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ACT II, SCENE i
LONGINUS, A MUSICIAN
Longinus tries to use music to ease his chagrin over Pelagius’ opposing vote, which stays deep within him, and in a dream he sees the outcome of his destiny.
The scene changes to reveal Longinus’ house, hung with black. Dressed in mourning, Longinus sits on a black chair. A similarly-clad musician sits beside him on a black stool.
LONG. Well then, I’m in black, the color of my gown matches that of my mind. Why are you just making noise? Why are you slow to use your quill?
MUS. Wait until I’m through tuning my strings.
LONG. Is that why you’re taking your time? Play, I hate that fiddle of yours. That which I require can better be played on an fiddle lacking any fidelity.
MUS. Does your mind crave a happy tune or a sad one?
LONG. Go ahead, guess. (The musician plays. Longinus, offended by the happy tune, puts his hand on the instrument.) Stop. Do you want this instrument to make a sound as it knocks out your brains?
MUS. What manner of playing to you want?
LONG. Are you able with that voice and quill of yours to evoke within my innter being the eternal chill of stones, the iciness of the inhospitable Caucasus, and its crags? Can you fetch raging tigers and a pride of dire lions? Can you conjure up the baleful throng of the shadowy Lake and the Stygian Sisters, that fearful crew, so that I might be their commander and lead them against unfriendly countenances? Father Orpheus is said to have once done such things
MUS. If you were to give me the lyre and quill of Orpheus, my prince, I could do all you ask.
LONG. Neatly said, by heaven. Continue.
MUS. What tune should I play?
LONG. Make another guess. (The musician once more sings cheerful things.) Watch out who you mock, bard. Isn’t my mood revealed by these outward signs? Use your quill to make sounds darker than this costume. (The musician sings sad things. Meanwhile Longinus accompanies him with signs of a downcast mind in his facial expression and bodily gestures.) Come, strike up a song, an accursed, wild song wailing with an ill-omened sound. (Longinus reads aloud these verses from his notebook.):
The brilliance of the stars sheds their wholesome light on the world, but if a comet prevails, dragging its menacing tail of blood-red fire, alas, how much evil it betokened for the earth!
While Longinus sleeps, blindfolded Fortune enters. In her left hand she carries a blue wheel, sprinkled with gold spangles.To the wheel's circumference is stuck on one side a golden crown, on the other a silver axe. The wheel's handle had been attached to a golden staff, but in such a way that it could easily be turned with the help of another [or: the other] golden rod, to which the same handle was fastened. And so Fortuna, holding her wheel on high by the staff, beats her foot modestly, and now and then with her right hand turns the wheel. She is interrupted by a splendidly-dressed young man not unlike Longinus, who gains Fortune’s good graces by his dancing. Then she turns the wheel and lowers the crown, but when the young man springs forward to grab at it, Fortune gives the wheel a swift whirl. Meanwhile another young man comes onstage, resembling Anastasia in his dress and carriage. When he confronts the other youth while dancing, he pays him the courtesy of a bow. Soon he takes the opportunity of tripping him up from behind as he hovers over the crown. When he has been thrown to the ground, at Fortune’s invitation the happy second young man triumphantly gains possession of the crown.
ACTS II, SCENE ii
Contrary to their expectations, Anastasius (whom for metrical convenience I call Anastus in the Latin)‚ learns the plans of Zeno and grows hopeful of gaining the throne.
Enter Anastasius, holding a pious pamphlet in his hands, as if were reading it. When he catches sight of Longinus and of his notebook, fallen to the ground, he puts away his book and stealthily picks up Longinus’ notes.
