To see a commentary note, click on a blue square. To see the Latin text, click on a green square.
ACT V, SCENE i
LYPE, EROS, EUPHROSYNE, THRASOS, ELPIS
LYPE You sluggards, I’ll speed up your idle feet.
THRASOS Bah, Lype, please.
LYPE And you, Euphrosyne, you have leaden feet, don’t you?
EUPHROSYNE This wretchedness is made of bronze, it lasts forever.
LYPE Eros, have you been getting the millstone a-turning?
EROS I haven’t been told to do that before now.
LYPE It’s your job to remember, you should be reminded with ox-hide whips.
EROS (Aside.) This master-brother is harsh to his slave-brothers.
LYPE You’re still muttering?
EROS I’m nearly dead of hunger: it’s my stomach that’s complaining, not myself.
THRASOS The sedition is inside, in our guts.
LYPE I’ll soon put down the rebellion. Meanwhile turn ten bushels of wheat into flour, Eros will start his circling. See the reward, Thrasos, if you catch the man in front of you. Be careful that Eros doesn’t snatch yours. Follow Thrasos quickly, Euphrosyne. You see this?
EUPHROSYNE Ah, Lype, by all the gods and goddesses —
LYPE You continue bothering me, lazybones? Stand on your feet, everybody.
THRASOS If our feet can’t keep themselves standing, how can they hold up something else?
EROS I pray you hold your hand, Lype. (Elpis knocks.)
LYPE Who’s the loud-footed man who’s bashing at the door? You stand still in this place here, don’t let me hear a word.
EROS Ah, how unfair for free men to become slaves!
THRASOS If any bit of cleverness can extricate me, woe for Misos!
EUPHROSYNE If Lype hears us he’ll turn our sides into strips of rawhide.
LYPE I think that would be useful.
THRASOS Lype’s smiling.
EUPHROSYNE Woe to us if he laughs.
LYPE To work, to work.
EROS Permit me to speak, Lype.
LYPE I give you permission, but make it Laconic.
EROS Free us from this misery.
LYPE Such a small vacation engenders such great trust? Continue in your circle.
EUPHROSYNE Better to have our brains dashed out with a rock than for free men, citizens, and brothers to suffer these agonies at the hands of a brother.
LYPE Would any impartial judge imagine that, if a man has caged some wild animals, he ought to let them loose against himself? If I were to pardon you, wouldn’t I suffer welts on my own shoulderblades?
THRASOS Lype, I’m so far from considering harming you if I were freed that I’d consider Lype my father, my patron, my champion — even my god, if you wish.
EROS In the name of your right hand, your eyes, and whatever you hold dearer than these in this life, Lype, free us from these agonies.
EUPHROSYNE In the name of these tears, kisses, and embraces — and in the name of Psyche’s soul.
LYPE I’m touched by fraternal pity, but fear of Misos holds me back, as does your hatred against me.
THRASOS I’ll choke Misos with his own teeth so he can’t bite anybody or babble his threats.
EROS We’ll treat you with all deference, Lype. I beg you by Mother’s life and the womb we shared in common.
LYPE Now make me a solemn promise.
ALL May all gods and men wish us the same good as we do Lype.
LYPE Let your slavish bonds be broken. (Lype knocks and Elpis enters.). Elpis, you’re here opportunely.
ELPIS Oh that which I have desired! Eros, Thrasos, Euphrosyne.
EROS Oh, our star!
THRASOS Elpis, an asylum for wretches!
EUPHROSYNE My paradise!
LYPE Farewell forever to the millhouse.
ELPIS I have described to Mother Misos’ tragedies and your fate.
EROS Did this come as welcome news?
ELPIS So welcome that, if I had not lessened her anxiety with a certain slight hope, she would have died of a broken heart in my arms.
LYPE Let us restore our strength and not be behindhand in taking to the road.
EROS You’re my divinity, Elpis.
THRASOS Henceforth may the gods not allow you to hope for anything in vain!
EUPHROSYNE Elpis, the anchor of my life!
LYPE The breeze that blows away my clouds!
ACT V, SCENE ii
As the history-books have it, scarcely anybody has seen the Phoenix once a century. So it is right for them to record what a rare bird is virtue, which never makes an appearance. The Cynic carried around a lantern in bright daylight searching for an upright man. It is a rascally fisherman who poisons his bait, and every plunderer of the sea commits this crime. Oh happy bait, if somebody foresees it and shuns it!
