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JULY, AUGUST, SEPTEMBER
July and August make their entrance first, August with a parasol, a fan, and ears of wheat.
AUGUST Put down the parasol. How the Dog has made the sun rabid with its bite!
JULY Whether this was the fault of the Dog or the Lion, I appear to be half-baked by the sun.
AUGUST Take this fan and make me a breeze, like so.
JULY But what if I find flies?
AUGUST Shoo them away, you rascal. They are sauciest of all the insects, which lust the most after the nobler kind of flesh.
JULY But I’ve never seen them more plentiful than in rotten meat.
AUGUST You sacrilegious fellow, what kind of thing do you suppose I’m made out of ?
JULY The most august stuff, but even so, I’ll exterminate all files, gnats, wasps, moths, midges, flying beetles, and suchlike flying predators.
AUGUST I grant you that the most honied dainties in the animal kingdom are those which have no honey.
JULY He speaks obscurely, open the windows.
AUGUST I mean, those to which the cook has given honey, and not Nature.
JULY Honeydew melons with figs are a honey sweeter than sweet honey.
AUGUST But do you imagine that these little gifts will be pleasant for Saturn without a condiment of sweeteners?
JULY Yes, why shouldn’t I believe this for certain, since nothing more pleasant than July can happen?
AUGUST Ha, ha, you’re crazy, July, when you measure other men’s ways by your own character.
JULY Good heavens, he has no taste for whom these things are not tasty.
AUGUST Take this away. (He takes away the melon and places it on a plate.) How long are we going to wait for September, that accursed slow-footed buffoon?
JULY A long while ago he began the grape-harvest, and when it is through he will come flying here immediately.
AUGUST Unless the tendrils shall have bound his feet.
JULY Or unless (as I suspect is more likely) the vines’ tears shall have handcuffed his head.
AUGUST Tearless tears, which create smiles everywhere!
JULY Just so: the man who wretchedly weeps those tears for himself makes others laugh.
AUGUST We’ll be ready for his onslaught. But you, July, should take a minute to forecast our success with Saturn.
JULY Except that everything will be prosperous and happy, I am unable to accomplish anything by conjectures.
AUGUST Why are you such a bold prophet, little man?
JULY Look at this sickle.
AUGUST I like it. What then?
JULY With these ears of mine I once learned that Saturn formerly governed Italy, and that he taught the work of harvesting to its inhabitants. For then it was the Golden Age, and for the teeming earth there was no need for the plow, just for the sickle. Since the land bore fruit of its own volition, without any need for a human touch, men could reap what no hand had sown. For a long time he reigned in prosperity, but at length, exhausted by old age, he repaired his time-worn wings and flew off straight to heaven. With his sickle he created Trinacria, which they commonly call Sicily, which at the time was enclosed in the territory of Hesperia and hadn’t yet broken off and sprung away from Calabria.
AUGUST You spin a fine little story! What tale do you invent for yourself?
JULY I am descended from the Julian clan, but the Sicilians reared me. Palermo is famous for my cradle. Behold the very age of Saturn. Here my forebears, to whom he had given me to protect in that remote place, finally produced me as a youth and when the old man has taken me in with his eyes, by Jupiter, with what embraces he will rush at me!
AUGUST Without doubt, you reaped a harvest of pleasures in that age. (Enter September.)
AUGUST Hey, what’s this uproar?
SEPTEMBER Hey there, August, July.
JULY September is calling to us.
SEPTEMBER You skulking bandits!
AUGUST But with what rage the villain bawls!
SEPTEMBER Oh how I’d like see you crushed in a wine-press and squeezed into a vat, so I might take you into my gut by cupfuls!
AUGUST Ha, ha, he’s walking around, made drunk by his lees. I am afraid lest the rascal trample on our dinner or attack us with an onslaught.
JULY Don’t be downcast, August. Behold, you have before you a young scion of the Julian family.
SEPTEMBER The sun drunks, the earth drinks, the ocean drinks, trees drink, so who on earth forbids me to drink?
AUGUST How Liber’s luxury has produced an elegant inebriate!
SEPTEMBER Feet, why are you reeling? Pray stop, you darling dancing feet. If you have any brains in you, stop, I say. For if I fall down, there is nobody to lift you back on your soles.
AUGUST Let us gather ourselves and approach the beast.
