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ACT III, SCENE i
“Chief of the gods,” “Jupiter thundering on high,” and whatever other impressive name the first creator of the gods bestowed on me, together with the fear they created, are left in heaven while I flee my realms, I, I whose hand hurled the lightning that made Athos shudder and Thracian Mimas, sacred to Bacchus, to groan deeply. But I am recalling trifling things, I, at the sight of whose torches the astonished world grew feverish, shivering, and failed for thirst. I am being borne from here towards the silent gods and the fearful shades, a Styx-bound exile. Alas, why are you amazed? Now my misfortunes imitate the falling heaven, let my realms remain with me, and let not the sky survive ruined Jove. Will you not follow , you skies that are treacherous to me? Does no loud clamor follow at my back? What? Does the sky not perceive that the Thunderer is driven out? Does not sky-bearing Atlas, burdened by my mass, feel that the weight is lessened? Come, why are you delaying? Hasten to obey the commands you have received. Let the bearer of my house withdraw his shoulders, so that, being no longer my palace, it may serve as my tomb, equal to and worthy of a Jove. Let Jupiter have the world bear witness that the ungrateful heaven does not obey his commands. Now I learn the power of fear: with my hateful yoke cast off, hate replaces former submission. But, my dear wife, do you scorn my entreaties? Seize the thunderbolts from the hot hands of the Cyclopes, sister, and play the part of the wrathful Thunderer, so that the astonished heaven may bellow with the sound. Savagely conjoin dense arrays of clouds, and bid the night to arise from its Stygian bed. Instead of the sun, let the world glow bright with my flames. Attack, let my wife Juno see these blazing torches striving by themselves and praise their loyalty, and she will not perceive the complaints of her wretched husband, that I am unhappily upholding my own divinity. Phoebus, you steersman of the sun, you golden-haired one, you wandering one, drive your fierce, raging horses backward, devote this one night to ruined Jove. Send forth darkness, so that today, party to my downfall, will perish for the world. Bring me the darkling Styx, to which I am late in coming. This too is denied me. By the gods, it remains for something worse than this evil to have occurred, it remains for Jove to have fallen by himself. As if some god of a lesser people were falling from a crowded heaven, I suffer my fall accompanied by no general downfall, although it behooves the world to follow me, its bonds burst asunder. How long, Jupiter, will you hold the attention of the unheeding gods as a suppliant? Travel the way you should, divert your steps towards Acheron. You cannot divert the gods.
ACT III, SCENE ii
JUP. This is what it is to divert Charon, he comes in answer to my wish, he rises up in answer my prayers.
CHAR. The hags aren’t visible anywhere. What should one do when he’s worn down by sluggish starvation? In my unhappiness, all my hope is perished, in vain I seek for the straying goddesses who are fleeing my sight.
JUP. Greetings, ferryman of the Underworld, greetings, Charon. What road leads to sorrowful Lethe?
CHAR. Why does Jupiter, the king of the gods, ask this, he who ought better to be treading the Milky Way?
JUP. Why call me the king of the gods, Charon? Bestow this title on someone who deserves it.
CHAR. It’s yours.
JUP. I see the gods above. Having lost my throne, I watch those lording it whom I myself made gods. I shall belong to you, ferryman.
CHAR. So you’re paying a visit to the Styx?
JUP. I am obeying the Fates’ command, such is their desire.
CHAR. The friendly goddesses have done a fine job of looking out for Charon. With an eager hand I’ll grasp at this good fortune.
JUP. Is your raft ready?
CHAR. It’s entirely at your service. For these past two days (which have seemed longer than a year for me) it has carried no souls, none, none at all. See how I’m pale with hunger, and my wallet is thinner than its owner.
JUP. Be happy because of my misfortunes, Charon. Take htis passage-fee.
CHAR. You’re very generous, good Jupiter. I accept with gratitude, and will do as you command. I see my fortune is returning, I can breathe, I cherish new hope of smiling.
JUP. Let’s depart, the Fates are pressing me. Why delay?
CHAR. Now I don’t regret that I was perishing, I think it’s lucky enough to have been wretched. Why indeed, Jupiter, you’ve come to me in my doldrums no less agreeably than if you were Salvation herself!
JUP. I’m not troubled that fortune favors you. I congratulate you on gaining an advantage from my ills.
CHAR. By my Styx, you were no more welcome to Danae, as you rained good things into her lap.
JUP. Why are you rashly calling on its sacred waters as a witness?
CHAR. Nowadays I don’t bind myself by the gods.
JUP. Alas, what are you saying? It disgusts an unhappy man to remember the good he has lost.
CHAR. I don’t want to be any more trouble to you, Jupiter, so let’s go. You’ll immediately see how glad your presence makes me, how the sluggish swamp will cheer you as you sail. The water will resound as I row, and with my pole I’ll rouse the lazy frogs to greet you. I’ll roil up the deep Styx with my strong oars, so that its eloquent waters will loudly shout your name as you listen.
JUP. You are speaking of things worthy of me, Charon. Let’s go to the bank.
CHAR. Follow me, I’m your guide. (Exeunt.)
ACT III, SCENE iii
Enter SATURN, THE PARCAE, ASTRAEA, PEACE, SIMPLICITY, LEISURE
CLO. You see your ancient realm, which is now yours.
