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ACT III, SCENE i
I have visited every corner of the city looking for Valerius and Ascanius. Now I'm going home, weary and having wasted my effort. I was at court, where all the Doge's servants poked fun at me. In the market-place young boys laughed, nodded, whistled, and plucked at me. No doubt this was because I'm a bawd, as if this weren't a legal profession. Let them spew forth their hatred, I don't care. This art feeds me, it enriches me. I'll readily bear public ridicule and popular mockery. I know that Talanta and Aurelia are eager for my arrival, so I'm hurrying home. Ow, my leg hurts and my feet are exhausted, I'm afraid I'm a victim of the gout By heavens, all the baths in the world will never relieve it. Oh, chill old age is a burden. Alas, how my heart palpitates! But I must move on, even at a turtle's pace.
ACT III, SCENE ii
AURELIA, TALANTA, BIBERIA
AUR. Talanta, I fear that Biberia's suffering something evil.
TAL. Indeed, a woman in love is troubled by many concerns, I mean restless suspicion and pale fear. I can divine this from my own situation, no need to look elsewhere.
AUR. Sister, I see Biberia, whom we have been awaiting.
BIB. If I didn’t lack a beard, everybody would imagine me to be Vulcan. I limp along like a cripple, my feet refuse to do their job any longer. Heigh ho, this is how the greatest pains are attacking my unhappy self.
TAL. Look at us and tell us immediately, Biberia. Are we here or in the Underworld? Are we blessed or wretched?
BIB. I'm nearly turn asunder for your sakes. By Hercules, I can barely catch my breath. Jupiter damn all the Valeriuses and Ascaniuses!
AUR. I don't like that introduction to her speech.
TAL. Tell us what happened.
BIB. I wasted my effort and my oil.
TAL. What about Valerius?
TAL. What about Ascanius?
BIB. I couldn't find them anywhere. I imagine they have become immortals and are living in heaven.
TAL. They've transferred their love to others, Aurelia. Let them have them, let them have them, solitude awaits us.
BIB. These treacherous ingrates can go hang. Heigh ho, my lungs are bursting. Heigh ho, was I driven this crazy by love for anyone during my girlhood? Promiscuous love befits a girl, it's the most profitable. Cling to it, like ivy to an oak. This is what I did, you do it too. Having been raised and educated in the school of the brothel this is my advice and mandate to you.
AUR. This is love? This is faithfulness? If the gods above have any concern for lovers' desires, they will mete out well-deserved punishments to compensate for our sufferings.
BIB. But who's coming this way? He's a nobleman. You two look alluring, perhaps he'll be a lover.
ACT III, SCENE iii
BIBERIA, GLORIANUS, TALANTA, AURELIA
GLOR. Greetings. Greetings, you paragons of loveliness, you snow-white doves, greetings. I'm here in search of a nobleman, the affable Ludovicus. Is he within?
TAL. Nobody has come to us.
GLOR. By this light of day, I'm very hot. Hey you, bring out a cup of vintage wine and be quick about it.
BIB. It will be done. (Exit.)
GLOR. We had such a supply of dainty nibbles at court that now my stomach is burning. My dear little soul, my darling, I want a few words with you.
AUR. Imagine they have already been said.
GLOR. No reason to expect seductive words from me. I'm a nobleman. But I'll forget this and I'll forget that, I'm not boasting of my pedigree. It's enough to say I've recently been created a knight. By this hand of mine I love you, Aurelia.
AUR. You're quite the spendthrift to shower your love on a stranger.
GLOR. By this feather, by these golden bracelets given me by Madonna Flaminia, Aurelia, I love you.
AUR. Your love is perhaps like that feather, or even lighter.
GLOR. How cleverly the girls of the court reply to me when I utter entreaties in this way!
BIB (Reentering.) Here you are, have a drink if you wish.
GLOR. You've obliged me. I drink your health, Aurelia.
TAL. It'll be a surprise if this windbag doesn't fall in love with Aurelia, Biberia.
BIB. May Venus grant her that happiness!
ACT III, SCENE iv
LUDOVICUS, GLORIANUS, BIBERIA, AURELIA, TALANTA
LUD. Ah, how many very pretty girls I saw at the theater, at whose sight I grew quite randy! By Hercules, Lucia (who is reported to be Celestinus' mistress) is a tasty and succulent little girl. She has the smell of ambrosia and the cinnamon of Araby!
