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ACT V, SCENE i
LYG. Gradually Phoebus has abandoned the watery Goat, and his rising glow recalls holy wars, when first the olive has garlanded Pallas’ lively head, and, at Neptune’s threats, his first horse has sprung onto the roaring earth.
TELEST. I have decided to double the ceremony and load the altars with twofold votive offerings, so that those joined in new marriage may perform the rites in more solemn wise.
LYG. At length the consecrated day has shone from the sky, and the favorable deity shows a good omen. Golden-haired Phoebus smiles in a serene sky, and bright Hesperus routs the dull night.
TELEST. So let the new-betrothed enter into their pact at the altars, with incense burnt. Let Telethusa bear the torch for my daughter. [Enter Telethusa.]
LYG. What mad care torments your mind? Why do your swift feet grow heavy in mid-course? Why are your wandering eyes amazed?
TELETH. Have you not heard? Atop the house a screech-owl hooted for its home, and an owl hooted an evil omen. Just now vague dreams terrified Iphis, and throughout the town hiss many portents.
TELEST. The gods’ signs are not wont to be vain, they always bring us news, always terrible things.
LYG. Why do you fear vain birds and the empty augury of your own mind? You are thoughtlessly allowing yourself to be taken in by tricks, as fools are wont to do.
TELETH. The divinity has signalled us a vain thing, its trickeries mock us, and fools are wise as long as they have gods for companions.
TELEST. Where these monstrosities are leading I do not know. If the divinity is warning us by their means, piety bids us follow. However it may be (lest these dire things live by means of our misfortunes), Phoebus will not accept today’s rites. When the wandering Titan looks on the earth with a closer light, and Italian Janus sees the doubtful year, the rites will be accomplished.
LYG. We are compelled, I yield. [Exit Lygdus and Telestes.]
ACT V, SCENE ii
TELETH. Ponder at length your schemes, Cretan woman, while your husband fears the false omen. Invent, nor let such great deceptions perish. Though overcome by many evils, prevail.
NIS. Did I put my trust in false words? O lying Cretan! Land so unworthy of Minos its king! Scorned, truth is in exile. Cleverness is master, the tongue, that enemy of a simple mind, rules. Does deceitful Telestes cheat me with his vague words? Where is self-consistent faith? And the piety that is unable to quake at fire-running furnaces?
TELETH. One destiny oppresses two. Help, Nisus, and while you are swearing that I am wretched, swear that you yourself are too.
NIS. Why still weave deceptions? Would you savagely kill a miserable boy with deceit?
TELETH. Why brood on suspicious fears in your troubled mind, silly boy? Relax your troubled brow. I am telling you the truth, believe me as you wish to be believed. Unhappy Iphis does not seek Ianthe’s conjugal touches, but yours. Why does amazement play upon your doubtful face? Iphis is a woman.
NIS. And Nisus is Ianthe’s suitor. Go, offer your deceptions to whom you can, vain Telethusa. Useless nets are set when the quarry sees the snares. [Exit Nisus.]
TELETH. When you can be blessed why do you flee? Stay, imagine Ianthe is calling you. What did I do in my folly? Do I imagine wiles and truth can be conjoined? You woman unused to deception, you foolish person! Now all Crete will learn the published crime which my wily tongue had consigned to sworn secrecy. You yourself babbled it with your chatter, why do you senselessly desire everybody else to keep their silence? You yourself deserve to be thought the evil you seek.
ACT V, SCENE iii
Has my sick mind failed? From what disease do you feel pain, Telethusa, while your hands seek your own limbs?
LYG. What pain assails your limbs as you languish?
TELETH. [Aside.] Let cunning come to my aid, let deceitful invention help me in my misery. [Aloud.] I feel faint, Lygdus, a violent whirl of cares besets my head, I can scarce control myself, dire gripes oppress my tortured breast, and (the greatest thing that’s added to my troubles), while I desire to remove the pain, I hurt the worse, and the evil in my heart will rage the worse if you seek to hinder it.
LYG. Always invidious, Fortune pospones the good things we seek with our most earnest prayers. So I shall never see my son’t marriage, I shall never call Ianthe my daughter-in-law. Jupiter terrifies by sending monsters, faintness, disease.
TELETH. [Aside.] Blessed gods! Auspicious fraud! By deception you grasp the prize.
LYG. But why vainly spin new complaints? Let the common joy prevail. Wedding-torches can brook no delay. No matter how ill you be, remain, Iphis will alleviate your pain. Even if you are unable to rejoice greatly, yet you will hurt the less. Today’s Phoebus will join my son and daughter-in-law in their marriage-bed. Why do you clasp your face with your hand, trembling and falling? Why are you groaning, turning pale, raging? I’ll call a servant.
