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ACT III, SCENE i
Ufadus keeps his brother Ruffinus steadfast in his purpose when he wavers.
ULF. Greetings, Ruffinus.
RUF. Good health to Ulfadus.
ULF. Why this deep sigh, brother?
RUF. When Aeolus is hidden deep underground in his dungeon, closely constrained, unless you give him an wide opening, he rages and, shaking the ground with a great earthquake, he inflicts widespread deadly destruction on the world.
ULF. You talk in riddles, brother.
RUF. I am troubled.
ULF. The south wind strengthens the cypress it tosses about.
RUF. I am struggling.
ULF. A struggle tests manly virtue.
RUF. I am wavering.
ULF. A wavering man should take a firmer stance.
RUF. I am slipping.
ULF. His brother lends a hand to a slipping man.
RUF. In vain you try to stop him, when he wants to slip.
ULF. Slipping is always harmful. A man who wants to slip stands tall, whereas a prostrate man does not slip.
RUF. Why are we hating the ancient divinities of our nation and choosing to consider a new one?
ULF. Oh, my brother, you are slipping!
RUF. I’m standing tall.
ULF. This is a very harmful slip.
RUF. Is it harmful to worship our ancient gods in accordance with ritual?
ULF. If we are confronted with a better choice, it is harmful.
RUF. Is it harmful to obey our father’s reverend command?
ULF. When our fathers commands are unjust, it is harmful.
RUF. Is it harmful to embrace good fortune?
ULF. It is harmful to prefer Fortune’s gifts to our salvation.
RUF. Secure salvation follows upon happy Fortune.
ULF. Secure salvation has nothing to do with two-faced Fortune.
RUF. Where is this vain mental picture taking us, Ulfadus? Does such great trust attach to the mockery of a dream? You should be ashamed to be dragged along by an illusion: retrace your steps in the direction Father invites. Brother, recall to mind the great prestige of a golden crown, a robe besprinkled with rich gems, a scepter gleaming with its golden badge, a snow-white throne artfully carved out of ivory. What about a palace with a roof as high as that of supreme Jove? What about an army of hangers-on? What about a household with its proud doors, pouring forth a veritable tide of well-wishers? What about the exercise of law over all your subjects? What about the common run of mankind, dreading their ruler’s proud will, and greeting with their cheers whatever royal wish dictates? Brother, does not this splendor dazzle your eyes? Do these fires not fire your heart, nor softly touch your inmost being? But if your mind is determined to stand in our present position, it is all done, we are dead man. A single downfall will overcome the riches I have described, and will perhaps overcome our lives. We are familiar with Father’s ill temper. Let us turn backwards while we may.
ULF. Enough entreaties, brother. Does this vain splendor overthrow your intelligence? Thus a fly, captivated by the illusion of a glowing candle, burns its wings. What about all those handshakes of yours, brother? A holy knot has bound our faith, a knot you are untying. We were of one mind in both our hearts, you are creating a mind to suit your own heart. What is the reason for this action? The volatile glory of rule? The crown? That involves your head in heavy cares. The scepter? It provokes both fear and loathing. The purple? That is a symbol of regicides. The throne? That is a high position from which you may tumble headlong. Is this how you understand the illusion of high rule? Is this how you understand the wheel of fragile fortune? Go now and, admiring the brilliance of the royal court, abandon the road you walk.
RUF. When the warring northerlies and southerlies strike a ship’s sails and drive it along, the boat heads hear and there, uncertain whose leadership to follow —
ULF. Are you still wavering?
RUF. A stubborn hope for rule moves me.
ULF. So the vision of God Almighty we have recently been shown fades , overcome by evil neglect? Do you rank blessedness second to to wretched rule, you wretch? You are snatching at something transitory, whereas Christ provides something everlasting. You are pondering a brief thing, heaven offers something boundless. You are seeking something driven hither and thither, faith promises something immoveable. To what are you aspiring in your blindness? Consider the color and shape of rule, and you will swear it is a monstrosity sent up from the lake of Dis. Redness disfigures your sleepless eyes, pale care perches atop your head, threats furrow your brow, fork-tongued deceit twists your lips, envy sharpens your teeth, and your cheeks grow pale once a sense of shame is banished. Your hands grow hooked because of the wealth you have plundered, fear shakes your sides, flattery deforms your ears, and their burden wrenches your massive shoulders out of shape. Pride determines your gait, and wicked pleasure-seeking robs your body of all its comeliness. Oh, the deceitful good! Is this that glory once so dear to kings? Is the beauty sought by such great suitors? Does this handsome appearance torment you and sweep you off your feet? This is a vain frenzy for power, a dire hope for the scepter!
