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ONOPHRIUS wearing a servant’s

It seems to me (and let this be said without self-love or empty boasting), it seems to me, I say, that I, clad in garb of this kind, am not only able to deceive Virginia, but also in loves most fruitful field to pluck the far most abundant fruit of Victoria, adored by me and ever adorable. So while I listen to her words, sweeter than honey, I scorn the harmonious concord of the celestial spheres. While it befalls me to clasp her tightly, to exchange more planted kisses than elegant Lesbia once gave Catullus, I enjoy a much greater and ampler joy than Jupiter, sated with the nectar poured forth by the hand of pretty Ganymede. But, alas, I see Fidelis. If he catches sight of me, I’m quite ruined. (He flees and hides in the monument.)


FID. Hey, Narcissus, what kept you so long?
NARC. A cap and a cloak.
FID. Does it befit you to attend me here thus?
ON. I’ll hide myself in that monument, where, unseen myself, I can see whether Fidelis goes in to his Victoria.
FID. It’s very curious, how pain thus vexes me. The very moment that I saw Victoria loved me, my poor heart nevertheless quaked with dread as if I were facing death. Time seemed to me to have flown by faster than I’d want or hope, a very strange thing in a lover.
NARC. Fear and suspicion upset you unduly. Abandon your fear, pull yourself together, the hour is at hand when you’ll get a sure sign how much your Victoria values you.
FID. O fates, so harsh! Her chill words always make me shudder. I shake and shiver all over. Pray come with me, for I’m refreshed by what you say, and your presence cheers me.
NARC. Now we’ve come near her house, I’ll leave.
FID. No, hide yourself someplace, so that you may depart after I’ve gone in. (Fidelis calls out, she gives him a letter through the window. Fidelis reads it in the light of the lamp.) Poor me! What new thing is this? (He reads.) Now I’m cast in this manner of distress, it would be better if I had never been born. I am very sorry that I cannot keep my promise, but much more so that I must not see you. So if you love me, never come back. Thus you would involve me, ruined, in a sea of misery. Just now fear weighed down on me, now despair oppresses me. Thus Fortune’s frequent thunderbolts burn me that no relief can be found but death.
NARC. What happened to you, master? How come this new sorrow?
FID. Read and see with what bountiful hospitality Virgina receives me. Now, Fortune, you have taught me this to my ill, that among the wretched he is happiest who despises you and your friendship.
NARC. I’m not surprised, but I am amazed.
FID. Surely she loves another. For if I were dear to her she wouldn’t shun me or deceive me, nor always put me off with new wiles.
NARC. Don’t say that, master. If she doesn’t love you, you may kill me. Or do think that she perjured herself so many times, feigned tears so often?
FID. Yes, when women pour forth tears, then they lie the most. Women’s tears, Narcissus, are full of wiles, they fall from their eyes artfully, nor ever lack deceptions.
NARC. I’m not surprised you’re afraid, that’s natural for lovers. But that a woman with such a noble face would cheat her lover so harshly, to believe this is to do her an injury.
FID. I don’t know what to believe, I only grasp this one thing full well which I ought to grasp — to hinder the other man. Therefore either I’ll die or get good vengeance. (Here Virginia, seeing them from the doorway, goes back in.)
NARC. First her mind must be probed. He who takes vengeance quickly hastens towards regret.
FID. I’ll explore it immediately. You remain here, and hide somewhere. See if you can spot someone coming in or going out, be sure to overhear their conversations diligently. [Exit.]
NARC. I’ll do it, have no doubt, and faithfully. (Enter Medusa, Victoria, Virginia.)
ON. (From the monument.) Gods and goddesses damn you! How many people are walking this way?


