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Panurgus tells Basilindus what he has heard, and, since this has him raging with anger, he can barely calm him with the hope of a new deceit.

spacerPAN. This is proof of your wiliness, Panurgus. Go and steal a march by your cleverness, you shrewd inventor in the Grecian art of deception. Has ambition won fine spoils. thanks to you? Has Basilius gone down to Orcus to dwell among the shades, dislodged from his throne and headless? You ignoble beast! Why not henceforth live in virtue’s camp as a harmless, innocent, openhearted lad? Be that as it may, your first effort was a failure. Is there no way of escaping this trap? Everything’s ruined. But even if everything is ruined, Panurgus lives on. Here you may see devices, anger, crime, the whole arsenal of the god of the Styx. I have it. I’m reborn, I’m given a new mind. (He hesitates, plunged in thought.) That rage was by way of a preface, like a skirmisher, like a raw recruit. Have you seen what my first ardor, what my hands could accomplish? Now I’m Panurgus. Let the quarry come into my snares, let him come entire. My genius in evil has increased. [Enter Basilindus.]
spacerBASILIND. How my mind yearns to find out what cunning Panurgus’s industry and first scheme will accomplish! (At the sight of Basilindus Panurgus first hides in a corner of the stage, and then voluntarily reveals himself to him.)
spacerPAN. But look here, my prince is coming close in this direction. Now you goddess of that cheating Ithacan, come and help your circumspect servant.
spacerBASILIND. Have my wishes turned out well? Has the wind prosperously driven my ship through Nereus’ realm?
spacerPAN. The friendly goddess promises golden good fortune, but she won’t give it by her usual arts. Everything stands revealed: our wishes, our counsels, our tricks. Compelled by savage threats of an unspeakable death I disclosed everything. The quarry escaped the nets, and your brother has consigned your person to Avernus.
spacer BASILIND. Everything stands revealed? The king marks me down for death? Three-throated Cerberus, is this how my guts will flow out through chinks cut in me? Is this Panurgus, that inventive speaker, that cunning artist of deceptions? Spew forth your base life’s breath. Die, you two-tongued rascal, you betrayer of my honor. (He attacks Panurgus with a drawn sword, bent on killing him).
spacerPAN. Control your Furies, stop. Where are you rushing, headlong? You will involve yourself equally in my downfall. If the shedding of blood would purchase you a scepter, I’d gladly die. But let my life be spared for you sake: you have no idea of my furtive devices, you have no idea of the labyrinthine inner recesses of my wit. A rich supply of a thousand shifts crams my coffers. With me your companion, prince, you may quickly attack the palace.
spacerBASILIND. And volunteer my head for him to cut off with an axe? Die, you plague. You’re obviously a traitor.
spacerPAN. Spare your sword just a little, what a monstrous difference there is between rage and counsel! Pray hear me with a sane mind. It has been to many men’s advantage to be captured and harmed many to have done the capturing, as you’ll learn from the sequel. I’ll set my trap at the very place they’re triumphing, where they’re swelling with pride. Soon you’ll have Aristobulus caught in his own net. The odium of the deed will set afire the royal house, with me fanning the fire. Let’s go inside, I’ll explain the workings of my plan.
spacerBASILIND. I’m sheathing my sword. If you’re foretelling the truth, with that cunning hand of yours you’ll be my partner in wielding my brother’s scepter. (Exeunt.)


The boy breaks his promise to Aristobulus. Aristobulus sets traps for Basilindus’ return to the palace.

spacerBOY [Holding the casket he has been given.] Oh pretty daughter of boxwood, oh you glory of the Dryads, great thing that Aristobulus has entrusted to me, measure of my loyalty! What treasure lies in your secret bosom? Leaves of Thisbe’s mulberry nourishing worms which spew forth silk out of their snow-white mouths? Or dark brown onyx? Whatever darling thing lurks here, my heart is afire with a great desire to see it. But I’m forbidden. Aristobulus forbids it. My heart commands me open this unsealed box, as does this place, where there is no witness. Come, I want to have a look. {He opens the box and a bird flies out.] Oh, I’m wretchedly undone! You cruel bird! Is this how you abandon your faithful home and me, you runaway? This hand of mine wasn’t the one who snatched you from your parents’ sweet nest before you were fledged. Oh, if somebody would employ the art of Daedalus now to fit me with soaring wings or, Nisus, blue if your fate would bear me aloft so that Scylla would pay the penalty for my faithless crime! [Enter Aristobulus.]
spacerARIST. Forget your fears and take this royal warrant.
spacerBOY My severe master approaches.
spacerARIST. Does your promise stand, stronger than adamant? Come, quickly produce the thing I entrusted to you.
spacerBOY I humbly cast myself at your feet. Don’t spurn my entreaties, prince. When my mad curiosity opened the shut box given into my care, the accursed bird took flight. Taught a lesson by this evil, I promise better. Often a stumble teaches a slipshod man to walk better.
spacerARIST. Has faithfulness thus fled the young? You vile reproach to this earth! Your head is lighter than a feather! Go, follow that bird of no fixed abode.


