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FORTUNE’S BANE, OR HER TOMB

SPEAKING PARTS

THE PRINCE
ADMIRAL
TREASURER
COMPTROLLER
CHANCELLOR
CHIEF JUSTICE
MARSHAL
CHAMBERLAIN
PHILOSPHER

CYNIC
MOMUS
TREASURER
CHAMBERLAIN
LEGISLATOR
USHER
FOOL
MARSHALL’S LIEUTENANT
POLYCRATES
PHILADELPHUS
MINERVA AND FORTUNE (THE CHORUS)
EUPHEMIA
TOLMAEA

PROLOGUE

Here comes no comic actor, but rather a tragic one. We are acting out our misery and our final glory, because on this very night our boss grows feeble and dies. I would prefer that so many witnesses to this evil were not present: crowded conditions disturb the ailing, and when strong majesty grows ill, it scarcely desires so many attendants. For those who are on the verge of death are wont to utter idle words, words which can be unbecoming, and words which this vulgar crowd, being numerous beasts and a hundred-handed monster, its heart gripped by envy, might prefer not to hear. Let them not rejoice overmuch in his misery, however much they take pleasure in tonight’s effort (unless it gives no pleasure at all). For here they will witness the downfall of a prince. Meanwhile, I wish everybody to keep silent, so that he may perish peacefully.

CHORUS
FORTUNA, MINERVA

MIN. Deceitful Fortune, what scene are you setting today?
FORT. Gloomy Minerva, what business do you have with me?
MIN. This placard shows it, the one I am powerfully holding up with my right hand, while you hold up its left side.
FORT. I’ve earned better, I have given a liberal hand to the prince. But since his hand has been illiberal to me, henceforth I’ll give him the back of my hand, he’ll learn what it is to found the kingdom granted him by my favor, with virtue serving as his guide and Fortune his great companion.
MIN. Why threaten him thus?
FORT. Because then he’ll learn that my power is at its greatest when I am scorned the most.
MIN. Aren’t you ashamed of your fickleness, you changeful goddess? Once upon a time Tolmaea promised you would be prosperous and friendly.
FORT. And once upon a time he promised me yearly sacrifices, fat victims, banquets, and a nobler temple, but the lazy ingrate has never produced them. He won’t get away with this.
MIN. But what can you do?
FORT. He possesses no power which lacks the power to hurt him.
MIN. But now you won’t prevail. I’ll protect him and rescue from evil.
FORT. Minerva, stupid because you are born from Jove’s dull brain, do you fancy you can prevail by cleverness alone, so that you hope to defeat my divinity? Although against her will, Minerva will fall headlong.
MIN. Although against Fortune’s will, she’ll remain mighty.
FORT. This stage will bear witness.
MIN. As will this audience. (They take a seat.)

ACT I, SCENE i

Enter the philosopher, alone

Just as a physician recognizes certain phases in the course of a disease, its onset, its progress, its full-blown state, and its critical day which inflicts certain death, if precautions are not carefully taken, thus I, being a philosopher, serve as a physician in observing certain phases in time from which I diagnose a fall from the throne, the collapse of the kingdom, and the death of the king. Nor am I simply speaking of these things — rather I shall inflict them myself. I am hastening his death, for thus it behooves me. For in that realm, while the choir of poets triumphs, I am wretchedly excluded from my home. Philosophy lies silent, I cannot stand this any longer. I am hastening to Fortune’s altar, for at length she will look more kindly upon me: I know she’s tired of tolerating this situation. I see Fortune, and I shall follow her.

ACT I, SCENE ii

Enter Tolmaea, alone.

Everybody remembers the harm that has been done him, nobody remembers the good. Is this how people live? What you have given to an ingrate is lost. Where’s that prince who was going to grant new priestesses and a nobler temple to the goddess Fortune? Where are the spoils taken from great captains? Is this how rulers usually keep their promises? Thus they discharge their great vows? How long has this altar stood neglected without its fires? The common run of men groan over their adverse lot, since nobody embraces his happy fortune as it deserves. But who is stealing into the neglected goddess’ temple?
PHIL. I am continuing, I am continuing boldly. The goddess Fortune, mistress of the world, does not listen to cowardly prayers. But what gift can I offer her? I’ll dedicate myself, she’ll possess this soul. Look here, a holy maiden is sitting at the door. Lift up your spirits, approach the sacred divinity. [To Tolmaea.] I beg you forgive me, since, being a pauper, I approach the altar empty-handed. Fortune has granted me nothing, I can give her nothing but my heart. And so I give her myself, and at the same time all that is mine. Nor is this said in a mutter, I cheerfully endure my lot, although the world does not endure me. I am shut out of this palace, which was once my happy home. The mighty Muse holds sway, the poet rules, the bards sing of their joy. Nobody cares for philosophy. Make an ending to these things, let there be a limit to my afflictions.
FORT. Tolmaea.
TOL. What do you command your priestess, goddess? At length she’ll rise up again.
PHIL. Am I pleasing to the goddess?
TOL. You are. By means of myself, Fortune offers you her hand. Take a seat, the philosopher will be prince. But you must never seek a mock-kingdom. You will not reign on the stage like the poet you hate, another and better place will be granted, a perpetual home. Establish your kingdom in the Schools, a kingdom which cannot be ended by any year or short month.
PHIL. When, oh when, will the longed-for day come?
TOL. I shall not long delay. Even tomorrow will give you back your empire.
PHIL. But what unexpected calamity will overwhelm this king, who still thrives, triumphant in his mighty empire?
TOL. Have faith, he will be handed to you, broken and subdued. He will regret that he has governed. But don’t violate his holy body. Let him live and be a fellow philosopher, if he chooses. Let him be mighty in his rule. Attach philosophers to yourself, scads of them will soon arise, your faction will swell. (Exit.)
PHIL. I doubt what’s going to happen, but I trust the goddess that something will. I don’t know what it is, one day will teach the next, and effort will accomplish this work.

ACT I, SCENE iii

Enter the four rebels.