VIRG. Now everybody’s gone. Nobody’s looking, nobody’s here.
MED. This first hour of the night is most fit for binding spirits.
VICT. So let us hurry.
NARC. Who, damn it, are these women, and what are they seeking with lit lanterns, calves or bull-calves?
VIRG. We must take care, mistress, lest somebody glimpses us.
VICT. They will imagine we’re performing some right, and are pious ladies.
MED. Let’s go into the chapel, they’ll think we’re praying there.
NARC. Into the chapel? Good God, they’re witches!
VICT. It is in your power, Medusa, to help or to harm.
VIRG. But it must be done quickly, Medusa. Time is flying by.
MED. Be still, and restrain yourself if you can. Wait a moment.
NARC. And who’s the man that these wicked women are torturing thus? Has their love undertaken a crime of this sort?
MED. Here’s enchanted water, here’s enchanted oil, these figures bear the names of spirits written upon them. It remains that your lover’s name be inscribed, so that he might be bound and enchanted. What is it?
VICT. Fortunius.
NARC. By highest Jupiter, he’s my master’s rival. And behold, I recognize Victoria. May the gods destroy you most evilly!
MED. Your name is written on the figure’s breast, his on its brow. You see?
VICT. Move back a bit that I can have a look.
MED. Now I will undertake the conjuration itself.
VIRG. And with good omens.
MED. I conjure and adjure you, waxen image, by the fertile womb of Venus which gave birth to Cupid, that you display your powers in the heart of Fortunius. I conjure you, Fortunius, by the individual parts of your body, your head, eyes, mouth, nose, ears, hand, feet, breast, heart, liver, lungs, guts, veins, marrow, and by whatever you contain inside yourself, that you suddenly catch fire with love of Victoria; that, just as this waxen idol melts in these lamps, so your heart may be melted by her eyes, that you find rest at no place or time if you do not obey Victoria’s wishes.
NARC. I’ve heard it all. O my master’s harsh lot! Fidelis adores, he loves, he is generous, he dances attendance. What good does it to do dance attendance, to love, to be generous? But if Jupiter hurls avenging bolts from heaven, may the female sex perish from this earth!
VICT. What should I think the reason to be that, when you have accomplished all the rites, he does not appear?
MED. Many things remain. Have no doubt, he will come, Victoria.
NARC. Oh ungrateful, headstrong, willful Victoria! If I weren’t reserving her for my master’s vengeance, now by this hand of mine I’d treat you in worthy ways!
MED. I anoint you by the oil of this waxen lamp, and may it show its powers in Fortunius breast! I stamp upon you the mark of Venus and Cupid, so that you may arouse Fortunius’ love.
VICT. Now is everything accomplished?
MED. It remains that the spirits inscribed on the image grow warm, be pricked, and then be conjured. And when these things have been achieved, all will be done. I conjure and abjure you inscribed demons, Mettabor, Temptabor, Vigilator, Cominator, Astarot, Berlica, Buffon, Amacon, Sucon, Sustaim, Asmodeus.
NARC. Oh if each of them would snatch you and carry you off!
MED. I conjure you by loves’ tremendous power, by Venus’ virtue, by Cupid’s bow, find Fortunius, and when you have found him bind him so that he will obey the wishes of loving Victoria. It remains for me to prick the idols breast with a needle. And the deeper it pierces his heart, the more he will suffer love’s wounding. What now, shall I apply the needle?
VICT. As much as you think right.
VIRG. Plunge it in completely.
MED. He’ll die, if I run his heart through.
VICT. Pray draw it out, Medusa.
VIRG. Plunge it in all the way.
MED. He’ll come for sure, I know, unless some great evil impedes him. Put lanterns in that monument, to that the dead men’s bones will be warmed up a little while.
VICT. And you believe he’s going to seek me out? I believe so, for — (Onophrius comes out and shouts, carrying lanterns. They flee.)

ONOPHRIUS alone, coming from the tomb

Through various adventures, through so many dangers,
We are wending our way towards Latium.
Thus I took to my heels. Thus Apollo rescued me. As in the proverb, I’ve sailed between Scylla and Charybdis. The horrendous forms of dead men’s bones which seemed to me to be flitting about in wondrous wise cast such fear in me as I lay in the tomb that I wondered whether so many legions of devils would snatch me off to the Stygian swamps. And this too could have happened, that the wicks a-burning in those waxen lanterns (which I shall place in Venus’ temple) would both set the monument afire and destroy me, a kind of Hercules on Mt. Oeta. But by grace of the Muses, my salvation emerged from the tomb.
He deserves not the sweet who has not tasted the bitter,
And for him who has not sorrowed, joys are rare.
For, unless I had hidden in the prison of that tomb, how could I have perceived that which I saw with these eyes, Victoria loving that most absurd Fortunius? I escaped the evil, I discovered the good, I devised the way. I’ll tell Fidelis that she adores Fortunius, I’ll tell Fortunius he’s being hounded by enchantments. Thus the one, not tolerating a rival in love, and the other, fearing for his life, will reject Victoria, whom I’ll join to myself, my rivals banished. And so, when Virginia has fled, panic-stricken, and they’re at sixes and sevens, thrown into confusion by my schemes, I’ll meet with Fidelis and Fortunius about this business. [Exit.]


