History of Literature

Pierre Corneille

"The Cid"


Pierre Corneille



Pierre Corneille

French poet and dramatist

born June 6, 1606, Rouen, France
died Oct. 1, 1684, Paris

French poet and dramatist, considered the creator of French classical tragedy. His chief works include Le Cid (1637), Horace (1640), Cinna (1641), and Polyeucte (1643).

Early life and career.
Pierre Corneille was born into a well-to-do, middle-class Norman family. His grandfather, father, and an uncle were all lawyers; another uncle and a brother entered the church; his younger brother, Thomas, became a well-known poet and popular playwright. Pierre was educated at the Jesuit school in his hometown, won two prizes for Latin verse composition, and became a licentiate in law. From 1628 to 1650 he held the position of king’s counselor in the local office of the department of waterways and forests.

Corneille’s first play, written before he was 20 and apparently drawing upon a personal love experience, was an elegant and witty comedy, Mélite, first performed in Rouen in 1629. When it was repeated in Paris the following year, it built into a steady (and, according to Corneille, surprising) success. His next plays were the tragicomedy Clitandre (performed 1631) and a series of comedies including La Veuve (performed 1632; The Widow), La Galerie du palais (performed 1633; The Palace Corridor), La Suivante (performed 1634; The Maidservant), La Place royale (performed 1634), and L’Illusion comique (performed 1636). His talent, meanwhile, had come to the attention of the Cardinal de Richelieu, France’s great statesman, who included the playwright among a group known as les cinq auteurs (“society of the five authors”), which the Cardinal had formed to have plays written, the inspiration and outline of which were provided by himself. Corneille was temperamentally unsuited to this collective endeavour and irritated Richelieu by departing from his part (Act III) of the outline for La Comédie des Tuileries (1635). In the event, Corneille’s contribution was artistically outstanding.

During these years, support had been growing for a new approach to tragedy that aimed at “regularity” through observance of what were called the “classical” unities. Deriving from Italy, this doctrine of the unities demanded that there be unity of time (strictly, the play’s events were to be limited to “the period between sunrise and sunset”), of place (the entire action was to take place in the one locus), and of action (subplots and the dramatic treatment of more than one situation were to be avoided). All this was based on a misunderstanding of Aristotle’s Poetics, in which the philosopher attempted to give a critical definition of the nature of tragedy. The new theory was first put into dramatic practice in Jean Mairet’s Sophonisbe (1634), a tragedy that enjoyed considerable success. Corneille, not directly involved in the call for regular tragedy of this kind, nevertheless responded to Sophonisbe by experimenting in the tragic form with Médée (1635). He then wrote Le Cid (performed early 1637), first issued as a tragicomedy, later as a tragedy.

Le Cid, now commonly regarded as the most significant play in the history of French drama, proved an immense popular success. It sparked off a literary controversy, however, which was chiefly conducted by Corneille’s rival dramatists, Mairet and Georges de Scudéry, and which resulted in a bitter pamphlet war. Richelieu, whose motives are not entirely clear, instructed the then recently instituted Académie Française to make a judgment on the play: the resulting document (Les Sentiments de l’Académie française sur la tragi-comédie du Cid, 1637), drafted in the main by Jean Chapelain, a critic who advocated “regular” tragedy, was worded tactfully and admitted the play’s beauties but criticized Le Cid as dramatically implausible and morally defective. Richelieu used the judgment of the Académie as an excuse for suppressing public performances of the play.

Corneille, indeed, had not observed the dramatic unities in Le Cid. The play has nevertheless been generally regarded as the first flowering of French “classical” tragedy. For the best French drama of the “classical” period in the 17th century is properly characterized, not so much by rules—which are no more than a structural convention—as by emotional concentration on a moral dilemma and on a supreme moment of truth, when leading characters recognize the depth of their involvement in this dilemma. In Le Cid, Corneille rejected the discursive treatment of the subject given in his Spanish source (a long, florid, and violent play by Guillén de Castro y Bellvis, a 17th-century dramatist), concentrating instead on a conflict between passionate love and family loyalty, or honour. Thus Le Cid anticipated the “pure” tragedy of Racine, in whose work the “classical” concept of tragic intensity at the moment of self-realization found its most mature and perfect expression.

Major tragedies.
Corneille seems to have taken to heart the criticisms levelled at Le Cid, and he wrote nothing for three years (though this time was also taken up with a lawsuit to prevent the creation of a legal office in Rouen on a par with his own). In 1640, however, appeared the Roman tragedy Horace; another, Cinna, appeared in 1641. In 1641 also Corneille married Marie de Lampérière, the daughter of a local magistrate, who was to bear him seven children to whom he was a devoted father. Corneille’s brother Thomas married Marie’s sister, and the two couples lived in extraordinary harmony, their households hardly separated; the brothers enjoyed literary amity and mutual assistance.

Le Cid, Horace, Cinna, and Polyeucte, which appeared in 1643, are together known as Corneille’s “classical tetralogy” and together represent perhaps his finest body of work for the theatre. Horace was based on an account by the Roman historian Livy of a legendary combat between members of the Horatii and Curiatii families, representing Rome and Alba; Corneille, however, concentrated on the murder by one of the patriots of his pacifist sister, the whole case afterward being argued before the king (a “duplicity” of action admitted by Corneille himself, who otherwise seems by now to have decided to follow the classical rules). Cinna was about a conspiracy against the first Roman emperor, Augustus, who checkmates his adversaries by granting them a political pardon instead of dealing them the expected violent fate, boasting that he has strength enough to be merciful. The hero of Polyeucte (which many critics have considered to be Corneille’s finest work), on adopting Christianity seeks a martyr’s death with almost militaristic fervour, choosing this as the path to la gloire (“glory”) in another world, whereas his wife insists that the claims of marriage are as important as those of religion.

These four plays are charged with an energy peculiar to Corneille. Their arguments, presented elegantly, rhetorically, in the grand style, remain firm and sonorous. The alexandrine verse that he employed (though not exclusively) was used with astonishing flexibility as an instrument to convey all shades of meaning and expression: irony, anger, soliloquy, repartee, epigram. Corneille used language not so much to illumine character as to heighten the clash between concepts, hence the “sentences” in his poetry which are memorable even outside their dramatic context. Action here is reaction. These plays concern not so much what is done as what is resolved, felt, suffered. Their formal principle is symmetry: presentation, by a poet who was also a lawyer, of one side of the case, then of the other, of one position followed by its opposite.

Contribution to comedy.
The fame of his “classical tetralogy” has tended to obscure the enormous variety of Corneille’s other drama, and his contribution to the development of French comedy has not always received its proper due. The Roman plays were followed by more tragedies: La Mort de Pompée (performed 1644; The Death of Pompey), Rodogune (performed 1645), which was one of his greatest successes, Théodore (performed 1646), which was his first taste of failure, and Héraclius (performed 1647). But in 1643 Corneille had successfully turned to comedy with Le Menteur (The Liar), following it with the less successful La Suite du Menteur (performed 1645; Sequel to the Liar). Both were lively comedies of intrigue, adapted from Spanish models; and Le Menteur is the one outstanding French comedy before the plays of Molière, Corneille’s young contemporary, who acknowledged its influence on his own work. Le Menteur, indeed, stands in relation to French classical comedy much as Le Cid does to tragedy.

In 1647 Corneille moved with his family to Paris and was at last admitted to the Académie Française, having twice previously been rejected on the grounds of nonresidence in the capital. Don Sanche d’Aragon (performed 1650), Andromède (performed 1650), a spectacular play in which stage machinery was very important, and Nicomède (performed 1651) were all written during the political upheaval and civil war of the period known as the Fronde (1648–53), with Don Sanche in particular carrying contemporary political overtones. In 1651 or 1652 his play Pertharite seems to have been brutally received, and for the next eight years Corneille wrote nothing for the theatre, concentrating instead on a verse translation of St. Thomas à Kempis’ Imitatio Christi (Imitation of Christ), which he completed in 1656, and also working at critical discourses on his plays that were to be included in a 1660 edition of his collected works.

Years of declining power.
Corneille did not turn again to the theatre until 1659, when, with the encouragement of the statesman and patron of the arts Nicolas Fouquet, he presented Oedipe. For the next 14 years he wrote almost one play a year, including Sertorius (performed 1662) and Attila (performed 1667), both of which contain an amount of violent and surprising incident.

Corneille’s last plays, indeed, were closer in spirit to his works of the 1640s than to his classical tragedies. Their plots were endlessly complicated, their emotional climate close to that of tragicomedy. Other late plays include La Toison d’or (performed 1660; The Golden Fleece), his own Sophonisbe (performed 1663), Othon (performed 1664), Agésilas (performed 1666), and Pulchérie (performed 1672). In collaboration with Molière and Philippe Quinault he wrote Psyché (1671), a play employing music, incorporating ballet sequences, and striking a note of lyrical tenderness. A year earlier, however, he had presented Tite et Bérénice, in deliberate contest with a play on the same subject by Racine. Its failure indicated the public’s growing preference for the younger playwright.

Corneille’s final play was Suréna (performed 1674), which showed an uncharacteristic delicacy and sentimental appeal. After this he was silent except for some beautiful verses, which appeared in 1676, thanking King Louis XIV for ordering the revival of his plays. Although not in desperate poverty, Corneille was by no means wealthy; and his situation was further embarrassed by the intermittent stoppage of a state pension that had been granted by Richelieu soon after the appearance of Horace in 1640. Corneille died in his house on the rue d’Argenteuil, Paris, and was buried in the church of Saint-Roch. No monument marked his tomb until 1821.

Corneille did not have to wait for “the next age” to do him justice. The cabal that had led the attack on Le Cid had no effect on the judgment of the public, and the great men of his time were his fervent admirers. Balzac praised him; Molière acknowledged him as his master and as the foremost of dramatists; Racine is said to have assured his son that Corneille made verses “a hundred times more beautiful” than his own. It was left to the 18th century, largely because of the criticisms of Voltaire, to exalt Racine at Corneille’s expense; but the Romantic critics of the late 18th century began to restore Corneille to his true rank.

It cannot be denied, however, that Corneille signed much verse that is dull to mediocre. Molière acknowledged this fact by saying: “My friend Corneille has a familiar who inspires him with the finest verses in the world. But sometimes the familiar leaves him to shift for himself, and then he fares very badly.” But the importance of his pioneer work in the development of French classical theatre cannot be denied; and, if a poet is to be judged by his best things, Corneille’s place among the great dramatic poets is beyond question.

Not only did Pierre Corneille produce, for nearly 40 years in all, an astonishing variety of plays to entertain the French court and the Parisian middle class: he also prepared the way for a dramatic theatre that was the envy of Europe throughout the 17th century. His own contribution to this theatre, moreover, was that of master as much as of pioneer. Corneille’s excellence as a playwright has long been held to lie in his ability to depict personal and moral forces in conflict. In play after play, dramatic situations lead to a finely balanced discussion of controversial issues. Willpower and self-mastery are glorified in many of his heroes, who display a heroic energy in meeting or mastering the dilemma that they face; but Corneille was less interested in exciting his audiences to pity and fear through visions of the limits of man’s agony and endurance than he was in stirring them to admiration of his heroes. Thus, only a few of his plays deal in tragic emotion. Nevertheless, because his most famous work, Le Cid, anticipated the tragic intensity of plays by Jean Racine, his younger contemporary, Corneille has often been referred to as the “father” of French classical tragedy; and his contribution to the rise of comedy has, in comparison, often been overlooked. From a 20th-century vantage point, however, it is as a master of drama that he appears, rather than of tragedy in particular.

Robert J. Nelson

Major Works
Plays. Le Cid (published 1637); Horace (1641); Cinna, ou La Clemence d’Auguste (1643); Polyeucte martyr (1643); La Mort de Pompée (1644)—all in English in The Chief Plays of Corneille, trans. by Lacy Lockert, 2nd ed. (1957). Rodogune, princesse des Parthes (1647; Rodogune; or, The Rival Brothers, trans. by S. Aspinwall, 1765); Nicomède (1651; Nicomede, trans. by J. Dancer, 1671).




Tyре of work: Drama
Author: Pierre Corneille (1606-1684)
Type of plot: Romantic tragedy
Time of plot: Eleventh century
Locale: Seville
First presented: 1636

Generally ranked as the best of Corneille's works, this tragedy is considered by many scholars to be the beginning of modern French drama. The playwright reputedly used as his source Guillen de Castro у Bellvis' treatment of the Cid legends, which form the basis of Spain's great medieval epic poem.


Principal Characters

Don Rodrigue (ro-dreg'), the Cid, son of aged Don Diegue. As his father's champion, he kills Don Gomes, mightiest swordsman of Castile. It appears he may eventually marry Chimene.
Don Diegue (dyeg'), once Spain's greatest warrior.
Chimene (she-men'), the daughter of the slain Don Gomes, who demands Rodrigue's death in punishment. Later, when he determines to let Sanche kill him, she begs Rodrigue to defend himself.
Don Gomes (go-meY), the father of Chimene, who quarrels with Diegue over tutoring the king's son and is slain by Rodrigue.
Don Fernand (fer-nari'), king of Castile, who names Rodrigue "The Cid" (Lord) after his victory over the Moors in Seville.
Don Sanche (sarish), a suitor of Chimene who challenges Rodrigue to avenge Gomes' death. The Cid magnanimously spares his life.
Dona Urraque (ii-rak'), the daughter of Fernand, who loves Rodrigue but yields to Chimene's prior claims.


