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ACT III, SCENE i
ATT. I found an apothecary, and brought the cordial with me. I took my time, for I thought Narcissus would be looking for me, but the dunce never looked. So in the future I’ll provoke the fellow.
NARC. I finished my master’s business long ago, but time flew by so quickly that I couldn’t find Attilia. Let love go hang.
ATT. But here he is.
NARC. Lady Attilia, great greetings.
ATT. Thank you for calling me lady.
NARC. I lauded you according to your virtues.
ATT. No, according to your kindness. But what’s your business with these people (as if, between us, we didn’t know). Why is it that you speak of love?
NARC. Thus I was thinking to myself, Attilia. If what’s commonly said be true, that a man’s not a man who was never a lover, I should begin to love so that I may become a man.
ATT. You’re so big and advanced in years, and you’ve still not felt Cupid’s powers?
NARC. I’ll tell you the truth, Attilia. Once I wanted to love, but I didn’t understand the art of loving. I want to a friend, who told me love’s methodology. “In the first place,” said he, “you must think your mistress by far the most beautiful.” This was easily done, I promised I’d do it. Then he told me that it behooved me to be pleasing, to serve, to adore, and not to undertake anything that would annoy her. This seemed to me a harsh statement, and quite unreasonable. If I were to serve her, I’d abandon my master. Since she wouldn’t pay me a salary, I’d have to die of starvation. For what some men say, that they feed on their mistress’ face and eyes, is a silly statement. If they had no other food, Cupid’s kingdom would dwindle down to nothing. If I could finish the business in a couple of days, perhaps I could stand it. But when, after a decade, games turn to griefs, cheers to tears, affection to affliction, let Love go where he will.
ATT. Ah you naive fellow, these inconveniences occur when those who love are not of the same station. But birds of a feather more readily flock together. If you want to marry well, marry your equal.
NARC. If what you say is true, Attilia, then I’m in love. [Reaches for her.]
ATT. Contain yourself or I’ll scratch your eyes out, rascal. I’m not the girl you imagine. Find somebody else if you want.
NARC. If love’s beginning consists of gouging eyes, let he who wishes await loves’ ending. But pray don’t be angry at me, Attilia, I wanted nothing else but to woo you with love and honor.
ATT. But you’ll get nowhere, I tell you. Don’t bother me. I’m not going to involve myself in the kind of trouble in which a certain girl of my sort did lately, who, doting on a certain servant much like yourself, commanded him to turn up at her door dressed in rags to beg for alms. Thus his access to her would be easy. The business when so far, such was the almsgiving, that she got pregnant and was abandoned.
NARC. By three-headed Cerberus’ middle head, I’ll never abandon you. Take the gamble, Attilia. If I abandon you, then you may grieve as you please.
ATT. Well said! Does it strike you as nothing to seduce a girl so that she becomes pregnant?
NARC. If she puts on some weight, I think that’s adequate. But since my faithfulness is called into doubt, I’d like you to put it to the test.
ATT. I don’t want to prove something of which I can never approve. But, if you’re smart, mark this again and again: don’t come to my gate asking for alms. (Departs.).
NARC. [So the audience.] Note, please, the woman’s cleverness. When she pretends to forbid under a guise of honesty, she commands me to make trial of her alms. She only says no so that she may appear to be compelled by force. But why am I lingering here? Why don’t I change into a beggar’s costume? I’ll earn some bread if I don’t get my hands on any flesh.
ACT III, SCENE ii
BARB. In my misery I readily perceive how little this befits me, and how much trouble follows when freeborn girls wander the street at liberty. But I was induced by your advice, and incited by my love of Fidelis, to agree to this. May the gods bring it about that your counsels do me some good, and not create new troubles for me, as they usually do.
SANCT. I owe you this out of affection, Barbara, to strive with hands and feet, nights and days, to risk my life as long as I am of help to you. If anything happens contrary to our hopes, it is for you to forgive me. This will have happened not because of my fault, but Fortune’s.