They return from their flight.

VICT. We’ve completely gone astray. See what a magic incantation can do, it raises the dead from their tombs.
VIRG. After this you’ll never have me for a companion, I thought I was possessed by an evil demon.
VICT. Your fear created this. But you ought to remain steadfast, and not take to your heels disgracefully. I’ve often heard that spirits cannot harm us.
VIRG. What was I to do when the witch herself fled?
VICT. You speak the truth. And she, if I’m not mistaken, went home.
VIRG. It seems so.
VICT. But you go off and look for Fortunius. Since magical charms did us no good, fetch Fortunius here where I can see his face. Hasten to the Forum, you’ll find him there, where he often walks around with his cronies far into the night. (Virginia goes off.) But here’s the man I’m looking for, Fortunius. I’ll not call her back, lest she disturb our joys.


VICT. This is just and kind? This is a lover’s dutifulness? What wrong have I done you, Fortunius, that you treat me thus harshly, that you cruelly cast from your breast this little heart of mine, which I gave you as a gift?
FORT. Quiet, quiet, I know your skill in falsifying. You speak to me of love, you who are never wont to be at peace save when you are talking to Fidelis so often?
VICT. But you are mistaken, Fortunius, and you want to divert my attention. I give my faith to you, not to Fidelis.
FORT. But that suffices. Tell me when to return to you.
VICT. I would rather you would not depart, but you may return when you wish.
FORT. So wait for me, I’ll come back presently [Exit.]
VICT. Attilia.
ATT. Who’s calling me?
VICT. [Aside.] What else should I bid her but that she go out of the house to run some invented errands, so she won’t see us? [Aloud.] Go to the apothecary who lives by Venus’ temple. Tell him to make me up an excellent cordial. Here, have some money, take as much as you will need. If he doesn’t have it, betake yourself to somebody else.
ATT. Alas, how far away he is!
VICT. But you must go.
ATT. I’m going.


