Commentary notes can be accessed by clicking on a blue square. The Latin text can be accessed by clicking on a green square.
ACT III, SCENE i
Sebastus pretends that he dislikes governing, and under the guise of wishing to prevent new upheavals in Constantinople, he pretends to be willing to abdicate. Alexius refuses him. He decides to summon Andronicus to free the soldiers and to hold John in closer custody, because John had accused Manuel (who is considered loyal), but had kept silence about Henry’s treachery.
SEB. What is this upheaval? What tempest is upsetting the empire’s security with its violent winds? We used to be in good shape. The people were favored by universal peace. Lovely majesty, crowned splendor, and the imperial purple sat on our scepter. But now storms disturb us; the previous calm and tranquillity have been blown away, ejected from our bosoms. We are now tossed amidst the doubts and fears of the raging sea. A lying Fortune has extinguished the radiance of our brows and has redirected her rotating wheel from “favorable” to “destructive.” I see now — even if too late — that radiance is always linked with grief, that the scepter comes with pain. Ruling and suffering are joined by one knot. How unhappy is a king’s station! How bitter is his lot! We bind his head with jewels and his brow with gold, but thorns hide under the jewels and inflict deep wounds in Augustus' crown. The diadem is not a restraint for errant hair, but a chain of slavery. Laden by such a heavy weight, we can have no peace or that rest for which we long. Whoever occupies the lofty throne and rules the people suffers the punishment of Tityus: The court is Hades, fear of a rival is the dread vulture, to whose raging hunger he offers his heart as food, and he is always rent by heavy claws and pounded with beaks. When his flesh has been consumed, a new meal grows back as a new punishment. Tantalus is a king, but the waters lap around his lips as he swims among joys and delights, but it only mocks his struggles and his thirst. O dishonored honor! O mocking joke! O vain display! Is it ever thus? Can I never hope for a day of respite from your haughtiness? Will you always put the stamp of hateful grief on my days? Unhappy man! Sebastus, your fate is quite unfortunate if your honored position in the realm serves as food for your torments. So why am I holding you back? Begone, lovely seeds of monstrous evil, mothers of pain, charming sprouts of torments, sweet tyrants, honeyed restlessness of mind, delicious poison, bitter sweetness, mocking scaffold for my heart, nectar leading to death, road paved to ruin. The concern for the common weal which boils in my heart commands me to remove myself far from the dangers arising from you.
AL. Sebastus, what plans are you considering? What storms are tossing you about? Such disgust for power has shaken your mind from its foundation. Recall the sun of your wisdom from its darkness and return to your own nature.
SEB. Great king, wisdom does not influence the stars. The Fates drag us willy-nilly, and we must submit. Mental anxiety is justified when a well-planned scheme aims at your person. Ruling cannot be pleasant to me while fear, that brutal tyrant, eats at my mind.
AL. You are wrong, Sebastus. Cast off this wretched attitude. My inmost thoughts require further proof of your loyalty to me.
SEB. I have sworn by heaven that my loyalty towards Your Lordship is unblemished, and I have up to now shown it to be always holy and pure, as is right. But if so many stars are hostile just because of me, and if they are shooting fires which threaten your person, what type of loyalty to Caesar’s life should I display? Better I should voluntarily go into exile and thus bury myself in darkness, but save you. If some monstrous weight is hanging over my head, it is best to shake it off or break it before its treachery grows strong and hurls its thunderbolts with savage hand against your person and mine. Therefore let Sebastus escape. This is not an abuse of your favor, but the preservation undamaged of imperial glory, the restoration of the radiance of our ancient liberty, and the gift of holy peace to the nation. If these reasons are sufficient for great Caesar, then allow Sebastus to leave his ancestral soil. If this one thing is allowed, benefits will come to many.
