To see a commentary note click on a blue square. To see the Latin text, click on a green square.
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SERVANT I pray all the gods, goddesses, and beings of heaven that they grant this gentle youth an auspicious marriage-bed as he seeks a wife, and a luckier result, for if it should fail my sorrow and fear would weigh heavily. But if he finds the gods to be propitious, with holidays we shall commemorate this happy day.
CHORUS How seriously foolish Fortune is wont to play games amidst serious matters! For what good result in love can we hope for, here in the house of our savage enemy? Our enemy is a cruel man, and yet this budding lad visits his house, a palace wherein they are performing sacred rites to set traps for Romeo. I fear worse harms, that he does not perish by these evils, about to come to past. May the gods be friendly and make my fear a vain one! We are able to see these noble girls, but what hope can a lover entertain in a hostile house? Amidst these enemies one can see abiding hatred, loathing of his parents, his house and his family. But while we are free to enter into the dance, while we are at leisure for love and sport, leave off, leave off your rage while he is hunting for a wife, while they are celebrating a feast, and let this day pass happily.
PHILOPHILUS with two pages Tell me young man, is your mind at peace? Have you caught sight of the beauty you seek? Would you were to say that, among all these beauties, you have found a noble girl of my age, my comeliness, breeding and brain, who could requite your chaste love!
ROMEUS I’ve seen her and I like her. Unless I’m ruined in my eyesight, Philophilus, I’ve seen one to whom defeated Venus must submit, one who is beloved to the Consort and to the goddess fierce for her armor. If I fail in my hopes and the Fates does not produce such a girl for me, I shall want to die. I can cherish many hopes, but I have no idea who my darling is. I only spoke to her, and with signals of her eyebrows she replied to similar ones of my own. As we all make our departure, we shall be granted a chance to look at her. But look here, the goddess comes hurrying hither. How I crave to speak of her! So let me try her, Fortune will grant me a way.
THE FRIEND Approach her. Women like bold fellows. Let your words be fearless, don’t ask her timidly. [He crosses to Juliet.]
ROM. Greetings, you queen.
FRIEND He’s silent, his mind is terrified.
JUL. Oh how the saints have blessed me, to have caught sight of you! Oh, at last a lucky day!
ROM. Of a sudden, your voice happily strikes my ears. I’m easily the most fortunate of men if my presence is welcome. The day when you caught site of me will be my lucky day, if the Fates are favorable to me. My gods are slow in being propitious, but now I set foot on my sought-for shore, gaining something worth the world, if my arrival is welcome. Today will reward me for all my previous sufferings if it is the day on which I may consecrate myself to you, placing my time, my sacred faith, my life and honor at your disposal. Confront me with flames, wounds, evil curses, artful agonies, hunger, a savage land — I shall endure every servitude should you command, and I shall gladly. bear the name of your husband.
JUL. We have no time and leisure for words, would that we did! If your words speak of upright love, if they speak of faith and a pious heart, you will call me your faithful wife.
Lo Fortune, hostile to many and available to few, has granted these lovers that which she has often refused. She has taken away that which belongs to either lover, and given each in return a most loyal heart. These loves’ condition is happy thanks to this most welcome exchange. Let the life of lovers be happier than other men, though their possessions be greater than Caesar’s great realms. If this solace is to be granted them, let them respond in turn with fidelity and the mutual affections of chaste love, as heart is exchanged for heart, as has now befallen Romeo and his fair darling. Let the gods grant a prosperous outcome, let Cupid be present and Venus, that greatest of the gods, attending them with a joyous omen
II. ROMEO AND AN ATTENDANT
ROM. I have left my mistress. I hope our Father might help me. Go, be quick in your inquiries and bring me the maiden’s name. You can relieve my heart’s heavy troubles.
BOY I won’t be slow in carrying out your commands, you’ll learn the girl’s name. (Exit.)
ROM. May the gods forestall this ill omen. I shudder. (Reenter the boy.)
BOY Great-hearted Romeo, the name Juliet is given to this holy girl. Her father was a noble Capulet lord, a hater of your family.
