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ARCHOPHYLAX Governor of the city
SIMULUS, CENTO Chaplains to Archophylax
ADULANTIUS Servant to Archophylax
JOCULUS Jester to Archophylax
ERGASTES, SOPHRON Other names used by the jester
DIAGORAS Physician
COCODRILLUS Servant to the physician
PHILARETUS Friend to Sophron and Joculus
EUTRAPELUS Servant to Philaretus
SOPHRON Friend of Ergastes


COMEDY By no flapping of wings —
TRAGEDY nor on winged feet —
COMEDY nor borne upon pinions —
TRAGEDY nor upon wheels of chariots —
COMEDY have you come to London, —
BOTH most honorable spectators.
COMEDY Here there is a harbor, a trustworthy haven for prowed ships.
TRAGEDY Here the sweet Thames washes its pleasant shores.
COMEDY See the Bridge, studded with the sacred locks of martyrs.
TRAGEDY Here with its cares a prison oppresses sons of the Roman faith.
COMEDY Here is Captive Religion.
TRAGEDY She is weighed down by bitter evils.
COMEDY And now we leave the rest —
TRAGEDY to be kindly taken in by your ears—
COMEDY and your eyes.
TRAGEDY We come before you wearing the Prologue’s costume.
COMEDY From you we ask this one indulgence.
TRAGEDY To the stage comes a tragi-
COMEDY comedy.
TRAGEDY I have no concern for laughter, I prefer sighs.
COMEDY I prefer laughter, I have no concern for sighs.
TRAGEDY Being tearful befits languishing England.
COMEDY It befits languishing England to be consoled by being cheerful.
TRAGEDY Woe’s me.
COMEDY O happy day!
COMEDY Come forth, you jokes.
TRAGEDY I consent, spectators of England, as long as —
TRAGEDY you have the time to watch the play with friendly minds.


Repeated blows of flint and tinder inside, with an oil lamp adding its noise.

ADULANTIUS Joculus, Joculus.
JOCULUS (Within.) Hm.
ADULANTIUS Get up, you beast. The time of the cock’s crow has long since passed.
JOCULUS The darkness has not yet begun to brighten.
ADULANTIUS Quickly, if you don’t want me to cast some darkness on your shoulder blades. (He enters, carrying a basket loaded with figs and other dainties, wine, a jug, basin, towel, sponge, a felt hat, and his master’s robe.) Oh! What miseries I’ve suffered in my unhappiness! (Holding the sponge and felt hat in his hands.) By heaven, when you’ve said the word “servant” you’ve done a good enough job of rolling up all the world’s cares into one. “Go,” “run,” “hurry,” “fly,” “wake up,” “shut up,” “take care to.” These are my master’s commands. You must believe that a servant needs to have a tame tongue, hands and eyes. Joculus.
JOCULUS (From a window.) Hm, I’ll be there soon.
ADULANTIUS Soon? I’ll be waiting for you, jester, however soon this soon may be, I am afraid lest somebody stole the dormice from yesterday’s dinner, which have plunged you in such sleep last night. Hey, hey! What groans, what sighs this jester has provoked in me! There was a time, Adulantius, when your servitude shone, honorable and mild, and you were your master’s darling above all others. But from the time when Archophylax took this stupid, silly Joculus into our household, all favor went eagerly running towards him: he intercepts the laughs, the greetings, the gifts, the pleasant little speeches which ought to come to me. That I’m quick of hand, mobile of body, swift of mind, now Master places no value on that. Whatever good I do flies away on light wings, and my mistakes depart on leaden feet. And whatever serious work I do seems cheap in comparison with his tomfoolery. I admit he’s witty, and I understand what is granted jesters by Fate. He’s always prattling jokes and urbane sallies. So what? Must I become worthless? Must I be a no-account? I want to try everything before bearing such an insult at my age. Not for nothing am I named Adulantius. Upon my faith, I’ve made up my mind to deal in adulation, to play the parasite, and to invent a thousand forms of flattery, by which I may recover for myself my master’s former sunbeams. [Enter Joculus.]


ADULANTIUS See here, that object of my hatred (and also that source of my ruin) is coming out now. Greetings, you owl, doubtless Delay was your mother and Idleness your father, who bore you as their child Sooth.
