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A Tragedie written in
Greeke by Euripides, translated
and digested into Acte by George Gas-
coygne, and Francis Kinwelmershe
of Grayes Inne,
and there by them presented,
The argument of the Tragedie.
To scourge the cryme of wicked Laius,
And wrecke the foule Incest of Oedipus,
The angry Gods styrred up theyr sonnes, by strife
With blades embrewed to reave eache others life:
The wife, the mother, and the concubyne,
(Whose fearefull hart foredrad theyr fatall fine,)
Hir sonnes thus dead, disdayneth longer lyfe,
And slayes hirself with selfsame bloudy knyfe:
The daughter she, surprisde with childish dreade
(That durst not dye) a lothsome lyfe doth leade,
Yet rather chose to guide hir banisht sire,
Than cruell Creon should have his desire.
Creon is King, the *type of Tyranny,
And Oedipus, myrrour of misery.
The names of the Interloquutors.
Jocasta, the Queene.
Servus, a noble man of the Queenes traine
Bailo, governour to the Queenes sonnes.
Antygone, daughter to the Queene.
Chorus, foure Thebane dames.
Pollynices & Eteocles.} sonnes to Oedipus & the Queene.
Creon, the Queenes brother.
Meneceus, sonne to Creon.
Tyresias, the divine priest.
Manto, the daughter of Tyresias.
Sacerdos, the sacrifycing priest.
Nuntii, three messangers from the campe.
Oedipus, the olde King father to Eteocles and Pollynices, sonne
and husbande to Jocasta the Queene.
The Tragedie presented as it were
¶ The order of the dumme shewes
and Musickes before every Acte.
FIrste, before the beginning of the first Acte, did sounde a dolefull & straunge noyse of violles, Cythren, Bandurion, and such like, during the whiche, there came in uppon the Stage a king with an Imperial crown uppon his head, very richely apparelled: a Scepter in his righte hande, a Mounde with a Crosse in his lefte hande, sitting in a Chariote very richely furnished, drawne in by foure Kinges in their Dublettes and Hosen, with Crownes also upon their heades. Representing unto us Ambition, by the hystorie of Sesostres king of Egypt, who beeing in his time and reigne a mightie Conquerour, yet not content to have subdued many princes, and taken from them their kingdomes and dominions, did in like maner cause those Kinges whome he had so overcome, to draw in his Chariote like Beastes and Oxen, thereby to content his un brideled ambitious desire. After he had beene drawne twyce about the Stage, and retyred, the Musicke ceased, and Jocasta the Queene issued out of hir house, beginning the firste Acte, as followeth. Jocasta the Queene issueth out of hir Pallace, before hir twelve Gentlemen, following after hir eight Gentle women, whereof foure be the Chorus that remayne on the Stage after hir departure. At hir entrance the Trumpettes
sounded, and after she had gone once a
bout the Stage, she turneth to one of
hir most trustie and esteemed ser
vaunts, and unto him she
discloseth hir griefe, as
The first Acte. The first Scene.
O Faithfull servaunt of mine auncient sire,
Though unto thee, sufficiently be knowne
The whole discourse of my recurelesse griefe
By seing me from Princes royall state
Thus basely brought into so great contempt,
As mine own sonnes repine to heare my plaint,
Now of a Queene but barely bearing name,
Seyng this towne, seing my fleshe and bloude,
Against it selfe to levie threatning armes,
(Whereof to talke my heart it rendes in twaine)
Yet once againe, I must to thee recompte
The wailefull thing that is already spred,
Bicause I know, that pitie will compell
Thy tender hart, more than my naturall childe,
With ruthfull teares to mone my mourning case.
Ser. My gracious Queene, as no man might surmount
The constant faith I beare my sovraine Lorde,
So doe I thinke, for love and trustie zeale,
No Sonne you have, doth owe you more than I:
For hereunto I am by dutie bounde,
With service meete no lesse to honor you,
Than that renoumed Prince your deere father.
And as my duties be most infinite,
So infinite, must also be my love:
Then if my life or spending of my bloude
May be employde to doe your highnesse good,
Commaunde (O Queene) commaund this carcasse here,
In spite of death to satisfie thy will,
So, though I die, yet shall my willing ghost
Contentedly forsake this withered corps,
For joy to thinke I never shewde my selfe
Ingrateful once to such a worthy Queene.
Joca. Thou knowst what care my carefull father tooke,
In wedlockes sacred state to settle me
With Laius, king of this unhappie Thebs,
That most unhappie now our Citie is:
Thou knowst, how he, desirous still to searche
The hidden secrets of supernall powers,
Unto Divines did make his ofte recourse,
Of them to learne when he should have a sonne,
That in his Realme might after him succeede:
Of whom receiving answere sharpe and sowre,
That his owne sonne should worke his wailfull ende,
The wretched king (though all in vayne) did seeke
For to eschew that could not be eschewed:
And so, forgetting lawes of natures love,
No sooner had this paynfull wombe brought foorth
His eldest sonne to this desired light,
But straight he chargde a trustie man of his
To beare the childe into a desert wood,
And leave it there, for Tigers to devoure.
Ser. O lucklesse babe, begot in wofull houre.
Joc. His servant thus obedient to his hest,
Up by the heeles did hang this faultlesse Impe,
And percing with a knife his tender feete,
Through both the wounds did drawe the slender twigs,
Which being bound about his feeble limmes,
Were strong inough to holde the little soule.
Thus did he leave this infant scarcely borne,
That in short time must needes have lost his life,
If destenie (that for our greater greefes
Decreede before to keepe it still alive)
Had not unto this childe sent present helpe:
For so it chaunst, a shepheard passing by,
With pitie movde, did stay his giltlesse death:
He tooke him home, and gave him to his wife,
With homelie fare to feede and foster up:
Now harken how the heavens have wrought the way
To Laius death, and to mine owne decay.
