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ADULANTIUS (He enters, dressed in a satyr costume, carrying masks.) See how critically philosophers scrutinize a vacuum, there’s not even a flea here. May this business turn out well! Indeed games sometimes relieve the painstaking toils of work with their pleasant change of pace. The gods have taken bad care for the lot of lackeys. Mercury, you servant of the gods and god of servants, unless you had sometimes relieved my abundance of tears with a smile, I wouldn’t have offered you even the least little bit of incense. For what tragedies has Joculus’ false candor not created for me? But I’ll restrain myself, and all the bitterness which today’s games will dispel. (Putting down the masks.) Here, see our silly satyr masks, it pleases me to act as woodland creatures for a little while. This was Simulus’ witty invention, by which we may perform the sad funeral rites of the Captive’s forthcoming death, ha ha. I’ve come out as a scout to report (if such is the case) that this place is free of the common folk, for they desire to put on their performance secretly and without witnesses, lest laymen be scandalized.
SIMULUS Adulantius.
ADULANTIUS Hey, you may come out with no fear. There’s nothing here but void.


SIMULUS (Both ministers are consumed like Adulantius.) Glory be to God on High. By heavens, I come forth swollen with no little pride, but with the same that I had in my younger days when I used to dance professionally in the streets.
CENTO But come, banish your delays, let us cast our joyful voices to the ether.
SIMULUS You sing wrongly, Cento. Ministers’ bacchanals should be as furtive as possible. What is not apparent does not exist, thus the laws proclaim. What is non-existent creates not the slightest offense for the little folk.
CENTO Nothing is a divinity. It is absent, if such be prudence.
ADULANTIUS Some things appear yet do not exist.
SIMULUS I stoutly deny this, you are deluded. They appear, therefore they exist, ha ha ha. Don’t go beyond the olive-trees, Adulantius. I easily forgive your rather unlearned yet pious heart. Give us the masks. You put this one on, Cento. This head is yours, Adulantius. Come, then.
CENTO. It has ruddy horns on its yellow brow, hairy eyebrows, a bushy beard, it is uncouth and pallid, its hollow eyes gleam. And so fleet deer will feed in the sky, the earth will produce stars, the sky will be split with a plow, and fish will abandon the sea for the shore, before this face will fade from my memory.
SIMULUS Glory be to God on high, you beloved dancers.
CENTO My mind wishes to speak of speak of things changed into novel forms, half-human goats and half-goatish men.
SIMULUS (Pointing at the two others, he puts down his costume.) Not without reason Cento. It particularly behooves ministers to be half-goats. We have no small interest in borrowing our head, hands and feet from the goats. First, a brow wrinkled like a goat’s arms our head, giving us the severity with which we confront our congregation. Then we are ornamented with a flowing beard, which makes us reek with a goat-like gravity. Oh how much goat-like hands help us, for rebels need to be dealt with hard-handedly. Piety bids us be swift in our denunciations, and hence we revere goat-footed ministers.
ADULANTIUS Goat-headed, goat-handed, goat-footed. Simulus, why do you shun the goat’s breast and back?
SIMULUS Ha ha, now you’re falling off your pedestal, Adulantius. We cover our breast and back with pigskin.
ADULANTIUS Oh, how I grow older learning something every day!
CENTO Behold two kidlings I have found in a safe valley, both flourishing with youth, Arcadians both. Thus do puppies resemble dogs, and kids their mothers.
SIMULUS We’re ceasing our idle words, Adulantius. With your knocking bring forth Prurio from his house.
ADULANTIUS Hey Prurio, come out quickly, satyrs are waiting outside your door.
CENTO Let the welkin ring with shouts.
PRURIO (From the window.) Who’s so vociferously assaulting my house and my ears?
CENTO Philemon, renowned for his song and his lyre.
PRURIO Cento, I’m ready for action.
SIMULUS Indulge in some satyric saltation, Cento, and in some wounding sallies.
CENTO I haven’t a grain of salt in all my body.
SIMULUS Set aside the minister, you’ll become a true satyr.
CENTO My affection obeys my dear mother’s commands
SIMULUS Adulantius, why is Cento waiting? Has Jehovah grown angry at us?
ADULANTIUS Not at all. Doubtless he’s tuning his fiddle.
CENTO Now, his garments set aside, a new and gleaming youth has fallen from the sky, a third Cato. God delights in uneven numbers.


