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ACT III, SCENE i
CAL. Oh gods, what is this wretched and strange evil? The Turks, prepared for war, send messengers, while our king prepares arms and plots that may yet be profitable for the Empire of Pharos. Yet, as I think on it, my soul is all the more troubled and more doubtfully beset with unusual fear. Many things have brought this miserable state of affairs upon the kingdom. Many evils hang overhead and loom on every side; evils which will neither be easily expelled, nor easily avoided. The gold we had reserved for ruling nations has found its way into an impious treasury. Oh, the splendid counsel of kings who raise up the sword – once they have seen silver! The count of coins makes a hollow sound, and the weight of the affair deceives when measured by false scales. For seventy years have passed since the Sultan usurped the throne of the Caliph: a fatal time, a sunrise seeking for a sunset. Now no part of the kingdom lies safe from the enemy, since he has occupied the royal city. The whole people have been pressed into the servitude of nobles, the impious delusions of kings, and the abuses of the powerful. The more agile citizens, favoured by fate, rightly flee what none could bear even in good times. Although we have large armies that remain whole and uninjured, still we have lost many soldiers and many leaders whom we followed under the auspices of our rulers. Great Gazelles, sent to the Arabians to beg for aid, has allied himself and his companions with the enemy. Albuchomar, too, went over to the enemy, traitor that he is. Only one hope sustains the fractured state: that the enemy leader may be overthrown by treachery. But on the other side stands Selimus, mighty, conqueror, filled with high hopes, energetic because of his victories, yet more energetic than his very successes. He believes he can do whatever he desires. The common man's spirit is crushed, the leaders flee; cities fail, hope is downcast, nothing is certain save that the enemy is victorious. How great is this wretched evil? And now they say a messenger from the Turks is at hand., and that he brings peace, at which truly I marvel the more — unless I should think him a spy. Why should an armed conqueror wish to seek peace? They imagine he will become a Christian, but nothing uncertain should ever be preferred to what is known. But if he wants a treaty, why do the leaders of the Mamlukes bear so much hatred and anger towards the very name of “Turk” that they would prepare death for a messenger? An unthinkable, terrifying, cruel, and barbarous deed — but I must keep silent if I wish to live. Is my nation more unhappy, or its individual citizen, if he is not permitted to speak up for the safety of his country? Three times unhappy that citizen, and three times too his country. So will this crime remained buried silence, although it should not be kept unspoken? Shall I be an accomplice to a crime so worthy of punishment? Shall I betray my good faith and and also my fatherland? I should die first, may the holy souls of the dead be witness from their heavenly dwellings! Should I speak, and offer my head to certain danger? But should I choose to disregard my own life? Where is the ancient doctrine of the Nile? Where is its sacred learning? Come, my mind, display your arts. and bring forth to me some way I may silently make this affair known to our king. But he himself comes out to muster his soldier for a battle, the single thing that will bring our republic to ruin. I, however, will remain, so that with my voice I may serve, as may be required.
ACT III, SCENE ii
TOMUMBEIUS, CALIPH , MAMLUKE
TOM. If I imagined you were unaware, most excellent leaders and companions, what great things press upon us and in how many dangers we are cast, I should speak of the destruction, the ruin, and the funeral pyre of the empire, the high leaders, the mighty cohorts, and the noble armies slaughtered and put to rout. Memphis, the honor of the Nile, is taken by the foe: the light of the third part of heaven, worthy to be called the third part of the world, that shining beacon where so many famous men lie dead, overwhelmed by the collapse of their fatherland. Why look to me, sorrow-stricken? I should think you required a harangue, so that you would go to war with all your might, you who are urging me on. Demanding this final task, ah, tear your hair, ah, smite your soft breasts! Sad Pharos is on her knees, undefended. Do you seek a fatherland? It is here, among this army. Do you wish for life? Not elsewhere than here — the Turks will never allow it. Nor will they have a care for our fatherland: like ravening wolves they deem it more noble to slaughter than to rule. If you want to shed your blood for your nation, bold virtue refuses servitude, and the Turks deal only in death and dishonourable slavery.
