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




OBLE sir, for many days I was doubtful that I should offer you this comedy of mine, Emma the Porter, composed in the style of Plautus and Terence, believing that you have your hands too full of serious cares and activities to allow yourself to be distracted by these comic trivialities. Nevertheless both your outstanding elegance of manner and your invaluable kindness towards literature and those who study it have spurred me on and encouraged me to lay aside any hesitation and to boldly entrust this daughter of the great Charlemagne to your patronage.
spacer2. As I begin my dedication I will say nothing about the glories of your family, which has flourished from ancient times, nothing about your outstanding knowledge of literature, nothing about the wisdom gathered from your long experience in public affairs and combined with gracious eloquence, nothing about the vital activities of every kind which you have undertaken for our beloved homeland Württemberg with the praise of all, nothing about your embassies to the highest lords, which you accomplished skillfully and nobly, nothing finally about the laborious efforts which you made on behalf of this Collegium Illustre, this flourishing seedbed and garden of princes, counts, barons and other nobility. All civilized and fair-minded men rightly admire to the highest degree all this in you, and each aspect is celebrated in the voices raised in everlasting praise by all our greatest men.
spacer3. At this present moment I value and esteem this particular quality in you, a quality which many men seem to consider valueless and at which they sneer with raised lip. And what is this quality? It is your devoted, loving concern that our tender youth be advanced in their praiseworthy connection to the arts and literature. If I may be permitted to survey your whole life, we will find that its entire course has been devoted to the pleasures of the Muses and of literature. As a child you were imbued with a wonderful abundance of the civilized arts. As a young man you attended the academies with the greatest benefits to your talents. Thirty years ago you landed in Wittenberg; from there twenty-five years ago you greeted Württemberg and soon came into this city and to the Collegium Illustre with the greatest hopes. Because of your outstanding merits, your experience in public affairs, and your wisdom, you were highly recommended to the most revered father of our country, our hero who can never be sufficiently praised, Duke Johann Friedrich. Enrolled for some time in his cabinet, you were soon put in charge of this Collegium Illustre, and all your strength and all your efforts aimed at this one goal (apart from the benefits to the state, which are always of concern to you): to enrich the beloved offspring of distinguished, noble families with the marvelous ornaments of literature and morality. spacer
spacer4. All too frequently the following happens: those who have learned to rule others well and have developed a keen insight when examining their subjects' morals and habits, still by some fatal blindness (or perhaps carelessness) are more blind than Tiresias when it comes to supervising their own children. But you have acted far differently than those men. You have allowed, indeed commanded, that your sons be raised and educated with such diligence that (although they are still of a very youthful age) they surpass in their learning a very great number of those who are older in years. While these other young men waste their time uselessly in playing, wandering around, doing nothing, and the other impediments to learning and to developing a cultivated mind, your sons, on the contrary, consider it their greatest delight, a delicious taste (as it were) of the lotus flower, blueif they are asked to recite before learned men some elegant poem or an attractive oration composed by themselves and presented in a fine, respectable manner. Beyond this, they display the positive proof of a noble spirit, one whose heart always aims at the highest: not only do they treat with the greatest respect those men who have been elevated by some special talent in the world of learning, but they also pursue these men with admiration and affection. As I mentally reviewed all the above reasons, separately and taken together, I had good reason to dedicate this comedy, such as it is, to you, since you have burned with such kindness and love for these inferior subjects. I also have additional reasons: in part because you allowed us to use this lovely theater in the Collegium Illustre, which you control, and in part because Your Highness' sons, who are worthy of all praise, along with the other esteemed and noble young men, have performed the play with the abundant talents which have been displayed here.
spacer5. Wherefore our Emma, that beloved daughter of the great Charlemagne, rightly attends on you — rightly, because she prides herself on your patronage, which she has full hopes of enjoying, considering your readiness to act generously, and which she in fact has already experienced; rightly because she acknowledges you as her second father and has granted the rule over all the Graces and Pleasures to Your Magnificence. You will never be sorry that you granted your favor to this royal daughter, who now appears in comic garb on the stage. blue The mightiest commanders once did the same, among whom are Scipio and Laelius, who supported the praiseworthy products of the comic poets to such an extent that they were not annoyed by the help given to Terence himself. These nobles whom I mentioned were not involved in some trivial activity. Indeed there is scarcely any task under the sun more difficult than to write a comedy which will merit the applause, even moderate applause, of educated men. As a result we see only one surviving comic writer from the old Greeks, Aristophanes, and two from the Romans, Plautus and Terence, and the latter was booed off the stage more than once for his Hecyra. blue
But enough of words. I urge you and beg you to be willing to use your well-known, remarkable eagerness to support the devotees of the arts and letters to encourage this drama as well. I also beg that you deign to encourage my honorable attempts in this matter, and in others, with the favorable wind of your support. As you are aware, my efforts have always been directed towards reverence for the Divine Power and the advancement of our young men in language and morality. Thus may Christ Jesus long protect and mercifully guide you to the salvation of our homeland, to the advancement of letters, to the adornment of this Collegium Illustre, and to the encouragement of everything good and beautiful that can be thought or said.



