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DEVASTATION speaks the Prologue

Impious city, why do you swell with vain tumult or spin schemes in your blind heart, insufficiently dreading the mutual murder of your citizens? The next little while will bring your ruin. Alas, what a mass of evils hangs over you! Or is this a trifling thing, that you openly resist God? That you have nailed the Child of God, nursed by a virgin, to the cross? Why have you dared besmirch the holy Name? I forbear to mention the number of men you have sent to their wretched deaths.
You bloodless crew who inhabit the shadowy realm of Dis, the cave of horrid death where Lucifer, never quiet, spreads the fires with which he himself is burned, where he roars with his obstinate tongue, paying the penalty for his blasphemy and mumbling up at the heavens, where Vengeance with her gloomy countenance shakes her head, and where Tartarus, hateful to heaven, imprisons a generation of vipers because it strives to return to its hateful work, its penalties revoked — all of you hasten here, as vengeance requires you to lend a hand. Torment Jerusalem with novel agonies. Why do you hesitate to exterminate this hateful nation immediately?
For them no single enemy is enough. Let war not end for them, either domestic or foreign. Let their leaders wear each other down with infighting and let the be people given to them as the prize of war, then let Titus completely overcome the lot. Why, Mathias, were you so demented as to invite Schimeon into the city? You, the host, will pay a price to your guest and splash your body with the blood of your kinfolk, whom the tyrant will cast down before your eyes. Joseph, why do you visit your father? Out of your mind, you will lament your pious duty, scarcely escaping impending death. Let your proud buildings tumble to the ground, let God’s Temple burn with crackling flames. Let the father deny food to the son, the son to the father. In vain the little boy will beg his mother for food. But this is a small thing. Jerusalem, you deserve greater. The rage of your bellies will fear nothing. Let the Jews fill their bellies with the meat of their kinsmen. With her impious mouth a mother will gnaw her child, giving her son her guts as his only tomb. The vested priest will slaughter the victim at the altar, and at the altar he himself will cruelly be slain. Rivers of blood will flow in the Temple aisles. The holy city’s walls will be leveled to me ground. When their joints are rent asunder, no stone will be resting on another, nor in any standing structure will there be rest or fixed sanctuary for the refugees. The ignoble exile will wander in alien lands, the enduring penalty will fall on his descendants.
Enough. It is done. Fates, I pray you grant me pardon if I, Devastation, wreak insufficient vengeance on the Jews.


TIBERIUS ALEXANDER a senior general
SEXTUS CEREALIS commander of the Fifth Legion
LARGUS LEPIDUS commander of the Tenth Legion
TITUS PHRIGIUS commander of the Fifteenth Legion
AETERNIUS FRONTO commander of two legions from Alexandria
MOMAGINIM son of King Antiochus, a Macedonian


PRISCUS a centurion
EBUTIUS a Roman soldier

MIRIAM a somanj of good family
JOSEPHUS’S MOTHER 85 years old
CHANNA a womman

MATHIAS CURRUS Josephus’s father, 110 years old   

MANNEH, SABOCH, ALKIM citizens of Jerusalem

MATTHIAS the High Priest
JOSEPHUS 70 years old
JEHOSHUE <a priest>


GONATHAS a short man and evill favoured





Oh God, look down on Jerusalem with a benign countenance, lest the walls be pulled down and she enter the bondage of slavery.
Where are you, Moses, cherishing your flock within your bosom, the flock for which the lions now gape with their maws? Where are you, Aaron, consecrated to the Lord in your time, who turned aside so many threats of our angry God?
Where are you, David, with your fingers sweetly twanging your lyre? Your instrument lies, its strings broken. Where are you, Elijah, freezing the Syrians with your glance? Unhappy prophet, see the collapse of your people.
Where domestic murder is most pleasing, robbers bathe the Temple aisles in blood. Now victims rarely come to the silent altars, and soldiers trample the Temple’s sacred inmost chambers. [The procession is interrupted as the soldier Jonathas rushes in.]
 JON. Flee, my citizens, flee! Let the seed of Eber flee! Titus has pitched his camp in the nearby village of Gabaon. The neighboring fields are glowing with roaring fires and the earth groans under the feet of his horsemen. (Let diverse runn over the stage out of the country into the Cittye.)