ROM. Pitiful Fates, unfair, savage and horrible! Enduring pain oppresses wretches with this reward for their virtue, my life depends on a foul enemy. When I had hoped that the end of my misfortune was at hand, death has become very hostile to me. My life lies in the hands of a single enemy, a cruel enemy if he imitates his father, a cruel enemy if he hates mine. But she is a gentle girl, she will love me in return, her beauty offers no false faith. If the Fates deny me my love’s goal, I shall cherish it forever, to my misery. Cheated of my love, my love I shall keep as my own. Fortune has granted me the lot of a Tantalus, snatching after fleeing food with his greedy mouth. Amidst waters I thirst, but some evil worse than parching thirst, worse than ever-needy hunger, always burns in my veins.
JUL. What’s this? I feel love’s grave wounding, ignorant of whom I should desire as my husband. Follow him, nurse, and find out whose son he is. Keep yourself hidden, nurse, you see how with heavy strides these noble lords are coming out of the palace. I would know his breeding, his race, his name, his parents, and anything else you can discover.
NURSE I’ll tell you these things myself. He is of your enemy’s family. These, my child, are a very hard stock. That one on the right is named Romeo, a great lord (be it said without rancor), but born of the cruel Montague clan, thanks to whose fury your house has been overthrown. Provoked by savage quarrels, both sides have done a thousand harms to each other.
JUL. Is it my stroke of ill luck — no worse misfortune can be imagined — that out of a thousand boys only a Montague should be to my liking, that this love should assault my heart, so that reason can find itself no place? Perhaps his treacherous tongue has been schooled in lying, and a hideous snake lurks within the grass. Perhaps he perfidiously lays siege to my faithful heart with his sweet discourse. Thus the hook lies concealed beneath the alluring bait, and the fish is taken by guile. Falsehood is visible beneath a show of truth, and simplemindedness often harms the gullible. Queen Dido experienced Trojan guile. Abandoned Phyllis made her complaint, but no man came to her aid. You are condemned for such a crime, wicked Theseus. Let Medea instruct you and tell you what she earned. He is seeking to use deceit to accomplish what he cannot by force, in order to take revenge. By my downfall and prostituted body I shall serve as a laughing-stock for our bloodthirsty foes. But I am only imagining such things for my faithful Romeo’s chaste heart. I shall boldly proclaim what I have said before: such crime cannot lie hidden beneath that beauty. From his discourse I easily perceived his intention, I know full well that Romeo is destined to be mine, mine. I saw his pale cheeks blush red, I experienced the meeting of our eyes. His mute tongue stammered, sheepishly he hesitated. A heavy tremor ran through each of his limbs, and his lolling head scarce stayed upright on his neck. No artfulness showed me these symptoms of love, nature taught him, with impious fraud removed. With my honor intact, I shall always be called Romeo’ chaste wife, and I do not imagine his heart will refuse me, or spurn my marriage-bed.
IV. ROMEO AND JULIET
ROM. Either my wishes are leading my eyesight astray, or I am going to be able to enjoy her welcome embrace here in this garden. I see she is here, but I fear that my eyes are deceiving me.
JUL. You seem too careless of your life, noble boy, in daring to visit my paternal home, a house hostile to yourself. My father and my brothers might sate their anger by rushing forth to commit unspeakable murder, and thus I would end my life in heavy sorrow, disconsolate, and with my honor, my dearest possession, left in ruins.
ROM. Perish the thought, noble lady, you unique glory of the world! My fear has now surmounted all evils. It has been determined by the Parcae that I should die but once. If the Fates command, I am always willing to die. If they refuse, who would venture such a great sin? Perhaps he would have to atone for that. But I call the gods to witness that I do not value the breath of life so highly that I would not sacrifice myself to a thousand deaths, would it be a help to you. I crave to keep on living, not seeking after life, but rather that I might show proofs of my love.
JUL. You single consolation for my sorrows, take care. Be sparing of your words, now be sparing to my ears and lower your passions. You must adapt to the times and consider me a partner in your pain. Deprived of you I should be a wretched wanderer, overwhelmed by woes, and would not enjoy the light of life. As long as your courtship remains chaste, and pure piety and faith attend your suit, as long as you seek a lawful marriage and hold sacred the name of husband, I am yours with devoted mind and faithfulness, my piety undamaged, which I can devoutly do. I am your faithful bride in mind and blood, you are dearer to me than my brother and my father. You are yourself my brother, you surpass my father. But if base lust is provoking you to sin, if you only seek a lawless bed of venery, make a hasty departure, you disgrace to my house. Let me hate the sin, and my guide in sinning.
