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DIAGORAS Go ahead, weep, you tearful fellow, I grasp your ways thoroughly. I tell you, you won’t put out my fire even if you dissolve wholly in tears, you log, you man made out of lead. Is it reasonable for you to live according to your style or according to mine? Do I seem a suitable man for you to deceive with that neglect of yours? You’re no servant, you’re a runaway who hangs about the marketplace.
COCODRILLUS (Tearfully.) I always do everything energetically with hands and feet.
DIAGORAS Yes, to cause me inconvenience.
COCODRILLUS No, to serve your advantage as much as possible.
DIAGORAS Be still, I tell you. I want to cut out that lying tongue of yours. What good you’ve done has been for your sake, not mine. But see, I beg you, how you talk nonsense. When I asked you why you went running out of the house the first thing in the morning, you mock me with a musician and rain, you dunce, at the same time babbling brokenly “my master, your master.”
COCODRILLUS That’s all the musician said.
DIAGORAS Can’t you keep silent, you joker? When I went on to ask you why you didn’t hurry home, you chattered about laws, ancestors and hanging, as if you imagine it right for me to hang myself. (Cocodrillus pretends to sob.) And yet in the meantime you always serve my advantage energetically with hands and feet. Indeed it’s to your misfortune that you have come with your made-up lies, ha. Why are you standing there, you rock?
COCODRILLUS Because I’m a rock. Therefore I stand.
DIAGORAS Blockhead. You’re a rock, but I want you to fly when I command it.
COCODRILLUS So I’ll fly. (He flees, and Diagoras pursues him with a great effort. He falls, then Cocodrillus raises him up and and falls on his knees, sobbing “Ah, ah.”) Ah, Master &c.
DIAGORAS You be a physician? Better for you to herd cattle, you cowherd, or feed pigs. For you the kitchen is the rule of life. Mere countryside, genuine countryside, countryside more hateful than any countryside.
DIAGORAS By heaven, I’ll drive you back to where you were born. With my blows I’ll dissolve you into primal matter, you rascal.
COCODRILLUS Ah, Master. Meanwhile you ought to spare my secondary matter.
DIAGORAS Your knees are more obedient to me than your hand or tongue.
COCODRILLUS A little punishment suffices for a wise man.
DIAGORAS. A wise man? So you’re wise. Why do you neglect me so, you whipping-block?
COCODRILLUS Sometimes you’re so star-struck that when I’m with you I’m not with myself. That is to say, I’m not where I am, and my mind wanders where I’m not.
DIAGORAS Whew! This business requires an Oedipus to decipher it. I’ll make it so that when you’re with me you’re equally with yourself, and that you are there where you are, you donkey, and that your mind doesn’t wander where you aren’t.
DIAGORAS And other habits of yours make me boil. You’re a bold-tongued chatterbox. Therefore, as I wish to spare my effort and words, it befits a wise man to be ignorant of that which he knows.
DIAGORAS And furthermore, guard against muttering what I ask. To speak medically, why has Nature fenced your tongue with a row of teeth, like a barricade, unless for the sake of restraining the forwardness of your words? Receive a pronouncement from this tripod: opportune silence is no less praiseworthy than a timely word.
DIAGORAS In the future I don’t want you to go even a finger’s breadth from home.
COCODRILLUS Not a fingernail’s breadth, Master.
DIAGORAS You promise?
DIAGORAS With that understanding I bid you be of an easy mind, I forgive your malfeasances. I’m possessed of a mild disposition, Cocodrillus. Against my will I would chastise you for your offences against me, it’s my affection that induces me to chastise you.
COCODRILLUS Ah, Master, you are Jupiter himself. Deservedly I worship you, I adore you, I venerate you.
DIAGORAS Do you understand, Cocodrillus, I how well I understand your affairs?
COCODRILLUS Oh yes, you’re an Argus, you’re all eyes. You even have eyes in the back of your head.
DIAGORAS He phrased that learnedly and poetically. Therefore I want to test your knowledge of medicine. Since I’ve reared you from infancy, I’m your father in instruction and advice, although not by nature.
COCODRILLUS (Aside.) No doubt he’s talking about my ancestors historically.
DIAGORAS Well then, first of all let us touch the peak of philosophy. For, as the aphorism has it, where the philosopher breaks off, there the physician begins.