JULY Strenuously spoken.
AUGUST Hey, September.
SEPTEMBER Who is it?
AUGUST Look behind you.
SEPTEMBER Do you want a beaker of wine, you glutton?
AUGUST Get away with you, you evil sot. Are you sufficiently sane?
SEPTEMBER“We have all been insane once.”
JULY Ha, ha, in vino veritas. He’s quite mad.
SEPTEMBER A man who eats much and drinks little does the same as a fine bull.
JULY He’s even stricken in his eyes, he imagine’s you’re a bull.
AUGUST September, calm your mind. And if you take my advice you’ll sit yourself in the chair for a while until you sleep off your drunkenness. (They put him in the chair, but he rises up, reeling.)
SEPTEMBER And you’re in your cups too, chair, you are weaving on your feet. You are standing on four rather large legs, I on only two, and yet you surpass me in your wobbling. And I’ll slaughter this quadruped manfully, as I ought. (Overturns the chair.)
JULY This donkey of a biped has done an injury to a quadruped which is not donkey-like. (Sets the chair upright.)
AUGUST Allow me to educate you, wine-bibbing September. He who is dead from wine ought to be buried in sleep. (They try again to set him in the chair.)
SEPTEMBER What are you babbling? Do you keep threatening me, you vile person? Dead? Dead? (He looks around, finds his wine-jar, immediately breaks off the handle, and wields it like a swordsman.)
JULY Now he’s inflamed with wine, I fear he’ll soon be soaked.
AUGUST July, now show your ancestry with your fists.
JULY Here’s a little Caesar. [Hits him.]
SEPTEMBER By this sword of Mars and jug of Bacchus, I’ll scourge your loins in wretched ways.
AUGUST I’m ruined, July, I’m being murdered.
SEPTEMBER Let the dead man be buried, ha, ha. By heavens, wine is kindling and incitement for great courage.
JULY How I’d like to meet Brutus and Cassius now, who stabbed my ancestor Julius with their daggers! How I’d chop up those assassins with my sickle!
SEPTEMBER I can’t stand for weariness. By your feet, I beg you to favor me with this chair.
JULY Do my eyes deceive me?
SEPTEMBER Dead? Hey taverner, give me sugared wine, “keep it coming in all the full bumpers” —
JULY What’s going on, August? What are you looking for so anxiously, you timid fellow?
AUGUST I don’t know whether or not I’m lost.
JULY Ha, ha.
SEPTEMBER— which exist, which have existed, or which ever will exist.
JULY But now you’re found. Here you are, you night-owl.
SEPTEMBER No king of kings sups more kingly than I.
AUGUST So I’m not dead?
JULY Believe it. Surer than sure, you’re alive.
AUGUST Help me.
SEPTEMBER This is too acid, take it away.
JULY Have you revived enough?
AUGUST Let me look myself over with more careful eyes to see if he’s thumped a hole in me anywhere.
JULY In comparison to your mouse-like self, no mouse is so timid.
AUGUST He swore by the sword of Mars, and at the same time he drew it.
JULY But Bacchus’ jug so blunted its edge that the sword has lost its bite.
AUGUST You are a speaker of the truth! For now my heart has ceased its quaking. (September snores with his mouth and nose.)
JULY You hear?
AUGUST Ah, now those are the noises of a kingfisher. See, our captor is a captive.
JULY How he sips his slumber!
AUGUST You’re mistaken, nobody can sip and snore at the same time.
JULY What then? (In between their speeches he snores.)
AUGUST Beyond doubt, he is laboring in his extremities. Wine fights using tricks. When it has caught his feet, it permeates the rest of his limbs at a gallop, until it reaches the end, dying: I mean his nose, which is his only feature which we see to be breathing.
JULY It shames me that you are not ashamed to be ignorant of these things at your age. The medical crew proclaims that a man wounded by wine is usually healed by sleep. As much wine as a man imbibed while awake, they advise him to drink in that much sleep, outstretched.
AUGUST However that may be, let him have his fill of both of them, as long as he doesn’t soak himself with any leakage. (He stops his snoring.)
JULY No danger of that, for Morpheus has plugged him up at both ends.
AUGUST So at length let’s navigate our way back to the thing which this Bacchanalia interrupted, in the interval before September shall have made his way back to the upper world.
JULY Timely advice. Go ahead, if you please.