ROM. How your chaste wishes copy my own! May the pious gods, aware of our chastity, bear witness to our love and grant it a happy ending, and if I am faithless let me pay forfeits to their wrath. Take this pledge of my loyal mind, and may our Father on high speed our undertakings.
JUL. But our undertakings will scarcely thrive if they are devoid of counsel.
ROM. One friend remains as a partner in my plans, who has often served as a cure for my ills. At tomorrow’s rising of the sun I shall go to the old man’s house, so that me might give us sound advice.
JUL. Go with a happy omen, so that your joint counsels might untangle our doubtful, uncertain state of affairs.
Let us now adore the holy gods, so that they might direct his steps with a happy omen as he seeks the old man’s advice. If he gains his dear bride, pious Juliet, happy in her marriage, that priest will grant them surcease. He is not unschooled (like the common run of priests), but rather a grave and learned minister, a member of the holy Franciscan Order, who knows how to disclose the secrets of abstruse nature. He penetrates the hidden mysteries of the mages, being mighty in that most abstruse art, often revealing amazing things. For there’s no disgrace in understanding the profound secrets of the art of magic, if no scurvy swindles are involved. Every kind of learning is lawful and claims its own fine kind of glory. It is lawless abuse that spoils the art, firm ground is put beneath your feet by lawful practise. Romeo is seeking his cell, to him Romeo will expose his wound, revealing the secret to his friend, and store up his advice deep within his mind. Being a man who preens himself himself in that science, he will devise a means of lightening your burden and bring the business to a happy end. Would that the gods would favor this marriage, granting this noble youth his wish, granting this chaste girl her desire! Let the pious priest accomplish chaste things, and may happy fortune return home, let their good faces return to happiness, so that they can celebrate a festive day.
V. ROMEO, THE PRIEST
PRIEST. What reason makes Romeo visit my dwelling?
ROM. Holy priest, assist me with your advice as I founder in difficulties. To you alone I shall disclose the secrets of my mind.
PRIEST Speak up, I shall hide your concealed thoughts in my loyal heart, and give you sweet consolation amidst your miseries.
ROM. You are familiar with Juliet, I mean that Capulet girl. I have chosen her alone as my wife, and she has chosen me alone as her husband. We both will accomplish our marriage, if your virtue and good faith support us.
PRIEST She’s the daughter of your paternal enemy, you should hardly want her for yourself.
ROM. But thus our parents’ hostile fury will come to an end.
PRIEST. Let this love depart from you, don’t be rashly trusting.
ROM. My promised piety gets the better of me, my good faith forbids that.
PRIEST. You ought to seek something safe. Give yourself time and distance.
ROM. Time cannot cure this pain.
PRIEST. Delay has often healed that which reason could not.
ROM. Reason will prevail, if reason gains a delay.
PRIEST. You must obey a friend who advises what is proper.
ROM. It is hard to refuse you, but now my adversities require good faith.
PRIEST. Leave off.
ROM. You are hindering my will.
PRIEST My mind broods on cares, which my fears conjure up anew.
ROM. Set aside your fears, let your heart be fearless.
PRIEST I shall comply. Your love has conquered, there is no sin. What day will you appoint for this happy marriage?
ROM. Delaying until tomorrow is too much.
PRIEST We must deliberate, for these are serious matters. We must invent a reason for the girl to go to church.
ROM. Fine! Teach me a reason for this visit.
PRIEST There are certain sins she needs to confess. I have it, it’s accomplished. I myself shall be in pious attendance.
VI. JULIET, THE NURSE
JUL. I pray you by all the gods of heaven, nurse, by this fear of mine, you must keep quite confidential whatever secret I reveal to you, and conceal it with your silent faithfulness.
NURSE What is it that you wish to be kept secret?
JUL. Something not even my dear parents should know.
NURSE You know I can offer you my silent faithfulness as long as it is free of sin, a thing I imagine you find hateful.