BARB. No, by yours too, because you compelled me by your counsels.
SANCT. I never compelled you to love anybody. But since the Fates brought it about that you fell in love, my piety moves me to succor you.
BARB. Indeed you didn’t urge me, but yet you did inspire me. For while you consumed our nights with your tales of love, love’s darts fastened in my breast. How many lovers’ adventures you told me! How many pleasures, how many games and joys! And these things so easily wounded my tender mind that this love, beginning with my tender young years, grew up along with my years and took on strength. Hence it came about that, as soon as I laid eyes on Fidelis, his comeliness struck so deep in my heart that no storm could extinguish love’s sparks. But oh poor me, the hour has quickly slid by, yet he has not come. I’ll betake myself into the house, lest something happen that I would not want.
SANCT. I’ll await him here, and tell you when he’s come.
ACT III, SCENE iii
FIDELIS, SANCTA, BARBARA
FID. Barbara’s summoned me, what am I to do? Piety urges me one way, love the other. It’s unfair to reject loving Barbara. It’s shameful to abandon beloved Victoria. Even if she’s deceived me with her tricks, yet never will Fidelis betray his sworn fidelity. Fidelis my name, fidelity will be my fame.
SANCT. My dear daughter, unless my opinion’s greatly wrong or my eyes aren’t seeing well, here’s your Fidelis. It’s him, come outside.
BARB. Oh would that it were!
FID. There, I see her in the street, I’ll draw nearer. Why is it that you summon me so often, Barbara? What are you seeking? Why don’t you answer me?
SANCT. Let here alone, pray, so she may come to herself. Fear is stopping her voice.
BARB. What great sorrow torments me, Fidelis! If you’d ever find out how much familiarity I have with my pain, there wouldn’t be any need to describe my mind’s feeling. But since my breast is afire with flames long pent up, and I have never dared show the wound to a physician, I did what I could to contain the flames, but I did so in vain when the burst forth even more. At first, therefore, I preferred to exert myself with prayers, rather than die, done in with sorrow and despairing. So don’t therefore imagine I’m less chaste or bashful. I ask for nothing but that you love me, and not cruelly scorn my love. If I do not obtain this, today you see me for the last time. I’m caught up in such waves of sorrows that I may envy Tiyus, Tantalus, or Ixion.
FID I love you greatly, who love me, but I love you honorably. If you cannot continue without a mate, see that your father finds you some young man for a husband, one both loving of you and worthy of yourself and your parents. Nor allow yourself, to be blown by your minds’ urging, as if by some gale, into that turbulent sea of love, but rather dismiss these idle fancies from your mind.
BARB. How can I dismiss them from my mind when your image is graven in my heart? Ah Fidelis, this speech of yours, sweeter than honey, comes from some duty of common kindness rather than from any personal impulse of affection.
FID. You should not take it badly that that happens which must happen, and at length you must grow tranquil.
BARB. How can a lost woman grow tranquil, who has nothing in which she can be so?
FID. An evil, if you bear it with a calm mind, becomes a good.
BARB. That is a feeble hope which requires such a protection.
FID. For my part, Barbara, I cannot help but be moved when I see your pain, nor, by Hercules, would I even shrink from shedding my blood, if I could be of help to you.
BARB. But there’s no need for shed blood that you help me. The means of curing me is easy, and very much at hand: that you love me, that you remember me, that I may see you ever day and very often share sweet conversations with you.
FID. If you ask for this alone, you will have what you desire. I shall come, have no doubt, live and fare well.
BARB. Farewell, Fidelis, and make it happen that she who loves you adores you as her lover.
ACT III, SCENE iv
NARCISSUSdressed as a beggar
Now who’d recognize me and think me to be Narcissus? When I was rifling my master’s wardrobe, I don’t know how, I finally found this outfit which, because it hides my face, seemed to me to be sufficient and most fit. It’s wonderful how much I please myself in this changed condition, and, by Hercules, I’m afraid lest I fall so in love with these beggar’s clothes that I abandon my master and seek out other men’s thresholds. It always seems a fine thing to me to live on someone else’s loaf of bread, do no work, pay no expenses. Indeed , if I may speak thus, the beggar’s dignity is so great that wherever he plants his foot there’s a servant to give him a gift. But why stand here longer? First I’ll begin to knock on this door. (Fortunius’ house.)