AL. We will never allow you to stain your name with the hateful word “flight.” What attitude would spread through the people, the nation? They would hear that you had turned your feet away from your native realm in base flight. They will say that your loyalty stood fast while destiny’s billows were favorable, that you stood as Caesar’s close companion as long as Fortune showed herself to be our servant. But now, when a hostile Fortune has turned her cruel, wicked face to us, you are seeking safety in flight and handing over the empire, now tossed on the waves, to become prey to the stormy blasts. Sebastus, what kind of loyalty is this? You will be called, not my friend, but the friend of my Good Fortune, while she favored me. A true friend pays no attention to the comings and goings of Fortune. Whether she lifts her smiling face as an enemy or hides herself in the clouds, a true friend is always the same. Can you stand to have this as the epitaph of your reputation? “He was fastened to Caesar while the breezes blew favorably; when a contrary wind drove the ship, he left.” Will you allow the honor of your name, one placed in such a high position by nature, to be stained by this vulgar insult?
SEB. Augustus, that’s enough; I stretch out my hands in defeat. Your eloquence and the fiery nature of your sacred countenance have burned a track through my vitals. I am on fire to show how a model subject attends to your wishes. Command what you will. Caesar you, find me ready in my willingness, intelligence, and efforts to follow your directions.
AL. The steady loyalty of your noble heart promised this very thing to me. You know that Andronicus is doing harm to the empire with his chosen band of Mars and is terrifying the people with his sword. Now tell me, what limits should I establish for myself in this time of need? Should I marshal my troops in the field and repel by force that force which he is definitely threatening?
SEB. What hostile acts has your uncle done to you?
AL. It does not sound friendly to have soldiers gathered in large numbers and surrounding him as a bodyguard. This excites reasonable fears in my mind.
SEB. Before you start a war, closely examine what he is planning. What is the purpose of this weaponry? After that, and if the ambitious violence of his mind is obvious or if the realm is under attack, you may crush his boldness and menace with an opposing army.
AL. Who can penetrate the secrets of his dark thoughts?
SEB. Despatch an envoy into the field urging him to put down his weapons, remove this disturbance, and restore perfect peace, so that he does not upset the realm with fears of a war. Recall to his memory his descent, his honor, and his loyalty.
AL. His face will pretend a holy, reverent attitude, but his mind will hide a secret revolt. He will run amuck and harm us with hitherto unknown schemes.
SEB. Let the envoy say this as well: if he would like to visit the ancient seats of his ancestors and the lands in which his forefathers dwelt, let him first dismiss his army and proceed through the city gates without any soldiers. If he refuses to obey this command, he will be showing signs of a mind hostile to Caesar, to his country, and to God. Then you should order him to take any trace of his presence out of his ancestral nation and return to his previous exile. If he refuses, say that you will fall on him with a great, massive thunderbolt, so that you may save your people and turn this huge conflagration away from your native soil.
AL. May what you suggest be done. You will find, when you attempt this, that praise will not move him nor threats break him. Who knows if Henry made that attack at Andronicus’ urging? That wicked act still rankles in my breast and upsets my mind.
SEB. Before this foe can gather strength, let him be shut up in a foul cell of the prison. Let the court be filled with a large troop of soldiers. Let the court either compel him to surrender or send his vicious soul to the Stygian shades.
ADR. But what about the loyalty which John showed to Caesar?
AL. What loyalty? Who is this John? That John now held in prison? He sent a treacherous document which proves him treacherous. He contrived a trick against an innocent person.
ADR. My lord, what crime do you find him guilty of? Did this page and the manifest crime not show his truthfulness to you?
AL. Charging an innocent and harmless man with a crime, and staying silent about a man whom he knows to be guilty are not signs of the integrity which he owes to his king. He charges Manuel with deception, that man, who guards me with his sword, and with his perfect character has proven the constant loyalty of his upright heart. But John was silent about Henry’s treason. What does this kind of loyalty deserve? Speak! Why do you hesitate and stay silent? These are my orders: Let him be plunged into a deeper dungeon of the prison; let him be held more tightly in chains; let him starve and perish alone. Let Henry groan laden with iron in a deeper dungeon. But the man who extended a faithful hand to the king — let him lead a happy life of higher status. While I am king, definite rewards will follow perfect loyalty, and crime will find its punishment.
ACT III, SCENE ii A cave
Andronicus extracts from the mage Harpagus what the future course of his fortune will be. Harpagus summons underworld specters who tell him in dance and by other signs that the Empire will be his.