TITUS unarmed, with only a small escort and accompanied by Pedanius

TIT. Jerusalem, glory of flourishing Asia, as a queen you shine more brilliantly than the other cities. From your high towers you look out proudly over all the distant towns, just as Atlas overtops the other mountains of Africa and provides a wide-ranging view of the lands. How rich you are in the various works of Man and in the bounties of your fat soil! Here Nature has opened healthful fountains. Here the cedar towers high and luxuriantly, here the terebinth sweats its friendly balsam and is ruddy with its fragrant produce. The ancient plane-tree crowns itself, the doleful cypress thrives, the olive spreads its branches, bowing like a suppliant under the weight of its fruit. The city lives on, supported by the strength of its triple ring of walls, and reaches up for more than sixty cubits, menacing the sky, a marvelous construction.
But what’s this? Nobody shows himself. The enemy has abandoned the walls. I smell some risk of deceit. My virtue, trust nothing to their covert perfidy. Thus the common run of mankind, being malign, is accustomed to allure us by deceiving our trust. I shall go back.
PED. [Aside.] The Jewish leader is attacking with his hostile forces, and the haughty band has surrounded Titus, cutting off the road back to his camp.
TIT. Is the enemy devising stratagems, or does he fear my sword? My soldiers, you should scorn base deceits. It is sufficient that you know who your leader is. Even if I have over-pressed my luck, today will testify as to how great Titus is in battle. Fear does not strike Titus’ bowels: fortune defends good men. [They go off to fight.]


SCHIM. [Alone.] While Titus was examining the walls and wandering about to explore the city, I ordered my men to cross over at that place where the stream called Cedron quietly glides along with its slow course, its waters making stagnant pools. They were to proceed by a wide circle, so that they might occupy the ground next to Helen’s tomb and cut of Titus’ line of retreat to his camp. Hope and fear are struggling in my heart. The two impulses are not contending with equal strength, but they are putting up a stubborn fight. Fear urges me to panic, but hope, bidding me resist, prevails. The one casts me down even as I overcome it, but the other sustains me as I am overcome. If fear prevails, it warns me to flee, but hope is never easily conquered and knows how to use its victory. The optimistic man nonetheless is afraid on occasion, and does not dare hope for the fulfillment of his wishes, and so these two impulses remain companions to each other. [Enter Jonathas.]
JON. Titus, unprotected, has escaped through the middle of his enemies.
SCHIM. How can he, unarmed, elude their clutches?
JON. When Titus had encamped at Gabaon, he stealthily made his way towards the city, wearing only a sword and unprotected by the rest of his bronze armor or his brazen shield, so that he might walk about and study our high walls: what place is preferable for climbing them, in what quarter his artillery might best bombard them, where the vinea might best redouble its covert blows, where the battering-ram might pound the walls with its long neck, very rarely swinging its arms in vain. The Jews made their crossing where the sluggish Cedron issues its waters, gently flowing along its bed, and proceeded by a circuitous route. They drew their arms and made a sudden rush against the Roman general, who seemed to have no hope of escape. After Titus perceived himself to be surrounded by our band and the way to his camp to be blocked, he brandished his sword in his strong hand, rushing in the direction in which he hoped to escape. This escorts were no less vigorous in cutting through our men. The general wounded a pursuing enemy. A thousand missiles flew at his head from all sides — in vain. Out of them all, not a single dart touched his person. although he was wearing no helmet. Neither his body nor his back were pierced. Hereupon warlike Escron shouted, “will nobody take his sword and run this man through?” His excited voice was quickly cut short by an avenging sword-thrust between his jaws, and so his words proved just as impotent as his weapons. Titus fearlessly made his way through our drawn swords, and finally got back to his own people. [Exit.]
SCHIM. Ungrateful Fortune, is this how you help brave men? But Jehochanan is here, accompanied by Eleazer. [Enter both.]
Noble Eleazer, descended of Aaron, and Jehochanan, distinguished for your might in battle, your loyal efforts are protecting the Jews and putting a bridle on the arrogant spirits of the leading citizens. See how Titus with his hostile army is besieging the city from outside, and their eagle standards are encircling our walls. They have pitched three camps nearby the city, and have constructed the like number of walls for our destruction. Behold, the Romans think that Jerusalem’s madness constitutes her death-throes. On the inside, the city fathers are hatching plots and preparing death for the Zealots. If we three form a firm pact for this war, then as loyal allies we have won. Let our enemies rage however much they want, our virtue, innocent of deceit, has nothing to fear. Our zeal strengthens our spirits and heaven’s vengeance supplies us with strength. Why should we voluntarily hand the Romans a bloodless victory, destroyed solely by our private massacres and internecine killing? We are brave men. Does it satisfy you only to make faces at the Romans? I swear by heaven’s court, shining with starlight, as long as Neptune’s fishy race delights in going a-swimming as the storm first strikes the sea, as long as the winged bird, escaped from its harsh cage, is eager to wander in the free sky, I shall be your brave comrade in this fight.
EL. The sun will plunge his unfamiliar head into the Underworld, the fiery glory of the heaven will migrate to the earth, the twinkling stars will touch the forests, before you will have cause to condemn my doubtful loyalty.
JEH. While the sun travels breathlessly over the earth in his shining heaven, moderating the days for this earth with his moving sight, while the moon his sister, accompanied by her glittering escort, receives her absent brother’s fires after he had abandoned the sky and plunged his head in the ocean, I shall stand by this martial pact
SCHIM. So what do you wish me to do now? Would it be better to injure our enemies in open war, or remain shut up, guarding the walls.
JEH. We should disturb their rising walls and attack the unsuspecting Romans.
EL. They have pitched camp six stades from the city. Can Abraham’s latter-day progeny tolerate this? Let us join forces and quickly attack our enemy. [Exit Jehochanan and Eleazer.]