Aristobulus, together with his henchman and his servant, blue is stabbed by Basilindus and Thrasymachus. Panurgus shifts the odium of his murder onto the king himself by tampering with the warrant.

Basilindus hides his servant Thrasymachus behind a column in a side-alcove.

spacerBASILIND. [Aside.] Our battle-line stands drawn up, ready to fall upon the enemy. [Aloud.] You bright light of the royal household and terror of the guilty, summoned in accordance with my brother’s wish, I seek the court.
spacerARIST. Nobody more welcome has ever crossed the king’s threshold or my own.
spacerBASILIND. I appreciate your loyalty. But what new cause summons me to court.
spacerARIST. The safety of the king and his people, suffering under the same fate.
spacerBASILIND. Is envy, sent from the cave of Tartarus, tainting the air, bringing its black legions with it? How he thirsts to fight against us and sport with our throats with his hostile steel! Let these monsters be returned to Orcus. [Enter a murderer.] But what bastard whelp of Megaera walks this way? Who are you threatening with that armed band of yours, you hobgoblin? Who do you seek, you Fury?
spacerMURD. I’m seeking Basilindus. Let my steel leave my side and my hand seize its grips: thus command the mandates of our offended king and the Furies of my sword. (In his right hand he holds his drawn sword, in his left a pistol.)
spacerBASILIND. I’m betrayed. Is this how you set your traps and break your word, Aristobulus? (When Basilindus gives a signal with his foot, Thrasymachus silently makes an unexpected assault on the murderer from behind, having first knocked the pistol out of his hand, and stabs him thrice with a dagger. Then he gathers up the fallen man’s weapons and dashes off. Basilindus attacks Aristobulus with a dagger as he stands amazed at this development. Then Panurgus, who has been awaiting all this in the doorway, rushes to his side.)
spacer THRAS. Take this, and this.
spacerMURD. Oh, I’m dead.
spacerTHRAS. Climb aboard Charon’s skiff, floating on the lake of deep death.
spacerPAN. How our enemies are spewing forth a river of blood! My prince, how this scene of gore delights my eyes!
spacerBASILIND. Now the purple robe is being dyed for me in its Tyrian cauldron, and soon the victorious laurel will wreathe itself around my brow as a trumpet-call salutes me.
spacerPAN. Your brother is alive, Basilindus. This final act of the scheme remains to be performed.
spacerBASILIND. Carry the crime to its conclusion.
spacerPAN. You see this document? It will be altered so as to bear the name of Aristobulus, and say that he has been sent to the Styx by royal command. This dust, more precious than gold, will erase your name.
spacerBASILIND. I like the device. (A commotion is heard and Aristobulus’ servant enters.)
spacerSERV. What shouting assaulted my ears. Oh, this manner of death! Is Aristobulus thus dead?
spacerBASILIND. But where are your feet taking you?
spacerSERV. I’m horrified! My hair is standing on end.
spacerBASILIND. Dismiss that childish fear and regain your courage. A hateful fellow has died. A better fate awaits you, a wallet overflowing with a cloud of gold, if you tell the lie that this house has been befouled with blood at the king’s command, and you were hired as an accomplice to the murder.
spacerSERV. I abominate wrongdoing. Let just punishment befall the parties to the crime.
spacerPAN. Is it pride that makes you bombastic?
spacerBASILIND. You stupid beast. Tell Rhadamanthus blue about the pious bonds of loyalty. (Stabs him with a sword.)
spacerSERV. Oh, the blow!
spacerPAN. [Indicating the murderer.] blue Let the warrant remain concealed in that man’s bosom, so that Neobulus may find it and consign the king’s person to the shades. The boy will be furious. (Exeunt, leaving the three corpses in the alcove.)