AND. My spirit has long been upset, robbed of its calm by tempests and never allowed the delights of peace. I am tossed here and there, and the radiance of peace never shines on me from any direction. So now my wish for long-desired peace and my yearning to know the secret decrees of fate have brought my restless spirit here. Harpagus, the kindly favor of the firmament has given you the ability to read celestial texts. You know Fate’s decrees written in the hidden heart of heaven. You see more clearly the pattern of events in the future. You view in broad daylight who is my friend, who my enemy. You know their names, tribes, and families, in fact the whole appearance of their faces. Indeed, you examine the secrets which they plot in their hearts and gather with certainly what schemes each man is setting afoot. Use your Colchian helpers to apply those skills for my benefit, so that I may see my destiny, whether it comes from Hades’ lake or from the stars’ more favorable aspect. Will the winds frolic favorably according to my wishes, or will a stormy sea keep my barque off-shore?
HARP. The nobility of your mind and spirit promises you a favorable destiny.
AND. Trickery often makes a joke of a noble spirit.
HARP. Have no fear of trickery when it is a matter of honor and when your country demands it.
AND. What definite proof do you have for this welcome opinion?
HARP. Justice, which you bear on your sword.
AND. A good beginning often brings an unfavorable end.
HARP. All calculation is useless when Fate is in control.
AND. This is what I want to know: Is Fate promising with definite signs a favorable result for me or an unfavorable? Lay your hand on whatever you can drag out of Avernus’ lake into the open, anything in which you can read my destiny.
HARP. It is a very bold deed to test heaven or to summon an unwilling Styx.
AND. It may be fair or unfair. Still, you should yield to my will. Get to work!
HARP. Nobody shakes up these violent realms with any safety. But, my prince, you see me ready to carry out your commands. Sit silently at the side here. Behold my wand, the master of my work, the ally of heaven and hell. With it I move the lazy stars and I summon the specters from their shadowy lair in the lake of Avernus into clear sunlight. I mark out this three-fold circle, and in the middle I inscribe the signs of each specter. Avernus is delighted to make them obedient to my wishes. Now I summon well-known gods.
Pluto’s caverns, caverns buried deep in fog.
Caverns fiery, caverns filled with brimstone waves,
Sea-born gods, Avernus’ gods, gods in airy blasts,
O lords, now come to help us as we pray.
Behold I pledge you in the cup of the wine you love,
And with this wine I mix the blood of guiltless lambs.
I splash the wine, I stain the land with signs of peace.
Thus let no god be slow answer our commands.
At your altars burn I incense, powers of our Pluto great!
Thus let each god make hither haste to our commands.
Unless on flying wing you come here, I’ll intone a horrid spell,
I use to bind the stars and hell, to overturn the sea so wide.
Dreadful gods, the dusky lords of proud Avernus,
Whom your crimes ejected far from the blessed seats
Gorgons, Harpies, all the vultures of Tityus,
You three-jawed dog of Tartarus, what Hades feeds,
So horrid in its dark shades — all you I summon here,
By the flaming swamp you fear, which you ignite with much-shed tear,
By the worshipped staff of Jove, by the fork of Nereus,
By dread Pluto’s lightless axe, by the dog’s three-fold jaws,
By the Hydra’s budding heads, I call you here.
Gape open, earth, in quakes; yawn wide a gulf through which
The summoned spirits may ascend and exit here.
Come hither, Fate, and tell me now of Andronicus.
You are slow? You fail to fly and follow our commands?
So now I chant a dread accursed song to fright you. Now the light
Of our day’s sun is set. Dusky night in a dirty gown obstructs all heaven’s stars.
The sons of black night hither fly obedient now.
Now tell us Andronicus’ fate at our command.
Night. A dance. A comet, first bright, then blood-red, fades away. During the spectral dance, Andronicus is shown a crown and other signs that he will gain the Empire.