RUF. Fear compels me to side with Father.
ULF. So that horror of Dis, that monstrously gaping serpent, has fled, evaporated from your brain? You can withstand the cruel commander of Acheron, but you can’t withstand Father? My brother —
RUF. My brother when you comply with Father.
ULF. My partner —
RUF. Being of a different mind, you dissolve our bond.
ULF. My friend —
RUF. Abandon the gods and you deny you are my friend.
ULF. Ruffinus, my friend, my partner and brother, ohm by whatever name is ever sacred in your sight, I humbly beg you, change your direction.
RUF. My duty to Father summons me.
ULF. Why do you call the blind wilfulness of your mind piety? But since the error of your untamed heart is to your liking, take back this unhappy pledge of your love. (He gives him back his ring.). Here’s our pledge, here are a brother’s promises, here is our faith, bound by adamant. Now destroy that token of our good faith, and give back that gift which you wear close to your heart, ONE GOD, so that heaven might foreswear all its favor towards a mind guilty of the sin of perfidy. Oh dear kinsman, see where you are coming from, and where you’re going. (Ruffinus kisses the cross he is about to return to his brother, and feels his heart grow softer.).
RUF. What’s this heat in my face? What warmth suddenly sets my bones afire? Does the chill of gold beget fire? Oh cross, breath of love, from whose bosom Christ took His his fires, poised them like a spear, and victoriously subdued my untamed mind! I return, I throw up my hands in surrender, determined to follow Christ through all manner of hardship.
ACT III, SCENE ii
THEORGUS, LYCAMBER, ULFALDUS, RUFFINUS
With his father in pursuit, Lycamber pretends to be in danger and flees to Ulfadus, and finally convinces him that he desires to become a Christian.
With his father in pursuit, Lycamber flees to Ulfadus, employing consummate pretense.
THE. Get far away to Orcus, you bastard son. Die, you plague of Galilee.
LYC. Oh God! Oh Christ’s faith! Help me, prince, free an innocent man from death.
THE. Die, you sinful seed, as a sacrifice to Jove of the Shades.
ULF. Stay your harsh assault, you priest of the Styx.
THE. Die by your father’s weapon, you accursed offspring. Return your snake-like soul to the Styx.
ULF. Restrain your weapon.
THE. Tell Rhadamanthus this is the price men pay who worship Christ.
LYC. As long as I breathe, I breathe Christ. He is fixed in my heart, and no force can remove Him, even if Phlegethon’s fury is armed against me, together with all of Dis.
THE. You continue to kill your father with this horrid barking? I am turned into all manner of fury. Oh you hellhound! May your rabid madness tear you into a thousand parts.
ULF. Unless you slow down and end your anger’s passion, you are a dead man.
THE. Who does so ill as to stay the gods’ avenging hand?
THE. Let this enemy of the gods keep far away from my touch and from my sight. Your father’s weapons await you, you partisan of sinners. The king’s wrath will overcome you, even if your father’s piety could not.
ULF. Thus the owl sings its accursed song. You torch of Avernus, you scorch Ulferus’ heart. You Fury of the Styx, you furnish the fires of wrath. You evil Megaera, you estrange a father from his son. You cruel hellcat, you set the royal heart afire. Cease, monster, and get out of this house.
THE. Well then, I sheathe my sword. But let vengeance remember its place. Protected by the hand of Ulfadus, grateful Lycamber has given his father these thanks. But, having mocked your parent, you choose a vain refuge. Neither the eagle of the flashing Thunderer will give you enough protection with its claw, the bosom of Jove will not shield your refugee self, nor will the shield of Mars. Bury yourself beneath the dark shades of Pluto, let the Hesperian dragon, watchful with its unsleeping eye, encircle you with its scales, nonetheless this hand will dispatch your rebellious self to the Styx. (Exit.)