GLOR. Well met, signor Ludovicus. Here, have a happy beaker of mulled wine.
LUD. Why drink it mulled? (Gesturing at Talanta.) If my limbs are ice-0cold, here's my fire, I'll embrace her. Good health, my lovely Talanta? How are you faring, how are you faring?
TAL. As I usually fare. I never fare less well than when I am faring well.
LUD. If you are ever indisposed, you may fetch me as your physician. I'll heal you with kisses, the sole remedy for diseases, particularly for girls, my little darling, my dear little heart.
GLOR. Come here, Aurelia. I want to say a few things in your ear.
LUD. Whoever sees the love in your dear little eyes and doesn’t adore you, tastes the love on your lips and doesn’t adore you, who hears the love on your tongue and does not love you, is a blockhead.
BIB. Oh, the elegant old gentlemen! What an elegant connoisseur of beauty he must have been in his youth, he who now in his white-haired years knows how to flatter a girl and softly caress her.
TAL. Chaste speech befits an elderly gentleman, not wanton words. Let me go, the sight of you annoys me, and your stinking kisses are infecting me.
LUD. That is only the aroma of tobacco. Let me take a sip of wine. Isn’t my breath sweet now, Talanta? Allow me to kiss you.
BIB. Hey, Talanta, by heaven you are doing amiss in turning your back on profit. What does it matter whether he is young or old, smooth-cheeked or bearded, sweet-smelling or stinking, as long as he wants to be a source of income? By heaven, I’d prefer to be the darling of an old coot than a young man’s wife. An abundance of love becomes tedious to the youth, whereas old men are always crazed with lust. You are a goose, you don’t know the ABC’s of the whoring art.
GLOR. Why cast that odious word “virginity” in my teeth? Away, away with that silliness, Aurelia. By this sword with its shining gold pommel, I love you. If you love me, my darling, silver will change hands.
AUR. Find yourself a girl who’s for sale. Nature makes me a free woman, even if misfortune makes me a slave.
GLOR. Give me your hand to kiss, my queen. Impose any burden on me, I’ll be industrious in performing it. Do you want me to chop up your enemies into bits? Here’s my naked blade, always at your service, and henceforth my name will be Aurelia’s Athlete.
AUR. This is the way in which courtiers adore girls, by which they ruin our poor selves’ reputations.
LUD. I swear by your godhead, my Venus on earth, I am not being deceptive. Venus help me, with what intoxication I am falling in love! You must catch me as I fall. Just grant me a single night, that’s nothing. Do you consent?
TAL. Love is urgently inspiring you, but a sense of shame would be more suitable.
LUD. That’s a small and pardonable offense. Why deny me? Why refuse me? It’s nothing, it’s nothing. Gold will change hands, indeed drinkable gold, the single remedy for lost virginity.
TAL. A chaste woman has no need for medications of that kind.
GLOR. I can’t tolerate this melancholy humor, Aurelia. Let’s laugh and dance, this is what the girls at court do.
AUR. Our misfortune forbids us. For those who are slaves to procurers are unhappy. Indeed, they are far unhappier than those who serve Dis. Among us here a brothel is far more hateful than the Acheron, and Cerberinus is worse than Cerberus.
GLOR. No, I compare a whorehouse to the Elysian Fields, Here we have sports, laughs, and the most elegant of kisses. Here we find the music of the Muses and all manner of Venus’ delights.
BIB. Well said, Glorianus. I applaud you, you’re a man, you’re a man.
TAL. Let’s leave and go indoors, sister. We’ve been speaking for too long a time.
GLOR. This will never separate me from you. I shall follow my honey.
LUD. And I shall follow Talanta through fire, through steel.
ACTUS III, SCENA v
TRAPULA, CERBERINUS, ELENCHIO
ELEN. I love and esteem you because of your treachery, Trapula.
TRAP. The man who devotes his attention to trickery needs to be self-confident and treacherous. Indeed, if you had any idea how many fictions I have created since my early boyhood, you’d praise me more.
ELEN. But you understand this sufficiently?
TRAP. Can’t you be still? He who gives admonition to a well-admonished man makes him unmindful of what he has in mind.
ELEN. Oh my sweet Trapula, my very sweet rascal, you’re a Damon to me, and I a Pythias to you. (Enter Cerberinus, speaking.)
