Commentary notes can be accessed by clicking on a blue square. The Latin text can be accessed by clicking on a green square.
ACT II, SCENE i
Aldo and Aripert continue to conspire.
ALDO How sluggish the space of a day! I believe that tonight, so often sought by my prayers, will never fall. Lower your shadows, night! The course of a single day seems a year, and while a single sun passes, I imagine that it has lost way, that is being blindly carried through trackless wastes, and that its chariot has become ice-bound, frozen in in the north. Thus it creeps its sluggish way along its celestial ascent. Phoebus, you charioteer, use your whip on your team of horses, arouse the lazy beasts. Aethon grows languid, feeble Phlegon sleeps. Shake off your laziness, seek your setting at a headlong pace. Hide your head in the ocean, leave the sky to your sister.
ARIP. Come, Aldo, stir your breast, pregnant with schemes. Devote yourself to shrewdness, continue at a steady pace. Focus your sinews, your vigor, your strength, your guile, and all of Aldo on your arts. Now the time is at hand, Phoebus is preparing to plunge his chariot into the ocean, and soon night will cast its first shadows over the land. Good luck with your spirits, good luck with your new-found courage. Show yourself a stout fellow, show you are a trusty one.
ALDO Good luck with your anxious fear, Aripert. No effort or faith will be lacking for Aldo, as long as this flame burns my being with the fire of Aetna, as long as this fury pent up in my marrow waxes hot. While my hatred lives, my care will not fail me, nor my steel, my strength, my hands. You likewise spread your nets and with a single hand let us unite our cleverness. This night you must prepare games for the prince, and applause, the sign of a grateful mind, and involve the entire court in various dances. Meanwhile I’ll secretly lead my father’s armed bands into the city. When you hear the city thrown into an uproar by our commotion, and our drums beating in the streets, lay your hands on the king and hale him before your father as a captive. Hear me, Aripert.
ARIP. Although I am attacked by the axes bound in his fasces, Aldo, I’ll do as I am told. But see with what a timely step he approaches. [Enter Luitpert.]
ACT II, SCENE ii
Aripert invites Luitpert to the entertainments.
ARIP. Noble prince, shining brilliance of Italy, if all the gems which the rich Orient cherishes in its bosom, all the golden wealth the sand of the Tagus rolls along and the Pactolus bears in its gleaming water were mine to command, with those gifts I could not repay your favors and your affection. It is by your doing that I enjoy the light of a youth rejoicing in its years. But, my price, I will prepare these trifling gifts, which are all that I can do: entertainments, in which I shall feign myself to be rescued by flight from my father’s dire threats, and represent your intervention with happy applause.
KING Aripert, the grateful love you keep pent within your being cannot help but shine forth, no power can keep it within its bounds, it bursts forth, it flies abroad. This gem of a thrice-grateful mind surpasses the wares of the Red Sea, and whatever a man who drinks from the Tagus or the Tiber heaps up in the bosom of his golden treasure-house. The loyalty of a steadfast mind is the only gem.
ARIP. Receive these entertainments. I shall prepare the pantomimes upon which I have decided.
KING I shall attend, I’ll be a willing spectator.
ARIP. I’ll go and arrange the dances, my prince. [Exit.]
ROTH. Although your friendly mind could scarcely hope for better defenses against vain fears, my prince, my loyalty and love of you bid me say a few things. Luitpert, protect yourself against this young stranger, guard against entrusting your life to this guest. Your incautious love has deluded your mind. I fear the unsteady faith and trickery of exiles.
KING What treachery can exist in soft dancing?
ROTH. Sirens often sing so as to attract a ship to hidden reefs.
KING Why should Aripert plot schemes against an innocent man?
ROTH. When desire for kingship is upon him, who is not guilty?
KING Can anyone hate those who loves him, as he would like to do? Nature forbids.
ROTH. If once the ardor for doing damage strikes one’s heart, the laws of nature count for nothing.
KING His love is attested by what he says and does.
ROTH. A liar often conceals himself behind pretend love, so that his hatred may deceive. A panther, concealed from the herd by hiding under a skin, easily deceives the poor cattle. I don’t like Aldo’s arrogant face, his nods, his whispers, his words, the company he keeps, his fury. Aripert is his constant companion, and often secretly utters ambiguous words. Don’t scorn this. Often those who disdain the first signs of trickery suddenly groan, when they are beset by unexpected woes and grow wise too late.
KING Although my affection for Aripert forbids me to fear him, I have no contempt for your advice. So now, while the stage gives us its festive entertainments, let a loyal company of lords encircle me, and many soldiers stand guard at my side.
ACT II, SCENE iii
Aldo secretly brings Ragumbert to the city.
ALDO At last dark night envelops the dying day in its dusky shadows and Phoebus, bending his head, plunges his shining locks in the Western Sea. I am happy to see this. Continue, night, bring on your shadows. My dice are given a happy throw, we are involved in great undertakings. Show your favor to our undertakings, Fortune. And you too. you globes of the stars, shine on my wishes with a more serene light. Come, my courage, muster your strength, rouse my careworn heart, steel yourself for slaughter. [Enter Grauso and Ragumbert.]