JUL. I have need of your loyal heart and steadfastness. Conceal it from my parents, it’s the greatest crime. You alone can protect my life. You can scarcely make me wretched, but you can make me blessed.
NURSE But thus your parents will rob me of my frail life, enfeebled by old age. Don’t decide on something rash, my child, without your parents’ knowledge.
JUL. It’s been decided once and for all, I have chosen myself a husband, my most beloved Romeo, that glory of our young men.
NURSE The son of your father’s enemy.
JUL. But my friend.
NURSE You must restrain that disloyal love. You know his pedigree, his house. Is it your hope that Romeo will remain true to you?
JUL. As long as the earth holds the sky poised above it, as long as the sands are countless, the pole whirls around the dry bears and rivers fall into the city, Romeo will be true to me, I know.
NURSE Let deceived Dido serve as a warning to women, Dido teaches the overly gullible to be on their guard.
JUL. Would that Romeo were Aeneas of Troy!
NURSE Why do you foster this sweet evil with your wheedling?
JUL. You’re wrong. With my loving I foster this sweet good.
NURSE By these hairs, snow-white with old age, I beg you to keep your parents in mind and fear Romeo’s bed.
JUL. His sacred vows compel my constant faith.
NURSE If no reasoning can prevent your efforts, mistress, you sole consolation of my wearied years, in my old age I shall not abandon you as long as you live. Tell me to do hard things, I shall be quick to do your bidding. I shall keep your secrets hidden in my silent heart.
JUL. Go, find Romeo at the priest’s house, tell me what day is appointed for our wedding.
VII. THE NURSE, ROMEO
ROM. Why wend your weary way hither, oh loyal nurse? Surely Juliet, my life, is safe, the fear banished from her mind?
NURSE She’s safe, noble Romeo, but she’d be happier if she went without you. Let me tell her the day of her wedding. I cannot stay, what answer should I bring my mistress?
ROM. If Juliet goes to church tomorrow to cleanse herself of some trifling sin in the confessional, she who came as a maiden will go home a bride. Is this not a pious pretext?
NURSE You cunning fellow! May the saints give us a happy outcome. Who could ever be more clever in devising a worse plan? Every cheat is well-known to lovers. To dream up such a thing, under a pious pretext! You understand that a watchful parent, suspecting nothing less than this, can easily be deceived by a show of piety. If this satisfies her mother, you may leave the rest to me. To gain her permission, I’ll devise a lie that she has left her golden hair uncombed, that she dreamed a naughty dream, that she has rashly wasted her leisure time in being amorous, or that she has rashly fallen in love and it endures. Her permissive mother will allow her to attend church on the appointed day. She has always been dear to me. Oh how I like to remember that time in my life when the tender babe used to such my breasts! I heard her speak brief statements with her babbling tongue and make burping sounds. How often I angrily smacked her posterior with my gentle hand, and then kissed where I had spanked her, rejoicing in this more than in the mouth of some aged lecher!
ROM. That’s enough, you may go home so that everything may be readied. Take his trifling reward for your effort.
NURSE I shall repay you my thanks by mustering my arts, my wiles, my work and effort, my body and mind, to help your love.. (Exit the Nurse.)
SERVANT Now the old hag’s tongue has grown weary and fallen silent. She was filling my ears with her unwelcome noise, deafening me with boredom for the vain woman. Men will deny that in this world night and day always follow upon each other, sooner than women will cease wasting their time and telling old wives’ tales, should they have the leisuire. But I cannot accuse them of bald-faced lying, lest my tongue overstep its limit and my mouth overflow with words without measure.
VIII. JULIET, THE NURSE
JUL. What news do you bring, nurse? How stands the matter?
NURSE You live in blessedness. Not even Troy, had it remained safe and sound, or Priam could have you given you a husband so noble for his virtue and breeding. Your fair morality deserves this abundant glory.
JUL. These things I know. Tell me what time is set for the wedding.
NURSE This joy puts a sudden stop to your sorrow., I have come to know the man’s calm brow and quiet majesty.
JUL. Stop your foolery. Quickly discharge your mandate.
NURSE He has decided on tomorrow. Is this to your liking?