SIMULUS (He enters, playing his fiddle and singing, followed by a boy loaded down by various instruments. Each of them snatches these.) See, here’s the parson, artistically outfitted for our delights.
CENTO He scarcely raises his long-awaited eyes. The drum and the boxwood flutes call, Simulus, the flute gives its double-reeded song.
SIMULUS Prurio, if you master has indulged in anything more festive with his elegant little fingers, you should do this in seriousness. Let us follow with a dance, glory be to God on high.
CENTO Let tuneful plectra adorn the docile lyre.
PRURIO Brothers, I have no ability with the plectrum you ask for. I shall preach a sermon with my very eloquent fiddle.
SIMULUS I praise your pastoral zeal, come then.
CENTO Begin, Dametas, and you follow next, Menalcas. Alphesibeus will imitate the capering satyrs. (They all don their masks and dance.)


JOCULUS (Laden down with chains. [Evidently he is caught and held by the two chaplains.]) Let me, ah, let me go home.
SIMULUS What evil demon has begotten these treacheries?
JOCULUS Prurio, don’t willingly increase my troubles.
CENTO Evening has fallen, depart, you kidlings.
JOCULUS I’m not set afire by your dancing, Prurio. Hey, Adulantius, come help me. Let me go. Your enticements do not attract me. (Exit Prurio.) Everybody has fled. Your elegant dream has made a fool of me. (Throwing the chains from his shoulder.) As far as I am concerned you may flee, you very heavy chains, whether your escape be fit for dancing or for running.


JOCULUS (Sophron follows him from the market, curiously.) Prurio interrupts me, I have no interest in his skill at musical tunes. Come, then.
SOPHRON Unless my eyes are blinded or my mind wholly fails me, this is the very man.
JOCULUS. [ To the chains.] Well then, get up, you slow-foots —
SOPHRON This is no illusion, he speaks.
JOCULUS — you iron children of Vulcan.
SOPHRON I admit it’s human to err.
JOCULUS You most stubborn of metals, who wrenched you from your mother’s bowels? You didn’t spring forth except with her guts split, like a snake. Ha!
SOPHRON Thus I found little boys standing round this jester, competing in their mockery.
JOCULUS Do you stand mute, you stone? Come, I’ll indulge you in these exchanges alone, —
SOPHRON I’m on fire.
JOCULUS And bring you home from here.
SOPHRON I’m lying, if one swan ever resembled another swan more than this.
JOCULUS Cruel as you are, you have no pity for my shoulder.
SOPHRON That’s him. His voice, his age, his countenance all proclaim it. I’ll approach. Ergastes.
SOPHRON Ergastes, why do you turn away as you look at me? Sophron’s speaking to you.
JOCULUS My name is Joculus.
SOPHRON Your name is Ergastes. You are Ergastes, your name flies constantly all over the world. You’re the one I’ve sadly sought with so many cares, through so many savage climes of the world. You’re the one, you won’t conceal yourself from me. Look at the mole under your ear, its rays always betray the sun. Ergastes, don’t abandon yourself.
JOCULUS Ergastes, hah?
SOPHRON He’s mad, alas, if he’s lost his mind you may go, Sophron, and put an end to your journey and to your life. You’re dead, you have inconsolably perished. Put off this frame of mind, Ergastes. (Falling to his knees.) Come back, I beg by this right hand, by you, by these knees, by your faith.
JOCULUS I’m dead, I’m ruined. Ah Sophron, you haven’t found the man you found.
SOPHRON Let me hope he’s a stranger on the outside, but the same man within.
JOCULUS Would that this would be allowed! Would that you would discover that the man whose exterior you see with your eyes would be the same inside! Then I would not be pouring forth these groans and signs, but laughs, jokes, and joyful things.
SOPHRON So what gloomy thing does your costume conceal?
JOCULUS Ah Sophron, what but grief, what but tears? The man whom the world thinks a joke, whom Fortune regards as a plaything, a fool’s mind and a fool’s costume befit him.
SOPHRON You should cut short these sad riddles, Ergastes. You should decrease your sorrow.
JOCULUS That which exceeds the mean can in no way be lessened.
SOPHRON Here’s my open breast, pour into it, pile it on, fill it generously, until it overflows its bank and spills itself back on you. Wounding cares burn you more when pent up, shared sorrow is lighter.