,, Ser. Experience proves, and daily is it seene,
,,In vaine (too vaine) man strives against the heavens.
Joca. Not farre fro thence, the mightie Polibus,
Of Corinth King, did keepe his princely court,
Unto whose wofull wife (lamenting muche
Shee had no ofspring by hir noble pheere)
The curteous shepherd gave my little sonne:
Which gratefull gift, the Queene did so accept,
As nothing seemde more precious in hir sight:
Partly, for that, his faitures were so fine,
Partly, for that, he was so beautifull,
And partly, for bicause his comely grace
Gave great suspicion of his royall bloude.
The infant grewe, and many yeares was demde
Polibus sonne, till time, that Oedipus
(For so he named was) did understande
That Polibus was not his sire in deede,
Whereby forsaking frendes and countrie there,
He did returne to seeke his native stocke:
And being come into Phocides lande,
Toke notice of the cursed oracle,
How first he shoulde his father doe to death,
And then become his mothers wedded mate.
Ser. O fierce aspect of cruell planets all,
That can decree such seas of heynous faultes.
Joca. Then Oedipus, fraight full of chilling feare,
By all meanes sought t'avoyde this furious fate,
But whiles he weende to shunne the shameful deede,
Unluckly guided by his owne mishappe,
He fell into the snare that most he feared:
For loe, in Phocides did Laius lye,
To ende the broyles that civill discorde then
Had raysed up in that unquiet lande,
By meanes whereof my wofull Oedipus,
Affording ayde unto the other side,
With murdring blade unwares his father slewe.
Thus heavenly doome, thus fate, thus powers divine,
Thus wicked reade of Prophets tooke effect:
Now onely restes to ende the bitter happe
Of me, of me his miserable mother.
Alas, how colde I feele the quaking bloud
Passe too and fro within my trembling brest?
Oedipus, when this bloudy deede was doone,
Forst foorth by fatall doome, to Thebes came,
Where as full soone with glory he atchievde
The crowne and scepter of this noble lande,
By conquering Sphinx that cruell monster loe,
That earst destroyde this goodly flouring soyle:
And thus did I (O hatefull thing to heare)
To my owne sonne become a wretched wife.
Ser. No mervayle, though the golden Sunne withdrew
His glittering beames from suche a sinfull facte.
Joca. And so by him that from this belly sprang,
I brought to light (O cursed that I am)
Aswell two sonnes, as daughters also twaine:
But when this monstrous mariage was disclosde,
So sore began the rage of boyling wrath
To swell within the furious brest of him,
As he him selfe by stresse of his owne nayles,
Out of his head did teare his griefull eyne,
Unworthy more to see the shining light.
Ser. How could it be, that knowing he had done
So foule a blot, he would remayne alive?
,, Joca. So deepely faulteth none, the which unwares
,, Doth fall into the crime he can not shunne:
And he (alas) unto his greater greefe,
Prolongs the date of his accursed dayes,
Knowing that life doth more and more increase
The cruell plages of his detested gilte,
,, Where stroke of griesly death dothe set an ende
,,Unto the pangs of mans increasing payne.
Ser. Of others all, moste cause have we to mone
Thy wofull smarte (O miserable Queene)
Such and so many are thy greevous harmes.
Joca. Now to the ende this blinde outrageous sire
Should reape no joye of his unnaturall fruite,
His wretched sons, prickt foorth by furious spight,
Adjudge their father to perpetuall prison:
There buried in the depthe of dungeon darke,
(Alas) he leades his discontented life,
Accursing still his stony harted sonnes,
And wishing all th' infernall sprites of hell,
To breathe suche poysned hate into their brestes,
As eche with other fall to bloudy warres,
And so with pricking poynt of piercing blade,
To rippe their bowels out, that eche of them
With others bloud might st[a]yne his giltie hands,
And bothe at once by stroke of speedie death
Be foorthwith throwne into the Stigian lake.
Ser. The mightie Gods prevent so fowle a deede.
Joca. They to avoyde the wicked blasphemies,
And sinfull prayer of their angrie sire,
Agreed thus, that of this noble realme,
Untill the course of one ful yere was runne,
Eteocles should sway the kingly mace,
And Polynice as exul should departe,
Till time expyrde: and then to Polynice
Eteocles should yeelde the scepter up:
Thus yere by yere the one succeeding other,
This royall crowne should unto bothe remayne.
Ser. Oh thunbridled mindes of ambicious men.
Joca. Et[e]ocles thus plast in princely seate,
Drunke with the sugred taste of kingly raigne,
Not onely shut his brother from the crowne,
But also from his native country soyle.
Alas poore Polynice, what might he doe,
Unjustly by his brother thus betrayed?
To Argos he, with sad and heavie cheere
Forthwith convayde him selfe, on whom at length
With fauning face good fortune smyled so,
As with Adrastus king of Argives there,
He founde such favour and affinitie,
As (to restore my sonne unto his raigne,)
He hath besie[gd]e this noble citie Thebes,
And hence proceedes my most extreme annoye:
For, of my sonnes, who ever doe prevaile,
The victorie will turne unto my griefe:
Alas, I feare (such is the chaunce of warre)
That one, or both shall purchase death therby.
Wherfore, to shunne the worst that may befall,
Thoughe comfortlesse, yet as a pitifull mother
Whom nature binds to love hir loving sonnes,
And to provide the best for their availe,
I have thought good by prayers to entreate
The two brethren (nay rather cruel foes)
A while to staie their fierce and furious fight,
Till I have tried by meanes for to apease
The swelling wrath of their outraging willes,
And so with much to doe, at my request
They have forborne unto this onely houre.
