Act I, Scene 1
[Scene 1.] (Athens. Before a temple.)
[Enter Hymen with a Torch burning: a Boy, in a white Robe before
singing, and strewing Flowres: After Hymen, a Nimph, encompast
her Tresses, bearing a wheaten Garland. Then Theseus betweene
two other Nimphs with wheaten Chaplets on their heades. Then
Hipolita the Bride, lead by Pirithous, and another holding a
Garland over her head (her Tresses likewise hanging.) After
her Emilia holding up her Traine. (Artesius and Attendants.)]
The Song, [Musike.]
Roses their sharpe spines being gon,
Not royall in their smels alone,
But in their hew.
Maiden Pinckes, of odour faint,
Dazies smel-lesse, yet most quaint
And sweet Time true.
Prim-rose first borne child of Ver,
Merry Spring times Herbinger,
With her bels dimme.
Oxlips, in their Cradles growing,
Mary-golds, on death beds blowing,
All deere natures children sweete,
Ly fore Bride and Bridegroomes feete, [Strew Flowers.]
Blessing their sence.
Not an angle of the aire,
Bird melodious, or bird faire,
Is absent hence.
The Crow, the slaundrous Cuckoe, nor
The boding Raven, nor Chough hore
Nor chattring Pie,
May on our Bridehouse pearch or sing,
Or with them any discord bring,
But from it fly.
[Enter 3. Queenes in Blacke, with vailes staind, with imperiall
Crownes. The 1. Queene fals downe at the foote of Theseus; The
2. fals downe at the foote of Hypolita. The 3. before Emilia.]
For pitties sake and true gentilities,
Heare, and respect me.
For your Mothers sake,
And as you wish your womb may thrive with faire ones,
Heare and respect me.
Now for the love of him whom Iove hath markd
The honour of your Bed, and for the sake
Of cleere virginity, be Advocate
For us, and our distresses. This good deede
Shall raze you out o'th Booke of Trespasses
All you are set downe there.
Sad Lady, rise.
No knees to me.
What woman I may steed that is distrest,
Does bind me to her.
What's your request? Deliver you for all.
We are 3. Queenes, whose Soveraignes fel before
The wrath of cruell Creon; who endured
The Beakes of Ravens, Tallents of the Kights,
And pecks of Crowes, in the fowle feilds of Thebs.
He will not suffer us to burne their bones,
To urne their ashes, nor to take th' offence
Of mortall loathsomenes from the blest eye
Of holy Phoebus, but infects the windes
With stench of our slaine Lords. O pitty, Duke:
Thou purger of the earth, draw thy feard Sword
That does good turnes to'th world; give us the Bones
Of our dead Kings, that we may Chappell them;
And of thy boundles goodnes take some note
That for our crowned heades we have no roofe,
Save this which is the Lyons, and the Beares,
And vault to every thing.
Pray you, kneele not:
I was transported with your Speech, and suffer'd
Your knees to wrong themselves; I have heard the fortunes
Of your dead Lords, which gives me such lamenting
As wakes my vengeance, and revenge for'em,
King Capaneus was your Lord: the day
That he should marry you, at such a season,
As now it is with me, I met your Groome,
By Marsis Altar; you were that time faire,
Not Iunos Mantle fairer then your Tresses,
Nor in more bounty spread her. Your wheaten wreathe
Was then nor threashd, nor blasted; Fortune at you
Dimpled her Cheeke with smiles: Hercules our kinesman
(Then weaker than your eies) laide by his Club,
He tumbled downe upon his Nemean hide
And swore his sinews thawd: O greife, and time,
Fearefull consumers, you will all devoure.
O, I hope some God,
Some God hath put his mercy in your manhood
Whereto heel infuse powre, and presse you forth
O no knees, none, Widdow,
Vnto the Helmeted Belona use them,
And pray for me your Souldier.
Troubled I am. [turnes away.]