JUL. Why should I not like it? I shall lodge my complaint against the hours of the night that they are over-long, begrudging me my joy. No loss is greater than that of time. I have no regrets: when I think on my previous life, I seem not to have been living. This makes my heart ache, since I have finished my fifteenth year. Joined to my husband by the wedding-torch, for the first time I shall enjoy the happy delight of our bed.
NURSE Now grown to maturity, I lament the time I have wasted, to have squandered even a single year. Ah, worthy and good the girl who controls herself and shuns pleasure. But better to be wise in enjoying your years. Why let the best days of your life slide by?
Whoever is oppressed by love’s heavy regime, be he a spendthrift or a miserly pauper, lies outside, equally excluded. They both remain outdoors, unwelcome. You wield a prince’s scepter made of gleaming gold? Gold breaks into the inner recesses of a royal house, being more powerful than the thunderbolt of the sky. When Danae was shut up in a house of bronze, gold opened the way for Jove. Your lover possessed of gold will not take the trouble to worship Venus, but rather will sway minds merely by the sacrifice of wild animals. Often trifling gifts have inspired greater gratitude than genuine ones: the golden hook catches the most fish. That aged nurse, who previously served as a watchdog to keep out intruders and forced them to stand watch outside, and who lately tried to deter her mistress from her undertaking, now eloquently urges her to pursue it. Our Juliet has decided to visit the shrine and its altars, with her faithful nurse attending her, and her mother has consented to the pious wishes of her daughter, unaware of the scheme she does not fully understand. The day sought in Juliet’s wishes and prayers is at hand, and now the priest is performing the marriage of a bride worthy of her noble husband. Let them both happily return, this keen young man and daring girl concealed in the hidden recesses of the holy church. Let a joyous wedding-hymn fill my ears, and celebrate this happy date.
IX. ROMEO’S SERVANT, THE NURSE
SERV. Good, it’s done, the day’s growing brighter. At last Romeo has gained his pious bride, whose good fortune enlivens my own. I have found the gods to be propitious to my master and myself. He has decided to climb through his brides’ window tonight, entering into her welcome bedchamber through its window, and the job of readying a rope-ladder has been entrusted to me. I shall carry out my orders. It would be ready, if that chatterbox of a nurse were here. She is sitting in some tavern, idly drinking and forgetful of her task. I should go and see if I could throw a scare into this lazybones with my threats. But it is safer to keep silent. Nature has armed her tongue with an indomitable weapon, and filled her heart with brutal wrath. I shall go to the old woman with gentle words. Oh trusty nurse, your arrival is welcome.
NURSE You will find my arrival to be unwelcome, if you haven’t faithfully followed Romeo’s orders, so that he might scale the high wall of your house and gain his longed-for bedchamber at sunset.
SERV. [Aside.] The nurse is threatening me with that stormy brow of hers. [Aloud.} Take this rope ladder, proof that I was hardly slow in carrying out Romeo’s command. I have experienced the violence of Cupid, who brooks no delay. Romeo’s joy and hope will not be postponed, let Love rule with his bow.
NURSE Thanks to this happy token I see that you have a loyal turn of mind. Let Venus and Cupid attend this pious wedding, let them make the husband happy with his bride. Let no perils, no storm be mingled with these joys. Now the sea is calm, let this ship rest in harbor, long assailed by the threat of shipwreck. Let the world suspend its day while the bride enjoys the embrace of her bridegroom, command shining Phoebus to be sluggish and keep the brightness of the dawn plunged in the sea, let him once again join his day to Alcmene’s night.
SERV. By why are we delaying? Perhaps the noble bride is awaiting your return. You may inform your mistress that he is about to return. May the god guide his step, then send him back home safely. Now hurry, pray, hurry. There’ss need for haste.
X. PHILOPHILUS, ROMEO
ROM. Greetings, Philophilus. What news do you bring? I have long complained of your absence from our hall.
PHIL. At last I visit you once more, now you may cease your complaining. Are you banishing your cares? I am very eager to learn this.
ROM. Fortune open changes her face. She favors, she threatens, she burns, she afflicts me, she gives her help when fury rushes in to do me harm. But nowadays I am finding Fortune to be propitious at one moment but slow at the next. She promises me everything. You’ll become party to my faithful love. Juliet is mine, I am not lying in an empty bed.
