The Broken Heart

by John Ford
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"He Has Shook Hands With Time"

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Last Updated on January 19, 2017, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 236

Context: At a dance Calantha learns from Armostes that by her father's death, just occurred, she is now Queen of Sparta. Within a few moments she also learns, from Bassanes, that his wife is dead, and from Orgilus that Ithocles, a favorite, has been murdered. Calantha takes all this news calmly; when Orgilus boasts that it was he who murdered Ithocles, for revenge, she coolly tells him that he must die, with the mode of execution his own choice. Orgilus chooses to be his own executioner by cutting his veins. He props himself upon a staff and cuts the veins in one arm; then he asks Bassanes, as a favor, to cut the veins in the other arm. As he stands with his life running out, he recalls that Tecnicus, moved by the power of Apollo, has foretold that revenge would prove its own executioner. Even to the moment of his death Orgilus retains his courage and his presence of mind:

So falls the standard
Of my prerogative in being a creature!
A mist hangs o'er mine eyes, the sun's bright splendour
Is clouded in an everlasting shadow:
Welcome, thou ice, that sitt'st about my heart!
No heat can ever thaw thee.
Speech hath left him.
He has shook hands with time; his funeral urn
Shall be my charge: remove the bloodless body.
The coronation must require attendance;
That past, my few days can be but one mourning.

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