ULF. Come now, Lycamber, I’m curious, tell me the truth. Are you improved and follow Christ, and do you wholeheartedly dismiss Jove from your mind?
LYC. I completely forswear Jove, a follower of Christ, my life’s noble captain.
ULF. Oh, you contriver of fraud! Even against your will, your great pretensions betray you. With no single face you work your wiles, your crime hovers over your very countenance: the way it changes color gives away your games. Thus a mind guilty of deep-dyed crime does not shut out all the sunlight. Your wrongdoing shines forth on your face. Confess your deceits. (Lycamber shows him blood, and pretends to have been cruelly wounded by his father.)
LYC. My father’s towering rage, these gaping wounds, the blood spilled from my veins, and now my soul, scarcely cleaving to my torn-up body, are sufficient evidence that my heart is clear of deceit. But my love of You, Christ, compels me to endure these sufferings, so that Ulfadus might disbelieve my words.
ULF. Will you permit me to remove the life from your breast, if I reveal you to be guilty of having a treacherous mind?
LYC. Agreed. Speak on.
ULF. But first, let my dagger be poised to strike a fatal blow. Brother, closely observe his cheeks and eyes, and study the conflicts on his face. (He points his drawn dagger.) This blade will send you lower than the shades of Acheron. Does cold fear not run through your bones and freeze the blood in your veins?
LYC. A blameless mind congratulates itself, fear overwhelms the guilty
ULF. Theorgus sent —
RUF. The blood drains out of his face, his heart makes his face pale with the pallor of death as fear of imminent death plays over it.
ULF. His tricks have come to life as his mind, guilty of so many crimes, deserts his face and seeks the hidden places of his heart.
LYC. There’s no deceit in my mind. The pallor comes from the draining of my strength, the blood is pouring from my gaping breast. (The princes explore his body to see if it is wounded, as Lycamber pretends to faint.).
ULF. Where’s a wound? The sign of a blow would make my eyes believe.
LYC. Deadly chill gnaws at my lifeless senses. Support me as I fail, Christ.
ULF. You are trying to avoid our probing. No scar marks your skin as having been damaged.
RUF. His flesh is gleaming, untouched by any wound. (Lycamber suddenly returns to himself, as if miraculously healed by Christ.)
LYC. Oh, the great divinity of Christ! Oh, powerful God! Having been invoked, he brought me aid in my dire straits The vital force has returned to my limbs, warmth to my veins, strength to my bones, and health to every part of my body. My flank, stricken by a thousand wounds, is not swollen with any trace of its injuries. Oh how You overcome my ungrateful mind, my God! Had I a thousand mouths, and a like number of tongues and rhetorical arts, I could not erect monuments of praise that match such bounties. And yet I swear by the lights of Olympus that I shall worship You, God, with perpetual incense, having abandoned Jove and disowning his gods. Go ahead, you suspicious fellow,use that threatening weapon to slice up Lycamber’s faith. Be profane and deny the works of God Almighty. And, if I do not yet seem trustworthy enough, stab my bared breast. (He shows his naked breast.).
ULF. You convince me, Lycamber, you convince me. With this embrace I ascknowledge your faith to be faultless.
ACT III, SCENE iii
JUMINA, TWO SOLDIERS, ULFADUS, RUFFINUS
Jumenus, the Captain of the Guard, fraudulently sent by Theorgus , tears Lycamber away from Ulfadus side and remands him to prison, and swifly turns to rebuking the princes.
Lycamber is supposedly imprisoned, by command of his father.
JUM. Sieze him quickly, soldier, and take him to prison. Let him groan under massive bronze, chamgers, burried way in that house of dark night. Seized by Christ’s insanity, he is striving to drive the royal boys mad too. Let the dungeon cool hown the heat of his overworked mind.
LYC. Oh happy day!
ULF. Come now, Lycamber. If virtue inspires you amidst these setbacks, it will lead you to wealth reaped from these very woes.
JUM. Take this plague far from my sight and hearing. [Lycamber is removed.] What are you plotting with your brother while unobserved, my prince? Your father has already forbidden these conversations.