Ser. Small space g[o]d wot, to stint so great a strife.
Joca. And even right now, a trustie man of mine,
Returned from the campe, enforming me
That Polynice will straight to Thebes come,
Thus of my woe, this is the wailefull summe.
And for bycause, in vaine and bootelesse plainte
I have small neede to spend this litle time,
Here will I cease, in wordes more to bewray
The restlesse state of my afflicted minde,
Desiring thee, thou goe to Eteocles,
Hartly on my behalfe beseching him,
That out of hand according to his promise,
He will vouchsafe to come unto my course,
I know he loves thee well, and to thy wordes
I thinke thou knowst he will give willing eare.
Ser. (O noble Queene) sith unto such affayres
My spedie diligence is requisite,
I will applie effectually to doe
What so your highnesse hath commaunded me.
Joca. I will goe in, and pray the Gods therwhile,
With tender pitie to appease my griefe.
Jocasta goeth off the stage into hir pallace, hir foure
handmaides follow hir, the foure Chorus also follow
hir to the gates of hir pallace, after comming on the
stage, take their place, where they continue to the end
of the Tragedie.
,, THe simple man, whose mervaile is so great
,,At stately courts, and princes regall seate,
,,With gasing eye but onely doth regarde
,, The golden glosse that outwardly appeares,
,,The crownes bedeckt with pearle and precious stones,
The courte lively painted.
,,The riche attire imbost with beaten golde,
,,The glittering mace, the pompe of swarming traine,
,,The mightie halles heapt full of flattering frendes,
,, The chambers huge, the goodly gorgeous beddes,
,,The gilted roofes embowde with curious worke,
,,The faces sweete of fine disdayning dames,
,, The vaine suppose of wanton raigne at luste:
,,But never viewes with eye of inward thought,
,,The painefull toile, the great and grevous cares,
,,The troubles still, the newe increasing feares,
,,That princes nourish in their jealous brestes:
,, He wayeth not the charge that Jove hath laid
,,On princes, how for themselves they raigne not:
,, He weenes, the law must stoope to princely will,
,,But princes frame their noble wills to lawe:
,, He knoweth not, that as the boystrous winde
,,Doth shake the toppes of highest reared towres,
,,So doth the force of frowarde fortune strike
,,The wight that highest sits in haughtie state.
Lo Oedipus, that sometime reigned king
Of Thebane soyle, that wonted to suppresse
The mightest Prince, and kepe him under checke,
That fearefull was unto his forraine foes,
Now like a poore afflicted prisoner,
In dungeon darke, shut up from cheerefull light,
In every part so plagued with annoy,
As he abhorrs to leade a longer life,
By meanes wherof, the one against the other
His wrathfull sonnes have planted all their force,
And Thebes here, this auncient worthy towne,
With threatning siege girt in on everie side,
In daunger lyes to be subverted quite,
If helpe of hevenly Jove upholde it not,
But as darke night succedes the shining day,
So lowring griefe comes after pleasant joy.
Well now the charge hir highnesse did commaund
I must fulfill, though haply all in vaine.
Servus goeth off the stage by the gates called Electræ Antygone attended with .iii. gentlewomen and hir governour commeth out of the Queene hir mothers Pallace.
O Gentle daughter of King Oedipus,
O sister deare to that unhappie wight
Whom brothers rage hath reaved of his right,
To whom, thou knowst, in yong and tender yeares
I was a friend and faithfull gove[r]nour,
Come forth, sith that hir grace hath graunted leave,
And let me knowe what cause hath moved nowe
So chaste a maide to set hir daintie foote
Over the thresholde of hir secrete lodge?
Since that the towne is furnishte every where
With men of armes and warlike instrumentes,
Unto our eares there commes no other noyse,
But sounde of trumpe, and neigh of trampling stedes,
Which running up and downe from place to place,
With hideous cries betoken bloude and death:
The blasing sunne ne shineth halfe so brighte,
As it was wont to doe at dawne of day:
The wretched dames throughout the wofull towne,
Together clustring to the temples goe,
Beseching Jove by way of humble plainte,
With tender ruthe to pitie their distresse.
An. The love I beare to my sweete Polynice,
My deare brother, is onely cause hereof.
Bai. Why daughter, knowst thou any remedie
How to defend thy fathers citie here
From that outrage and fierce repyning wrathe,
Which he against it, justly hath conceived?
An. Oh governour might this my faultlesse bloude
Suffise to stay my brethrens dyre debate,
With glad content I coulde afford my life
Betwixte them both to plant a perfect peace.
But since (alas) I cannot as I woulde,
A hote desire enflames my fervent mind
To have a sight of my sweete Polynice.
Wherfore (good guide) vouchsafe to guide me up
Into some tower about this hugie court,
From whence I may behold our enmies campe,
Therby at least to feede my hungry eyes
But with the sight of my beloved brother:
Then if I die, contented shall I die.
Bai. O princly dame, the tender care thou takste
Of thy deare brother, deserveth double praise:
Yet crav'st thou that, which cannot be obtainde,
By reason of the distance from the towne
Unto the plaine, where tharmie lies incampte:
And furthermore, besemeth not a maide
To shew hir selfe in such unseemly place,
Whereas among such yong and lustie troupes
Of harebrainde souldiers marching to and fro,
Both honest name and honour is empairde:
But yet rejoyce, sith this thy great desire,
Without long let, or yet without thy paine,
At wishe and will shortly may be fulfillde.