ATT. I think there’s some hidden reason that she sent me away from the house so late at night, to run some errands that are scarcely necessary. But assuredly you won’t bring it about, mistress, that these things escape my eyes. Do you think I’m an unfit partner in these things? But I will look on from other vantages. You fancy I’m asleep, while sitting by your bed I notice every detail. Nor can I allow it that Virginia be my superior in any way. [Enter Narcissus.]
NARC. My master was suddenly laid prostrate, unhinged with fear, when I told him of Victoria’s misdeeds, and what I did when I saw the demon flashing forth from that tomb.
ATT. Let Victoria always send me forth from the house, she’ll bring it about that in the end I find something out.
NARC. This is to my advantage. Behold Victoria’s servant, from whom it will be possible for me to gather the rest. Come, Narcissus, pretend you’re in love, say some soothing words. Greetings, my fair young girl.
ATT. And you likewise.
NARC. May God preserve you save, and he who loves you.
ATT. Indeed may He preserve me.
NARC. But tell me, my girl, do you wish a companion?
ATT. There’s no need, I’ll go by myself. I’ll take along modesty as my companion.
NARC. If I can be of any service, use me as your own.
ATT. For which I thank you.
NARC. But do you want me to speak to you.
ATT. As you please.
NARC. By Hercules, I’ve never seen a prettier woman.
ATT. And why this, pray?
NARC. You are greatly to my liking.
ATT. Oh the grave misfortune! You are not to my liking.
NARC. I’d please you, perhaps, if you knew what manner of man I am.
ATT. Come, come, go where you deserve to go.
NARC. And in that place you should at least do me a favor of telling me your name.
ATT. Get away, it’s not your place to ask me who I am.
NARC. You think I don’t know your name? Ah, don’t believe that, I say. I know you full well.
ATT. As being honest, I trust, and of sound morals.
NARC. For sure, Attilia mine, very honest, most kind, don’t scorn me as your lover. Master with mistress, why not servant with humble servant? Let us conjoin our planets in geometrical quadratures, for the stars are favorable.
ATT. You philosophize right well. But what do girls have to do with philosophers? Your business is with books of wisdom, mine with balls of wool. Scholars are learned and clever. I want a simple, straightforward man. And indeed your sort are worn out with work and stayings-awake at night, done in with emaciation, juiceless and bloodless.
NARC. What do girls have do with a philosopher? Well, that you learn to philosophize! I’m so simple that you can deceive me with ease. Do as you wish, as long as you don’t deny me. In other matters I’m wont to be so erudite that I’ve already learned the alchemic art, by means of which a golden rain may flow into your lap. I’ve never been so devoted to books that I’d not sooner apply myself to billing. So tell me in a word, do you love me?
ATT. If I could believe you safely, I could perhaps succumb to this single sin.
NARC. Sin? Ah, don’t say that, Dido. But what do you think? I’m never in the habit of changing my mind, unless a better thought occurs to me. I’m no Stoic, that I think I must always hold the same opinion. Nor, if I’m not mistaken, do you want a Stoic for a husband, unskilled, insensitive, boorish, rustic, who is unmoved by love or pity.
ATT. You’re the same old man. But I want Stoic constancy, not the Stoics’ apathy (since you’ve taught me to philosophize).
NARC. It will be your choice, Attilia, whether you want an individual transitory or an individual hypothetical. Having embraced you, I’ll either be an lowest species or at least an intermediate one, sweetly clasping you and being clasped by turns. If you wish to go higher, you will be the highest genus as long as I can be a transcendent category. No matter how much, Attilia, I would gladly exist in the same predication with yourself, yet I will transubstantiate myself from the predication of substance as long as I may enjoy your accidentals, which surpass all substantial essence.
ATT. Go away, and remove your hand,
NARC. Come, my Juno, you shouldn’t be so gloomy for your Jove, the procreation of children is most pleasant. If you don’t believe me, the business will be transacted by two testifiers.
ATT. Oh really? Control your hand, you wicked man. I must complete my mistress’ business.
NARC. Go fairly, my fair one. And if it’s no trouble, let Narcissus come to your mind, that is, your servant. [Exit.]
ATT. O the dimwit, he didn’t dare plant even a single kiss!


If everybody who enters into the ways of love were as self-controlled as I control myself, how pleasant lovers’ life would be, how sweet! How greedily women would woo men! How placidly men would enjoy women! But there is a certain incompetent breed of lovers who think their lives are over, and that they’re completely ruined, unless they never depart from their mistress’ side. But while I pretend to be languid with love, Victoria voluntarily summons me and seeks me out. So I’ll go, so as to enjoy a bit of pleasure, and then I’ll depart a trifle more severe.


FID. The things you tell me are wonderful and surpass all belief, but (because of the evils that oppress me) they can’t seem strange to me. If she is should employ witches to gain power over Fortunius, the business has not yet been accomplished according to her will, so that I may even hope.
ON. Well said. But you can get your own back better in this way. For his sake she plies the magical arts, ergo she adores him. She adores him, ergo she does not love you. If she does not love you, why pursue her when she shuns you? Be free, don’t be so downcast that you imagine there’s no difference between yourself and a quadruped. (Enter Medusa, returned from her flight.)
FID. But isn’t this woman the witch you told me about?
ON. She’s the one, I believe. And yet with my visual potency I can’t see her yet. Yes, it’s her. Do you want me to bash her with my fist straightway?
FID. No, let her go hang. But do you see that girl who’s arrived, Virginia? So I want to linger a moment. It may happen that we’ll hear something new.