The Story

Because she was the princess royal, the Infanta felt she could not openly love Rodrigue, a nobleman of lower rank. She encouraged, therefore, the growing attachment between Chimene and Rodrigue. Chimene asked her father, Don Gomes, to choose for his son-in-law either Rodrigue or Sanche. She awaited the choice anxiously; her father was on his way to court, and she would soon hear his decision. Don Gomes chose Rodrigue without hesitation, chiefly because of the fame of Don Diegue, Rodrigue's father.
A complication soon arose at court. The king had chosen Don Diegue as preceptor for his son, the heir apparent. Don Gomes felt that the choice was unjust. Don Diegue had been the greatest warrior in Castile, but he was now old. Don Gomes considered himself the doughtiest knight in the kingdom. In a bitter quarrel Don Gomes unjustly accused Don Diegue of gaining the king's favor through flattery and deceit. He felt the prince needed a preceptor who would be a living example, not a teacher who would dwell in the past. In the quarrel, Don Gomes slapped his older rival. Don Diegue, too feeble to draw his sword against Don Gomes, upbraided himself bitterly for having to accept the insult. His only recourse was to call on his young son to uphold the family honor.
Torn between love and duty, Rodrigue challenged Don Gomes to a duel. After some hesitation because of Rodrigue's youth and unproved valor. Don Gomes accepted the challenge of his daughter's suitor. To the surprise of the court, Rodrigue, the untried novice, killed the mightiest man in Castile, piercing with his sword the man whom he respected as his future father-in-law.
Chimene now felt herself in a desperate plight because her love for Rodrigue was mixed with hatred for the murderer of her father. She finally decided to avenge her father by seeking justice from the king. Since she had the right to petition the king, Don Fernand was forced to hear her pleas. In the scene at court. Don Diegue made a strong counter-plea for his son. reminding the king that Rodrigue had done only what honor forced him to do— uphold the family name.
The king was saved from the vexing decision when fierce Moors assaulted the walls of Seville. Chimene awaited the outcome of the battle with mixed emotions. The army of Castile returned in triumph, bringing as captives two Moorish kings. And the man who had inspired and led the Castilians by his audacity was Rodrigue. The grateful king gave the hero a new title, The Cid, a Moorish name meaning "lord." The Infanta was wretched. Although her high position would not allow her to love Rodrigue, she could love The Cid, a high noble and the hero of Castile. She showed her nobility by yielding to Chimene's prior right.
Chimene was still bound to seek redress. The king resolved to test her true feelings. When she entered the throne room, he told her gravely that Rodrigue had died from battle wounds. Chimene fainted. The king advised her to follow the promptings of her heart and cease her quest for vengeance.
Still holding duty above love, however, Chimene insisted on her feudal right of a champion. Sanche, hoping to win the favor of Chimene, offered to meet Rodrigue in mortal combat and avenge the death of Don Gomes. Chimene accepted him as her champion. The king decreed that Chimene must marry the victor.
In private, Rodrigue came to Chimene. Indignant at first, Chimene soon softened when she learned that Rodrigue had resolved to let himself be killed because she wished it. Again wavering between love and duty, Chimene begged him to defend himself as best he could. Sanche went bravely to meet Rodrigue who easily disarmed his opponent and showed his magnanimity by refusing to kill Chimene's champion. He sent his sword to Chimene in token of defeat. As soon as Chimene saw her champion approach with Rodrigue's sword in his hand, she immediately thought that Rodrigue was dead. She ran in haste to the king and begged him to change his edict because she could not bear to wed the slayer of her lover. When the king told her the truth, that Rodrigue had won, Don Diegue praised her for at last avowing openly her love. Still Chimene hesitated to take Rodrigue as her husband. The king understood her plight. He ordered The Cid to lead an expedition against the Moors. He knew that time would heal the breach between the lovers. The king was wise.

Fight scene, illustration for 'Le Cid' (1637)
by Pierre Corneille (1606-84) engraved by Noel Le Mire


Critical Evaluation

The neoclassical tragedies of seventeenth century France are especially in need of introductions for a modern audience; Corneille's The Cid only a little less than most. The Renaissance had seen, among other things, an intensification of interest in the individual and in the self. This focusing of interest (amounting almost to a vision of the nature of man) was in conflict with the medieval view which perceived of man more as a race than as an individual. The individual was perceived, to be sure, but perceived as something like a component of society, reproducing it and assuring its integrity by maintaining binding interrelationships with other individual members of society both alive and dead. In Corneille's time, the more romantic tenets of the Renaissance had been displaced by the neoclassical adoption of the life of reason and order within a cohesive community; and with this life there came, understandably, a high regard for honor.
The twentieth century does not easily understand the classical and neoclassical concern for "honor" because our age is essentially a romantic one; our concerns are primarily for the immediate future and the physically alive, concerns of the individual. Romantic love, concerning itself as it does with physically alive individuals and their immediate futures, is of extreme importance to us. But honor is based not upon immediacy or subjectivity but upon loyalty to others (particularly those to whom one is related by blood ties, marriage, or a shared set of cultural assumptions) and concern for the opinions of others. It is not merely a matter of respectfully but radically differing with one's fellows on moral questions; one's fellows are a part of oneself; to differ radically with them is to be schizophrenic. The task then, in living a life of honor, is to live it so that others approve. For if others do not approve, no man (or woman) in such an age can approve of himself.
This is the situation of The Cid. The Infanta's dilemma is the keynote of the play; she must choose between her romantic love for Rodrigue (to whom she is impelled by her feelings as an individual) and her honor (as demanded by her ties to her father and her attendant position in society). Love urges that she make herself available for marriage to him, but honor insists that she not marry beneath her station. She chooses honor almost instinctively, even going so far as to take direct action to decrease her own romantic love; she brings Rodrigue and Chimene together so as to make him completely unavailable to herself as a lover. In act 5 she almost succumbs to love, thinking Rodrigue's newly won glories and title bring him nearly to her social station, but her lady in waiting (acting as her visible conscience on the stage) dissuades her. She goes on to aid in the final reconciliation of the principal pair.
Rodrigue and Chimene each must make the same choice, though their positions differ from the Infanta's in that theirs are seemingly impossible. While the Infanta's problem admits of the simplest (though not the easiest) of solutions, that of not declaring her love, Rodrigue cannot expect a loving response from the daughter of the man he has killed, and Chimene cannot give such a response. Both are acting in a typically honorable fashion, maintaining their fathers' reputations and foregoing their personal desires. To do less would be to make themselves less than human. Honor threatens the love affair of Chimene and Rodrigue, while love threatens the honor of the Infanta.
It will seem to some readers that love wins out in the end over honor, the honorable scruples of the principal pair having been overcome by reason and circumstances. But in fact love and honor are synthesized, neither force canceling out the other. The Infanta's moral position, being above reproach, is perfect for her role as a proponent of marriage for the pair. Had she surrendered to her own emotion, she could not have been nearly so effective a spokesperson on the part of love for others. Add to this Elvira's chiding and, indeed, the king himself in the role of matchmaker, and it will be seen that Cor-neille is at some pains to overcome excessive preoccupation with honor, but only in such a way as to leave real honor intact and alive.
Until we reach the denouement—Chimene's admission of her love—the heroine sees herself primarily as the daughter of Don Gomes; her admission of her feelings to the king and the resolution of the play are made possible by her being persuaded to see herself primarily as a member of the Castilian community. As a result of this shift in her perception of her role, she no longer sees Rodrigue as enemy and begins to see the Moors in that capacity. As principal bulwark against the common enemy, Rodrigue both lays the groundwork for this change in Chimene and is in a unique position to enjoy the benefits of it. Thus, while upholding the concept of honor in a humanly achievable form, the play uses a typically romantic process as the underpinnings of its plot: thesis and antithesis (honor and love) are synthesized.
Critics have seen in this play certain basic similarities to Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, foremost among which is the feud between the lovers' families. But a more essential similarity lies in the use of death by both dramatists as a threat to young love. Both Romeo and Rodrigue think of death (for themselves) as a solution to their problems, and both offer the solution with such alacrity as to give rise to speculations of a death wish on both their parts. Such speculations, however, have the distinct disadvantage of focusing our attention entirely upon the character, causing us to ignore the play's overall design.
Death is not initially the preoccupation of either hero. Both want simply to marry the ladies they love. Death presents itself to them as a solution only when this desire becomes both undeniable and impossible to satisfy. This renders life impossible, and when life begins to seem impossible the natural impulse is to consign it to a state of nonexistence (the natural state for any impossibility). Death is the inevitable threat. But death becomes truly inevitable only when the character is convinced that his life is indeed impossible, t there is no way out. Romeo is convinced of this on two occasions; Rodrigue repeatedly offers himself to Chimene for execution, believing there is no other solution.
Death, then, is not intrinsic to Rodrigue's character; it is a force from without, threatening the healthy love relationship with the ferocity of a tangible monster. There is a level at which most love comedies are fertility rites, celebrating and promoting the optimism and fecundity of a society. In such comedies the lovers' eventual wedding (or promise of one) affirms this social optimism. But when optimism and fertility are seriously threatened by death, as they are in this play, we revise our classification of the play and call it a "tragicomedy." The play ends happily with the promise of a marriage, the protagonists having avoided death's many invasions into their happiness. But death's attempts were persistent, and were overcome by the slimmest of margins.
The Cid is Corneille's first major play and is today often considered his finest. His plays are often compared with those of his younger contemporary, Racine. Both authors adhered strictly to the neoclassical unities (action, time, and place), though Racine evidently worked more comfortably within those restrictions; Corneille reminds us throughout The Cid that the action occurs within one day, but the day is an unnaturally full one.




"The Cid"



Translation by Roscoe Mongan



Cid Campeador is the name given in histories, traditions and songs to the most celebrated of Spain's national heroes.

His real name was Rodrigo or Ruy Diaz (i.e. "son of Diego"), a Castilian noble by birth. He was born at Burgos about the year 1040.

There is so much of the mythical in the history of this personage that hypercritical writers, such as Masdeu, have doubted his existence; but recent researches have succeeded in separating the historical from the romantic.

Under Sancho II, son of Ferdinand, he served as commander of the royal troops. In a war between the two brothers, Sancho II. and Alfonso VI. of Leon, due to some dishonorable stratagem on the part of Rodrigo, Sancho was victorious and his brother was forced to seek refuge with the Moorish King of Toledo.

In 1072 Sancho was assassinated at the siege of Zamora, and as he left no heir the Castilians had to acknowledge Alfonso as King. Although Alfonso never forgave the Cid for having, as leader of the Castilians, compelled him to swear that he (the Cid) had no hand in the murder of his brother Sancho, as a conciliatory measure, he gave his cousin Ximena, daughter of the Count of Oviedo, to the Cid in marriage, but afterwards, in 1081, when he found himself firmly seated on the throne, yielding to his own feelings of resentment and incited by the Leonese nobles, he banished him from the kingdom.

At the head of a large body of followers, the Cid joined the Moorish King of Saragossa, in whose service he fought against both Moslems and Christians. It was probably during this exile that he was first called the Cid, an Arabic title, which means the lord. He was very successful in all his battles.

In conjunction with Mostain, grandson of Moctadir, he invaded Valencia in 1088, but afterwards carried on operations alone, and finally, after a long siege, made himself master of the city in June, 1094. He retained possession of Valencia for five years and reigned like an independent sovereign over one of the richest territories in the Peninsula, but died suddenly in 1099 of anger and grief on hearing that his relative, Alvar Fañez, had been vanquished and the army which he had sent to his assistance had been defeated.

After the Cid's death his wife held Valencia till 1102, when she was obliged to yield to the Almoravides and fly to Castile, where she died in 1104. Her remains were placed by those of her lord in the monastery of San Pedro de Cardeña.

Act the First.

Scene I.Chimène and Elvira.

Chimène. Elvira, have you given me a really true report? Do you conceal nothing that my father has said?

Elvira. All my feelings within me are still delighted with it. He esteems Rodrigo as much as you love him; and if I do not misread his mind, he will command you to respond to his passion.

Chimène. Tell me then, I beseech you, a second time, what makes you believe that he approves of my choice; tell me anew what hope I ought to entertain from it. A discourse so charming cannot be too often heard; you cannot too forcibly promise to the fervor of our love the sweet liberty of manifesting itself to the light of day. What answer has he given regarding the secret suit which Don Sancho and Don Rodrigo are paying to you? Have you not too clearly shown the disparity between the two lovers which inclines me to the one side?

Elvira. No; I have depicted your heart as filled with an indifference which elates not either of them nor destroys hope, and, without regarding them with too stern or too gentle an aspect, awaits the commands of a father to choose a spouse. This respect has delighted him—his lips and his countenance gave me at once a worthy testimony of it; and, since I must again tell you the tale, this is what he hastened to say to me of them and of you: 'She is in the right. Both are worthy of her; both are sprung from a noble, valiant, and faithful lineage; young but yet who show by their mien [lit. cause to easily be read in their eyes] the brilliant valor of their brave ancestors. Don Rodrigo, above all, has no feature in his face which is not the noble [lit. high] representative of a man of courage [lit. heart], and descends from a house so prolific in warriors, that they enter into life [lit. take birth there] in the midst of laurels. The valor of his father, in his time without an equal, as long as his strength endured, was considered a marvel; the furrows on his brow bear witness to [lit. have engraved his] exploits, and tell us still what he formerly was. I predict of the son what I have seen of the father, and my daughter, in one word, may love him and please me.' He was going to the council, the hour for which approaching, cut short this discourse, which he had scarcely commenced; but from these few words, I believe that his mind [lit. thoughts] is not quite decided between your two lovers. The king is going to appoint an instructor for his son, and it is he for whom an honor so great is designed. This choice is not doubtful, and his unexampled valor cannot tolerate that we should fear any competition. As his high exploits render him without an equal, in a hope so justifiable he will be without a rival; and since Don Rodrigo has persuaded his father, when going out from the council, to propose the affair. I leave you to judge whether he will seize this opportunity [lit. whether he will take his time well], and whether all your desires will soon be gratified.

Chimène. It seems, however, that my agitated soul refuses this joy, and finds itself overwhelmed by it. One moment gives to fate different aspects, and in this great happiness I fear a great reverse.

Elvira. You see this fear happily deceived.

Chimène. Let us go, whatever it may be, to await the issue.


Scene II.The Infanta, Leonora, and a Page.

Infanta (to Page). Page, go, tell Chimène from me, that to-day she is rather long in coming to see me, and that my friendship complains of her tardiness. [Exit Page.]

Leonora. Dear lady, each day the same desire urges you, and at your interview with her, I see you every day ask her how her love proceeds.

Infanta. It is not without reason. I have almost compelled her to receive the arrows with which her soul is wounded. She loves Rodrigo, and she holds him from my hand; and by means of me Don Rodrigo has conquered her disdain. Thus, having forged the chains of these lovers, I ought to take an interest in seeing their troubles at an end.

Leonora. Dear lady, however, amidst their good fortune you exhibit a grief which proceeds to excess. Does this love, which fills them both with gladness, produce in this noble heart [of yours] profound sadness? And does this great interest which you take in them render you unhappy, whilst they are happy? But I proceed too far, and become indiscreet.

Infanta. My sadness redoubles in keeping the secret. Listen, listen at length, how I have struggled; listen what assaults my constancy [lit. virtue or valor] yet braves. Love is a tyrant which spares no one. This young cavalier, this lover which I give [her]—I love him.