Having found the warrant in the henchman’s bosom, Neobulus joins with Basilindus and Andronicus in a conspiracy against the king.

Enter Neobulus, frightened by the commotion and filled with dread. He is preceded by a boy, carrying a burning torch. He takes the torch and explores everywhere. Finally, seeing the corpses at his feet, he stops and speaks.

spacerNEOB. What an ominous scene! What crime do I see? Whose faces are smeared with blood? I recognize them, I recognize my father’s glory. (He falls to his knees.) Oh, if any strength still flows within your veins, speak, tell me what sword inflicted this unhappy wound upon your breast? Oh the sorrow! Alas for the evil! Oh, if I could have suffered this cruel wounding in my own side! Oh, if by my onbreathing renewed warmth would return to your veins! Then one breath of life would preside over two men. (Aristobulus, raising his eyes, with his head drooping, tries to tell what happened with his dying voice, but in vain. Unwisely interrupted by his anxiously son, he dies with half-spoke words in his mouth.)
spacerARIST. Oh son, I die!
spacerNEOB. You still breathe, father? You refuse to let a son do his final duty? Give me an enemy, father, tell me the man responsible for this killing. Why does your Minerva-guided mouth, that oracle of our family, fall silent?
spacerARIST. The king com-mand- ded —
spacerNEOB. This crime?
spacerARIST. No, not this crime. Basil — Oh, I die. (As he fails in mid-breath, Neobulus gets to his feet, comes to the center stage, and places an evil interpretation on these ambiguous words.)
spacer NEOB. Alas, the pain is cutting off his breath and snatching away his soul. His half-words indicate something cruel. “King Basilius ordered a crime. Not a crime.” A Hellish crime! Abominable, dire, hateful! It is a crime to destroy Aristobulus, father. Isn’t it a crime?
spacerARIST. Ah!
spacerNEOB. Stop. Where are you going, father? (He expires. His son runs back to him and falls on his knees, but too late. He stands up and makes ready to kill himself above his father’s corpse, but is prevented.) Let me gather the final breath of your fugitive soul, or let mine join yours in flight. Should I survive my father? When my sun sets, eternal night ensues. Come, my breast is bared.
spacerANDR. Stay your steel? Why are you madly striking, boy?
spacerNEOB. By the Styx, by its streams, by the lakes of Tartarus, I’ll follow my father. My sorrow allows no bridle, nor does it fear death.
spacerANDR. And yet it fears a crime.
spacerNEOB. I see a sunless light, I draw half a breath. Life perishes for a man when all the profit of his living perishes. You see this man?
spacerANDR. A foul crime! Aristobulus, the great intellect of our realm, is dead. Done in thus. I’m breaking forth in flames, and sorrow pierces my mind with a rage for revenge.
spacerNEOB. You’re over-late in preparing for revenge, since this was accomplished swiftly, and his life cannot be restored by the death of the guilty.
spacerANDR. But my great sorrow can be avenged.
spacerNEOB. The chance for revenge has perished, when our enemy is safely hidden.
spacerANDR. Let him lie hidden beneath the unfriendly Caucasus or dwell in a world brightened by another sun, he’ll still pay his due funeral-offerings to your father when he has been put to the slaughter.
spacerNEOB. What if the impious king himself was responsible for such a great wrong?
spacerANDR. I swear by Olympus, the king will pay the price. (Basilindus enters as if unaware of everything and coming along by chance.)
spacer BASILIND. Greetings, Neobulus. I’ve come at your father’s behest. But what falling tear besmirches your undeserving cheeks?
spacerNEOB. You behold a perennial fountain of tears. My father lies before your eyes, an empty weight.
spacerBASILIND. Aristobulus dead? What Procrustes, what Sciron could do this deed? You ungrateful nation! Has nobody shown the initiative to arm his avenging hands? Alas, he has set down his drooping head, and his eyes, those stars of the realm, are dim. Would that the dire hand which gave Aristobulus over to death had stricken this breast of mine — (Aside.) unless he has slaked his thirst for enemy blood. [Aloud.] But why delay? The thing itself speaks of deceit. Nobody would have used his steel on such a great personage without the king’s command. I fear a brother’s crime. When he caresses someone, he’s preparing that man’s death. Neobulus, see what this masked man has hidden in his bosom. Perhaps you’ll find evidence of the crime. (Neobulus rifles through the murderer’s clothes, and while he is investigating his bosom he pulls out the altered warrant, which he quickly shows to Basilindus and Andronicus.)
spacerNEOB. The crime! The crime! Alas, I recognize the king’s hand.
spacerBASILIND. I recognize the tyrant. Read his terrible pronouncement. (Neobulus haltingly reads it, gnashing his teeth. The others register their indignation.) A writing worthy of a Nero!
spacerANDR. Bloodthirsty words!
spacerNEOB. Is they the reward for his efforts? This is the faithfulness of kings. I was afraid of his riddling words. A half a sound would have suppressed such a great crime. This is what my father was trying to reveal, but as he was speaking death’s hateful chill and his wound checked the way for his gurgling voice.
spacerBASILIND. Why is our sluggish anger hesitating? I am preparing vengeance.
spacerNEOB. Will Basilindus dare raise his avenging hand against his brother’s cruel person?
spacer BASILIND. I dare depose my brother. And I swear by heaven that if a single drop of my brother’s blood flows through these limbs of mine, I’ll spill it too.
spacerANDR. Oh royal heart!
spacerNEOB. Oh golden pronouncement! I swear by the shades of my father, when his brother has been unthroned, the head of Basilindus will wear the royal crown.
spacerBASILIND. Let us take up arms. Let us consign the king’s unjust person to the shades. Set your avenging hands on the corpse of Aristobulus. (In the manner of a reverent man, he is the first to set his right hand on Aristobulus’ body, and the rest imitate him. And behold, at Basilindus’ touch blood flows afresh from Aristobulus’ breast.).
spacerNEOB. AND ANDR. We set our avenging hands on the corpse of Aristobulus.
spacerNEOB. What’s this? Does a new stream flow from the stab-wound in his side?
spacerBASILIND. That’s good, by the token of his blood he shows he approves our piety, and this blood is a further stimulus to it. Join me in an oath. I call the Styx below as my witness, I swear by Aristobulus’ beloved person, this cruel tyrant and all his line will fall. (Having no doubt of Basilindus’ intention and in the presence of this omen of his piety, the repeat the oath, keeping their hands on the lifeless corpse.)
spacerNEOB. AND ANDR. I swear by Aristobulus’ beloved person, this cruel tyrant and all his line will fall.
spacerBASILIND. We have taken our oath. To arms. Whoever grieves for Aristobulus, follow Basilindus as your leader. (They depart with drawn swords.)


