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ACT II, SCENE i
Enter Philomela, after the rape, with Tereus in pursuit.
PHIL. Oh gods and goddesses, if just prayers move you, if you have had any care for wretched women, hear me in my wretchedness, come quickly as avengers of such a great wrong. Where are you fleeing, you monstrous villain, you inhospitable butcher, you center of evil, you object of hate to the gods, you burden on the earth, you bane on your race?
TER. Is this what a virgin says?
PHIL. I was a virgin, I was chaste, but now all chastity is dead, I’ve lost the jewel I owned
TER. Be still, You’ve not lost it. You’ve given it into my custody, as it were.
PHIL. It’s been given? Who gave it? You took it by force, you thief.
TER. Just be still. Since nobody has seen it, is as if the crime were not done. It is your business to keep silent.
PHIL. But I shall speak so that everybody may know, I’ll pursue you through seas, lands, heaven and Hell, so that the entire universe will fall on you in punishment. Weren’t you moved by my father’s words, who tearfully gave you his daughter as you were departing, to whom you have given security for my return?
TER. You can go back.
PHIL. A corrupted, tainted virgin can return, a specimen of a new kind of crime, but Philomela never can. Is this how you love your Procne? Is this how Thrace observes the laws of marriage? Is this how it preserves the sacred laws of hospitality intact? You have thrown everything into confusion by your cruel soul’s crime, for I have been made my sister’s whore, and you a twofold husband. Oh, the savage monstrosities!
TER. It was love of you that brought these things to light.
PHIL. Woe’s me, if such is your love, what should I imagine your hatred to be? Rather let your love continue and bring blood to light. Thus your love will conceal love’s crimes.
TER. Have a care.
PHIL. It’s too late for caring.
TER. But you should take care lest love turn to hatred.
PHIL. I’m unafraid of death, nor is a disgraceful life welcome unless I live as a severe denouncer of your crime, and as a great avenger.
TER. But unless by your crime you conceal mine, madwoman, you will die.
PHIL. I’m listening to a mild judge.
TER. Are you willing to keep silent? Will you conceal this?
PHIL. Everything — by my death.
TER. And if you live?
PHIL. Behold, I swear by supreme Jove, by the chastity which was lately welcome to me, by revenge, now my sole goddess, I shall loudly cry out so that the gods below and above may hear. I shall rush into cities, so their peoples may behold. I shall fill the forests, so that the beasts may recognize a beast, I shall make the rocks aware and have them move.
TER. Do you continue in your fury? If you can’t stand my love, thus you will stand my hatred. (He binds her with chains.).
PHIL. Gladly I suffer this and I praise your hands. For I have earned chains, since I have broken the faith I have the gods and the bonds of my chastity. I fall at the altar, go on and slaughter the sacrificial beast.
TER. I’ll slaughter your evil tongue, I’ll take away that weapon.
PHIL. Oh my beloved sister, my father Pandion! (He cuts out her tongue.)
TER. At length you will keep your silence and not betray my deeds.
PHIL. Ow, ow, ow.
TER. You continue to babble. Are you waiting to die? He who inflicts death at the first instant does not know how to be a tyrant. This is the worst of deaths, to live a life full of evils, I know. Now do you regret being impious? (She shakes her head in denial.) Go on, crazy woman, I’ll act so as to make you regret it. Many a day will be given you, I tell you, when, living wretchedly, you will greatly desire to die. (She looks around wretchedly, seeking death.)
ACT II, SCENE ii
Enter Faustulus the father and his daughter Faustula.
FAUST. Beloved daughter, since you have long been a vigilant mistress within your father’s house, at length I ask that you have a care for yourself and your own affairs. I want you to be seen as the mistress of your own family, to be able to count your own herds and flocks, and not always to consult another’s good, in the manner of a servant.
DAUGHT. Why should a daughter think her father to be another? I think whatever has been done for your benefit has been done for my own.
FAUST. I understand, but your parent expects that you become a parent. Nature ordains that, just as your mother gave birth to you, so you should give birth to new children.
DAUGHT. My age does not yet permit that.
FAUST. It commands that you begin to love.
DAUGHT. Once begun, love knows no limit.
FAUST. What you should do someday, let that be done quickly.
DAUGHT. He who assumes the harsh yoke of marriage quicker than he should comes to regret it quickly. All marriage is a yoke.
FAUST. But the pulling is sweet, since the yoke is evenly matched.
DAUGHT. But it’s sweeter to pull nothing at all.
FAUST. You are talking nonsense. If you want to please me and serve your own advantage, think about a husband. (Enter Tereus, dragging Philomela by the hair.) But, oh the sorrow, what monstrosities am I seeing? I can make out Tereus, unless my old age deceives me.
DAUGHT. It’s him, Father, it’s him. Shall we flee?