JOCULUS (Enters holding in one hand a belt and…with bright red… , and rubbing his eyes with the other.) Aren’t I using my eyes, Adulantius?
ADULANTIUS I’d like them to be sunk inside your head, lest you use them in the future. Stick out your chest.
JOCULUS Adulantius, pray interpret what happened to me last night in my dreams.
ADULANTIUS Then I’d be playing the perfect ass, if I were to lend an ear to your dreams.
JOCULUS I seemed to be dragged to jail by the bailiffs, then all of a sudden I was shining in a golden garment.
ADULANTIUS Such as that in which you are shining now, dunce.
JOCULUS No, not at all, but one of velvet, decorated with gems and gold.
ADULANTIUS You may boast of your dreams, but, by heaven, last night I didn’t see any sleep with my eyes.
JOCULUS No wonder.
ADULANTIUS Why no wonder, you absurd person?
JOCULUS If you shut your eyes while sleeping, what do you mean about seeing sleep?
ADULANTIUS That’s good. So you see sleep with your eyes open, fool? Get away with this nonsense. Here, hold this dish. Keep your eyes closed. (Joculus holds the basin while Adulantius scrubs his face.)
JOCULUS Ah, Adulantius, handle me more gently, don’t rub me so hard.
ADULANTIUS No, I want to make your skin nice and white.
JOCULUS Ah. (He lets the basin slip out of his hands, and Adulantius slaps him.)
ADULANTIUS Do these childish things suit you, jester? This is hard, it will sting your skin more harshly. Nowadays jesters are delicate little creatures, they want to be handled gently, being men whom Nature has created out of the daintiest and most purified mud. Ha ha ha, if they were put under my control, I’d soon convert them either from fools into sages, or from idiots into madmen, for I particularly dislike fools. (He covers his head with a hood.). Take this morsel and disappear, you beast. (He gives him a cake, which out of hunger he gobbles down, …and sobbing.) But what irritates me the most is that jesters are plate-lickers and parasites. Whatever elegant dish is brought to table, partridge, doves, thrushes, or something sweeter, immediately it’s “Come here, darling Joculus, take this. Eat this, I tell you, sate your hunger with this.” Good gods, how everything goes topsy-turvy and athwart! I fear lest Joculus will soon get his hand on the helm of state, a fine form of government, if it please the gods, when blind blockheads lord it over prudent men. At least if you take my advice — (As the door creaks… he flees and … the felt hat.)


ARCHOPHYLAX Thanks be to the gods, I passed a happy and undisturbed night. No deceitful dream cheated me of my rest, I can feel that my limbs are more spry than usual, and I’m feeling some bit of my lost youth. By Hercules, I’m growing ardent once again and a dormant fire is flowing throughout my body. What if my beard were to begin to be golden again, and my head tawny, my wrinkles were to grow smooth, and the blood to paint my chubby cheeks, would I not put aside my old age and grow young once more? (Adulantius stands behind him, holding his gown and wool.) Ha ha ha, may the gods make it turn out well. And you, all-seeing Jupiter, who create the day and night, make this day safe for me to pursue my business, and let no evening spoil with its sorrow a day which I have forecast to be so favorable. (He puts on his gown and felt hat.)
ADULANTIUS My Joculus, why are you making such a racket with your sobbing? Stifle them and wipe away your tears, if you want my love.
JOCULUS If I can, Adulantius.