ULF. Since this concern troubles you, for a long while we have both often wondered why heaven’s thunderbolts have refrained from striking your head.
JUM. By what crime have I deserved lightning?
ULF. By the murder of Oswine.
JUM. A treasonous thing to say! Is this how you value my merits? What? Was it a crime to make you a partner in the government, to weigh down your hair with your father’s gold and your hand with a scepter?
ULF. It is a crime to oppress an undeserving king by deceit.
JUM. You should call oppressing an enemy of Jove and his hatred of the supernals a virtue. I know what’s bursting your guts. Drunk on Circe’s strong wine, in your dizziness you are suddenly chasing after the dreams of your Jewish leader. Christ has infected your heart. Hurry along, Ruffinus. Your father bids you be summoned. (Exeunt the princes.) So Jumina is to be flayed by this childish raillery without having his revenge? Bah, ruler of the highest sphere! In your justice, do you hear these things, and in your justice to you permit this accursed stock to go on breathing? Do you not allow them to be stricken, when they deserve to be hit by the forked teeth of your Cyclops-forged fire? Until recently, having no share of the throne, lacking its brilliance, enrolled in the number of the common folk, they had been wretchedly dragging out the inglorious existence of a everyday life. Now, called by my doing to the glory of rule, their heads reach up to heaven. The assign the discredit for the dead king to me, and the reins of power to themselves, the invidiousness of his murder to me and its profits to themselves. Thus they appropriate its rewards together with its supreme merit. These are the dictates of kings: heap crimes on crimes, commit monstrous crimes, as long as you assist the king by your criminality — this is called virtue, but it is a vice to ask for your fee. The services you freely perform they fancy to be a servant’s tasks. But if you fail to perform any part of your bounden duty, you have the gallows ready at hand. He is a fool who enters into the households of great men for any purpose other than to rob them. But behold, the court is summoning an assembly of its lords.
ACT V, SCENE iv
THEORGUS, ULFERUS, RUFFINUS, VEREBODUS, JUMINA, FABA, ETHELBERTUS, LORDS AND SOLDIERS
Verebodus, condemned to be burnt as the man who cast down Jove, is freed when Ruffinus reveals himself.
They enter, speaking..
THE. You must believe that lightning’s subtle, it strikes the lofty cypresses of the royal court. And, even more wonderful, it burns their inner marrow without touching their foliage. How many lords this plague destroys within, while piety plays upon their faces! Today supplies an unexpected example, the base crime of Verebodus.
ULFER. Let the criminal appear. I alone shall play the part of Rhadamanthus. When it comes to judging the cause of the gods, this noble tribunal suits a king. (Verebodus is produced in chains.) Stand forth, you whirlwind of Avernus, you scion of the Furies, you monster worse than a snake, you reproach upon the realm. To pull down the shrines of the gods, to defile Jove with your sacrilegious steel — this was was not crime enough if you did not infect the royal family with your Circe-plague, and join my sweet son Ulfadus, stolen from the gods and his father, to the Christian choir. At length you must relieve heaven and earth of the sight of this hateful person. Your final day summons you. You are summoned by the fire in the pit of the Avernus. With quivering ears hear that faithful verse: Sink down to the realms of flame, consumed in flames. Go quickly to the fire. Let Ulfadus witness his death.
VER. Alas, if there is any Astraea who holds the scales of justice! Am I to be burned alive unheard. Ulferus!
ULFER. A witness has thoroughly proven the case. His dagger speaks the final word, and Ulfadus’ madness confirms it.
VER. I appeal to all the world’s justice, I plead, I lodge my complaint. Savage violence is murdering an innocent Verebodus.
ULFER. Take away the obstinate fellow, soldier.
VER. Oh, the world’s good faith! Oh, you trusty band of lords and companions. Rescue your friend from a horrible death, ask the tyrant for a delay. By speaking I shall purge myself of guilt. (All the lords shrug their shoulders.)
ULFER. Take away the monster.