As the king is giving pious admonitions to his son, he is arrested by the conspirators.

spacerBASIL. Oh your father’s darling and rising sun of our empire, if my blood flows through your veins, let there also be a shared course for our manners and our life. Keep these precepts fixed deep in your mindful heart.
spacerTHEM. My thirsty mind craves the quenching water of your heavenly stream. Water my dry marrow, Father.
spacerBASIL. You sow what you reap. So sow the seeds of piety, my boy. Your old age will bring you sweet harvests.
spacerTHEAG. After their death, God, a severe punisher of crimes, judges men in power. Keep your eyes fixed on this. And lest death’s hand strike you unawares, always live as if you are about to die. (The conspirators break in violently, with their swords.)
spacerTHEM. Alas, father, flee.
spacerANDR. You guards, prevent anybody from entering here.
spacerBASIL. Basilindus, Andronicus and Neobulus are wielding drawn swords? What’s the meaning of this frenzy?
spacerANDR. Brother, seek your brother.
spacerNEOB. And seek your father, son.
spacerBASILIND. You person, dearer than any brother or father, I accuse you of being a tyrant.
spacerBASIL. Oh unhappy day! Is Aristobulus dead?
spacerNEOB. By your crime, bloody Basilius. Do you recognize your warrant?
spacerBASIL. I recognize my brother. I know his tricks. By the Thunderer, I swear that sadder news has never assaulted my ears.
spacerNEOB. His crime is clear.
spacerBASIL. You see this, Astraea?
spacerBASILIND. Soldier, take away the accused.
spacerTHEM. Ah stop, soldier. What has my father deserved? In his innocence, what has he dared? If there is any guilt, it is mine. Basilindus, so that a brother’s blood may slake your thirst for gore, stab this breast. Here there is much of my father’s blood. As a son, I will not survive my father.
spacerBASILIND. Stop your bellowing, boy, you’ll have your wish. Lock up both these tyrants in a stony dungeon. (They are taken off and the others follow, except Theagines.)
spacerTHEAG. I suspect a great crime. A guilty man does not display such a complexion, nor does the king’s hand show the bloody marks of murder. (Exit.)

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