The matter is settled. You have seen it yourself. The kindly fates of heaven are readying the crown of reverence for your head. You have what you wanted. I am going back into my cavern. Serious matters require my attention. Farewell. I have only this advice: Obey immediately those hopes that arise of their own accord in your heart. Pursue the path of the Fates and the guidance of the specters. Those old misfortunes which you, as prince, suffered will give a spur to your glory.
ACT III, SCENE iii
Andronicus is invited by Alexius’ envoy to dismiss his army and enter Constantinople. He refuses to let his army go, and is therefore declared a rebel and guilty of lèse majesté.
ANDRONICUS, TWO ENVOYS
AND. Fate’s intentions are now clear, and in view of this, the realm’s imperial pageantry has restored my spirits, so long depressed. The scepter of the East awaits me, and as Caesar I will rule the entire expanse of empire. Rise up, lucky soul! You are now crushing underfoot the mad arrogance of your enemies, who had previously laughed at your troubles. The day is coming when you will free the empire from the savage yoke of traitors; you will make your way by trampling over your enemies. Sinon will throw himself at your sacred feet and worship you as equal to the stars. But you will have your revenge. When the wrathful Jupiter seizes his thunderbolts, then the whole world trembles with fear. In just the same way, when my hand wields the scepter, and thunderbolts are hidden in my scepter, then will I terrify, smite, crush, and exterminate these wicked Furies of the realm and these plagues on the public weal. The world will learn that I am equal to wielding the scepter.
ENVOY I come as Caesar’s envoy. I ask for peace and tranquillity for the empire. Be kind and hear his words with a gentle ear, words with which he expresses his pain and that of the empire. Refrain, my prince, as you should, from aggravating his wound with fears of another wound.
AND. Tell me whatever he has commanded. It is very pleasing to me to see that my nephew has awakened from his gentle slumber, and that a character both capable of and greedy for glory now lives in his noble heart.
ENVOY Alexius opens a welcoming heart to you and longs to embrace his dear uncle, since a hateful Fortune has begrudged him golden hours for so many years. But since storms of uncertainty now roil the kingdom and universal anxiety pervades the city, avoid increasing this fear; do not bring in your soldiers. Caesar asks this of your well-known loyalty. Order the troops which you brought with you to depart. He will select and place by your side the number of soldiers, acting as bodyguards, which your high status demands. In this way the kingdom, entirely freed from any fear, will happily rush into your embrace on its own accord.
AND. It is clear that Caesar has paid too little attention to my character. Otherwise why does he call my fidelity some kind of crime? It is true that my person is surrounded by a chosen band of soldiers, but he should fear no tempest arising from them in his kingdom. I come as an uncle, and I know what the ties of blood demand. Nature has established the laws of love written in shared blood. If he assumes that I am bringing a wind to sweep away peace, he is seriously misled, and his fear does not befit a nephew. If some concern about the empire is torturing his mind, let him turn his eyes to the situation of the people, and let him notice how many wild beasts, those thirsting for blood and those stained with the murder of so many dead, have seized this noble empire. Wherever you turn your eyes, there’s an ocean of evil which has entirely flooded the glory of the East. But either he doesn’t see this oncoming whirlwind, or he pretends he doesn’t. As a result he slumbers in his duties and neglects the plague which is spreading and is harming the people because of that rascal Sebastus and that immoral Xene, that disgrace to her family. If the boy has forgotten any concern for his honor, then I will oppose their arrogance and pride, and I will put underfoot and will trample down their haughty, savage, vicious, wicked monstrousness. The safety of the imperial nation, the care which I owe to the people’s welfare, and the honor of my family urge me to this course.
ENVOY So you have determined not to put aside your soldiers?
AND. Who do you think you are questioning? Andronicus? I swear by God the Avenger that no soldier will leave my side before that treacherous, arrogant Sebastus is removed far from his duties in the court, and before I see that he is spending the rest of his days in the base state of a private citizen.
ENVOY Then hear these commands: I declare you guilty of lèse majesté against Caesar, a rebel against your country, a traitor to the empire, and an enemy of the common welfare. Thus Caesar commands. Leave here. Be guided by Caesar’s wrath.