PHIL. Allow me to congratulate my friend amidst such great good things. O how I crave to embrace you! Oh gods, appeased at last! Oh happy the day on which Romeo gains his marriage-bed!
ROM. Philophilus, with your silent faithfulness you must keep this marriage a secret.
PHIL. You command my silence? Why do you condemn my good faith? Would that you could take your sword and cut open my breast, so that you might behold my love and the true faithfulness graven on my heart’s tablet. You’ve won a victory-palm? Your friend is a victor. If you weep, my joy is slight.
ROM. This will remain stored up in my mind, I give you due thanks to match your good merits. But look, here’s a messenger moving along with sad steps. He hastens, bearing manifest signs of his sadness.
MESS. The day of our extremities is is indeed at hand, unless you come, kinder to us in our miseries.
ROM. Tell me what’s the matter.
MESS. The din of battle envelops our walls. The peace is broken, everything is in confusion. A savage calamity oppresses your kinsmen. Joining crime to crime, your ancestral foes and your own Capulets have redoubled the sin. They delight in plunging their steel into innocent blood and wear bloodstained clothing as evidence of their murder. This man lies dead, that one wounded, and fury drives your brutal enemy Tybalt to commit slaughter, as he thirsts for your blood. He is the ringleader in this fray, and whatever any man can consider pointless and impious he is achieving with his arms. You must be brave and come to the aid of your afflicted kinsmen. Let your angry sword inflict its vengeance on that noxious house.
ROM. You are telling me bitter things, and I cannot delay. My doubtful destiny is beginning to suffer a change.
XI. ROMEUS, TYBALTUS
ROM. What mad frenzy provoked this fight, you fellows who are harboring wild emotions in your passionate brains? Let us come to a meeting of the mind. Why are you polluting Mother Earth with dire slaughter? Let this bestial fighting cease, lest no lamentable blood flow over our pitiful mother.
TYB. Let swords be drawn, let their be no limit to our wrath, let our enemies’ spilt blood water the soil. Let this hostile house collapse in full, let this day grant us our bloody revenge. With your blood I shall savagely drench the soil, and you will feel the blow of a sword wielded by a strong hand.
ROM. You great ingrate, savage, cruel, rapacious, put down your weapon, join in a sworn truce. I have been praying for this myself, not urged by easily-felt fear, but by fostering piety, law, good faith, and the safety of our nation.
TYB. Base coward, there’s no room for speeches. Receive this angry sword deep in your breast.
ROM. I am present and oppose my person to your arms. I prefer to receive your blow, let him who rushes to attack me use his sword to strike Romeo. Let him who is pious lay down his weapon at my request, let him who is impious start the fight. I have done no wrong, I swear, this will first be unjustly embraced by Tybalt. My sword knows how to give its thanks, this sword will inflict punishment enough. You reject my love, receive this pledge of my anger. Let the crimes rebound upon their author. (Strikes with his sword.)
TYB. I’m killed! Your accurate sword has run me through, inflicting a deep wound. Alas, I die by a hostile hand, being worthy of death. I have earned the punishment by a bloody death, having furiously provoked this fray and rejected peace when that young man, by who’s hateful hand I lie, destroyed, offered it to me. Farewell, my friends. My final end is at hand. I have no more to complain of, this ending was properly given me.
XII. TWO CAPULETS, TWO MONTAGUES, THE PRINCE
CAP. 1 If their be just vengeance for a just complaint, excellent prince, and our blood is not to perish unrequited by the words of a solemn judge, we sadly beg your help amidst our affliction.
CAP. 2 Justice and piety forbid you from denying such a great thing. This will be demanded by the glory of our lost member, his bravery, his consummate virtue and good faith. Just vengeance on such a great wrong is being demanded. Mighty justice strengthens the scepters of princes. The law, if it has any power, lays claim on the severed head of Romeo, so he may suffer punishment for this unspeakable murder with his life.