CERB. Indeed, today has dawned as a blessed day for me, since I can entice these guests to my establishment. O Zeus, how much money I’ll extract from them! Upon my life, I’ll handle them well. Let them eat, let them drink, let them love. As long as they count out money into my hand, that suffices. But Talanta and Aurelia are too stubborn. The one shrieks when Glorianus kisses her, and the other fends of Ludovicus. But I’ll make you more tame, you little chatterboxes.
ELEN. Hey Trapula, I see the procurer walking about in front of his house. Now you have the time and the opportunity to confront him.
ELEN. I’ll be here in hiding.
TRAP. I’ll pretend I don’t recognize him.
ELEN. By heaven, I’ve got my hands on a witty liar and a sneaky swindler.
TRAP. As my eyes inform me, here dwells the procurer to whom the painter bade me bring Lavinia’s portrait.
CERB. Who’s this who’s headed straight for my establishment?
TRAP. I’ll knock on his door.
CERB. Here you behold a horrendous ugly monster, with the head of a fox, the fingers of a kite, the tongue of a leech, the beard of a goat, the snout of a dog, and a mouth straight from the Acheron.
ELEN. This man is a son of the Sphinx, he speaks in riddles. How lifelike his representation of the evil morals of procurers!
TRAP. He means me, for this is the pure unadulterated image of myself. What’s the monster’s name?
CERB. They call me Cerberinus, the son of three-headed Cerberus.
ELEN. How well he remembers the procurer’s name!
CERB. I am the man you seek.
TRAP. You’re Cerberinus?
CERB. I’m he, truly I am.
TRAP. Make sure we’re not being overheard. My instructions are to carry out this business with secrecy. Give me your thieving hand, procurer.
CERB. Here, I’ll give you both, if only you are bringing me some good.
TRAP. Rejoice, procurer,
CERB. Why should I rejoice.
TRAP. Because I tell you to. Come, just join me in rejoicing.
ELEN. How strategically this whipping-post is managing himself!
CERB. I am rejoicing, although I don’t understand why I should.
TRAP. Continue doing so, until you burst your sides. For I’m going to make you blessed.
CERB. See, I’m laughing, as per instructions.
TRAP. Now you are making me happy. Do you see this picture? Come, kneel down and worship it. It is going to be your light, your salvation, your joy, a mountain of gold, a universal horn of plenty.
CERB. Although it is unbecoming to me, I’ll do as you say. (Kneels.)
ELEN. What is not achieved by hope of gain and hunger for gold?
TRAP. Now since you’re being obedient to me, listen and I’ll speak to you. Are you familiar with Lavinia?
CERB. I don’t know anyone of that name.
TRAP. (Pointing at the picture.) She is as like to this portrait as milk is to milk.
CERB. Then she should be handsome and elegant.
TRAP. Oh boy, she surpasses Venus to the same extent that Venus does Proserpina.
CERB. Is she married or a maiden?
TRAP. She’s married — and this is the source of her tears — to a jealous husband who keeps her under close supervision and with harshness. So she’s made up her mind to devote herself to sport and furtive amours.
CERB. She’s taking the right course to gain revenge on her husband. I praise her, would that other women would do the same thing! Then the art of procuring would be one of the Liberal Arts and horned Actaeons would abound everywhere.
TRAP. For the sake of this things she first sends you great greetings. Then she entrusts herself and her life to your good faith.
CERB. If my art can accomplish anything, I won’t fail you. For these are the things that feed my family.
TRAP. So please take this portrait. If anyone should choose her for pleasure’s sake, she’ll be ready at hand. For I myself will escort her here. But hear me, she’s for sale. If anyone asks her price in advance, you must demand ten piece of gold, of which half will be yours.
CERB. A word to the wise is sufficient, I understand. But where on earth shall I find you if I require your assistance?
TRAP. In the cathedral, in the right-hand aisle. That’s where all the unfed are walking around.
CERB. Just be careful not to get me into trouble with the law.
TRAP. You also need to take care not to be disloyal to me, and keep this hidden from her husband.
CERB. This is also greatly to my advantage, no need to warn me. What’s your name?
CERB. Let’s shake hands, Trapula. Farewell, I’ll take this picture with me into my chamber. (Exit.)
ELEN. Well done, Trapula, you managed this business royally. Now if the sequel turns out well, I’ll drive Cassander to extreme distraction. You go away and await me in the wine-shop. For I have devised a second scheme, f Trapula, for which I also have need of your help. But tell me, can you swear?
