Commentary notes can be accessed by clicking on a blue square. The Latin text can be accessed by clicking on a green square.

THE INCOMPARABLE ARGENIS OF JOHN BARCLAY MADE INTO A COMEDY
AND ACTED IN THE ILLUSTRIOUS COLLEGE OF TÜBINGEN
BY FRIEDRICH HERMANN FLAYDER
IN THE YEAR
1626

TO THE AUTHOR blue

You, the only author after Frischlin to publish great dramas,
spacerYou are rightly a second Frischlin to me.
And not just a Frischlin, for from this entire era,
spacerYou will be our Plautus and Terence in countless verses.

JOHANNES HARPPRECHT, LLD. AND PROFESSOR AT TÜBINGEN

spacerJOHANNES MOCKEL, A CITIZEN OF TUBINGEN, HUMBLY OFFERS THIS POEM TO THE HIGH-BORN AND NOBLE GENTLEMEN WHO ACTED IN THIS COMEDYblue

Young men of divine descent (for who does not stand awestruck
At such talents, near to exceeding the measure of Man's mind?!)
Hail, and receive these wholesome greetings drawn from
A wholesome mind. O, you yourselves must tell me,
What words to use as I applaud you and your parents, o
Offspring of a fostering pedigree. I confess that I have no
Words or expressions good enough to praise you. But look!
I begged heavenly inspiration from our heavenly Father, and now
I present an answered prayer: May Christ be here in your efforts.
If he is your guide (and soon he will call you, so serious in faith,
To higher matters), you will all shine with your rays
As the brightest stars of your country.

TO THE HIGH-BORN AND NOBLE SIRS, THE BROTHERS JOHANN WILHELM AND WOLFGANG THEODOR VON RATHSAMHAUSEN IM STEIN, KNIGHTS OF ALSACE, PATRONS OF THE MUSES, FRIEDRICH HERMANN FLAYDER WISHES ALL HAPPINESS AND GOOD FORTUNE