Among the notable persons who acted in this comedy are the following high-born, noble young men who have been educated in all the virtues. They are listed in the order in which they came on stage.

Wolfgang Theodore von Rathsamhausen in Stein, Alsatian knight. The younger brother spoke the Prologue, then changed clothes and was a counselor.
Wolfgang Erasmus von Grünthal: Emma the Porter.
Johann Wilhelm von Rathsamhausen in Stein, Alsatian knight, the elder brother, Einhard.
Frederick Jacob von Grünthal, Frederick, Charlemagne's chamberlain.
Julius Albert von Thün: Charlemagne.
Sigismund Freiherr von Herberstein: the first counselor.
Karl Wilhelm Iörger, Freiherr von Creisbach, the second counselor.
Karl Helmhart Iörge &c., brother of the student just named, the third counselor.
Jacob Christian von Günteroth, counselor.
Pleickart von Hemstat, counselor.
Maximiliam Kölnpeck, counselor &c.



Emma, lest her lover Einhard’s footprints be seen on the snow,
Secretly lifted him on her broad shoulders
And bore him to a hidden resting place — but with bad auspices,
For she was seen by her father, and barely, yes barely, avoided the ultimate evil.
But what a happier fate awaits this same girl?
For this very Emma bears you daily on her broad shoulders
Openly through the lanes of all Germany.
And while the play gives you fame and renown and celebrates you,
The age applauds you, and every part of society applauds this spectacle.
Some cheer with their voice, some with their heart. That Emma
Who so readily bears her lover, is (by heaven!) worthy of
Having Pegasus, now located among the stars, offer her the honor of a seat,
So that she who long traversed the earth on foot,
Now will traverse the heavens carried on the back of a winged horse


In composing a poem well suited to sing of her.
Emma, that king's child, who became a mare, a portress in the snow,
To bear her lover on horseback.
Surely you may become a rival of Einhard in love,
And Emma will bear you high beyond the stars.




VENUS speaks the Prologue
CHARLEMAGNE, King of the Franks
EMMA THE PORTER, Charlemagne's daughter
FRIEDRICH, a chamberlain
ANTRAX, a cook
AMARYLLIS, a country girl


VENUS performs this duty

spacerAs I begin, I send my wishes for health and happiness for both myself and for you, spectators. So that no one may wonder who I am, I'll tell you this first, and then I'll tell you what I want and why I am here. I am Venus, well-known in your hearts, a goddess whom you should recognize right away, seeing that I am a goddess always residing in all of you, and it should not be too hard to recognize your constant companion. Therefore, after some thought, I have come outside here so that you can see me before your very eyes, you who rarely can spot the pack you carry on your back. blue Now, why do you frown and wrinkle your brow at me like some rigid censor, as if it's not right to to bring the goddess Venus into a comedy along with the Cupids and all the Amores? I suppose you think it would be better for me to lurk secretly in your hearts than to stride boldly all over this stage! You're wrong. I am good to those who are good; I am bad to those who are bad. I can't show good favor to bad men, nor bad to good men, as this very comedy will prove to you very soon.
spacern You have my name; now hear the rest, and pay careful attention to the following, which I will impart in as few words as I can. In this scenic spectacle our poet has introduced two quite marvelous things so that he can express most clearly the truth of the actions which we present on stage: here in mid-day he makes it night, blue and here in our verdant springtime, he makes snow, a snow which in fact is taken from history. The night is borrowed from history and extracted from the old comedies Amphitryo and The Self-Tormenter. I want to be sure to mention this, so that no one will have a chance to censure our poet. But if some grammarian or ivory-tower intellectual, who has no clue about wit or charm, should criticize how this is done, I say to him that what he does with his intelligence shows no intelligence. If he criticizes our poet, he is also criticizing Plautus and Terence, the models for our poet — and he prefers to emulate their carelessness rather than the carefulness of these rigid obscurantists. He takes these good writers as examples, and he thinks that he may do whatever they did.
spacer Now, dear spectators, I am not going to tell you the name and plot of this comedy, but Emma the Porter, Charlemagne's daughter herself, will give you the plot and the name of this play. Why does our poet wish this? He was afraid that, if I should begin to outline the play's plot to you, I should be too long-winded and talkative, seeing that we women are al too talkative. Indeed, in spite of him, I can scarcely contain myself from revealing the plot to you, so freely do women chatter!
spacer Now cast off all your troubles on this stage. If there is any moneychanger here who wants to exchange now coins for old money, or if I find here any stingy, gluttonous, envious, gossiping, arrogant, adulterous, censorious, lazy spectator, who wrongly occupies the seat of an honest, modest, educated, sensible man, I will make sure that this will happen: I will gnaw the hands off the greedy, the throat from the gluttonous, the teeth from the envious, the lips from the gossiping, the cockscomb from the arrogant, and the nose from the adulterous and censorious. In fact, Antrax the cook will do exactly this with tis sharpest knife. But as for the moneychangers, who will give bad new coin in place of good old coins: if they come here, it is not the cook who will slice off their fingers, hands, feet, lips, nose, hair, ears, and, genitals. No, the public executioner will do this and send them home in pieces. Charlemagne himself long since wanted me to lay down these rules for presenting plays. In the meantime, because I have created enough storms of love and whatever follows love's whirlwind in this comedy which you are about to see, and since I have outlined what the poet wanted me to outline, I'll move away to somewhere else. There I will see if I can create new storms of love either in your hearts or in someone else's, with the help and assistance of my sharp-sighted Cupid. So, you all be very careful. That's all. Farewell, carry on as you have been, and overcome everything with your talents, as you have been doing before.