ACT V, SCENE iii
THELEMA Inside, Psyche refuses to be soothed by any words or moved by any entreaties, thus day by day she’s turning into stone. Is there no gallows at this crossroads on which I might suspend myself, myself and my sorrows? What is more uncharacteristic of me than to have my freedom, but not to enjoy it? Will Thelema, who should be driving Psyche’s chariot, tolerate a rein? A rein is like a bridle, I shall not tolerate it, no. Psyche has commanded Philosopher to be brought to her, and now the sight of that barrel-dweller is pleasant. Oh, how I’d rejoice in my heart to separate him from that sphere of his, to leave him rudderless in these waters. I’ve ceased to grieve about the entire business. (Pulls out a urinal.) Hey cosmographer, first of all the Antipodes want to send their greetings, and then want you to direct me to the house of Aesculapius’ high priest Galen.
PHILOSOPHER Galen and Aesculapius are uncommon words in these parts.
THELEMA I’m talking about those sailing the high sees. You see how angry these waters are? Now Psyche is coming close to suffering shipwreck.
PHILOSOPHER Psyche’s suffering?
THELEMA From alopecia and atrophy, and also from bulimia.
PHILOSOPHER Alopecia is a disease peculiar to foxes, and it is cured by burned root of spearwort. Atrophy produces emaciation, so that the patient does not fatten with feeding, as he is wasting. Bulimia is a wolfish kind of thing, since it is always hungry. It is overcome by the aroma of toasted bread and vinegar.
THELEMA So have you swum in these salt waters, since its reefs are so familiar to you?
PHILOSOPHER Whether or not you call it an ocean, philosophy follows nature’s lead.
THELEMA With a piss-pot? Look up, down, through, and inside the celestial sphere at Psyche’s constellation, and then you won’t hesitate to give your help, if you’re a Podalirius.
PHILOSOPHER Psyche is laid low by an afflicted spirit. Whoever prescribes wholesome things is a Podalirius for this novel disease.
THELEMA What nature does this sluggish malady have?
PHILOSOPHER Neither herbs nor potions help.
THELEMA So you want to feed her by making her fast?
PHILOSOPHER From forbidden things. Why are you hesitating. The opportunity will fly by, Psyche is in dire straits.
THELEMA Now his own nooses have caught Thelema. Pretty soon I’m going to hang myself midmost between heaven and earth.
ACT V, SCENAE iv
MISOS, ORGE, THELEMA
MISOS I’ve already predicted that you’d regret this too late.
ORGE How shameful for a man to admit that he’d prefer something not to have been done after it has been accomplished!
MISOS This aggressiveness of yours rebounds against you, and the more you struggle the more this oppresses you in your struggle.
ORGE I don’t think it’s fair that I take all the blame. You applied the flame to me, and then I caught fire.
MISOS Come now, let’s tie him up with another bond, so that we might forestall Eros’ arrival.
ORGE Elpis is an eel. If only he hadn’t got away!
MISOS Gnaw your fingernails, furrow your brow, beat your head, and marshall all the poet’s memorializing arts in your brain. You’re invention is usually fertile.
ORGE Not as fertile as it is ferocious. (Enter Thelema.)
THELEMA These are the men I’m seeking. Misos, where are you walking in your mind?
MISOS There’s another way —
THELEMA So you want to leave this place? Psyche commanded you to be fetched, together with Orge. You hear?
MISOS But if —
THELEMA But if you are not present immediately, she won’t acknowledge you as her heir, nor as her son. Are you so profoundly wise?
ORGE At this blow my shrewdness has gone a-flying out both my ears, just like the leaves of the Sybilline oracle. O Misos, my head, so pregnant with wiles, has produced an abortion. May you die a horrible death!
THELEMA You’ve woken up. Mother has prepared you a breakfast well-spiced with reproaches.
ORGE What evil spirit has brought you here, Thelema?
MISOS I understand perfectly, that’s the way he is.
THELEMA Mother sends you her great greetings, Misos, and orders you to appear immediately.
MISOS Who are you, Thelema?
THELEMA I’m myself.
MISOS What does Mother want with me?
THELEMA To place you in a old man’s charge.
MISOS To place me in an old man’s charge!
THELEMA Indeed, and what’s worse, an old man who’s sour and phlegmatic.
MISOS I swear by Megaera’s eyebrow, I’ll summon that bald little fellow to a death by beating.
ORGE Misos, you know that you and I are dear to the old more than to the young. Let’s humor Mother, then we can gradually steal into the old man’s mind. After that, if Eros commits any offence, he’ll receive a daily beating.
MISOS Nothing is troublesome, as long as I can harm Eros. Let us go, with the blessing of Tisiphone.
ORGE And of Nemesis.
ACT V, SCENE v
PSYCHE, PHILOSOPHER AND THE REST, IN SUCCESSION
PHILOSOPHER The rose shown Psyche in her dream has a more than mortal aroma. It does not grow in the gardens of Paestum, which the leaf-destroying autumn despoils, it does not fear the winter’s threats and the rage of Boreas. It confers blessings with its scent and sight, and it draws the eyes to itself, just as the magnet draws iron by its touch, but never satisfies them.