TELETH. Cease your hastening step. Let Iphis be called. He alone can remove my pains.
LYG. He will come.
ACT V, SCENE iv
Oh head that’s empty, yet full of cares! Where is capricious Fortune heading? The harsh Fates oppress me. Will such an ending crown the schemes I’ve set in motion? Now I must seek higher, to the gods who are privy to my plan. With just complaints I’ll trouble the celestials who exasperate me. Oh savage divinity! At last I shall rise up against my evils, and if I do not repair my honor by dying, at least I shall fall from a greater height. [Enter Iphis.] Behold the target at which savage Fortune shoots with all her darts. Take off the wedding garland from your hair, poor girl. After all the schemes concocted in my troubled mind, the only salvation that remains for us in our torment is our prayers. Queen of heaven, divinity diffused through land, heaven, and sea, who you worshippers who dwell in your black land of Egypt invoke by the sacred name of Isis, bring aid, remove my fear, help me in my misery. I once saw you, goddess, your sistra gave light and sound. I saw your head, fair with gold, a crown, horns, and sheaves of wheat. I stored your commandments in my mind, I marked your injunction in my spirit. Unhappy Iphis would have died at his father’s hands, I myself would have committed a crime, if your commandments had not forbidden. Aid me with your advice, do not now oppress the woman you refused to let fall. [Isis appears with her sistra.]
IPH. What noise is this? And what light? Lo, the doors are quaking. What face shines, so reverend? I shake, I shudder, a strange fear makes my limbs quake.
TELETH. Unsure hope seizes me in my uncertainty, and doubtful fear. Both realms invade me, neither holds me. Oh beauty seen once, I gladly snatch at this good omen. Though often deluded to my injury, I am hopeful.
IPH. I see the gods present, I perceive wonders.
TELETH. Oh Jove!
IPH. Sho seeks me. In my pride I see the stars cast beneath my feet, the sky cast low. What new strength pervades my amazed breast? What blood flows through my heart? I can scarce contain myself. An immense heat burns in me, and my sturdy feet wish to range through cohorts, trampling sword-slaughtered battalions. My hand yearns for flames to brandish and fierce swords. My eye is hot, my long hair is dropping off and falls.
TELETH. And I wish those tresses to be consecrated to Isis, lest such great things vanish as your female mind disappears.
IPH. Lo, I am wholly changed. Is someone bidding my unwilling hands to erase the disgraceful beauty of my face? So farewell, trifles of my old countenance, receive manly furrows, a rough brow, be a Cretan man. Whatever it dreaded before my bold spirit incites. It scarce fears anything, save fear.
TELETH. An unheard-of monstrosity, I am paralyzed. My doubtful mind shivers, my sick mind fails at the double event.
IPH. Why are you afraid? Abandon your fear. The god has accomplished more than one could hope.
ACT V, SCENE v
NURSE, MESSENGER, IPHIS, TELETHUSA
NURSE Why are they delaying so?
MESS. Everything waits upon you two alone, I beg you hurry.
IPH. No delay is holding us back. Let’s depart, mother. After all the toils undergone by the eager suitor, he will be a more welcome consort. [Exeunt Iphis and Telethusa.]
NURSE Is Iphis ill? A pallor sits upon his cheeks, and he rolls his swollen eyes with a swift motion.
MESS. That’s a man’s beautry, to have a pallid face and heavy eyes. Now I must think him truly a man.
NURSE And should you not think Ianthe a fair woman, a tender girl, worthy to have even a god for a suitor?
MESS. Scarce all Crete will produce a fairer. Both of them have known a rival, but not an equal.
NURSE And Jupiter has given this final gift. The wedding is auspicious. Just now the clear air bore a pair of ravens.
MESS. The victims’ innards are propitious, the liver adorned with a fillet.
NURSE A blessed omen!
MESS. Sky-seeking fumes from the two altars commingle, and together ranges the high clouds.
NURSE. See, they are coming now. Be still.
ACT V, SCENE vi
HYMENAEUS, IPHIS, VENUS, IANTHE, JUNO, LYGDUS, TELETHUSA, TELESTES, NISUS, NURSE, MESSENGER
TELEST. Pray tell me these things.
NIS. Soon, immediately, but in the meanwhile I want to mock a bit.
TELEST. Don’t be over-long and drag out delays.