JOCULUS What if if becomes heavier by being shared? You ought to call that which oppresses many men equally heavier, not lighter. For an afflicted body medicines come a-flying from every side, but no man is able to heal an oppressed mind. But you have prevailed, Sophron, your faith compels me. Hear this. Religion, Religion is a captive. Why frown? Hear things yet more bitter. See the chains in which she will be bound today, here.
SOPHRON Stop this catastrophe, Ergastes. I’m afraid I may not have the strength to bear this, but I’m eager to hear everything in order and to understand your calamity and that of the Captive, no matter how sad my heart will be. For five years have no gone by since I searched the roadways of land and sea, eager to find you, the life of my life.
JOCULUS I pity you such great efforts, Sophron, for while seeking for your life you have found death. But I embrace your piety, nor will my kindness in telling the tale be lacking. I shall comply with your wishes, and so I shall give an introduction to the drama from which you may learn the beginning of my sorrow. For this is counted as the fifth year from when I departed Rome (oh Rome, always to be remembered in the core of my being, dearer to me than my eyes). You understand, Sophron, that we lived together at Rome since infancy, so that we bore either a happy or a bitter lot with the same mind.
SOPHRON I remember, nor shall I ever let this fade from my heart.
JOCULUS You remember that, when we both grew to our boyhood years, we passed those in the school of Religion (oh Religion, a teacher granted me by heaven, reared among the citizens in the city of the supernals, and sent down to earth by God, the supreme Creator of things!), where, I tell you, Religion watered our obedient minds with piety and the nectar of all the virtues.
SOPHRON I remember, Ergastes. And I remember this too, that whatever Religion proclaimed in her precepts, that you straightway accomplished by your work, and hence she bestowed on you the name Ergastes.
JOCULUS But unworthily, although this heart adored each thing. I am proud to have been suckled at her breast. But you should remember the truth proclaimed by your own name. For the sake of the charming temperance with which you are wont to bridle your desires, she distinguished you by the name of Sophron.
SOPHRON This was accomplished by your merits, Ergastes, because I gained it by imitating your virtues. But return to your tale.
JOCULUS While we were devoting the flower of our pleasant life to our studies, alas, alas, the rumor was on everybody’s lips that English had been besieged, conquered and overthrown by heresy. England, once most acceptable to God because of its pure worship of His godhead, now reels, now howls under heresy’s domination. When this came to Religion’s ears, she immediately thought of help for suffering England, Without delay she took to the road, and when she had made her journey, borne by the swift oars of her love, she set foot on England.
SOPHRON These things have always remained in my mind. But continue.
JOCULUS After no long amount of time a chattering rumor, another and harsher one, made its announcement — oh the dire crime! — flying through the marketplaces, the cities, the fields, the countryside, the hamlets, that Religion was captive. By the Saints above! By the angels! What sadness, what sorrow did not fill me? But I immediately I issued orders to myself, and, brooking no delay, I hastened to her aid. Thus much for your ears, Sophron. Now see the rest with your eyes, my wretched, silly self.
SOPHRON But these affairs of the Captive are only a prologue, show me your whole play likewise. I greatly desire you to reveal your entire journey, for the mind learns to tolerate evils by bearing them.
JOCULUS By asking me so lovingly you command me, enjoy it. When I left behind the sweet walls of sweeter Rome, by way of the warty, unkempt peaks of the Apennines, I first greeted the longed-for threshold of the House of Loreto, and quickly its consecrated walls grew warm with my kisses By the Virgin who gave birth there to her salvation-bringing child, by the sweet cries with which the air caressed me, the soft little cries which the divine babe uttered, by the the very house in which the little Christ played, with tears and groans I prayed that she would give a cure for England, wasting because of heresy’s venom. When I had performed these rites, eagerly I left the shrine and at a run traversed the rest of Italy, and straightway the rain-bearing Alps received me, the fatherland of clouds, pregnant with tumultuous southerly winds. I approached them, struggling with intrepid strides. At one minute I was terrified as I passed through the jagged passes, now I was oppressed on all sides by the inhospitable brows of steep cliffs, then I was plunged in clouds as I went over the pyramid-like peaks of rocks, being assaulted at one moment with snow, at the next by harden balls of hail. For there it is forever shaggy with frost, the other seasons of the year are banished to distant climes. You may call these things arduous, Sophron. I grant you this, but I considered them pleasant in comparison to the arduous things I now suffer.
SOPHRON For virtue all things are pleasant, nor is anything arduous for a well-prepared heart.