For Polynice forthwith will hither come,
Even I my selfe was lately at the campe,
Commaunded by the Queene to bid him come,
Who laboureth still to linke in frendly league,
Hir jarring sonnes (which happe so hoped for,
Eftsones I pray the gracious gods to graunt)
And sure I am, that ere this hour passe,
Thou shalt him here in person safely see.
Anti. O loving frend, doest thou then warrant me,
That Polynice will come unto this courte?
Bai. Ere thou be ware thou shalt him here beholde.
Anti. And who (alas) doth warrant his adventure,
That of Eteocles he take no harme?
Bai. For constant pledge, he hath his brothers faith,
He hath also the truce that yet endures.
An. I feare alas, alas I greatly feare,
Some trustlesse snare his cruell brother layes
To trappe him in.
Bai. Daughter, god knowes how willing I would be
With sweete reliefe to comforte thy distresse,
But I cannot impart to thee, the good
Which I my selfe doe not as yet enjoye.
The wailefull cause that moves Eteocles
With Polynice to enter civil warres
Is overgreat, and for this onely cause
Full many men have broke the lawes of truth,
And topsieturvie turned many townes,
,,To gredie (daughter) too too gredie is
,,Desire to rule and raigne in kingly state.
Ne can he bide, that swaise a realme alone
To have another joynde with him therin:
Yet must we hope for helpe of heavenly powers,
Sith they be juste, their mercy is at hand,
To helpe the weake when worldly force doth faile.
An. As both my brethren be, so both I beare
As much good will as any sister may,
But yet the wrong that unto Polynice
This trothlesse tyrant hath unjustlie shewd,
Doth lead me more, to wishe the prosperous life
Of Polynice, than of that cruell wretch,
Besides that, Polynice whiles he remainde
In Thebes here, did ever love me more,
Than did Eteocles, whose swelling hate
Is towards me increased more and more:
Wherof I partely may assure my selfe,
Considering he disdaynes to visite me,
Yea, happly he intends to reave my life,
And having power he will not sticke to doe it.
This therefore makes me earnestly desire
Oft tymes to see him: yet ever as I thinke
For to discharge the duetie of a sister,
The feare I have of hurt, doth chaunge as fast
My doubtfull love into disdainefull spight.
Bai. Yet daughter, must ye trust in mightie Jove,
His will is not, that for thoffence of one
So many suffer undeserved smarte:
I meane of thee, I meane of Polynice,
Of Jocasta thy wofull aged mother,
And of Ismena thy beloved sister.
Who though for this she doth not outwardly
From drearie eyen distill lamenting teares,
Yet do I thinke, no lesse aflicting griefe
Doth inwardly torment hir tender brest.
An. Besides all this, a certaine jelousie,
Lately conceyvde (I know not whence it springs)
Of Creon, my mothers brother, appaules me much,
Him doubt I more than any danger else.
Bai. Deare daughter, leave this foolishe jelousie,
And seeing that thou shalt heere shortly finde
Thy brother Polynice, go in agayne.
An. O joyfull would it be to me therwhile,
To understande the order of the hoste
Whether it be such as have sufficient power
To overthrowe this mightie towne of Thebes.
What place supplies my brother Polynice?
Where founde ye him? what answere did he give?
And though so great a care perteineth not
Unto a mayde of my unskill[full] yeres,
Yet, forbicause my selfe partaker am
Of good and evill with this my countreysoyle,
I long to heare thee tell those fearefull newes,
Which otherwise I cannot understand.
Bai. So noble a desire (O worthy dame)
I much commende: and briefly as I can,
Will satisfie thy hungry minde herein.
The power of men that Polynice hath brought,
(Wherof he, (being Adrastus sonne in lawe)
Takes chiefest charge) is even the floure of Grece,
Whose hugie traine so mightie seemes to be,
As I see not, how this our drouping towne
Is able to withstand so strong a siege.
Entring the fielde their armie did I finde
So orderly in forme of battaile set,
As though they would forthwith have given the charge:
In battailes seaven the host devided is,
To eche of which, by order of the king,
A valiant knight for captaine is assignde:
And as you know this citie hath seven gates,
So everie captaine hath his gate prescribde,
With fierce assault to make his entrie at.
And further, passing through our frouning foes
(That gave me countnaunce of a messenger)
Harde by the King I spied Polynice,
In golden glistring armes most richely cladde,
Whose person many a stately prince enpalde,
And many a comely crowned head enclosde:
At sight of me his colour straight he chaungde,
And like a loving childe, in clasped armes
He caught me up, and frendly kist my cheke,
Then hearing what his mother did demaunde
With glad consent according to hir hest
Gave me his hand, to come unto the court,
Of mutuall truce desirous so he seemde,
He askt me of Antygone and Ismena,
But chiefelie unto thee above the rest
He gave me charge most heartly to commend him.
An. The gods give grace he may at length possesse
His kingly right, and I his wished sight.
Bai. Daughter no more, t'is time ye nowe returne:
It standes not with the honor of your state
Thus to be seene suspiciously abrode:
,, For vulgar tongues are armed evermore
,,With slaunderous brute to bleamishe the renoume
,,Of vertues dames, which though at first it spring
,,Of slender cause, yet doth it swell so fast,
A glasse for yong women.
,,As in short space it filleth everie eare
,,With swifte report[e] of undeserved blame:
,,You cannot be to curious of your name:
,,Fond of evill (though still the minde be chast)
,,Decayes the credite oft, that Ladies had,
,,Sometimes the place presumes a wanton mynde:
,,Repayre sometymes of some, doth hurt their honor:
,,Sometimes the light and garishe proude attire
,,Persuades a yelding bent of pleasing youthes.
The voyce that goeth of your unspotted fame,
Is like a tender floure, that with the blast
Of everie litle winde doth fade away.