AND. That’s directed to me? I’m a rebel? Guilty of harming the nation? An enemy of the people’s welfare? Caesar’s wrath falls on my head? Will I suffer this brand to be burned into me? And in the meantime, as if he were completely trustworthy, Sebastus controls the palace and the nobility as he wishes? This day will now determine whether Sebastus’ disloyal loyalty is more powerful than this my hand which burns with righteous flames.
ACT III, SCENE iv
In order to restore peace to the empire, the nobles deliberate about sending Sebastus to prison
HENRY, ADRASTUS, CLEARCHUS, ISAAC, STEPHEN
HEN. Even though the raging Fates have knocked down and are arrogantly crushing underfoot the empire’s national welfare, and at first glance destiny has made a mockery of the loyalty which I expressed through my sword, I still swear by Cynthius, who animates the stars, and by the golden torch of daylight that — even if my first arrow flew without wounding anyone — the second will not go astray. I will continue what I have begun. I will not withdraw my hand before the fog lifts and a brighter day shines on this mournful realm, before peace riding in her golden chariot returns to the empire. If the task is serious, it requires serious consultation. So, my friends, let’s examine the ways, means, and methods by which our distressed fortunes can be set upright.
ADR. There are two poles of our blessedness: A concern for peace, and a concern for the empire’s national welfare. Our loyalty turns on these hinges. But when a disease afflicts the highest level, then we must apply the best remedy for this definite evil. The cause of our troubles is well known; the people and the nobility openly shout it out: Sebastus is recognized by all as the subverter of our holy peace. We must tear up the source of this evil by the roots. Then will arrive that day of peace, which the people pant for with so many prayers. Why are we then so slow, so lazy and slothful? Will we allow crime to enjoy free rein? Let us elevate our spirits, and with the power of these elevated spirits let us break those chains in which our country has lain so long, in which our beautiful liberty has mourned. With these let us ward off the power of this traitor to the empire, and if good Fortune turns a favorable face to us, let us lay these heavy chains on our enemy. From this a two-fold benefit will accrue to bless our mournful realm: Andronicus will be pleased with this victim and will move his army away from the walls; and Sebastus, who has raged so far unchecked, will cease to oppress the people with his fury.
CLE. Let the fires of righteous vengeance rage against this one man, since life will return to the entire empire from his death. Let one fall victim to the sword so that many innocent men may continue living. To be sure, this man, born from the mob, raised in a plebeian family, will fall as a private citizen. The blind goddess, who hates the best men, lifted him from the mass of base rabble and elevated him to the peak of honor, so that he could trample on the people’s necks in his pride and impose a monstrous yoke on the court. If our higher feelings should suggest that we have mercy, let him groan laden with chains and be taken to the farthest reaches at the ends of the earth unknown to man. There his constant flood of tears will water the collapse of his lofty destiny and the flames of the wrath which he ignited. In this way I hope calmer days can be returned to the palace.
STEPH. I support the feelings of your wise heart. Let Sebastus perish. Heaven demands this; good sense urges this. But when this enterprise attains its end, what a tempest will roil this nation’s ocean! What madness will rage on all sides! How divided into factions will the people be! Armed troops surround this wicked man’s person. How much strength will be needed to bind him! How many schemes! In this matter skill will aid our efforts, and our efforts our skill.
ISAAC. We must first resort to deception, so that the tempestuous mob does not rise in a tumultuous storm. If our schemes meet skillfully prepared schemes which smash our plot, then I think we must use force. Force takes the stage when deceit fails.
HEN. My lively heart is not short of schemes or skills, when it is aimed at the public welfare. Move out, my soul! Move out, my happy soul, where heaven directs. But the hinges are creaking. Caesar is coming. You all take your stand here in this place while I hide myself and secretly catch Caesar’s thoughts.
Isaac, Clearchus, Adrastus remain on stage. Henry hides in the wings.
ACT III, SCENE v
Alexius grieves over the disturbed situation of the state. Sebastus and Stephen console him. He orders that all steps should be taken to prevent Andronicus from sneaking in and gaining the people’s favor.