spacerSPECIAL concern for anyone who plans to compose a dedication to his patrons is to include, before anything else, a recital of the merits and kindnesses of these patrons and a summary statement that the writer has been forced by these merits and kindnesses to freely show his soul's gratitude by some dedication of his work to them. This is the usual practice. But I present my Argenis to you both for a very different, indeed quite opposite, reason. I am not driven to recount your benevolence towards me (although that is most liberal and almost unending), but instead my kindly inclinations and my undying benefactions to you, which indeed are so great that scarcely anyone could count them and about which this most illustrious college can testify. I will address you first, Johannes Wilhelm, because you have been practically buried under the heap of my benefactions. You know — indeed this whole Illustrious College cannot be unaware — what applause, what support and congratulation accrued to you because of my generosity, blue when at my prompting you were acting the part of royal secretary, you married Emma, the daughter of the Emperor Charlemagne. Then, barely after the death of this first wife, I made you a Count, and when (against my advice) you set out against the Saracens, there, after long and hard captivity, you married the daughter of some Sultan, without being aware that the Countess, your wife, was still alive in Thuringia. You long wavered between hope and fear, wondering what should be done with your two wives, I then pitied you, and despite being a poet of most humble fortune and very meager furnishings, I had such influence with the supreme Pontiff that, against everyone's expectations, he granted to you the right to have two wives, a right which in our remembrance very few have been awarded. Furthermore, even though these wives are in the tomb, I do not cease to be generous to you. Just now, you were the King of Sardinia or Henri IV, King of France (it is all one to me which king you played), there, with the entire magnificent theater of this illustrious college as a witness, I brought it about that the unvanquished King Meleander of Sicily with his own hand gave to you in marriage his only daughter Argenis, the incomparable heroine, the maiden most like the greatest goddesses, whom I again present to you portrayed in these pages.
spacer 2. With no lesser benefactions have I made your brother — namely you, Wolfgang Theodoric — famous, when in the same play I made you the counsellor of Charlemagne, the magnificent lord of the nations, and later an envoy of the supreme pontiff, and an actor in other splendid roles. These benefactions which I mention — and these benefactions are distributed to individual actors by the sons of poets blue in theaters — may not seem to be as significant or serious as those parts we play in the real world, in that confused tumult of mortal affairs separate from any poetic devising. Nevertheless, if you consider them, not through the fog of opinion but in the clear noontime of transparent truth, you will find that everything in this world is comical and illusory: God is the producer, the world is the theater, men are the actors, the plot is the point of suspense, the chorus consist of men and women, the stage furnishings are gold and silver, the costumes are varied and hired at a great cost, everything is either someone else's or borrowed or must be returned, the seasoning is the imagination, the turning point is old age, and death is the end.You must also willy-nilly confess that no noblemen and kings bear their scepters with less danger than those who are raised to the majesty of the throne by the votes of the comic poets. These others, i.e. those whom the crazed populace values so highly and supports, often are raised to such a height that they fall with a great crash, with the result that many have found to their own misfortune that those kings who appear on stage — thanks to the poets — are happier than those who are placed in the same position in this capacious amphitheater of the real world. This fact, my patrons, you can read every day in the immortal writings of the historians — and in fact you do read and understand it. Indeed, you look down on the vanities of this world from your high place and you despise it with a smile. What is even more telling, by virtue of your high merit and with the addition of your heroic character, you have risen above all noblemen and rulers. Thus you have heard my services to you. Do not think that, when I now recount your services to me, that I am intending to offer my thanks only as an invitation that you should give me even more.