1. At length we unhappy men come back to the hateful place, so that (if it is permitted us to enjoy the goddess’ favor) we may rid ourselves of these evils at the place we first acquired them. For Fortune does not always thunder
2. Yes, she promised a better fate after some days to the man who would tolerate these ills with a patient mind. We have borne them, and I hope she’ll smile on us.
3. I’m not afraid, as long as we are humbler. For its the proud mind that creates evils. (Enter Tolmaea.)
4. Look, here’s the priestess, I’m afraid lest she oppress us once more.
1. But we don’t have to fear. This is the goddess who favors the brave, and my ultimate misery makes me daring. I shall approach in supplication and adore her divinity. Grant us your forgiveness, goddess.
2. Help us in our misery.
3. Hear our groans.
4. Help us in our adversity, since you are a heavenly divinity, and imitate the sky, which often shines clear, although sometimes it hides itself in cloud. There is a change in all things. Bitter sorrow has gone before, joy ought to follow.
FORT. I am moved, Tolmaea. Let them belong to the philosopher’s party.
TOL. What do you want?
4. Something which is more suitable for honorable men, worthy of the freeborn. We are ashamed to have touched these vile tools.
TOL. You should rather be ashamed of ever having been bad men. This pain of yours is punishment for crime, not your fate. If you ever repent of your evils, your punishment and servile toil will quickly vanish. Do you chose philosophy?
ALL FOUR Very much so.
TOL. It likewise pleases the goddess to put an end to your extreme miseries. This cap will make you free men, this peaceful gown will banish your cares and give you rest. Go and follow the philosopher as your leader. He will open kingdoms for you, and build your fame.
1. We happily follow, and worship you as a goddess.
4. Oh divinities blessed forever, oh peaceful gods!

ACT I, SCENE iv

Enter the philosopher.

What’s this crew of men? Are they not of the common sort? What’s this. A begowned rabble enters! Just now they were hand-laborers, now they are wearing academic caps? Are they imbibing philosophy? I understand: so that they might help my party, the goddess has given them these costumes. Should I approach them? I want to. I’ll address them calmly, as if they were my associates. [He speaks to them.] Trusty colleagues (for thus your clothing guarantees), do you want to come with me to the palace, so that the prince himself might learn, albeit to his sorrow, what a philosopher is and how great is the majesty of the gown, so that the prince (perhaps forgetful of himself) might be unembarrassed to find out that he is descended from philosophers, although he has long oppressed and scorned them?
4. We’ll even follow you through fire, that’s what the goddess commanded.
PHIL. [Aside.] This is the onset of the disease, now follows the increase of the evil — if you can call an evil that which is bad for one man and good for everybody else. Oh happy day! (Exeunt.)

CHORUS

FORT. Minerva, why don’t you do a better job of ruling this people, who are so bent on laying rebellious hands on their prince?
MIN. You deceive yourself, Fortune. These are my workers.
FORT. Let them belong to you, as long as they do my work. It doesn’t bother me that these things please you.
MIN. So that the remainder will please you equally, sit and wait.

ACT II, SCENE i

Enter the prince and others by one door, and five philosophers by another

USHER Back off, you rude folk, make way. The prince is coming.
PHILOSOPHER Who’s coming with the king? The fool.
USHER You’ll pay for your rascally words.
PHIL. March on with a lucky foot.
ANT. Who has impudently obstructed the prince’s way?
PHIL. You can continue if you want, nobody’s obstructing.
PRINCE What’s this commotion? What’s this unruly throng? Thus you go by without making salutations? Madness will overcome everybody.
PHIL. Farewell, fair majesty. (Exeunt philosophers.)
FOOL How well this cap fits my head!
PRINCE What’s this insolence? Is nobody helping? Is nobody catching them?
CHAMBERLAIN They’ve fled.
PRINCE And you remain? Follow them at a run.
CHAMB. And we’ll catch them if they don’t speed up. (Exeunt the chamberlain and the comptroller.)
FOOL I’ll follow too. For I don’t like learned men.
PRINCE I’m amazed. Why should the rude folk dare to neglect their king? Am I not the same man I have been? Who do I seem to be?
MARSHAL The same as ever, a mighty prince.
PRINC. I know that’s your opinion, loyal marshall. But what does my treasurer think?
TREAS. You don’t doubt my faith, supreme ruler?
PRINCE When I see that audacity I fear everything. But why should I be afraid? Isn’t my foot planted firmly on Fortune’s wheel? But it is a wheel, it can be turned. Why invent vain visions? I am more blessed than that the blind goddess can hurt me now. Now let the chancellor quickly set his seal to my mandates, so that anybody found guilty of a crime will pay the penalty of death.
CHANC. I shall follow your commands.
PRINCE Let the rest of your band follow. (Exeunt. The chancellor remains.)
CHANC. Oh. if I could speak! Why can’t I? Nobody’s overhearing. I’m tired of my position, This seal I carry about as if it were my duty, what splendid thing has it done? Has it confirmed any ancient traditions? Has it published any edicts for the glory of the realm? By a certain artfulness it has invaded other men’s houses and naughtily taken away their money. This befits a kingdom? But I hold my tongue, lest I lose my head together with my job. (Enter the comptroller and the chamberlain.)
CHAMB. What’s the chancellor thinking of?
CHANC. The safety of the realm, and the honor of our prince.
COMPT. Somebody needs to think about that.
CHANC. What does that ambiguous talk mean?
CHAMB. The people are rioting in the market-place, the common folk are following the philosophers and eagerly gaping after revolution. Would that I were a philosopher!
CHANC. Watch what you say.
COMPT. And I’ll boldly say the same. Was I not appointed comptroller? But what kind of dignity or honor is that? Whom have I governed? Rather I have wretchedly obeyed. We bear empty titles and are handed strange honors so that the disgrace will oppress us all the more.
CHANC. And (to say what I truly think) I believe this is the bare name of a kingdom, but scarcely a kingdom, and that what the magistrates possess are the shadows of honor.
CHAMB. Let’s return to our senses, we’ve been playing long enough. My concern is the royal chamber, but I’m ashamed to speak of it. Who has ever once honored my position by baring his head? What due observance or solemnity has been granted me? Since nothing turns out well, I would prefer to be a private citizen rather than a public figure. Let us return to our senses, we’ve been playing long enough.
CHANC. But that treasurer stands in our way, who has obtained a true and ample position of honor. He spends money daily, is decorated at new expense, and drains the commonwealth with his entertainments. Nobody demands to see his books.
COMPT. But the day and hour will suddenly come when even he will gladly resign his place. This Golden Age cannot last. It’s tottering now, and will quickly collapse.
CHAMB. But in the meantime we can await the day with this lengthy tedium.