COCODRILLUS But if the aphorism is telling the truth, then you are unjustly accusing me of being a philosopher.
COCODRILLUS I’ll prove it: where the philosopher breaks off, there the physician begins. I am beginning to be a physician, therefore I am ceasing to be a philosopher.
DIAGORAS Cocodrillus is a prodigy among intellects!
COCODRILLUS “He fell upon the sack, eager to smite Bacchus.”
DIAGORAS Bless you, if my prophecy has not deceived me I have a presentiment you are going to be a right learned physician. For Apollo taught the art of medicine to Aesculapius, Aesculapius to Podalirius, Podalirius to Machaon, Machaon to Hippocrates, Hippocrates to Diagoras, and Diagoras to Cocodrillus.
COCODRILLUS [Aside.] Ha ha, he has an inkling about the musician. [Aloiud.] Master, I myself always understood that Apollo was a musician, not a physician.
DIAGORAS You were mistaken, don’t show yourself ignorant of history. Let’s move to medicine. Wow worthy of God the medical art is can be seen in this especially, that every man has to grow ill before he can die, and then a physician is consulted.
COCODRILLUS I deny this, for those who die by hanging never grow ill.
DIAGORAS You’re wrong, my Cocodrillus, for they have a mortal fever. The symptom of this is that hanged men die with their feet twitching.
COCODRILLUS [Aside.] Soon I’ll be putting what he says to the test.
DIAGORAS But explain to me, how long is it given to a man to live by Nature’s resources, without medical assistance?
COCODRILLUS Until he grows ill.
DIAGORAS Ha ha, but when will he be in a bad way?
COCODRILLUS When he suffers from some spasm or symptom in his skull, in his diaphragm, in his liver, in his muscles, in his knuckles, or in his heel.
DIAGORAS Very learned. For Achilles died when indisposed in the heel. Oh you clever, keen-sniffing little physician! Continue onward and with equally good auspices you may spring to the pinnacle of medical knowledge. But we’ve devoted enough of this day to learning. Now let’s pass on to the rest with energy. I suspect that the message you brought from the musician was sung by Joculus. For the day before yesterday Archophylax told me he it would be his pleasure to meet me at his house. So seek his palace and receive a full account of his instructions.
COCODRILLUS You give this command to your most observant servant.
DIAGORAS Ah, I’ll wait inside until you return. (Exit Diagoras.)
COCODRILLUS May you go to Hell, you toadstool excavated from a dungheap. May all the gods and goddesses curse you. How my head is lumpy from all your blows! But now that I am free and have a free tongue, you’re a glutton for whom nothing is sweet but your fee, harsh and endowed with an evil nature, you stink of wine dregs. But look around with narrowed eyes lest somebody is standing around with talkative ears, not even a fly, and your shoulder blade afterwards have reason to blame you for your character. Oh the varying gifts of nature! What’s the difference between a physician and a fool? It’s incredible how much I surpass Master in wisdom, he’s ignorant and deserves to be stabled with the ignorant, whereas I, albeit small and slim, am nothing but intellect. But since I’ve just now come forth as a physician, I must adopt a new carriage and facial expression. (He struts around.) Depart, those with which I was previously in the habit of puffing myself up, you martial strides, warlike, boxer-like, Mars-like, rooster-like, (beginning to walk with mincing steps and using a slender voice) and come hither, you medical ones, wholesome, Apollo-like, Aesculapius-like, Cocodrillus-like. Henceforth I give you my feet to restrain.


JOCULUS (Counting on his fingers.) When I get to the forum, in an open area on the right is the blacksmith’s shop, next to the Sign of the Cat and Fiddle. There the smith will load me down with heavy chains.
COCODRILLUS Ah, musician?
JOCULUS Who is it? The sleepy rascal.
COCODRILLUS Fa la la, fa la la. May all evils eradicate you, jester. It was a fine plan for my backside when I ran out to hunt for you.
JOCULUS Tell me your misfortune, by heaven I feel sorry for you.
COCODRILLUS I am a physician, I don’t want to reopen closed wounds.
JOCULUS You want to reopen me?
COCODRILLUS Get away, you babbler of nonsense.
JOCULUS Don’t arouse my bile.
