The Rival Queens; Or, The Death Of Alexander The Great Quotes

Nathaniel Lee

"'Tis Beauty Calls, And Glory Shows The Way"

Context: Lee's play, based largely on La Calprenède's heroic romance entitled Cassandre, follows the traditions of the French romances. The love interest involves three persons, one of whom destroys the happiness of the others and leads to their deaths. The three lovers are Alexander, Roxana, and Statira. Roxana is the first wife of Alexander, and she is carrying his unborn child. But she has been for a time set aside in favor of Statira, daughter of Darius, whom Alexander married. Given a chance, Roxana has tried to win her husband back, much to Statira's chagrin. Statira has made Alexander promise not to see Roxana. The two are brought together at Alexander's court at Babylon, where they play the rivals for the king's love. Statira's pride causes her to vow not to remain with Alexander, but he and his court beg her to stay, and she complies with their entreaties. Roxana, seeing herself rejected, plots with members of the court for revenge. With her fellow-conspirators and a guard of Zogdian slaves, she breaks into the bower of Semiramis, where Statira is sleeping, intending to kill her rival. Perdiccas, who by chance discovers the happenings, runs to warn Alexander, interrupting a banquet at which the king has just slain a faithful follower. The king's sorrow over the death of Clytus is broken by the news of Roxana's attack:

What says Perdiccas? Is the queen in danger?
She dies unless you turn her fate, and quickly.
Your distance from the palace asks more speed,
And the ascent to th' flying grove is high.
Thus from the grave I rise to save my love;
All draw your swords, with wings of lightning move;
When I rush on, sure none will dare to stay,
'Tis beauty calls, and glory shows the way.