ACT II, SCENE ii

Enter the marshal with his lieutenant.

MAR. Alas, the burdens of honor! In token of his affection, and because he perceives me to be devoted to his honor, our good prince has appointed me marshal. In part, for the people’s sake he commands me to prepare plays, splendid masques, spectacles, and to quell the commotions that very often attend on triumphs; and likewise he imposes on me the management of places, an unwelcome care and a servile labor, especially when there’s little room and rude people claim the best spots. But I ignore these things, I want my lieutenant to tend to this category of things.
LIEUT. Shall I recount everything?
MAR. Make a brief report.
LIEUT. Ara Fortunae was put on at the beginning of the prince’s reign, which the crowd peacefully applauded and accepted well enough as a spectacle.
MAR. What happened afterwards on the holidays?
LIEUT. Plays, games, private masquings, and an appropriate solemnity for the season. A few days later there came along Philomela, a mute maiden, but with what noise was it performed! With what shouting! You wouldn’t imagine she was a mute. And she was pleasing enough in her first performance. But on her second, when she came onstage as a talkative chatterbox, oh how she nauseated everybody! On New Years Day appeared lamenting Time.
MAR. Time’s time caused complaint, the ignorant commoners failed to get the connection. But the better sort of people appreciated it and clapped at the verse parts. But I know that the prose bits were less well liked. The Prologue, giving offence at the very outset by ruining his scene (we are always obliged to complain), threw what followed into such confusion that he prevent the peaceful progress of everything. Yet the play passed, and I hope that those for whom no part was pleasing might please themselves.
LIEUT. Next comic Philomathes came on the stage.
MAR. Now I bid you be silent. For Momus himself holds his tongue. How warmly the placid audience received everything! How calm was this court!
LIEUT. But this didn’t give pleasure to everybody.
MAR. He who strives to please everybody will not please himself. I would prefer some men to jeer.
LIEUT. I pass over things which were done domestically and well received. Some were performed twice for the sake of others who had taken pleasure in even the rumor of these things.
MAR. And these were worthy gentlemen, whom it behooves us to gratify. But this isn’t the place for naming names, even for honor’s sake: I wouldn’t want to have done what others are said to do. But now we come to the present day. Now what needs to be done?
LIEUT. For me to resign my position.
MAR. You resign it thus?
LIEUT. If I have the prince’s permission and your own.
MAR. You have mine, for I have already made up my mind to demit my own. I’d prefer to govern lions than this uncouth people. I must wait for the time and opportunity. (Exeunt.)

ACT II, SCENE iii

Enter the treasurer, alone.

The treasury’s run dry. Fortune, that kindly goddess, gave me a full wallet, and twice our subjects have refilled it with a generous hand, but it’s empty again. And yet our prince has waged no wars, built no temples, founded no colleges. He’s wasted his life on trifles. The people are exclaiming, the philosophical crew is grumbling, I’m afraid they’ll resort to murder. The greedy Commons calls me a spendthrift who uses other men’s money, and every day the prince is spending more on entertainments. I know where these things are leading, if I’m not careful. I’ll quit my post, I won’t fall from it. (Exit.)

ACT II, SCENA iv

Enter the admiral, alone.

My responsibility is the fleet, but what honor is there ashore? The prince himself has never once laid eyes on the sea, he doesn’t trust the waves, it’s safer to walk on land. Instead of a fleet we have a single ship, and it’s made of paper, and for the ocean we have a drawing of a harbor, executed in purple. The prince is an idle image, a mask of majesty. He may frighten naive babies and timid little boys, but he won’t rule me. (Exit.)

ACT II, SCENE v

Enter the chief justice, alone.

Where has justice gone? I’m called the chief justice, but I’m ashamed to confess that I have exercised no justice, I have inflicted no punishment on evildoers, possibly because evildoers do not exist. Indeed, since all men are as bad as possible, the multitude has therefore removed or lessened the rigor of punishment. But since I have not looked at other men’s malfeasance, now I’ll be the judge of myself, and rule that I am unworthy of this position. (Exit.)

ACT II, SCENE vi

Enter the legislator, alone.

I’m a legislator, what laws and ordinances I have offered! But who has observed them? Like the furious sea, so the common folk do not know how to be confined within their limits. I have foresightfully commanded one thing, so that no critical Momus cannot find fault. And I can testify this has been the only bill that passed. And you may find fault with me, if I keep this job any longer. (Exit.)

CHORUS

FORT. Are the noblemen doing your work?
MIN. Perhaps. But what if they are doing yours? Help they with your favor, so that they might complete the task more eagerly.
FORT. Don’t you see that nobody likes his lot, how everybody regrets the position he had so ardently desired?
MIN. The lot you gave them. But my hand will give them a better one, which they will not regret even amidst extreme misfortunes. Your gifts often bring with them more bad than good. When things that ought to be honors are burdens? When things that ought to be wealth cause you care to get them and make you fear lest you lose them? When beauty is passing and strength entails toil? Alas, what a great heap of danger oppresses men! But learning, the gift of Pallas, is no burden, it is not a toil, a care, a passing good, nor booty. Rather it is a pleasant consolation for the old and a sweet adornment for the young: it grows old and dies along with us, or knows not how to die.
FORT. He who embraces your goods will lose mine, and, since Minerva is issuing the directions, after today obscure poverty will oppress the learned.
MIN. My gifts will please them, whatever the cost. (They sit.)