AN. The fox can safely make its entrance when the lion’s asleep. Drop the book, you’ve prayed enough. Another book remains for an anxious reading. (He opens it and scans it a while, with a look of amazement.) Whew, what monstrosity! My hand freezes at its touch, my mind shudders. Did Pluto scribble these notes? Or Megaera, who feeds on human guts? Whichever of you hears their contents would swear these were sent up from the realm of Dis. (He reads from Longinus’ notes.) THE MAGE EUPHEMIUS’ PREDICTION OF ZENO’S DOWNFALL. “HAVING BEEN BURIED BEFORE HIS DEATH, HE’LL BREATHE OUT HIS LIFE IN HIS GRAVE.” A cruel ending, I admit. Yet it scarcely matches his horrific crimes. (He reads.) A THUMBNAIL DESCRIPTION OF THE ROYAL ASSASSIN. “A SON OF THE COURT, WITH HIS FACE HE FEIGNS LOYALTY, WITH IS WORDS SPEAKING RIGHT AND EQUITY, WHILE IN HIS HEART HE SCHEMES EVIL.” Thus heaven might describe myself as the man responsible for his death, I might brood about great glory. (He reads.) THE SUSPECTS WHO ARE IMMEDIATELY TO BE PUT TO DEATH, EUPHEMIANUS THE MAGE HAVING LED THE WAY. LET THE ORATOR GAZAEUS FOLLOW, AND THE MILITARY PREFECT HARMATIUS, PELAGIUS THE PATRICIAN, AND THEIR SUPPORTERS A great monstrosity! How long will blood continue to flow? SEBASTIANUS AND URBITIUS ARE TO BE COOPTED ONTO THE COUNCIL. Those two personages of Hell! A pair worthy of the Styx! (He reads.) WHAT ABOUT ANASTASIUS? HE IS A SIMPLE-MINDED, UPRIGHT FELLOW. NEITHER TRUST NOR FEAR HIM. (He replaces the notebook at the feet of the sleeping Longinus.)
Good, I understand. Let the notes remain in place. This is indeed the thing I have been hoping for. At length a field lies open for my deceitful nature. I’m not feared? Now feigned piety is to my liking. I can mount the complete staircase to the scepter in security. My destiny, my intention, and the opportunity invite me. The Augusti vie with each other in every manner of evildoing, they pile up hatreds upon hatreds, crimes on crimes, frenzies upon frenzies. With their brutal murder they slaughter noblemen outstanding for the toga of peacetime and in war. Hence our affairs are in confusion. Hence their is a vast upheaval in our troubled realm. Soldiers will rush to the sword, and the common folk to their prayers. Meanwhile, safe thanks to my wiles, I shall fish for the scepter in these troubled waters. I can mount aloft in security. O what a good thing is pretended virtue! Often a rank of honor lies open for a liar, while true piety is banished far away. My guile supports me. My face is a theater, and its expression plays the actor’s role. I am ambitious, but my unkempt hair conceals my high fever. I hate, but the obliging service of my countenance hides my anger. I smile, but my smiling nurses enduring dislike. I dare, but my bosom hides my bold sword. (He draws back his cloak to reveal his black costume and the sword concealed beneath it.)
I conquer, but no man witnesses my victorious standards. Inwardly I am worse than Nero, but outwardly I’m a Cato. Piety shines on my face, a sense of shame in my eyes, gravity in my voice, candor in my words, and moderation in all my carriage. Within my black heart lurk plague, fraud, malice, wrath, disdain, invisible crime, and the Styx, Orcus, the Furies, and greedy Chaos. I shall employ these hidden servants while on my face the mime Deceit continues to act its role. Go now, bloody Caesar, and note down with your pencil “a simple-minded, upright fellow, neither trust nor fear him.“ Anastasius simple-minded? Two-faced Ulysses was never more savage. I swear by the stars, that three-headed hound inflicts less terror on the regions of pale Acheron with its horrible barking than I shall make you shudder as I shake your government. Why speak of that three-headed monster? Once upon a time a hundred-handed Giant hurled his fires heavenward more sluggishly than I shall rage my way through the household of the Augustus with my wrath, my fraud, my Furies’ torch. “Simple-minded and upright?” I am resolved, I’ve found the way. Continue in your savagery, brothers. Give noblemen over to the death, despoil the realm of its leading men, pull down everything. Meanwhile, “simple-minded and upright“ amidst those flames of a burning world — (At this point Gazaeus enters. Anastasius immediately composes his face into an expression of piety.) I am under observation. This situation requires my old wiles.