Most dreaded Amazonian, that hast slaine
The Sith-tuskd Bore; that with thy Arme as strong
As it is white, wast neere to make the male
To thy Sex captive, but that this thy Lord,
Borne to uphold Creation in that honour
First nature stilde it in, shrunke thee into
The bownd thou wast ore-flowing, at once subduing
Thy force, and thy affection: Soldiresse
That equally canst poize sternenes with pitty,
Whom now I know hast much more power on him
Then ever he had on thee, who ow'st his strength
And his Love too, who is a Servant for
The Tenour of thy Speech: Deere Glasse of Ladies,
Bid him that we, whom flaming war doth scortch,
Vnder the shaddow of his Sword may coole us:
Require him he advance it ore our heades;
Speak't in a womans key: like such a woman
As any of us three; weepe ere you faile;
Lend us a knee;
But touch the ground for us no longer time
Then a Doves motion, when the head's pluckt off:
Tell him if he i'th blood cizd field lay swolne,
Showing the Sun his Teeth, grinning at the Moone,
What you would doe.
Poore Lady, say no more:
I had as leife trace this good action with you
As that whereto I am going, and never yet
Went I so willing way. My Lord is taken
Hart deepe with your distresse: Let him consider:
Ile speake anon.
O my petition was [kneele to Emilia.]
Set downe in yce, which by hot greefe uncandied
Melts into drops, so sorrow, wanting forme,
Is prest with deeper matter.
Pray stand up,
Your greefe is written in your cheeke.
You cannot reade it there, there through my teares--
Like wrinckled peobles in a glassie streame
You may behold 'em. Lady, Lady, alacke,
He that will all the Treasure know o'th earth
Must know the Center too; he that will fish
For my least minnow, let him lead his line
To catch one at my heart. O pardon me:
Extremity, that sharpens sundry wits,
Makes me a Foole.
Pray you say nothing, pray you:
Who cannot feele nor see the raine, being in't,
Knowes neither wet nor dry: if that you were
The ground-peece of some Painter, I would buy you
T'instruct me gainst a Capitall greefe indeed--
Such heart peirc'd demonstration; but, alas,
Being a naturall Sifter of our Sex
Your sorrow beates so ardently upon me,
That it shall make a counter reflect gainst
My Brothers heart, and warme it to some pitty,
Though it were made of stone: pray, have good comfort.
Forward to'th Temple, leave not out a Iot
O'th sacred Ceremony.
O, This Celebration
Will long last, and be more costly then
Your Suppliants war: Remember that your Fame
Knowles in the eare o'th world: what you doe quickly
Is not done rashly; your first thought is more
Then others laboured meditance: your premeditating
More then their actions: But, oh Iove! your actions,
Soone as they mooves, as Asprayes doe the fish,
Subdue before they touch: thinke, deere Duke, thinke
What beds our slaine Kings have.
What greifes our beds,
That our deere Lords have none.
None fit for 'th dead:
Those that with Cordes, Knives, drams precipitance,
Weary of this worlds light, have to themselves
Beene deathes most horrid Agents, humaine grace
Affords them dust and shaddow.
But our Lords
Ly blistring fore the visitating Sunne,
And were good Kings, when living.
It is true, and I will give you comfort,
To give your dead Lords graves: the which to doe,
Must make some worke with Creon.
And that worke presents it selfe to'th doing:
Now twill take forme, the heates are gone to morrow.
Then, booteles toyle must recompence it selfe
With it's owne sweat; Now he's secure,
Not dreames we stand before your puissance
Wrinching our holy begging in our eyes
To make petition cleere.
Now you may take him, drunke with his victory.
And his Army full of Bread, and sloth.
Artesius, that best knowest
How to draw out fit to this enterprise
The prim'st for this proceeding, and the number
To carry such a businesse, forth and levy
Our worthiest Instruments, whilst we despatch
This grand act of our life, this daring deede
Of Fate in wedlocke.
Dowagers, take hands;
Let us be Widdowes to our woes: delay
Commends us to a famishing hope.