spacer 3. In this context, I wish to expatiate at greater length about your ancient family and about your family's unbelievable love and refined taste for literature and politesse, a nobility of love and taste which you now display renewed in yourselves. To begin with your family tree, whenever I study the great deeds of our fellow Germans, in the first place the immense glory of the family , the great tribe of that ancient hero, presents itself. Their name may come from zum Stein (for they controlled the so-called “Valley of the Stones”), or from Adlau in Alsace, or from Ehenweyer, or from Königsrein. From one blood all of these spread into various branches and in many locations soon mixed with the noble blood of Counts until the race was spread into so many other lineages with no discrimination among them. Soon these families coalesced again through many marriage connections. If I did not have firmly in mind to subordinate your ancestors' nobility to your own merits and grace (to which I myself have contributed), I could certainly compose a heavy tome by weaving the tale of your sires and grandsires. I could mention that some of them consecrated the Monastery of the Discalced Friars in Sélestat, where the tombs of your family can be seen. blue I would not hide under a cloak that great hierophant of your family, once the high Hoffmeister of the diocese of Strasbourg, and for many years before that the Hoffmeister blue of Rouffach. Nor could I pass over in silence Philip Bishop of Eichstätt, blue who in 1306 spread throughout the world shining rays of lovely virtues and graces. In my compendium I might cite many others dating back to antiquity, if (as I said) I did not know how much you both have made yourselves noble by your own qualities, even if you had not been made noble by your parents.
spacer 4. Now, so that I can pass by these matters by sailing close hauled, and so that I can finally turn to you yourselves, what can win a more noble name for you both than these virtues and those studies which you have been led to cultivate, partly by your own wishes and partly under the dedicated instruction of my friend, that most excellent man Mr. David Papy. Supported with all these reinforcements, you have been very involved in all kinds of exercises which can adorn the knightly order: you dance gracefully, you handle the javelin adroitly, you wield your weapons like true men, you paint elegantly, and (a matter which does not come last in my estimation) you cultivate the divine art of music beyond all measure so that even Envy must confess your excellence. You are not content to excel just in your knowledge of Latin, but you are learning the eloquence of more exotic nations as well, knowledge which today is valued at court. You have also watered the garden of your mind with deep drafts of all the historians. In this matter there is no need for you to seek examples from your grandsires or from other sources, since you can see a model for imitation living with you, namely the noble and vigorous Johann Philip von Seebach auf Osthofen und Werit, blue your uncle, a man most cognizant of and skilled in many languages, partly from his reading in books of all sorts, partly from his perilous travels among foreign nations. You can look at his venerable old age as if in some mirror and then form your talents after his outstanding genius.
spacer 5. But where has my enthusiasm carried me? Against my wishes I have certainly been more prolix than is right or than I had originally planned. I was of course forgetting how great an ocean I would be entering if I should wish to laud the glories of the noble Rathsamhausen family or the spirit of your most noble grace, or the immortal fame of your great uncle, a second parent to you. By the defects of my feeble attempts I should rather diminish than increase your fame. I see that no lengthier oration is needed in commending this our Argenis to Your Excellencies, since by acting so well in it, you have long since made this Argenis your personal and private property even without my recommendation. 17 August, 1626, the very day that the comedy Argenis was presented.