ACT II, SCENE iii
ANASTASIUS, CHORUS OF BOYS, GAZAEUS, LONGINUS
While, at Anastasius’ behest, Gazaeus pleads the orphans’ case before Longinus, he is killed by poison.
AN. Your arrival is welcome, Gazaeus.
GAZ. Doubtfully, I make my glum way here. Oh, the bitter fortune! Of what should I first make my sad complaint? For our sick state, the common welfare is failing.
AN. Limbs usually fail when the head has gone awry.
GAZ. Nothing is forever safe. Houses which have flourished down through the years with their fair pedigrees are collapsing far and wide. This orphaned collection of boys will lament their fathers, done in by Caesar’s sword.
AN. God, how long do You hesitate and withhold Your just punishments/?
GAZ. Postpone your prayers a while and tell me in a few words, is it permissible to address Longinus? I shall present him with evidence of unjust murder.
AN. Oh, the fair liberty of a lofty mind! You will?
GAZ. I’ll present the evidence to anyone who is willing the facts of the matter.
AN. Oh, continue, you’ll prevail. From this he’ll be forced to have a look at himself. And see, he’s sitting alone in an empty room. Approach the throne. The outcome of this situation is guaranteed. (To the audience.) The outcome that the wolf guarantees to the lamb.
CHOR. Have mercy, prince.
CHOR. Have mercy, prince. (Longinus is awakened by the sudden shouting, and, terrified by the sad costumes and black hoods of these mourning boys, he imagines them to be ghosts.)
LONG. Monstrosities of Tartarus’ lake! Has the world gaped open? Are the gates of Hell unlocked? What does this dark chorus of shades demand? Are you attacking me? The Fates of Orcus have come too early. Pelagius has not yet fallen, killed by my vengeful hand. So return to your home of eternal night, you Furies. You remain? The horrible madness! (He launches himself at the boys, but is frightened off by their sad call.)
CHOR. Have mercy, prince.
LONG. So, Cerberus’ pups are whining. Go away, you monsters.
GAZ. No need for monsters, Longinus Caesar. You behold this crew of harmless children, fatherless, and needy.
CHOR. Have mercy, prince.
LONG. Stifle that bestial sound. Why are these boys so filthy?
GAZ. Their fathers are dead.
LONG. Killed by the sword?
GAZ. By the rope, by doctored wine — no one means destroyed them all.
LONG. Who stands convicted of this crime?
GAZ. A man protected by the proud brilliance of his lot and his station in life.
LONG. Even if he stands protected by Jove’s own shield, he shall pay a requital to match their ruin.
GAZ. Forgive me, prince, but you are condemned out of your own mouth, being convicted of bloody murder.
LONG. Me guilty of murder, you demented sophist? A filthy lie! I swear by all the gods, this scheme will rebound on its inventor. Help me, soldiers, bind his criminal hands.
CHOR. Have mercy, prince.
LONG. Fly away swiftly, you bastard brood, you spawn of vipers. Depart, monsters. (He kicks at them.)
CHOR. God, avenge this insult.
GAZ. Longinus, moderate your raging mind, put a bridle on your resentment, and, while God still offers you a means of retreat, turn your steps in a better direction. Why rush into the Pit, weighed down by a burden of crimes, irretrievable? Life and death are separated only by a hairsbreadth. If Clotho is hasty in cutting your life’s thread, the collapse of your mind will be permanent. Never has anyone long been both criminal and happy. The spilled blood of these innocents cries out, the condition of these orphans cries out. The widowed wives of these men, their wrecked homesteads cry out, summoning the thunderbolt of the Avenger on high. See how many things you have to fear, if you are not careful.