ADULANTIUS In my thoughts I can’t comprehend how much pleasure today will bring to our nation. For when I’ve visited death upon our Captive, she will no longer bewitch our minds with her life, her face, her tongue, her character. (Adulantius stands behind him with the wine and the napkin.) To tell the truth, I swear by the immortal gods, such is the angelic candor of her life, her countenance is so suffused with divine graces, there is such sweetness in her unsullied morals, such persuasion in her tongue, that if the Roman faith she worships posed no obstacle, I should think that she was not earth-born but fallen from heaven. But it is a source of frequent grief and tears for me that her mind remains unbudgingly in the so-called Catholic faith, so that she regards as trifles and hobgoblins the rackings and whippings with which I have frequently tortured her. But this day will put an end to the pain for both of us, to the Captive, whom I shall behead today, and to me, who will be troubled no more by faith, ha ha. I smile to myself when I think of the great triumphs with which our parsons and Puritan ministers will pass this happy day. With how many sermons, how many intoxications of the Holy Spirit they will brighten this festal day! Nor, for heaven’s sake, do I blame them for being so earnestly eager for her death, since her life has often made them blush red. For whenever they would enter into conversation with her about holy matters, immediately you could see these ministers stealing away, dumbstruck and purple with shame, so much does the goddess Persuasion rule the Captive’s lips. They. however, using the little dodges of logic and sophistries do not reckon this as a fault of their holy Gospel. Out of the whole crew I have picked two to be my domestic chaplains, not illiterate or unpolished: Cento (such they call the first), who has devoted himself to polite letters, and he does not say a word that is not a choice poetical snippet. But Simulus (the other rejoices in this name) takes pleasure in an austere Muse and sticks mostly to sacred writings. Yet when they assaulted the Captive in debate, she laid low the both of them, not without a great loss to their reputations (and I do remember this with pleasure). But however this may be, I greatly prefer a carefree Epicurean life to a Stoic or Roman one, beset by scruples on every side, so she will die. I piously sacrifice to you, Bacchus, whom they call Liber since you liberate us from our cares and troubles, that this turn out well. My Joculus, why didn’t you greet me before?
JOCULUS Greetings, master.
ARCHOPHYLAX Why this pallor on your cheeks? Why are your eyes swollen. Adulantius, what evil has befallen my jester?
ADULANTIUS As far as I know, none.
ARCHOPHYLAX I have a suspicion that you have peevishly given him a lashing or a tongue-lashing, as is your habit. Speak up, Joculus. If you have touched him, I swear by Jupiter that you’ll never escape misfortune, you scoundrel.
ADULANTIUS I did it unawares, if anything happened.
ARCHOPHYLAX What are you saying? Indeed, even if you were to hold your tongue, I would have found this out long ago. You do everything unawares and ineptly. Joculus, my dear heart, my sweet darling, speak up, has this man slapped you?
JOCULUS I lay in bed until late at night without being able to sleep, and I arose at first light. This, I fear, is why my eyes are red.
ARCHOPHYLAX How cleverly he dodges blame! Who has ever cast blame on himself? I know that your nature is rough and savage, for the future beware lest you do anything to make him even the least little bit sad or fearful. Come here my dove, my honey. As the Almighty is my witness, he who has harmed my jester even a little is attacking me, I won’t tolerate it. In my indignation I’ll pursue him until he pays me the due penalty for his hatred. My jester is that innocent, that free of every fault, he speaks nonsense so wittily, so modestly, so wisely. By heaven, a man wouldn’t get Joculus from me who offered me his weight in gold. But, as the time of day advises me, why am I delaying in pursuing this business seriously, but with prudence? Adulantius, take these things away, go inside, and that I may make a prosperous beginning, purchase a new set of rather heavy chains at the forum, and be sure to bring them home as soon as possible.
ADULANTIUS You are speaking to a man with wings. (Exit Adulantius, taking the wine with him.)
JOCULUS There’s no need for chains, Master, they’re steely work.
ARCHOPHYLAX Banish your fear, my Joculus, You are my captive by bonds of love, not steel.
JOCULUS But I’d prefer you likewise hold the Captive captive by bonds of love.
ARCHOPHYLAX Better to be a Prometheus than an Epimetheus, for it’s too late when you grow wise in the midst of your evils. I’m afraid lest our unbridled young men come a-flocking from all sides, captured by the Captive’s sweet talk, and rush to arms to assert her freedom by force, since they can’t by entreaty. Therefore to counter this evil I have chosen to have strong, huge new bonds made ready.
JOCULUS I beg you, Master, if there was ever any time when I provided you with any pleasure, you should remember it and not sully your joys with blood.
ARCHOPHYLAX What a pious and mild nature the jester has! My darling, my sole delight, let me not love myself rather than lose my love of you. I must be vigilant for you, for myself, for the public safety.
JOCULUS But it is right that this be done without killing.