PSYCHE Tell me its name.
PHILOSOPHER It is no rose of Miletus, or Praeneste, nor does it grow wild. They produce no such aroma as does. It grows in the well-tended soil of a cultivated heart, where it sinks its root deep. Its name is Wisdom, and previously your sons went a-wandering in vain to fetch it back. It does not lift up its head outside the mind, feeding on the dew of Virtue, which the soil shuns.
PSYCHE Am I able to receive this?
PHILOSOPHER If you govern your sons. I’ll teach you of the rein by which you may bridle each of them, be of good cheer.
PSYCHE Before now I have given my mind over to folly.
PHILOSOPHER Wisdom’s first step is to acknowledge your foolishness, so that it may afterwards be banished. (Enter Elpis, Lype, Thelema, Eros, and Euphrosyne.)
ELPIS Look at Mother, Elpis.
PSYCHE My stars, my sons!
ELPIS They’re all abashed, so that words fail them.
PSYCHE Eros, why this pallor and squalid dress? How Euphrosyne is pining and Thrasos’ bold spirit is not making a lofty proclamation! (Enter Misos and Orge.)
EROS Misos and Orge.
PSYCHE The memory of their evil makes me cry.
ORGE Gah, misfortune piled on misfortune! Misos, do you se how Mother is caressing her bright Eros’s head?
MISOS I am watching and I am growing jealous.
PSYCHE Misos, Orge, you’re here opportunely, there are most upright witnesses to the iniquity you have committed against your brothers.
MISOS Isn’t enough that they’re alive, although by rights they ought to be punished by death?
ORGE Thelema should have provoked a stoning with his bold sauciness.
PSYCHE You see what things have come to, they are spewing insults in my presence.
PHILOSOPHER Make them hold their silence.
PSYCHE Don’t let anyone even whisper, unless he is asked a question. Is there some way, human or divine, by which you can reconcile such discordant spirits?
PHILOSOPHER If they are under my control.
PSYCHE Behold, I freely give and commit all of them into your hands, together with their pedagogue. Do what you think necessary to tame them.
ELPIS Phobos isn’t here.
PSYCHE Thelema, weren’t you strictly commanded that nobody should be absent? Summon Phobos.
THELEMA Phobos, that bat, that owl, is here. He’s lingering somewhere, afraid of light and human company.
PHILOSOPHER I have a serious responsibility. But I shall willingly undertake it, so that you may thus lighten your burden. I am no harsh, hard, or arrogant master, but rather I shall run along them as long as they tread wisdom’s longed-for past. Eros, love virtue; Misos, love peace. Orge must wholly uproot the seeds of wrath, and Euphrosyne must rejoice, taking pleasure in feasts of uprightness. (Enter Thelema, with Phobos.).
THELEMA What were you afraid of? Ghosts?
PHOBOS Lower your voice, Thelema, lest Mother hear.
PHOBOS That voice is making me die.
PSYCHE That noise is waking you. Yes, you sleep throughout entire days, your eyes are still scarcely open. Be sure that you venerate this man. You must obey this old gentleman and listen to everything he has to say.
PHOBOS I hear you.
PHILOSOPHER Phobos must fear nothing except that which inflicts a loss of his strength, and Thrasos must dare lay low whatever monstrosities come into his mind. Thus Elpis may hope for the laurel and Psyche for the rose, the rose which no heat or cold may harm. Let’s go inside. Thelema may join me in consulting the auspices and offering up the firstfruits.
Beyond here there is no goalpost, this is where the racecourse ends, so that it might not overrun its boundaries and go on forever. You have now reached the final goal and end of the journey, drawn out in a long thread over harsh highways. In the end Eros, together with his brothers, groaned under Lype’s savage lash. Elpis, that most trusty anchor, informed Psyche of his brothers’ miseries amidst their evils. Psyche used another man’s hand to correct this thing that had been done amiss, giving her sons into Philosopher’s care. Now they have all been heeding his precepts. Oh, if we could see the true day we have kept wrapped in mist! Oh, if England would shine with the beams of lasting sunshine, England plunged in darkness! England, may you be a true Psyche and bid a free Eros to join his brothers in giving ear to Philosopher, a genuine philosopher, a master of genuine wisdom. May Elpis not cease telling what his brothers bear, nor should your exiles cease telling what their brothers are bearing in bondage. I pray that they don’t speak their words to the deaf sea. Lift up your head, England. Why lie deep in slumber while other men are alertly wakeful for your destruction? England, why do you harshly disdain the groans of your sons? Why do you set the freemen of Christ beneath the yoke of heresy, England, and fail to bridle the monster’s rage? She will bridle it, I hope, daily she is more eagerly listening to the lessons of life. Meanwhile, let them cherish this hope, as many have paid attention this play with a friendly mind and in silence. Those of you whom it has pleased should applaud.