JOCULUS At length, on wearied feet but with an unconquered mind, the mountains passed, I arrived in France. France, gladsome on every side with its happy people, affords most pleasant roads for its guests. I collected myself, and compensating with Gallic swiftness for my Alpine delays, with happy auspices I quickly reached the seacoast. And lo, in a Bretagne harbor there was a ship loaded with passengers, and fair winds summoning sails. The captain was soon at at hand, we boarded, we weighed anchor, and entrusted our billowing canvas to the winds. And as we were eagerly striving on the deep, oh the ever-treacherous delights of Aeolus! Oh the never-safe sea! Of a sudden the heaven bellowed with thunder and lurid flashes of lightning were hurled on all sides. Boiling with a roar, the indignant water foamed and raised up monstrous mountains of waves. Meanwhile the headstrong north wind did battle with the easterly, and suddenly they went a-rushing, commingled in a mad whirlwind, and grounded our ship on sharp reefs. Our oars were shattered, our rudder split, the greedy winds devoured our shredded sails, and at the same time dark clouds fell upon the stolen day, and quickly, fearfully poised atop the waves, we were thrust into the stars; then, equally quickly, the water yawned, and as if propelled by a thunderbolt we were plunged to the depths. Then all came together, sky, sea, ship, winds, and were embroiled in a most bitter combat. Saints above! What a howling of rigging! What a clattering of masts! What vain shouts of the sailors around us! What sobs of the howling passengers! On all sides we were damned to the Styx, on all sides pitiless deaths swam about us. Amidst these things, as much as I could I stayed alone on the prow, on bended knee, prayerfully commending my heart to God, before my body would be offered as a victim to the waves. And while I sighed and lamented these evils, Philaretus (thus he called himself), one of the band of travelers and the one who was dearest to me, whom I will fully describe in a minute, left his companions and sat next to me, seeking and offering solace for me and for himself. Meanwhile the waves grew wearied with their struggles, with the angry southwest wind creaking its last, our battered ship was washed up in the longed-for shore of the land. Ah, why should I describe the joys, the songs, the voices repeating “England, sweetest England?” Why describe the thousand kisses planted on the soil?
SOPHRON It is pleasant for wearied hearts to be consoled amidst their evils, and it delights those who have been whirled around by the churning sea to plant a steady foot at last.
JOCULUS I cast aside my idleness, eager to attain to London, and, every delay cut short, Philaretus with his masterful servant Eutrapelus offered themselves as companions on the journey (for dangers often shared drew us into an indissoluble friendship). We went along, and while we exchanged friendly conversation about various things, he asked me my name. Unhesitatingly, having foreseen my perils, I said I was Sophron (forgive me, Sophron, if I ever thought it right to borrow your name), a man I should always dutifully carry in my mind, and on my face, and whom I should carry concealing my whole body.
SOPHRON You honor me greatly. But, if I can trust my eyes, how better it would have been if you had never discarded Ergastes!
JOCULUS You’re witty.
SOPHRON I’m eager for the rest, Ergastes.
JOCULUS In due time we were carried to London and all of us at the same time resorted to the same inn that was before our eyes. For several months I carefully scrutinized Philaretus, and (which was dear to my heart) I perceived him to be a man of consummate virtue, a serene heart and refined character, but (for thus darkness stands next to the light), although he was singularly devoted to the Roman faith, no eloquence of mine could induce him to make this manifest. For whoever is openly a Catholic immediately exposes his estate to the prosecutors. They rend at it, they snatch at it, they pick it clean. And (as is the way of things nowadays), his friends go to perdition along with his estate. Therefore, to baffle the busybodies who would put Philaretus’ domestic chapels to profane uses, some stranger here would always entertain me in greater safety and give me the sweet use of his resources.
SOPHRON So you were a guest incognito, Ergastes?
JOCULUS Now hear the play’s ending, Sophron. After I had thoroughly put Philaretus’ faith to the test, we carefully sought out the citadel where captive Religion was languishing in chains. It was discovered. Quickly we took counsel about giving her her freedom. Meanwhile Eutrapelus, a most pleasant and priceless servant, secretly divined the character of the leading men with that keen nose of his, finding that Callio is a querulous man, Diagoras a moneylender, Prurio the parson an ignoramus, and Archophylax, the Captive’s chief jailer, uncontrollably devoted to humor and jokes. When I had come to understand this, I thoughtfully weighed what witty japes Archophylax could be won over, and, having long pondered this, at length I took on this jocular pertness. The resources I brought to this came from Philaretus’ hand-me-downs. Donning this silly costume, and at the same time taking on the name of Joculus, with my rustic little sallies and festive carriage I gained my way into Archophylax’ palace, for doors everywhere are open for laughter and jests, good fortune always attending absurdities. Eagerly he took me to himself.