LONG. (With sarcasm.) I acknowledge your oratory’s flow, or rather its blow. With your pear-shaped tones, you hurl lightning, rain and thunder as you offer your friendly advice. It behooves me to give you a reward that matches your artful wordiness. Fetch wine, boy, bring ruddy, noble Bacchus. Our orator has parched his throat with all his speech, he’ll drink ambrosia. Bring a chair, soldier. Here you must rest your limbs. (Wine and a chair are brought in.) I choose to mix fragrant ambrosia with this nectar. (He pours in poison and mixes it with his dagger.). Go on, drink this goblet.
GAZ. Forgive me —
LONG. By heaven, you’ll drink.
GAZ. This is poison I’m drinking out of this golden up.
LONG. But mixed with wine. Go ahead, toast the health of Jove of the Underworld.
GAZ. So I must drink? You are murdering an innocent man.
LONG. I’m murdering a talkative one. Learn what it means to insult Caesars in your speech. You hesitate? Drink it down quickly. I swear, you’ll fill this cup with your own blood and be compelled to drink it.
GAZ. Oh the credit of kings! But let it be so, let me drink death, which swims in this deadly chalice. But you, you enemy of the Thunderer, you fellow damned to eternal darkness, continue, fill your guts with gore, plunge yourself in felonies, slaughter innocents. God looks down from on high, He looks down and wields a thunderbolt in His vengeful hand. Soon you will endlessly be drinking fiery brimstone down in Dis.
LONG. Cerberus, won’t you drink it down quickly? (Gazaeus is compelled to drink.) There, you have it, it’s done. Good-bye. Do a better job of pleading your case in the courtroom of Rhadamanthus. Take him off to dark confinement until the wine he has consumed bursts his liver and kills him. I have given my command. Let this guilty fellow expire in close confinement.
ACT II, SCENE iv
LONGINUS, THE EMPEROR ZENO, URBITIUS, ANASTASIUS
A secret conference of Zeno and Longinus.
LONG. Damnable freedom of speech receives this requital, those who bother me with their words earn this reward. Oh, my fragile optimism! I was so wretched as to hope for the scepter, and for a head resplendent with the divine brilliance of gold. See how I’m being buffeted around! Did Pelagius dare this thing, did he dare this crime? (Enter Zeno.)
ZENO How did this day turn into one of grief? Brother, why do black weeds conceal your royal purple?
LONG. They are not to be removed until they become inebriated, drinking my enemies’ blood. Could Pelagius have dared this thing, could he have dared this crime? Oh, the evil of gnawing envy! I, Longinus, the light of this world, a son of an Augustus and a royal brother, am now a cheap plaything of Fortune, a laughingstock to the court, and a joke to our times. I am to be called the prey of that insolent Pelagius. Oh, the wrong! Do you see this? Do you behold it? Do you approve of it, brother? I am dying of wrath.
ZENO. Come, brother, pick up your courage, let that bubble of wrath burst within you. He’ll not be slow in paying the price for the fault of refusing you this honor. Don’t worry, no man injures kings for long, the insult remains concealed deep within their veins and the undying resentment feeds their vengeful wrath. He’ll gain the realms of night, and you the glory of government.
LONG. But when? Oh fury, slow to punish!
ZENO Hatreds have their proper time.
LONG. Let a private citizen have his hatreds, a king has weapons and the power to strike. Let any man, stricken, regret having denied a king his request. What need to await a proper time?
ZENO Unless a sense of the proper time guides your weapons, they strike the one who wields them.
LONG. Anger’s target is assured.
ZENO But the accuracy of their strike is not.
LONG. And yet Fortune makes them accurate.
ZENO Blind Fortune hurls blind torches.
LONG. Not when damage is to be done. Though glind, she perceives who she should strike.