ACT III, SCENE v
NARC. Assist a wretch, give bread to a poor man. He who sees with his eyes heeds in his heart the miseries of mendicants.
GAL. Depart from the doorway, wizard.
NARC. But you’re supposed to give me something so I’ll go away.
GAL. Get away if you’re wise, unless you prefer a cold bath.
NARC. Oh heaven, oh land, oh our times, oh our manners! Everywhere the pauper is prostrate. Once a pauper, always a pauper, Aemelianus. But it’s shameful to wear oneself out with the effort of begging, even if that which you beg for is very fine. So I’ll go up to a second door. (Octavianus’ house.) Give aid to a wretch who has neither hearth nor home, nor wallet nor work. Nobody’s home. Now I’ll go to Victoria’s door to find my Attilia, if I can.
ACT III, SCENE vi
FRANGIPETRA, NARCISSUS, ATTILIA
FRANG. What business have you here, worst of beggars? Unless you shift yourself quickly, I swear by the horrendous edge of this here bloody sword, and by Mar’s sword-point, that I’ll snatch you with this hand and hurl you even into the Alps.
NARCI. [Aside.] Oh swashbuckling sword, that’s not much. Please hurl me farther.
FRANG. What are you muttering to yourself, you animal?
NARCI. I’m begging that it please you to have mercy on beggars.
FRANG. Still talking, rascal? Draw your weapon, I’ll die even along with you.
NARCI. But you’re lying.
FRANG. Who is it who’s testing my strength? I neither dread the earth nor shudder at the sky.
NARCI. He’s either crazy or drunk, I can’t do anything with him. I’ll hang around here until he disappears.
FRANG. I’ll do what Victoria asked just now. For when she saw me, the overthrower of a thousand cities, who can bash down walls with this here fist and crush the weight of their rocks into dust, she asked that I do away with Fidelis. I promised, I’ll do it, I’ll do away with him.
NARCI. Very convenient, by Hercules! O wicked woman, now it’s time to take revenge on you and put this buffoon on the gallows.
FRANG. I thank Mars that I will sate my cruelty with his profuse blood, and I thank Venus much more, that I’m thus able to please Victoria.
NARCI. But most of all to the rope, fetters and jail, which will very quickly rescue you from your difficulties.
FRANG. And yet if this could be done by another means, I’d spare his life. For with respect to all things any wise man ought to make trial of counsel than weapons. [Exit.]
NARCI. This is wisdom, you greatest of buffoons. Now it remains that I meet Attilia. I’m a man who doesn’t want to flee. For charity’s sake give me bread.
ATT. Come in quietly.
NARCI. Now close the watercourses, boys.
ACT III, SCENE vii
ON. Is anybody walking here, Pegasus?
PEG. Nobody at all, master.
ON. Who wants to speak well must practise well. So I have retired here, Pegasus, to invent something worthy of Victoria.
PEG. This befits you master, to premeditate what you should say before you say it. So come, I’m standing here, you there. I’ll be Victoria, you court me.
ON. Hercules, I like your idea, but what manner of salutation should I employ?
Oh most learned of all Romulus granddaughters
That are, that were, that will be in future years,
Greetings to you by far the most manifold
Utters the worst of all poets,
As much so as you are best of all queens.
PEG. I don’t understand what you’re saying, Onophrius, I’m not a Roman woman, nor a granddaughter of Romulus.
ON. For painters and poets
There has always been an equal freedom to dare what they will.
So read this small memorandum of my love.
PEG. What? You’re your own secretary?
ON. Love bids me write what I’m ashamed to say.