SOPHRON By men’s faith!
JOCULUS He regards me as his delight, Sophron, as I crack jokes for him while he’s at table, and it is my duty to employ pleasures to drive away whatever little sources of tristesse that may exist. Thus I have an inborn talent for deceits.
SOPHRON How long have you endured this harsh bondage?
JOCULUS Since my entrance, the sun has visited both tropics in its oblique circuit four times.
SOPHRON Oh, four! Oh your constancy, never sufficiently to be praised!
JOCULUS Hope, which is often baffled in its augury, that the Captive would be aided by my tomfoolery, has allured me here. But, oh! These brazen doors, these great walls, and this vigilant custody prevent me. I have often loitered outside with tearful eyes, while the oppressed her with tortures within. Oh, if you knew what great things she has suffered, when she has demanded more of her tormentors though they might be exhausted by their very torturing. Often, while her enchained hands were upraised in prayer, they tempt her with the pleasant illusions of their speeches, offering her rewards if she would swear her loyalty to them (for they disguise their poison with that honey), but she shows herself bound faithfully to the Roman rock, intent on keeping inviolate her sworn oath. Then they intersperse threats, consigning her to all manner of dire things, saying they would give her over to scourging. To whom she calmly replies that the Church is Christ’s ship, on which every humble man attains to the harbor, untouched by storms and gales. Then for me, secretly hearing all this through chinks in the wall, tears of sadness and joy alternately well up. In the end, when they see they are striving against a cliff, and that she cannot be moved from the Faith by any assault, they vow her to death.
SOPHRON Now she has the equivalent of death, dragging out her life with such slow tortures. But When will this holy victim be sacrificed?
JOCULUS This is it, this is which is approaching today. The sun has never shone on a day deadlier than this one.
SOPHRON What are you doing, Ergastes? You must consider yourself. A person who dies by his virtue does not perish, Sophron will be your companion through all things.
JOCULUS My companion! Misery does not assuage misery, with you as my companion a double misery will consume me, both mine and yours.
SOPHRON But to desert a friend in arduous times is a monstrous crime, I’m ashamed to do it.
JOCULUS Listen, Sophron, it’s a more monstrous one to add dangers to dangers. We are surrounded by a people that would become dangerous once they saw us speaking together. Suspicion is all eyes, we would be ruined.
SOPHRON So what do you suggest?
JOCULUS Go back to Rome, where, when this unspeakable crime has been brought to its end and I have freed myself from this mask of folly, I’ll find you, and I’ll never be torn from our embrace.
SOPHRON Thus you are bidding me die.
JOCULUS Thus delay, so you won’t die.
SOPHRON What do you say, unhappy Sophron?
JOCULUS My answer is that I am another Sophron, it is especially in your interest to go back.
SOPHRON In my interest? I can’t refuse without committing a sin. Now, albeit against my will, I’ll nevertheless steel my mind to living without you once more. I keep you deep in my heart, but this is a small thing for a man who loves you. I want to enjoy you with my eyes, and (if it is permitted to predict evils) none of my days will be free of sorrow until, mindful of your vow, you give me back to myself, that is to say, you give yourself back for my eyes. Farewell.
JOCULUS Farewell.
SOPHRON (Adding, as he departs.) But it has occurred to me that you are called Sophron while on your mission. Thus there are two Sophrons, but no Ergastes, I’ll not allow this. The Ergastes whom I carry locked up in my heart will bestow on me the name of Ergastes.
JOCULUS Why should a difference of names separate those who are joined by a single soul?
SOPHRON Farewell, Sophron. (Exit.)
JOCULUS Farewell, Ergastes, you faithful soul. Five years? Cold? Heat? Rain? Thirst? Hunger? The sea’s madness? Bearing the savagery of foreigners with a level mind? To find a wretch? To have found him, but in vain? And for five years not to steal me from his heart with their oblivion? What a devoted heart!


JOCULUS (Crooning to the chains in a false voice.) Have you wasted enough of my sleep, you basest of chains? So let’s hurry.
PHILARETUS Quicker, Eutrapelus.