ARCHOPHYLAX You speak eloquently, Joculus, and like a judge. The next thing is for me to convene the other magistrates. For thus our laws command, that nobody is to be executed without a parson and the rest of the supreme magistrates. Assuredly this is a pious and wholesome law, I’ll immediately comply with it. I’ll send you to fetch them, Joculus.
ARCHOPHYLAX Seek out Diagoras the physician.
JOCULUS The physician, Cocodrillus’ master?
ARCHOPHYLAX The very man, from the house across the street.
JOCULUS I understand, I understand.
ARCHOPHYLAX And afterwards Callio the lawyer.
JOCULUS Ah, the man who sows suits and sells quarrels.
ARCHOPHYLAX Ha ha ha, which he turns into grounds for reproach. You know him by experience, he’s a little too inclined to lawsuits. Visit these men and announce I wish a conference, my Joculus. Meanwhile I’ll tell my chaplains Simulus and Cento to summon Prurio the parson.
JOCULUS Ha ha ha.
ARCHOPHYLAX Why are you laughing?
JOCULUS As my master loves me, they’re a fine triumvirate.
ARCHOPHYLAX Why so, my right witty friend? Tell me, how do you like Simulus?
JOCULUS I like him very much, because his deeds always match his words.
ARCHOPHYLAX As befits an upright man.
JOCULUS For Simulus spends his life in simulation.
ARCHOPHYLAX Ho, ho, Joculus, he learned to dissimulate so that he wouldn’t forget to live. But, by heavens, in the future I’ll keep a closer eye on all his doings, and this because of my jester’s prudent speech. And don’t you embrace Cento, Joculus?
JOCULUS Why shouldn’t I embrace him, Master? Indeed I’d wish the cloak I’m wearing to embrace him likewise.
JOCULUS It would suit him admirably, because he always speaks in patches.
ARCHOPHYLAX Gods above! What could be more amusing. But does Prurio please you?
JOCULUS He pleases me.
JOCULUS He’s one-eyed, I admit, but he has both his hands. For he plays the fiddle with his most skilled fingers.
ARCHOPHYLAX With what intelligence he abounds! And this is the most pleasant thing of all. At intervals he spouts witticisms, in between he is a rock denser than any rock. Sometimes he excels the most clever men in wit, and he’s always harmless, and of a most mild disposition. But, Archophylax, you should hasten to pay out the thread you’ve wound on your spindle. Joculus.
ARCHOPHYLAX Do you remember my instructions?
JOCULUS Thus, thus I bear them in mind.
ARCHOPHYLAX Then go ahead and carry them out while I go inside and strive to bring the rest to fruition. ( Archophylax starts to exit.)
JOCULUS But Master —
JOCULUS If they’re not yet out of bed —
ARCHOPHYLAX You should make a thunder by pounding on their doors until you’ve chased sleep from their houses.
JOCULUS (Tells them off on his fingers.) Ha ha, Diagoras, Callio, the physician, the lawyer. Look here, I must fetch four men, Diagoras, Callio, the physician, and the lawyer. By Hercules these are four, or people are lying. For if you take the name of Diagoras away from the physician, you are taking away the physician. Callio, as they say, is canny, but most unlearned in the law. So I’ll only fetch two. But first I’ll hasten to call out Cocodrillus, a donkey lazier than any donkey. His habit is to snore until noon. Hey Cocodrillus, where are you? Hey, you most sweet little mouse, Cocodrillus, are you sleeping? Answer me if you’re asleep so I may go away. By heavens, he’s not asleep, for he’s not answering. I’ll try again. Cocodrillus, your pal Joculus very much desires you. Joculus, I say, who adores you so. Indeed, if I had the ability I’d pluck at his donkey’s ears with my fingernails, for the whipping-post is deaf and dumb while he sleeps. I’ll try once more, and wake him with a song, I’m sure. But if he eludes me, I’ll go off to the pastor straightway so that he’ll excavate the grave where Cocodrillus is hidden. For Cocodrillus wretchedly buries himself in sleep. So come now, Cocodrillus, sleep if you want, but lend an ear. My song is about Argus and Mercury.
Hundred-eyed Argus, fa la
Was given to a cow as a guard, fa la.