Goe in deere childe, this way will I goe see
If I can meete thy brother Polynice.
Antigone with hir maides returneth into hir mothers
pallace, hir governour goeth out by the gates Homoloydes.
IF greedie lust of mans ambitious eye
(That thristeth so for swaye of earthly things)
Would eke foresee, what mischefes growe therby,
What carefull toyle to quiet state it brings,
What endlesse griefe from such a fountaine springs:
Then should he swimme in seas of sweete delight,
That nowe complaines of fortunes cruell spight.
For then he would so safely shielde himselfe
With sacred rules of wisdomes sage advise,
As no alluring trayne of trustles pelfe,
To fonde affectes his fancie should entise,
Then warie heede would quickly make him wise:
Where contrary (such is our skillesse kind)
We most doe seeke, that most may hurt the minde.
Amid the troupe of these unstable toyes,
Some fancies loe to beautie must be bent,
Some hunt for wealth, and some set all their joyes,
In regall power of princely governement,
Yet none of these from care are cleane exempt:
For either they be got with grievous toyle,
Or in the end forgone with shamefull foyle.
This flitting world doth firmely nought retaine,
Wherin a man may boldly rest his trust,
Such fickle chaunce in fortune doth remaine,
As when she lust, she threatneth whom she lust,
From high renoume to throwe him in the dust.
Thus may we see that eche triumphing joye
By fortunes froune is turned to annoye.
Those elder heades may well be thought to erre,
The which for easie life and quiet dayes,
The vulgar sorte would seeme for to preferre,
If glorious Ph■be with-holde his glistring rayes,
From such a peere as crowne and scepter swayes,
No mervaile though he hide his heavenly face,
From us that come of lesse renoumed race.
Selde shall you see the ruine of a Prince,
Argumentum à maiore.
But that the people eke like brunt doe beare
And olde recordes of auncient time long since,
From age to age, yea almost everie where,
With proofe herof hath glutted every eare:
Thus by the follies of the princes hart,
The bounder subject still receiveth smart.
Loe, how unbrideled lust of privat raigne,
Hath pricked both the brethren unto warre:
Yet Polynice, with signe of lesse disdaine,
Against this lande hath brought from countries farre,
A forraine power, to end this cruell jarre,
Forgetting quite the dutie, love, and zeale,
He ought to beare unto this common weale.
But whosoever gets the victorie,
We wretched dames, and thou O noble towne,
Shall feele therof the wofull miserie,
Thy gorgeous pompe, thy glorious high renoume,
Thy stately towers, and all shal fall a downe,
Sith raging Mars will eache of them assist
In others brest to bathe his bloudie fist.
But thou(*) O sonne of Semel, and of Jove,
(That tamde the proude attempt of giaunts strong)
Doe thou defende, even of thy tender love,
Thy humble thralls from this afflicting wrong,
Bacchus was the God whom they most honored in Thebes.
Whom wast of warre hath now tormented long:
So shall we never faire ne day ne night
With reverence due thy prayses to resight.
Finis Actus primi.
Done by F. Kinwelmarshe.
The order of the second dumbe shewe.
BEfore the beginning of this seconde Acte dyd sound a very dolefull noise of flutes: during the which there came in upon the stage two coffines covered with hearclothes, & brought in by .viii. in mourning weed: & accompanied with .viii. other mourners: & after they had caried the coffins about the stage, there opened & appeared a Grave, wherin they buried ye coffins & put fire to them: but the flames did sever & parte in twaine, signifying discord by the history of two brethren, whose discord in their life was not onely to be wondred at, but being buried both in one Tombe (as some writers affirme) the flames of their funeralls did yet parte the one from the other in like maner, and would in no wise joyne into one flame. After the Funerals were ended & the fire cosumed, the grave was closed up again, the mourners withdrew then off the stage, & immediately by ye gates Homoloydes entred Pollinyces accompanied with vi. gentlemen and a page that carried his helmet and Target: he & his men unarmed saving their gorgets, for that they were permitted to come into the towne in time of truce, to the end Jocasta might bring the two brethren to a parle: and Pollinyces after good regard taken round about him, speake as foloweth.
Actus. 2. Scena. I.
POLINICES. CHORUS. JOCASTA. ETEOCLES.
LOe here mine owne citie and native soyle,
Loe here the nest I ought to nestle in,
Yet being thus entrencht with mine owne towres,
And that, from him the safeconduct is given
Which doth enjoye as much as mine should be,
My feete can treade no step without suspect:
For where my brother bides, even there behoves
More warie scout than in an enmies campe.
Yet while I may w[i]thin this right hand holde
This (*)bronde, this blade, (unyelden ever yet)
My life shall not be lefte without revenge.
But here beholde the holy sancturie,
Of Bacc[u]s eke the worthie Image, loe
The aultars where the sacred flames have shone,
And where of yore these giltlesse hands of mine
Full oft have offered to our mightie gods:
I see also a worthie companie
Of Thebane dames, resembling unto me
The traine of Jocasta my deare mother:
Beholde them clad in clothes of griesly blacke,
That hellishe hewe that (*)nay for other harmes
So well besemed wretched wightes to weare:
For why, ere long their selves, themselves shall see
(Gramercy to their princes tyrannie)
Some spoyled of their sweete and sucking babes,
Some lese their husband, other some their sire,
And some their friends that were to them full dere.
But now tis time to lay the sworde aside,
And eke of them to knowe where is the Queene:
O worthie dames, heavie, unhappie ye,
Where resteth now the restlesse queene of Thebes?
Chor. O woorthie impe sprong out of worthie race,
Renoumed Prince, whom wee have lookt for long,
And nowe in happie houre arte come to us,
Some quiet bring to this unquiet realme.