TRAP. Yes, and forswear.
ELEN. So you’re even more suitable for this business, Trapula. You may leave.
TRAP. Meanwhile I’ll soak myself with wine. (Exit.)
ELEN. Now I’d be willing to be a slave forever, on condition that I could be an obstacle to Cassander. Bah. A parasite is worthless who does not have a wise heart and a breast teeming with tricks. Let those individual Gnathos go hang who are merely slaves to Bacchus and Ceres, and likewise all those Parmenos who fear the rod and the gallows. By this deed I’ll make myself immortal. My snares are well set, now I await my prey. But I’ll lower my voice, I see the hoped-for Cassander.
ACT III, SCENA vi
CASSANDER, RUPERTUS, ELENCHIO
CASS. Where are my debilitating cares and great griefs taking me? I stride hither and thither, headed for the black pools of Dis. I was once gladdened by the sight of this house, which I now curse and shudder at it for being unlucky. You made it hateful in my sight, Lavinia. Oh, how tired I am of life, I am so torn asunder by suspicion and killed by my agonies! Oh how happy I would be if the gods granted me to be set in death’s peaceful bosom, or that the still waters of Lethe would receive me, so that the memory of this business would utterly disappear!
ELEN. Now I understand the whole affair thanks to the look on his face.
RUP. I beg you not to torture yourself so, master, if she is guilty of adultery.
CASS. If she is guilty, Rupertus? It’s assured.
ELEN. I’ll go to meet him. (Crosses over.) May the gods preserve you, Cassander.
CASS. Hello. Good-bye.
ELEN. If I can be of service to you in any way, command me. I have always greatly loved you.
ELEN. Why, pray, are you so sad?
CASS. This man’s killing me with his chatter.
ELEN. You how how I have always esteemed you above others, and I am pained by that rumor which is flying about the city. Oh well. All men are crazy who marry a wife and bring her into their household. But what do I have to do with strangers? I see my love for you is held in contempt. Good–bye.
CASS. Wait, I pray you. Tell me what news you bring, Elenchio.
ELEN. Pure nothings and old wives’ tales. I am a worthless man, a man of the lowest rank. Good-bye.
CASS. Give me release, I pray you. For too long a time I’ve been on tenterhooks.
ELEN. (Aside.) He’s caught, he’s swallowing the hook. I’ll go on having fun with him. ( Aloud.) Good-bye.
CASS. Be honest and tell me whatever the rumor might be, Elenchio.
ELEN. That monster of a woman —
CASS. I wonder what it may be. Pray indulge me. What it is it. Doubts torment me, brief words give relief to a doubting man. Speak up.
ELEN. Lavinia, as they say —
CASS. Is in love with Valerius and Ascanius. This man is an oracle, a real oracle.
ELEN. No, something worse. But my tongue shrinks from telling of it, and my mind shudders. So don’t ask. It’s a great misfortune.
CASS. What? What things? By Hercules, I beg you tell me immediately.
ELEN. For heaven’s sake, I’m afraid lest you be angry me for being the one to announce such a great evil. Your wife —
CASS. What about her?
ELEN. Like a second Semiramis, she’s rushing headlong into public wantonness, prostituting herself to your next-door neighbor the procurer. Thus men say, thus they are exclaiming everywhere.
CASS. I readily believe you. The monstrous bitch, that woman acting like a dog! If this is true, I shall assume the hardness of the crags of the Caucasus, I shall stop my ears to complaints, I shall close my mind forever to piety and love.
ELEN. Until now I’ve always thought her to be very modest. Perhaps the rumor is lying and the news is false. So, if you’ll listen to me, you should immediately put her to the test.
CASS. Good advice, witty and faithful Elenchio.
ELEN. This filthy procurer has recently moved here to Venice. He does not know you, so let’s call him outside. You can pretend to be a stranger in search of lodgings, either a Frenchman or a Spaniard.
CASS. I speak French.
ELEN. That’s good. And I shall play the role of an interpreter. The rest will be up to me. Knock Tic toc.
ACT III, SCENE vij
CASSANDER, ELENCHIO, RUPERTUS, CERBERINUS
CERB. Who’s knocking at my door?
ELEN. Hey Cerberinus, there some people here who want lodging.
ELEN. And yet I say hello to you against my better judgment. In truth, I’m not always well-disposed towards procurers.
