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

ACT IV SCENE i
MELEANDER, ARGENIS

OU see the sad condition of our state, my Argenis.
spacerARG. I do see it, dear father.
spacerMEL. But among these troubles it has been reported to me that Archombrotus' ships have joined Poliarchus and are anchored in such peace and quiet as if they formed one navy.
spacer ARG. This is something worth wondering at, that there is such agreement between rivals, and indeed mortal enemies.
spacerMEL. I can scarce believe what has just been told me; they report that ambassadors have arrived at the harbor who say they are from both kings, Archombrotus and Poliarchus. When Archombrotus joined forces with Poliarchus off the coast at Paconia, the Sicilians wh o sailed with them and were hurrying into their own country begged to be set ashore at the harbor without delay, but with one voice both kings forbade any ship to leave the fleet. As I hear, they have sent Gelanorus and Micipsa in a barque as ambassadors to me. They will shortly be here, unless I am mistaken. But I am most astounded that the two together are sending envoys.
spacer ARG. This thing certainly worries me greatly, father. {To herself] Has there been an agreement between the rivals? In this dispute has one yielded to the other? I would really like to know which one will win the thanks for freeing Sicily from a war. What terms, what conditions have settled these hatreds?
Nothing. I was only deploring that all of Sicily is so unfortunate.
spacerMEL. This one thing sounds strange to my ears, Argenis.
spacer ARG. What is that, father?
spacerMEL. That Archombrotus is called a king. I am very afraid the his mother Queen Hyanisbe had paid her dues to fate. I don't know what to think of this, except that I see finally a glimmer of hope for peace.
spacer ARG. But it is not clear to me whether I should grieve or rejoice, but I do fear this agreement and am afraid that they have made some pact about marrying me. What if they have cast lots for me in some base, trivial wager? What if I have fallen to Archombrotus all unwillingly?
spacerMEL. Be of good spirits, Argenis. Do not call a council while you are in such a mixture of grief and sorrow. blue The die is already cast for our kingdom. Let's wait with patience and good hope for the outcome.