O queene, O queene, come foorth and see thy sonne,
The gentle frute of all thy joyfull seede.
Jocast. My faithfull frends, my deare beloved maydes,
I come at call, and at your wordes I move
My feebled feete with age and agonie:
Where is my sonne? O tell me where is he,
For whome I sighed have so often syth,
For whom I spende both nightes and dayes in teares?
Poli. Here noble mother, here, not as the king,
Nor as a Citizen of stately Thebes,
But as a straunger nowe, I thanke my brother.
Jocast. O sonne, O sweete and my desyred sonne,
These eyes they see, these handes of myne thee touche,
Yet scarsly can this mynde beleeve the same,
And scarsly can this brused breast susteyne
The sodeyne joye that is inclosde therein:
O gladsome glasse, wherein I see my selfe.
Chor. So graunt the Gods, for our common good,
You frendly may your sonnes both frendes beholde.
Jocast. At thy departe, O lovely chylde, thou lefte
My house in teares, and mee thy wretched dame,
Myrrour of martirdome, (*)waymenting still
Th' unworthie exile thy brother to thee gave:
Ne was there ever sonne or friende farre off,
Of his deare frendes or mother so desyred,
As thy returne, in all the towne of Thebes.
And of my selfe more than the rest to speake,
I have as thou mayste see, cleane cast asyde
My princely roabes, and thus in wofull weede,
Bewrapped have these lustlesse limmes of myne:
Naught else but teares have trickled from myne eyes,
And eke thy wretched blynde and aged syre,
Since first he hearde what warre tweene you there was,
As one that did his bitter cursse repent,
Or that he prayed to Jove for your decaye,
With stretching string, or else with bloudie knyfe
Hath sought full ofte to ende his loathed lyfe.
Thou this meane whyle my sonne, hast lingred long
In farre and forreyn coastes, and wedded eke,
By whome thou mayste, (when heavens appoyntes it so)
Straunge issue have by one a stranger borne,
Whiche greeves me sore, and much the more deare chylde,
Bicause I was not present at the same,
There to performe thy loving mothers due.
But for I fynde thy noble matche so meete,
And woorthie bothe for thy degree and byrthe,
I seeke to comforte thee by myne advise,
That thou returne this citie to inhabite,
Whiche best of all may seeme to be the bowre,
Bothe for thy selfe and for thy noble spouse.
Forget thou then thy brothers injuries,
And knowe deare chylde, the harme of all missehap
That happes twixt you, must happe likewise to mee:
Ne can the cruell sworde so slightly touche
Your tender fleshe, but that the selfe same wounde
Shall deepely bruse this aged brest of myne.
,, Cho. There is no love may be comparde to that,
,,The tender mother beares unto hir chyld:
,, For even somuche the more it dothe encrease,
,, As their griefe growes, or contentations cease.
Poli. I knowe not mother, if I prayse deserve,
(That you to please, whome I ought not displease)
Have traynde my selfe among my trustlesse foes:
But Nature drawes (whether he will or nill)
Eche man to love his native countrey soyle:
And who shoulde say, that otherwise it were,
His toung should never with his hearte agree.
This hath me drawne besyde my bounden due,
To set full light this lucklesse lyfe of myne:
For of my brother, what may I else hope,
But traynes of treason, force and falshoode bothe?
Yet neyther perill present, nor to come,
Can holde me from my due obedience:
I graunte I can not grieflesse, wel beholde
My fathers pallace, the holie aultars,
Ne lovely lodge wherin I fostred was:
From whence driven out, and chaste unworthily,
I have to long aboade in forreyn coastes:
And as the growing greene and pleasant plante,
Dothe beare freshe braunches one above another,
Even so amidde the huge heape of my woes,
Doth growe one grudge more greevous than the rest,
To see my deare and dolefull mother, cladde
In mourning tyre, to tyre hir mourning minde,
Wretched alonely for my wretchednesse,
So lykes that enimie my brother best:
Soone shall you see that in this wandring worlde,
No enmitie is equall unto that
That dark disdayne (the cause of every evill)
Dooth breede full ofte in consanguinitie.
But Jove, he knowes what dole I doe endure,
For you and for my fathers wretched woe,
And eke how deepely I desire to knowe
What wearie lyfe my loving sisters leade,
And what anoye myne absence them hath given.
Jocast. Alas, alas, howe wrekefull wrath of Gods
Doth still afflicte Oedipus progenie:
The fyrste cause was thy fathers wicked bedde,
And then (oh why doe I my plagues recompte?)
My burden borne, and your unhappie birth:
,,But needes we must with pacient heartes abyde,
,,What so from high the heavens doe provide.
With thee my chylde, fayne would I question yet
Of certaine things: ne woulde I that my wordes
Might thee anoye, ne yet renewe thy griefe.
Poli. Saye on, deare mother, say what so you please:
What pleaseth you, shall never mee disease.
Jocast. And seemes it not a heavie happe my sonne,
To be deprived of thy countrey coastes?
Poly. So heavie happe as toung can not expresse.
Jocast. And what may moste molest the mynde of man
Exile an exceding griefe to an honest mynde.
Th[at] is exiled from his native soyle?
Poli. The libertie hee with his countrey loste,
,, And that he lacketh freedome for to speake,
,,What seemeth best, without controll or checke.
Jocast. Why so? eche servant lacketh libertie
To speake his minde, without his maisters leave.
,,Poli. In exile, every man, or bonde or free,
All exyles are like bondmen.
,,Of noble race, or meaner parentage,
,,Is not in this unlike unto the slave,
,,That muste of force obey to eche mans will,
,,And prayse the peevishnesse of eche mans pryde.
