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ACT IV, SCENE i
CAL. If I I have always been faithful to you, oh prince, ever ready to mould my mind to your command, to defend your counsels, to express myself without any deception or trickery, then let me speak without giving offense. What care now vexes you so that you have no rest? For now when the stars have lent their brilliance to the night, it brings you no comfort and you cannot sleep.
TOM. O Caliph, whom our fathers chose to preside over our rites, so that you might appease God in heaven with chaste prayer, freely I acknowledge that your faithfulness has always been known to me as your greatest virtue. But how does this new and strange thing appear to you, which, through worry, denies sweet sleep to the prince, he who is beset with cares: worry over the throne, worry over everything? Continuous distress oppresses the king's soul, whether the lamp of kindly light gladdens the day, or sorrowful shade darkens the night sky. The condition of the Nile, near to destruction, and the uncertain fate of our impending battle strikes my mind with terror, and likewise a dream that descended upon my eyes as soon as I slept. Oh, the monstrous things it made known to me! Mud, marsh, water, blood, gallows: now I seem to flee alone, follow Selimus; now I hide myself in a marsh, and then I am pulled out of the mud. I would gladly consult the holy oracles, to see if what is to come may be discerned so that I might know what Selimus now thinks and does. That will do no little to relieve relieve my mind.
CAL. If perchance, my prince, men may see in dreams what they think, and fear, and do, it is little wonder. For often such things, in strange ways, beset a great man heavily in his dreams. Even when his roaming mind, separated from the body, draws near to heaven, such thoughts do not easily leave him; they vex his heart and do nothing to relieve his anxiety. Holy auguries serve to ease a troubled mind, but they are not remedies for its ills. However, that you might have peace of mind, I will conjure here the powerful son of the Ottoman, and he himself will teach you the secrets of his inmost mind – his deeds, his words, and his counsels will all be revealed. You need only to sleep, keeping to your chair within the measure of this circle. No matter what you see or hear, be warned: do not move your body; do not speak.
TOM. This will be a welcome task for a weary man.
CAL. Behold, the time is come. Let the stars of Pharos, show forth what is revealed by the holy and secret arts! Come, attendants of the council of Hell, inhabitants of deepest night, show forth us.
ACT IV, SCENE ii
SEL. What evil thing now stirs my mind? What is this tumult echoing in my frenzied breast? It is as if the elements made war with one another, robed in cloud, until a thunderclap burst forth and the unfeeling earth shook the angry sky. Turn back, go far away, fierce goddess of war! Will we never enjoy security and peace? Shall I never again sheath the sword which once I drew? Even now I wish for an end to the war with Tomumbeius in honest peace, but I do not wish for it to end in false faith. Give us peace! Why do you refuse? It is us who asks it; Selimus, who has done for you what He on high has not done. For who can mock the threats of Selimus and go unpunished? After sin bound up the routed forces of Pharos, he, Tomumbeius, has stirred up a foolish band of soldiers for a black de and devised criminal plots against my person. Take back your plan! Abandon the path you have begun! Reason draws back the thread pulled forth by opinion. Return once more, fierce goddess of war, put weapons in the soldiers’ hands, put raging fury in their minds! Let dread, that vanquisher and guardian against enemies be present. Alas, our wretched mortal minds, our hard fate! But the most wretched condition of everyone who is fed by the air of life is that of those who govern: the more they are feared, the more they are afraid.
ACT IV, SCENE iii
ALBUCHOMAR, SELIMUS, MESSENGER, TOMUMBEIUS
ALB. Oh light of the world, beloved of the heavenly Father, equal of the very gods, may you flourish forever!
SEL. [Aside.] Behold! How dutiful is this traitor, his devout words the very image of sweetness! Do not believe that he will be faithful to you, Selimus, having already deceived his own. [Aloud.] What is it? What do you bring?
ALB. A messenger from Seiectica —
SEL. Our own?
ALB. Our own.
SEL. Tell me, what news do you bring? How fare Tomumbeius and my messengers?
MESS. A deed that would astound the heavens and make the earth recoil;. The brutal enemy has killed your messenger.
MESS. Yes, your messenger.
SEL. Is there an enemy so wicked?
MESS. It is a land that sacrifices to the gods.