CERB. If you are bringing me some profit, I’m grateful.
ELEN. I’m bringing you this fellow you see for the fleecing. He’s a foreigner, unfamiliar with tis town. He wants the free run of your establishment. For he desires to drink, to love, and you understand the rest. Let a bed be set for him, and a lavish banquet prepared. You can haggle about the price afterwards. He has a golden fleece, so you’ll capture an ample prey. I’ve brought this dove to your field, you our job is to catch if, if you want to have it captured.
CERB. I’ll address him in a friendly manner. As a host, I great my guest. I rejoice that you’ve come to Venice safe and sound.
CASS. Je vous remerci.
CERB. He’s speaking French, Elenchio. I don’t understand him.
ELEN. He’s thanking you for your good will.
CERB. He tells me you’re looking for lodging.
CASS. Oui, oui, vraiment, monsieur.
ELEN. He says he has cash in hand, to which he will make you heir, as long as he can acquire a pretty little girl in your establishment.
CERB. Come here, my guest, and inspect my wares. Here there is a fair display of the fairest girls. Here you have a theater of loveliness, handmaids of Venus. If you like any of them, count out your money into my hand, and you’ll pleasure your life to your heart’s desire. (Shows him Lavinia’s portrait.) This one is the best of the lot at any price. See how rosy her lips are, where you may take your kisses, see how her breasts swell, how white her neck is, how her eyes flash, how golden is her hair. But all these things I’ve mentioned are like mercenary soldiers, they require payment.
CASS. Comment est appelle?
ELEN. He’s asking her name.
CERB. She’s called Lavinia.
ELEN. Est appelle Lavinia.
CERB. Mais est ellse dedans?
ELEN. Is she within?
CERB. By no means. But if we should come to an agreement, I’ll ensure that she’s available to you in all respects.
ELEN. Elle est ne point dedans, mais elle fera a votre gentile commandement.
CASS. (Aside.) Woe’s me, now I have a genuine reason for genuine grief. Can I endure? Can I ever tolerate this? Oh that monster of a woman! I call on the goddesses of Erebus and all of Erebus, if prayers can sway the gods, let Erebus punish her crimes, so that she pay penalties equal to this misdeed.
CERB. If you desire her, five minae note will suffice for a single night. But if she strikes you as too expensive, see how you have the choice of others at lesser cost.
CASS. [The manuscript French seems garbled.]
CERB. What’s he saying, Elenchio?
ELEN. He says he has some business in the market-place, and will come back this evening. So you must take care that his bedchamber is clean, he bed made, and a lavish dinner is set. You two can argue about the price afterwards.
CERB. Done. I’ll await his return. Take notice of the sign. (Exit.)
CASS. Adieu, adieu, jusq’ à temps. (Exit Cerberinus.)
ELEN. He’s gone. Doesn’t this spectacle torment you? By the gods’ faith, what is this unheard-of infamy? For your wife to become a whore, the merchandise of a procurer! How can you stand this insult of your wife?
CASS. For her I pray the urn of the Danaides, the stone of Sisyphus, the wheel of Ixion, the pool of Tantalus, the bird of Tityus, and any yet worse evil I can imagine. What have I said? Better, ah Lavinia deserves better. If possible, let her live as my Lavinia. If not, should she continue to live, so that Valerius and Ascanius might have the enjoyment of her? So that a procurer can let her out for hire? So as to disgrace myself, our family, and our bedchamber? She should die. She is not mine, nor should she live as if she were mine. Until now, Elenchio, I have always loved her desperately, she has been far dearer to me than Juno to Jove, and likewise I have believed she loved me in turn, being a fool, a naive man, deceived by the love-philters of the Sirens You can bear witness, Rupertus. Oh, oh, if could ever have seen how tightly this fraudulent whore has embraced me, heaping kisses upon kisses! Oh, oh, Circe, you witch Circe, you sweet-talker! Great sorrow holds its silence while light sorrow speaks. Well, well.
ELEN. But you do ill to torment your mind in this way. Don’t take it hard, master I beg you. You have suffered worse.
CASS. Ha, ha, he. I’m determined to laugh at ill fortune and trample on sorrow. Patience befits wisdom. There are tortures in the Underworld, there are Furies. My wishes hand you over them for the punishment, Lavinia.