ZENO And she’ll see you.
LONG. She’s always smiled on me.
ZENO She often smiles on the man for whom she’s preparing a plague.
LONG. Fortune may go for my throat however she wishes, as long as she likewise destroys my enemy.
ZENO In your violence, you are nourishing an incautious anger. The thirst for revenge is foolish when your enemy perishes and so do you. He will gain the reputation of being a cunning avenger who, when once injured, harbors his resentment in safety and then wreaks vengeance on his enemy when he can stand victoriously above the ruin and congratulate himself.
LONG. If we prolong our anger, we will grow fond of delay.
ZENO When anger is mild. If the rage strike deep, it grows over time.
LONG. The prestige of taking revenge is ruined if your enemy is defeated invisibly.
ZENO Yet the avenger feeds on his private delight.
LONG. I regard as cowardly any men who inflicts a wound with a hidden hand.
ZENO You ought to deny that a man is a coward when he has ruined an enemy safely.
LONG. He who has spewed reproaches in public deserves a public destruction.
ZENO He who strikes openly only teaches his enemy to be on his guard. When heaven thunders and its crash warns us of destruction, we all take shelter. When lightning remains silent, it works its harm.
LONG. Why do you wield the reins of affairs and wield the world’s scepter, if you have to harbor fears?
ZENO Pelagius has great protections: his virtue, the brilliance of his noble mind, his stainless life, the gravity of his speech, his fine conduct in troubled times, and both the love of the senate and the support of the common man. If you knock out this pillar, the unsteady high places of the realm will also come tumbling down.
LONG. If we are so afraid of him, he should be put to death quickly. You need a reason? He is well–respected and popular. The cardinal principle of kings is to cut down those that grow too high. Unless you lop of the realm’s tall heads, soon their proud pates will be the equals of the supreme one. On the other hand, I do not think that popularity with lords or commoners is ever to be feared. Often they shun the fallen man they used to worship while he was still standing. A cedar may give delight when it is standing with its leafy crown, but when it has been cut down by an axe, a shepherd will tread it underfoot.
ACT II, SCENE v
URBITIUS, ZENO, LONGINUS, SEBASTIANUS, ANASTASIUS
Sundry reports of Harmatius’ return to the city terrify Zeno and Longinus.
SEB. Augustus, there’s noise nearby.
ZENO. The clash of arms?
SEB. The blare of trumpets.
ZENO I’m being buried alive. Bring arms, brother.
SEB. In the distance, his standard leads his armored regiments.
LONG. Plague take both his standard and his regiments. Zeno, prepare our defense.
ZENO By the swamps of the Styx, I’m ruined. Defense? Unless Phlegethon bursts upon and a fierce platoon of Furies comes to our aid, I swear by Orcus, we have no defense. (Enter Urbitius.)
URB. To arms, Caesar!
LONG. May dire arms destroy you!
ZENO Why this call to arms?
URB. Hoofbeats set the ground a-shaking.
ZENO May those horses go fart.
LONG. And may their riders burst their guts.
URB. Dust covers the sky. Harmatius is returning to the city, victoriously driving along his legion, glorious in battle.
ZENO You make me tremble, thunderstruck. What if his son Basiliscus meets his father, demoted and banished, mocked, exiled, a boy befouled by woes? O how resentment will prick his angry mind! His arms will seek to assert his right, he will launch an assault on my palace? What comes to your mind amidst these doubtful developments, brother?
LONG. We must act by guile.
ZENO Tell me, what manner of guile? (Enter Anastasius, pretending to be simple-minded.)
AN. Caesar, the army approaches.
ZENO What are you hooting, my owl?
AN. The trumpet sounds nearby. Rumor has it that Harmatius is seeking the scepter. Be on your guard, sovereigns. (The king aims a kick at Anastasius.)
ZENO You infernal screech-owl, hold your tongue.