bar

JOHANN JOACHIM VON GRUENTHAL, LORD OF KREMSECK, HARTENECK AND DUSSLINGEN &c. , COUNSELLOR OF THE MOST SERENE DUKE OF WÜRTTEMBERG, OBERHOFMEISTER AT THE COLLEGIUM ILLUSTRE AND SENIOR PREFECT OF TÜBINGEN, PRAYS FOR HEALTH AND SAFETY FOR HERR FRIEDRICH HERMANN FLAYDER, CROWNED IMPERIAL POET LAUREATE, PROFESSOR OF HUMANE LETTERS, AND LIBRARIAN OF TÜBINGEN UNIVERISTY blue

HEREAS the Imperial Majesty and Bountifulness has always wanted to shed its kindly favor on those who are of outstanding fame in scholarship, just as it does on those who are dedicated and devoted with true faith and fidelity to the Holy Roman Empire and to the far-famed house of Austria, so that not only they themselves may continue with energy and attention in the path on which they have started, but also that their posterity may be spurred on to adopt the same honest and true way of life, therefore, by the plenary power in these matters which I have received from our Emperor Ferdinand when I was awarded the dignity of the Lateran Palace, the Imperial Court, and the Imperial Consistory, I judge that you above all, Frederick Hermann Flayder, because of your surpassing scholarship, should be granted this singular honor and all the privileges which derive from the Emperor himself. As regards your scholarship, Flayder, at the present time I will say nothing about the eloquence of your prose and your deep knowledge of history, in which you excel, but rather I have decided to touch on that talent for which you were crowned Imperial Poet Laureate by us. Not only have you given us splendid examples of Greek and Latin poetry, which (as all can see) you have adorned with remarkable and ingenious beauty and elegance; you have also also done notable service in composing comedies, a genre which now-a-days is very unusual even among so many learned men, and in consequence you have rightly been considered by all learned men as a noble comic poet, in fact a second Terence, and you have been encouraged in this path by them. The busy theater of this illustrious college will be a notable witness of this matter, since it has presented to great applause several excellent comedies which you wrote and in which you acted. These creations of yours have also graciously pleased our Most Serene Master, Duke Johann Friederich, especially when he heard that you have made laudatory efforts in training our youth both in good morals and in eloquence.
spacer2. Wherefore, since practically all educated men know how deeply you are involved in belles lettres and true poetry, and so that for the future you may desire to continue these activities which I have mentioned with the same eagerness which you have already shown, especially the writing of comedy, therefore on my own initiative and with due prior consideration, by the supreme civic authority of our unvanquished Emperor Ferdinand, which I now enjoy, I wish, order, and direct that you, the aforesaid Friedrich Hermann Flayder, be considered, called, and greeted as Imperial Poet Laureate, decreeing and establishing that you can and shall use, enjoy, and delight in all the privileges, favors, immunities, and honors which the other Imperial Poet Laureates have ever used, possessed, and enjoyed, or in any way do use, possess, or enjoy by custom or by law.
spacer 3. To this honor I add another: since you have Mercury at mid-heaven, i.e. you have a guiding power which benefits eloquence and the clever devising of new things, I grant that you can freely have for the future on your coat-of-arms the staff of Mercury, or caduceus, with twin serpents (male and female) entwined and joined in each other's coils, with their tails below, at the hilt of the staff. If anyone boldly and arrogantly attempts to violate and transgress this privilege and edict of His Sacred Imperial Majesty, he should be aware that he will merit the maximum displeasure of our unvanquished emperor and of the entire Holy Roman Empire, along with a grave penalty. I have willingly signed this letter with my own hand and have freely sealed it with the customary seal.
Tübingen, 10 October, 1626.