AUGUST So now, July, I want to rejoice more freely. We are the happy triumvirs of the months, teeming with overflowing bounties of all kinds of crops, since with their opulent service Ceres, Pomona and Bacchus strive to enrich us. Who hungers for ground spelt and white flour? Let him appeal to July’s golden scythe, which all things obey. Is this to his taste? Let him seek out August’s fragrant gardens, more blessed than the gardens of the Hesperides, they will furnish the richest of fruits. Does he thirst for Massican, Falernian and Caecuban wine? Let him range through Septembers moist succulence, these will provide them in abundance, at no cost. What delights! Why should there be any further place for fables? Or, if we are to place our trust in fables, Jupiter dines lavishly on ambrosia, nectar, and Hebe’s cups, nor do we begrudge him, as long as he does not get in trouble by greedily stealing tidbits of our foods.
JULY But, my August, don’t slander Jove so freely, lest we don’t get off scot free hereafter. Indeed I myself occasionally dine on barley and cheap darnel instead of refined wheat, and you sometimes eat scallions, onions and cucumbers. Often September greedily fills his belly with the raw wine of wild grapes.
AUGUST You’re beginning to play the fool. Jupiter, I tell you, often dines on smoke. Nay, because of the scarcity of smoke, when our ovens produce none, he frequently goes to bed without his supper.
JULY You’re boasting immoderately. If some snooper chanced to be here who would whisper these things to Jove!
AUGUST I have no care for whispers, you are speaking nonsense. I am August.
JULY I predicted this. Avenging Jupiter — [September wakes up and interrupts him.]
SEPTEMBER Now my mind’s clear enough.
JULY Ah. Come out, you coward. September’s come back from the Underworld.
AUGUST In the Underworld did he divest himself of all his foolishness?
JULY All is peaceful and serene.
SEPTEMBER Who is more ornate than myself? Behold my jar, full of wine so that today I may pour a libation to Father Liber, who has filled my casks with his rains of nectar.
JULY Let’s go to meet him. Good health, September.
SEPTEMBER If you are in good health, then so am I, oh solace more salubrious than my sanitary situation.
JULY His cups of libation make him loquacious.
AUGUST It is well you have come, most welcome September.
SEPTEMBER Your welcome speech is welcome to me.
AUGUST Have you enjoyed Bacchus to your heart’s content?
SEPTEMBER Never more so.
JULY Have you come with the dining utensils?
SEPTEMBER Here, as is fitting.
AUGUST So why are we delaying? For a long time Saturn has been greedy for our victuals.
SEPTEMBER Slow down a bit.
JULY Why go slower?
SEPTEMBER One thing occurred to me as I was bringing in my vintage, and to no little extent dissuaded me.
AUGUST You mean that Saturn is never satiated except by feeding on his own children. Who does not remember that?
JULY You are reminding people who do remember.
SEPTEMBER From the time that his consort cheated him with her pious tricks, and substituted a stone to be swallowed in place of Jove, who drove him from his kingdom, he has cautiously thrown everything away, lest he might chance to swallow something which would deprive him of his life.
JULY What then?
SEPTEMBER With what defenses will we strike him as he rushes at us with gaping jaws?
AUGUST Good heavens, by my faith, I’m ruined!
JULY Why grow downcast of mind?
AUGUST Oh me, unhappiest of dinner-guests!
SEPTEMBER Cast off your torpor, August.
AUGUST Immediately he’ll rend my tender self into bits with his teeth.
JULY Look at these ears of corn, a symbol of freedom.
AUGUST But why?
JULY I’ll first thrust this handful upon him. If he should not be satiated, but should swallow me into his guts along with it as a second course, see here, I come from a viper-like family, I’ll bite through his stomach until it gives me a route of escape. [Evidently he flourishes the sickle.]
AUGUST And the exit will be open for me too?
JULY Why not?
AUGUST By heavens, you’ve brought me back to life.
SEPTEMBER But I’ll trust in my wine-jar more than the sickle, and as soon as he has drained it dry (for immediately he’ll become deranged in all his senses), I’ll take to my heels.
AUGUST I like both schemes. Let’s get to work while they’re red hot.
JULY Agreed. Let’s go. (They exit. July . . . August picks up and holds the emptied wine-jar. With the fan September airs . . . ).
Go to Act IV