ACT I, SCENE i blue
EMMA alone

spacerMy dear Rosina, be sure that you decorate my room and carefully make up my bed. You, Adelindis, light incense right away and then go straight to your work, to your pots and pans. For relaxation I am going to walk for a while in the courtyard. In the meantime, you both take care of this.
spacerAm I alone now? Now can I let my love fly free, here in the open? I am a wretched and unfortunate girl. Not only am I tormented so sadly, so cruelly, so wickedly under the power of Venus, but even worse, what I have, I don't want, and what I want, that I cannot have — so wretchedly is love tossing me about this way and that. I'm crushed, I'm tortured, I'm torn. My mind is pained, my eyes are pained, my whole body and soul are pained — such miserable agony and grief! Why? From the time when my father gave me in marriage —although I was certainly unwilling —to some Greek kinglet, some alien, since then my enforced love for this Greekling has vanished. He is far from my sight, and just as far from my feelings. Neither am I able to find any remedy — if only for my pain — nor do I know what I should do. One thing I do know: I have a wolf by the tail. blue I can't find a way to get rid of this Greek, to whom I'm wed, nor do I know how to lay hands on Einhard, who is my own true love. And so I find myself at a crossroads and in doubt, and every moment my mind is battered this way and that. How could I lose my Einhard, my soul, my heart, my only refuge? Waking and sleeping I dream of him always, and day and night I wait for him, thinking of him more and more. How can I not love him? How can I not wish the best for him? He has shown me that his heart is entirely mine and that he will never in this life be untrue to me. I would rather not love myself than to lose this love for him, so chained am I, so bound by the laws of love. The less chance there is for any hope, the more my love grows. His birth and descent are certainly not as elevated as mine, but nevertheless he is now well respected as the secretary of my excellent father, King Charlemagne. Despite all, I recognize how dear he is to my heart because of the manifold talents of his genius and because of his heart's treasury of all the virtues.
spacerI have now come out of the women's quarters to this solitary place because, even though I may not enjoy Einhard's love to its greatest extent, I can still spy out his path, for during the day, when he goes on business to my father Charlemagne, he often walks this way.