bar

DRAMATIS PERSONAE blue

APOLLO, accompanied by the nine musical Muses, speaker of the Argument, who was Wolffgangus spacerspacerspacerspacerspacerspacerTheodorus von Rathsamhausem in Stein junior, an Alsatian knight
MARS who was Johann Baumman, student of Theology, bound and led into the theater by Cupid, spacerspacerspacerspacerspacerspacerGeorg Friedrich Flayder, age four, son of the producer
ARGENIS Wolfgang Erasmus von Grünthal
MELEANDER Wolfgang von Weyler
A MERCHANT Johann Pfanner, student of Medicine
ARSIDAS Sigismund in Herberstein Freiherr von Lancowiz, Neüperg und Guttenhag, Master ofspacerspacerspacerspacer
spacerspacerspacerGrossau &c.
BOCCHUS Michael von Lyth
THE ROYAL CHAMBERLAIN Ludwig Christoph Müller
GOBRYAS Iohann Lukas von Freiburg
MICIPSA Friedrich Jakob von Grüenthal
GELANORUS The same person who played Apollo
MESSENGER Maximilian Kölnpeck
POLIARCHUS Johann Wilhelm von Rathsamhausen in Stein, Alsatian knight, the elder brotheρ
ARCHOMBROTUS Friedrich von Holstein &c.
HERALD The same person who acted the merchan.
THREE COUNSELLORS Acted by Wolfgang Georg von Gülleis Freiherr von Sonnberg, Raschala und spacerspacerspacerspacerUpper Hollabrunn &c, Karl Helmhard Jörger Freiherr von Crispach, Tollet, Töppach und spacerspacerspacerspacerspacerStauff, and Friedrich Jakob von Grüenthal, who acted Micipsa

THE SPEAKER OF THE ARGUMENT
APOLLO WITH THE NINE MUSICAL MUSES

REETINGS, beloved spectators, greetings. As you see I have brought the Muses from Parnassus here to you. Now I will present before you this new comedy called Argenis. Its plot is this: A most powerful king called Meleander lives here in Sicily — for today this stage will be named Sicily. He has one daughter, Argenis. Among all her many suitors, Lycogenes was the first to approach her, but he died in battle quite some time ago. Next Radirobanes plotted against our maiden, but he too has since perished in Africa. Two most valiant young men of royal blood are still here: one is Archombrotus, to whom Meleander has already betrothed Argenis, against her wishes. The other is Poliarchus, to whom Argenis has long since plighted her troth, without her father's knowledge. Now you know the plot — or rather a part of it. Our poet did not want me to explain it all, because which one of them Argenis will accept as bridegroom or actual husband will be shown today at the conclusion of our comedy. Be aware that this drama is not written in an easy or comical style, but in a grand, clearly regal, manner, the same manner which Queen Argenis adopts when addressing King Poliarchus. We order that anyone who want jokes and witticisms should leave now, and we banish him to our other plays Imma Portatrix, Ludovicus Bigamus, or Moria Rediviva. Our poet, with my help, just recently finished this last play, which is very humorous. However, in this present comedy there is nothing except lofty and regal material. We'll have no jokes, no jesters, no fools. Even Boncompagnus blue has fled, escaped, vanished. Now is a different time, different customs. Therefore anyone not sufficiently subjected to the Latin language will not understand what is happening on stage — which is what I wanted to tell you in advance. Our poet wrote this play and will act in it, not so he could please the crowd, but so that he might train our noble youth in eloquence, in character, in Latin. If you do not like this Cato, as far as we are concerned, you can go look for other delights or hire other comical dwarfs to your heart's content. It's all the same to us. That's what I wanted you to know. As for the rest, it will be fully explained — if you educated people pay close attention — by someone else who is now on his way. For today we care nothing for the whole ignorant crowd who knows no Latin, nor will we ever hold such people in any esteem. Farewell.

