alcmene, in the name of all the Gods, this discourse will have
a strange ending! Recollect your senses a little better, and think
what you say.
I am indeed thinking seriously; all in the house saw your
arrival. I am ignorant what motive makes you act thus; but, if the
thing were in need of proof, if it were true that such a thing could
be forgotten, from whom, but from you, could I have heard the news
of the latest of all your battles, and of the five diamonds worn by
Pterelas, who was plunged into eternal night by the strength of your
arm? Could one wish for surer testimony?
What? I have already given you the cluster of diamonds which I
had for my share, and intended for you?
Assuredly. It is not difficult to convince you thoroughly on that point.
Why are you so surprised? What causes all this confusion?
O Heaven! What strange perplexity! I see incidents which
surpass Nature, and my honour fears an adventure which my mind does
Do you still wish to deny your hasty return, when you have this
sensible proof of it?
No; but if it be possible, deign to tell me what passed at this return.
Since you ask an account of the matter, you still say it was not you?
Pardon me; but I have a certain reason which makes me ask you
to give us this account.
Have the important cares which perhaps engross you made you so
quickly lose the remembrance of it?
Perhaps; but, in short, you would please me by telling me the
The story is not long. I advanced towards you full of a
delighted surprise; I embraced you tenderly, and showed my joy more
(to himself.) Ah! I could have done without so sweet a welcome.
You first made me this valuable gift, which you destined for me
from the spoils of the conquered. Your heart vehemently unfolded to
me all the violence of its love, and the annoying duties which had
kept it enchained, the happiness of seeing me again, the torments of
absence, all the care which your impatience to return had given you;
never has your love, on similar occasions, seemed to me so tender
and so passionate.
(to himself.) Can one be more cruelly tortured?
As you may well believe, these transports and this tenderness
did not displease me; if I must confess it, Amphitryon, my heart
found a thousand charms in them.
No, no; no more sweetness, no more respect; this rebuff puts
an end to all my constancy; at this ghastly moment, my heart
breathes only fury and, vengeance.
On whom then would you be avenged? What want of faith in me
makes you treat me now as a criminal?
I do not know, but it was not I; this despair makes me capable
Away unworthy husband, the deed speaks for itself, the
imposture is frightful. It is too great an insult to accuse me of
infidelity. If these confused transports mean that you seek a
pretext to break the nuptial bonds which hold me enchained to you,
all these pretences are superfluous, for I am determined that this
day all our ties shall be broken.
After the unworthy affront, which I now learn has been done
me, that is indeed what you must prepare yourself for; it is the
least that can be expected; and things may not perhaps remain there.
The dishonour is sure; my misery is made plain to me; and my pride
in vain would hide it from me. The details are still not clear: My
anger is just and I claim to be enlightened. Your brother can
positively avouch that I did not leave him until this morning: I
will go and seek him, in order that I may confound you about the
return falsely imputed to me. Afterwards, we will penetrate to the
bottom of a mystery unheard of until now; and, in the fury of a
righteous anger, woe to him who has betrayed me!