ACT III, SCENE i

Enter Tolmaea. Fortune within

FORT. I’ve been injured, Tolmaea.
TOL. I sense your holy divinity and I’ll avenge the wrong. He’ll pay the price for his ignorance and dire arrogance. He’s not so great that the blind goddess can’t hurt him. I’ll issue ambiguous statements and sharp sayings, so that the common folk will understand that heaven is going to send down a kingdom-changing comet, and that the earth will bear monstrosities, the sea will bring forth strange things, and all of these things will be harbingers of a sudden downfall. He’ll see horrendous dreams, I’ll threaten him with an appointed day, and appointed in such way that no artifice or scheme can put it off. Woe to the man oppressed by his lot!

ACT III, SCENE ii

Enter a philosophers Cynic, Momus, Polycrates and Philadelphus.

PHIL. So far our business has gone ahead on prosperous a prosperous footing. The common folk have come over to us.
CYN. And soon all the nobility will do so too.
MOM. They’re already vacillating and hankering for a revolution.
PHIL So lift up your spirits and hotfoot it up to the stars above. Thus the goddess ordains.
POLY. His fortune is now adverse. But what if she helps him once more?
TOL. (Inside.) Fortune will not help him.
PHIL. I trust you. I hear your promises, whatever goddess you may be. The poet is conquered, we have cast of the yoke of his rule. This prince and his principality are both falling.
MOM. But when he’s fallen, what will be our form of government? What will our constitution be?
PHIL. Hasn’t divine Plato, that great captain and god of philosophy, taught us all? Let us be equals, let everybody shine forth or occupy the supreme position by exercising his virtue. Thus everybody will not crave an honorable appearance more than to be good men. You will keep an eye on their crimes.
CYN. The Cynic likes this.
PHIL. And you provoke their hatreds.
MOM. That’s fitting for Momus.
PHIL. You, Polycrates, and you, my excellent Philadelphus, teach new lessons to the unschooled folk. And I, being a philosopher, will set this all down in writing, so that posterity might learn of our glory.
MOM. Thus the mighty band of philosophers marches on. (Exeunt.)

ACT III, SCENE iii

Enter the chamberlain, chancellor, and comptroller.

CHAMB. We’ve entered on a very dangerous path.
CHANC. No, a safer one, since all the people are going before us.
COMPT. And we will follow them? Are we strong enough? If only the rest of the nobility would put up a resistance!
CHANC. Be that as it may, who won’t judge us to be guilty? But aren’t we doing this because anybody who can’t perform his job is free to resign? Why should this trouble anybody?
COMPT. I love the man, but I don’t adore the prince.
CHANC. I even love the prince, as long as I can live as private citizen and not be vexed by public cares.
CHANC. And I’ll like this kingdom, if only it is permitted my land to hide me in my private home.
COMPT. How crafty is sedition! And how crime conceals itself in artful words! But it’s too late to repent, I’ll stick to my course. (Enter the treasurer and the admiral.) But see, the treasurer’s coming, and with him the perplexed admiral.
ADM. Oh unhappy day! What’s the carefree nobility doing here while all the world’s going to ruin?
TREAS. Take quick counsel for the public weal, if you can.
COM. Why this shouting?
ADM. Don’t you see? Angry heaven is threatening the kingdom.
CHAM. For sorrow, over the palace hangs a comet, which the prince and grandees can never behold with impunity.
CHAN. What’s been visible so long in the glowing sky?
TREAS. It’s recently arisen in the heaven.
COMPT. I’m afraid! How threateningly it falls upon the palace! These evils are not entirely unexpected. For my part, I’ve long been afraid, and at length my fear has turned out to be true But are other monstrosities of evil manifesting their malice?

Enter the legislator.

LEG. May you fare well, distinguished noblemen, if there can be any welfare while all the world is showing signs of slaughter. Throughout the market-place prophets are intoning these oracles, the crew of philosophers is growing, and the angry populace are shouting with a single voice, come back, dear liberty.
CHAMB. Why are these things so? Can you name the oracles?
LEG. Thus the gang of prophets have sung.
CHAMB. “Oh bitter fates! Let whoever rises aloft fall down from on high. Fortune first lifted him up, and will be the first to destroy him.” I don’t dare say what these verses mean, but I have my suspicions. Take care lest anybody report these things to the prince. When you can’t avoid them, foreseen evils torment and torture you all the more.
COMPT. Somebody’s approaching, keep quiet.

Enter the marshal with the chief justice.

MAR. Arm yourselves against the morrow.
COMPT. Who’s giving this order?
IUST. A man who’s not accustomed to order something twice, the mighty prince.
CHAMB. For what reason.
MAR. None, except this scrap of paper.
CHAMB. What’s this? Remember the Bacchanalia. And why, I ask you, remember the Bacchanalia? I don’t understand anything, but it was a learned augur who put this in his hand.
CHANC. That’s what he believed himself.
JUST. He didn’t think it worthy of belief, and yet he was suspicious lest these festivals might be bringing some evil, and so he is mindful of Caesar’s fate.
COMPT. Perhaps he wants to turn his weapons against the gods. For true auguries are the voices of the gods.
MAR. I realize that, but this is what he orders.
TREAS. And he’s right to do so. Let him form new plans or look out for himself.
MAR. If you disown your plans, then I’ll disown mine. I can’t withstand the public fury by myself, which I am afraid is going to come down on us when they see the weapons.
JUST. But I shudder at the angry gods, who are threatening him with certain death.
CHANC. We have to do something.
CHAMB. I know that this something isn’t war. For everything is filled with academic gowns. Would that someday we could be philosophers!
MAR. Oh, if the gods would grant that!
CHAN. Shh, the royal door is creaking.

Enter the legislator.

LEG. Greetings, you distinguished throng. By means of myself our sagacious prince, that son of Fortune, the head of this state, greets me. Since he is very troubled of mind by the threats of heaven and the stars, he summons you, so that your presence might relieve his empty cares, and perhaps his vain fears. And since he is concerned for the public safety and that of his realm (a care that burdens you too), he greatly desires your advice.
CHAMB. Here nobody advises war, we are devoted to peace and the gown. Report back thus.
MAR. There’s no need. Our own mouths will declare what’s on our minds. (Exeunt.)