ELEN. If you weren’t dearer to me than these eyes of mine, Cassander, by heavens I would have kept these things concealed from you.
CASS. I thank you, most loyal Elenchio, and I confess I am forever obliged to you.
ELEN. (Aside.) Now, Cassander, Valerius is well avenged. I triumph This deed will raise me up to heaven.
CASS. Oh the harsh fate of my wife! Come all you, as many as are intent on bringing a wife into your household, and listen to Cassander, to the things I say for your instruction, being knowledgable and well–tried. If you are wise you will detest the entire sex of women. Woman is a Siren: she entices, she enchants. Be on your guard, you young fellows. Woman is a hyena: she captures, she crunches. Shun her, you young fellows. Woman is a crocodile, she mourns, she mangles. Dread her you young men. If you pay them heed they will macerate you with misfortune. So lead a celibate life and you’ll be secure. Or, if you marry any wives at all, marry unhandsome ones, wives in whose faces appear neither comeliness nor any grace, unlovely, sordid, squalid, whose hairs are of diverse color, who have furrowed brows, crossed eyes, wrinkled and pallid cheeks, slack lips, worm-eaten noses, pendulous dugs, fat bodies, and the feet of a Vulcan. For those who enter into marriage with well-kempt ones, who spend a year in curling their hair, never quitting their mirrors, who manage their complexion with all manner of gypsum smears, who strut around in padded gowns, reeking of exotic unguents, who display jutting breasts and are resplendent with the gems of the Indies, such men will become Actaeons. Trust me, they will be transformed into beasts. Ah, ah, Lavinia, Lavinia, Cassander becomes wise far too late. Exit.
ACT III, SCENE viii
This business is done, now I’m undertaking something else. Come, Elenchio, now devise new schemes in order to throw everything into chaos. I don’t like that idea. Bah, you leaden brain! I must give it further deliberation. I have it. I congratulate you, Mercury, for having whispered this device into my ears. Cassander is ruined, Curio is banished. Now you go along as high as the stars, Elenchio. And behold Ferdinand and Adrianus, just as I anticipated, whom I’ll manipulate wittily, as I live. I want to overhear their doings.
ACT III, SCENE ix
FERDINANDUS, ADRIANUS, ELENCHIO
FERD. Why so sad, Adrianus. Am I permitted to know?
ADR. You ask why I’m sad? Does this elude you, when all Venice is rife with rumor. What a crime my son Ascanius has committed!
FERD. Pray tell what that is.
ADR. He’s quite corrupted. He loves an abandoned whore here in the establishment of the procurer.
FERD. That’s no reason for upbraiding your son. For, by Hercules, its the peccadillo of youth to chase after whores. They say my son Valerius does the same. He is head-over-heels in love with her sister, and devotes his mind to her. As far as I am concerned, he may. I did the same thing in my salad days, and I would be doing the same today if I hadn’t cooled off with old age. Would that I were still fit for the girls! Venus love me, this is the path I’d take.
ELEN. Oh, the elegant old fellow, he’s worth any price you care to name!
ADR. These words are unbecoming to you and to your virtues. Are you, a hoary old goat, made a champion of wantonness?
ELEN. Indeed this Ferdinandus is a witty old boy, reared in the nursery of venery. But Adrianus here has a stiffnecked and wrathy character, he doesn’t contain within himself a single grain of elegance or liberal nature.
FERD. Now you’re all riled up. I don’t want to go on debating, Adrianus, let’s deal with other maters. We’ve argued this one sufficiently. What day is has been appointed for hearing the suits between ourselves and Cassander?
ADR. Have you forgotten? On the first of January.
FERD. Who will sit as judge? Who will be our advocates?
ADR. This is still uncertain. I am of the opinion that we should consult lawyer Lucrio about this point.
FERD. Would that we could do away with these actions and suits between each other! I desire to reconcile with him, since he’s freeborn and very much a nobleman.
ADR. I’ll never yield my rights. You can do as you please.
FERD. But you know I am a mild-mannered and peaceful man. I love peace, I always hate litigation with all my heart. If I had the chose, I would prefer not to be troubled at my age.
ELEN. When I hear this, a new device suddenly comes to mind. So I’ll forget the one I had previously begun to put into practise.
ADR. Try as you may, Ferdinandus, nonetheless you’ll never persuade me to reconcile with Cassander. Now I know that farm is mine. Tritinus bought it, Adolphus sold it. Let the law take its course, let it take its course.
