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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

The Wrath of Camilla

By Pierre Corneille (1606–1684)

  • From the ‘Horace’

    Unrhymed literal version in the metre of the original, by Edward Irenæus Prime-Stevenson
  • Horatius, the only survivor of the combat, advances to meet his sister Camilla with Proculus at his side, bearing the swords of the three slain Curatii—one of whom was Camilla’s betrothed. Camilla surveys him with horror and disdain as he advances.

  • HORATIUS—Lo, sister, the arm that hath brothers avenged!—

    The arm that our fate so contrary has checked,

    The arm that makes Alba our own; and to-day

    By one deed the lot of two nations hath fixed.

    See these tokens of honor—my glory’s attest.

    Do thou pay the tribute now due to my fame.

    Camilla—Receive then my tears: for my tears are thy due.

    Horatius—Nay, Rome likes them not, after action so bold.

    Our brothers, both slain by the combat’s dark fate,

    Are avenged by this blood—no more weeping demand.

    If a loss be so paid, then the loss is no more.

    Camilla—Since thou deemest my brothers by blood so appeased,

    I will cease to show sign of my grief for their death;

    But who shall avenge me my lover’s death, say?

    And make me forget in one moment such loss?

    Horatius—What sayest thou, unhappy?
    Camilla—O beloved Curiace!

    Horatius—O boldness disgraceful, from sister disgraced!

    The name on thy lips and the love in thy heart

    Of the foe of our people, whose conquest is mine!

    Thy criminal flame to such vengeance aspires!

    Thou darest to utter such thought of thy heart!

    Follow passion the less, better rule thy desire:

    Make me not so to blush that thy sighs are not hid;

    From this moment thou owest to smother thy flame,

    Free thy heart from them—dwell on these trophies instead,

    And make them from this hour thy sole pleasure in life.

    Camilla—Nay, first give me, cruel, a heart hard as thine,

    And if thou wilt seek all my spirit to read,

    Give me back Curiace, or my passion let glow.

    My joy and my grief of his lot are a part;

    Him living I loved—him in death I deplore.

    No more find me sister—deserted by thee!

    Behold in me only a woman outraged,

    Who—like to some Fury pursuing thy steps—

    Unceasing shall charge thee with trespass so great!

    O tiger, blood-gorged, who forbiddest my tears,

    Who would see me find joy in this death thou hast wrought,

    Who vauntest to Heaven itself such a deed,

    Shall I by approval bring death to him—twice?

    Misfortunes so dire, may they follow thy life

    That thou fallest to envying even my own!

    Oh, soon by some cowardice mayest thou blot

    This glory thy brutal soul reckons so dear!

    Horatius—O heavens! hath any an equal rage seen?

    Dost thou think I could brook, all unmoved, such offense?

    That race could endure a dishonor so deep?

    Love, love thou the death which means good to thy State,

    Prefer to thy passion and thoughts of this man

    The sentiment due to a daughter of Rome!

    Camilla—Rome! Object supreme of the wrath that I feel!

    This Rome, to whose aid came thy arm—and my loss;

    Rome, city that bore thee—by thee so adored!

    Rome, hated the more for its honoring thee!

    O may each of her neighbors together in league

    Sap every foundation, as yet so unsure!

    Nay, if Italy be not enough to the fall,

    Let the East and the West for her ruin unite;

    Let peoples conjoined from the four winds of heaven,

    Be met to her downfall; let hills aid, and seas;

    O’erthrown on her walls may she prostrate be cast,

    Torn out by her own hands, her entrails be strewn!

    May the anger of Heaven, here kindled by me,

    Rain down on her dwellings a deluge of fire!

    O grant that mine own eyes such thunderbolt see!—

    See her mansions in ashes, her laurels in dust,

    See the latest of Romans yielding his last breath,

    I cause of it all—I dying of joy!

    [With the last words Camilla rushes from the apartment. Horace snatches his sword and pursues her, exclaiming:—]
    Oh too much! Even reason to passion gives place.

    Go, weep thou thy lost Curiace in the shades!

    [After an instant is heard behind the scenes the shriek of the wounded Camilla:—]
    Ah, traitor!

    Horace[returning to the stage]—Receive thou quick chastisement, due

    Whomsoever shall dare Roman foe to lament.