RUF. Cease this bestial speech, oh father. Cease it. You are sending an innocent man to death. He did not defile your rotten gods with his sword, nor cast down the statue and base altars of that unclean Jove. Alas, he was too vain in his reverence for those tree-trunks, those mindless effigies of the gods. I came forth to do battle with Thundering Jove, that disgraceful stone. I razed to the ground his shrine, his couch and his bed, those monuments of his foul misdeeds, that household of errors. Nor did Ulfadus work on my mind. God, God Himself, He who alone plies the reins of this world, brought us to a better cast of mind. I am ashamed and embarrassed to offer incense to smoke-stained rocks. (Ulferus stands stock-still a while in amazement.)
ULFER. Oh the unfortunate father of these unfortunate children! What stars are vexing me? What heaven is tormenting me? To my unhappiness, I fathered monsters, opposed to the gods, not human beings. Oh the dire hand of the Fates! The deeper the wound, the worse the raging pain. And to you kill your father according to your brother’s example, Ruffinus? My mind shudders. Is this boy, loathing his father and the gods, inspired by Christ under Ufaldus’ guidance? (He stares at Ruffinus.). Ruffinus? Ulferus’ very joy? His grief. The hope of his kingdom? The despair. The salvation of his afflicted father? His father’s death. Terrible sunlight! Sad day! You were the sweet apple of your father’s eye, the focus of his affections, a gentler copy of myself, the triumph of the court, the star of the royal household, a bud of youthful springtime, an empurpled honor. Victorious beauty shone in his eyes, the elegance of the Graces sported on the stage of his brow, he was royal in his beauty rivaling Phoebus in his brightness. Now you are a monster more disgraceful than that three-headed dog, a shapeless ghost, a Fury agape with its snaky locks erect. All the horror of Acheron spews from your mouth. Go, you viper of a man, remove this great source of shame from your father’s sight. (Exit Ruffinus.) Verebodus, free your innocent hands from those chains, I acknowledge that you are free of guilt. Another man’s misdeed, attributed to you, created room for my mistake. But that perjurer Chorebus will pay me terrible forfeits, given both to steel and to flames. Go, Faba, catch him and make him die a cruel death. (Exit Faba, with soldiers.) You must set aside your grief. Put on a face and carriage that match your good fortune. Like Phoebus, shining out from behind a dark cloud, make the day sunny with the better light of your mind. Henceforth no man will be more splendid in my royal court. No man will share more responsibility for my affairs as a partner in my scepter.
VER. (Kneeling.) You lords of Olympus, who were moved with concern for me in my innocence, you radiant choirs of supernals who live under the rule of Thundering Jove, and you, Neptune, ruler over the wandering waves, obeyed by a lesser crew of underwater divinities, and you, you gods beneath the earth who make up Pluto’s royal court, I worship you, I embrace you, I adore you, and I humbly give you thanks in my very devoted mind. I shall be mindful and dedicate perpetual sacrifices at your altars.
ULFER. Well said. His faith in the supernals is assured. Let the royal court be dismissed, I shall have a few words with Verebodus.
ACT III, SCENE v
Ulferus consults with Verebodus about how they might return the princes to the worship of their gods.
ULFER. Now that you are returned, Verebodus, join me in an eager embrace. Once you were the guide and companion of my youth, a part of my soul from the very beginning, and you are still a keen defender of Jove and the person nearest to Ulferus. Come now (since you understand all the evildoing of this treacherous crew), tell me what wizard has misled my royal family with his toxic whispers, teaching them to prefer their new divinity to the old gods.
VER. Prince Ulferus, a single trick, a single deceit has cast its spell over all these Jews. To pull down from heaven the lord of the dark night, to ward off Thundering Jove’s weapons and hurl them back at the stars, to make rivers unwillingly flow backwards to their hidden sources — all these things are permissible for any man once his insanity has joined him to Christ. Nevertheless, not far from there there rises up an ancient woods, a woods dark because of its untended foliage. Here the high priest of their Jewish leader lurks in hiding, doing his work. Buried within a hideous cave he roars his prayers to the shadows, prayers at which the supernals might quake. The common folk behold this fellow, their mouths agape, asking his instructions for working deeit, and drink their fill of his Circe’s venom. If somebody abandons Jove and seeks out Christ, he fosters the plague with his Thessalian craft, intoning a hideous incantation. They call him Ceadda.