AN. Forgive me, prince.
URB. This task remains for me. I’ll keep his army away from your walls, his force will ground their arms and be dismissed. His hair shaded by an olive wreath, Harmatius will come up to the palace and, ignorant of trickery, will place his head in your treacherous noose.
LONG. Thanks to what deception?
URB. You must devise the scheme. I’ll delay our enemy.
ZENO Off with you, and good fortune. If Fortune answers our prayers, I’ll reward you with a handsome sum for your deceit. You will be created an imperial Count. (Exeunt omnes except for Urbitius.)
ACT II, SCENE vi
Urbitius’ and Anastasius’ schemes for bringing down Harmatius.
URB. May a fair wind speed your wishes, Anastasius. We are sailing along. You see how these toadstools are contriving their own doom?
AN. Let us join our hands, and also our hearts, teeming with many a plan. Zeno fears Harmatius, that pillar of war, whereas his brother condemns Pelagius to enduring hatred. The doom of them both is assured. When the world sees they have been consigned to death, how great a fury will burn against the both of them? The common folk will love as an avenger, and the nobility as leader, whatever man destroys these men, so akin to the Furies, these plagues upon the earth.
URB. Destiny demands you.
AN. I acknowledge that, I confess. My enemy called me a screech-owl. I like being an owl, I like being a vulture of evil sound, so that I might always forewarn you of ill-omened sorrows.
URB. Come then, by what artifice will Harmatius be the first to be caught in your snare?
AN. Pay attention with both ears and mind, and in a few words I’ll tell you. I shall quickly go in search of Basiliscus and inform him that his father is here with any army at his back. The son will go to meet his father, filthy as he is. The boy will dissolve in grief. Horror will make his hair stand on end, sorrow will distort his countenance, weeping will drench his face, his sides will heave with sighing, his voice will rise up in complaints, and his heart in lamentation. This will provoke his father’s ire. Do you imagine that a tigress burns so angrily when she sees her cubs stolen as Harmatius will explode in wrath? We shall both be present. I shall employ the outward appearance of virtue, as is my wont, to worsen the father’s evils, and you must enhance that deed. Harp on the disgrace to his son, the blot on his family, the his right to take an honorable vengeance. Ensnared by this art, the father will breathe the spirit of retribution and convict himself as a guilty man. And see, the standard brings forth his victorious battalions. Congratulate him on his return, manufacture delays for our returning general until, at my urging, the son can meet his father.
ACT II, SCENE vii
HARMATIUS, URBITIUS, THIRTY SOLDIERS
Urbitius salutes Harmatius, returned from the was.
Harmatius’ army comes onstage, drawn up in ranks.
HARM. My soldiers, come to a halt and show reverence to the noble towers of our imperial city. The road to its walls lies open, and our national law forbids us to bear arms any further. Greetings, you home of heroes, nearest to heaven. Hail, you regal home, you longed-for house of our nation, you queenly capital, you product of many years’ art. Oh hail, dear land, ever protected by the blare of bugles, armored soldiery, the steel of their shields, the horror of Mars, a thick crop of spears, and blood shed from the veins of every man’s side. Open your bosom to me on my arrival, and cherish me on my return with the happy embrace of peace.
URB. Hail, unconquered general, mighty at arms, you support of the eastern nation, you salvation of our empire. May heaven confirm your return with a lucky omen! How happily I see your army, how happily I see its commander! The dust on your handsome face is not unbecoming. Martial heat inspires your mind, strength your sinews, weapons your victorious hands, Fortune your fight, and battles your triumph. Now a well-earned wreath of laurel will bind your returned locks and, war left behind, the bosom of peace will receive you.
HARM. My master, are things at rest, do cloudless days pass by? Tell me the condition of our realm.
URB. You touch on wounds. Alas, my sorrow returns! (Enter Basiliscus with Anastasius.)