VIRG. I haven’t been able to find Fortunius yet, but I met his servant Gallulus. But here’s Medusa. I’ll bring her to my mistress.
MED. — and sweetness of life for ever and ever —
VIRG. What? Does your recent fear still disturb you?
MED. — in the valley of tears, queen, I ask —
VIRG. Don’t be afraid, I tell you?
MED. — now and forever, amen.
VIRG. What’s happening, Medusa? What are you frightened of?
MED. Oh you simpleton, do you imagine I was disturbed?
VIRG. So why would you flee?
FID. By Hercules, what Onophrius told me was true.
MED. I took to my heels because I saw you flee. For I feared lest you were seeing apparitions. So I wished to consult my safety too.
VIRG. A pretty speech. But what was it that came out of the tomb?
MED. No doubt it was Fortunius’ evil spirit which flitted out from there, so that it could perceive your mistress’ intention. For we all have both a good and an evil spirit.
ON. But one should speak of geniuses, not spirits, you ignorant woman.
VIRG. I know this, but why didn’t you warn us before?
MED. There was no opportunity for speaking then.
VIRG. So pray return to my mistress now.
MED. No, I’m going to another woman who’s more miserable. Farewell. [Exit.]
ON. Oh the evil woman! Oh highest Jupiter, why don’t you thunder, why don’t you hurl your thunderbolts? For sorrow! You see her and tolerate her?


VICT. Is there anybody in the street?
VIRG. Nobody, mistress.
VICT. Come, get yourself into the house quickly.
FID. But see, Victoria’s standing before her door. Oh the crime, oh! Sh.
VICT. I see nobody here, my darling, may you go with good fortune. And would that a bounty of pleasures would befall you matching the sharpness of my sorrow at your departure.
FORT. Farewell.
VICT. Let me kiss you.
FORT. Let me leave. [Exit.].
FID. What do you think now, Onophrius?
ON. Oh, you’ve obtained sure proof of my candor in revealing her deceitfulness to you. If I’m not mistaken, you recall that when I expounded Plautus’ comedies for you, how I bade you write in the margin of the book “one eyewitness is better th
an ten earwitnesses.” You saw this with your own eyes, you didn’t discover it with your ears.
VICT. I’m ruined. This man saw Fortunius going out of my house.
FID. I’ll run her ungrateful breast through with my steel.
ON. But don’t do that, Fidelis, lest you pollute yourself with such a femicide. Rather repay tit with tat, which should wound her. She does not love you, so don’t you dote on her. You can expostulate about this injury, if you want. Meanwhile I’ll wait for you at home until you return. [Exit.]


VICT. Why are you so sad, Fidelis, what does your gloomy face mean? Is anything amiss in our love?
FID. You’ve divined it immediately.
VICT. So what is it?
FID. Why are you out on the street at night?
VICT. I’ve been waiting for you alone, for my mind gave me a premonition of your coming.
FID. I regret this one thing, that I can’t invent penalties harsh enough to avenge these cruellest crimes. The pledge you gave that you’d never sin again you have kept in your usual way according to habit, now enjoying the embraces of these lovers, now of those. You may persuade yourself of this, that I’ll not be able to desist before I see you breathing forth your hateful spirit. I’ll show your husband the stains of your polluted bed. I’ll make him see for himself. An avenger of your unspeakable crime, I’ll join him in stabbing your breast. Never will my anger’s just ardor be placated before I make you so notable for your misdeeds as once you were noble for virtue, so that when your polluted soul has flown out of your body, the memory of your shame shall nevertheless live and speak.
VICT. Now at last I see, since you are raging at me so, that something has been whispered to you about my morals. But pray calm yourself, you have nothing but hearsay. My love for you and my kindness have not deserved this.
FID. Nor have I deserved of you that I’m shut outdoors in favor of Fortunius, for whom you are now mad with desire. But I’ll reveal to him your magic charms, which I’ve seen with these eyes, I’ll make it so he understands that neither love nor faith exist in your heart. Then I’ll make him curse the day he met you. [Exit.]
VICT. What shall I do now in my unhappiness? Where shall I turn myself in my misery?