ACT I, SCENE ii blue

spacerEIN. Who is that lady who is standing opposite me?
spacerEM. Who is that man, who is standing opposite me?
spacerEIN. She looks like Emma.
spacerEM. It's Einhard. My darling is here. blue.
spacerEIN. She certainly is Emma.
spacerEM. I think it's him.
spacerEIN. I'll go to meet her.
spacerEM. I'll step up to meet him.
spacerEIN. O Emma, may God bless you.
spacerEmEM O Einhard, may God grant what you wish. Are you well?
spacerEIN. As well as I can be.
spacerEM. How are you doing?
spacerEIN. I'm alive.
spacerEM. What? As well as you'd like?
spacerEIN. When those things happen which I long for with all my heart.
spacerEM. O my beloved Einhard, how much there is in our lives which we can certainly long for, but which we cannot expect to happen! I myself have found this to be true during every moment of every day.
spacerEIN. I have also experienced this, more so than I would have wished, my Emma.
spacerEM. But if we could but hope — but there is no hope, only dreams, shadows, vanity, smoke, and to sum it all up in one word: nothing.
spacerEIN. What you say is very true, because not even in sleep do these frantic hopes allow us to rest, but they delude us in strange ways, and force on us in our sleep dreams of strange design. For example, just this past night, so recent, I dreamed a strange, unprecedented dream.
spacerEM. What dream?
spacerEIN. A very unusual one.
spacerEM. Please, if it's no trouble, tell it to me.
spacerEIN. If you want to hear it, I'll tell you.
spacerEM. Want? I listen to you talking with more love than Love herself. It seems to me that you pour into my ears, not words, but pure honey with milk and sesame.
spacerEIN. Now you are joking.
spacer EM. No indeed, I say this seriously.
spacerEIN. In any case, listen to this.
spacerEM. I am listening.
spacerEIN. In the dream I was spending the entire night in the most lovely garden.
spacerEM. What kind of garden?
spacerEIN. A garden adorned with roses, violets, and all kinds of blossoms. In this garden, little cushions were fringed with white lilies and jewels, such that nothing could excel them.
spacerEM. What wonderful things are you recount to me!
spacerEIN. Here I was caressing very softly the purple lilies, then the roses, then the violets, then I was licking with my tongue various blossoms here and there, until glowing dawn just began to arise with her first light and commanded me to depart. Then, while I wanted to sneak out quietly over the wall around the garden, Look, I see that deep snow had fallen beyond the wall, so that I could in no way get out — but a horse appeared (I repeat, my Emma, a horse) so beauteous and shining, of a color so bright that it easily surpassed the new-fallen snow.
spacerEM. These are marvels that you are telling me. I am waiting to see how it turns out.
spacerEIN. The horse came close to me with a most soothing whinny.
spacerEM. What happened next?
spacerEIN. It looked most kindly at me, as if it wanted me to mount; so I did mount and rode EM some distance through the snow.
spacerEm. Well done!
spacer EIN. But after I thought I had reached a safe refuge, then suddenly I was precipitated, along with the horse, into a deep pit with great danger and much fear. While I was caught up in such a dreadful whirl of fear, Look, suddenly the horse, the pit, and the snow all disappeared, and right away so did the dream. And now that I am awake and now that it is full day, I am partially freed from fear, but I cannot drive out of my mind and my eyes the image of the dream, the beautiful horse, and the great trouble I was in.
spacerEM. There is no stranger here who can catch our conversation, is there?
spacerEIN. No one other than you and I, as far as I know.
spacerEM. How I fear that this dream will bring some evil with it!
spacerEIN. May God forfend! But what will happen about your marriage?
spacerEM. O, my beloved Einhard, don't talk about this marriage, because this business makes me tired of life; this business is a care and a bother to me.
spacerEIN. What? You're not rejecting the Greek king, are you?
spacerEM. Any girl who wants to can love that king, but as for me, day by day another king is becoming more and more my choice.
spacerEIN But you are betrothed to him.
spacerEM. But my heart has long since betrothed me inseparably to another.
spacerEIN. But what will you say to your father, when he realizes that you are disaffected?
spacerEM. God and fortune will tell me what to say, for we will bear with equanimity what fate brings.
spacerEIN. Very well. This path is one not just for a sensible maiden, but is also the duty of a great man.
spacer EM. To state the whole business in one word and leave aside any ambiguity, I'll pour out all my thoughts to you: of all men, you are the one and only whom I have chosen for myself, one with whom I can spend my life. How this will turn out is in the hands of God. He will arrange the matter according to His will. You know how I have always considered you close to me, how I have loved you with all my heart.
spacerEIN. I do know this one thing: how the words of you women are covered in honey and your speech tastes of sugar, but how your hearts are full of bile and are deeply soaked in sour vinegar. What if you are trying to cheat me?
spacerEM. I'm trying to cheat you? I'm trying to deceive you? O Einhard, my golden one, my darling, the pride and joy of my love, you are everything to me. When have you ever thought that my feeling for you were spoiled? By heaven, I certainly know what I have in my heart: I never invented anything false at all; no one is more dear to my heart than you are — and you alone. Your help, your grace, your noble qualities, your deep good sense have made me know that I could never abandon you, not in words or in deeds, not in troubles or in poverty.
