Amphitryon HTML version
He knows a hundred ingenious tricks to entrap the most obdurate. He has felt the darts of
Alcmene's eyes; and, whilst Amphitryon, her husband, commands the Theban troops on
the plains of Boeotia, Jupiter has taken his form, and assuaged his pains, in the possession
of the sweetest of pleasures. The condition of the couple is propitious to his desire:
Hymen joined them only a few days ago; and the young warmth of their tender love
suggested to Jupiter to have recourse to this fine artifice. His stratagem proved successful
in this case; but with many a cherished object a similar disguise would not be of any use:
it is not always a sure means of pleasing, to adopt the form, of a husband.
NIGHT. I admire Jupiter, and I cannot imagine all the disguises which come into his
MERC. By these means he wishes to taste all sorts of conditions: that is the act of a God
who is not a fool. However mortals may regard him, I should think very meanly of him if
he never quitted his redoubtable mien, and were always in the heavens, standing upon his
dignity. In my opinion, there is nothing more idiotic than always to be imprisoned in
one's grandeur; above all, a lofty rank becomes very inconvenient in the transports of
amorous ardour. Jupiter, no doubt, is a connoisseur in pleasure, and he knows how to
descend from the height of his supreme glory. So that he can enter into everything that
pleases him, he entirely casts aside himself, and then it is no longer Jupiter who appears.
NIGHT. I could overlook seeing him step down from his sublime stage to that of men,
since he wishes to enter into all the transports which their natures can supply, and join in
their jests, if, in the changes which take his fancy, he would confine himself to nature.
But I do not think it fitting to see Jupiter as a bull, a serpent, a swan, or what not, and it
does not astonish me that it is sometimes talked about.
MERC. Let all the busybodies talk; such changes have their own charms and surpass
people's understanding. The God knows what he does in this affair as in everything else:
in the movements of their tender passions, animals are not so loutish as one might think.
NIGHT. Let us return to the lady whose favours he enjoys. If, by his stratagem, his
pursuit is successful, what more can he wish? What can I do?
MERC. He wishes that you would slacken the pace of your horses, to satisfy the passion
of his amorous heart, and so make of a delightful night the longest night of all; that you
would give him more time for his transports, and retard the birth of day since it will
hasten the return of him whose place he occupies.
NIGHT. Really the employment which the great Jupiter reserves for me is a worthy one!
The service he requires of me passes under a very respectable name.
MERC. You are somewhat old-fashioned for a young goddess! Such an employment is
not debasing except among people of mean birth. When one has the happiness of
belonging to lofty rank, whatever one does is always right and good; things change their
names to suit what one may be.