TYBALT’S FATHER I have an eternity to make my complains. Oh the gods’ dire Fates! Oh the savage wrath! Thus this son comes home to his parents, as they had prayed. The one is dead whom my hopes would be the sole consolation of my old age. Oh childlessness, what a sad evil for my broken years! My pitiable son! Why am I so piously praying over the remains of your dear body? Is this that face of yours, that shone with starry brightness? Is this your face, your shoulders? Your beauty and your comeliness are ruined. Ah, dear prince, pray give me a calm hearing. We have fled to you so that this savage artist of murder might appease my boy’s shade with his death. Let his guilty heart die by your just swordpoint and his blood serve as a funereal offering to this corpse.
MONT. 1 These men’s bloodthirsty hearts smack of bestial bloodlust. Our excellent prince knows how to pass judgement. Tybalt lies dead, done by a savage sword, but he was responsible for his own death. Just as you see a lion in the fields seeking after prey and devouring all the game it meets, so with savage steps he hurled himself against his enemies, a friend to no man, showing on his face the symptoms of insane rage. When mild urged him to cease his criminal murderousness, eloquently urging him to join in his father’s solemn truce, mad Tybalt used his sword to attack his innocent breast. Giving him no time to pray, he assaulted Romeo’s person, and the other man could barely defend himself, as the laws are wont to allow. When it is a matter of kill or be killed, safety may be sought and one’s life may be protected. Let him who strove to punish suffer his punishment, but any law you care to name forbids the innocent to die.
MONT. 2 If a father’s words, lamentations and entreaties can move you, lo, falling to my knees in piteous tones I beg you deign to be our guide to what is right and the arbiter of our justice. Let these guilty fellows pay the due forfeits for their crime, and let the felony rebound on its author. If my son’s hands are innocent of sin, will you be compelled to be our enemy and hasten to his killing, so that a man must allow himself to die unwillingly (as anybody who was present will admit was the case)? Uncorrupted prince, forbid this heart to be oppressed, let mighty justice plead my son’s case. He who has need for forgiveness will beg for it.
THE PRINCE Your frenzy has often been wont to erupt in great crime, your persistent anger has rashly enraged you. He who is unable to accept his prince’s mercy must be tamed by hardships and always be freighted with a heavy yoke lest he dare attempt something similar. This man’s enemy Tybalt lies, cut down by his sword. But he provoked the brawl and refused peace when it was offered him and by a sad turn of fate, he suffered the penalty of death. By my decree, Romeo’s life is granted him, but after a week he will wretchedly do without his nation as an exile, permitted to return only after ten years. By this single sentence I shall be both just and merciful. The duty of a father of his nation is to preserve his subjects and punish those guilty of crime. Favor and fury sit on my face: welcoming favor for the innocent, fury against the guilty. Thus a prince always occupies his throne in security, free of fear.
Phoebus has set and the light of shadowy night has assaulted the reluctant earth. Unkind Caurus is driving storms with its contrary winds.
No man can promise himself tomorrow. Everything human is whirled about with uncertain alterations, nothing remains in a fixed order.
Troy was happy and so was Priam. On the next day both suffered a downfall. Both unlucky Troy and Priam are not allowed to endure.
See how Romeo, happy enough after he had gained his marriage, has been driven out of his ungrateful land. Thus the new bride will lack a husband.
Happy Juliet when her husband is present. Happy Juliet when her husband is cheerful. Happy Juliet when she lives in love with her happy husband.
Sad Juliet when her bridegroom is abandoned. Sad Juliet when her friend is downcast. Sad Juliet when her bridegroom languishes in sorrowing love.
Pain and pleasure yield to each other in turns, but pain lis enduring and pleasure is brief. Destiny sets changes a-spinning with its malevolent whirlwind.
Those whom Clotho had lifted above the sweet stars she has now brought down with redoubled sorrow. Often she naughtily thrusts those same wretches down to Orcus.
XIII. IULIETTA, NUTRIX
<IUL.>Whence will I be granted surcease for my woes? How one evil always grows out of another, and I am granted no ending, either of my troubles or of my life! Could Tybalt have found no other brave killer who could have torn his soul from his body with a sword? Only my husband Romeo encountered him wearing the brutal face of a murderer. If he thirsted after Capulet blood so as to water the surface of the sprawling earth with the blood of our family, why did he spare me when we were so often joined together in our bed? But that struck him as a light revenge, it is a small crime to kill a women. His cruel mind craved to be appeased with the dire slaughter of a noble captain as its sacrifice. He faithlessly betrayed our love thanks to his hatred of his my kinsman. Farewell to the wretch forever, let this unwelcome man disappear, guilty of murder. Unhappy dead Tybalt, always to be mourned by me, distinguished for your blood and your virtues, what hope of salvation remains for me after such a wrong?