CHORUS

FORT. What do you think now, Minerva? Is heaven supporting your side? What are the sacred voices thundering? Aren’t you afraid of the gods’ responses?
MIN. He who sees everything turning out well for himself fears nothing. Perhaps this fragile principality will collapse so that a better might arise.
FORT. Wait and keep silent. (They sit.)

ACT IV, SCENE i

Enter the prince with his usher.

PRINCE Am I seeing daylight? Is it the moon or the sun that shines? Is this a chair or a bed? My heart is quaking because of idle dreams, my eyes are amazed. Twice I dreamed that I entered into a vast and sacred hall, where a great hubbub eagerly awaited me with its applause. Carefree, I entered the house, and I found everything handsome. But what howling and rude noise! I tell you again, I was received with howling and rude noise. So I vainly tried to turn back, for the crowded throng behind me stood in my way. From the front they heaped false, abject recriminations. Being by myself, what was I to do? I was called a master of shadows, a king of games. I didn’t understand these things were being said about me, and I looked about for someone else whom they were lashing with their insults. Suddenly the crowd behind me hissed, “This is yours, everything is aimed at you, they are talking to you. How easy victory is! But it’s easy when a cock is crowing atop his own dungheap.” But why should my dreams affect me, any more than the sun’s shadow affected stout, indomitable Hercules?

The nobles knock at the door outside.

USHER Great-hearted prince, a bevy of nobles is knocking at the door, they desire a royal audience.

Enter the chamberlain, treasurer, chancellor, admiral, and marshal.

PRINCE Admit them.
CHAMB. We wish you all the goods that Fortune can bestow.
PRINCE A lucky greeting. Amidst these doubtful circumstances let me know your advice. I know that you dislike war. Yet peace is not safe enough, when the philosophers are thus coming a-running to attack my kingdom and while the stars are thus threatening and the gods thundering.
MAR. Even if the stars are threatening and the gods thundering, what’s the use of wars? You should rather take refuge at Fortune’s altar, so that the goddess may confirm you in the kingdom she first gave you.
CHAMB. Perhaps she is angrily hiding her face behind a lowering cloud because you have not yet performed your vows.
CHANC. So placate her with your sacrifices. For gifts appease men, and also the gods.
PRINCE Good advice. I have been an ingrate, I admit. Pray forgive me, august goddess, and without hesitation I’ll offer you many gold coins for your honor and in token of the kingdom you have given me. Nor will there be any delay, even today I’ll visit the temple.
TREAS. There’s need for haste, lest this fury grow with time.
MAR. I’ll arrange a procession. (Exeunt.)

ACT IV, SCENE ii

Enter the philosopher, Momus, the Cynic, Polycrates, and Philadelphus.

PHIL. This kingdom’s progress has passed, as has its full-blown stage, and at length its critical day is come. Now approaches the ultimate kind of doom, and this hour will give us back our due glory.
MOM. May the poets fall silent, unless they want to sing their own dirges and laments. We shall give this pardon to their evils.
CYN. Why is a lengthy procession being led through the middle of the market-place?
MOM. A lantern on the verge of extinction shines all the brighter, and unusual energy is often the herald of impending death. They are hastening to their slaughter, and going to the altar as fat victims.
PHIL. Let’s go and watch the man walking along, to see how majestically majesty falls. (Exeunt.)

ACT IV, SCENE iii

Enter the prince and all the procession, heading for the altar.

USHER Go more quickly, this band is slow in its march.
MAR. Wait, the prince hasn’t come out yet.
FOOL Are you still moving along with me as your companion? Watch out what you do. For I had a dream —
PRINCE What?
FOOL That the angry goddess gave me the scepter she wrenched away from you.
PRINCE Thus fools often imagine strange kingdoms for themselves, monstrous ones and wonderful.
FOOL You take my scepter and I’ll take yours. Often a powerful man set in the highest position acts the fool, although he was wise enough before.
PRINCE Then folly set aloft on high often becomes visible to the common folk.
FOOL For several months now, I’ve not been the only one to play the fool in this new kingdom.
PRINCE We’ve come to the altar.
CHAMB. The priestess is coming to meet us.
PRINCE Holy maiden —
TOL. Don’t talk about holiness. Here you won’t find there’s any room for an ingrate.
PRINCE Let me find the room, being as I am preparing thanks-offerings and throwing these gold coins at your feet, so that by your means the goddess might accept my gifts.
TOL. Take back your gifts and return to your palace. Be advised, lest the goddess’ anger grows.
FOOL Offer me the gift, I’ll play the role of the goddess. No small throng will adore me: indeed you should too.
PRINCE Go way, there’s no room here for folly. Holy maiden —
TOL. You persist in speaking? If I were to tell you everything, you’d prefer to keep your silence. For if you even touch the altar, you will see your final doom. This is a place for dying, not fate-prying.
CHAMB. Keep on, prince. Don’t let the priestess’ threats daunt your high-spirited heart. Perhaps the kindly goddess has expanded the borders of your realm, or has amassed many goods to bestow on you, which this priestess begrudges.
PRINCE That’s possible. Whatever it is, I shall enter into the temple.
FOOL Cease, I’d not like to have a wise man do this. If ever a fool rushes into forbidden felony, his folly lessens his guilt and absolves the crime.
PRINCE My hand will open it.
FOOL Let’s join hands. [They open the temple door.]
PRINCE What do I see? A tomb? Oh the sorrow, I’m wretchedly ruined.
MAR. Observe, my nobles, what command silent Fortune has given us. For the goddess has shown us a grave so each of us whose honors are, as it were, failing, might learn that they are vain and must be buried.
CHAMB. Why remain here? Let us leave this place and our prince, hateful to the gods and a great enemy to his people.
TREAS. Forgive me, gentle goddess, and thus I give you back my honors. I know the days to follow demand different manners and another way of life. Farewell, Prince.
PRINCE So thus my treasurer has left. How quickly I am made a pauper! And yet I am a prince.
FOOL But a very needy one.
ADM. Pray pardon me, goddess, I too will no longer cling to this shadow of honor. I set aside these hollow titles which an even more hollow man has granted me.
PRINCE This is a conspiracy. Since I have found it out, let me perish.
TOL. If you can’t bear this with good grace, you’ll bear it against your will.
FOOL I’ll not leave you, I’ll be here as your trusty companion.
TOL. You pair of philosophers may depart. That nobility is academic, but the majesty of this place is supreme. (Exeunt the treasurer and the admiral.)
MAR. Thus I shake off the yoke which has long oppressed me. Farewell, you silly honors. Farewell, prince. I’d prefer to be a philosopher than to be nothing at all.
LEG. The half of them have defected, I don’t want to pursue boremon any longer, with tedium and terror. Farewell, you silly honors. Farewell, prince. (Exit the marshal and the legislator.)
TOL. Depart. A better kingdom lies open for philosophers, a possession that lasts forever.
PRINCE Will nobody display any loyalty? Is nobody mindful of his duty?
FOOL I am. Why do you shudder?
CHANC. Thus I resign all my right. This title suits a greater man.
CHAMB. My honor is broken, and lies in the tomb. Thus I return what you have given me, I have learned to follow greater men. Be kind and grant me a philosopher’s place.
TOL. Be philosophers, and so you will be granted your salvation.
LEG. Since justice is dead, I shall bury my dignity in this grave. Thus the judge’s mouth falls silent.
TOL. And yet you must study the laws and honor justice. (Exeunt the chancellor, chamberlain and legislator.)
PRINCE Am I to be left alone?
FOOL Do you imagine I’m a nobody?
USHER Since the great pillars have withdrawn, I fear the lesser will quickly fall if they do not retire as well. And so, since honor has died before, let the tomb cover these badges of honor.
PRINCE Stop, madman. What’s mine I shall snatch from death. Depart, companions, stewards of the realm, not of myself. No, come back, I still possess my kingdom. A crown adorns my head, a scepter my hand, and I shall keep them, even if Jove is angry. Let Fortune thunder, fear will not enter this heart. What do I seem to be? Not a great prince?
FOOL You seem mighty when you have an escort. Otherwise you are pretty much my equal, save that I am satisfied with my kingdom, but you are not with yours?
PRINCE Madman, do you torment me?
FOOL Don’t I carry a scepter in my hand? We are a noble pair of princes, almost like brothers. Should we congratulate ourselves on our kingdoms? What will become of your commoners? I can barely stand your nobles. They’re far too clever and intelligent. Let’s form a parade and travel through cities in magnificent style. Does this please my brother?
PRINCE You mock me too? Oh the sorrow! The men whom treason makes suffer such great sorrows!
FOOL Fair prince, you trouble yourself too much, too much.