ALEXIUS, SEBASTUS, STEPHEN
AL. O how bitter is the fate of rulers! O how brief is the favor of Fortune, who is inclined to harm us! How far has our magnificent realm’s splendor and the love and respect for Caesar fallen! I believe that a thousand troops of Furies have burst out of the filthy caverns of Orcus. They are making a violent attack on our heart and rending my entire bosom. Grim Alecto is hurling her brimstone torches everywhere throughout the empire, but the target of her violence is my breast. Her missiles, her fires are flying here, here her fury is unloading itself. O what a storm is falling on my distressed heart! When will I be granted a time of respite from my torments, a time when I, unhappy Caesar, can see clear daylight free of clouds and live with no trembling fear and mental affliction? O wicked stars! Is making a mockery of royal scepters a joke to you? The higher we are raised above the plebeian sea, the more inward fear tortures us and sinks our hearts beneath the stormy waves.
SEB. Your situation is indeed unhappy, my emperor, as is the condition of the realm. But you must not give free rein to grief. Grief and fear disturb what must be done. If reason is master of the throne, then our safety will be secure. Any danger vanishes when faced with planning and skill.
STEPH. We are happy and unhappy only by thinking so. Our unhappiness is only as great as we suppose it to be. Still, heaven is not so contrary as you think it is. Turn the thoughts of your wise mind, the light of reason, and your planning and adapt them to our distressed affairs. Then you can hope for joyous days for the empire.
AL. You band of heroes, now listen to your Caesar. The current situation of the empire and the state of affairs demand wakeful eyes. So I am commanding each of you to be an Argus for me. Stephen, you muster the fleet in the nearby waters. If perchance my uncle tries to cover the sea with his fleet, oppose him with equal force. Isaac, marshal our troops in the field, and let each man be an example to the others of martial strength. Wherever Andronicus sees a crack to enter, let him find a plug. We must act with equal courage until we see the enemy expelled from this land. Clearchus, you hold the forum and the walls, and in every area set a careful watch of Mars, so that there is no place for a citizen to join the empire’s deadly enemy. Adrastus, you guard the palace gates so that no sneaky enemy can break in. I will give the common soldiers a significant weight of gold. Only a mass of clinking gold will keep the loyalty of the plebs in order.
ACT III. SCENE vi
John appears before Alexius. He explains how he was freed from prison. Alexius is indignant and threatens John with death. John laments that his loyalty is unwelcome to Caesar.
JOHN, MANUEL AND THE ABOVE
JOHN Augustus Caesar! Behold this defendant prostrate at your sacred feet! I burst out of prison; I shook the chains from my hands and feet. This could be considered a great crime, but one that, if rightly seen, should not provoke your anger. What you see here is the loyalty of a spotless heart and a deep concern for your safety. These qualities knocked off my chains and paved the way for me to come before your face.
MAN. Is this my brother? Is some apparition making a mock of my eyes? Do I really see him?
SEB. What ominous thing do we see? Is John freed from the gloomy cavern and does he throw himself boldly at Caesar’s feet?
AL. My spirit is astounded and foresees great trouble. I cannot believe what my eyes behold. Straighten your bent knee, and tell me truthfully how you broke out of prison, how you removed the chains so tight on your feet.