Leonora. You love him!

Infanta. Place your hand upon my heart, and feel [lit. see] how it throbs at the name of its conqueror! how it recognizes him!

Leonora. Pardon me, dear lady, if I am wanting in respect in blaming this passion; a noble princess to so far forget herself as to admit in her heart a simple [or, humble] cavalier! And what would the King say?—what would Castile say? Do you still remember of whom you are the daughter?

Infanta. I remember it so well, that I would shed my blood rather than degrade my rank. I might assuredly answer to thee, that, in noble souls, worth alone ought to arouse passions; and, if my love sought to excuse itself, a thousand famous examples might sanction it. But I will not follow these—where my honor is concerned, the captivation of my feelings does not abate my courage, and I say to myself always, that, being the daughter of a king, all other than a monarch is unworthy of me. When I saw that my heart could not protect itself, I myself gave away that which I did not dare to take; and I put, in place of my self, Chimène in its fetters, and I kindled their passions [lit. fires] in order to extinguish my own. Be then no longer surprised if my troubled soul with impatience awaits their bridal; thou seest that my happiness [lit. repose] this day depends upon it. If love lives by hope, it perishes with it; it is a fire which becomes extinguished for want of fuel; and, in spite of the severity of my sad lot, if Chimène ever has Rodrigo for a husband, my hope is dead and my spirit, is healed. Meanwhile, I endure an incredible torture; even up to this bridal. Rodrigo is dear to me; I strive to lose him, and I lose him with regret, and hence my secret anxiety derives its origin. I see with sorrow that love compels me to utter sighs for that [object] which [as a princess] I must disdain. I feel my spirit divided into two portions; if my courage is high, my heart is inflamed [with love]. This bridal is fatal to me, I fear it, and [yet] I desire it; I dare to hope from it only an incomplete joy; my honor and my love have for me such attractions, that I [shall] die whether it be accomplished, or whether it be not accomplished.

Leonora. Dear lady, after that I have nothing more to say, except that, with you, I sigh for your misfortunes; I blamed you a short time since, now I pity you. But since in a misfortune [i.e. an ill-timed love] so sweet and so painful, your noble spirit [lit. virtue] contends against both its charm and its strength, and repulses its assault and regrets its allurements, it will restore calmness to your agitated feelings. Hope then every [good result] from it, and from the assistance of time; hope everything from heaven; it is too just [lit. it has too much justice] to leave virtue in such a long continued torture.

Infanta. My sweetest hope is to lose hope.

(The Page re-enters.)

Page. By your commands, Chimène comes to see you.

Infanta (to Leonora). Go and converse with her in that gallery [yonder].

Leonora. Do you wish to continue in dreamland?

Infanta. No, I wish, only, in spite of my grief, to compose myself [lit. to put my features a little more at leisure]. I follow you.

[Leonora goes out along with the Page.]


Scene III.The Infanta (alone).


Just heaven, from which I await my relief, put, at last, some limit to the misfortune which is overcoming [lit. possesses] me; secure my repose, secure my honor. In the happiness of others I seek my own. This bridal is equally important to three [parties]; render its completion more prompt, or my soul more enduring. To unite these two lovers with a marriage-tie is to break all my chains and to end all my sorrows. But I tarry a little too long; let us go to meet Chimène, and, by conversation, to relieve our grief.|


Scene IV.Count de Gormas and Don Diego (meeting).


Count. At last you have gained it [or, prevailed], and the favor of a King raises you to a rank which was due only to myself; he makes you Governor of the Prince of Castile.

Don Diego. This mark of distinction with which he distinguishes [lit. which he puts into] my family shows to all that he is just, and causes it to be sufficiently understood, that he knows how to recompense bygone services.

Count. However great kings may be, they are only men [lit. they are that which we are]; they can make mistakes like other men, and this choice serves as a proof to all courtiers that they know how to [or, can] badly recompense present services.

Don Diego. Let us speak no more of a choice at which your mind becomes exasperated. Favor may have been able to do as much as merit; but we owe this respect to absolute power, to question nothing when a king has wished it. To the honor which he has done me add another—let us join by a sacred tie my house to yours. You have an only daughter, and I have an only son; their marriage may render us for ever more than friends. Grant us this favor, and accept, him as a son-in-law.

Count. To higher alliances this precious son ought [or, is likely] to aspire; and the new splendor of your dignity ought to inflate his heart with another [higher] vanity. Exercise that [dignity], sir, and instruct the prince. Show him how it is necessary to rule a province: to make the people tremble everywhere under his law; to fill the good with love, and the wicked with terror. Add to these virtues those of a commander: show him how it is necessary to inure himself to fatigue; in the profession of a warrior [lit. of Mars] to render himself without an equal; to pass entire days and nights on horseback; to sleep all-armed: to storm a rampart, and to owe to himself alone the winning of a battle. Instruct him by example, and render him perfect, bringing your lessons to his notice by carrying them into effect.

Don Diego. To instruct himself by example, in spite of your jealous feelings, he shall read only the history of my life. There, in a long succession of glorious deeds, he shall see how nations ought to be subdued; to attack a fortress, to marshal an army, and on great exploits to build his renown.

Count. Living examples have a greater [lit. another] power. A prince, in a book, learns his duty but badly [or, imperfectly]; and what, after all, has this great number of years done which one of my days cannot equal? If you have been valiant, I am so to-day, and this arm is the strongest support of the kingdom. Granada and Arragon tremble when this sword flashes; my name serves as a rampart to all Castile; without me you would soon pass under other laws, and you would soon have your enemies as [lit. for] kings. Each day, each moment, to increase my glory, adds laurels to laurels, victory to victory. The prince, by my side, would make the trial of his courage in the wars under the shadow of my arm; he would learn to conquer by seeing me do so; and, to prove speedily worthy of his high character, he would see——

Don Diego. I know it; you serve the king well. I have seen you fight and command under me, when [old] age has caused its freezing currents to flow within my nerves [i.e. "when the frosts of old age had numbed my nerves"—Jules Bue], your unexampled [lit. rare] valor has worthily [lit. well] supplied my place; in fine, to spare unnecessary words, you are to-day what I used to be. You see, nevertheless, that in this rivalry a monarch places some distinction between us.

Count. That prize which I deserved you have carried off.

Don Diego. He who has gained that [advantage] over you has deserved it best.

Count. He who can use it to the best advantage is the most worthy of it.

Don Diego. To be refused that prize [lit. it] is not a good sign.

Count. You have gained it by intrigue, being an old courtier.

Don Diego. The brilliancy of my noble deeds was my only recommendation [lit. support].

Count. Let us speak better of it [i.e. more plainly]: the king does honor to your age.

Don Diego. The king, when he does it [i.e. that honor], gives it [lit. measures it] to courage.

Count. And for that reason this honor was due only to me [lit. my arm].

Don Diego. He who has not been able to obtain it did not deserve it.

Count. Did not deserve it? I!

Don Diego. You.

Count. Thy impudence, rash old man, shall have its recompense. [He gives him a slap on the face.]

Don Diego (drawing his sword [lit. putting the sword in his hand]). Finish [this outrage], and take my life after such an insult, the first for which my race has ever had cause to blush [lit. has seen its brow grow red].

Count. And what do you think you can do, weak as you are [lit. with such feebleness]?

Don Diego. Oh, heaven! my exhausted strength fails me in this necessity!

Count. Thy sword is mine; but thou wouldst be too vain if this discreditable trophy had laden my hand [i.e. if I had carried away a trophy so discreditable]. Farewell—adieu! Cause the prince to read, in spite of jealous feelings, for his instruction, the history of thy life. This just punishment of impertinent language will serve as no small embellishment for it.

Scene V.
Don Diego.


O rage! O despair! O inimical old age! Have I then lived so long only for this disgrace? And have I grown grey in warlike toils, only to see in one day so many of my laurels wither? Does my arm [i.e. my valor], which all Spain admires and looks up to [lit. with respect]—[does] my arm, which has so often saved this empire, and so often strengthened anew the throne of its king, now [lit. then] betray my cause, and do nothing for me? O cruel remembrance of my bygone glory! O work of a lifetime [lit. so many days] effaced in a day! new dignity fatal to my happiness! lofty precipice from which mine honor falls! must I see the count triumph over your splendor, and die without vengeance, or live in shame? Count, be now the instructor of my prince! This high rank becomes [lit. admits] no man without honor, and thy jealous pride, by this foul [lit. remarkable] insult, in spite of the choice of the king, has contrived [lit. has known how] to render me unworthy of it. And thou, glorious instrument of my exploits, but yet a useless ornament of an enfeebled body numbed by age [lit. all of ice], thou sword, hitherto to be feared, and which in this insult has served me for show, and not for defence, go, abandon henceforth the most dishonored [lit. the last] of his race; pass, to avenge me, into better hands!

Scene VI.
Don Diego and Don Rodrigo.


Don Diego. Rodrigo, hast thou courage [lit. a heart]?

Don Rodrigo. Any other than my father would have found that out instantly.

Don Diego. Welcome wrath! worthy resentment, most pleasing to my grief! I recognize my blood in this noble rage; my youth revives in this ardor so prompt. Come, my son, come, my blood, come to retrieve my shame—come to avenge me!

Don Rodrigo. Of what?

Don Diego. Of an insult so cruel that it deals a deadly stroke against the honor of us both—of a blow! The insolent [man] would have lost his life for it, but my age deceived my noble ambition; and this sword, which my arm can no longer wield, I give up to thine, to avenge and punish. Go against this presumptuous man, and prove thy valor: it is only in blood that one can wash away such an insult; die or slay. Moreover, not to deceive thee, I give thee to fight a formidable antagonist [lit. a man to be feared], I have seen him entirely covered with blood and dust, carrying everywhere dismay through an entire army. I have seen by his valor a hundred squadrons broken; and, to tell thee still something more—more than brave soldier, more than great leader, he is——

Don Rodrigo. Pray, finish.

Don Diego. The father of Chimène.

Don Rodrigo. The——

Don Diego. Do not reply; I know thy love. But he who lives dishonored is unworthy of life; the dearer the offender the greater the offence. In short, thou knowest the insult, and thou holdest [in thy grasp the means of] vengeance. I say no more to thee. Avenge me, avenge thyself! Show thyself a son worthy of a father such as I [am]. Overwhelmed by misfortunes to which destiny reduces me, I go to deplore them. Go, run, fly, and avenge us!

Scene VII.
Don Rodrigo.


Pierced even to the depth [or, bottom of the heart] by a blow unexpected as well as deadly, pitiable avenger of a just quarrel and unfortunate object of an unjust severity, I remain motionless, and my dejected soul yields to the blow which is slaying me. So near seeing my love requited! O heaven, the strange pang [or, difficulty]! In this insult my father is the person aggrieved, and the aggressor is the father of Chimène!

What fierce conflicts [of feelings] I experience! My love is engaged [lit. interests itself] against my own honor. I must avenge a father and lose a mistress. The one stimulates my courage, the other restrains my arm. Reduced to the sad choice of either betraying my love or of living as a degraded [man], on both sides my situation is wretched [lit. evil is infinite]. O heaven, the strange pang [or, difficulty]! Must I leave an insult unavenged? Must I punish the father of Chimène?

Father, mistress, honor, love—noble and severe restraint—a bondage still to be beloved [lit. beloved tyranny], all my pleasures are dead, or my glory is sullied. The one renders me unhappy; the other unworthy of life. Dear and cruel hope of a soul noble but still enamored, worthy enemy of my greatest happiness, thou sword which causest my painful anxiety, hast thou been given to me to avenge my honor? Hast thou been given to me to lose Chimène?

It is better to rush [lit. run] to death. I owe [a duty] to my mistress as well as to my father. I draw, in avenging myself, her hatred and her rage; I draw upon myself his [i.e. my father's] contempt by not avenging myself. To my sweetest hope the one [alternative] renders me unfaithful, and the other [alternative] renders me unworthy of her. My misfortune increases by seeking a remedy [lit. by wishing to cure it]. All [supposed reliefs] redoubles my woes. Come then, my soul [or, beloved sword], and, since I must die, let us die, at least, without offending Chimène!

To die without obtaining satisfaction! To seek a death so fatal to my fame! To endure that Spain should impute to my memory [the fact] of having badly maintained the honor of my house! To respect a love of which my distracted soul already sees the certain loss. Let us no more listen to this insidious thought, which serves only to pain me [or, contributes only to my painful position]. Come, mine arm [or, sword], let us save honor, at least, since, after all, we must lose Chimène.

Yes, my spirit was deceived. I owe all to my father before my mistress.

Whether I die in the combat or die of sadness, I shall yield up my blood pure as I have received it. I already accuse myself of too much negligence; let us haste to vengeance; and quite ashamed of having wavered so much, let us no more be in painful suspense, since to-day my father has been insulted, even though the offender is the father of Chimène.

Act the Second.


Scene I.Count de Gormas and Don Arias.

Count. I acknowledge, between ourselves, [that] my blood, a little too warm, became too excited at an expression, and has carried the matter too far [lit. too high], but, since it is done, the deed is without remedy.

Don Arias. To the wishes of the King let this proud spirit yield; he takes this much to heart, and his exasperated feelings [lit. heart] will act against you with full authority. And, indeed, you have no available defence. The [high] rank of the person offended, the greatness of the offence, demand duties and submissions which require more than ordinary reparation.

Count. The King can, at his pleasure, dispose of my life.

Don Arias. Your fault is followed by too much excitement. The King still loves you; appease his wrath. He has said, "I desire it!"—will you disobey?

Count. Sir, to preserve all that esteem which I retain [or, (other reading), to preserve my glory and my esteem] to disobey in a slight degree is not so great a crime, and, however great that [offence] may be, my immediate services are more than sufficient to cancel it.

Don Arias. Although one perform glorious and important deeds, a King is never beholden to his subject. You flatter yourself much, and you ought to know that he who serves his King well only does his duty. You will ruin yourself, sir, by this confidence.

Count. I shall not believe you until I have experience of it [lit. until after experience of it].

Don Arias. You ought to dread the power of a King.

Count. One day alone does not destroy a man such as I. Let all his greatness arm itself for my punishment; all the state shall perish, if I must perish.

Don Arias. What! do you fear so little sovereign power——?

Count. [The sovereign power] of a sceptre which, without me, would fall from his hand. He himself has too much interest in my person, and my head in falling would cause his crown to fall.

Don Arias. Permit reason to bring back your senses. Take good advice.