ACT II, SCENE viii
HARMATIUS, BASILISCUS, URBITIUS, ANASTASIUS, THE THIRTY SOLDIERS
At length, having learned of Zeno’s perfidy from Urbitius and Anastasius, Harmatius enters into a conspiracy the Caesar’s destruction.
HARM. Am I seeing the signs of a true face or a false one? Is this the countenance of my son? Oh son!
BAS. Oh father!
HARM. My guts are all a-tremble. What change in affairs has made you the boy who stands before your father?
AN. Oh, Fate’s wheel!
HARM. Daring what against myself?
AN. Whatever unsightly envy can achieve.
HARM. I condemn that sin of envy. Tell me, what great grief has come over you? Why this squalid face, and this gown that copies night’s darkness?
AN. The hard hand of Zeno. This beast was afire with rage and by his commands he cruelly punished the boy without a trial.
BAS. We’re ruined, father. He assembled the senate. It met, and I took my seat as his companion. Suddenly he accused me without giving me a chance to defend myself. He condemned me, ripped off my purple, and degraded me.
URB. What a great wrong! All that anger directed against a boy?
BAS. Soon he intoned with a loud voice, “Get gone, you plague. Banished the court, an object of mockery, wretched, withdraw far from here, driven from my royal house forever. Go, swap your royal wealth for squalid filth, mindful of the lot you have lost.” Hence these outward signs of my sad misfortune cover me. Hence my pallid face, father. Oh, the king’s disgrace! Lamentation besets my heart, pallor my cheeks, a constant rain of tears my eyes, unsightly decay my skin, and my limbs are black with filth. Avenge me, father? This crime demands requital.
HARM. Poor boy! Is this how Zeno showed his good faith? To arms, my soldiers, to arms. Quickly bring torches. (Everybody draws their swords.) Let the palace be attacked. Let that house take a tumble, wrenched from its foundations. May its great hall collapse, its gate pulled down, let the building be set afire, let the victorious conflagration shoot forth sparks in every direction. Perish that untrustworthy fellow. Perish that unspeakable family along with all its pedigree! Let them be burned, let them be consumed, let them be turned to ash. Zeno, you ingrate! Having thus pledged your good faith to Harmatius, now you’re mad enough to mock him? Is this how you repay my good deserts?
URB. Are you witnessing this, Astraea?
HARM. What could my boy do? What could be achieved by his tender youth, shining in its first flower, and the worthy comeliness of his fine brow?
AN. What could be achieved by the worthy brightness of his fine face, and and the hand of this innocent land? Alas, the government of this savage ruler! Has he driven such brilliance from his court?
HARM. Let the tyrant rage. My son, you shall rule nonetheless. You shall rule, I swear by the starry lights of that fiery home. Let us march. Let arms, Furies, fireballs, and whatever the uncontrolled passion of wrath can muster be readied against our enemy. Yet where am I being carried in my headstrong way? When my anger is a-boil, it cannot be regulated. Bear up, my heart, and, unconquered, master yourself with the same self-control that you have often used to get the better of Mars’ fearful menaces.
URB. I acknowledge the noble self-control of your mind, I acknowledge its strength. An intellect sees better when disturbance is removed. Fury blinds one’s intellect. The crimes of a few should not lead to the punishment of everybody. When soldiers enter the city with naked steel, they work their savagery on their enemy and civilians alike. Neither the anger of war nor the bloodthirstiness of drawn swords are easily repressed. In result the common folk will slaughter their commander with rage and hatred, calling him the firebrand of his nation, the tomb of his city, the destruction of his race. What of the fact that the outcome of a cruel slaughter would be questionable and unsure? A large force of noblemen stand by the Augustus’ side, and a great band of his servants. Caesar’s soldiers keep guard at the palace. When he give the signal from his citadel with his braying bugle, in their fury they hurl their missiles and rush to arms. Every citizen defends his Augustus.
HARM. When he’s a tyrant?