JOHN At your command I will recount what will astound your mind, what you will scarcely believe. For a long time laden with iron, bound in the darkness, I was bewailing the hatred of a harsh heaven and the dire destiny which has torn me from your side and denied me the opportunity of repelling evil schemes from Augustus' person. Suddenly I hear a dull sound of arms and the doors of my foul prison are forcefully struck. Soon the iron bars are broken and fall to the ground, and the clear light of day returns to my startled eyes. I see the guards lying all around and swimming in their own blood, their weapons scattered, and people, men, and soldiers coming in a single rush. At last, out of the middle of the mob rushes Henry and loosens the chains from my hands and feet. He was saying: “Get up, sluggard, and make your hand ready to exact vengeance. It is shameful for anyone with a nature drawn from royal stock to watch unmoved when some disgrace falls on your family, to not feel righteous rage stirring you to immediate revenge. I swear by the spotless stars that I am attacking Sebastus’ wicked pride, and I will crush his boldness with my sword. If any similar spark burns in your breast, then be bold, John. Approach your father and beg that he provide Henry with the wrathful troops that he has ready. The case allows for no delay. Haste your steps.” Having said this he swiftly left that place. Astonishment seized my mind and terror rushed into me and took control. But that old integrity, loyalty, and love, which has always respected your talents, Augustus, returned to my mind and commanded me to fall at your sacred feet and reveal to you this wicked plot. Augustus, if you value that loyalty which I have often shown towards you, then take this advice which has entered to my mind. In order to remove any excuse for this horrible, evil scheme, command Xene to withdraw into seclusion on her own accord. Then you will see these hostile fires die down, and that force, which now rages under our walls and brings death on its menacing swords, will retreat. Now, Caesar, be aware how much I oppose my own father and show loyalty to you. Do not allow the city to be open to my father. The situation will not become serious, if you do not despise my advice. First, let the people be drawn away from his faction, and have them vow their loyalty to Caesar’s welfare by purchasing it with a shower of gold. Then control the nobility. In this way the nation and this nation’s security will be stable and devoted to your scepter.
AL. You are advancing your schemes on a very bold footing. That advice which a traitor to his lord conceives is always suspected. If a heart has once begun to be treasonous, it will never recover its old loyalty.
MAN. Augustus, what anxieties are you imagining? Anxieties about my father? That man has a base nature who fears an enemy who is guarded by poorly armed soldiers and who cannot summon troops from anywhere else. If the situation demands, I myself, his son, will rush with vengeance against my father and on Caesar’s side will repel his wicked force with my own powerful sword. Nothing should be granted to blood, when the matter involves the prince whom God has commanded us to obey. My father is nothing to me if he is plotting schemes against Caesar Augustus.
JOHN Prince Augustus!
AL. Be silent, traitor, and depart. Your doomed voice has expressed enough evil. One course is now left, that my damaged majesty defend its honor and expel your wicked soul from within your breast. Attendants, remove this criminal, bind him with iron, and stick him in some hidden cell.
AL. Traitorous tongue, are you not silent yet?
JOHN For what crime am I arrested?
AL. Princes are not required to give reasons to anyone for their orders or acts.
JOHN King Augustus!
AL. Unfortunately for you, I am the king who may avenge the evil which you perpetrated.
JOHN O earth, O heavens! Hear me in my misery!
AL. The stars are deaf towards the prayers of a wicked tongue.
JOHN O celestial bodies! What evil did I unwittingly perpetrate? O unhappy Caesar! I grieve for your lot, not for mine. When you stop me from speaking, you are refusing to learn about secret plots and are obstinately rushing into your own ruin. But let Avernus sharpen its sword for my head, and let the abyss of Hades rage. As long as blood flows in my veins (even if pierced with the sword), I will die with the loyalty which ever I pledged to Caesar.
ACT III, SCENE vii
A squire brings news that the city is in an uproar and, armed, is fiercely attacking Sebastus.
A SQUIRE AND THE ABOVE
SQUIRE Caesar, I request your permission to announce an unfortunate event.
AL. What storm is lashing my destiny?
SQUIRE A storm which can deprive the buildings of their inhabitants and can cover this noble city’s homes with ashes
SQUIRE This storm does not brook any delay, nor does grief allow me to speak. Hasten to bring some remedy!
AL. What evil is crushing the people?
SQUIRE The whole city is in arms. Soldiers are rampaging through all the streets. Wherever the fury of these savage soldiers brings them in their mad rush, rivers of spilled blood soak into the soil and piles of corpses lie scattered about.
AL. Against whom is this tempest raging?
EPH. One popular word burns brightly among the swords: “May Sebastus perish! May this final affront to our empire perish!
AL. Who started this villainy? Who first put a torch to this madness?
SQUIRE Henry started this movement. He climbed the hill and seized the church in the citadel. Then, since he is very eloquent, he filled the disturbed plebeian mob with his own rage.
AL. That’s enough. O Fortune, what a liar you are! How far will you go? You can do this with no consequences! Men, now is the time when you must show Caesar that the flames of your old fidelity still burn in your breasts. Follow me to the palace.
Go to Act IV