JUNO So ofen invoked by consecrated fires, so often by pious incense, I have left the clear sky, and the stars, those offspring of hateful paramours. My peacock, gasping with his wing-work, immediately visited familiar Samos, as is his wont, whence, salted grain having been poured out for me as an offering, I return. Now Crete, the sacred home of my sister Diana, eases my weary bird. Here I carry the torch before Ianthe, a girl worthy of the bed even of Jove. Thus the friendly gods, thus the Fates enjoin. Phaestus murmurs that it befits such a consort to be joined to this man. He craves it himself, nor does he issue any silly prayers. He wants nothing but to be blessed. If the propitious Fates had given me such beauty, even to Jupiter I alone would been been pleasing. Chaster Diana does not wish for a girl similar to herself, dreading her own father’s power. Venus, defeated, will yield the golden apple.
NIS. Oh friendly heavens, who would not think her a goddess?
HYM. Oh happy land! The ancient home of Jove, the first mother of the gods, now again destined to have gods for your children! Now we know Crete is dear to Jove.
NIS. We know it is full of Furies, though hidden beneath the shapes of gods. I cannot bear it. With Acheron broken, a dire band of Furies leaps forth, armed with snakes. Stygian Megaera shakes her squalid locks, sad Allecto brandishes her fiery torches, throughout the land savage Tisiphone rages with all her goads.
LYG. And they have invaded your breast, you fool. Why trouble our sacred rites with your sacrilegous mouth? Keep silent, or the dishevelled Furies will come a-rushing because of your slaughter.
NIS. In vain you threaten. If you don’t harken to my damages, I shall reveal them to you, though unhearing. Iphis is a woman. But which of the gods joins soft women together in the same bed? You are deceived. The Dirae greatly fear this crime. You are hesitant? The Furies jest about our evils. I tell you truly, Telethusa said so (believe me as you wish to be believed). Remember what she said.
TELETH. If once I revealed the truth to you, a similar truth should attach to what I say now: now this is merely false.
LYG. You deny what has been done, foolish woman? I will well conjecture that, since Iphias has cleaved to the lyre and to soft fooleries, she is a woman.
TELEST. Surely you don’t think so? So why have you falsely violated our trust?
NIS. You have deserved to bear greater ills than this. Have you yourself not issued false words from your clever mouth?
JUNO Restrain your furies, sacrilegious man. Why have you so boldly damned us with your savage mouth? I stand herre an avenging divinity, and let the Dirae carry ther blood-smeared torches before me. A hoot-owl will give an ominous sound, a screech-owl will proclaim your wedding, and an owl, frightening off the nourishing day. Then the shuddering Titan will bury his head in clouds, and his sister will languish in black night. The same damages await you which the Furies think worse than their own. Though you flee me, unhappy man, you will never be able to avoid your evils. [Exit Nisus.’
TELETH. You have not brought them yet? Why make delays? Fetch them. [Exit Nurse, and immediately returns with a goose and wedding-gifts.]
HYM. Cease to feel pain. You will see your son Theseus’ equal, whose glory the rising and the setting sun will see. I freely admit my proud breast swells while in my hand I go before, bearing the marriage-torches.
VENUS So let their hands be joined at the sacred pact.[They join hands.] Let them mingle their souls through their mouths. [They kiss.] Let Lucina loosen the invidious girdle [Juno loosens Ianthe’s girdle.] The gods above are favorable. Whatever rites you have vowed to the gods, give them. Let gifts adorn the house, and exchange your wedding-gifts.
IPH. I shall first sacrifice to Isis. [They give wedding-gifts.] With kindly face accept this offering consecrated to you and this dear bird, whose good auspice averted dark death from the Tarpeian home. [She immolates the goose to Isis.]
TELEST. AND TELETH. These things we freely yield to you.
IPH. And I to you.
IANT. No day will never remove these things from our mind. Let these things be taken within. [She gives the gifts back to the Nurse, who then exits with the Messenger.]
VENUS Accept at length these good things. I shall reveal the hidden holy things, where the Fates are tending. The faith which has joined you wtih its sanctified law death alone will break. Placed old age will dissolve you both, wearied, at the same time. Meanwhile no wile nor suspicious fears will sunder your pact. Your progeny will be right happy for the Cretans, destined to give a good lineage for this happy island. My commandments stand approved by the Fates. [Exunt omnes but Iphis.]
IPHIS speaks the Epilogue
At length, the divinity favorable, I gain Ianthe’s marriage bed. If our wedding-torches please you, let this approval be approved by your kindly hands.