PEG. If you don’t compose poems any better than you write letters, than you’d be the same kind of poet as you are a painter, that is, none at all. These letters are seeking wives for themselves, one goes climbing upon another.
ON.Whatever blots you see, my tears have made.
Then, as Rome joined so many men in order reversed,
I pray that she join us. Farewell.
He starts with an epilogue, ha ha he.
O glory, oh present glory of twin brothers,
O girl, worthy to be Jove’s wife, were you not born of Jove,
Read this, whatever it is, what harm in reading a letter?
The flame of the pyre will put an end to my flames.
Let my final letter be ended with a trifling injunction.
Let you have a care for me, let you have a care for yourself.
These things don’t seem to hang together, Onophrius, nor have you employed your own talent, but other men’s efforts. These verses are well known.
ON. Oh surely, I admit it. For it almost never happens that people who have a literary education are ignorant of who these writers are or of what stuff is theirs.
PEG. But because I don’t wish to bore you, I’ll answer with laconic brevity — about the things you have written, no.
ON. What’s this? He’s talking Scotto-French.
My mind fails me and I die, and cold pervades my limbs,
Oh you who now give, now take away your love,
May your mind become better.
But now I fail, now I can say no more.
My Muse falls silent with sorrow, my lyre is mute with grief.
Thus my mind hops up and down and bounces. Why do you scorn me,
And me the Muses have made a poet, and I possess songs.
Not I —
PEG. Master, before you go any farther, let me be who I am, I won’t be Victoria any longer. I can’t take my hand from the table. Now continue, if you want.
ON. How do these things strike you?
PEG. Master, I swear to you by Bacchus, whose mother was Jupiter and whose father was Semele, you’ve won. Hail the triumph!
ON.Come, encircle my brow, triumphal laurels.
PEG.Who doesn’t hate Bavius will adore your songs, Maevius,
And let this same man yoke foxes and milk he-goats.
ON. What are you saying?
PEG.For me, divine poet, your songs are the same
As a sleep on the grass for the weary. (People enter with lanterns.)
ON. You were no body without a heart, the gods gave you beauty,
The gods gave you riches, and the art of enjoying them.
But what’s this? Now employ your science. (Pegasus flees, Onophrius goes into hiding.)
ACT III, SCENE viii
PYRGOPOLINICES, TERRAPONTIGONUS, ONOPHRIUS, FRANGIPETRA
PYRG. Here’s the monument, Terrapontigonus, unless I’m mistaken. Here Cardinal de Cusa lies buried. He has a ring on his finger, a most expensive mitre on his head, and on his body a garment almost royal.
TERR. [Seeing Onophrius.] But who is he, Pyrgopolinices? Hey, you are you? What are you doing, whom are you looking for?
ON. I’m a pauper who hasn’t found a hostel, I’ll spend the night here.
PYRG. Come, you’ll be ours. This is the tomb of some Cardinal or other, he has a ring on his finger, a mitre on his head, a garment on his body. We’ll open up the monument, you’ll go in, we’ll split the booty.
PYRG. But spare me, pray, my mind shudders at inflicting harm on the dead and violating the consecrated tombs of the deceased.
TERR. But you go in if you don’t prefer being thrown inside.
ON. Nights and days the gates of black Dis lie open. [He goes into the monument.]
PYRG. Come on, bring out what you have.
ON. Here’s the mitre.
TERR. There remain the garment and the ring.
ON. Here’s the garment for you, but I’m not finding the ring.
PYRG. Produce the ring, I say.
ON. I’m not finding the ring. If you don’t believe me, come in yourselves, have a look. (He closes the tomb.)
TERR. Thus you act, you sacrilegious man? You’ll pay the penalty, let’s go. [Exeunt Terr. and Pyrg.]
ON. Oh, oh, oh, oh Furies, oh grinding of teeth and great
Grieving, and the fearful horror of the infernal dungeon.
Oh worms and bones, oh rotten flesh!
Alas, Pluto snatches, and Proserpina snatches.