    bar

PROLOGUE
MARS bound by Cupid

F any one of you is wondering how it happens that I, that iron-clad warrior made entirely of steel, that unassailable and fearless fighter Mars, am led around in chains by such a tiny, delicate, unarmed boy —my son! — he can stop wondering when he learns the strength and endurance of this pipsqueak. 
spacer2. For this boy leads me, his father, around just as he wishes, and doesn't spare his mother, the goddess Venus, either. Just now he has brought me here from Thrace, and I followed him willy-nilly. Even though I am that god, that smiter of walls, that destroyer of cities, that sacker of lands and plunderer of nations, still I, dreadfully beweaponed, am dragged around by this naked, small god. Why would you be surprised at this, since all the other gods, those in heaven as well as those on earth, in the seas, in the lower world, are overwhelmed by a fate just like mine? This tiny pipsqueak grabs the thunderbolt from Jove's right hand; he steals the mighty trident from Neptune, the earth-shaker; he knocks the caduceus from clever Mercury's hand, the hammer from Vulcan's, the lyre from Phoebus’, and the infernal scepter from Pluto's. Look, neither this thick breastplate, this huge cuirass, these iron-bound arm- and leg-guards, nor these savage glares, monstrous threats, nor this sword have done me any good at all. There is no nation which I haven't conquered, no tribe which I haven't overthrown. From my school have come those unconquerable heroes, Alexander the Great, Hector, Hannibal, and Julius Caesar, the greatest of them. I was the teacher for them all, but still I could not free myself from this naked Cupid. He is like a Medusa, a Gorgon to me, since, whenever I gaze at him, I am all a-tremble, I stiffen all over. Whenever I feel his arrow, I freeze, totally bloodless. Everyone rightly calls me conquerer, but every day I am conquered by this boy — and not without delight am I conquered, for his arrows are sweet, his bow is delightful, his arrowhead is soothing. No less sweet are those wounds which he makes, which no no medicine can cure, no help relieve, wounds which are inflicted upon the unwilling, but conquer the willing. As I come into this noble theater, this is what I wanted to say for the benefit of the younger crowd.
spacer 3. Now, to come to the point, let's disclose the business which the poet who wrote this drama ordered us to explain. Be aware, noble spectators, that we are acting in this place a true history, but one concealed behind a mask of different names. This Sicily is not Sicily, but that very France in which for so many years and with such clashing of arms I ran rampant. blue The Sicilian king Meleander is Henri III, King of France. He had one daughter named Argenis, who symbolizes nothing other than the state of France, whom many suitors pursued in all sorts of ways. First Lycogenes, i. e. the Duc de Guise, asked for her hand. Archombrotus soon killed him, but another secret rival, Radirobanes (who is the King of Spain) followed; he also tried to snare Argenis, but finally (under my leadership) Henri IV killed him. Henri today is played by two persons: while he is King of Navarre and a Protestant, he will be called Archombrotus and will be treated only as Argenis' brother. When he is King of France and a Catholic, then he will earn the right to be called Poliarchus and will marry Argenis, contrary to everyone's expectations. Thus you will have a true history.
spacer4. Today's play will show what a huge task it was to become our Argenis' husband. At my urging, all previous suitors have bloodily slaughtered each other, and finally Poliarchus alone wins the right to be her true spouse. Indeed, if I were not chained by this Cupid, I would have set no end to these thousand wars, these thousand battles. Thus peace arises from war and war from peace, and quiet is changed to riot, just as the latter is to the former. There is scarce any game more involved that that one which this pipsqueak and I have organized. You will see on this distinguished stage, after the tremendous overthrow of Argenis' suitors, that even the victors themselves are beaten by this boy, who has used his double arrow against this maiden, the most beautiful Argenis, whom you see here. He used his gold arrow on behalf of Poliarchus to create love, his lead arrow against Archombrotus to drive it away. But into both heroes he drove his gold arrow, and thus Argenis will be desperately loved by both, but she will love only the one but detest the other. You will see the end of the affair. This is the turning point of the plot, stirred up by Mars and Love, and which Fortune, if she wishes, resolves. Now, unless my eyes deceive me, over there is the maiden, over here is the young man shot by my Cupid. I know who you both are. Look, this one is done for, that one is hit. As far as I can see, that one has the gold arrow stuck in his heart, this one the lead arrow. blue And look, here are the three rivals, the miserable men who love one girl, but in vain. There stands the elderly lover, the bald old goat who lusts after that heifer; see how he constantly looks at her, how pleased he is with himself. I have to warn you spectators — at least those who remain unwounded — watch out for this boy lest you be infatuated as well! The only thing left is to say farewell. Watch out for yourselves with stout hearts in peace and in war, and — I almost forgot this point — give our poet an opportunity to prosper.