URB. Their panic erases the word “tyrant” from their minds. Any man fearing greater things freely erases the scars of old insults from his mind.
HARM. We are suffering unspeakable things. The Augustus has broken his word, and gone back on his promises.
AN. Your thirst for vengeance is just.
URB. I agree, but you should be cautious and suppress your vengeful anger. The just welfare of your nation demands that you take revenge. The collapse of our realm, the grief, the blood of innocents, the grievances of your son do too. Yet you must be assured in handling the causes of your anger. Coming home wearing a false face, unarmed, you must enter the royal court in your habitual manner. Let ten officers be in your train as an honor guard. Let them pledge their trust. Then let them delight Caesar with a military review. Let arms remain in their hands, and then, when you give the signal by stamping on the ground, let their conjoined swords plunge into the Augustus’ guts. With the emperor removed, you may rule. No man will be willing to avenge a tyrant’s death.
HARM. Good. I shall adopt your opinion. I like your shrewdness. Castor, let the soldiers quarter in villages and refresh their bodies. There, being ready at hand, let them remain ready for any signal from the trumpet. I shall go ahead. As a military escort let ten officers, firm of mind and faithful in important matters, follow me to the palace. Come along with me, Basiliscus. With heaven’s help, you will glitter with the golden crown on your hair and the scepter in your hand.
ACT II, SCENE ix
ANASTASIUS, CASTOR, THE THIRTY SOLDIERS
Anastasius wins over the soldiers with money.
AN. Noble sons of Mars, you strength of the empire, souls generous in shedding blood and strangers to fear, you legion undefeated in battle, you army worthy of triumph, in whose hands our nation, its liberty and safety lie secure, what rewards can match your laureate courage? But whatever small sum the royal court grants me I cheerfully expend on your battalions. Take this wallet, filled with gold pieces. (He offers his gold as a donative.) Castor, distribute this equally among all their squadrons, let this be a blessed day. Let Happiness come a-flying in her snow-white chariot.
CAST. Thanks be to Anastasius, worthy of ruling the world.
ALL Thanks be to Anastasius, worthy of ruling the world.
CAST. Now let the sky resound, let the trumpet play. Let the army divide into two separate formations. Take your weapons in your hands, soldiers, and stage a mock-battle. Let our men stand thickly packed, hand next to hand, foot next to foot, shoulder to shoulder. Then let a pretended storm of battle break forth. (They draw themselves up for battle in accordance with their military drill.) Follow me, soldiers. Form line two by two to the right. Form line two by two to the left. Wheel column to right. Step more closely this way. Face left. Break up battle formation. Form double rows on either side. Step to the right. Return to position. Turn shield-side. The middle of each column spread out. March forward three by three. This unit reverse, turn shield-side. That unit reverse, turn spear-side. Column advance. Column move to right at equal pace. Left wing continue on. Move to the right. Advance forward. Halt. Column left. Center unit advance. Halt here. Turn left. Continue on. Halt. Turn spear-side and form spiral curve. Reverse movement toward shield-side. Halt. Now let the drums sound a martial beat. Fight bravely. [Mock battle is engaged in.] That’s enough fighting. Column advance. Middle of the line spread out. Right unit turn spear-side and march straight ahead. Reverse to the left. Left unit move to the right. Advance. Turn spear-side and return here. Center troops follow closely behind advancing unit. The two flanking units merge toward the front. Now form an army in battle array. Sound the trumpet. Front line deploy. Rear line return to position. Turn spear-side. Form closed ranks with every other soldier. Right unit turn right. Wheel the troops around. March. Halt troops.
AN. I acknowledge your strong right hands. Enough battle-practise. Farewell, and maintain your victorious spirits.
ALL Farewell. Thanks be to Anastasius, worthy of ruling the world.
CAST. Forward march. May heaven bless the rest.
CHORUS OF MUSICIANS OR INTERLUDE
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