[Oh, the great joke of treacherous Fate! Oh, the deceitful glory of the greedy victor! Our band eagerly spared besieged Titus, so that he might be captured alive and follow our chariot in our proud triumphal parade, his neck freighted down with chains, and might attest our victory with his hands bound behind his back. Bah! He escaped his enemies’ shields. With God’s protection, he frustrated the incomplete destiny of all those who had every right to expect the prestige of having captured a general, so that they might purge themselves of the great stain they had incurred by killing so many of their fellow citizens. That Fortune produces such monstrosities by her very nature! Who would ever believe that Caesar’s son, bareheaded and otherwise undefended, would safely escape from beneath the shadows of his enemies’ shields? Titus fearlessly made his way through our drawn swords, untroubled by our weapons. From all sides missiles flew at his body in vain. We must wipe out such a disgrace with praise won in battle.]


My soldiers, unless your amply proven courage shone sufficiently, and this land, overcome by the enemy, bristled with arms, your leader’s voice would grow hoarse goading on the idle. I acknowledge the sacred seed of Abraham, the descendents no less praiseworthy than their great ancestors. The Romans are seeking your death, they will only be pleased with the city’s ruination. Now it is perhaps bearable to have the faith of the marriage-bed violated, the sad yoke imposed on our neck, the virgin torn from her mother’s embrace. But to have the sanctuary polluted, with the sacred and the profane mixed indiscriminately, to have priests stabbed to death, to have the innermost chambers of the Temple open for one and all — who would be so mad as to tolerate this? They take pleasure in sating their swords with our blood. The Roman overlord looks out of his palace and surveys the wide world, untroubled by the hissing of his citizens, insulated from the envious tribune. At a distance, whom should he order to die? Let him, the master, first rid his own court of chattering squabbles. Let this querulous overlord subdue the anger of his own citizens, and not threaten our city with dire things from afar. But I shall not speak about his citadel. Now the Roman hopes to lay waste to our holy Temple with his impious hands, he dares to trample its inner sanctum under his barbaric foot.
When the purple dawn has joined the horses to her rosy chariot and has routed the twinkling stars with her renewed splendor, the industrious officer will arm his men and order them to level the Roman earthworks, filling up their entrenchments. The cruel hoe will weary the earth, denying it rest. The cedar tree will lie, pulled down from the sky, the plane-tree will be stretched out on the ground, wounded with many blows. The cypress will creak with groans as it is pulled down, so that our soldiers may advance without impediment, that no obstacle laid on the ground might obstruct our rapid advance. The fierce battalions of our enemy are poured out across the wide fields, their wicked forces seek our death. Now I am present. You do not have to seek us — you will have the army of the sons of Abraham, unafraid to fight you. Now let every man buck up his courage, worthy of his ancestry. If we win, we shall stand before the very walls of Rome. Even though Rome is far away, today it will fall. My soldiers, I summon you now to war. Today the world, long fought over, will destroy its arrogant master and will honor you as its defender.
The Romans have pitched several camps near to the city, and have also erected high palisades. Titus omits nothing. If you are content to remain slack and gape at them, and if you fail to join battle with your idle hands, who does not see that the end of the city is at hand? So let us now attack their camps with a headlong rush. We shall catch the Romans unawares and, since they are unprepared, we shall force them to take to their heels. As quickly as possible you must use force to tear down the works they have begun. Draw your swords! Everybody attack the enemy! (Then let every man draw his sword. The chieftaines put on their helmets and after their going from the stage let Trumpetts sound, drummes and gunnes and all noise of warr.)