bar

ACT I, SCENE i
ARGENIS

OU maidens leave now for the women's quarters. We have walked enough. I'll be there soon. They have gone; now you are alone, miserable Argenis. What will I do; where can I turn? Everything aims at my ruin – Look, even this sun has turned his bright face from me; the day has taken on the robe of night. But for me, even the night redoubles its grief-filled shadows. All of Sicily is against me. Woe is me, unhappy am I, lost and practically dead! What is death? If I were dead, I would be happy and would put a period to my sufferings in eternal rest. What comfort will I ever have? Only this, that in this lonely place I can groan, I can weep, I can wail, I can pour out my misery to this air, these winds, these walls. There is nothing unhappier than to be happy, to be too beautiful. If I were not happy and beautiful, if I were not such a powerful king's only daughter and considered such a paragon, I would not be badgered and ruined by so many suitors.
spacer 2. Why should I mention first that wicked Lycogenes, that criminal tyrant, who drove from Sicily my one hope, my heart, my soul along with that heart — I mean Poliarchus? Why speak of my other suitor, that evil man Radirobanes, who came himself into Sicily as if wanting to defend my father against Lycogenes, but in fact secretly devising such an outrage that my chastity and even my life was in doubt. After Archombrotus killed Lycogenes, what did that evil Radirobanes leave undared or undone to ruin me? Right from the start this arrogant man brought matters to such a pass that the whole population of Sicily was hailing us as betrothed. Soon he attacked my father with entreaties and me with words. Nor did his abominable effrontery rest there. I had a nurse named Selenissa, whom I treated like a mother, like one who shared all my loves, my dreams, my thoughts. Radirobanes approached her with gifts, and not in vain. Selenissa revealed to him in every detail whatever I had done in life, whatever secret we held between us: how I was perishing with love for Poliarchus; how I had entertained him secretly in the castle under the guise of the maiden Theocrine; how he killed the bandits organized by Lycogenes who were trying to kidnap me at night; how my Poliarchus was thought to be Pallas Athena; how I became priestess of Pallas Athena; how Poliarchus in disguise greeted me as I was celebrating the rites of Pallas in the temple; how he was allowed into my presence and how I promised to be his wife; how he fled Sicily after killing three of Lycogenes ambassadors; how I was expecting his return every moment; and countless other matters, all of which Selenissa revealed to Radirobanes in detail. Then she advised him to take me by force, and for that purpose he organized a dance, where he tried to put my father and me on board ship and carry us away. If Archombrotus had not sniffed out the plot, and if I had not pretended to be sick and had not been carried by my litter-bearers from the beach into the city Epircte blue what else would I have been but the prey, the spoils of that wicked Radirobanes? But when he saw that his plot was frozen and dead, what further plots did that evil man contrive? He wrote a letter to my father in which he retailed everything that he had heard from Selenissa about me and Poliarchus. He wrote that the woman whom my father had first thought to be Theocrine, then Pallas, was in fact Poliarchus. What happened then? After reading the letter, my angry father summoned me. I confessed everything, but right away I summoned the traitorous Selenissa and pleaded with her to confess the real truth. As if struck by a thunderbolt, she pretended that she wanted to fetch a letter. In this letter she stated that I was chaste and that she had said nothing disparaging about me to Radirobanes. She sent this letter to the king, then with horrific effort stabbed herself with a sword. Thus Selenissa, my old nurse, perished.
spacer 3. After that Radirobanes left for home in Sardinia and a much bigger evil then fell on me, for my father immediately became worried about me. He was thinking about the violent desires of Lycogenes and of Radirobanes, whose outcome was still uncertain. He thought that others might appear, burning to seek me, that excellent maiden, and the royal scepter, unless happiness granted to one man might quiet the desires of all others. The recent death of Selenissa and the concealment of Theocrine also worried his mind. Finally he determined to give me, his daughter, in marriage to someone, thinking this the remedy to settle all his troubles. Soon he was dreaming, not just of his future son-in-law, but also of grandchildren, and this pleasure only encouraged his plans for me. Finally he called me into his room. First he talked about the disturbances in Sicily caused by Lycogenes and Radirobanes, who had been greedy for the royal power and hopeful of marrying me. Then he added, “Why should we hesitate to block this fount of so many evils?” He was going to look for a spouse for me, since I was under his authority. Then he came to Archombrotus, who was still living under the guise of a private individual, and he betrothed me to him. Then he told me what he had done. I could not refuse my father, but I did ask for a delay of two months. I thought that within this time (Alas!) my Poliarchus would arrive, and I wrote telling him everything about the marriage, about Radirobanes, about Selenissa's treachery, and I explained that if he came with an army within two months, I would join his forces; if he came unaccompanied, I would try every means of escape; but if he deserted me, during the very marriage ceremony I would stab myself to the heart with a short dagger which I will hide under my dress. I obliged Arsidas to carry this letter, but where he is now lurking, I have no way of knowing, nor can I find out from anyone when Poliarchus will arrive, or indeed whether he is still alive and how he is doing.
spacer4. Meanwhile a fortunate chance upset these troubles. Archombrotus sent a message to his mother in Africa and his mother wrote that he should come as soon as possible: Radirobanes was arming in order to destroy Africa; she was postponing Archombrotus' marriage, as is a mother's right, until such time as they could consult together. As a result Archombrotus rushed to my father and confessed his royal status—as I said, he had pretended to be an unknown, private person. He said that Hyanisbe, the queen of Mauritania in Africa was his mother; danger threatened his mother, danger from an enemy — and this enemy was the bandit Radirobanes! When my father heard this, balanced between joy and sorrow, he promised an alliance for the war and called Archombrotus his son-in-law. At the same time he congratulated me because I was going to marry such a king and sent Archombrotus off with Timonides, who is his ambassador to Hyanisbe.
spacer 5. Woe is me! So now my marriage is postponed only by the imminent war in Mauritania! Will these stupid poets continue to dedicate poems to me in which they sing of this marriage so hateful to me? It has been quite a while since Archombrotus sailed to Africa. On the same day of his departure, Gobryas came to me with a present from Poliarchus, who he said had been cast ashore by a storm in Africa. Gobryas with his fleet is now waiting for his king on the shores of Sicily. So now I am promised to Archombrotus, whom I dislike. I daily await Poliarchus, who alone has my heart, who alone has my promise of marriage. But if Archombrotus should arrive first so that I am forced to celebrate my postponed wedding, what else is left but to kill myself, as I had previously decided?
But I think I have sufficiently mourned my fate for now, and I will go inside, for I believe my father will be here soon, unless I'm mistaken. By Heavens, father has spotted me. I will remain here lest he suspect some trouble.

