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PROCRIS dressed as a huntress

How much you can accomplish, habit! You can justly be called a second nature. Thus as Nature’s rival you are wont to mix the welcome with the tedious, the unwelcome with the sweet. When my shame sought out this asylum and concealed me from hateful men, what a sad life I led! I was alone, bereft of the implements of my prior feminine luxury, with one woman decorating my hair, a second my clothing, and a third devoting equal care to equally foolish things. To pass the long nights, I used to lie in my hard bed and complain of love and men’s cheating and steely hearts, with Echo singing along. Now, heedless of these evils, I freely enjoy the forest, and, chaste, I mingle with Phoebe’s chaste crew. We are seized by no proud craving for power, great concern for servitude does not shatter us, the favor of any single person does not distress us in our confusion, nor does the dislike of the common man or the fair breeze of popular favor lift us up or cast us down like a thunderbolt. Unjust deceit is foreign to us, hope conjoined with fear does not trouble us, but rather our easy pleasure encourages a trouble-free mind. So I either chase fleet rabbits with my harmless hound, cleverly stretch cunning nets for prey, or, running long distances on my pursuing foot, I terrorize the deer, at once seeking to make myself hungry and gain my dinner. And I am not too elegant in my cookery: mixing my morning pottage at the very table, I eat carefree, and I relieve my thirst with the waters which bountiful Nature provides from nearby springs. When night urges me, the chattering birds gradually induce easy sleep. Puffing out her throat, with her sweet sound Philomela gains a new tongue, though Tereus disapproves, wearing the form she unwillingly gained thanks to her fidelity, and she joins me in cursing Athens and cursing men. Forgetting love, I thus enjoy the open air and empty countryside, and live my life with heaven my witness. Here no vices, no suspicion cause me pain. A local gang of satyrs is joined to me by the firm faith of an inviolable pact, since they fear the divinity of Diana, being that she’s the goddess of the glades. And so that, always intermingled with my bevy, they might grow civil, they always have the time for conversations and drag out long days in sweet song. But look, Diana, the goddess of the forest is coming.


Enter Diana with Nymphs.

DIA. Where’s my Procris? Procris, how do you like the rustic life? How are you pleased by my rules? They’re not too severe? Everything’s sweet, as are you yourself. Tell me, you who have known the rewards of chaste Venus (for only these pleased you when you enjoyed them, you scorned the rest), are you able to dwell in the forest?
PROC. I can. You have proved, I trust, to be a greater divinity than Jove.
DIA. Oh doubly worthy of my love! For the others have sought out my life fleeing foul debauchery, incestuous love, and the base bed of adultery. But the love of me has sent you from chaste wedlock and the joys of a still-new marriage to these solitary places, and made you love these groves. You deserve some special favor, you are closest to me in love and honor. You may set aside this bow, a token of the grace the common run of my followers enjoy, abandon your quiver, just like that the other Nymphs use, take this spear, and know that neither Phoebus’ quiver nor that of Cupid contains no missile more accurate than yours. It is the equivalent of a thousand common ones, sooner will Apollo bear an empty quiver or Jupiter an unarmed hand than you will have cause to complain. Fate rides on its point. Fortune has no power over it, nor does heaviness or lightness, or any human arm. Whatever quarry you mark with your eyes and throw at, letting fly with your hand, it will hit, and quickly come back to you, victorious in its killing. And take this hound, he is noble for his quick running and is justly named Laelaps, for thus he outruns his companions, quicker than the wind. Gird yourself for the hunt, Procris. How much today’s sport will prove to you the worth of these gifts! (Exeunt.)


Enter Cephalus, the ward, Damalis, and Charinda.

CEPH. You could have persuaded her.
WARD Look here, she saw us and fled. No more timid gentle kidling could ever follow its mother in vain terror, coming shivering out of the woods
CEPH. Let us conceal ourselves here, until she comes this way in pursuit of her prey. Oh you gods whose concern is love, help me. I am not seeking new ardors, being driven by the passions of disgraceful lust. I am not seeing forbidden loves or unlawful amours. Rather as a chaste suitor I am seeking for my own marriage, which I falsely gained, but lost in fact.