We come unseasonably: But when could greefe
Cull forth, as unpanged judgement can, fit'st time
For best solicitation.
Why, good Ladies,
This is a service, whereto I am going,
Greater then any was; it more imports me
Then all the actions that I have foregone,
Or futurely can cope.
The more proclaiming
Our suit shall be neglected: when her Armes
Able to locke Iove from a Synod, shall
By warranting Moone-light corslet thee, oh, when
Her twyning Cherries shall their sweetnes fall
Vpon thy tastefull lips, what wilt thou thinke
Of rotten Kings or blubberd Queenes, what care
For what thou feelst not? what thou feelst being able
To make Mars spurne his Drom. O, if thou couch
But one night with her, every howre in't will
Take hostage of thee for a hundred, and
Thou shalt remember nothing more then what
That Banket bids thee too.
Though much unlike [Kneeling.]
You should be so transported, as much sorry
I should be such a Suitour; yet I thinke,
Did I not by th'abstayning of my joy,
Which breeds a deeper longing, cure their surfeit
That craves a present medcine, I should plucke
All Ladies scandall on me. Therefore, Sir,
As I shall here make tryall of my prayres,
Either presuming them to have some force,
Or sentencing for ay their vigour dombe:
Prorogue this busines we are going about, and hang
Your Sheild afore your Heart, about that necke
Which is my ffee, and which I freely lend
To doe these poore Queenes service.
Oh helpe now,
Our Cause cries for your knee.
If you grant not [Kneeling.]
My Sister her petition in that force,
With that Celerity and nature, which
Shee makes it in, from henceforth ile not dare
To aske you any thing, nor be so hardy
Ever to take a Husband.
Pray stand up.
I am entreating of my selfe to doe
That which you kneele to have me. Pyrithous,
Leade on the Bride; get you and pray the Gods
For successe, and returne; omit not any thing
In the pretended Celebration. Queenes,
Follow your Soldier. As before, hence you [to Artesius]
And at the banckes of Aulis meete us with
The forces you can raise, where we shall finde
The moytie of a number, for a busines
More bigger look't. Since that our Theame is haste,
I stamp this kisse upon thy currant lippe;
Sweete, keepe it as my Token. Set you forward,
For I will see you gone. [Exeunt towards the Temple.]
Farewell, my beauteous Sister: Pyrithous,
Keepe the feast full, bate not an howre on't.
Ile follow you at heeles; The Feasts solempnity
Shall want till your returne.
Cosen, I charge you
Boudge not from Athens; We shall be returning
Ere you can end this Feast, of which, I pray you,
Make no abatement; once more, farewell all.
Thus do'st thou still make good the tongue o'th world.
And earnst a Deity equal with Mars.
If not above him, for
Thou being but mortall makest affections bend
To Godlike honours; they themselves, some say,
Grone under such a Mastry.
As we are men,
Thus should we doe; being sensually subdude,
We loose our humane tytle. Good cheere, Ladies. [Florish.]
Now turne we towards your Comforts. [Exeunt.]
Act I, Scene 2
Scaena 2. (Thebs).
[Enter Palamon, and Arcite.]
Deere Palamon, deerer in love then Blood
And our prime Cosen, yet unhardned in
The Crimes of nature; Let us leave the Citty
Thebs, and the temptings in't, before we further
Sully our glosse of youth:
And here to keepe in abstinence we shame
As in Incontinence; for not to swim
I'th aide o'th Current were almost to sincke,
At least to frustrate striving, and to follow
The common Streame, twold bring us to an Edy
Where we should turne or drowne; if labour through,
Our gaine but life, and weakenes.
Is cride up with example: what strange ruins
Since first we went to Schoole, may we perceive
Walking in Thebs? Skars, and bare weedes
The gaine o'th Martialist, who did propound
To his bold ends honour, and golden Ingots,
Which though he won, he had not, and now flurted
By peace for whom he fought: who then shall offer
To Marsis so scornd Altar? I doe bleede
When such I meete, and wish great Iuno would
Resume her ancient fit of Ielouzie
To get the Soldier worke, that peace might purge
For her repletion, and retaine anew
Her charitable heart now hard, and harsher
Then strife or war could be.