COCODRILLUS Hand, learn to fear cruel scars.
JOCULUS I’m keeping away, Cocodrillus.
COCODRILLUS Ah musician, where did you so craftily vanish when the rain began to fall?
JOCULUS You were Jupiter, you created that rain.
COCODRILLUS By heavens, you’re a soothsayer. I was. Did you get wet enough?
JOCULUS Thanks to my feet I speedily escaped the rain.
COCODRILLUS So your feet looked out for your head. Ha ha &c.
JOCULUS But why are you playing outdoors so idly?
COCODRILLUS Why are you acting so businesslike outdoors, jester?
JOCULUS I’m headed for the forum to fetch home some chains.
COCODRILLUS And you should invite me to come along, whom you may bring home bound in chains, you owl. Ah, you motley beast, is this so? This is a silly trick, Joculus, I’m not the one to be so easily attacked.
JOCULUS (Aside.) I don’t understand what he keeps spouting.
COCODRILLUS I’ve decided to follow my ancestors, but not by binding myself in fetters. Furthermore, there are some very weighty political words I must exchange with your master.
JOCULUS Nothing of them has crossed my mind. But, since you remind me, if you join yourself as a companion while I go to the smith, afterwards I’ll cheerfully bring you and those political words of yours to my master.
COCODRILLUS But one cause for hesitation remains.
JOCULUS Naturally.
COCODRILLUS If I accompany you, I don’t want to be proclaimed a jester in the streets. There troops of little boys would mock you with their jokes, and me as well.
JOCULUS But you will strenuously deny you’re a jester.
COCODRILLUS Oh yes, and if they don’t believe me, my fists will quickly make them believers.
JOCULUS So why don’t you buck up your courage?
COCODRILLUS (Standing with arms outspread.) By heaven, I’m hanging in the balance.
JOCULUS So let this be done by lot. Here’s a game in which we’ll compete. (Takes a rope from a little bag.) You hold one end of this little rope tight in your clutches, I’ll take the other for myself. If you take the rope out of my hands by force, that’s that, I’ll immediately go away, unaccompanied. But if I pull it away from you, together we’ll take a stroll to the forum.
COCODRILLUS Oh the fine intellect of an idiot! I agree, and I’d make you happy enough if I accompany you, for a witty friend serves as a conveyance on a journey.
JOCULUS No, you’d make me more than happy enough, for if you were my conveyance then I wouldn’t make the trip on foot.
COCODRILLUS. Come, let’s get moving. Begin. (For a while they go back and forth. Finally Cocodrillus falls down.).
JOCULUS Farewell, Cocodrillus, fate bids me go unaccompanied.
COCODRILLUS Farewell. Or rather, I should prefer to bid you be ill rather than fare well, unawares I’ve come to meet a jocular misfortune. Stay here, you whipping-post, you won’t say farewell that way, you dunce, you triple villain. (He quickly gets up, snatches his hood, and covers his head.).
JOCULUS So what have I done, oh my dear Cocodrillus?
COCODRILLUS You’ve done a fine job of reopening my wounds.
JOCULUS Let this be accounted a crime of your arms, they’re so strong. I couldn’t help but loosen my grip out of pain.
COCODRILLUS Is that the way a physician should be treated?
JOCULUS Why, a physician?
COCODRILLUS You ask? Apollo, Aesculapius, Hippocrates and the rest were my teachers. You deny this?
JOCULUS I’m not denying it, just give me back my hood.
COCODRILLUS In fact, I should be considered Apollo’s equal.
COCODRILLUS Since I’m beardless, and we likewise see Apollo represented on walls without a beard all over the place. You deny this?
JOCULUS But if Midas’ ears were now attached to your head, you’d make Apollo most hostile to you, you who thus insult him with your hearsay evidence.
COCODRILLUS Don’t make my ears ring.
JOCULUS Please give me the hood, most learned Cocodrillus.
COCODRILLUS I want you to redeem it for a price, or I swear by angry Aesculapius —
JOCULUS (Producing his flute.) Ah, Cocodrillus, you know how to play the flute, here’s a way I can ransom myself from captivity.
COCODRILLUS Ha, musician. Where in the world did you steal this, you thief?
