Titus How she disturbs my soul! My princess, why this sudden change of heart? Tomorrow, you wish that I depart; I have resolved to leave in a short while, and I, I go. Berenice The ingratitude! Why must I?

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Titus How she disturbs my soul! My princess, why this sudden change of heart? Tomorrow, you wish that I depart; I have resolved to leave in a short while, and I, I go. Berenice The ingratitude! Why must I? To listen to the noise of an injurious people, who cry my misfortunes from the citadel?

Do you not hear it then, their cruel spite, while I alone shed tears, to their delight? What offence, what crime makes me their foe? What have I done but love you so? Titus Will you listen, Madame, to a senseless few? Berenice There is nothing here but misery in view. All these rooms created with such care, long the witness of my love, and where all things seemed to respond with yours, where our names entwined said: he adores, now, offering themselves to my sad eyes, are mere imposters, I no longer prize.

Come, Phenice. Titus Oh heavens! You are unjust! Berenice Return, return to your senate, as you must. They will applaud you for your cruelty. Is it with pleasure you hear their flattery? Are you content quite, with all your glory? Have you promised to forget my memory?

Titus No, I have promised nothing. Hate you, no! Could I forget this Berenice whom I forego! Oh gods! That, at such a time, cruel derision must pain my heart with unjust suspicion.

Never, I must confess, have you been loved with such tenderness, and never… Berenice You love me, you maintain. Do you seek delight in my despair, fearing my mind has felt too little care? What use to me can your affection prove? Cruel man! Titus reads her letter You have torn from me what I sought to write. This is all that I ask of your love, you I invite to read, ungrateful one, read, and let me depart.

Titus You will not go, I cannot consent; depart? Surely all this is some cruel strategy? You seek to die? And of all that I love, I see, only a sorrowful memory will remain? Seek for Antiochus, let him explain. Exit Phenice, Berenice falls on a couch Act V Scene VI Titus, Berenice Titus Madame, I must make a true confession; when I foresaw that formidable session, where, constrained by the harsh call of duty, renouncing sight of you seemed necessary; envisaging the approach to our sad goodbye, the fears, struggles, tears, reproaches, I prepared my soul for every inward pain that the greatest of ills might entertain.

Yet, of whatever I feared in my heart, I had foreseen only the smallest part: I thought my virtue less ready to succumb, and am ashamed at what I have become. I viewed all Rome assembled before me, the Senate spoke, but my soul, uneasy, listened without hearing, left them only as a reward for their enthusiasm an icy silence. Rome is unsure if you will go, as yet, and for myself I scarcely know whether I am the emperor, and a Roman.

I come to you not knowing my intention: My love dictated it, perhaps I came to find myself and know myself again. What do I find? I see death in your eyes; I see you will depart to seek that prize.

It is too much. My pain, at this sad sight, now, in a last excess, achieves its height. I feel all the unhappiness I could feel, yet I see an answer to it, a last appeal.

In this plight to which you reduce me, I am still pursued by inexorable glory, ever presenting to my astonished soul an empire incompatible with that goal, saying that after the steps I have taken no thought of marriage must reawaken. To escape all this to which my soul is prey, there is, as you well know, a nobler way; that is the road Madame, that I must go, following many a Roman, many a hero.

When many ills exhausted their fortitude, they all described themselves as pursued relentlessly by fate, seeming to then insist, like to some secret order: cease to resist. If your tears, much longer, wound my eye, if I see you, still, firmly resolved to die, if I must fear for your life every moment, if you do not swear to respect my intent, Madame, other tears must prepare to fall.

In the state in which I am I could do all, and my hand, then, before your very eyes, might stain with blood our last goodbyes. Berenice Alas! For my survival, you prove now responsible. Be witness here to my unending weakness. See if this be love with too little tenderness. Judge us. Antiochus Sire, it is so. I know how you have loved. Despite my protests, both entrusted to me, the queen, her love, you yours, Sire, equally. The queen, who hears, may disavow this: she always saw me ardent in your praise, keen to repay, with care, your confidence.

You think you owe me some recompense; yet can you believe, now all proves fatal, so faithful a friend was in truth your rival? Titus My rival! A hundred times I fought not to love her; I could not forget; my own self-murderer. Bathed in tears, it was you she requested; I came myself to summon you to her, Sire, you came, you love, and are loved entire.

You have yielded, of that I had no doubt. One last time, I teased the problem out, asked of myself one last act of courage, I sought to recall pure reason to the stage, found myself in love, ever more deeply. Death alone breaks such ties completely: only by self-destruction shall it be done; I seek my death.

To tell you this, I come. Yes, Madame, I brought him back to you. I do not repent, my aim indeed proved true. May heaven shower joy upon your reign, and bring a thousand blessings in its train! Or if heaven still seeks to bring fresh sorrows, may the gods be content to see those blows, which might have threatened your prosperity, fall on a life I sacrifice to yours entirely. Berenice rising Enough! You Princes, both too generous, who to some mad extremity now drive us. Whether I look at you, or gaze deeper, I see, on all sides, visions of disaster.

Tears I see; hear voices speaking low of pain and horror, blood about to flow! I loved, Sire, wanted to be loved no less; this day, I will admit, I was distressed: I thought your love had run its course.

I know my error; you love me far more. Your heart was troubled; I saw your tears. Berenice, Sire, is scarcely worth such fears, nor that, through love, these Roman lands, at a time when Titus has achieved his plans, while tasting the first fruits of this new day, should in a moment see all snatched away. I believe for five years past, until now, you have been assured of my truest vow. Farewell, Sire, reign: I depart this land.

Live, and be yet more generous to me now. Let your conduct be ruled by his and mine. I love, I go; he loves, yet he remains behind. Far from my eyes bear your sighs and tears. They await. The past is past. Antiochus Alas!


Berenice (daughter of Herod Agrippa)

Her elder brother was Agrippa II b. Berenice depicted with her brother Agrippa II during the trial of St. Josephus was not the only ancient writer to suggest incestuous relations between Berenice and Agrippa. Juvenal , in his sixth satire , outright claims that they were lovers. Popular rumors may also have been fueled by the fact that Agrippa himself never married during his lifetime.


Berenice (Racine)






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