Count. The advice [or, counsel] with regard to it is [already] taken.

Don Arias. What shall I say, after all? I am obliged to give him an account [of this interview].

Count. [Say] that I can never consent to my own dishonor.

Don Arias. But think that kings will be absolute.

Count. The die is cast, sir. Let us speak of the matter no more.

Don Arias. Adieu, then, sir, since in vain I try to persuade you. Notwithstanding [lit. with] all your laurels, still dread the thunderbolt.

Count. I shall await it without fear.

Don Arias. But not without effect.

Count. We shall see by that Don Diego satisfied. [Exit Don Arias.] [Alone] He who fears not death fears not threats. I have a heart superior to the greatest misfortunes [lit. above the proudest misfortunes]; and men may reduce me to live without happiness, but they cannot compel me to live without honor.

Scene II.
The Count and Don Rodrigo.

Don Rodrigo. Here, count, a word or two.

Count. Speak.

Don Rodrigo. Relieve me from a doubt. Dost thou know Don Diego well?

Count. Yes.

Don Rodrigo. Let us speak [in] low [tones]; listen. Dost thou know that this old man was the very [essence of] virtue, valor, and honor in his time? Dost thou know it?

Count. Perhaps so.

Don Rodrigo. This fire which I carry in mine eyes, knowest thou that this is his blood? Dost thou know it?

Count. What matters it to me?

Don Rodrigo. Four paces hence I shall cause thee to know it.

Count. Presumptuous youth!

Don Rodrigo. Speak without exciting thyself. I am young, it is true; but in souls nobly born valor does not depend upon age [lit. wait for the number of years].

Count. To measure thyself with me! Who [or, what] has rendered thee so presumptuous—thou, whom men have never seen with a sword [lit. arms] in thine hand?

Don Rodrigo. Men like me do not cause themselves to be known at a second trial, and they wish [to perform] masterly strokes for their first attempt.

Count. Dost thou know well who I am?

Don Rodrigo. Yes! Any other man except myself, at the mere mention of thy name, might tremble with terror. The laurels with which I see thine head so covered seem to bear written [upon them] the prediction of my fall. I attack, like a rash man, an arm always victorious; but by courage I shall overcome you [lit. I shall have too much strength in possessing sufficient courage]. To him who avenges his father nothing is impossible. Thine arm is unconquered, but not invincible.

Count. This noble courage which appears in the language you hold has shown itself each day by your eyes; and, believing that I saw in you the honor of Castile, my soul with pleasure was destining for you my daughter. I know thy passion, and I am delighted to see that all its impulses yield to thy duty; that they have not weakened this magnanimous ardor; that thy proud manliness merits my esteem; and that, desiring as a son-in-law an accomplished cavalier, I was not deceived in the choice which I had made. But I feel that for thee my compassion is touched. I admire thy courage, and I pity thy youth. Seek not to make thy first attempt [or, maiden-stroke] fatal. Release my valor from an unequal conflict; too little honor for me would attend this victory. In conquering without danger we triumph without glory. Men would always believe that thou wert overpowered without an effort, and I should have only regret for thy death.

Don Rodrigo. Thy presumption is followed by a despicable [lit. unworthy] pity! The man who dares to deprive me of honor, fears to deprive me of life!

Count. Withdraw from this place.

Don Rodrigo. Let us proceed without further parley.

Count. Art thou so tired of life?

Don Rodrigo. Hast thou such a dread of death?

Count. Come, thou art doing thy duty, and the son becomes degenerate who survives for one instant the honor of his father.

Scene III.—The
Infanta, Chimène and Leonora.

Infanta. Soothe, my Chimène, soothe thy grief; summon up thy firmness in this sudden misfortune. Thou shalt see a calm again after this short-lived [lit. feeble] storm. Thy happiness is overcast [lit. covered] only by a slight cloud, and thou hast lost nothing in seeing it [i.e. thine happiness] delayed.

Chimène. My heart, overwhelmed with sorrows, dares to hope for nothing; a storm so sudden, which agitates a calm at sea, conveys to us a threat of an inevitable [lit. certain] shipwreck. I cannot doubt it: I am being shipwrecked [lit. I am perishing], even in harbor. I was loving, I was beloved, and our fathers were consenting [lit. in harmony], and I was recounting to you the delightful intelligence of this at the fatal moment when this quarrel originated, the fatal recital of which, as soon as it has been given to you, has ruined the effect of such a dear [lit. sweet] expectation. Accursed ambition! hateful madness! whose tyranny the most generous souls are suffering. O [sense of] honor!-merciless to my dearest desires, how many tears and sighs art thou going to cost me?

Infanta. Thou hast, in their quarrel, no reason to be alarmed; one moment has created it, one moment will extinguish it. It has made too much noise not to be settled amicably, since already the king wishes to reconcile them; and thou knowest that my zeal [lit. soul], keenly alive to thy sorrows, will do its utmost [lit. impossibilities] to dry up their source.

Chimène. Reconciliations are not effected in such a feud [or, in this manner]; such deadly insults are not [easily] repaired; in vain one uses [lit. causes to act] force or prudence. If the evil be cured, it is [cured] only in appearance; the hatred which hearts preserve within feeds fires hidden, but so much the more ardent.

Infanta. The sacred tie which will unite Don Rodrigo and Chimène will dispel the hatred of their hostile sires, and we shall soon see the stronger [feeling], love, by a happy bridal, extinguish this discord.

Chimène. I desire it may be so, more than I expect it. Don Diego is too proud, and I know my father. I feel tears flow, which I wish to restrain; the past afflicts me, and I fear the future.

Infanta. What dost thou fear? Is it the impotent weakness of an old man?

Chimène. Rodrigo has courage.

Infanta. He is too young.

Chimène. Courageous men become so [i.e. courageous] at once.

Infanta. You ought not, however, to dread him much. He is too much enamored to wish to displease you, and two words from thy lips would arrest his rage.

Chimène. If he does not obey me, what a consummation of my sorrow! And, if he can obey me, what will men say of him? being of such noble birth, to endure such an insult! Whether he yields to, or resists the passion which binds him to me, my mind can not be otherwise than either ashamed of his too great deference, or shocked at a just refusal.

Infanta. Chimène has a proud soul, and, though deeply interested, she cannot endure one base [lit. low] thought. But, if up to the day of reconciliation I make this model lover my prisoner, and I thus prevent the effect of his courage, will thine enamored soul take no umbrage at it?

Chimène. Ah! dear lady, in that case I have no more anxiety.

Scene IV.
The Infanta, Chimène, Leonora, and a Page.

Infanta. Page, seek Rodrigo, and bring him hither.

Page. The Count de Gormas and he——

Chimène. Good heavens! I tremble!

Infanta. Speak.

Page. From this palace have gone out together.

Chimène. Alone?

Page. Alone, and they seemed in low tones to be wrangling with each other.

Chimène. Without doubt they are fighting; there is no further need of speaking. Madame, forgive my haste [in thus departing]. [Exeunt Chimène and Page.]

Scene V.
The Infanta and Leonora.

Infanta. Alas! what uneasiness I feel in my mind! I weep for her sorrows, [yet still] her lover enthralls me; my calmness forsakes me, and my passion revives. That which is going to separate Rodrigo from Chimène rekindles at once my hope and my pain; and their separation, which I see with regret, infuses a secret pleasure in mine enamored soul.

Leonora. This noble pride which reigns in your soul, does it so soon surrender to this unworthy passion?

Infanta. Call it not unworthy, since, seated in my heart, proud and triumphant, it asserts its sway [lit. law] over me. Treat it with respect, since it is so dear to me. My pride struggles against it, but, in spite of myself—I hope; and my heart, imperfectly shielded against such a vain expectation, flies after a lover whom Chimène has lost.

Leonora. Do you thus let this noble resolution give way [lit. fall]? And does reason in your mind thus lose its influence?

Infanta. Ah! with how little effect do we listen to reason when the heart is assailed by a poison so delicious, and when the sick man loves his malady! We can hardly endure that any remedy should be applied to it.

Leonora. Your hope beguiles you, your malady is pleasant to you; but, in fact, this Rodrigo is unworthy of you.

Infanta. I know it only too well; but if my pride yields, learn how love flatters a heart which it possesses. If Rodrigo once [or, only] comes forth from the combat as a conqueror, if this great warrior falls beneath his valor, I may consider him worthy of me, and I may love him without shame. What may he not do, if he can conquer the Count? I dare to imagine that, as the least of his exploits, entire kingdoms will fall beneath his laws; and my fond love is already persuaded that I behold him seated on the throne of Granada, the vanquished Moors trembling while paying him homage; Arragon receiving this new conqueror, Portugal surrendering, and his victorious battles [lit. noble days] advancing his proud destinies beyond the seas, laving his laurels with the blood of Africans! In fine, all that is told of the most distinguished warriors I expect from Rodrigo after this victory, and I make my love for him the theme of my glory.

Leonora. But, madam, see how far you carry his exploits [lit. arm] in consequence of a combat which, perhaps, has no reality!

Infanta. Rodrigo has been insulted; the Count has committed the outrage; they have gone out together. Is there need of more?

Leonora. Ah, well! they will fight, since you will have it so; but will Rodrigo go so far as you are going?

Infanta. Bear with me [lit. what do you mean]? I am mad, and my mind wanders; thou seest by that what evils this love prepares for me. Come into my private apartment to console my anxieties, and do not desert me in the trouble I am in [at present].

Scene VI.
Don Fernando (the King), Don Arias, Don Sancho, and Don Alonzo.

Don Fernando. The Count is, then, so presumptuous and so little accessible to reason? Does he still dare to believe his offence pardonable?

Don Arias. Sire, in your name I have long conversed with him. I have done my utmost, and I have obtained nothing.

Don Fernando. Just heavens! Thus, then, a rash subject has so little respect and anxiety to please me! He insults Don Diego, and despises his King! He gives laws to me in the midst of my court! Brave warrior though he be, great general though he be, I am well able [lit. I shall know well how] to tame such a haughty spirit! Were he incarnate valor [lit. valor itself], and the god of combats, he shall see what it is not to obey! Whatever punishment such insolence may have deserved, I wished at first to treat it [or, him] without violence; but, since he abuses my leniency, go instantly [lit. this very day], and, whether he resists or not, secure his person. [Exit Don Alonzo.]

Don Sancho. Perhaps a little time will render him less rebellious; they came upon him still boiling with rage, on account of his quarrel. Sire, in the heat of a first impulse, so noble a heart yields with difficulty. He sees that he has done wrong, but a soul so lofty is not so soon induced to acknowledge its fault.

Don Fernando. Don Sancho, be silent; and be warned that he who takes his part renders himself criminal.

Don Sancho. I obey, and am silent; but in pity, sire, [permit] two words in his defence.

Don Fernando. And what can you say?

Don Sancho. That a soul accustomed to noble actions cannot lower itself to apologies. It does not imagine any which can be expressed without shame; and it is that word alone that the Count resists. He finds in his duty a little too much severity, and he would obey you if he had less heart. Command that his arm, trained in war's dangers, repair this injury at the point of the sword: he will give satisfaction, sire; and, come what may, until he has been made aware of your decision, here am I to answer for him.

Don Fernando. You fail [lit. you are losing] in respect; but I pardon youth, and I excuse enthusiasm in a young, courageous heart. A king, whose prudence has better objects in view [than such quarrels], is more sparing of the blood of his subjects. I watch over mine; my [watchful] care protects them, as the head takes care of the limbs which serve it. Thus your reasoning is not reasoning for me. You speak as a soldier—I must act as a king; and whatever others may wish to say, or he may presume to think, the Count will not part with [lit. cannot lose] his glory by obeying me. Besides, the insult affects myself: he has dishonored him whom I have made the instructor of my son. To impugn my choice is to challenge me, and to make an attempt upon the supreme power. Let us speak of it no more. And now, ten vessels of our old enemies have been seen to hoist their flags; near the mouth of the river they have dared to appear.

Don Arias. The Moors have by force [of arms] learned to know you, and, so often vanquished, they have lost heart to risk their lives [lit. themselves] any more against so great a conqueror.

Don Fernando. They will never, without a certain amount of jealousy, behold my sceptre, in spite of them, ruling over Andalusia; and this country, so beautiful, which they too long enjoyed, is always regarded by them with an envious eye. This is the sole reason which has caused us, for the last ten years, to place the Castilian throne in Seville, in order to watch them more closely, and, by more prompt action, immediately to overthrow whatever [design] they might undertake.

Don Arias. They know, at the cost of their noblest leaders [lit. most worthy heads], how much your presence secures your conquests; you have nothing to fear.

Don Fernando. And nothing to neglect—too much confidence brings on danger; and you are not ignorant that, with very little difficulty, the rising tide brings them hither. However, I should be wrong to cause a panic in the hearts [of the citizens], the news being uncertain. The dismay which this useless alarm might produce in the night, which is approaching, might agitate the town too much. Cause the guards to be doubled on the walls and at the fort; for this evening that is sufficient.

Scene VII.
Don Fernando, Don Alonzo, Don Sancho, and Don Arias.


Don Alonzo. Sire, the Count is dead. Don Diego, by his son, has avenged his wrong.

Don Fernando. As soon as I knew of the insult I foresaw the vengeance, and from that moment I wished to avert this misfortune.

Don Alonzo. Chimène approaches to lay her grief at your feet [lit. brings to your knees her grief]; she comes all in tears to sue for justice from you.

Don Fernando. Much though my soul compassionates her sorrows, what the Count has done seems to have deserved this just punishment of his rashness. Yet, however just his penalty may be, I cannot lose such a warrior without regret. After long service rendered to my state, after his blood has been shed for me a thousand times, to whatever thoughts his [stubborn] pride compels me, his loss enfeebles me, and his death afflicts me.

Scene VIII.
Don Fernando, Don Diego, Chimène, Don Sancho, DON ARIAS, and Don Alonzo.

Chimène. Sire, sire, justice!

Don Diego. Ah, sire, hear us!

Chimène. I cast myself at your feet!

Don Diego. I embrace your knees!

Chimène. I demand justice.

Don Diego. Hear my defence.

Chimène. Punish the presumption of an audacious youth: he has struck down the support of your sceptre—he has slain my father!

Don Diego. He has avenged his own.

Chimène. To the blood of his subjects a king owes justice.

Don Diego. For just vengeance there is no punishment.

Don Fernando. Rise, both of you, and speak at leisure. Chimène, I sympathize with your sorrow; with an equal grief I feel my own soul afflicted. (To Don Diego.) You shall speak afterwards; do not interrupt her complaint.