JOCULUS Our chaplain Simulus gave me this today, and told me to soothe the little boys’ frenzy so that they wouldn’t overwhelm me with their shouts in the market place, it sounds so sweetly.
COCODRILLUS My darling Joculus, you’ll likewise give it to me.
JOCULUS Most willingly, so that I may render you a twofold Apollo, both a physician and a musician.
COCODRILLUS [He tries to play the flute. But Joculus has filled it with gunpowder, which blackens his face and temporarily blinds him.] Hey Joculus, where are you? Are you mocking me, you beast? How one evil springs from another! But if I live I’ll flay you in elegant ways. Where are you fleeing, my beloved eyes? Will somebody give a groat to a blind beggar? Nobody? Woe’s me, I seem wonderfully bound for ruin, for without a doubt the time has arrived when I shall visit my ancestors. But, oh, this has been mercifully granted me by the gods, that, being stricken in my eyes, I may not see my death. But yet, if there should be any of the immortal gods who is more propitious to the race of Cocodrillus — [His eyesight returns.] Oh ho, greetings, my returned eyes, you have come back safe and sound. Ah, you worst of all Joculuses, wherever in the world I chance to meet you, for you my cannon will fire a salute of fisticuffs.


SIMULUS Glory be to God on high. If you’re serious about doing this business, Cento, then you should spare your loquaciousness.
CENTO That’s so, but not all men deal in monosyllables.
SIMULUS You’ll do well. I fear that Prurio hasn’t got out of bed yet.
CENTO Sometimes good Homer nods.
COCODRILLUS [Seeing them, and putting on the hood to look frightening.] Hey, this is where I can conveniently get my revenge.
SIMULUS Alas, we’re ruined. Woe’s me, it’s Satan. Satan, get thee gone.
CENTO Keep far, far away, you profane person.
COCODRILLUS Joculus has done a fine job of disfiguring me, if he has transformed me from Cocodrillus into Satan. (Cocodrillus approaches them and falls to his knees.)
SIMULUS Why seek us for torment before our appointed day? Why this enthusiasm for punishing us?
CENTO Ah, what’s this mad fury, what’s this great zeal for doing harm?
SIMULUS Betake yourself to the dark shadows of Hell.
CENTO Flee from here, abandon all delays, the descent to Avernus is an easy one.
SIMULUS Betake yourself to the Styx, the halls of darksome Jove.
CENTO Go, ye savage souls, the gates of darlking Dis are yawning.
SIMULUS Ah, specter of Tartarus! Ah, citizen of Avernus!
CENTO Ah, Corydon, Corydon, a shade sans body and bones.
COCODRILLUS I’m Cocodrillus.
CENTO You’re a most evil liar.
COCODRILLUS There’s no faith in your countenance, you will pay your due forfeits, villain.
SIMULUS He is Beelzebub, in the guise of Cocodrillus.
COCODRILLUS Beelzebub? Don’t know the chap.
CENTO He speaks, the tears welling forth.
SIMULUS But crocodile tears are false. As soon as he sees a man, he produces tears so that he may devour his pitying victim.
COCODRILLUS I am Cocodrillus his very self, the servant of Diagoras.
SIMULUS Of the devil?
COCODRILLUS Of Diagoras, the physician in the next street.
SIMULUS Cocodrillus?
CENTO But how transformed from him!
SIMULUS I’m not in the habit, Cento, of entertaining such doubtful credit, even if upon his oath the Devil seeks to give my ready credit.
CENTO Believe. No storm harms the man who believes.
SIMULUS I beg you, Simulus, don’t consign innocent Cocodrillus to Hell.
COCODRILLUS He’s naming me, Cento.
CENTO Come, say, goddess-born, what unworthy cause has disfigured your serene countenance? You are marked with a black charcoal.
COCODRILLUS This was Joculus’ prank. He handed me a device full of gunpowder which he called a sweet-sounding reed, he bade me blow into it.
CENTO Ha ha, you to blow on the light reeds, I to recite verses.
COCODRILLUS As I emptied my puffed-up cheeks into the reed, suddenly the reed filled my eyes with powder.
SIMULUS. Oh, I’m slow! Oh, I’m a blockhead! What divinity has likewise dimmed my eyesight? This reed was mine. Get up, Cocodrillus.