bar

ACT IV, SCENE ii
MICIPSA, GELANORUS, MELEANDER, ARGENIS

S this Meleander's palace, Gelanorus?
spacerGEL It is, Micipsa. And isn't that the king there, standing and talking with Argenis?
spacerMEL Look, Argenis, here is Gelanorus with Micipsa. I am certainly eager to see what matters they are bringing.
spacer ARG. And I am waiting with great longing to hear what they want.
spacerMEL. I will embrace them both. Greetings, Gelanorus, and you too, Micipsa, greetings.
spacerGEL. blue Poliarchus and Archombrotus, the King of Sardinia, are waiting in your waters near the island of Paconia, and they have sent us to entreat you that they may as friends enter the harbor and come both together into your presence.
spacerMIC. O king, be assured that Archombrotus would not have stood on ceremony or have asked leave through an ambassador, but that the business was such the he could not rightly land in Sicily or approach the king without the company of Poliarchus.
spacerMEL. Why should Sicily not be open to friends? Indeed, let them land at whatever harbor they prefer from the whole island. I will receive them on the shore when they arrive, or I will go to them while they are still at sea.
spacerMIC. My king, we give you this notice, if you please: it will be a great favor to our kings if you would spare this meeting and wait for them in the palace.
spacerMEL. Then you shall tell your kings in my name that I grant them this, so that I might neglect my own duty rather than their commands. My duty was to meet them near Paconia, but since they so command, I will await them here.
spacerGEL. There is one more thing, o greatest King of Sicily Meleander, which I desire from you in my king's name.
spacerMEL. Speak, Gelanorus, and tell me what it is.
spacerGEL. You know yourself, O King, that he has many enemies among the Sicilians, Therefore for his safe conduct, he asks that his army be admitted into Sicily, and he pledges by his royal honor that his soldiers will do no harm.
spacerMEL. We will provide for all provisions, Gelanorus, and I will not consider myself without soldiers as long as the army of my friend, your king, is in Sicily. But I want to ask one final thing: why is Archombrotus called King of Sardinia? Is Queen Hyanisbe still in good health?
spacer2. GEL. blue She lives in very good health. I will tell you, o king, as you have commanded, why Archombrotus is named King of Sardinia. After he left Sicily and you, he was staying with his mother Hyanisbe in Africa, when, look, news came from Sardinia that the whole island was ablaze with civil war. Harsicora and Cornius, the nephews of Radirobanes, were wrecking with ferocious warfare the kingdom which they both sought.
spacerMEL. For this reason, you bring me strange, unfamiliar news.
spacerspacerGEL. Because of this, o King Meleander, Archombrotus conceived a hope that this nation, riven by faction and still bristling with weapons aimed at Africa, might be overwhelmed, if its enemy were quick about it. So that the strong army which he had gathered in Sicily might not be wasted and so that Poliarchus might not enjoy a second triumph in Mauritania, and since he was then at leisure and Poliarchus' illness was postponing their return to Sicily, he took the army which he had brought from Africa to Sardinia, adding to it the Moorish auxiliary forces.
spacerMEL. I now clearly see where this story leads.
spacerMIC. He did promise his mother and Poliarchus that whether he won, or whether he failed to enjoy the gods' favor, he would not be away from Africa more than one month.
spacerMEL. So what happened then?
spacerGEL. Sent off with this stipulation, Archombrotus enjoyed universal favor from the gods, practically more than his wishes. His victory was so effortless that, aside from calling a council of war and invasion and the trial of one battle, Fortune scarcely left him an opportunity for displaying his courage. He first found the harbors deserted, left a garrison there, then deployed his soldiers. He soon occupied the heights from which all of Sardinia, unwholesome but fertile, could be seen. The Sardinians had already joined battle among themselves, fighting over the kingdom, and these cruel contests had wasted the best of the noblemen and warriors. So the miserable remnants, having ruined their own nation, fought for Archombrotus. They spied his forces on the heights and sent scouts to discover the nature and number of the enemy. (The camps of the two kinsmen had been pitched not far away on the adjoining plain.) When they heard that Moors and Sicilians were there and that the sea was controlled by a splendid fleet, they rejected the only plan which could have led to their survival, to lay aside their civic dissention and unite forces against a foreign enemy who was still unfamiliar with the area. Instead one of them, Harsicora, beaten in the last battle and despairing of victory, surrendered to Archombrotus in order to (if nothing else) deprive his rival of the kingdom.
spacerMIC. There is so little loyalty to one's home and country in civil wars that men often prefer to ruin their own country and to place themselves under a foreign yoke rather than yield to any fellow-citizen, just as if the abasement of surrender is more, if you submit to those you know, and less because of the foreignness of your masters.
spacerMEL. You speak nothing but the truth, Micipsa. But, Gelanorus, what did Cornius, Radirobanes' other nephew, try to do?
spacerGEL. Driven by a noble impulse, he gathered together his final strength and led his men to battle. Directly attacking his rival, who had defected to Archombrotus, as I said, he took his life.
spacerMEL. Whose life?
spacerMIC. I mean Harsicora's.         
spacerGEL. But he himself did not survive, overwhelmed by the multitude of Moors, who mixed the blood of the two cousins in a deadly end to their ambitions.
spacerspacer 3. MIC. In addition the extraordinary courage of Archombrotus shown in this battle much dismayed the Sardinians. When they were at least either slain or put to flight, he made use of his good fortune and brought his army to the main citadels.
spacerGEL. He had a few skirmishes with the conquered people. His chief effort was at Calaris, where the people made a disorderly sally, but driven back inside their walls, the next day they changed their minds and sent envoys to treat of surrender. Virtiganes died shortly before, happy in that he did not see these miseries. A few who could not endure to serve foreign masters fled to the Cunicularian Islands in the narrow strait which separates Sardinia from Corsica. From there they passed over into Corsica, which also suffered a like conquest, and they hid in the mountains of Liguria.
spacerMIC. This is also worth mentioning: there was a common rumor among the Sardinians that this disaster for both kings and country in Sardinia happened by the angry hands of the gods, because Radirobanes had violated the sanctity of a temple which they considered most holy, about ten miles from Calaris and dedicated to Celestial Jupiter. At its altar were many gifts of gold and silver, and their old kings had hallowed there a small image of the god himself of solid gold. All of these thing Radirobanes took away as he was setting sail for Africa under the vain name of “loan” for the expenses of the war. He also harshly treated the priests themselves, which many at the time took as a sad presage, as was later confirmed by the calamity which befell the Sardinians. They considered nothing more sacred than that temple, and the reverend priests were honored by the people as gods within reach. This report of Radirobanes' sacrilege and the temple's holiness, being talked about on all sides, compelled Archombrotus to visit the temple himself.
spacerspacer 4. MEL. But, Gelanorus, what was Archombrotus' final task?
spacerGEL All things now in readiness for his return, Archombrotus placed garrisons in the most suitable places and proclaimed by a herald in an assembly that he had invaded Sardinia for the benefit of his mother Hyanisbe; that the gods had appointed that differences between their kings should no longer afflict both nations; and that fate had finally restored Sardinia to his family, whose possession it was by right of ancestry. Then taking the noblemen of Sardinia with him, especially those who were of royal blood, the winds served him so well that on the thirtieth day after leaving Africa he placed the crown of his new kingdom on this mother's head. This, o great king, is why Archombrotus is adorned with the title King of Sardinia.
spacerMEL. But Gelanorus, was Poliarchus not the victor in Africa?
spacerGEL. Indeed he was, from the time when he attacked Radirobanes, when the latter was making war on Queen Hyanisbe.
spacerMEL. That is what I heard. But have Poliarchus' wounds taken a turn for the worse? Is he still feverish and under the care of physicians?
spacerGEL. He escaped the fever better than expected and is now safe and sound. But as I said, before Archombrotus left for Sardinia, one of the graver and more dangerous of Poliarchus' wounds was neglected and became inflamed with such pain that his fever returned, since his body was still so weak. But now he is quite well.
spacerMEL. This certainly fills me with no small joy. Therefore, my friends, tell your kings that the time has been set for them to arrive, if the winds allow.
spacerMIC. This will be done, great king. We will return to our barque.