Sneaky Mercury
Hated this guard
And Argus grew sleepy, fa la la, fa la &c.
COCODRILLUS (From a window.) Hey there, hello, musician.
JOCULUS Hey, Cocodrillus.
COCODRILLUS Where are you, musician.
JOCULUS My master says to your master —
COCODRILLUS Your master! If my wits aren’t deceiving me Apollo’s your master, you sing so sweetly.
JOCULUS Ha ha, Apollo. Fa la la fa la la la.
COCODRILLUS Or if you’re one of the Muses, announce your name.
JOCULUS It’s me, Cocodrillus.
JOCULUS Not at all.
COCODRILLUS Ah, musician, wait a minute.
JOCULUS I don’t know if he’s babbling his deliriums awake or asleep, when he takes me for a musician. [Calls out.] Callio! Now I’ll make trial whether he’s driven the sleep from his eyes. If he hasn’t, or if he’s barely out of bed, woe’s me, what a hornet’s nest I’ll stir up against myself! For he’s wholly aglow with wrath.
COCODRILLUS Is the sky cloudy, musician?
JOCULUS Why cloudy?
COCODRILLUS I see the clouds gathering. It’s going to rain on you, ha ha ha ha &c.
COCODRILLUS It’s raining, musician. Prepare yourself, soon I’ll be there and I’ll thunder too.
JOCULUS But I want to guard against thunderbolts.
CALLIO Who’s so rudely bashing against my house, villain?
JOCULUS My master has need of your counsel, he wants a conference as quickly as possible.


CALLIODORUS By God, I was afraid lest a platoon of soldiers was laying siege to my front door Where is he. Now that rascally artillerist is nowhere to be seen. Let me have a close look to see if he’s inflicted any damage. If this has happened, unless the forty years I’ve spent at the law are of no use to me, I’ll sue him in the worst of ways. For I know full well how Ulpian would support me in his treatise On Doorbreaking, paragraph If the hinges. The bolts are behaving satisfactorily, they refuse to budge, nor do I see any crack in the jambs. Ah I’ve caught him, the thief, the triple thief, indeed the key thief. For he most thievishly absconded with the key without my knowledge or consent, I’ll make him restore it with all indemnities, or I’ll give his key a stout bash with my club. For according to the law If a thief in the digest On force of arms, Natural Law teaches us to bash a key with a club. But, oh, our times! Oh, the untamed manners of these buffoons, which make such a mockery of leading men! But while I’m a-boil I’ll rush inside and write a writ against this petty thief.


COCODRILLUS (Making his exit.) Ha ha ha &c. Where are you musician?
CALLIO Hm, I have a foreboding this is the robber.
COCODRILLUS Hey there, musician!
CALLIO I’ll stick around here tenaciously, keeping guard, and ensnare him with my professional lingo.
COCODRILLUS, Musician, come out, I tell you, you fearful little fellow, you won’t be able to stay hidden wherever you are lurking.
CALLIO What is this man blithering about musicians?
COCODRILLUS So come out, musician. It’s clear, the rain’s gone away, ha ha &c.
CALLIO What a fine job he’s doing of feigning madness, so he won’t suffer a worthy punishment for his stupidity! He won’t escape that way.
COCODRILLUS No doubt the musician’s dead, done in by the rain, or has absconded on injured feet.
CALLIO He doesn’t know how to talk about anything but musicians.
COCODRILLUS Ah Cocodrillus, what witty jokes you’ve invented for yourself this day!
CALLIO He’s hurrying this way, but I’ll scoot over to the door lest in his lunacy he harm the foundations of the house.
COCODRILLUS Ah, there he is. Hello, musician. Hey, were you him?
CALLIO What are you chattering, you epitome of all crimes? Why do you keep calling me a musician?
COCODRILLUS Fa la la fa &c. Argus wasn’t too sleepy to send rain, fa la la fa &c. ha ha.
CALLIO How can I be a musician?
COCODRILLUS I don’t care whether you prefer to call yourself a flautist, a lutenist, a drum-thumper, a harper, or an oboist, with these very ears I heard your song, fa la la fa, &c.