CAL. What you are doing, great prince, is obscure to no man. He knows the outrages of the Turks who feeds the wandering flocks of cattle in the field, and who, first to receive the new-born day, sells the frankincense of Sheba to the ships from afar. The inborn brutality of the Turks is outrageous: their right hands are ever thirsting for blood, their hearts full of deceit, their souls blackened. Selimus himself is the very pattern of his race; he who holds the divan of the Turks and with a nod overturns all things, putting the innocent and the pious to death — if there is any piety among the Turks — as easily as his brothers, children and even his own old father. He is an inhuman monster, no piety moves him. He is the enemy of anyone who rules over others, of anyone who does not live their life by his leave. Therefore he hates the gentle countrymen of Egypt, who know how to bring swift help to the afflicted, with a savage, unrelenting, destructive hate. Do the princes of the Mamlukes not know this? Why do you attempt to rouse men, who are already ready ? Are you trying to speed up a man who is already running at full tilt? They know about the ancient rivalries of their leaders, they are aware of the hard battles and routs of the Turks, and yet they aspire to equal the honor of their ancestors.
TOM. So come, companions. Drive this pestilence far away, back to their paternal stones of snowy Riphaea. Whether the blood poured forth by your parents or patriotic love more greatly moves your minds, in temples torn down by blood-guilty hands make an offering of each man's death for the blood of many. Placate the shades of the dead below, the fatherland, and the gods. We have just as many weapons and as many armies: we also have greater rewards and a better cause. The seas will not offer you a safe escape, nor is there any sure retreat by land, except in victory. This is the only hope that will grant safety to the empire. Dare this much; turn everything into strength, and let no dawdling idleness remain!
MAM. Lead us against the enemies. Now it will be a joy to join in the battle.
TOM. An auspicious utterance, worthy of noble stock! And soon I will lead you against the enemies, for tomorrow I prophesy a battle. The victor shall be him whose right hand wins it. I have only need of speed, so we will drive the Turks, as they march along in disorder, into the narrows of the sea, where Turkey joins its foreign shore to the Nile.
CAL. Oh, whoever you are who reign over the gods in heaven, before whom we are but poor little servants and furnishers of our own destruction, nevertheless be merciful, if it pleases you. Be satisfied with the grave evils of poor Egypt: stretch out your saving hand, take away our wounds, heal our diseases, rebuild our fallen splendour.
He is eager to start a doubtful war,
The noble ruler of our mother Nile.
Stretch forth open arms to the heavens,
and lift suppliant hands to the gods above.
Pour forth devoted words with sacred vows,
Calling upon God with prayers, uprightly.
Let victims fall without cease before his altars,
Let heaven’s pardon in blood be purchased with blood.
Sharp swords and cold altars,
Doubtful wars amid death,
None of these serve so well
As peace made with the gods
We lift our arms on high,
We call upon God with worthy prayers.
O King of men, Father of gods,
No one is like You or second to You;
You whose laws govern every affair in the world,
Keep our king unharmed,
Protect our fatherland with just arms,
Put our fierce foe to confusion with your strength,
Go forth, our salvation, the entire hope of Pharos,
Go forth with happy omens.
This is a happy omen; so that no victims may be offered,
Go forth to defend the fatherland from its death.
Too late Chiron tries with healing hand,
Tries failing veins with well-taught touch:
Devouring fire has sapped their strength.
In vain sailors stretch wet sails to the wind,
Or note the North with lodestone guide,
For a gaping chasm in their hull drinks in the water.
Too late we please the gods with prayer,
In vain we lift up open arms and
Pleading palms on high.
The whole force of Pharos has suffered headlong destruction.
Heaven has stricken her for her sins,
And handed her over to strong foe for her crimes.