JEHUDA being on the Walles

The Hebrew army has forced its way through the valley of the Cedron, making a large-scale attack on the unsuspecting Romans. The latter had laid down their weapons, and with weary arms were heaping up earthworks, fearing no sudden attack because of the citizens’ domestic squabbling. They immediately succumbed to panic. Since they are only accustomed to fight in an organized fashion and depend on their officers’ orders, they were stricken with terror and immediately fled. Many dashed to grab up their weapons, but were everywhere cut down before they could turn against the enemy. ([Exit.] Then let Trumpets sound. drumms and gunns, and other noise of warr. [Enter Alanus, coming out of the city gate with his men.])
AL. What is the point of remaining safe within the city? Our war-bands prosper by the killing of our enemies. We must make our name famous for posterity. (Let Alanus and others with him runn over the stage without order. Let the Trumpets sound and other noise of warr. {Enter Jonathas,] comming out of the fielde.)
JON. The Romans abandoned their camps and took to flight, and at the same time were thrown into the gravest danger. Titus, immediately reproving them for their cowardice, rallied his fugitives and brought them back to the battle. Then a select band of soldiers attacked the Jews in the flank, killing a number, wounding others, and routing the rest. Titus drove our men into the ravine and there he butchered them. But a part of the Jewish force eluded them and kept moving backwards. They fought in the intervening valley until the sun had climbed to the middle of the sky. As reinforcements, Titus scraped up some men to form his bodyguard, ordered other cohorts to face off against the enemy, and sent many back to defend the earthworks he had started. Our men interpreted this as an enemy retreat, but it soon became apparent that the general had a different idea. [Exit. Enter Jehuda.]
JEH. Why should I hesitate to give the signal by waving my cloak, so that everybody will rush into the fight at the run? Our leaders entrusted this task to me. (Then let diverse Souldiers runn out of the Citty over the stage without order. Then let Trumpetts sound, Drumms and as before.) Both sides are giving the signal for bloody battle. The bugler redoubles the noise of his resounding horn and the mountains, struck by the huge blast, resound in echo. The clash of arms arises. Like a cloud, the dust rises up and darkens the day, and the heaven bellows with a discordant roaring. Now the Jews are pushing back the Romans, then the Romans shove them back in turn. Sword beats against sword. Everybody is fighting for his life with courage and skill. The earth is flooded, drunken with their black blood. (Trumpetts drumms guns as before. [Enter Archelaus.])
ARCH. Oh noble descendants of ancient Abraham, when both armies were drawn up in their regiments with the cavalry squadrons posted on the wings, the two battle-lines came together with equal vigor, making the earth creak and groan with a great shudder. The Romans’ arms grew weary from wielding their swords, and a shameful chill came over their exhausted limbs The Jewish leader gave extra encouragement to his men. But bold Titus pressed on with renewed strength. The Roman army could not withstand the Jews’ sharp attacks, and their men were strewn over the fields as the result of the widespread killing. Their battalions wandered around in disorder. Then the tenacious general Titus, alarmed, climbed towards a hilltop, and stopped midway up when he saw himself most seriously endangered. Careless of his life, he immediately fought his way back down the hillside. He thrust his breast up against the enemy, striking at them face to face. His sense of military duty overcame his care for personal safety, and on all sides he dealt out savage wounds to the Jews.
When the Jews perceived that they were not accomplishing anything, that (amazing to say) Titus was unharmed among so many blows of his enemies and all those missiles, they retreated from Titus on both sides. The rebels exhorted each other to renew the fight, and, with many people running up from all sides, they soon had Titus surrounded. But when the Romans who had fled saw their general endangered, they grew ashamed of their cowardice and feared the penalty they would receive for abandoning him. They prepared to wipe out the earlier stain by rescuing Caesar’s son from the hillside. Calling out encouragement to one another, they made a sharp attack and renewed the battle. Abraham’s children were immediately forced down the slope into the ravine, but as they retreated they kept up the fight. Finally they made their way back to the city.

Go to Act II of the Third Action