TER. Do you hear me? Your king begs for your aid against this raging beast, this savage animal.
FAUST. Surely that’s a handsome woman, she’s no beast.
TER. She’s a handsome woman on the outside, but a beast within. My friends, this is a woman who surpasses all beasts in her savagery. My friends, this is a woman who has prepared a wretched death for myself and for you, a bane on all of Thrace. My friends, this is a woman who has branded herself with an everlasting mark of shame thanks to her witchcraft. For, although I easily tolerate the fact she first wanted to lash out at me, she is now accursed because she destroyed Philomela together with the fleet. (On her knees she wretchedly looks towards heaven.)
FAUST. Why should we allow her to enjoy life? The cruel monster!
DAUGHT. [To Philomela.] Why are you silent? Will you say nothing for yourself?
TER. And she added this to her heap of evildoing, that, lest punishments compel her to admit her crime, she cut out her own tongue and furiously spit it in my face.
FAUST. Can this be?
DAUGHT. Can such a modest, decent face conceal such deformity of mind? (Philomela falls at the shepherd’s knees.) Silence. Are you cursing me?.
TER. Out of her hatred she is placing a curse on you and all your goods.
FAUST. May the god preserve me!
TER. You have nothing to fear.
FAUST. May Pan look out for my flocks!
TER. Be trustful, shepherd, and have a confident heart. For this witch works no harm unless she is strong and free, and now that she has been captured she has no further power.
FAUST. Then leave her to me to be tormented by great pain, I myself shall avenge her crime with whippings.
TER. I gladly leave her to you, but by my royal authority I warn you upon your dutifulness always to keep her locked up at home. Don’t let her go outdoors, or once have a look at the light of day. I want you to tell no man lest, should the queen discover the manner of the shipwreck, she be punished by death. I scarcely wish her to die, so that her life will be a living death.
FAUST. I shall readily do the executioner’s job.
TER. And thus your king will wholly be at your service. Accept this first small token of my affection. (Gives him a wallet.)
FAUST. You call this small? I like its weight.
TER. If you want to earn more, guard her and keep your silence. (Exit Tereus.)
FAUST. If telling nobody is silence, then I will keep my silence, lest thieves take this gift from me. Oh gift worthy of a king! Oh sweet kiss, worthy of the royal shepherd! Farewell, shepherd, hence I wish to be called the royal warden.
DAUGHT. Is this a woman or a virgin? (Philomela covers her face with her hands.) Why hide your face? It’s by no means shameful.
FAUST. But I’ve forgotten myself, I must play the master. You are harboring impious wishes, you evil whore. I know how to do my job, you’re cursed again. (Philomela gestures for mercy.)
DAUGHT. Forgive her, Father, at least for my sake. Is this how men treat women?
FAUST. Let it go, daughter. I know how to employ royal authority.
DAUGHT. A king’s glory is to be merciful. (He repeatedly hits Philomela.)
FAUST. I am not so merciful that I will be a gentle sovereign. What madness bade you commit such a crime? Do you still keep your silence when I ask? I’ll make you admit your guilt, mute though you are. I give to you, my daughter, power over her, if ever my work or responsibility for the flock calls me way, and I want you to employ all severity, since no rest will be given her. You murder virgins and sink ships, you worst of creatures. (Exit, beating her with a stick.)
ACT II, SCENE iii
Enter Procne, Itys, and others.
PROC. Oh tardy husband, the joy of my life, how long I have been groaning, awaiting your return like a loving turtledove waiting for its absent mate! How often your sister looks for you, Philomela! Where is your bright beauty hidden, you who gladden the earth by your presence and splendor? If some god is keeping you hidden by a mist, I’ll sway Acheron and drag Tartarus up to the gods. If Pluto has abducted you, heaven will hear this voice, and I’ll bring the supreme gods down to the lakes of Hell.
ITYS Do you imagine the gods hear human prayers?
PROC. Assuredly they do.
ITYS Does Father hear us? For, if you take into account the distance between heaven and earth, Thrace is not at all far from Athens.
PROC. Amidst the stars there is a god who has long arms, keen eyes, and careful ears.
ITYS I know. Jupiter reigns in the stars, Father on hearth. Both are gods, so they should both hear us .
PROC. He has been able to hear us, son, or at least conceive us in his mind. But I fear that he is delaying, heedless of me. When will I look on you, sister, when will you visit me? Love is a tyrant, tormenting us by its thousand means of punishment and distracting our minds. First it bids us hope when hope does not exist, so that it can shatter our hope. Next it wants us to fear uncertainties as if they were certain. (Shouting and howling within. Enter King Tereus and others dressed in mourning, their heads covered. He buries his face in his hands.) Why does this unaccustomed lamentation resound within the house? Who’s that who shows signs of a mind plunged in mourning? Is it grief or shame that makes you hide your face?
