465ὦ παγκάκιστε, τοῦτο γάρ σ᾿ εἰπεῖν ἔχω,
γλώσσῃ μέγιστον εἰς ἀνανδρίαν κακόν,
ἦλθες πρὸς ἡμᾶς, ἦλθες ἔχθιστος γεγώς
[θεοῖς τε κἀμοὶ παντί τ᾿ ἀνθρώπων γένει];
οὔτοι θράσος τόδ᾿ ἐστὶν οὐδ᾿ εὐτολμία,
470φίλους κακῶς δράσαντ᾿ ἐναντίον βλέπειν,
ἀλλ᾿ ἡ μεγίστη τῶν ἐν ἀνθρώποις νόσων
πασῶν, ἀναίδει᾿. εὖ δ᾿ ἐποίησας μολών·
ἐγώ τε γὰρ λέξασα κουφισθήσομαι
ψυχὴν κακῶς σὲ καὶ σὺ λυπήσῃ κλύων.
475ἐκ τῶν δὲ πρώτων πρῶτον ἄρξομαι λέγειν·
ἔσωσά σ᾿, ὡς ἴσασιν Ἑλλήνων ὅσοι
ταὐτὸν συνεισέβησαν Ἀργῷον σκάφος,
πεμφθέντα ταύρων πυρπνόων ἐπιστάτην
ζεύγλαισι καὶ σπεροῦντα θανάσιμον γύην·
480δράκοντά θ᾿, ὃς πάγχρυσον ἀμπέχων δέρος
σπείραις ἔσῳζε πολυπλόκοις ἄυπνος ὤν,
κτείνασ᾿ ἀνέσχον σοι φάος σωτήριον.
αὐτὴ δὲ πατέρα καὶ δόμους προδοῦσ᾿ ἐμοὺς
τὴν Πηλιῶτιν εἰς Ἰωλκὸν ἱκόμην
485σὺν σοί, πρόθυμος μᾶλλον ἢ σοφωτέρα·
Πελίαν τ᾿ ἀπέκτειν᾿, ὥσπερ ἄλγιστον θανεῖν,
παίδων ὕπ᾿ αὐτοῦ, πάντα τ᾿ ἐξεῖλον δόμον.
καὶ ταῦθ᾿ ὑφ᾿ ἡμῶν, ὦ κάκιστ᾿ ἀνδρῶν, παθὼν
προύδωκας ἡμᾶς, καινὰ δ᾿ ἐκτήσω λέχη,
490παίδων γεγώτων· εἰ γὰρ ἦσθ᾿ ἄπαις ἔτι,
συγγνώστ᾿ ἂν ἦν σοι τοῦδ᾿ ἐρασθῆναι λέχους.
ὅρκων δὲ φρούδη πίστις, οὐδ᾿ ἔχω μαθεῖν
εἰ θεοὺς νομίζεις τοὺς τότ᾿ οὐκ ἄρχειν ἔτι
ἢ καινὰ κεῖσθαι θέσμι᾿ ἀνθρώποις τὰ νῦν,
495ἐπεὶ σύνοισθά γ᾿ εἰς ἔμ᾿ οὐκ εὔορκος ὤν.
φεῦ δεξιὰ χείρ, ἧς σὺ πόλλ᾿ ἐλαμβάνου
καὶ τῶνδε γονάτων, ὡς μάτην κεχρῴσμεθα
κακοῦ πρὸς ἀνδρός, ἐλπίδων δ᾿ ἡμάρτομεν.
ἄγ᾿, ὡς φίλῳ γὰρ ὄντι σοι κοινώσομαι
500(δοκοῦσα μὲν τί πρός γε σοῦ πράξειν καλῶς;
ὅμως δ᾿, ἐρωτηθεὶς γὰρ αἰσχίων φανῇ)·
νῦν ποῖ τράπωμαι; πότερα πρὸς πατρὸς δόμους,
οὓς σοὶ προδοῦσα καὶ πάτραν ἀφικόμην;
ἢ πρὸς ταλαίνας Πελιάδας; καλῶς γ᾿ ἂν οὖν
505δέξαιντό μ᾿ οἴκοις ὧν πατέρα κατέκτανον.