EUTRAPELUS Don’t hasten with such zeal, Master. See Sophron, struggling with his chains.
JOCULUS It’s Philaretus.
PHILARETUS What’s going on, Sophron? Do you prefer me to greet you with wishes for salvation or health?
JOCULUS Salvation, Philaretus, has disappeared into exile, and gullible hope is deceiving. Greet me as something else, grief, sorrow, or pain.
PHILARETUS What’s this development?
EUTRAPELUS Be of an easy mind, Sophron. Just make sacrifice to me, I’m Salvation itself.
JOCULUS I recognize the honeyed urbanity, Eutrapelus, with which you sooth misery. But now Salvation itself cannot save me.
PHILARETUS It’s human to be hounded with woes, nor does that argue a weak spirit. But to be oppressed is the mark of a weakling and a coward, dismiss these floods of emotion.
JOCULUS Right, for the ocean’s not the ocean, this heart of mine is a very passionate ocean, it is driven in every direction by floods.
EUTRAPELUS Right, and this head is a kingfisher, it will hatch chicks which will make your floods calmer than the westerly wind.
JOCULUS Have you ever seen a painting of that mythical Prometheus of the Caucasus? How an eagle rends his heart with its famished beak, how he struggles in vain and offers his guts to the bird of prey? If you’ve seen it, you’ve seen me, not Prometheus.
EUTRAPELUS Good heavens, I feel sorry for you, humor on the outside but sighs within!
PHILARETUS Tell us the cause, Sophron, which has given birth to this abortive child.
JOCULUS If you imagine I’m reciting falsehoods, behold the chains which bind me to the savage Caucasus.
EUTRAPELUS I have a presentiment about what he’s reciting.
PHILARETUS What monstrosity are these iron chains in aid of?
JOCULUS. Ah, Philaretus, today (why “today?” — soon, quickly, immediately) Religion, bound in these harsh chains, will be cruelly given over to death.
PHILARETUS Are you telling the truth?
JOCULUS The truth. I’d prefer these to be falsehoods.
PHILARETUS By heaven, this is sad, but a level head will serve you as the best balm for your sorrow. As long as she does not die for any felonies she has committed, you, who have a manly heart, should reckon this lightly.
EUTRAPELUS Come Eutrapelus, hasten to the land of clever schemes. Master, we must contrive something which will turn Sophron’s grief to joy.
PHILARETUS You are commanding fire to be hot when you advise me to come to Sophron’s aid. What point in having the name of Philaretus unless I prove it by my deeds? Sophron is Virtue itself, by rights he has a claim on me.
JOCULUS Oh, the wrong! Virtue is believed to be an empty name, they are preparing death for virtue.
EUTRAPELUS Tell me as quickly as you can, will these wicked men commit this horrid crime?
JOCULUS You may consider it done by sundown. Callio, Diagoras and Prurio have now been summoned by messenger, and when they have convened they will immediately join together for the murder. I have come across our chaplains, monstrously costumed as woodland satyrs, like so many Corybants, dancing crazily out of their excessive joy, here in public, with the parson playing his fiddle.
PHILARETUS The rascals! The wicked little ministers!
EUTRAPELUS. I have a presentiment. So it’s decided that this triumvirate will come together here?
JOCULUS Of necessity.
EUTRAPELUS What if some hindrance were to stop them from gathering, would this at the same time create an obstacle for the murder?
JOCULUS You understand completely.
EUTRAPELUS I’ve won, from my nest I shall hatch birds of delay.
PHILARETUS What are you crowing about, Eutrapelus?
EUTRAPELUS I’ll lock the bolts so that these villains won’t come together for their crime.
PHILARETUS Do this, and you can have whatever you command, you most elegant man.
EUTRAPELUS Come, Eutrapelus, with the skill of a pancratic wrestler you must flex all the muscles of your genius. Sophron, let your groans cease. Jove’s messenger Mercury never brought his father news so bursting with joy as what I’ll bring you tonight. All you have to do is walk slowly while bringing the chains home.
PHILARETUS Don’t despair, Sophron, Eutrapelus is fertile in his wit.
EUTRAPELUS I’ve learned by rote all the detailed points of cleverness.
JOCULUS There’s no hope of hope, I’d be snatching at hope’s shadow.
EUTRAPELUS Things that happen unhoped-for please the mind more, let us attend to the work. Let’s go, Master, and not let misfortune anticipate us.