bar

ACT IV, SCENE iii blue
MELEANDER, ARGENIS

HEY have gone. Now assuredly everything is a puzzle to me.
spacerARG. (To herself.) Nothing encourages me more than the fact that Poliarchus asks to be admitted with a strong army. Of course this upsets my father quite a bit. But how gladly would I like to talk with Gelanorus privately! How often have I anxiously glanced at him, in doubts about my own safety, and he glanced back.
spacerARG. I cannot help trembling when I think that Poliarchus has renewed his memory of his old injuries owing to the long-standing hostility of the Sicilians. I am becoming even more fearful about receiving his armed forces into my kingdom — and who knows if they are at all friendly! — since whatever he might devise, whatever he might wish, I could not deny him without the danger of a massacre, armed as he is. But I see greater perils hanging over my head if I, unprovided with defense and doubting how I may trust Argenis, should deny this request to a king so well equipped, and perhaps by this means seeking an excuse for war. But I think it fit to spare neither treasure nor other provision: if Poliarchus comes as a friend, I will give worthy entertainment to so great a king;  if worse should happen, I might at least die magnificently. I will order the delivery of all kinds of food and any other comforts for those just coming from the sea. The most precious and richest of the household furnishings will adorn the palace: gold and ivory couches, tapestry of many colors, and magnificent statues of brass and silver. The town will be too little to receive all the people who flock to Palermo to see the outcome of the spectacle. They will bring as offerings to the temple what riches each one has. But now I will go inside to direct each person to what must be done.
spacerARG Now, father, I will wait here a while, because I seem to hear a man's voice.

bar

ACT IIII, SCENE iv blue
NUNCIUS, ARGENIS

HAT news, what joys I bring!
spacerARG. I will summon the messenger to discover which way the wind is blowing. Fellow, what are you saying?
spacerMESS. O queen, the shore is full of nobles and common people, as if the gods were coming with all this pomp. Eurymedes and Arsidas, who had been sent with ships by Meleander to both Poliarchus and Archombrotus, increased the number of ships in a wonderful way. But the flagships were not the first to come to shore. Since the harbor was about two miles distant from the town, Gobryas could scarcely land part of the French army in three hours; they amounted to 3000 armed men. In addition Micipsa led about 2000 Moors. They stood in armor under their banners in squadrons, as if they were to march forth in ranks, except that most of them had their heads bare, putting off their helmets. Finally his flagship landed Poliarchus on Sicily, and as soon as he touched its soil, as if the guardian spirit of the land inspired him with great emotion, he was torn between hope and fear and trembled almost to an alteration of his appearance.
spacerARG. You tell me astonishing things. But what did Archombrotus do?
spacerMESS. Poliarchus waited for him at the seaside, and he arrived at the same place less than an hour later. King Meleander had sent excellent horses with princely equipage, upon which they mounted.
spacerARG. In what garb did Poliarchus appear?
Mes. In quite magnificent garb, my Lady. Poliarchus had on a cloak in his native fashion of various colors and wore trousers almost hidden with jewels. A golden chain encircling his neck and left arm held his sword in an ivory scabbard with jeweled bosses. Upon his bare arms he had bracelets of refined gold. His head, that with his long and bright combed locks show well enough without any adornment, was bound about with a garland of gold-wrought purple. Above all this the radiance of his countenance and the spirit of his handsome grace shone forth and made every motion, every gesture of his pleasing. You will not believe, o queen, how the people gazed at him, how they cheered him, and how much those who remembered that they had seen him in a private garb now blamed themselves for not apprehending that the gods bestow no such rare endowments on any but kings. But when Archombrotus also mounted, being in appearance little inferior to the other and bearing his state with equal courage, attired in the usual garb of a Moorish king, the people's affections were for a time wavering and almost divided. But soon their wishes grew equal as a sign of good luck, and they applauded both with remarkable unanimity. But why do I delay reporting this same news to King Meleander?
spacerARG. Indeed, fellow, come inside with me to find him.
spacerMESS. As you wish, my queen.

Go to Act V