CENTO Arise, ye Muses. (Cocodrillus offers Simulus the flute.)
SIMULUS I scarcely know whether I was alive or dead for fear.
CENTO I was dumbstruck, my hairs stood on end.
SIMULUS I devised this prank, so that Joculus might blow the powder in his eyes in the marketplace. But you should take what the jester gave you, I want you to pay tit for tat. If that doesn’t work, you may get revenge for his trick with fists, clubs, and whips. For to wickedly deceive upright men on the street is wrong, the mark of a most depraved rascal.
CENTO Have no doubt, Tantalus, revenge will diminish your sorrow.
COCODRILLUS (Quickly dissolving in tears.) I’ll ensure that the fool won’t trick me with impunity. Even if I had richly deserved it, yet that dullard did not deserve to do it. For I am a physician.
SIMULUS Right, Cocodrillus. You are wise.
COCODRILLUS If you had been of any use to me in that storm, venerable Simulus, perhaps I should not have taken it in such bad spirit, physician though I be.
SIMULUS So the more unworthy he is, the more merciless should be your revenge.
CENTO Draw an avenging arrow from your quiver.
COCODRILLUS For, having nothing on my mind and unsuspecting, I soberly came to you.
SIMULUS On what errand?
COCODRILLUS To announce to your master by my message what task Archophylax has set for him today.
SIMULUS I myself will earnestly instruct you, you may spare yourself the trip.
CENTO Stand by with ears pricked up.
SIMULUS Glory be to God on high. At length the Captive will pay the penalty for her faith, for us she will consecrate this day with her blood. You may tell your master that my master will not be behindhand in his duty at three o’clock in the afternoon.
CENTO Go now and bear my words through the swift air.
COCODRILLUS Oh, that Joculus could be punished by the noose at the same time, so that I might be borne aloft between heaven and earth, with the meteors!
SIMULUS Have no fear, Cocodrillus. There will come the time when we’ll make a fine hash of Joculus for his stinging wit against us. Meanwhile you announce these things to your master.
COCODRILLUS I’ll hurry, flying, and prudently make my report. (He starts to dash off.)
CENTO Where are you fleeing, ah, you madman?
COCODRILLUS Do you want something else of me?
CENTO Go, go, beware lest you stumble and break your mandate.
COCODRILLUS Rather, he who complains I’m breaking my mandate should break his head. Feet, don’t you stumble. [Exit.]
SIMULUS Now, Cento, let us reflect in our minds how Satan terrified us by means of Cocodrillus’ disguised face, and render thanks to the Lord of Hosts that we mocked Satan’s tricks so heartily.
CENTO It is not in our power to offer adequate thanks.
SIMULUS Now, fenced round by the protections of the Almighty, let us fetch the parson, so that we may celebrate this day with the festivity it requires, let us make a pious plan, and yet a circumspect one.
CENTO The business and the place will supply us with a plan.
SIMULUS In the meantime you should knock on the door and summon him, while I devise some sport, but no profane one.
CENTO You should obey their bidding then, when God’s dear children issue the commands. Oh guardian of the pauper’s garden, come hither, oh dearly beloved.
PRURIO (From the window.) What member of the idle class is making a din in front of my house?
CENTO Oh Meliboeus, a god created this idleness for us.
PRURIO Are you in the habit of disturbing a parson thus, Cento?
CENTO In the dawn, leaving the saffron bed of Tithon, Aurora now brightly enters the window.
SIMULUS Look at me, Prurio. Come out quickly, I tell you.
CENTO Come, if you are possessed by any care for your Corydon.
SIMULUS See here, I’ve long known that Prurio is a gentleman of very poverty-stricken speech, but I’ve discovered for the first time that he hates leaving his house.
CENTO People do not readily come out when hard domestic circumstances impede their virtues.


PRURIO Here I am, at your service.
CENTO Pan, the guardian of the sheep, has come.
PRURIO I’m a man of very few words.
SIMULUS Ha ha ha, perhaps you’re a man of three letters.
PRURIO If we must consult, let’s do it quickly. Any delay is long for a parson.
CENTO Begin, if you have something to say. I’ll create no delay.
SIMULUS You should hasten more slowly, Prurio. You’re a pastor. If you’re so poverty-stricken in your speech, how can you tend the sheep given into your care?