PROCRIS at the hunt, EUMETIS

EU. Here a few words, Nymph, open your ears to your old friend.
PROC. The goddess will miss my company.
EU. Trust me, you’ll go away more gratefully. Or don’t you see that she’s taken away your quiver and bow? What a disgrace! Among all these girls you alone lack a quiver. The goddess grants this symbol of chastity to her followers, and I myself am surprised that you dare to join her virginal band, having been guilty of debauchery. Diana will suffer only virgins to remain in her company of women, she who has appointed her groves as temples of pure chastity, and refuses to tolerate them as an asylum for urban folks’ vice.
PROC. Poor me! Will the woods itself reject me as unworthy, does dark suspicion dwell in the very forest?
EU. Is it for no good purpose that the birds have eyes and tongues? Here dwells the chattering magpie, he’s an eloquent bird, and the crow, who’s a chatterbox even if he suffers his due punishment.
PROC. What hope is left? In what cave can I hide my shame together with myself?
EU. You should quickly leave the forest, go to the city, and take refuge in your palace. Learn to pretend, and live as a good woman, if only in appearance.
PROC. I am a simple person and do not know how to pretend or hide behind falsehood. Everybody who sees me will read my vices in my ashamed demeanor.
EU. Everybody is mindful of his own vices, and will forgive yours. He readily grants pardon who requires it himself. Its austere chastity makes the forest severe. It is more savage in punishing the evils of which it itself is free.
PROC. Can my husband be heedless of such a great crime?
EU. When he remembers your faults he’ll rue his own. (Cephalus and the women burst out of their hiding-place. Procris sees them and is about to flee, but Eumetis detains her.)
WARD Is this your love? Are these the ardent prayers with which you besought Cephalus from Venus when you were a virgin? Are these the marriage-bows you made when you joined your welcome hands in the sacred rite? You promised your husband a love that would last two months? And that before your anniversary it would end in evil hatred?
PROC. Am I worthy of a husband? And of Cephalus? Let it go, my ward.
WARD. Are you are being cruel to your husband, because you were easy with others?
DAM. Do you refuse to forgive yourself?
CHAR. When the one man you beg for forgiveness grants it?
DAM. We beg you, if you have any care for us.
CHAR. In the name of these tears, change your cruel mind.
WARD I beg you in the name of my mother’s ashes, and whatever remains in me of my father, my husband, myself, or you.
PROC. This is a wife’s sense of shame, my husband. I ask you by my old love, inflict what punishment you want. For punishment is the forgiveness you ought to grant to Procris.
CEPH. Rather, in unwillingly offending you I myself ask forgiveness.
PROC. I faithlessly sinned against my marriage to you.
CEPH. I deserved it, rashly mistrusting your sense of shame.
PROC. I admitted love for another man into my heart.
CEPH. My mad suspicion overcame my love.
PROC. Which my fault shows to have been very justified.
CEPH. Which your constancy has shown to be impious. A wall of brass would yield to a lesser assault. Diana would succumb to such a gift, were not her unhandsomeness a guardian of her chastity.
PROC. But it is an impious thing to wound a loving husband.
CEPH. I think I myself would have yielded, were such presents given me. Then too, there was the evil-urging tongue of this hoary old man. An old man’s tongue ought to be an oracle of morality, but he turns vices into virtues.
EU. I acknowledge that, Cephalus. And to erase my crime I have striven to return her to you. Forgive me, Procris. I was filthy old man. Ignorant of the scheme, I wanted to make you a genuine adulteress.
CEPH. This kiss is a token of my forgiveness.
PROC. Our future love will erase both our faults, it will disprove yours and undo mine. Other than yourself, no man will please me, not even Jupiter himself: be your own rival.
CEPH. I’d choose Procris over Venus, let me be chaste.
PROC. Farewell, forest, once my delight. You too severe glades, you rough retreat, stern, with a heart foreign to love — as love is to this place. And farewell to you too, great Diana, together with your woods, until I am pregnant and call upon Lucina. And I shall grant to you these tokens of my service to Phoebe, my husband, this spear and dog. They possess this great virtue, that they never return home empty-handed. Thus the Fates guide them when they are let loose.
CEPH. These are very welcome gifts, but let us quickly leave these places and seek our own home. As often as this day returns in the course of the year, I want it to be held in greater honor than our wedding-day. That day only gave me Procris, but today has given her back. You girls, we hope to witness your dancing and sports, so that today will abound in rejoicing. May the gods grant that the single thing that our mutual concern for each other seeks, the balm for our love, will be a loathing of lovers! (Exeunt omnes.)