Chimène. Sire, my father is dead! My eyes have seen his blood gush forth from his noble breast—that blood which has so often secured your walls—that blood which has so often won your battles—that blood which, though all outpoured, still fumes with rage at seeing itself shed for any other than for you! Rodrigo, before your very palace, has just dyed [lit. covered] the earth with that [blood] which in the midst of dangers war did not dare to shed! Faint and pallid, I ran to the spot, and I found him bereft of life. Pardon my grief, sire, but my voice fails me at this terrible recital; my tears and my sighs will better tell you the rest!

Don Fernando. Take courage, my daughter, and know that from to-day thy king will serve thee as a father instead of him.

Chimène. Sire, my anguish is attended with too much [unavailing] horror! I found him, I have already said, bereft of life; his breast was pierced [lit. open], and his blood upon the [surrounding] dust dictated [lit. wrote] my duty; or rather his valor, reduced to this condition, spoke to me through his wound, and urged me to claim redress; and to make itself heard by the most just of kings, by these sad lips, it borrowed my voice. Sire, do not permit that, under your sway, such license should reign before your [very] eyes; that the most valiant with impunity should be exposed to the thrusts of rashness; that a presumptuous youth should triumph over their glory, should imbrue himself with their blood, and scoff at their memory! If the valiant warrior who has just been torn from you be not avenged, the ardor for serving you becomes extinguished. In fine, my father is dead, and I demand vengeance more for your interest than for my consolation. You are a loser in the death of a man of his position. Avenge it by another's, and [have] blood for blood! Sacrifice [the victim] not to me, but to your crown, to your greatness, to yourself! Sacrifice, I say, sire, to the good of the state, all those whom such a daring deed would inflate with pride.

Don Fernando. Don Diego, reply.

Don Diego. How worthy of envy is he who, in losing [life's] vigor, loses life also! And how a long life brings to nobly minded men, at the close of their career, an unhappy destiny! I, whose long labors have gained such great renown—I, whom hitherto everywhere victory has followed—I see myself to-day, in consequence of having lived too long, receiving an insult, and living vanquished. That which never battle, siege, or ambuscade could [do]—that which Arragon or Granada never could [effect], nor all your enemies, nor all my jealous [rivals], the Count has done in your palace, almost before your eyes, [being] jealous of your choice, and proud of the advantage which the impotence of age gave him over me. Sire, thus these hairs, grown grey in harness [i.e. toils of war]—this blood, so often shed to serve you—this arm, formerly the terror of a hostile army, would have sunk into the grave, burdened with disgrace, if I had not begotten a son worthy of me, worthy of his country, and worthy of his king! He has lent me his hand—he has slain the Count—he has restored my honor—he has washed away my shame! If the displaying of courage and resentment, if the avenging of a blow deserves chastisement, upon me alone should fall the fury of the storm. When the arm has failed, the head is punished for it. Whether men call this a crime or not requires no discussion. Sire, I am the head, he is the arm only. If Chimène complains that he has slain her father, he never would have done that [deed] if I could have done it [myself]. Sacrifice, then, this head, which years will soon remove, and preserve for yourself the arm which can serve you. At the cost of my blood satisfy Chimène. I do not resist—I consent to my penalty, and, far from murmuring at a rigorous decree, dying without dishonor, I shall die without regret.

Don Fernando. The matter is of importance, and, calmly considered, it deserves to be debated in full council. Don Sancho, re-conduct Chimène to her abode. Don Diego shall have my palace and his word of honor as a prison. Bring his son here to me. I will do you justice.

Chimène. It is just, great king, that a murderer should die.

Don Fernando. Take rest, my daughter, and calm thy sorrows.

Chimène. To order me rest is to increase my misfortunes.

Act the Third.


Scene I.Don Rodrigo and Elvira.

Elvira. Rodrigo, what hast them done? Whence comest thou, unhappy man?

Don Rodrigo. Here [i.e. to the house of Chimène], to follow out the sad course of my miserable destiny.

Elvira. Whence obtainest thou this audacity, and this new pride, of appearing in places which thou hast filled with mourning? What! dost thou come even here to defy the shade of the Count? Hast thou not slain him?

Don Rodrigo. His existence was my shame; my honor required this deed from my [reluctant] hand.

Elvira. But to seek thy asylum in the house of the dead! Has ever a murderer made such his refuge?

Don Rodrigo. And I come here only to yield myself to my judge. Look no more on me with astonishment [lit. an eye amazed]; I seek death after having inflicted it. My love is my judge; my judge is my Chimène. I deserve death for deserving her hatred, and I am come to receive, as a supreme blessing, its decree from her lips, and its stroke from her hand.

Elvira. Fly rather from her sight, fly from her impetuosity; conceal your presence from her first excitement. Go! do not expose yourself to the first impulses which the fiery indignation of her resentment may give vent to.

Don Rodrigo. No, no. This beloved one, whom I [could] so displease, cannot have too wrathful a desire for my punishment; and I avoid a hundred deaths which are going to crush me if, by dying sooner, I can redouble it [i.e. that wrath].

Elvira. Chimène is at the palace, bathed in tears, and will return but too well accompanied. Rodrigo, fly! for mercy's sake relieve me from my uneasiness! What might not people say if they saw you here? Do you wish that some slanderer, to crown her misery, should accuse her of tolerating here the slayer of her father? She will return; she is coming—I see her; at least, for the sake of her honor, Rodrigo, conceal thyself! [Rodrigo conceals himself.]

Scene II.
Don Sancho, Chimène, and Elvira.

Don Sancho. Yes, lady, you require a victim [or revenge] steeped in blood [lit. for you there is need of bleeding victims]; your wrath is just and your tears legitimate, and I do not attempt, by dint of speaking, either to soothe you or to console you. But, if I may be capable of serving you, employ my sword to punish the guilty [one], employ my love to revenge this death; under your commands my arm will be [only] too strong.

Chimène. Unhappy that I am!

Don Sancho. I implore you, accept my services.

Chimène. I should offend the King, who has promised me justice.

Don Sancho. You know that justice [lit. it] proceeds with such slowness, that very often crime escapes in consequence of its delay, its slow and doubtful course causes us to lose too many tears. Permit that a cavalier may avenge you by [force of] arms; that method is more certain and more prompt in punishing.

Chimène. It is the last remedy; and if it is necessary to have recourse to it, and your pity for my misfortunes still continues, you shall then be free to avenge my injury.

Don Sancho. It is the sole happiness to which my soul aspires; and, being able to hope for it, I depart too well contented.

Scene III.
Chimène and Elvira.

Chimène. At last I see myself free, and I can, without constraint, show thee the extent of my keen sorrows; I can give vent to my sad sighs; I can unbosom to thee my soul and all my griefs. My father is dead, Elvira; and the first sword with which Rodrigo armed himself has cut his thread of life. Weep, weep, mine eyes, and dissolve yourselves into tears! The one half of my life [i.e. Rodrigo] has laid the other [half, i.e. my father] in the grave, and compels me to revenge, after this fatal blow, that which I have no more [i.e. my father] on that which still remains to me [i.e. Rodrigo].

Elvira. Calm yourself, dear lady.

Chimène. Ah! how unsuitably, in a misfortune so great, thou speakest of calmness. By what means can my sorrow ever be appeased, if I cannot hate the hand which has caused it? And what ought I to hope for but a never-ending anguish if I follow up a crime, still loving the criminal.

Elvira. He deprives you of a father, and you still love him?

Chimène. It is too little to say love, Elvira; I adore him! My passion opposes itself to my resentment; in mine enemy I find my lover, and I feel that in spite of all my rage Rodrigo is still contending against my sire in my heart. He attacks it, he besieges it; it yields, it defends itself; at one time strong, at one time weak, at another triumphant. But in this severe struggle between wrath and love, he rends my heart without shaking my resolution, and although my love may have power over me, I do not consult it [or, hesitate] to follow my duty. I speed on [lit. run] without halting [or, weighing the consequences] where my honor compels me. Rodrigo is very dear to me; the interest I feel in him grieves me; my heart takes his part, but, in spite of its struggles, I know what I am [i.e. a daughter], and that my father is dead.

Elvira. Do you think of pursuing [or, persecuting] him?

Chimène. Ah! cruel thought! and cruel pursuit to which I see myself compelled. I demand his head [or, life] and I dread to obtain it; my death will follow his, and [yet] I wish to punish him!

Elvira. Abandon, abandon, dear lady, a design so tragic, and do not impose on yourself such a tyrannical law.

Chimène. What! my father being dead and almost in my arms—shall his blood cry for revenge and I not obtain it? My heart, shamefully led away by other spells, would believe that it owed him only ineffectual tears. And can I endure that an insidious love, beneath a dastardly apathy, should extinguish my resolution [lit. beneath a cowardly silence extinguish my honor]?

Elvira. Dear lady, believe me, you would be excusable in having less wrath against an object so beloved, against a lover so dear; you have done enough, you have seen the King; do not urge on the result [of that interview]. Do not persist in this morbid [lit. strange] humor.

Chimène. My honor is at stake; I must avenge myself; and, however the desires of love may beguile us, all excuse [for not doing one's duty] is disgraceful to [i.e. in the estimation of] noble-minded souls.

Elvira. But you love Rodrigo—he cannot offend you.

Chimène. I confess it.

Elvira. After all, what then do you intend to do?

Chimène. To preserve my honor and to end my sorrow; to pursue him, to destroy him, and to die after him.

Scene IV.
Don Rodrigo, Chimène, and Elvira.

Don Rodrigo. Well then, without giving you the trouble of pursuing me, secure for yourself the honor of preventing me from living.

Chimène. Elvira, where are we, and what do I see? Rodrigo in my house! Rodrigo before me!

Don Rodrigo. Spare not my blood; enjoy [lit. taste], without resistance, the pleasure of my destruction and of your vengeance.

Chimène. Alas!

Don Rodrigo. Listen to me.

Chimène. I am dying.

Don Rodrigo. One moment.

Chimène. Go, let me die!

Don Rodrigo. Four words only; afterwards reply to me only with this sword!

Chimène. What! still imbrued with the blood of my father!

Don Rodrigo. My Chimène.

Chimène. Remove from my sight this hateful object, which brings as a reproach before mine eyes thy crime and thy existence.

Don Rodrigo. Look on it rather to excite thy hatred, to increase thy wrath and to hasten my doom.

Chimène. It is dyed with my [father's] blood!

Don Rodrigo. Plunge it in mine, and cause it thus to lose the death-stain of thine own.

Chimène. Ah! what cruelty, which all in one day slays the father by the sword [itself], and the daughter by the sight of it! Remove this object, I cannot endure it; thou wished me to listen to thee, and thou causest me to die!

Don Rodrigo. I do what thou wishest, but without abandoning the desire of ending by thy hands my lamentable life; for, in fine, do not expect [even] from my affection a dastardly repentance of a justifiable [lit. good] action. The irreparable effect of a too hasty excitement dishonored my father and covered me with shame. Thou knowest how a blow affects a man of courage. I shared in the insult, I sought out its author, I saw him, I avenged my honor and my father; I would do it again if I had it to do. Not that, indeed, my passion did not long struggle for thee against my father and myself; judge of its power—under such an insult, I was able to deliberate whether I should take vengeance for it! Compelled to displease thee or to endure an affront, I thought that in its turn my arm was too prompt [to strike]; I accused myself of too much impetuosity, and thy loveliness, without doubt, would have turned the scale [or, prevailed overall] had I not opposed to thy strongest attractions the [thought] that a man without honor would not merit thee; that, in spite of this share which I had in thy affections, she who loved me noble would hate me shamed; that to listen to thy love, to obey its voice, would be to render myself unworthy of it and to condemn thy choice. I tell thee still, and although I sigh at it, even to my last sigh I will assuredly repeat it, I have committed an offence against thee, and I was driven to [or, bound to commit] it to efface my shame and to merit thee; but discharged [from my duty] as regards honor, and discharged [from duty] towards my father, it is now to thee that I come to give satisfaction—it is to offer to thee my blood that thou seest me in this place. I did my duty [lit. that which I ought to have done] then, I still do it now. I know that a slain [lit. dead] father arms thee against my offence; I have not wished to rob thee of thy victim; sacrifice with courage to the blood he has lost he who constitutes his glory in having shed it.

Chimène. Ah, Rodrigo, it is true, although thine enemy, I cannot blame thee for having shunned disgrace; and in whatever manner my griefs burst forth I do not accuse [thee], I [only] lament my misfortunes. I know what honor after such an insult demanded with ardor of a generous courage; thou hast only done the duty of a man of honor, but also in doing that [duty] thou hast taught me mine. Thy fatal valor has instructed me by thy victory—it has avenged thy father and maintained thy glory. The same care concerns me, and I have to add to my infliction [lit. to afflict me] my fame to sustain and my father to avenge. Alas! thy fate [or, your share] in this drives me to despair! If any other misfortune had taken from me my father, my soul would have found in the happiness of seeing thee the only relief which it could have received, and in opposition to my grief I should have felt a fond delight [lit. charm or a magic soothing] when a hand so dear would have wiped away my tears. But I must lose thee after having lost him. This struggle over my passion is due to my honor, and this terrible duty, whose [imperious] command is slaying me, compels me to exert myself [lit. labor or work] for thy destruction. For, in fine, do not expect from my affection any morbid [lit. cowardly] feelings as to thy punishment. However strongly my love may plead in thy favor, my steadfast courage must respond to thine. Even in offending me, thou hast proved thyself worthy of me; I must, by thy death, prove myself worthy of thee.

Don Rodrigo. Defer, then, no longer that which honor commands. It demands my head [or, life], and I yield it to thee; make a sacrifice of it to this noble duty; the [death] stroke will be welcome [lit. sweet], as well as the doom. To await, after my crime, a tardy justice, is to defer thine honor as well as my punishment. I should die too happy in dying by so delightful a [death] blow!

Chimène. Go [i.e. no]; I am thy prosecutor, and not thy executioner. If thou offerest me thine head, is it for me to take it; I ought to attack it, but thou oughtest to defend it. It is from another than thee that I must obtain it, and it is my duty [lit. I ought] to pursue thee, but not to punish thee.

Don Rodrigo. However in my favor our love may plead, thy steadfast courage ought to correspond to mine; and to borrow other arms to avenge a father is, believe me, my Chimène, not the [method of] responding to it. My hand alone was fit [lit. has understood how] to avenge the insult offered to my father; thy hand alone ought to take vengeance for thine.