ULFER. I recall having frequently heard the man’s name. I’ve always been afraid to behold him.
VER. Unless my fear is raising vain forebodings in my mind, it is from this source that Ulferus’ family has acquired its arts, its original taint of evil, and learned its wiles.
ULFER. I swear by the pools of the accursed river, he is a dead man.
VER. Be calm and suppress your passion. Our counsels require us to take stealthy courses. Ceadda has won over the favor of the empty-headed common folk. He is adored, he is heard, he has power, and he guides their minds like a second god on earth.
ULFER. This by itself is a reason for death, to have become over-popular.
VER. Let this sacrifice be made to our altars.
ULFER. The people is usually concerned about their household hearths, not their altars.
VER. They go back and forth between protecting the one and the other, but more so their altars.
ULFER. Piety towards altars rarely moves the common man.
VER. Superstition is kindling their fires.
ULFER. Which a ruler extinguishes at their first appearance.
VER. When the people’s religion is damaged, fearful riots ensue.
ULFER. They are broken up by fear of kings.
VER. A greater fear of the gods provokes them against kings.
ULFER. The people is subdued by arms, when threats fail.
VER. Rage often supplies arms to the common folk.
ULFER. A rage to be put down by royal strength, steel, and bloodshed.
VER. When it wields a scepter all but shared with its king, the people becomes armed.
ULFER. Which the secure and lofty intelligence of kings tames by taking counsels.
VER. When the people is up in arms, royal majesty is wont be unsafe, unless it is equally well-protected by the sword.
ULFER. There will be no lack of steel.
VER. Take away the people’s obedience, who will provide his sword? Who will wield his arms? It is the worst kind of war to ruin a kingdom in order to shore it up, and to claim that as your own which you would not care to render.
ULFER. Kings may go where they will.
VER. When they are able.
ULFER. They both may and can.
VER. Let the king first have within striking range the unstable commons and whatever evil thing their bold fear might contrive in doubtful times. Remove the law, and whoever rages against the people has made himself an enemy. Pain banishes fear, desperate rage follows hard on the heels of pain, and warfare comes after rage. The steel of inflamed warfare is all-daring, when it has no hope.
ULFER. So should this old man spew his venom on a king’s sons unharmed?
VER. The times forbid you from taking vengeance. A father’s first concern is the safety of his sons.
ULFER. You pillar of the royal court, powerful with your eloquence, you must approach the boys. Find out what schemer is pouring his poisons into their mind. They will disclose their secret thoughts to you. Be clever and leave nothing untried. Sway their vain senses in ways both legal and illegal. Teach them to think wholesome thoughts. Urge on them their father’s grief, their fear of the gods, the wrath of the Thunderer, the blot of infamy on their race. I shall shut myself up in my apartment and ponder in what way I can destroy this unspeakable sect root and branch.
ACT III, SCENE vi
Alone by himself, Verebodus determines the downfall of Ulferus’ house.