GRAU. Brother, bringing his cohorts here, Ragumbert is near to the city. He occupies the nearby hills.
ALD. My spirit rejoices, I’ll go to meet him. Noble prince, for whom a happy Fortune is preparing honors, standing high before your throne you will wield a noble scepter in your victorious hand before the sun brings back his locks, rich with the gems of the Orient and returns the golden day from the ruddy sea.
RAG. When with your deeds you show that which rumor reports to be true, Aldo, Ragumbert’s favor and bountiful gifts from his generous hand await you.
ALDO Now the crisis of our affairs is at the boiling-point. At court, Aripert is preparing entertainments. Until he has the king preoccupied with the dancing, let us remain in concealment. And when night brings nine o’cock, let our keen martial uproar fill everything. Meanwhile this place is fit for our concealment.
ALDO. We’ll follow, Aldo. [To his followers.] Do as this loyal man commands. May heaven favor us with a happy omen.
ACT II, SCENE iv
While Aripert distracts the king and his lords with the entertainment, Aldo introduces Ragumbert into the city and takes it.
REX Come, my lords, and while the time is favorable let us watch the dancing with glad minds.
After being exiled and having all but lost his hope, Themistocles is once more encouraged by winds and satyrs in a dream.
ARIP. What a wonderful apparition captivates my mind during a sweet dream! Am I mistaken, or does a sure vision present itself in my dream? What’s this? See how an anchor lies before my feet, wreathed with a fresh garland. What light zephyr blesses me with its serene breeze? As I wander, with its prosperous breeze it puts me in hope of an unexpected crown. I shall follow, I shall follow wherever happy Fortune calls me as it runs its lucky course. You soft company belonging to Aeolus, come hither, sweetly ruffling the sea with your gentle air. Waft my ship to its longed-for harbor.
And so, hastening to Xerxes, he is given a kindly reception, and receives from the insignia of a dukedom, and also soldiers.
Aripert seizes this opportunity to capture the king, but in vain.
The city is taken.
ALDO Treason! Let arms be drawn by your brave hands. Use your steel, my lords, to prevent this impious crime.
ACT II, SCENE v
Ragumbert dies during the taking of Pavia.
RAG. Well fought, you noble martial band. And well played, my son. I congratulate you on gaining this triumph, you by your strenuous handiwork, and you by your entertainments. You took Pavia by your warlike martial enterprise, and Aripert by his noble art. Fitting rewards and honor await your actions and your words: a trophy for the soldiers, and a scepter for you.
ALDO Long live the king. Gather up the spoils of routed Luitpert. Aldo keeps his promises, now take your kingdom and mount the happy steps to sit high on the throne.
RAG. We congratulate you, Aldo, Your handiwork shows you are brave and warlike, your loyalty ennobles you. As long as my life continues, I shall always be mindful of Aldo, always mindful of the work he has done on my behalf. Soon Ragumbert will pay you your just honors. But what upheaval is vexing my vitals? Pain is eating at my heart. I am failing, the heat is deserting my trembling guts. Help me, my son. I die.
ARIP. What strange thing is this? Support him, my lords! How a horrible pallor comes over his sad face! King Ragumbert, my father, lift up your face. He palpitates, he sweats, he trembles. The heat departs his bones, death sits wholly on his face. Oh dire Fortune. Impious and always averse to my undertakings! Oh heaven, my enemy! Oh how You hurl your darts at my head from all sides in Your fury, how You brandish Your lightning. My father lies, taken off by an unspeakable death. The enemy presses, the faith of our citizenry wavers. For you give me as a trophy to my enemies, bound by their treacherous nets. Now I shall be dragged behind the chariot of Luitpert himself, my hands bound tight with chains, and, swelling with pride, the boy will plant his haughty foot on my neck. Bah, the shameful thing! Sooner, I pray, may the earth yawn and hide me in its hidden caverns, or may you hurl your forked lightning and fire at this head with your cruel hand, you heaven. Burst, you could, hurl your fires and flames.
GRAU. Aripert, you must keep your sorrow pent up in your silent heart, stifle your groaning, and keep your shattered mind from failing because of your father’s death. If you yield, Fortune will trip you up with her savage foot, and overwhelm you as you lie prostrate. Smooth your face. If our soldiers see you overcome by your father’s death, they’ll grow pale with fear, turn tail, and shamefully run off homewards. But if manly strength remains on your face, scorning the mad darts of Fortune, her deadly threats and cruel storms, the soldiers will enter battle with bold steps to confront and flay their enemies. So come, let no signs of grief mark your face. Do not change your garments, beware of creating fear by showing any signs of grief or doubt with your expression.
ARIP. I shall obey, Grauso, and put an end to my complaints. And, lest any whisper of this unlucky catastrophe be wafted to our enemy, order our gates to be locked with care, and set a large guard on our high walls, to keep watch until tomorrow brings its news.
Go to Act III