TER. Such I was, now I am a wretch.
PROC. Where’s my sister?
PROC. Why do you deeply groan?
TER. Oh sister, friend, virgin, goddess —
PROC. Continue speaking, you kill me by your silence. Has she perished?
TER. Oh, that glory of all the world has perished.
PROC. So let the world perish too, let me myself perish. Why shouldn’t those whom nature closely joined together be joined together by their fate? Oh my beloved sister, the glory of Athens, Philomela!
TER. Cease your moaning. If sorrow could alter fate, long ago my tears would have flooded this region of the world in a great torrent. But weeping comes too late when the evil has been accomplished.
PROC. Oh, who accomplished this? Tell me the man responsible for this crime, so that I might rend his breast with my fingernails and tear him into a thousand pieces.
TER. [Aside.] Then woe is me.
PROC. Suddenly I am transformed into Agave. “Strike me wholly,” I’ll tell the Furies. “Gather him up, you avenging goddesses. Come in your strength, kill this barbarous, dire, cruel monster.”
TER. Have a care whom you wound with your reproaches. A god is responsible, and you call the god the doer of a crime? Ever-dear wife, ever to be revered by me, control your wild mind’s passion. Mortals must bear whatever the gods desire. Not to bear it is a crime.
PROC. But sister, sister, alas, my sister, which of the gods has snatched you away?
TER. No mean god, no rustic Silvanus or uncouth Pan. It was Neptune himself, the mighty ruler of the waves, whom earth fears, the Nymphs love, and the winds worship. Captivated by love, he laid his hands upon your sister, hence she now lies in the bosom of the sea and possesses its deep realms of rich sand, at once a queen and a goddess.
PROC. How happy and gentle you make that sad shipwreck! Whatever you are telling, you tell me that my life’s consolation is destroyed, the hope of my aging father, who will ask her back from me.
TER. Perhaps he will grieve for her loss a short time, and rejoice that she has been taken by the god and made a goddess.
PROC. She was a goddess in life. Oh savage sea-divinity, oh raging see, who will pursue you? Henceforth who will place any trust in you?
TER. Rather you should thank the gentle god for freeing me from the jaws of dire death so that I might be the preserver of my nation and a consolation to you for the death of your sister.
PROC. This single evil has destroyed a thousand benefits. What it is for one to have given one’s life, if he mixes his life with bitter evils? Is a cup full of cruel poison sweet? I’d prefer thirst to drinking such cups.
TER. Are you hearing nothing?
PROC. Nothing from my sister.
TER. Forget her.
PROC. Can I be forgetful of myself? Oh, she was a great part of myself!
ITYS Will I never see my splendid aunt?
PROC. You don’t yet feel misfortune, son. I’ll teach you to cry when you understand tears. He who first invented treacherous ships was devoid of reason, impious, demented. Nature gave the sea for the fish to inhabit, and land for humankind, each should keep to its own place. Why do bold barbarians rush to other men’s possessions? They suffer the due punishments for not observing Nature’s established laws. This earth bears the pine, but it is unjust burden when it is borne by the waters. So I think it no strange thing if the sea refuses to bear that which is not its own.
TER. Forgetful of your duty, you are pouring forth empty complains. Rather we should make ready her funeral, and in grave procession we should adore her cenotaph in the midst of the market-place. This final honor and a tomb will easily give her a final display of our duty.
PROC. My remembering mind will easily give you this, sister, destined to be entombed in your sister’s loyal heart. I’ll establish this enduring monument to your name, which no age, no power will destroy. (Exeunt.)
SEA Now at length you have been able to work harm by yourself, you who were responsible for this rape and party to this breach of faith, water is no party to this crime.
EARTH And yet all men rail against you, wound you with their frequent reproaches, and damn you, from which it is clear enough that you are accustomed to evildoing.
SEA I am accustomed to bearing it, not to doing it.
EARTH He whom all men stoutly accuse cannot help but be guilty.
SEA If we head the judgment of the common folk, the guilty often remains standing upright while the innocent suffers a fall.
EARTH Every day you stir up new storms and commotions, and gather your waters as if you seem to be threatening the heaven.
SEA But often the serene, peaceful earth is wont to stir up greater tempests than the mother of the turbid storms. A wave may perhaps sink a ship, the land destroys crowded cities. A bold sailor may perhaps be drowned in the waters, the mighty earth overwhelms peoples and kings with its surges.
EARTH But he has lived well who has kept himself concealed, as if the crime which is hidden is not committed. Your violence is open, while my deceit is hidden.
SEA Truth, the unique daughter of her father, suddenly comes to light, Earth and you will not conceal your deeds for long.
Go to Act III