Now, now I’m being taken away and,
A long farewell, handsome one, “farewell, farewell,” said Iolla.
FRANG. This is a Cardinal’s tomb, as I hear. I’ll loot his clothes and rings. (Opens it.) Let it be a god, let it be a demon, I have no care for the living or the dead. (Onophrius jumps out.)
ON. Allecto! Allecto! [Enter Frangiporta.]
FRANG. This is what violating dead men’s rights gets you. (Flees.)
ON. If you were a man of war, and didn’t waste strength on whores,
It would be written up on doors, “a whore is the way to mors.”
When I’m thinking about whoring, bah, what happens? What monsters I saw there, what Tisiphones! My very speech shudders when I recall those things. This one thing consoles me, that I saved myself this ring, both a poet’s prize and a reward for my work. Pegasus won’t reap anything for himself out of this praise. For he took to his heels and couldn’t bear to look at our enemies. This is wholly mine, whatever it is, and certainly it is not a trifle. It’s all mine, I say. But because its better not to begin than fail to accomplish what you’ve begun with dignity, now that I’ve already met with Fidelis (although I’ve already encountered many hardships in this business), next I’ll deal with Fortunius too.
ACT III, SCENE ix
FORT. Woman. And what worse thing could I say? This one word “woman,” what evil does it not contain?
ON. He’s come opportunely. I’ll greet him in the mystical manner of poets.
I send you a shallot, lacking front and back.
For if you take way the front, S, and the back, T, out of Shallot it becomes Hallo.
FORT. You annoy me with your fooleries, Onophrius.
ON. And so, Fortunius, if you don’t want to say hello to me, then I say good-bye to you. And yet I have something which is in your interest.
FORT. So tell me, what is it?
ON. From the cradle, from your tender young years, my affection for you was great, for you seemed to me a son of Fortune. Now these things are confirmed in your maturity: as the greater is the fruit of your reasons, so is the store of my love the greater. Since, therefore, “a friend is a second self,” and “everything belong to friends is held in common,” and “a certain friend is perceived in uncertain times,”, and “to warn and to mourn belongs to true friendship,” and “it’s human to lament human misfortunes,” when things flow along according to your wish, I’m filled with pleasure, but now I’m tortured with grief when I see you teetering in such a slippery spot. So therefore, Fortunius, it is in my power to snatch you out of the jaws of your enemies, if I were not to do so, I should not seem to be performing my office, that is my duty (for ”office” signifies three things, honor, duty, and function) —
FORT. Why are you killing me thus?
ON. I am aware that you, as the nature of young men is always averse to labor and possesses a proclivity towards pleasure-seeking, stop your ears to the salubrious precepts of those people who are striving to lead you to the zealous pursuit of virtue, and I am aware that you are delighted by the Siren’s sweet birdlike flute —
FORT. What are these nuisances, you evil creature. I can’t stand them any longer.
ON. May the gods damn you, fool, because you broke the thread of my really excellent metaphor.
FORT. Since friends speak with familiar converse, what need is for these colorations and ornamental doodads?
ON. Doodads? Cicero, who ruled on the rostrum and in the Forum, said that figures of speech adorn an oration like stars.
FORT. Can’t you say what you want briefly and lucidly?
ON. No, not at all, it cannot be. For Horace said “when I strive to be brief I become obscure.” speak. Even if you don’t understand what I’m saying, you will recognize I’m your friend. Victoria is employing magical arts, she’s using magic charms.
FORT. What? To kill me?
ON. It is not my part to lie.
FORT. In one word, now I’ve caught your drift. Fidelis has already told me everything.
ON. I didn’t know that. I should have divined this from what’s happened, so as to understand this.
FORT. But you’ve still done me a favor, Onophrius.
ON So doesn’t Virginia deserve rejection?
FORT. I don’t think any woman could be found to match her for impudence. So I’m eager to treat her in the ways she deserves.
ON. I rejoice that you’ve cast her off and that you’re your own man. For he’s not a free man who’s a slave to baseness.