PRURIO You’re wrong, Simulus. It is the business of a careful shepherd to do his feeding with deeds, not words. I know how to shear my sheep, how to fleece them down to the skin. And sometimes to flay them, if I chance to come across a ram of Phryxus on whom I can cannily spot the golden fleece by its glitter.
CENTO Thus you do not shear the sheep for your own benefit. Here another shepherd milks them twice in an hour.
SIMULUS Unless Simulus is dissimulating, Prurio is a pastor of probity. For if sheep suffer under the onerous burden of their fleece, they suddenly grow torpid and engender diseases for themselves.
CENTO Disgraceful scabies attacks the sheep and their master.
SIMULUS But now hear in a very few words why we have disturbed you. It does not escape your attention, Prurio, that, to the eternal shame of us ministers, the Captive has piously used her dialectic and scholastic quibbles to make the people hate us.
PRURIO I am aware, but even with ropes you won’t drag me to that arena again
SIMULUS You are right in your prophesy, for this evening, as is your duty, you will be at a council meeting while she is beheaded.
PRURIO Ah Simulus, if you are not dissimulating, you’re speaking sweet words to me. (Prurio dances, making a noise with his feet.)
CENTO Hooves shake the soft ground with a quadruped sound.
SIMULUS I am speaking from Phoebus’ tripod, and we will spend a happy day, as is reasonable.
CENTO Command us as you will, we will obey.
SIMULUS Please give me your open ears. After dinner, when Archophylax is indulging in a little snooze, we two with our trusty Adulantius, who is a complete, true friend of ministers, will come here to dance, wearing a costume not inelegant, modestly but playfully. You, Prurio, who know how to play the fiddle, help us out with your instrument, and so all of us become carried away to the glory of God on high.
PRURIO I’m a parson, sparing of my speech but most generous with my fiddle.
SIMULUS Does this please you, Cento? Or if you can hatch some riper idea from your brain, produce it right now.
CENTO (With various passions and motions he acts out poetic frenzy.) Waters taste sweeter when drunk from their very source. See how everything will rejoice in the coming epoch. Once I was a trunk, a useless bit of fig-wood, but now I pluck you, oh ye laurels, and you next, ye myrtles. We make you a goddess, Fortune, and place you in heaven. If Fortune so decides, you will be transformed from an orator into a consul, and, if she chooses, you will be changed from a consul into an orator. This alone is of value, to exist among the middling poets, to be an Orpheus in the forests, an Arion among the dolphins. Shepherds also call me a prophet, and the sweet Pierians, the Muses sweet above all things, have made me a poet. Neither Thracian Orpheus nor Linus will surpass me with his songs.
SIMULUS What’s this madness, Simulus? Whence are you being carried, Cento?
CENTO I wish to wax insane, here nothing is wanting but songs. By the gods above, how much of murky night is possessed by mortal hearts! Oh father, are we to think that some men will travel from here to heaven? From this place is the road which leads to the waters of Tartarus’ Acheron.
PRURIO Simulus, Cento’s being swept away by a frenzy.
SIMULUS You’re wrong, it’s a poetical transport.
CENTO Everything is full of Jove. Some men praised bright Rhodes or Mytilene. If Jupiter had granted me three hundred mouths. I must sing of Calliope, if only I can sing songs worthy of the goddess, for she is assuredly a goddess worthy of being hymned.
PRURIO Cento —
CENTO Let barbarian Memphis keep still about the miracles of the pyramids. By sea, by land, by the all-covering sky, I shall speak unwillingly, do not touch tender poets. Ghosts are something, death does not put an end to all things. These fountains, these very arbutes, the unshorn mountains summoned you, the cliffs themselves called for your songs. They sport, their verses in disarray.
PRURIO A malign spirit is possessing him, Simulus.
CENTO Can you keep from smiling, friends?
SIMULUS Banish your fear, parson. I’ll give medicate him in good time.
CENTO Suddenly clouds take away the sky and daylight, and say “farewell, farewell forever, handsome Iolla.” Ha ha ha.
SIMULUS My son, what great sorrow arouses this unquenchable wrath? (Stands behind Cento and tweaks his ear.)