Are you not out?
Meete you no ruine but the Soldier in
The Cranckes and turnes of Thebs? you did begin
As if you met decaies of many kindes:
Perceive you none, that doe arowse your pitty
But th'un-considerd Soldier?
Yes, I pitty
Decaies where ere I finde them, but such most
That, sweating in an honourable Toyle,
Are paide with yce to coole 'em.
Tis not this
I did begin to speake of: This is vertue
Of no respect in Thebs; I spake of Thebs
How dangerous if we will keepe our Honours,
It is for our resyding, where every evill
Hath a good cullor; where eve'ry seeming good's
A certaine evill, where not to be ev'n Iumpe
As they are, here were to be strangers, and
Such things to be, meere Monsters.
Tis in our power,
(Vnlesse we feare that Apes can Tutor's) to
Be Masters of our manners: what neede I
Affect anothers gate, which is not catching
Where there is faith, or to be fond upon
Anothers way of speech, when by mine owne
I may be reasonably conceiv'd; sav'd too,
Speaking it truly? why am I bound
By any generous bond to follow him
Followes his Taylor, haply so long untill
The follow'd make pursuit? or let me know,
Why mine owne Barber is unblest, with him
My poore Chinne too, for tis not Cizard iust
To such a Favorites glasse: What Cannon is there
That does command my Rapier from my hip
To dangle't in my hand, or to go tip toe
Before the streete be foule? Either I am
The fore-horse in the Teame, or I am none
That draw i'th sequent trace: these poore sleight sores
Neede not a plantin; That which rips my bosome
Almost to'th heart's--
Our Vncle Creon.
A most unbounded Tyrant, whose successes
Makes heaven unfeard, and villany assured
Beyond its power there's nothing, almost puts
Faith in a feavour, and deifies alone
Voluble chance; who onely attributes
The faculties of other Instruments
To his owne Nerves and act; Commands men service,
And what they winne in't, boot and glory; on(e)
That feares not to do harm; good, dares not; Let
The blood of mine that's sibbe to him be suckt
From me with Leeches; Let them breake and fall
Off me with that corruption.
Cleere spirited Cozen,
Lets leave his Court, that we may nothing share
Of his lowd infamy: for our milke
Will relish of the pasture, and we must
Be vile or disobedient, not his kinesmen
In blood, unlesse in quality.
I thinke the Ecchoes of his shames have dea'ft
The eares of heav'nly Iustice: widdows cryes
Descend againe into their throates, and have not
Due audience of the Gods.--Valerius!
The King cals for you; yet be leaden footed,
Till his great rage be off him. Phebus, when
He broke his whipstocke and exclaimd against
The Horses of the Sun, but whisperd too
The lowdenesse of his Fury.
Small windes shake him:
But whats the matter?
Theseus (who where he threates appals,) hath sent
Deadly defyance to him, and pronounces
Ruine to Thebs; who is at hand to seale
The promise of his wrath.
Let him approach;
But that we feare the Gods in him, he brings not
A jot of terrour to us; Yet what man
Thirds his owne worth (the case is each of ours)
When that his actions dregd with minde assurd
Tis bad he goes about?
Leave that unreasond.
Our services stand now for Thebs, not Creon,
Yet to be neutrall to him were dishonour;
Rebellious to oppose: therefore we must
With him stand to the mercy of our Fate,
Who hath bounded our last minute.
So we must.
Ist sed this warres a foote? or it shall be,
On faile of some condition?
Tis in motion
The intelligence of state came in the instant
With the defier.
Lets to the king, who, were he
A quarter carrier of that honour which
His Enemy come in, the blood we venture
Should be as for our health, which were not spent,
Rather laide out for purchase: but, alas,
Our hands advanc'd before our hearts, what will
The fall o'th stroke doe damage?