Chimène. O cruel! for what reason shouldst thou persevere on this point? Thou hast avenged thyself without aid, and dost thou wish to give me thine [aid]? I shall follow thy example; and I have too much courage to endure that my glory shall be divided with thee. My father and mine honor shall owe nothing to the dictates of thy love and of thy despair.

Don Rodrigo. O cruel resolution [lit. point of honor]! Alas! whatever I may do, can I by no means obtain this concession [or, favor]? In the name of a slain [lit. dead] father, or of our friendship, punish me through revenge, or at least through compassion. Thy unhappy lover will have far less pain in dying by thy hand than in living with thy hatred.

Chimène. Go; I do not hate thee.

Don Rodrigo. Thou oughtest to do so.

Chimène. I cannot.

Don Rodrigo. Dost thou so little fear calumny, and so little [fear] false reports? When people shall know my crime, and that thy passion [for me] still continues, what will not envy and deception spread abroad? Compel them to silence, and, without debating more, save thy fair fame by causing me to die.

Chimène. That [fair fame] shines far more gloriously [lit. better] by leaving thee life; and I wish that the voice of the blackest slander should raise to heaven my honor, and lament my griefs, knowing that I worship thee, and that [still] I pursue thee [as a criminal]. Go, then; present no more to my unbounded grief that which I [must] lose, although I love it [him]! In the shades of night carefully conceal thy departure; if they see thee going forth, my honor runs a risk. The only opportunity which slander can have is to know that I have tolerated thy presence here. Give it no opportunity to assail my honor.

Don Rodrigo. Let me die.

Chimène. Nay, leave me.

Don Rodrigo. On what art thou resolved?

Chimène. In spite of the glorious love-fires which impede [lit. trouble] my wrath, I will do my utmost to avenge my father; but, in spite of the sternness of such a cruel duty, my sole desire is to be able to accomplish nothing [against thee].

Don Rodrigo. O wondrous love [lit. miracle of love]!

Chimène. O accumulation of sorrows!

Don Rodrigo. What misfortunes and tears will our fathers cost us!

Chimène. Rodrigo, who would have believed——?

Don Rodrigo. Chimène, who would have said——?

Chimène. That our happiness was so near, and would so soon be ruined?

Don Rodrigo. And that so near the haven, contrary to all appearances [or, expectation], a storm so sudden should shatter our hopes?

Chimène. O deadly griefs!

Don Rodrigo. O vain regrets!

Chimène. Go, then, again [I beseech thee]; I can listen to thee no more.

Don Rodrigo. Adieu! I go to drag along a lingering life, until it be torn from me by thy pursuit.

Chimène. If I obtain my purpose, I pledge to thee my faith to exist not a moment after thee. Adieu! Go hence, and, above all, take good care that you are not observed. [Exit Don Rodrigo.]

Elvira. Dear lady, whatever sorrows heaven sends us——

Chimène. Trouble me no more; let me sigh. I seek for silence and the night in order to weep.

Scene V.
Don Diego.

Never do we experience [lit. taste] perfect joy. Our most fortunate successes are mingled with sadness; always some cares, [even] in the [successful] events, mar the serenity of our satisfaction. In the midst of happiness my soul feels their pang: I float in joy, and I tremble with fear. I have seen [lying] dead the enemy who had insulted me, yet I am unable to find [lit. see] the hand which has avenged me. I exert myself in vain, and with a useless anxiety. Feeble [lit. broken down; or, shattered] though I am, I traverse all the city; this slight degree of vigor, that my advanced years have left me, expends itself fruitlessly in seeking this conqueror. At every moment, at all places, in a night so dark, I think that I embrace him, and I embrace only a shadow; and my love, beguiled by this deceitful object, forms for itself suspicions which redouble my fear. I do not discover any traces of his flight. I fear the dead Count's friends and retinue; their number terrifies me, and confounds my reason. Rodrigo lives no more, or breathes in prison! Just heavens! do I still deceive myself with a shadow only [lit. an appearance], or do I see, at last, my only hope? It is he; I doubt it no more. My prayers are heard, my fear is dispelled, and my trouble ended.

Scene VI.
Don Diego and Don Rodrigo.


Don Diego. Rodrigo at last heaven permits that I should behold thee!

Don Rodrigo. Alas!

Don Diego. Mingle not sighs with my joy; let me take breath in order to praise thee. My valor has no reason to disown thee; thou hast well imitated it, and thy brilliant prowess causes the heroes of my race to live again in thee! It is from them that thou descendest, it is from me that thou art sprung. Thy first combat [lit. sword-stroke] equals all of mine, and thy youth, fired with a splendid enthusiasm, by this great proof equals [or, reaches to] my renown. Prop of mine age, and sum of my happiness, touch these white hairs, to which thou restorest honor! Come, kiss this cheek, and recognize the place on which was branded the insult which thy courage effaces!

Don Rodrigo. The honor of it belongs to you. I could not do less, being sprung from you, and trained under your careful instruction [lit. cares]. I consider myself too happy [at the result], and my soul is delighted that my first combat [or, maiden-stroke] pleases him to whom I owe existence. But, amidst your gladness, be not jealous if, in my turn, I dare to satisfy myself after you. Permit that in freedom my despair may burst forth; enough and for too long your discourse has soothed it. I do not repent having served you; but give me back the blessing which that [death] blow has deprived me of. My arms, in order to serve you, battling against my passion, by this [otherwise] glorious deed have deprived me of my love. Say no more to me: for you I have lost all; what I owed you I have well repaid.

Don Diego. Carry, carry still higher the effect [lit. fruit] of thy victory. I have given thee life, and thou restorest to me my honor; and as much as honor is dearer to me than life, so much now I owe thee in return. But spurn this weakness from a noble heart; we have but one honor—there are many mistresses. Love is but a pleasure; honor is a duty.

Don Rodrigo. Ah! what do you say to me?

Don Diego. That which you ought to know.

Don Rodrigo. My outraged honor takes vengeance on myself, and you dare to urge me to the shame of inconstancy! Disgrace is the same, and follows equally the soldier without courage and the faithless lover. Do no wrong, then, to my fidelity; allow me [to be] brave without rendering myself perfidious [perjured]. My bonds are too strong to be thus broken—my faith still binds me, though I [may] hope no more; and, not being able to leave nor to win Chimène, the death which I seek is my most welcome [lit. sweeter] penalty.

Don Diego. It is not yet time to seek death; thy prince and thy country have need of thine arm. The fleet, as was feared, having entered this great river, hopes to surprise the city and to ravage the country. The Moors are going to make a descent, and the tide and the night may, within an hour, bring them noiselessly to our walls. The court is in disorder, the people in dismay; we hear only cries, we see only tears. In this public calamity, my good fortune has so willed it that I have found [thronging] to my house five hundred of my friends, who, knowing the insult offered to me, impelled by a similar zeal, came all to offer themselves to avenge my quarrel. Thou hast anticipated them; but their valiant hands will be more nobly steeped in the blood of Africans. Go, march at their head where honor calls thee; it is thou whom their noble band would have as a leader. Go, resist the advance of these ancient enemies; there, if thou wishest to die, find a glorious death. Seize the opportunity, since it is presented to thee; cause your King to owe his safety to your loss; but rather return from that battle-field [lit. from it] with the laurels on thy brow. Limit not thy glory to the avenging of an insult; advance that glory still further; urge by thy valor this monarch to pardon, and Chimène to peace. If thou lovest her, learn that to return as a conqueror is the sole means of regaining her heart. But time is too precious to waste in words; I stop thee in thine attempted answer, and desire that thou fly [to the rescue]. Come, follow me; go to the combat, and show the King that what he loses in the Count he regains in thee.

Act the Fourth.

Scene I.Chimène and Elvira.

Chimène. Is it not a false report? Do you know for certain, Elvira?

Elvira. You could never believe how every one admires him, and extols to heaven, with one common voice, the glorious achievements of this young hero. The Moors appeared before him only to their shame; their approach was very rapid, their flight more rapid still. A three hours' battle left to our warriors a complete victory, and two kings as prisoners. The valor of their leader overcame every obstacle [lit. found no obstacles].

Chimène. And the hand of Rodrigo has wrought all these wonders!

Elvira. Of his gallant deeds these two kings are the reward; by his hand they were conquered, and his hand captured them.

Chimène. From whom couldst thou ascertain these strange tidings?

Elvira. From the people, who everywhere sing his praises, [who] call him the object and the author of their rejoicing, their guardian angel and their deliverer.

Chimène. And the King—with what an aspect does he look upon such valor?

Elvira. Rodrigo dares not yet appear in his presence, but Don Diego, delighted, presents to him in chains, in the name of this conqueror, these crowned captives, and asks as a favor from this generous prince that he condescend to look upon the hand which has saved the kingdom [lit. province].

Chimène. But is he not wounded?

Elvira. I have learned nothing of it. You change color! Recover your spirits.

Chimène. Let me recover then also my enfeebled resentment; caring for him, must I forget my own feelings [lit. myself]? They boast of him, they praise him, and my heart consents to it; my honor is mute, my duty impotent. Down [lit. silence], O [treacherous] love! let my resentment exert itself [lit. act]; although he has conquered two kings, he has slain my father! These mourning robes in which I read my misfortune are the first-fruits which his valor has produced; and although others may tell of a heart so magnanimous, here all objects speak to me of his crime. Ye who give strength to my feelings of resentment, veil, crape, robes, dismal ornaments, funeral garb in which his first victory enshrouds me, do you sustain effectually my honor in opposition to my passion, and when my love shall gain too much power, remind my spirit of my sad duty; attack, without fearing anything, a triumphant hand!

Elvira. Calm this excitement; see—here comes the Infanta.

Scene II.
The Infanta, Chimène, Leonora, and Elvira.

Infanta. I do not come here [vainly] to console thy sorrows; I come rather to mingle my sighs with thy tears.

Chimène. Far rather take part in the universal rejoicings, and taste the happiness which heaven sends you, dear lady; no one but myself has a right to sigh. The danger from which Rodrigo has been able to rescue you, and the public safety which his arms restore to you, to me alone to-day still permit tears; he has saved the city, he has served his King, and his valiant arm is destructive only to myself.

Infanta. My Chimène, it is true that he has wrought wonders.

Chimène. Already this vexatious exclamation of joy [lit. noise] has reached [lit. struck] my ears, and I hear him everywhere proclaimed aloud as brave a warrior as he is an unfortunate lover.

Infanta. What annoyance can the approving shouts of the people cause thee? This youthful Mars whom they praise has hitherto been able to please thee; he possessed thy heart; he lived under thy law; and to praise his valor is to honor thy choice.

Chimène. Every one [else] can praise it with some justice; but for me his praise is a new punishment. They aggravate my grief by raising him so high. I see what I lose, when I see what he is worth. Ah! cruel tortures to the mind of a lover! The more I understand his worth, the more my passion increases; yet my duty is always the stronger [passion], and, in spite of my love, endeavors to accomplish his destruction [lit. to pursue his death].

Infanta. Yesterday, this duty placed thee in high estimation; the struggle which thou didst make appeared so magnanimous, so worthy of a noble heart, that everyone at the court admired thy resolution and pitied thy love. But wilt thou believe in the advice of a faithful friendship?

Chimène. Not to obey you would render me disloyal.

Infanta. What was justifiable then is not so to-day. Rodrigo now is our sole support, the hope and the idol [lit. love] of a people that worships him! The prop of Castile and the terror of the Moor! The King himself recognizes [lit. is in agreement with] this truth, that thy father in him alone sees himself recalled to life: and if, in fine, thou wishest that I should explain myself briefly [lit. in two words], thou art seeking in his destruction the public ruin. What! to avenge a father, is it ever lawful to surrender one's country into the hands of enemies? Against us is thy revenge lawful? And must we be punished who had no share in the crime? After all, it is only that thou shouldest espouse the man whom a dead father compelled thee to accuse; I myself would wish to relieve thee of that desire [lit. take the desire of that from thee]; take from him thy love, but leave us his life.

Chimène. Ah! it is not in me to have so much kindness; the duty which excites me has no limit. Although my love pleads [lit. interests itself] for this conqueror, although a nation worships him, and a King praises him, although he be surrounded with the most valiant warriors, I shall endeavor to crush his laurels beneath my [funereal] cypress.

Infanta. It is a noble feeling when, to avenge a father, our duty assails a head so dear; but it is duty of a still nobler order when ties of blood are sacrificed to the public [advantage]. No, believe me, it is enough to quench thy love; he will be too severely punished if he exists no more in thy affections. Let the welfare of thy country impose upon thee this law; and, besides, what dost thou think that the King will grant thee?

Chimène. He can refuse me, but I cannot keep silent.

Infanta. Reflect well, my [dear] Chimène, on what thou wishest to do. Adieu; [when] alone thou cans't think over this at thy leisure. [Exit the Infanta.]

Chimène. Since my father is slain [lit. after my dead father], I have no [alternative] to choose.

Scene III.
Don Fernando (the King), Don Diego, Don Arias, Don Rodrigo, and Don Sancho.

Don Fernando. Worthy scion of a distinguished race, which has always been the glory and the support of Castile! Thou descendant of so many ancestors signalized by valor, whom the first attempt of thine own [prowess] has so soon equalled; my ability to recompense thee is too limited [lit. small], and I have less power than thou hast merit. The country delivered from such a fierce enemy, my sceptre firmly placed in my hand by thine own [hand], and the Moors defeated before, amid these terrors, I could give orders for repulsing their arms; these are brilliant services which leave not to thy King the means or the hope of discharging his debt of gratitude [lit. acquitting himself] towards thee. But the two kings, thy captives, shall be thy reward. Both of them in my presence have named thee their Cid—since Cid, in their language, is equivalent to lord, I shall not envy thee this glorious title of distinction; be thou, henceforth, the Cid; to that great name let everything yield; let it overwhelm with terror both Granada and Toledo, and let it indicate to all those who live under my laws both how valuable thou art to me [lit. that which thou art worth to me], and that [deep obligation] which I owe thee.

Don Rodrigo. Let your majesty, sire, spare my modesty. On such an humble service your majesty [lit. it, referring to majesty] sets too high a value, and compels me to blush [for shame] before so great a King, at so little deserving the honor which I have received from him. I know too well [the gifts] that I owe to the welfare of your empire, both the blood which flows in my veins [lit. animates me] and the air which I breathe, and even though I should lose them in such a glorious cause [lit. for an object so worthy], I should only be doing the duty of a subject.