Jocast. And seemed this so grievous unto thee?
Poli. What griefe can greater be, than so constraynde
Slavelike to serve gaynst right and reason bothe,
Yea muche the more, to him that noble is,
By stately lyne, or yet by vertuous lyfe,
And hath a heart lyke to his noble mynde.
Jocast. What helpeth moste in suche adversitie?
Hope the help in miserye.
Poli. Hope helpeth moste to comfort miserie.
Joca. Hope to returne from whence he fyrst was driven?
Poli. Yea, hope that happeneth oftentymes to late,
And many die before such hap may fall.
Jocast. And howe didst thou before thy mariage sonne,
Mainteyne thy lyfe, a straunger so bestad?
Poli. Sometyme I founde (though seldome so it were)
Some gentle heart, that coulde for curtesye,
Contente himselfe to succour myne estate.
Jocast. Thy fathers friends and thyne, did they not helpe
For to releeve that naked neede of thyne?
,,Poli. Mother, he hath a foolishe fantasie,
Fuw frends in miserye.
,,That thinkes to fynd a frende in miserie.
Jocast. Thou mightest have helpe by thy nobilitie.
,,Poli. Covered alas, in cloake of povertie?
,,Jocast. Wel ought we then that are but mortall heere,
,,Above all treasure counte our countrey deare:
Yea let me knowe my sonne, what cause thee moved
To goe to Grece?
Poli. The flying fame that thundred in myne eares,
How king Adrastus, governour of Greece,
Was answered by Oracle, that he
Shoulde knitte in linkes of lawfull mariage,
His two faire daughters, and his onely heires,
One to a Lyon, th'other to a Boare:
An answere suche as eche man wondred at.
Jocast. And how belongs this answere now to thee?
Poli. I toke my gesse even by this ensigne heere,
A Lyon loe, which I did alwayes beare:
Yet thinke I not, but Jove alonely brought
These handes of myne to suche an high exploite.
Jocast. And howe yet came it to this straunge effect?
Poli. The shining day had runne his hasted course,
And deawie night bespread hir mantell darke,
When I that wandred after wearie toyle,
To seke some harbrough for myne irked limmes,
Gan fynde at last a little cabbin, close
Adjoyned faste unto the stately walles,
Where king Adrastus held his royall towres.
Scarce was I there in quiet well ycought,
But thither came another exile eke,
Smal causes may move the needy to contend.
Named Tydeus, who strave perforce to drive
Mee from this sorie seate, and so at laste,
We settled us to fell and bloudie fight,
Whereof the rumour grewe so great foorthwith,
That straight the king enformed was therof,
Who seeing then the ensignes that wee bare,
To be even such as were to him foresayde,
Chose eche of us to be his sonne by lawe,
And sithens did solemnize eke the same.
Jocast. Yet woulde I know, if that thy wyfe be suche
As thou canst joy in hir? or what she is?
P[o]li. O mother deare, fayrer ne wyser dame
Is none in Greece, Argia is hir name.
Jocast. Howe couldst thou to this doubtfull enterprise,
So many bring, thus armed all at once?
Poli. Adrastus sware, that he woulde soone restore
Unto our right both Tydeus, and me:
And fyrst for mee, that had the greater neede,
Whereby the best and boldest blouds in Greece,
Have followed me unto this enterpryse.
A thing both just and grievous unto me,
Greevous I saye, for that I doe lament
To be constrayned by such open wrong,
To warre agaynst myne owne deare countrey feeres.
But unto you (O mother) dothe pertain
To stinte this stryfe, and both deliver mee
From exile now, and eke the towne from siege:
For otherwise, I sweare you here by heavens,
Eteocles, who now doth me disdayne
For brother, shortly shall see me his lorde.
I aske the seate, wherof I ought of right
Possesse the halfe, I am Oedipus sonne,
And yours, so am I true sonne to you both.
Wherfore I hope that as in my defence,
The worlde will weygh, so Jove wil me assiste.
Eteocles commeth in here by the gates Electræ, himself
armed, and before him .xx. gentlemen in armour, his
two pages, wherof the one beareth his Target, the other
Chor. Beholde O queene, beholde O worthie queene,
The dames did love Polynice and hate Eteocles.
Unwoorthie he, Eteocles here commes,
So, woulde the Gods, that in this [n]oble realme
Shoulde never long unnoble tyrant reigne,
Or that with wrong the right and doutlesse heire,
Shoulde banisht be out of his princely seate.
Yet thou O queene, so fyle thy sugred toung[,]
And with such counsell decke thy mothers tale,
That peace may both the brothers hartes inflame,
And rancour yelde, that erst possesse the same.
Eteocl. Mother, beholde, your hestes for to obey,
In person nowe am I resorted hither:
In haste therefore, fayne woulde I knowe what cause
With hastie speede, so moved hath your minde
To call me nowe so causelesse out of time,
When common wealth moste craves my onely ayde:
Fayne woulde I knowe what quent commoditie
Perswades you thus to take a truce for tyme,
And yeld the gates wide open to my foe,
The gates that myght our stately state defende,
And now are made the path of our decay.
Joca. Represse deare son, those raging stormes of wrath,
,,That so bedimme the eyes of thine intent,
,, As when the tongue (a redy Instrument)
,,Would fayne pronounce the meaning of the minde,
,,It cannot speake one honest seemely worde.
,,But when disdayne is shrunke, or sette asyde,
,,And mynde of man with leysure can discourse
,,What seemely wordes his tale may best beseeme,
,,And that the toung unfoldes without affectes
,,Then may proceede an answere sage and grave,
,, And every sentence sawst with sobernesse:
Wherefore unbende thine angrie browes deare childe,
And caste thy rolling eyes none other waye,
That here doest not Medusaes (a) face beholde,
One of the uries.