FORT. I keep myself well away from schoolmistresses of this sort of evils, who, slathered with cosmetics and scarred by their curling-irons, zealously act and eagerly strive to seduce naive young men into error.
ON. For Terence says it takes a year while they primp, while they preen. And Seneca the tragedian (for there was also Seneca the Stoic) “Woman is the leader of evils,” and “contriver of crime.” Which swan-like saying was not produced him, but by poetical frenzy, which is the companion of truth, and by whose mediation even we other denizens of Parnassus produce great and memorable things. And in truth, beasts of this kind, smitten by love’s storm, are seized with a greater frenzy than horny bull-calves in summertime. O worst of all animals and irrational, what gallows, what sword, what cliff can honor you according to your criminality?
FORT. You can’t go any farther. I see what I must do, and in the meantime I give you my thanks.
ACT III, SCENE x
MARCELLUS, VICTORIA, ATTILIA
MARC. Hold the thief! Hold the thief!
VICT. What did he steal, Attilia?
ATT. I couldn’t hold on to him, but he had some piece of clothing in his hand.
VICT. How did you find him?
MARC. When I wanted to go into the pantry I ran into him.
VICT. Where was Attilia then?
ATT. I was in my chamber. But let me depart, I don’t want to serve here any more. I’m honest, not what you suspect me to be.
VICT. And who denies it?
ATT. For you think that I let him into your house so that he might steal your goods.
VICT. Go on, silly, get inside.
ATT. I’m going in, but I want you to pay me off. For this is no place for me to linger.
VICT. You, Marcellus, go to the watchmen, and as best you can show them signs by which they can identify and arrest him.
MARC. I’ll go and do it. I know him well enough by his face.
ACT III, SCENE xi
NARC. (Returning.) At length, at length I met with Attilia, she both gave alms and refused to give them. But, by heavens, we were disturbed by the arrival of some rustic, so that I couldn’t give her a final farewell. So I’ll go back.
FID. And where will you return? Are you in your right mind, dressed that way without a hat? You want to go out in public?
NARC. I recently bought myself these clothes, master, to complete a certain piece of business with Attilia. While I was busy with it, somebody or other interrupted me. I immediately fled. And I bought these so nobody would recognize me. But I came here to you to reveal something important.
FID. What news do you have?
NARC. Attilia told me this, that Victoria has entered into a scheme with the boastful soldier Frangipetra by which to kill you. Attilia heard his from Victoria herself. And just now I myself heard Frangipetra bragging about this thing, how with you out of the way he could enjoy your mistress.
FID. It’s nothing strange if she begrudges me my life, since I too am thinking of her death. But I know what kind of man Frangipetra is. You betake yourself home and make the preparations I told you. Meanwhile I’ll assemble some friends of Cornelius, to find out when he’s coming home. But do you hear me, Narcissus? (He speaks in his ear until Cornelius speaks the following lines, then Narcissus exits.).
ACT III, SCENE xii
CORN. Of all the inconveniences that befell me in the countryside this one seemed to be by far the worst, that came from my missing my Victoria, whom I know to be a chaste woman who loves me.
FID.[Aside.] But you’re entirely wrong. [Aloud.] Greetings, Cornelius.
CORN. You too, Fidelis. What’s happening, what’s being done?
FID. As they say, we can’t do what we want when we wish to.
CORN. But why are you so gloomy? Have some new things happened?
FID. Cornelius, it can’t be but that you’ll be very surprised, and hardly believe it, when you hear what I’m about to say. But when you examine the matter carefully, you’ll praise both my loyalty and my kindness, as I don’t want to conceal from you what’s in your interest.
CORN. You’re speaking in riddles, I very much want to understand what you mean.
FID. But this isn’t the place to reveal it. It’s a big business. But if you come to my house, it will be more convenient.
CORN. Let’s go.
ACT III, SCENE xiii
The watchmen promised me they’d be on the lookout for him. I described him by signs, so they can’t be mistaken.
Go to Act IV