VER. Where am I? What place in this unknown world contains me? What’s the shape of things, what course is the world taking as it glides along? Are you awake, Verebodus, or does a vain stupor deceive your mind with its phantasms? Where do you come from, and where are you going? There is a cave in the deep tract of Tartarus, a cave or a chamber, dreadful with its shades. Inside sits horror, the still of everlasting night, a sad paralysis of things, fearful chaos, and the face of Avernus. A foul stench lies upon the cave, a pestilent breath, such as an infernal swamp breathes forth from its bottom Pent up in this cave with the daylight excluded, I spent a day, enduring a great weight of freezing iron. Mouldy bread was given me for my food, and sewer-water for my drink. From there I was haled before a horrible bench. The judge was present, a menacing Rhadamanthus such as terrifies the herds of the dead with his frightful face. “You whirlwind of Avernus, you scion of the Furies, you monster worse than a snake, you reproach upon the realm,” he thundered. Behold my trial. This harsh judge spewed forth reproaches but made no inquiry. Not allowing the accused to speak in his own defense, with a terrible voice he intoned a verse, Sink down to the realms of flame, consumed in flames. Oh, a statement worthy of flames! Alas, the horrible commands! May a firestorm descend upon his unspeakable house, may a thunderclap shatter his royal court, may lightning bury his overthrown home in ashes, may a storm and its fiery whirlwinds strike father, sons, nephews and all his line, sweeping them to the pools of flaming Orcus. If these fires are lacking, I shall climb up to the regions of the flaming aether and snatch the sun’s orb from Jove, or Avernus will whirl its fires against the king at my behest. What? Sink down to the realms of flame? My mind boils with wrath. I am carried along, infuriated by a great frenzy. What ocean with its changeable ways, what Scylla, what Charybdis, what heat from Etna’s cave is flooding me? I endured the savage lord’s cruel brutal commands, his reproaches, his scorn, his treats, and his chains, his Stygian dark, and — this too was a kind of punishment — his savage face, and yet he reigns? He reigns, puffed up with his proud government. Do his children, worse than their father, thrive? Oh hand, so slow in dealing death! I m slow but I shall compensate for my delay with a great slaughter. Time’s passage gives strength to an avenger. Verebodus, adopting two faces, you must cleverly overcome both the father and his sons by a matching pair of schemes. For the sons, plant their stubborn opinions yet deeper in their minds. Let them take on the quality of the rough Caucasus, cold stone, brass, and hardened steel. Let them turn a deaf ear to their father’s entreaties. Let them requite his threats with mockery, and cleave to Christ, bought with murder. Attack, harass, and prick their father with your opposing fires. Supply new incitements to him in his rage, new shafts for his wrath, so that he might prefer to lose a thousand sons by his paternal handiwork rather than see the worship of his gods take even a single stumble. From this will come certain death for the sons and a headlong tumble for the father. For who would allow such a monster to hold sway in government, who is the ruin of his offspring? And for you, cruel Chorebus, you whelp of Megaera, you darling of the Eumenides, no earthly punishment will suffice. Scarce enough will my fire repay such a great crime. You dark steersman of the Stygian raft, prevent the shade guilty of this great crime from your shores. Lamenting its fate along the banks, let it wander for countless years. Or, if it is borne across the marsh and stands before the court of Minos to receive its judgment, let Orcus devote all its leisure to the punishment of this one single man. Let his shade alone be the target of all the Furies’ torches. Let the penalties the stern judge has prepared for all men be endured by him alone. There remains the treachery of the lords. That entire crew turned cold when I begged for its assistance in my extremity, and silent good faith has settled on my shoulders alone. Oh, the meaningless good will of lords and grandees! It shrugs and refuses to support a falling friend, although it is an agreeable comrade in happy times. Fortune smiles? It attends you. She frowns? It flees.
ACT III, SCENE vii
VEREBODUS, FABA, EADBERTUS, JUMINA, ETHELBERTUS, LORDS
With his silent gestures, Verebodus mocks the lords by whom he was abandoned in his adversity, when they return to him amidst his prosperity.
VER. And see here, this gang comes back along with my good fortune, matching its return. Ulferus’ noble favor brings back my friends, just as a spring day returns the zephyr. (Verebodus shrugs at their individual greetings.)
EAD. Good health to Verebodus.
JUM. I congratulate my friend on the cancellation of his death sentence, and the return of his good fortune.
ETH. Envy accused him of an unspeakable crime, but heaven proved to the world his innocence. With this cloud dispelled, you shine greater in heaven, Phoebus-like, and color the world with your new splendor.
FAB. You thrive by grace of Ulferus, like nobody else at court. Oh, happy day!
EAD. We give thanks in our minds.
ETH. Our hearts overflow with joy.
JUM. Enriched by royal affection, you should be mindful and give credit to your old friends.
FAB. Now blessed, you should acknowledge us as your servants and recommend us, clients dependent on your will, to the king’s affection. (Verebodus greets them all with a shrug and exits.)
ETH. His silent reserve has shown his hostile disposition.
JUM. May an eternal silence vex this unkind display. May this blockhead go join the crew of silent shades! You speechless monster! I swear by the black pools of the Styx, this mushroom will pay for his boorish rebuff. This steel will remove his base tongue from his mouth.
Chorus or interlude.
Go to Act IV