CALLIO What nonsense is this trash-talker thrusting upon me?
COCODRILLUS The fact of the matter.
CALLIO I’m ruined. So who will give back my key?
COCODRILLUS Ah, musician.
CALLIO Musician?
CALLIO If I didn’t see you are staggering less with your feet than with your tongue, I’d imagine you were drunk.
COCODRILLUS Fa la la fa &c.
CALLIO But latter you’ll find out to your misfortune how dangerous it is to attack magistrates.
COCODRILLUS Fa la la fa &c.
CALLIO Meanwhile give back the key, which you furtively stole while you were furiously fisting the door.
COCODRILLUS A club-bearer? With these bright blue eyes of his he’s claiming I’m Hercules
spacer CALLIO This offends my ears.
COCODRILLUS Indeed, Hydra, with this club Hercules will give your heads a thumping.
CALLIO What was this beating of my door about?
COCODRILLUS Thus you anticipate me? What was your touching of our house about?
CALLIO Our combat won’t be on equal terms. You wish the usufruct of my house? Even if the emphiteusis of the house had been granted you or it had been hypthetocated to you, yet you should consider me its proprietor. Restore the key, I tell you.
COCODRILLUS He’s speaking macaronically out of anger.
CALLIO I want the key. If you refuse I’ll drag you into court, I’ll carry you, I’ll snatch you.
COCODRILLUS This is a son of angry Vulcan, he immediately sets fire to whatever is touched.
CALLIO The key.
COCODRILLUS Sweetly, musician, as you should. If I disinherit you of your life, or cut off the life from your body without any little mutilation of your limbs, after that will you hale me into court?
CALLIO I’d still hale you, according to the law Of parricides, paragraph The noose.
COCODRILLUS Ha ha, I’ll take me off from here at a run and beg my master to administer some medicine to Callio. For the old man is being conspicuously foolish. A dead man hale me into court, ha ha!
CALLIO Soon I’ll have the bailiffs stop your singing with their staffs.
COCODRILLUS You set the bailiffs on me, traitor?
CALLIO Hey, what are you blathering, you barefaced buffoon? Traitor?
COCODRILLUS Yes, traitor.
CALLIO Me a traitor, who serves the nation with my life and my fortune?
COCODRILLUS You, I say, are a traitor, for you are betraying your stupidity.
CALLIO Why macerate my mind with more misery? This stupid chattel is not in control of himself. Get away from this house quickly, you impudent fellow.
COCODRILLUS No, you go inside unless you are a man who thinks he’s lived long enough.
CALLIO He threatens me with death. Oh, if you had said this in the presence of witnesses, you triple villain, you wouldn’t have babbled it with impunity.
COCODRILLUS (Showing his fists.) Here you have very present witnesses. If the door had not stood in the way, my right hand would have removed your head, ha ha &c.
CALLIO You knavish housebreaker, you won’t escape punishment.
COCODRILLUS Now look up the law by which you prefer me to smash down your door.
CALLIO Go away, I tell you, you very wicked man.
COCODRILLUS Here, musician, take the key. Fa la la.
CALLIO Most thievish thief of thieves, if I live the gallows will be your tomb, where all your ancestors are buried, your father, your grandfather, great-grandfather, great-great-grandfather, great-great-great-grandfather, great-great-great-great grandfather, your mother, your aunt, your grandmother, and all the rest from the world’s first beginning.
COCODRILLUS What do I hear, wretch that I am? He’s either speaking historically or mathematically. If he’s read histories and has discovered that my ancestors have departed this life by hanging, then I’m ruined, I’m bound to lose my life by the noose. I don’t want to degenerate from my ancestors, that suits bastards and the illegitimate. But if Callio has been chattering mathematically, then woe to the crafty old soothsayer, it’s he who will pay penalties by the noose, for he devotes himself to magic tricks, by which he condemned my ancestors to hanging. I’ll quickly hurry to my master. He has brought me up since I was small and in the cradle, I’ll eagerly try to learn about my parents. If this man is speaking historically, the jig is up for Cocodrillus, then I’ll consult the medical art to learn a ropish method of ending my life. For I desire to be buried alongside my ancestors. (Exit Cocodrillus.)

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