bar

ACT I, SCENΕ ii blue
MELEANDER, ARGENIS, A MERCHANT


Y affairs seem to be getting very complicated. But isn't that Argenis? Yes, it is. Come to me, my daughter.
spacerARG. Certainly, my beloved father.
spacerMEL. I'm not sure about this news that has just come to Sicily, affirmed by reputable sources.
spacerARG. What news?
spacerMEL. That someone named Poliarchus, the greatest French king, met Radirobanes in battle in Mauritania and slew his enemy.
spacerARG. Who said this?
spacerMEL. I have it from merchants who left Africa after Radirobanes' defeat.
spacerARG. Perhaps it is Archombrotus!
spacerMEL. You are wrong, my child. How could I believe that he killed Radirobanes, since he and his Sicilian fleet could not yet have reached his mother in Africa. But look, here is the chief of these merchants, whom I ordered to come to me, since I am eager to hear the news. Merchant, please, are you reporting what you only heard about Poliarchus, or were you there at the crisis?
spacerMERCH. O great King Meleander, I was then in Mauritania when Poliarchus first landed his army in aid of Queen Hyanisbe. Soon the Sardinians came with a great force led by their Radirobanes. There had been two battles before Poliarchus killed Radirobanes and the Sardinians quitted Africa in disorderly haste. Other than that I know nothing, for we then set out on our business of exchanging goods.
spacerMEL. So now you can leave, o merchant.
spacerMERCH. Farewell, Ever-victorious Meleander.
spacerMEL. I can scarcely believe him, when I ponder the vicissitudes of Radirobanes and the good fortune of Hyanisbe, but my chief stumbling block is the name Poliarchus. Is this the man who saved me, the one who was Lycogenes' enemy, who was once so dear to me under the guise of a private individual, who was so unjustly driven out by me? This merchant has certainly created doubts on top of the doubts which I already had.
spacerARG. Nor do I know what we should think, father.
spacerMEL. I'll go indoors to ponder this more carefully.
spacerARG. And I will leave for the women's quarters.

bar

ACT I, SCENE iii
ARGENIS

E is gone. Argenis, what have you learned from this merchant whom my father summoned here? I am astounded at all of it. How many joys, how many jealousies assail me? I especially wonder at what business of such weight my Poliarchus might have with Archombrotus' mother that he has enough leisure to protect Hyanisbe while neglecting Sicily. Was Poliarchus finishing a war for his absent rival, who knows nothing of this? Is he so unmindful of his pledged word and his return to me, while every day, every lonely place torments me, his spouse, disfigured by tears? I hate my lover Archombrotus for no greater reason than that he wants to deprive me of Poliarchus. Or does Poliarchus, forgetting his love for me and his hate for Archombrotus, help his rival so that he may return to Africa even more gloriously? But this mention of Radirobanes well pleases my spirits, so grieved by these thoughts. Perhaps Poliarchus fought, not for Hyanisbe, but for me. Perhaps he wanted, not to help Archombrotus, but to vanquish Radirobanes. I cannot wish for myself a more welcome fortune than the destruction of Radirobanes. The gods have doubled their favor by having Radirobanes pay for his crimes beneath the sword of Poliarchus. As I hear this, my mind is solaced by the greatness of victory for which Poliarchus is praised, and I hope that I will very soon receive some letter from him. But why am I staying here so long? I will go to the women's quarters and wait for Gobryas, for today he sent a message by Eurymedes that he wanted to have some words with me.

Go to Act II