Don Fernando. All those whom that duty enlists in my service do not discharge it with the same courage, and when [i.e. unless] valor attains a high degree, it never produces such rare successes; allow us then to praise thee, and tell me more at length the true history of this victory.

Don Rodrigo. Sire, you are aware that in this urgent danger, which created in the city such a powerful alarm, a band of friends assembled at the house of my father prevailed on my spirit, still much agitated. But, sire, pardon my rashness if I dared to employ it without your authority; the danger was approaching; their [valiant] band was ready; by showing myself at the court I should have risked my life [lit. head], and, if I must lose it, it would have been far more delightful for me to depart from life while fighting for you.

Don Fernando. I pardon thy warmth in avenging the insult offered to thee, and the kingdom shielded [from danger] pleads [lit. speaks to me] in thy defence. Be assured that henceforth Chimène will speak in vain, and I shall listen to her no more except to comfort her; but continue.

Don Rodrigo. Under me, then, this band advances, and bears in its aspect a manly confidence. At setting out we were five hundred, but, by a speedy reinforcement, we saw ourselves [augmented to] three thousand on arriving at the port; so surely, on beholding us advance with such a [determined] aspect, did the most dismayed recover their courage. Of that brave host [lit. of it], as soon as we had arrived, I conceal two-thirds in the holds of the ships which were found there; the rest, whose numbers were increasing every hour, burning with impatience, remain around me; they lie down on the ground, and, without making any noise, they pass a considerable portion of so auspicious [lit. beautiful] a night. By my command the guard does the same, and keeping themselves, concealed aid my stratagem, and I boldly pretended to have received from you the order which they see me follow out, and which I issue to all. This dim light which falls from the stars, at last with the tide causes us to see thirty vessels [lit. sails]; the wave [i.e. the water] swells beneath them, and, with a mutual effort, the Moors and the sea advance even to the port. We let them pass; all seems to them lulled in repose [lit. tranquil]. No soldiers at the port, none on the walls of the city. Our deep silence deceiving their minds, they no longer dare to doubt that they had taken us by surprise. They land without fear, they cast anchor, they disembark and rush forward to deliver themselves into the hands which are awaiting them. Then we arise, and all at the same time utter towards heaven countless ringing cheers [of defiance]. At these shouts our men from our ships answer [to the signal]; they appear armed, the Moors are dismayed, terror seizes those who had scarcely disembarked, before fighting they consider themselves lost—they hastened to plunder and they meet with war. We press them hard on the water, we press them hard on the land, and we cause rivulets of their blood to run before any [of them] can resist or regain his position. But soon, in spite of us, their princes rally them, their courage revives, and their fears are forgotten. The disgrace of dying without having fought rallies their disordered ranks [lit. stops their disorder], and restores to them their valor. With firmly planted feet they draw their scimitars against us, and cause a fearful intermingling of our blood with theirs; and the land, and the wave, and the fleet, and the port are fields of carnage where death is triumphant. Oh! how many noble deeds, how many brilliant achievements, were performed unnoticed [lit. have remained without renown] in the midst of the gloom, in which each [warrior], sole witness of the brilliant strokes which he gave, could not discern to which side fortune inclined. I went in all directions to encourage our soldiers, to cause some to advance, and to support others, to marshal those who were coming up, to urge them forward in their turn, and I could not ascertain the result [of the conflict] until the break of day. But at last the bright dawn shows us our advantage. The Moor sees his loss and loses courage suddenly, and, seeing a reinforcement which had come to assist us, the ardor for conquest yields to the dread of death. They gain their ships, they cut their cables, they utter even to heaven terrific cries, they make their retreat in confusion and without reflecting whether their kings can escape with them. Their fright is too strong to admit of this duty. The incoming tide brought them here, the outgoing tide carries them away. Meanwhile their kings, combating amongst us, and a few of their [warriors] severely wounded by our blows, still fight valiantly and sell their lives dearly. I myself in vain urge them to surrender; scimitar in hand, they listen not to my entreaties, but seeing all their soldiers falling at their feet, and that henceforward alone they defend themselves in vain, they ask for the commander; I entitle myself as such, and they surrender. I sent you them both at the same time, and the combat ceased for want of combatants. It is in this manner that for your service——

Scene IV.
Don Fernando, Don Diego, Don Rodrigo, Don Arias, Don Alonzo, and Don Sancho.

Don Alonzo. Sire, Chimène comes to demand justice from you.

Don Fernando. Vexatious news and unwelcome duty! Go [Rodrigo]; I do not wish her to see thee. Instead of thanks I must drive thee away; but, before departing, come, let thy King embrace thee!

[Exit Don Rodrigo.]

Don Diego. Chimène pursues him, [yet] she wishes to save him.

Don Fernando. They say that she loves him, and I am going to prove it. Exhibit a more sorrowful countenance [lit. eye].

Scene V.
Don Fernando, Don Diego, Don Arias, Don Sancho, Don Alonzo, Chimène, and Elvira.

Don Fernando. At last, be content, Chimène, success responds to your wishes. Although Rodrigo has gained the advantage over our enemies, he has died before our eyes of the wounds he has received; return thanks to that heaven which has avenged you. (To Don Diego.) See, how already her color is changed!

Don Diego. But see! she swoons, and in this swoon, sire, observe the effect of an overpowering [lit. perfect] love. Her grief has betrayed the secrets of her soul, and no longer permits you to doubt her passion.

Chimène. What, then! Is Rodrigo dead?

Don Fernando. No, no, he still lives [lit. he sees the day]; and he still preserves for you an unalterable affection; calm this sorrow which takes such an interest in his favor.

Chimène. Sire, we swoon from joy, as well as from grief; an excess of pleasure renders us completely exhausted, and when it takes the mind by surprise, it overpowers the senses.

Don Fernando. Dost thou wish that in thy favor we should believe in impossibilities? Chimène, thy grief appeared too clearly visible.

Chimène. Well, sire! add this crown to my misfortune—call my swoon the effect of my grief; a justifiable dissatisfaction reduced me to that extremity; his death would have saved his head from my pursuit. If he had died of wounds received for the benefit of his country, my revenge would have been lost, and my designs betrayed; such a brilliant end [of his existence] would have been too injurious to me. I demand his death, but not a glorious one, not with a glory which raises him so high, not on an honorable death-bed, but upon a scaffold. Let him die for my father and not for his country; let his name be attainted and his memory blighted. To die for one's country is not a sorrowful doom; it is to immortalize one's self by a glorious death! I love then his victory, and I can do so without criminality; it [the victory] secures the kingdom and yields to me my victim. But ennobled, but illustrious amongst all warriors, the chief crowned with laurels instead of flowers—and to say in a word what I think—worthy of being sacrificed to the shade of my father. Alas! by what [vain] hope do I allow myself to be carried away? Rodrigo has nothing to dread from me; what can tears which are despised avail against him? For him your whole empire is a sanctuary [lit. a place of freedom]; there, under your power, everything is lawful for him; he triumphs over me as [well as] over his enemies; justice stifled in their blood that has been shed, serves as a new trophy for the crime of the conqueror. We increase its pomp, and contempt of the law causes us to follow his [triumphal] chariot between two kings.

Don Fernando. My daughter, these transports are too violent [lit. have too much violence]. When justice is rendered, all is put in the scale. Thy father has been slain, he was the aggressor; and justice itself commands me [to have] mercy. Before accusing that [degree of clemency] which I show, consult well thine heart; Rodrigo is master of it; and thy love in secret returns thanks to thy King, whose favor preserves such a lover for thee.

Chimène. For me! my enemy! the object of my wrath! the author of my misfortunes? the slayer of my father! To my just pursuit [of vengeance] they pay so little attention, that they believe that they are conferring a favor on me by not listening to it. Since you refuse justice to my tears, sire, permit me to have recourse to arms; it is by that alone that he has been able to injure me, and it is by that (means) also that I ought to avenge myself. From all your knights I demand his head; yes, let one of them bring it to me, and I will be his prize; let them fight him, sire, and, the combat being finished, I [will] espouse the conqueror, if Rodrigo is slain [lit. punished]. Under your authority, permit this to be made public.

Don Fernando. This ancient custom established in these places, under the guise of punishing an unjust affront, weakens a kingdom [by depriving it] of its best warriors; the deplorable success of this abuse [of power] often crushes the innocent and shields the guilty. From this [ordeal] I release Rodrigo; he is too precious to me to expose him to the [death] blows of capricious fate; and whatever (offence) a heart so magnanimous could commit, the Moors, in retreating, have carried away his crime.

Chimène. What, sire, for him alone you reverse the laws, which all the court has so often seen observed! What will your people think, and what will envy say, if he screens his life beneath your shield and he makes it a pretext not to appear [on a scene] where all men of honor seek a noble death? Such favors would too deeply tarnish his glory; let him enjoy [lit. taste] without shame [lit. blushing] the fruits of his victory. The count had audacity, he was able to punish him for it; he [i.e. Rodrigo] acted like a man of courage, and ought to maintain it [that character].

Don Fernando. Since you wish it, I grant that he shall do so; but a thousand others would take the place of a vanquished warrior, and the reward which Chimène has promised to the conqueror would render all my cavaliers his enemies; to oppose him alone to all would be too great an injustice; it is enough, he shall enter the lists once only. Choose who [what champion] you will, Chimène, and choose well; but after this combat ask nothing more.

Don Diego. Release not by that those whom his valor [lit. arm] terrifies; leave an open field which none will [dare to] enter. After what Rodrigo has shown us to-day, what courage sufficiently presumptuous would dare to contend with him? Who would risk his life against such an opponent? Who will be this valiant, or rather this rash individual?

Don Sancho. Open the lists, you see this assailant; I am this rash or rather this valiant [champion]. Grant this favor to the zeal which urges me on; dear lady, you know what your promise is.

Don Fernando. Chimène, do you confide your quarrel to his hand?

Chimène. Sire, I have promised it.

Don Fernando. Be ready to-morrow.

Don Diego. No, sire, there is no need to defer the contest; a man is always ready when he possesses courage.

Don Fernando. [What!] To come forth from one battle and to (instantly) enter the lists [lit. to fight]?

Don Diego. Rodrigo has regained breath in relating to you this [i.e. the history of that battle].

Don Fernando. I desire that he should rest at least an hour or two; but, for fear that such a combat may be considered as a precedent, to testify to all that I permit, with regret, a sanguinary ordeal which has never pleased me, it shall not have the presence either of myself or of my court. [To Don Arias.] You alone shall judge of the valor of the combatants. Take care that both act like men of honor [lit. courage], and, the combat ended, bring the victor to me. Whoever he may be, the same reward is gained by his exertions; I desire with my own hand to present him to Chimène, and that, as a recompense, he may receive her plighted faith.

Chimène. What, sire! [would you] impose on me so stern a law?

Don Fernando. Thou complainest of it; but thy love, far from acknowledging thy complaint, if Rodrigo be the conqueror, without restraint accepts [the conditions]. Cease to murmur against such a gentle decree; whichever of the two be the victor, I shall make him thy spouse.

Act the Fifth.


Scene I.—Don Rodrigo and Chimène.

Chimène. What! Rodrigo! In broad daylight! Whence comes this audacity? Go, thou art ruining my honor; retire, I beseech thee.

Don Rodrigo. I go to die, dear lady, and I come to bid you in this place, before the mortal blow, a last adieu. This unchangeable love, which binds me beneath your laws, dares not to accept my death without paying to you homage for it.

Chimène. Thou art going to death!

Don Rodrigo. I speed to those happy moments which will deliver my life from your (feelings of) resentment.

Chimène. Thou art going to death! Is Don Sancho, then, so formidable, that he can inspire terror in this invincible heart? What has rendered thee so weak? or what renders him so strong? Does Rodrigo go to fight, and believe himself already slain [lit. dead]? He who has not feared the Moors nor my father, goes to fight Don Sancho, and already despairs? Thus, then, thy courage lowers itself in the [hour of] need.

Don Rodrigo. I speed [lit. I run] to my punishment, and not to the combat; and, since you seek my death, my faithful ardor will readily deprive me of the desire of defending my life. I have always the same courage, but I have not the [strong] arm, when it is needed, to preserve that which does not please you; and already this night would have been fatal to me, if I had fought for my own private wrong; but, defending my king, his people, and my country, by carelessly defending myself, I should have betrayed them. My high-born spirit does not hate life so much as to wish to depart from it by perfidy, now that it regards my interests only. You demand my death—I accept its decree. Your resentment chose the hand of another; I was unworthy [lit. I did not deserve] to die by yours. They shall not see me repel its blows; I owe more respect to him [the champion] who fights for you; and delighted to think that it is from you these [blows] proceed—since it is your honor that his arms sustain—I shall present to him my unprotected [or, defenceless] breast, worshipping through his hand thine that destroys me.

Chimène. If the just vehemence of a sad [sense of] duty, which causes me, in spite of myself, to follow after thy valiant life, prescribes to thy love a law so severe, that it surrenders thee without defence to him who combats for me, in this infatuation [lit. blindness], lose not the recollection, that, with thy life, thine honor is tarnished, and that, in whatever renown Rodrigo may have lived, when men shall know him to be dead, they will believe him conquered. Thine honor is dearer to thee than I am dear, since it steeps thine hands in the blood of my father, and causes thee to renounce, in spite of thy love, the sweet hope of gaining me. I see thee, however, pay such little regard to it [honor], that, without fighting, thou wishest to be overcome. What inconsistency [lit. unequality] mars thy valor! Why hast thou it [that valor] no more? or why didst thou possess it [formerly]? What! art thou valiant only to do me an injury? Unless it be to offend [or, injure] me, hast thou no courage at all? And dost thou treat my father with such rigor [i.e. so far disparage the memory of my father], that, after having conquered him, thou wilt endure a conqueror? Go! without wishing to die, leave me to pursue thee, and defend thine honor, if thou wilt no longer live.