PHILARETUS Farewell, Sophron, soon destined to return to the living (Exeunt Philaretus and Eutrapelus.)
JOCULUS Fare well and live happily, my most deserving friends, whether I see you again alive or dead. What if by his sneaky tricks Eutrapelus should rescue today from the murder? They’ll do the deed tomorrow. And if he does likewise tomorrow? Then the day after tomorrow, thus there’s no escape from the murder. Oh dire daylight! Why don’t you run away from here, Ergastes? What, me desert? I’d abandon my soul rather than have you betray yourself. So you’ll die along with her? My faith forbids me from voluntarily inviting my own undoubted death. And so, though I often wish this, I often repent the wish. Yet I wish it again, and repent once more. Afterwards I repent not wishing it, and then I repent having repented. Thus my sorrows drag my mind in different directions. Alas, how I’m thoroughly displeased with myself! Fear vexes me while I am concealed, dangers if I reveal myself, savage difficulties lie on every side. Oh you harsh chains! Why hesitate to come a-running to me and tightly bind my legs? For the Captive will take no account of you. Though you always weigh down her body, you will never bind her faith. But I don’t reproach you. Archophylax, your flinty heart! Ah, Captive, if you could see your jester! Oh, what am I feeling? Drop by drop, my heart is melting. Religion, Captive, rescue me. Oh! What am I seeing? What? What is it? What? What? (He swoons and falls over the chains.)


ARCHOPHYLAX I’ve never been stingy with my labor. A man who is lazy is a man who is worthless, I prosecute this kind with great loathing, ha ha ha, ha. Behold a man who surpasses a donkey in the laziness of his body, as of his head. Here he is, plunged in sleep. Hey, beast, night hasn’t returned its darkness yet. Get up, Joculus, Joculus. By heavens, I think the jester’s dead. Believe me, there isn’t anything in the world which I would prefer more than for this suspicion to be true. This dead man’s concealing the fact he still has his soul. Hey there, somebody come outside. (Cocks his ear again.)


ARCHOPHYLAX What’s this commotion at the door?
ADULANTIUS (Running out with a drawn sword, which he quickly casts away.) Ah master, our darling Joculus —
ARCHOPHYLAX Gods grant us better! Joculus, my beloved. Woe’s me. He’s cold litle thing. This happened because of your peevishness, you plague. (He rubs Joculus’ brow.)
ADULANTIUS God forbid!
ARCHOPHYLAX Lend a hand, blockhead, use your hand to prop up his shoulders, like this, like this. Let’s bend his body, like this, like this. Saints come to our aid! Oh, he’s beginning to breathe, let’s set him on his feet, like this, like this.
JOCULUS The Captive —
ARCHOPHYLAX What’s this. Joculus, my delight?
JOCULUS Ah, Master, was that you? What are you doing here?
ARCHOPHYLAX Are you safe, my Joculus?
JOCULUS Now I’m safe, Master. The chains were too heavy.
ARCHOPHYLAX But you’ll be relieved of your burden. Adulantius, take the chains and sword home as quickly as you can, and tell them to stop their delaying inside.
ADULANTIUS I’ll do it.
ARCHOPHYLAX (Offering a fig.) Joculus, here’s a fig for you.
ADULANTIUS [Sotto voce.] Nothing to Master about the satyrs, my Joculus.
JOCULUS [Likewise.] Nothing, nothing, Adulantius. (Exit Adulantius with the chains and the sword.)
ARCHOPHYLAX How the jester was moaning about the Captive with a strange and mournful voice! Upon my salvation, I suspect that with her poisons the witch was trying to remove the jester from among the living, since he creates so much happiness for me. I’ll investigate the entire matter, to punish her the more savagely.
JOCULUS Don’t punish the Captive today.
ARCHOPHYLAX I’d be taking poor care for you if I were to consent, Joculus. She was trying to harm you with her incantations, but she won’t do that without retribution.
JOCULUS Oh, you shouldn’t believe that, Master.
ARCHOPHYLAX It’s been a year and more, Joculus, since she was condemned to death, but if kept her alive with us at your behest. Now I see this has been conceded to your harm. There’s no room left for prayer now, Joculus.
JOCULUS I beg you, Master.
ARCHOPHYLAX Let’s withdraw inside, so we may medicate your illness.
JOCULUS (Making his exit, in a doleful voice.) What am I to do in my misery? I’m ruined!

Go to Act IV