Enter Momus.

MOM. He’s not finished, now he begins to resign. Let me find a partner, so that we may both trouble him all the more.
PRINCE I’ll humbly approach the goddess and lay this ornament of my head on her alter, where I received my realm. But everybody will kick me while I’m down, I’ll keep it.
TOL. Until the people snatch it from you.
PRINCE Perhaps, I fear. It’s a grave thing to fall from power, but it’s more low-down, vile and base to abdicate it. I’ll keep my kingdom.
FOOL Over beasts, not men.
PRINCE It is a heavy, heavy thing to take a fall. I shall more safely abdicate, that’s what I want. Forgive an ungrateful prince, holy goddess. But the crowd will hiss when it sees me a private citizen.
FOOL And your fool will hiss when he sees none of your subjects doing obeisance to your august crown, and nobody deferring to your scepter.
PRINCE I acknowledge everything. You are a subject, therefore you should be the first to resign your position.
FOOL Folly is the last thing a man sets aside. If I were to humor you, the world would go to ruin.
PRINCE I’ll prepare for wars. But were are the weapons, where the hands?
FOOL I’ll procure them. I have many kinsmen whom it is easy work to conscript. If you choose to muster them, many captains will quickly come a-flocking from all the corners of the world. Have no fear, I know I have some kindred souls here, no matter how they are hiding beneath their philosophers’ gowns, since now the philosophic sect has been made powerful. If you give them the cheapest trash, my crowd will help with their hands, with their new cheering and applause.
PRINCE This people will wrench the scepter from me. But, I pray, you be the first to set aside your folly.
FOOL No.
PRINCE I beg you.
FOOL I decline. As long as your kingdom endures, my folly will also reign.
TOL. I’m still waiting. You will give back your borrowed power?
PRINCE I accepted it as my own. But I give it back, I give it back, take it with a smiling face. Oh how quickly supreme majesty falls! I’ll take it back again.
TOL. It is not permitted.
FOOL Fools are want to give this and request it back.
PRINCE Then adieu forever. Give me your costume, fool, so the people won’t murder me.
FOOL So you think that nobody murders a fool? Many men hasten their end by gluttony. Quite a few languish in love, and many have died of fear. I have no idea what a fool is, and yet I perceive that these individuals are devoid of wisdom.
TOL. Where has your ungrateful mind taken you? As you may see, I am tearing up your badges of office. As you may see, this altar will never tolerate virtue as its guide, Minerva will never hold her hand over this place.
PRINCE Oh gods on high! Fortune thus tears up the badges she made for me? I’m torn into a thousand pieces. Is someone now sharpening his sword to attack me? I seem to see a traitor standing here so that he might pierce this sacred breast with his point. Will I get home alive? Honor lies buried in this tomb, should I bury myself?
TOL. It is not permitted.
PRINCE Nothing is permitted which might relieve a mind afflicted by evils.
FOOL Come here, you who were once a prince, take off my clothes.
PRINCE So you’ll lend them to me?
FOOL Take them off. Does it befit a prince to ask a servant? {As his costume comes off.] Now, aroused, I grow awake, I begin to be wise. If anybody wants this costume, if it happens to fit him, all he has to do is ask for it, as far as I’m concerned it’s his. Will nobody answer? Then folly will hide her head in this very tomb until oblivion has consumed it. For he plays the fool most of all who thus loads down his memory with trash, so that he might forgo serious things more suitable for the time and place.
PRINCE But what am I to do? Wretched me, where am I to hide my head?
FOOL What men do you fear?
PRINCE Everybody
FOOL This fear is excessive and without point, the mass of men are too noble to harm you, or to mock, scorn, or vituperate you.
PRINCE Deceitful Fortune, you inconstant goddess, farewell. Which of the gods will free me? Which will help me? (Exit the prince with his fool.)
TOL. At length I am moved with pity and regret what I have done. But Fortune commanded me, and a handmaid must do everything her mistress commands.