That never erring Arbitratour, tell us
When we know all our selves, and let us follow
The becking of our chance. [Exeunt.]
Act I, Scene 3
Scaena 3. (Before the gates of Athens.)
[Enter Pirithous, Hipolita, Emilia.]
Sir, farewell; repeat my wishes
To our great Lord, of whose succes I dare not
Make any timerous question; yet I wish him
Exces and overflow of power, and't might be,
To dure ill-dealing fortune: speede to him,
Store never hurtes good Gouernours.
Though I know
His Ocean needes not my poore drops, yet they
Must yeild their tribute there. My precious Maide,
Those best affections, that the heavens infuse
In their best temperd peices, keepe enthroand
In your deare heart.
Thanckes, Sir. Remember me
To our all royall Brother, for whose speede
The great Bellona ile sollicite; and
Since in our terrene State petitions are not
Without giftes understood, Ile offer to her
What I shall be advised she likes: our hearts
Are in his Army, in his Tent.
We have bin Soldiers, and wee cannot weepe
When our Friends don their helmes, or put to sea,
Or tell of Babes broachd on the Launce, or women
That have sod their Infants in (and after eate them)
The brine, they wept at killing 'em; Then if
You stay to see of us such Spincsters, we
Should hold you here for ever.
Peace be to you,
As I pursue this war, which shall be then
Beyond further requiring. [Exit Pir.]
How his longing
Followes his Friend! since his depart, his sportes
Though craving seriousnes, and skill, past slightly
His careles execution, where nor gaine
Made him regard, or losse consider; but
Playing one busines in his hand, another
Directing in his head, his minde, nurse equall
To these so diffring Twyns--have you observ'd him,
Since our great Lord departed?
With much labour,
And I did love him fort: they two have Cabind
In many as dangerous, as poore a Corner,
Perill and want contending; they have skift
Torrents whose roring tyranny and power
I'th least of these was dreadfull, and they have
Fought out together, where Deaths-selfe was lodgd,
Yet fate hath brought them off: Their knot of love,
Tide, weau'd, intangled, with so true, so long,
And with a finger of so deepe a cunning,
May be outworne, never undone. I thinke
Theseus cannot be umpire to himselfe,
Cleaving his conscience into twaine and doing
Each side like Iustice, which he loves best.
There is a best, and reason has no manners
To say it is not you: I was acquainted
Once with a time, when I enjoyd a Play-fellow;
You were at wars, when she the grave enrichd,
Who made too proud the Bed, tooke leave o th Moone
(Which then lookt pale at parting) when our count
Was each eleven.
You talke of Pirithous and Theseus love;
Theirs has more ground, is more maturely seasond,
More buckled with strong Iudgement and their needes
The one of th'other may be said to water [2. Hearses ready
with Palamon: and Arcite: the 3. Queenes. Theseus: and his
Their intertangled rootes of love; but I
And shee I sigh and spoke of were things innocent,
Lou'd for we did, and like the Elements
That know not what, nor why, yet doe effect
Rare issues by their operance, our soules
Did so to one another; what she lik'd,
Was then of me approov'd, what not, condemd,
No more arraignment; the flowre that I would plucke
And put betweene my breasts (then but beginning
To swell about the blossome) oh, she would long
Till shee had such another, and commit it
To the like innocent Cradle, where Phenix like
They dide in perfume: on my head no toy
But was her patterne; her affections (pretty,
Though, happely, her careles were) I followed
For my most serious decking; had mine eare
Stolne some new aire, or at adventure humd on
From musicall Coynadge, why it was a note
Whereon her spirits would sojourne (rather dwell on)
And sing it in her slumbers. This rehearsall
(Which ev'ry innocent wots well comes in
Like old importments bastard) has this end,
That the true love tweene Mayde, and mayde, may be
More then in sex idividuall.