VICT. Come here, Virgina. For there’s need for your prompt wit.
VIRG. What do you want?
VICT. Fidelis saw Fortunius leaving the house, he saw me speaking with him before the door, he knows about my witchcraft, and he’ll tell all this to my husband.
VIRG. And what will you do now, mistress?
VICT. I don’t know, but something has to be done.
VIRG. And done quickly.
VICT. My mind is drawn apart in several directions, but I don’t dare do that which I want the most.
VIRG And what’s that?
VICT. That Fidelis die. But no matter how estranged he is from me in his mind, I don’t want him to die. And yet, if my life, if my safety is to be dear to me, certainly some plan of this sort is to be undertaken.
VIRG. Thus the matter stands, mistress, don’t delay.
VICT. What if I flee?
VIRG. Why would flight help you? For neither could you escape your danger by flight, and you would make yourself a laughing-stock for everybody. Kill him, I say, for this will be the least of your evils.
VICT. You really say so?
VIRG. I say so, and I urge you as much as I can.
VICT. And to whose trust will you commit these things? You know that things of this kind can never be buried in silence. I’m unsure what I should do.
VIRG. There was some soldier or other named Frangipetra who once served our master. Didn’t he burn with love for you once?
VICT. What if he did?
VIRG. Who more suitable for this thing you’re preparing? Order him, beg him, beseech him that he undertake this business. And you can give him a kiss, and more if you want. What does it matter? Whatever it may be, it will be concealed.
VICT. So go to the side-street and knock on his door. If Frangipetra is at home, tell him I’d gladly consent to meet him.


PAM. (Knocks at the door.) How weary I am from walking around while I run about hither and thither! How unhappy are they who have given themselves over to love!
ON. Who’s this great beast damaging my door?
Now my heart’s swollen with baleful anger.
Who’s knocking on my door so boorishly?
PAM. I’m looking for Fidelis, I’m a servant of Ottaviano.
ON. Forward, rude, ignorant woman, who taught you to speak in that way? For that name Ottaviano is to be pronounced Octavianus with a c and a t. For it’s derived from an ordinal number, octo, spelled with a kappa and a tau by the Greeks.
PAM. Explain quicker, please, and call me Pamphila.
ON. This name of Pamphila was introduced by Terence in his Andria. Furthermore, it is the name of Simo’s daughter and denotes somebody wholly friendly and placid, derived from pan, which means “all”, and philos, which denotes “beloved”. Thus your name promises you’re beloved to everyone.
PAM. Go on, don’t delay me, you most diabolical of men.
ON. Your tongue runs on before your mind. For “diabolical” signifies a slander and a false accuser. I’m not accusing you, but I’m explaining your name.
PAM. Be you a god or be you a demon or the Devil, let me meet Fidelis at last.
ON. But a distinction must be made about this word “demon.” For it signifies somebody who knows. Thus you greet me with a complement. One finds the words eudaemon and kakodaemon, there is a good demon and a bad one, like a good trick and a bad one, a good poison and a bad one. How do these things strike you?
PAM. I don’t understand.
ON. If you don’t understand, then you are like the living dead. For life without learning is a kind of image of death. But now I’ll go fetch Fidelis. [Exit.]
PAM. Go hang, you worst of clowns!


PAM. May the god make him appear milder and kinder, so that to some degree the sharpness of my mistress’ sorrow may be lessened!
FID. What do you want?
PAM. Fidelis, your Barbara earnestly beseeches you that you come to her quickly, if it’s no trouble.
FID. Believe me, Pamphila, I’m overwhelmed with so many affairs that I can barely catch my breath, but I’ll come, and I’ll come gladly. So let her await me before her door. For I don’t want to give an sign by word or gesture, lest the neighbors think something naughty is going on.
PAM. For her sake, I thank you greatly.


FRANG. You don’t know what she wants of me?
VIRG. By Hercules, I don’t know.
FRANG. She does me a notable injury, since I am unable to win her love despite all my duties towards her.
VIRG. Ah, by the gods, don’t say that, Frangipetra.
FRANG. What then? Don’t I strike you as glorious and stout?
VIRG. Most stout. But my mistress is holy, pious and faithful, and she’d rather die a thousand deaths than violate the trust she’s given her husband.
FRANG. For her sake I’d yank Juno down from heaven, or Mars or Jove, while her husband couldn’t stand a bee-sting without a fuss.
VIRG. She’s tied to her husband by love’s eternal bond. So don’t torture yourself thus.
FRANG. I don’t suffer injuries. I’m great and obviously terrible, I terrify heaven and earth with my strength.
VIRG. So you seem to me, by Hercules. Pray go to her.

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