CHORUS

FORT. Minerva, can you deny you are bested?
MIN. Don’t crow in triumph while the victory still hangs in the balance.
FORT. Who doubts it? Don’t you see that your fine prince is broken and overwhelmed?
MIN. Is he quitting the stage? Or is a final act still lacking, which my hand will write, albeit not to your liking? So far I have watched and suffered this, but now I won’t tolerate it any more. Even your son (I mean the fool) will take refuge with me. And (which will make you marvel even more), he’ll become a philosopher, nor will your gift of thick folly lessen his glory.
FORT. If you achieve these things, I’m defeated.
MIN. Watch, I’ll achieve them all.

ACT V, SCENE i

Enter Euphemia, by herself.

At last I am present, Euphemia, the priestess of Pallas, a gentle avenger of wrongs, but yet an avenger. My mistress has commanded me to rescue this prince from the horrid insults which the barbaric people are wont to hurl against men in misery. And look, the sad fellow comes with a trembling step.

ACT V, SCENA ii

Enter the prince with his fool.

PRINCE There’s nobody to hurt me here. This earth seems to be swelling, and suddenly lift up its proud head. The earth freely allows you to trample your prince, and I am compelled to suffer feet to trample me. I shall keep going.
FOOL Stop.
EUPH. Continue with a happy omen.
PRINCE Oh spare me, goddess.
EUPH. You’re mistaken, I am no goddess. I’m Euphemia, the priestess of Pallas, who was once dear to you.
PRINCE. I see Euphemia’s face, but when the whole world is redoubling its evil words, can I believe that I can find good words anywhere?
EUPH. With my sweet voice I shall laugh at whatever those rude folk cast at you. Follow me, for the chattering mouth of ill-will will be choked, by being obliged to experience all evils.

ACT V, SCENE iii

Enter Momus.

MOM. Famous monarch, glory of this realm, king of games, famed personification of glory, what does your sacred majesty command?
PRINCE Nothing.
MOM. My sense of duty advises me to do something of my own volition. Do you want the times to be lamented with a wretched groan?
PRINCE The complaint should be about yourself.
MOM. Do you wish me to rejoice in prose? For today verse is not in fashion.
PRINCE I’m all ears.
MOM. You’re not disturbed? Don’t my words prick you?
PRINCE Has malice spewed itself forth in full?
FOOL At length you’re quiet?
MOM. Perhaps you wish to keep some pretty little boys to do a fine job of acting the female roles. Or will this become a lodging-house for actors, and be called “Fortune?”
PRINCE I’m all ears. Nothing will move me.
FOOL Don’t you think you’ve said enough? I beg you say some good words, Momus. We don’t know how to repay you with bad ones.
MOM. What? Have you become sacred things?
EUPH. Lest your feet give offence, as your tongue now has, I’ll escort you home. That’s the way to destroy fury and threats — like a feather destroys rocks and water stones. Are you going to come back?
MOM. You should be a spendthrift over trifles. Take great pains that your expenditure is praised, for you haven’t any other merits. I shall return to the shadows, I have a dark heart.
EUPH. We’ll brighten it with out light.
MOM. Hold your tongue. My tongue is pleasant death.
EUPH. Thus it is sweet to die. (Exit Momus.)

ACT V, SCENE iv

Enter Cynic.

PRINCE Is someone else returning? Is their no end to their insults?
CYN. Greetings, supreme emperor of festivals, mighty monarch of springtime, what are you preparing today?
PRINCE Nothing.
CYN. Where’s your former display? Your thronged escort? Your crowd of servants? Your nobility.
PRINCE They’ve gone away.
CYN. Naturally.
EUPH. Why renew old evils?
CYN. Where are your spectacles? For I’ve seen nothing in your kingdom worthy of a prince’s station.
PRINCE You don’t know how to reproach me with more than I’ve reproached myself. I’m my own harshest judge. Somebody will shout the Hall, give more to the Hall. Is that a statement that befits scholars?
EUPH. That’s not fitting in the Schools, but perhaps it can be on the stage where everybody possessed of better fortune pretends to have the worst. But what do you want, friend?
CYN. At long length you should sing out “I’ve spoken, and I’ve finished the course Fortune has given me.”
PRINCE Why not do so, if I see that this would give you pleasure?
FOOL Cynic, you’re yawning.
CYN. I’m bested by good men. (Exit.)
PRINCE Don’t abandon me, holy Euphemia. You see how the rascally mob wounds me. Perhaps they’re readying their weapons.
EUPH. You should fear nothing. Hasten to Minerva’s altar with a better omen. There you can safely linger. I promise the people will be better-disposed towards you, you’ll reign once more.
PRINCE I’d pass through fire, I’d cross the waters with you my guide. (Exeunt.)

ACT V, SCENE v

Enter Tolmaea, alone.

Minerva will never tolerate this, she’s been very insulted. Am I called Tolmaea because I wantonly abandon the good and boldly embrace the bad. Good causes also require boldness, and nobody can accuse me of levity. The goddess has set the example, and it should not shame a servant to imitate her mistress. But lately Minerva was my mistress, my first mistress. For once I was a loyal handmaiden of philosophy. Though a runaway, why not return? Euphemia’s coming, I meet her at an opportune time.

ACT V, SCENE vi

Enter Euphemia.

EUPH. Tolmaea, my trusty friend.
TOL. Such I once was.
EUPH. And you can be again, if only you be wise.
TOL. You teach me this wisdom. I’ve clung to slippery Fortune far too long, that enemy of the best of men.
EUPH. If you join me in pacifying the raging people with your friendly voice, this single merit will put you in Minerva’s good graces, since she likes peace most of all. For a crowd, no matter how small, impedes studies.
TOL. If Tolmaea can do anything, I’ll immediately bring about a happier course and the desired outcome. For a homeland is welcome to the exile, and health to the ailing. (Exeunt.)