You wicked tongue, can you detract from the praises of such a great man? Abandon the passionate threats of a broken heart. It is an established fact that Romeo’s hands are innocent. Tybalt was responsible for his own death. No such great guile lurks behind that face of his, nor any dire thirst for our blood. Or rather, I am a murderess. Should my furious tongue take the lead in condemning his faith, innocent of any evil? As a wife I am an ingrate to my husband, ungrateful because I shall get the better of my crime with my death and offer up my life to Romeo. Now, dear one, take that which I owe you. Now I pay you the forfeit of my life. [She collapses. The nurse enters and revives her.]
NURSE What’s this weeping? What’s this sorrow and tears? My unhappy fear has been telling me that my mistress is dead. Rise up, child, don’t break your life’s thread. Let my misfortunes with their wretched sorrow implore you, if you deny yourself life, you deny it to many others. Your parents beseech you, your Romeo implores you.
JUL. Cruel nurse, don’t drag out my life. Whoever dissuades me from dying is cruel. There’s no reason for me to live, and many for me to die. Unhappy Tybalt died by the hand of Romeo, who will free my Romeo by death?
NURSE Be of better cheer and rouse your mind. Do you hope to revive your kinsman by your death? Your dear Tybalt died by his own fault. His hotheadedness was the cause of his cruel killing, and his innate fury, nor could the wrath of his drawn sword be restrained. Caring for himself, Romeo inflicted an unhappy wound on his enemy, but under provocation. What greater thing could you ask of the gods than to possess Romeo? Is the god pleased to have any greater regard for you in your affliction than that? Fortune has already granted you your prayers in abundance, and perhaps it was she that took away Tybalt. What of your home, your nation, your parents? One thing remains for you dearer than your nation and your father, dearer than this realm and your home. Would that you would cease the sorrowing of your heavy complaint and devote yourself to blessed peace! I myself would go to the priest’s house, and seek out that old man’s threshold, where your husband lurks, so that the holy priest might give you the happy news of his safety. Only this man of the church will console you, helping you with his counsel.
JUL. This is welcome, in humble tones I shall now request it. Let him come to me tomorrow. Now away with this idle delay.
XIV. ROMEO, THE PRIEST
SAC. The prince’s sentence has dispelled all fear of death, I pray you to recover your happiness. You life is granted you, although you will be an exile without a country. This is a catastrophe which calls for strong men.
ROM. O hopes, vain for me amidst my woes! Why should I retain my soul in this light of life any more? This is a consolation given my fainting heart: life is granted me, but I must wretchedly live as an exile. Banishment seems to me to be dire, worse than death. I shall lack a homeland. What place may I seek as a refugee to hide myself, by what soil may I be covered? Has any man ever received such a sad fate? I am an exile, without having committed a crime. If I had been the first to open this duel, I should be unreasonable to complain. But I urged him to lay down his arms, and now the home of an alien king will shelter me, a refugee from my native soil. I shall live in another man’s home as a guest from far away, pursuing foreign affairs, banished from my own. My ungrateful land! Nobody comes to my aid. In my unhappiness I am abandoning you forever, Juliet, you for the sight of whom I have always prayed the gods, and this torments me. The blood of Tybalt is always hostile to me, perish this heavy exile! Such vengeance is only due to you. Would that savage beasts had ripped apart my guts before my mother bore and nursed me, so that I would have died an innocent man, without any killing. Fortune will despoil me often, not granting me to find any ending in either death or victory, although I die against my will.
PRIEST You should not pointlessly spew forth your complaints and words, your amazed heart is not yet free of passions. Stand up, my noble young man. Seize hold of adversities with your wonted force, you must accommodate yourself to the times. You have been schooled to tolerate great pains, and tearful words better suit women. Where is that old fortitude of yours, that indomitable mind incapable of becoming downcast by trifling perils? Are you bereft of counsel, you who have given good counsel to others amidst their afflictions?
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