SAT. I see it, Sisters, I see it. I give you worthy, abundant thanks. But I had a better lot amidst the shades and dark specters, where I wandered about, spending long days similar to night, where tortured Tityus vainly tried to shoo away the greedy vulture, where Tantalus, dying of hunger, vainly gaped for his fleeing food. Divine Sisters, much time, many centuries containing a large number of years, have been consumed in these things by this old man, since the time I drank nectar as supreme monarch of the heavenly gods, with Hebe filling my cup.
ATR. We remember well enough. Meanwhile new divinities are enjoying heaven, many ancient gods have suffered a downfall while Jupiter, usurping his new throne, seeks to create a realm for himself with impunity, thanks to the misfortune of his betters.
LACH. Mercury is in exile by no fault of his own, alas.
CLO. Don’t complain. Just now Jupiter has fallen because of this crime.
SAT. I acknowledge that the decrees of the three Parcae are supremely just, that you have deservedly thrust Jove down to Orcus, and that you have snatched this innocent old man from his prison in Erebus and restored him as an inhabitant of his heaven.
CLO. We are not just bestowing the stars on you, Cronos, and freeing an old man from his customary exile. This gift would be unworthy of the Sisters’ hands, merely a kind of relief from his misfortune. Think instead of something loftier which is permissible for us to give and you to receive. A home in heaven is a small thing.
SAT. Alas, what are you preparing?
LACH. We will give you your scepter, as is right and just.
SAT. Spare this old man, Sisters. It is hard to rule, troublesome and unlucky.
ATR. You know how to govern.
SAT. I know this, and I avoid it.
LACH. Under your rule, the centuries were blessed and the days happy.
SAT. Those centuries were mine, mine, but now I would not hope for them to return. Alas fraud, deceit, quarrels and warfare fill my home. Once, Sisters, simplicity was a familiar thing, peace and leisure. No law was given to guide the world, men lived according to their own law. It was easy to govern when there was no guilt. Now I would have to hurl thunderbolts, and lightning is foreign to me. My hands do not know how to wield the thunder. Rather, Sisters, it suits me to be a mere inhabitant.
ATR. You ask for unworthy things, you sickle-wielding god. You only ask for a home where you son possessed a kingdom? Fix your mind on great things and set aside delay. Put kingship and fortune before your eyes, father, and whatever else your mind desires.
LACH. Mount your throne. Do not think that these are words of urging, they are words of command. Mount your destined throne.
SAT. I obey. For it befits me to obey the Fates’ commands. I accept the honors your hand bestows.
CLO. Saturn, the Fates of the gods will you to be king. By this word it is determined.
ATR. Let heaven’s realm be yours.
ALL Hail, Cronos, ruler and father of the gods.
CLO. Here’s your crown, thunderbolt and scepter.
SAT. Take them away, these are the insignia of a tyrant and a harsh reign. This golden armament befits an iron age. The sacred majesty of heaven does not depend on these badges. Pomp suits a violent and savage regime, since all its majesty resides in a crown, all its divinity in a scepter. The title of Just Father ennobles me more. The revered wish of my face, the beauty of my age employs the sweet bonds of affection to bind the hands of men who shun vices. In a wonderful way it is both a bridle on the evil-minded and a spur for the good.
CLO. That is good, but the crimes of this world will teach you another method of ruling, it suits you to employ this thunderbolt so that you may properly torment obstinate evildoing.
SAT. Savagery certainly is the least part of good government. When crimes rise up to heaven, I must employ this sickle to free the earth of monsters. Punishing criminals is a small thing, I prefer to remove them. Thus, consigning to the Styx those unworthy burdens on the earth, I desire to rule those I can rule as a good father, and I eagerly accept such a regime, if you grant it.
CLO. What you say is worthy of you, great father of the gods.
LACH. So let the entire company of the heavenly gods acknowledge that Saturn has returned to his kingdom.
ATR. Let the world acknowledge this, and worship their father.
SAT. That’s quite sufficient, Fates, nothing remains for me, I have nothing more to wish, save to have deserved such great things. I am girding myself for the task now at hand, here my effort is directed, and Astraea, that pledge of good government, will approve my reign.
AST. She whom you summon is present. Give your command, father.
SAT. I give the lands back to you. Come down from heaven, and now enjoy your realms. Hasten to bring back the golden centuries, bid crimes depart to their proper home, and send the base gangs of the vices to Erebus. As far as I am concerned, Virtue has endured a lengthy exile, and frauds and wiles have taken her place, unwelcome. Be her champion, return her to the land, safe and sound. You follow, Peace, always the loyal companion of Justice, subdue wars, horrible with their bloodstained necks. See that you lock up in prison murders, thefts, hatreds, and whatever else black Orcus has spewed forth, and commit them to Night. For my sake continue and cleanse all the lands. Welcome Simplicity, take your seat, banish the evil arts and ensure that ancient Honesty returns to mankind. And lastly, happy Leisure, return to earth, banish cares, toil, and heart-consuming sorrow to the Styx, bury them in eternal Lethe. Now, under our guidance, let all the world celebrate a holiday, let the whole year be a Saturnalia.
Continue to Act IV