CENTO Cynthius tweaks my ear and admonishes me.
SIMULUS Cento, have you returned at last? Are you singing of jokes.
CENTO Receive these things in your minds and heed them with happy spirits. If you have a voice, sing; if you have pliant arms, dance.
SIMULUS So do you like my plans?
CENTO Ten times over they will please me.
SIMULUS Jehovah hallelujah! Prurio, we are alive, why create delays? We have nearly come to the middle of the day, betake yourself home quickly and carefully prepare the details.
CENTO For it flees in the meantime, irretrievable time flees.
PRURIO I’ll attend to nothing more diligently than to this injunction. (Exit Prurio.)
SIMULUS How God watches over his tiny flock with kindly and patient eyes, the zealous Lord of Hosts! Oh what profit to all God’s people the timely death of the Captive will bring! Princes will put on the armor of lion-like fortitude, the people will grow mild with a sheepish gentleness, virgins will be made fruitful with plentiful offspring, widows will console themselves with second marriages, everywhere orphans will seek their food from all men, ministers will more freely indulge their holy natures. Glory be to God on high.
CENTO Oh very fortunate, if they know what’s good for them!
SIMULUS Thus we will turn the Papist’s rough road, prickly with thorns, into a smooth highway to the stars.
CENTO He wins every point who mixes the useful with the sweet.


CALLIO (He enters carrying a hammer and key in his hands.) If there’s ever a man who wants to be wretched and afflicted, let him entrust his business to the ignorant people.
SIMULUS What’s this monstrosity?
CENTO Let cobblers stick to their lasts.
CALLIO Truly, he had no idea how much harm this small bit of gain would entail.
CENTO. Cento, approach him.
CALLIO Cocodrillus, unless my stove fails me, I’m going to cook, boil, roast, toast, bake and fry you. I mean I’ll wretchedly torment you with the racks of the laws.
SIMULUS There’s a danger lest Satan derange the judge as well.
CALLIO You plague.
CENTO What are you doing, you sweetest of things?
SIMULUS Callio, why do I hear you speaking so ill?
CALLIO Ha! Have you heard nothing of Cocodrillus, that sacrilegious man, that lawbreaker, that public menace?
SIMULUS Forget your insults and let us concern ourselves with more serious matters.
CALLIO. Cocodrillus, that grimacing yawner!
SIMULUS Beelzebub.
CENTO You must pray for a healthy mind in a healthy body.
CALLIO By no means, for my advantage arises from his ill health.
SIMULUS Ah, that’s diabolical! Forget him, I tell you. Hasn’t Joculus summoned you to Archophylax’ house today?
CALLIO I haven’t laid eyes on the jester.
SIMULUS He’s his master’s favorite.
CENTO What’s the mark of a fool? To want to do harm but not to be able to do it.
SIMULUS Callio, understand this matter as we do. We hope you will be a harsh judge. For (as we have long secretly sought, with you our accomplice) today the Captive will be visited with the ultimate punishment.
CALLIO Are you speaking the truth or falsely?
SIMULUS I am speaking Gospel truth.
CALLIO About what hour of the day?
CENTO It is the duty of a judge to inquire into the times of things as well as the facts, and with the time determined you’ll be safe.
SIMULUS As the day is waning, when it begins to be evening, you must stoutly fall to this task. Other details of this business remain for us to investigate.
CENTO You, our greatest glory, fall to your oars with a will. (Exeunt Cento and Simulus.)
CALLIO That’s the way of it. I’ve been thoroughly deceived. You’re mistaken, Callio. It was Joculus who demanded that thunder be launched against my house so early this morning. For Cocodrillus gave me completely incongruous answers. How my hopes were dashed! I had made up my mind to drain his wallet, but he is a jester and jesters do nothing with evil intent, so a lawsuit against him would have been the height of malice. Yet this happy turn of events blesses me. Hasten, death of the Captive! For I smell a bountiful harvest, I sing of a minsteromachy. I’ll quickly turn into a hungry leech so as to suck the ministers’ blood with vigor. For with the Catholic faith wholly uprooted, these puffed-up fellows will bitterly sue each other back and forth while I myself disembowel their bulging money-bags. Congratulations, Callio, you may dream of Danae’s shower of gold. (Exit.)

Go to Act III