FERD. Rather, you should think of that which is useful and advantageous. For Cassander is a patrician.
ADR. Don’t try to hold me back, my mind’s made up. Let the law take its course, let it take its course, even if he’s nobly born and bred, I don’t value him at a groat. I am claiming my patrimony. Let the law take its course.
ELEN. I’ll approach these gentlemen.
ADR. Who’s speaking nearby? I believe this is Elenchio, who corrupts my son.
ELEN. I’ll go up to them.
ADR. What’s happening, good sir? Where is my Ascanius? In a brothel or a wine-shop? You have corrupted my son, you sacrilegious man.
FERD. You’re too headstrong, Andrianus. Do away with this truculence.
ELEN. He accused me! Well then, I’m an evil man, I’ll not say a word. As far as I am concerned, you can go to ruin. But if you knew what’is threatening you — But you ignore your friends and don’t express your gratitude.
FERD. Pray what is it, Elenchio?
ELEN. Now I’ll keep quiet about everything. But henceforth I hope he learns how to speak politely. I’m the sacrilegious corruptor of Ascanius? Can I tolerate this insult? Oh well.
FERD. Don’t be angry, Elenchio. You know how grouchy he is.
ELEN. You are peaceful and mild-mannered, I admit. So I shall oblige you, Ferdinand. You’re ruined.
FERD. How so?
ELEN. You’ll hear — by poison. Cassander has hired a physician to bring this about. It’s arranged. What need for further words?
ADR. What is the man saying? Is Cassander driven by such great malice that he’s striving to do away with us by poison?
ELEN. Nothing more assured.
FERD. I can scarce believe it. But if he has any such outrage in mind, he’s acting amiss.
ADR. Ah, you’re way too friendly. Now we must have heat in our minds. Oh heaven, oh earth, oh Neptune’s seas! Elenchio, let’s hear the entire story from its beginning.
ELEN. As you know full well, for a long time these very pernicious quarrels have alienated your families from each other with very bitter lawsuits and highly heated mutual hatred. Hence it comes about, I suppose, that he is contriving such an impious scheme so that his glory will shine among the Venetians at the expense of your downfall, and become more resplendent.
FERD. But how do you know this? Beware lest you prattle about the dead. For this is a great and capital offense, Elenchio.
ELEN. I’ll tell you. Lately I was in a wine-shop when I caught sight of a physician who was an acquaintance of mine when I lived at Ferrara, theysay he is a Paracelsus. He offered me his hand. I congratulated him on his arrival. He invited me to a tavern. We went, we drank. There our Doctor of Medicine, sodden with Massic wine, spewed it all forth, for in vino veritas. He showed me a thousand gold Philips which Cassander had given him to prepare caskets full of exotic poisons destined for this project: antimony, toxic aconite, scorpion blood, hemlock, opium, vipers’ gall, and the juice of spiders.
ADR. Jupiter damn him and all his medications!
FERD. Pray be still, Adrianus, you delay his discourse.
ELEN. Then he asked me whether I knew you, and generously promised me gold if I would consernt to be his assistant. I agreed, upon my oath. A day was appointed. He, happy at the good auspices of this enterprise, departed the tavern to make the rest of the arrangments for yourselves. But I hastily hastened to reveal this to you. For I refuse to hold my tongue about such a dastardly crime.
ADR. So a conspiracy for our murder has been formed? Previously I have suspected you of being the corruptor of my son. Now, by heavens, I adore you for the sake of this good deed.
ELEN. But I would beg you that you say you heard of this as if in a mist, so that the physician might not accuse me of treachery.
FERD. Good advice. What do you think we should do, Adrianus?
ADR. I’m of the opinion we should immediately rip that poisoner to pieces. So now, Elenchio, guide us to his lodging-house, while my mind is a-boil.
ELEN. Don’t do that! It is better to approach the man peacefully. Give him a very ample reward, and have no doubt he’ll reveal everything I am aware, of course, he’ll deny it for a little while. But there’s no man who isn’t caught by a golden snare.
FERD. He speaks pearls of wisdom.
ELEN. But, pray, no mention of me.
ADR. It will be so. You will be our guide until we approach the lodging-place. If all goes to our liking, we’ll go to the senate demanding permission to bind over Cassander.
FERD. Let’s go. We’ll consider the matter more carefully along the way. Exeunt.
Go to Act IV