SEL. Tell me every detail of this unheard-of crime.
MESS. Near the borders of Seiectica, there is a deep forest, thick-set with tall trees. A curving valley lies at its center, whose narrow places are dark with leafy shade, and has a narrow entrance at both ends. The shining of the kindly light did not enter here, and it hid the rise, zenith, and departure of the sun: a place which itself promised deceit. Here were your men, as the encroaching night was beginning to frighten off the lingering daylight. The air grew silent; then there was an uncertain murmur, low voices, then silence. We doubted where we should look, nothing appeared. We grasped our swords; from every side armed men flew forth, swifter than speech, shouting “Nile!” and the enemy force surrounded our own. They had no reverence for the holy title of a messenger, for pacts of peace, nor for the laws of war. They scattered our cohort, slaughtered it, put it to flight; and there Michalogle was killed in the struggle. I myself scarcely avoided the sudden evil, fleeing on foot.
SEL. Oh stars! Oh Mohammed, Highest of the High! Can there be such injustice? Such great wickedness? Has it not been enough to wage war, that false men should assail my person with treachery? Beaten, put to flight, scarcely still holding a corner of their kingdom, the enemy would murder a messenger of peace? O ruined laws! False gods in a false heaven, with no Hell below! Did not such a one deserve to be dragged immediately down to Stygian depths? To be stricken with wrathful fire from the sky? Did he not deserve to be he buried alive as was fierce Enceladus, while his cohort still plotted the destruction of the temples of heaven? It is sin even to ignore a messenger, and he killed one! It is a sin to do violence to a messenger, and he criminally betrayed one! Let his fields be laid waste, his cities fall from their very foundations, drowned in a watery tide of blood, let fire consume their cursed ruins. Run, flee, and hide yourselves in the farthest corners of the land You will never hide, not even the summit of Olympus or the depths of Erebus will snatch you from my hand. Now my soldiers, my strong and blessed force, conjure up misdeeds to mind, devise treacheries. Let nothing please you unless it be foul, mad, and horrible, so that the enemy may suffer what he himself first inflicted. I shall be satisfied and fulfilled with great evils, or rather with good things. Vengeance brings a new life. [Exit.]
MESS. He has gone, and he bears a great fury in his breast: a thundering flash shines forth from his baleful eye. A pallor rests upon his face, forerunner of chilling death. Now let the enemies await arms, slaughter, torches, iron, hunger, and whatever else flaming fury may inflict in its madness: whatever madness may pour forth. For Selimus, everything he can do is too little. [Exit.]
TOM. Both flee from my eyes, Selimus and my dreams together. Shall I believe these things? Would the Mamlukes dare such deeds? A corrupt generation — but what would the Mamlukes not dare? I cannot be angry at you, Selimus; if these things are true,. The Turkish army does not put us to death: we are slaughtered by our own hand. We are nothing. But the times warn me to take precautions for myself, not to punish the guilty.
Behold, the fires kindled with new torches;
How sordid seems the Nile, how strangely scattered.,
She who once possessed the broad shores of Asia,
Bearing joyful sceptres in her hand;
She who once subjected the cold Don and the Danube,
Crushing haughty kingdoms with her hard heel.
She is brought low by her fury.
Bright Memphis, how sordid it seems,
Given over to barbarian Turks!
The sea-side city once pressed
The Emperor's messengers into chains.
Later she sadly suffered the Emperor's dire yoke.
No sorrow was like Achaea's, when she harmed Rome's messengers:
Corinth then earned her destruction for a small slight,
And Italian men pulled her up by the very roots.
The savage conquerors left her behind them,
Little more than a cave for beasts.
Why do these savage examples not terrify you, Syene,
Ill-omened, impious Syene?
But you are too rich for the savage Turks,
Too savoury a prize, too great a reward.
No man-killing leader, no hostile force has ruined you;
No wings of war ever laid low your towers.
Indeed you have madly made resorted to the magical arts,
Stirring up the impious inhabitants of the night,
As this were the remedy for your miseries,
As if the Judge of the world, were nothing.
Your sins and your madness have cast down your towers.
A traitor is despised by his own mother and house.
Why, alas, it it a sin for the world to be dissolved in crime,
But not for crimes to harm themselves?