Don Rodrigo. After the death of the count and the defeat of the Moors, will my renown still require other achievements? That [glory] may scorn the care of defending myself; it is known that my courage dares to attempt all, that my valor can accomplish all, and that, here below [lit. under the heavens], in comparison with mine honor, nothing is precious to me. No! no! in this combat, whatever thou may'st please to think, Rodrigo may die without risking his renown: without men daring to accuse him of having wanted spirit: without being considered as conquered, without enduring a conqueror. They will say only: "He adored Chimène; he would not live and merit her hatred; he yielded himself to the severity of his fate, which compelled his mistress to seek his death; she wished for his life [lit. head], and his magnanimous heart, had that been refused to her, would have considered it a crime. To avenge his honor, he lost his love; to avenge his mistress, he forsook life, preferring (whatever hope may have enslaved his soul) his honor to Chimène, and Chimène to his existence." Thus, then, you will see that my death in this conflict, far from obscuring my glory, will increase its value; and this honor will follow my voluntary death, that no other than myself could have satisfied you [for the death of your father].

Chimène. Since, to prevent thee from rushing to destruction, thy life and thine honor are [but] feeble inducements, if ever I loved thee, dear Rodrigo, in return [for that love], defend thyself now, to rescue me from Don Sancho. Fight, to release me from a compact which delivers me to the object of my aversion. Shall I say more to thee? Go, think of thy defence, to overcome my sense of duty, to impose on me silence; and if thou feelest thine heart still enamored for me, come forth, as a conqueror, from a combat of which Chimène is the reward. Adieu; this thoughtlessly uttered [lit. let slip] word causes me to blush for shame!

[Exit Chimène.]

Don Rodrigo. Where is the foe I could not now subdue? Come forth, [warriors] of Navarre, Morocco, and Castile! and all the heroes that Spain has produced; unite together and form an army, to contend against one hand thus nerved [to action]. Unite all your efforts against a hope so sweet—you have too little power to succeed in destroying it!

Scene II.
The Infanta.

Shall I listen to thee still, pride of my birth, that makest a crime out of my passions? Shall I listen to thee, love, whose delicious power causes my desires to rebel against this proud tyrant? Poor princess! to which of the two oughtest thou to yield obedience? Rodrigo, thy valor renders thee worthy of me; but although thou art valiant, thou art not the son of a king.

Pitiless fate, whose severity separates my glory and my desires! Is it decreed [lit. said], that the choice of [a warrior of] such rare merit should cost my passion such great anguish? O heaven! for how many sorrows [lit. sighs] must my heart prepare itself, if, after such a long, painful struggle, it never succeeds in either extinguishing the love, or accepting the lover!

But there are too many scruples, and my reason is alarmed at the contempt of a choice so worthy; although to monarchs only my [proud] birth may assign me, Rodrigo, with honor I shall live under thy laws. After having conquered two kings, couldst thou fail in obtaining a crown? And this great name of Cid, which thou hast just now won—does it not show too clearly over whom thou art destined to reign?

He is worthy of me, but he belongs to Chimène; the present which I made of him [to her], injures me. Between them, the death of a father has interposed so little hatred, that the duty of blood with regret pursues him. Thus let us hope for no advantage, either from his transgression or from my grief, since, to punish me, destiny has allowed that love should continue even between two enemies.

Scene III.
The Infanta and Leonora.

Infanta. Whence [i.e. for what purpose] comest thou, Leonora?

Leonora. To congratulate you, dear lady, on the tranquillity which at last your soul has recovered.

Infanta. From what quarter can tranquillity come [lit. whence should this tranquillity come], in an accumulation of sorrow?

Leonora. If love lives on hope, and if it dies with it, Rodrigo can no more charm your heart; you know of the combat in which Chimène involves him; since he must die in it, or become her husband, your hope is dead and your spirit is healed.

Infanta. Ah! how far from it!

Leonora. What more can you expect?

Infanta. Nay, rather, what hope canst thou forbid me [to entertain]? If Rodrigo fights under these conditions, to counteract the effect of it [that conflict], I have too many resources. Love, this sweet author of my cruel punishments, puts into [lit. teaches] the minds of lovers too many stratagems.

Leonora. Can you [accomplish] anything, since a dead father has not been able to kindle discord in their minds? For Chimène clearly shows by her behavior that hatred to-day does not cause her pursuit. She obtains the [privilege of a] combat, and for her champion, she accepts on the moment the first that offers. She has not recourse to those renowned knights [lit. noble hands] whom so many famous exploits render so glorious; Don Sancho suffices her, and merits her choice, because he is going to arm himself for the first time; she loves in this duel his want of experience; as he is without renown, [so] is she without apprehension; and her readiness [to accept him], ought to make you clearly see that she seeks for a combat which her duty demands, but which yields her Rodrigo an easy victory, and authorizes her at length to seem appeased.

Infanta. I observe it clearly; and nevertheless my heart, in rivalry with Chimène, adores this conqueror. On what shall I resolve, hopeless lover that I am?

Leonora. To remember better from whom you are sprung. Heaven owes you a king; you love a subject!

Infanta. The object of my attachment has completely changed: I no longer love Rodrigo as a mere nobleman. No; it is not thus that my love entitles him. If I love him, it is [as] the author of so many brilliant deeds; it is [as] the valiant Cid, the master of two kings. I shall conquer myself, however; not from dread of any censure, but in order that I may not disturb so glorious a love; and even though, to favor me, they should crown him, I will not accept again [lit. take back] a gift which I have given. Since in such a combat his triumph is certain, let us go once more to give him [or, that gift] to Chimène. And thou, who seest the love-arrows with which my heart is pierced; come see me finish as I have begun.

Scene IV.
Chimène and Elvira.


Chimène. Elvira, how greatly I suffer; and how much I am to be pitied! I know not what to hope, and I see everything to be dreaded. No wish escapes me to which I dare consent. I desire nothing without quickly repenting of it [lit. a quick repentance]. I have caused two rivals to take up arms for me: the most happy result will cause me tears; and though fate may decree in my favor, my father is without revenge, or my lover is dead.

Elvira. On the one side and the other I see you consoled; either you have Rodrigo, or you are avenged. And however fate may ordain for you, it maintains your honor and gives you a spouse.

Chimène. What! the object of my hatred or of such resentment!—the slayer of Rodrigo, or that of my father! In either case [lit. on all sides] they give me a husband, still [all] stained with the blood that I cherished most; in either case my soul revolts, and I fear more than death the ending of my quarrel. Away! vengeance, love—which agitate my feelings. Ye have no gratifications for me at such a price; and Thou, Powerful Controller of the destiny which afflicts me, terminate this combat without any advantage, without rendering either of the two conquered or conqueror.

Elvira. This would be treating you with too much severity. This combat is a new punishment for your feelings, if it leaves you [still] compelled to demand justice, to exhibit always this proud resentment, and continually to seek after the death of your lover. Dear lady, it is far better that his unequalled valor, crowning his brow, should impose silence upon you; that the conditions of the combat should extinguish your sighs; and that the King should compel you to follow your inclinations.

Chimène. If he be conqueror, dost thou believe that I shall surrender? My strong [sense of] duty is too strong and my loss too great; and this [law of] combat and the will of the King are not strong enough to dictate conditions to them [i.e. to my duty and sorrow for my loss]. He may conquer Don Sancho with very little difficulty, but he shall not with him [conquer] the sense of duty of Chimène; and whatever [reward] a monarch may have promised to his victory, my self-respect will raise against him a thousand other enemies.

Elvira. Beware lest, to punish this strange pride, heaven may at last permit you to revenge yourself. What!—you will still reject the happiness of being able now to be reconciled [lit. to be silent] with honor? What means this duty, and what does it hope for? Will the death of your lover restore to you a father? Is one [fatal] stroke of misfortune insufficient for you? Is there need of loss upon loss, and sorrow upon sorrow? Come, in the caprice in which your humor persists, you do not deserve the lover that is destined for you, and we may [lit. shall] see the just wrath of heaven, by his death, leaving you Don Sancho as a spouse.

Chimène. Elvira, the griefs which I endure are sufficient: do not redouble them by this fatal augury. I wish, if I can, to avoid both; but if not, in this conflict Rodrigo has all my prayers; not because a weak [lit. foolish] affection inclines me to his side, but because, if he were conquered, I should become [the bride] of Don Sancho. This fear creates [lit. causes to be born] my desire——

[Enter Don Sancho.]

What do I see, unhappy [woman that I am]! Elvira, all is lost!

Scene V.
Don Sancho, Chimène, and Elvira.

Don Sancho. Compelled to bring this sword to thy feet——

Chimène. What! still [all] reeking with the blood of Rodrigo! Traitor, dost thou dare to show thyself before mine eyes, after having taken from me that [being] whom I love the best? Declare thyself my love, and thou hast no more to fear. My father is satisfied; cease to restrain thyself. The same [death] stroke has placed my honor in safety, my soul in despair, and my passion at liberty!

Don Sancho. With a mind more calmly collected——

Chimène. Dost thou still speak to me, detestable assassin of a hero whom I adore? Go; you fell upon him treacherously. A warrior so valiant would never have sunk beneath such an assailant! Hope nothing from me. Thou hast not served me; and believing that thou wert avenging me, thou hast deprived me of life.

Don Sancho. Strange delusion, which, far from listening to me——

Chimène. Wilt thou that I should listen to thee while boasting of his death?—that I should patiently hear with what haughty pride thou wilt describe his misfortune, my own crime, and thy prowess?

Scene VI.
Don Fernando, Don Diego, Don Arias, Don Sancho, Don Alonzo, Chimène, and Elvira.

Chimène. Sire, there is no further need to dissemble that which all my struggles have not been able to conceal from you. I loved, you knew it; but, to avenge my father, I even wished to sacrifice so dear a being [as Rodrigo]. Sire, your majesty may have seen how I have made love yield to duty. At last, Rodrigo is dead; and his death has converted me from an unrelenting foe into an afflicted lover. I owed this revenge to him who gave me existence; and to my love I now owe these tears. Don Sancho has destroyed me in undertaking my defence; and I am the reward of the arm which destroys me. Sire, if compassion can influence a king, for mercy's sake revoke a law so severe. As the reward of a victory by which I lose that which I love, I leave him my possessions; let him leave me to myself, that in a sacred cloister I may weep continually, even to my last sigh, for my father and my lover.

Don Diego. In brief, she loves, sire, and no longer believes it a crime to acknowledge with her own lips a lawful affection.

Don Fernando. Chimène, be undeceived [lit. come out from thine error]; thy lover is not dead, and the vanquished Don Sancho has given thee a false report.

Don Sancho. Sire, a little too much eagerness, in spite of me, has misled her; I came from the combat to tell her the result. This noble warrior of whom her heart is enamored, when he had disarmed me, spoke to me thus: "Fear nothing—I would rather leave the victory uncertain, than shed blood risked in defence of Chimène; but, since my duty calls me to the King, go, tell her of our combat [on my behalf]; on the part of the conqueror, carry her thy sword." Sire, I came; this weapon deceived her; seeing me return, she believed me to be conqueror, and her resentment suddenly betrayed her love, with such excitement and so much impatience, that I could not obtain a moment's hearing. As for me, although conquered, I consider myself fortunate; and in spite of the interests of my enamored heart, [though] losing infinitely, I still love my defeat, which causes the triumph of a love so perfect.

Don Fernando. My daughter, there is no need to blush for a passion so glorious, nor to seek means of making a disavowal of it; a laudable [sense of] shame in vain solicits thee; thy honor is redeemed, and thy duty performed; thy father is satisfied, and it was to avenge him that thou didst so often place thy Rodrigo in danger. Thou seest how heaven otherwise ordains. Having done so much for him [i.e. thy father], do something for thyself; and be not rebellious against my command, which gives thee a spouse beloved so dearly.

Scene VII.
Don Fernando, Don Diego, Don Arias, Don Rodrigo, Don Alonzo, Don Sancho, The Infanta, Chimène, Leonora, and Elvira.

Dry thy tears, Chimène, and receive without sadness this noble conqueror from the hands of thy princess.

Don Rodrigo. Be not offended, sire, if in your presence an impassioned homage causes me to kneel before her [lit. casts me before her knees]. I come not here to ask for [the reward of] my victory; I come once more [or, anew] to offer you my head, dear lady. My love shall not employ in my own favor either the law of the combat or the will of the King. If all that has been done is too little for a father, say by what means you must be satisfied. Must I still contend against a thousand and a thousand rivals, and to the two ends of the earth extend my labors, myself alone storm a camp, put to flight an army, surpass the renown of fabulous heroes? If my deep offence can be by that means washed away, I dare undertake all, and can accomplish all. But if this proud honor, always inexorable, cannot be appeased without the death of the guilty [offender], arm no more against me the power of mortals; mine head is at thy feet, avenge thyself by thine own hands; thine hands alone have the right to vanquish the invincible. Take thou a vengeance to all others impossible. But at least let my death suffice to punish me; banish me not from thy remembrance, and, since my doom preserves your honor, to recompense yourself for this, preserve my memory, and say sometimes, when deploring my fate: "Had he not loved me, he would not have died."

Chimène. Rise, Rodrigo. I must confess it, sire, I have said too much to be able to unsay it. Rodrigo has noble qualities which I cannot hate; and, when a king commands, he ought to be obeyed. But to whatever [fate] you may have already doomed me, can you, before your eyes, tolerate this union? And when you desire this effort from my feeling of duty, is it entirely in accord with your sense of justice? If Rodrigo becomes so indispensable to the state, of that which he has done for you ought I to be the reward, and surrender myself to the everlasting reproach of having imbrued my hands in the blood of a father?

Don Fernando. Time has often rendered lawful that which at first seemed impossible, without being a crime. Rodrigo has won thee, and thou art justly his. But, although his valor has by conquest obtained thee to-day, it would need that I should become the enemy of thy self-respect, to give him so soon the reward of his victory. This bridal deferred does not break a law, which, without specifying the time, devotes thy faith to him. Take a year, if thou wilt, to dry thy tears; Rodrigo, in the mean time, must take up arms. After having vanquished the Moors on our borders, overthrown their plans, and repulsed their attacks, go, carry the war even into their country, command my army, and ravage their territory. At the mere name of Cid they will tremble with dismay. They have named thee lord! they will desire thee as their king! But, amidst thy brilliant [lit. high] achievements, be thou to her always faithful; return, if it be possible, still more worthy of her, and by thy great exploits acquire such renown, that it may be glorious for her to espouse thee then.

Don Rodrigo. To gain Chimène, and for your service, what command can be issued to me that mine arm cannot accomplish? Yet, though absent from her [dear] eyes, I must suffer grief, sire, I have too much happiness in being able—to hope!

Don Fernando. Hope in thy manly resolution; hope in my promise, and already possessing the heart of thy mistress, let time, thy valor, and thy king exert themselves [lit. do, or act], to overcome a scrupulous feeling of honor which is contending against thee.

The End




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