spacerEIN. I am very happy if I have done or am doing anything to please you, and I am grateful that you feel the same way about me. But since you are the daughter of a great king, one who is so wealthy and so powerful, will you be happy to marry such a poor scribe?
spacer EM. I am very happy with my scribe. Any queen is happy with her own king. I have the same feelings towards you in your poverty as others have towards their lovers in their wealth. Let every king have his own kingdom; let every rich man have his own riches, his own titles, his own merits, his own battles, his own wars, as long as I can keep you as the helpmeet of my life.
spacerEIN. You are now mixing for me a potion of bitter and sweet together. In the first place, I don't want you to believe that I have been unmindful of you, or that you have wasted the great benefits which you have given to me. By heaven your feeling for me will forever be agreeable and satisfying to me, and I will never be sorry that we have been in love. But, since we are placed in our fathers' power, we must do what our fathers command. For if your father puts a stop to this, all our health and happiness flies away.
spacerEM. Dear Einhard, don't be so afraid of my father. I have hope that he will act somewhat better. He would not earn those lofty mountains of the Persians (which they say are entirely of gold) by doing what you dread. And so, dear Einhard, love me day and night, long for me, dream of me, wait for me, think of me, hope for me, take delight in me whenever you are with me; in short, be my whole heart, just as you are mine.
spacerEIN. O Emma, you are sweeter than the sweetest honey to me!
spacer EM. You are entirely my life, but take care that you are faithful to your faithful one. Do not show any inconstancy or transfer your love to another. I beg this by our faithfulness to each other, by our love, by my life and yours. Do not depart from me, do not forsake me, if I have loved you like my own brother or if I have prized you above all others or have ever been obedient to you in all things. I give myself to you as a husband, friend, protector, father. I entrust these precious things of mine to you and commit them to your faithful care, and I place myself in your hands. You do your part. To me you are my lord, my master, my father, and to you I consign my life forever.
spacerEIN. Dear Emma, as part of my devotion to you, I would strive with all my powers, day and night, and would hazard my life, as long as I can serve you. But you cannot regulate by reason a matter which in itself has neither moderation, good sense, or restraint. In our affair I have no trace of a plan ready at hand, considering that if your father finds out about us, then all our love, our tenderness, our intimacy, our laughter, dalliance, talk, sweet kisses, all of these pleasures so dear to you and me, will turn into separation, destruction, and downfall, unless there is some rescue sent from heaven for me in you or for you in me.
spacerEM. Now keep a stout heart: blue it's not yet the sunset of all our days. We must hope while we breathe. Fortune's twists and turns are such that, when you least expect it, an easy path to safety then suddenly presents itself. Thus we must always rely on our hopes for the best: after the clouds the shining sun will appear.
spacerEIN. But the words “will come” are hard for one who is in love, unless it does come. For the lover truly has what he loves, surely has her as he wishes, because the lover lives his life through the life of his beloved.
spacer EM. O my Lord Secretary, I really cannot live at all if you are removed and taken away from me.
spacerEIN. Far be this from me, my mistress, my queen, my refuge! Now that you have opened your entire spirit to me in these words, I swear by all the saints that I will never desert you, not even if I knew that I had to vanquish all our enemies in the world. I have now found you, and you will remain the sole delight of my heart. Begone, begone all those who wish to part us. No one except Death will take you from me.
spacerEM. But for now father will be somewhat obstinate about us. We will have to endure whatever he does, since his majesty is all powerful. I think that entreaty rather than opposition will be the course we should take.
spacerEIN. You make a very good point. We cannot put ourselves in opposition to your father without sin and shame. I am not going to do it, and I don't advise that you do it either.
spacerEM. For now I have declared all the bitter and sweet in my heart concerning you. You know my mind. From now on my mind—and my door—will be open to you. No river will stand in my way, no mountain, no sea; neither heat nor cold will I fear, nor winds or hail. I will endure storms, I will bear sun, thirst, hunger. I will not give up or rest, not by day or by night, before I wholly obtain either Einhard or death.
spacerEIN. And I vow the same to you in most holy faith; take my hand on it, and in my hand, my soul. But, if my eyes don't deceive me, I see someone coming out of the palace.
spacerEM. It's the royal chamberlain. I'll head inside. Farewell, my soul!
spacerEIN. You also, my rosebud, a thousand farewells!



spacerspacerFR. I have been sent outside here by King Charlemagne to fetch his secretary to the palace. But, what's this? Look, I see that he's arrived here right on time. Greetings, Einhard.
spacerEIN. Greetings to you, Frederick.
spacerFR. Our most puissant and unvanquished King Charlemagne wishes to send his orders through my voice, to tell you to come into the palace as quickly as you can.
spacerEIN. I am doing so already, and am on my way. I will go with you.
spacerFR. Go ahead. I'll follow.

Go to Act II