ACT V, SCENE vii

Enter the philosopher, Polycrates, Philadelpus, Momus, and the Cynic.

PHIL. Where’s the man who used to be prince?
MOM. He’s hurrying home in sorrow, greatly afflicted by his woes.
CYN. This hand will free him, this sword-point will give him an ending to his woes.
PHIL. I admit he has earned death, but I wouldn’t want a philosopher’s hand to commit that crime. The learned have bloodstained tongues, not hands. They gnaw on their enemy with their mouths, but don’t attack him with weapons.
POLY. His life may remain, but let his reputation perish. He will be a dead man living, having lost his best part.
MOM. Although we have been hurling our jibes, he remains unmoved. For no words touch him — but this hand will.

ACT V, SCENE viii

Enter Tolmaea and Euphemia

PHIL. For goddesses to meet a man plotting murder!
EUPH. What are you doing, Momus?
TOL. What are you fearfully hiding, Cynic?
EUPH. These are philosophers’ weapons? Is this how the gown shows peace? Isn’t it enough to have wounded the prince with insults, if you haven’t also barbarously robbed him of his life?
TOL. Isn’t enough that he’s groaning, having been driven from his rule?
EUPH. Don’t add any more wretchedness for this wretch.
TOL. Don’t kick a man when he’s down.
EUPH. The glory and ancient worthiness of a university is this, to interpret everything calmly and with candor. He will not oppress you, and it is no crime for him to have used his power while he could.
MOM. I’m amazed.
CYN. I’m swayed.
EUPH. Come with us to the holy temple of Pallas. There I’ll give you you your prince, changed and another man, by no means thinking about first place or loftier realms, as before. He’s seeking equality, give this to him.
TOL. Listen to fair Euphemia.
MOM. Does Tolmaea also urge us to cleave to Pallas’ divinity?
TOL. Tolmaea is urging you to do that which she herself most greatly craves. For Minerva is a better goddess, more constant, and approves moderate boldness in its place.
MOM. We cleave to Minerva.
EUPH. The friendly goddess will be present and receive you with a smile. See, the temple is open, and your prince is sitting on the goddess’ lap. I’ll summon the nobles, meanwhile you greet him.
PRINCE Let nobody strike me at this altar, this is a holy place.
MOM. Forgive us, prince. Now we congratulate you on your new kingdom of philosophers, if you abandon your old one.
PRINCE I refuse to be a king, just give me an equal place and I’ll think I am a prince.
MOM. Oh mighty goddess, who makes the highest princes philosophize! Behold, a philosophic bevy of noblemen approaches.

ACT V, SCENE ix

Enter all the nobles &c.

MAR. August goddess, splendor of the human mind, we unanimously greet you as our sole divinity. Forgive us, dear prince. We did not abandon you, but rather your realm and your unwelcome sports. Other pursuits called us away, and since these meet your approval we accept you as our prince once more.
PRINCE. I gladly accept your love. If something unworthy happened under my rule, I beg your pardon. I shall henceforth strive to make everything more welcome in my new alm. For I seem to be a new king. This temple is my court, this altar my inner council chamber. This professor’s chair is my throne, my splendid clothes are writings, this pen my scepter, this book my treasury. Let every treatise be subjected to me, I’ll read them as examiner, judge, and censor. I’ll approve the worthy, and reject the unworthy out of hand, and thus, being a philosopher, I’ll enjoy a splendid kingdom. (Exeunt omnes. The philosopher remains behind.)
PHIL. The poet has commanded the philosopher to say this single thing. This lofty, splendid, and unusually magnificent stage was not built for these trifles. This work, which required six days (trust me, I’m not deceiving you), so sublime today, could have more safely been performed at ground level. But something grander and worthier of this place is being prepared, if the time that follows permits. (Exit.)

CHORUS

MIN. What’s your boast now, Fortune. Where’s your prince? Where’s your priestess?
FORT. I admit it, I am conquered by my own severity, I’m ruined, having abandoned my wicked tyranny.
MIN. It will not be enough to confess your swollen pride, you will pay due forfeits. Fortune will never offer Pallas her right hand, nor will angry Pallas allow the blind goddess to hold forth her left.
EUPH. Tolmaea will only help many men by her audacity, as she has helped this goddess.
TOL. Audacity has often deceived many men, as I have deceived this goddess. Be kindly to me, Pallas.
MIN. First tear down this temple, put out its sacred lights, and move this tomb of the Prince’s honor to my hall, so a better place may possess it. Perhaps someday a new Phoenix will arise from its ashes, a luckier and nobler one, who might better rule over a more august realm. Fortune, if you will deign to follow me, the philosophical crew will often worship you.
FORT. I’ll gladly do so. For I do not think it just that I’m always opposed to Minerva and opposed to goodly studies.
MIN. Thus wars make peace. Tolmaea, if you are willing peacefully to copy Euphemia’s manners, I take you back.
TOL. I am very willing.
MIN. As I can believe, for now I hear your peaceful words. And you who have stood by as a witness so long, dismiss the people with your sweet voice.
TOL. I have no greater desire.

TOLMAEA SPEAKS THE EPILOGUE  

I’m Tolmaea. It will behoove me to speak boldly, and all the more so because I’m speaking at Pallas’ command, in the presence of Pallas’ sons. Let none of the senior members take this amiss, nobody who is not guilty, if I happen to chide the lads. I do not approve of loud noise, barbaric hubbub, stamping feet, or expressions of hostility. Are these things academic? To throw rocks through windows and rail at what’s done in the Schools? Let them do these things so that henceforth this hall might fall silent! But I open my heart and hands to you benevolent gentlemen. I know you take everything in good part, you whom we crave to please often and everywhere. And I would hope that no severe Cato would witness these trifles with a frown. We are giving you the fruits of our idleness — idle, perhaps, but nevertheless fruits. They have grown for your sake, the product of our labor. If you do not approve them in your mind, at least receive them with your hands. (Exeunt omnes.)

Finis