Y'are out of breath
And this high speeded pace, is but to say
That you shall never like the Maide Flavina
Love any that's calld Man.
I am sure I shall not.
Now, alacke, weake Sister,
I must no more beleeve thee in this point
(Though in't I know thou dost beleeve thy selfe,)
Then I will trust a sickely appetite,
That loathes even as it longs; but, sure, my Sister,
If I were ripe for your perswasion, you
Have saide enough to shake me from the Arme
Of the all noble Theseus, for whose fortunes
I will now in, and kneele with great assurance,
That we, more then his Pirothous, possesse
The high throne in his heart.
I am not
Against your faith; yet I continew mine. [Exeunt. Cornets.]
Act I, Scene 4
Scaena 4. (A field before Thebes. Dead bodies lying on the
[A Battaile strooke within: Then a Retrait: Florish. Then
Enter Theseus (victor), (Herald and Attendants:) the three
Queenes meete him, and fall on their faces before him.]
To thee no starre be darke.
Both heaven and earth
Friend thee for ever.
All the good that may
Be wishd upon thy head, I cry Amen too't.
Th'imparciall Gods, who from the mounted heavens
View us their mortall Heard, behold who erre,
And in their time chastice: goe and finde out
The bones of your dead Lords, and honour them
With treble Ceremonie; rather then a gap
Should be in their deere rights, we would supply't.
But those we will depute, which shall invest
You in your dignities, and even each thing
Our hast does leave imperfect: So, adiew,
And heavens good eyes looke on you. What are those? [Exeunt
Men of great quality, as may be judgd
By their appointment; Sone of Thebs have told's
They are Sisters children, Nephewes to the King.
By'th Helme of Mars, I saw them in the war,
Like to a paire of Lions, smeard with prey,
Make lanes in troopes agast. I fixt my note
Constantly on them; for they were a marke
Worth a god's view: what prisoner was't that told me
When I enquired their names?
Wi'leave, they'r called Arcite and Palamon.
Tis right: those, those. They are not dead?
Nor in a state of life: had they bin taken,
When their last hurts were given, twas possible [3. Hearses
They might have bin recovered; Yet they breathe
And haue the name of men.
Then like men use 'em.
The very lees of such (millions of rates)
Exceede the wine of others: all our Surgions
Convent in their behoofe; our richest balmes
Rather then niggard, waft: their lives concerne us
Much more then Thebs is worth: rather then have 'em
Freed of this plight, and in their morning state
(Sound and at liberty) I would 'em dead;
But forty thousand fold we had rather have 'em
Prisoners to us then death. Beare 'em speedily
From our kinde aire, to them unkinde, and minister
What man to man may doe--for our sake more,
Since I have knowne frights, fury, friends beheastes,
Loves provocations, zeale, a mistris Taske,
Desire of liberty, a feavour, madnes,
Hath set a marke which nature could not reach too
Without some imposition: sicknes in will
Or wrastling strength in reason. For our Love
And great Appollos mercy, all our best
Their best skill tender. Leade into the Citty,
Where having bound things scatterd, we will post [Florish.]
To Athens for(e) our Army [Exeunt. Musicke.]
Act I, Scene 5
Scaena 5. (Another part of the same.)
[Enter the Queenes with the Hearses of their Knightes, in a
Funerall Solempnity, &c.]
Vrnes and odours bring away,
Vapours, sighes, darken the day;
Our dole more deadly lookes than dying;
Balmes, and Gummes, and heavy cheeres,
Sacred vials fill'd with teares,
And clamors through the wild ayre flying.
Come all sad and solempne Showes,
That are quick-eyd pleasures foes;
We convent nought else but woes.
We convent, &c.
This funeral path brings to your housholds grave:
Ioy ceaze on you againe: peace sleepe with him.
And this to yours.
Yours this way: Heavens lend
A thousand differing waies to one sure end.
This world's a Citty full of straying Streetes,
And Death's the market place, where each one meetes. [Exeunt