ἔχει γὰρ οὕτω· τοῖς μὲν οἴκοθεν φίλοις
ἐχθρὰ καθέστηχ᾿, οὓς δέ μ᾿ οὐκ ἐχρῆν κακῶς
δρᾶν, σοὶ χάριν φέρουσα πολεμίους ἔχω.
τοιγάρ με πολλαῖς μακαρίαν Ἑλληνίδων
510ἔθηκας ἀντὶ τῶνδε· θαυμαστὸν δέ σε
ἔχω πόσιν καὶ πιστὸν ἡ τάλαιν᾿ ἐγώ,
εἰ φεύξομαί γε γαῖαν ἐκβεβλημένη,
φίλων ἔρημος, σὺν τέκνοις μόνη μόνοις·
καλόν γ᾿ ὄνειδος τῷ νεωστὶ νυμφίῳ,
515πτωχοὺς ἀλᾶσθαι παῖδας ἥ τ᾿ ἔσωσά σε.
ὦ Ζεῦ, τί δὴ χρυσοῦ μὲν ὃς κίβδηλος ᾖ
τεκμήρι᾿ ἀνθρώποισιν ὤπασας σαφῆ,
ἀνδρῶν δ᾿ ὅτῳ χρὴ τὸν κακὸν διειδέναι
οὐδεὶς χαρακτὴρ ἐμπέφυκε σώματι;
Vilest of knaves—for that is the only name I can give you, the worst reproach tongue can frame against unmanly conduct—have you really come to see me when you have made yourself my worst enemy [to the gods, to me, and to the whole human race]? This is not boldness or courage—to wrong your loved ones and then look them in the face—but the worst of all mortal vices, shamelessness. But you did well to come, for it will relieve my feelings to tell you how wicked you are, and you will be stung by what I have to say.
I shall begin my speech from the beginning. I saved your life—as witness all the Greeks who went on board the Argo with you—when you were sent to master the firebreathing bulls with a yoke and to sow the field of death. The dragon who kept watch over the Golden Fleece, sleeplessly guarding it with his sinuous coils, I killed, and I raised aloft for you the fair light of escape from death. Of my own accord I abandoned my father and my home and came with you to Iolcus under Pelion, showing more love than prudence. I murdered Pelias by the most horrible of deaths—at the hand of his own daughters—and I destroyed his whole house. And after such benefits from me, O basest of men, you have betrayed me and have taken a new marriage, though we had children. For if you were still childless, your desire for this marriage would be understandable.
Respect for your oaths is gone, and I cannot tell whether you think that the gods of old no longer rule or that new ordinances have now been set up for mortals, since you are surely aware that you have not kept your oath to me. O right hand of mine, which you often grasped together with my knees, how profitless was the suppliant grasp upon me of a knave, and how I have been cheated of my hopes!
But come now—for I will share my thoughts with you as a friend (yet what benefit can I expect to get from you? Still I will do it, for you will be shown up in an uglier light by my questions)—where am I now to turn? To my father’s house, which like my country I betrayed for your sake when I came here? Or to the wretched daughters of Pelias? A fine reception they would give me in their house since I killed their father! This is how things stand: to my own kin I have become an enemy, and by my services to you I have made foes of those I ought not to have harmed. That, doubtless, is why you have made me so happy in the eyes of many Greek women, in return for these favors! I, poor wretch, have in you a wonderful and faithful husband if I am to flee the country, sent into exile, deprived of friends, abandoned with my abandoned children! What a fine reproach for a new bridegroom, that his children are wandering as beggars, and she who saved him likewise!
O Zeus, why, when you gave to men sure signs of gold that is counterfeit, is there no mark on the human body by which one could identify base men?