But him, even him, thy bloud and brother deare.
And thou behold, my Polinices eke,
Thy brothers face, wherein when thou mayst see
Thine owne image, remember therewithall,
That what offence thou wouldst to him were done,
The blowes thereof rebounde unto thy selfe.
And hereof eke, I would you both forewarne,
When frendes or brethren, kinsfolke or allies,
(Whose hastie hearts some angrie moode had moved)
Be face to face by some of pitie brought,
Who seekes to ende their discorde and debate:
They onely ought consider well the cause
Rehersall of olde grudges doth hinder al'reconcili[a]tion.
For which they come, and cast out of their minde
For evermore the olde offences past:
So shall sweete peace drive pleading out of place.
Wherfore the first shall Polinices be,
To tell what reason first his minde did rule,
That thus our walles with forrein foes enclosde
In sharpe revenge of causelesse wrongs receiv'd,
As he alledgeth by his brothers doome:
And of this wicked woe and dire (b) debate,
(b) Cruell or vengeable.
Some God of pitie be the equall judge,
Whome I beseeche, to breath in both your breasts
A yelding heart to deepe desire of peace.
,, Poli. My woorthie dame, I finde that tried truthe
Truth pleadeth simply when falssehood useth eloquence.
,,Doth beste beseeme a simple naked tale,
,,Ne needes to be with painted proces prickt,
,,That in hir selfe hath no diversitie,
,,But alwayes shewes one undisguised face,
,,Where deepe deceipt and lies must seeke the shade,
,,And wrap their wordes in guilefull eloquence,
,,As ever fraught with contrarietie:
So have I often sayde, and say againe,
That to avoide our fathers foule reproche
And bitter curse, I parted from this lande
With right good will, yet thus with him agreed,
That while the whirling wings of flying time
Might roll one yeare aboute the heavenly spheare,
So long alone he might with peace possesse
Our fathers seate in princely (c) Diademe,
(c) Crown or sceptre.
And when the yeare should eke his course renue,
Might I succeede to rule againe as long.
And that this lawe might still be kept for aye,
He bound him selfe by vowe of solemne othe
By Gods, by men, by heaven, and eke by earth:
Yet that forgot, without all reverence
Unto the Gods, without respect to right,
Without respect that reason ought to rule,
His faith and troth both troden under foote,
He still usurps most tyrantlike with wrong
The right that doth of right to me belong.
But if he can with equall doome consent,
That I retourne into my native soyle
To sway with him alike the kingly seate
And evenly beare the bridle both in hand,
Deare mother mine I sweare by all the Gods
To raise with speede the siege from these our walles,
And send the souldiers home from whence they came:
Which if he graunt me not, then must I do
(Though loth) as much as right and reason would,
To venge my cause that is both good and just.
Yet this in heaven the Gods my records be,
And here in earth each mortall man may know,
That never yet my giltlesse heart did fayle
Brotherly duetie to Eteocles,
And that causlesse he holdes me from mine owne.
Thus have I said O mother, even as much
As needefull is, wherein I me assure:
That in the judgement both of good and badde,
My words may seeme of reason to proceede,
Constrained thus in my defence to speake.
Chor. None may denie, O pere of princely race,
But that thy words, are honest, good and just,
And such as well beseeme that tong of thine.
,, Eteo. If what to some seemes honest good and just,
Sundrye men sundry minds.
,,Could seeme even so in every doubtfull mind,
,,No darke debate nor quarell could arise:
,,But looke, how many men so many minds,
,,And that, that one man judgeth good and just,
,,Some other deemes as deepely to be wrong.
To say the truth (mother) this minde of mine
Doth fleete full farre from that farfetch of his,
Ne will I longer cover my conceit:
If I could rule or reigne in heaven above,
And eke commaund in depth of darksome hell,
No toile ne travell should my sprites abashe,
To take the way unto my restlesse will,
To climbe aloft, nor downe for to descend.
Then thinke you not, that I can give consent
To yeld a part of my possession,
Wherin I live and lead the (*) monarchie.
,,A witlesse foole may every man him gesse,
,,That leaves the more and takes him to the lesse.
With this, reproch might to my name redound,
If he, that hath with forren power spoilde
Our pleasaunt fields, might reave from me perforce,
What so he list by force of armes demand.
No lesse reproofe the citizens ensewes,
If I, for dread of Greekish hosts, should graunt
That he might climbe to heigth of his desire.
In fine, he ought not thus of me to crave
Accord, or peace, with bloudy sword in hand,
But with humilitie and prayer both,
For often is it seene, and proofe doth teach,
,, Swete words prevaile, where sword and fire do faile.
Yet this, if here within these stately walles
He list to live, the sonne of Oedipus,
And not as king of Thebes, I stand content.
But let him thinke, since now I can commaunde,
This necke of mine shall never yeld to yoke
Of servitude: let bring his banners splayde,
Let speare and shield, sharpe sworde, and cyndring flames
Procure the parte that he so vainely claimes:
As long as life within this brest doth last,
I nill (*) consent that he should reigne with me.
If lawe of right may any way be broke,
,,Desire of rule within a climbing brest
,,To breake a vow may beare the buckler best.
,,Cho. Who once hath past the bounds of honestie
,,In ernest deedes, may passe it well in words.
Joca. O sonne, amongst so many miseries
This benefite hath croked age, I find,
That as the tracke of trustlesse time hath taught,
,,It seeth much, and many things discernes,
Youth seeth not so much as age.
,,Which recklesse youth can never rightly judge,
Oh, cast aside that vaine ambition,
That corosive, that cruell pestilence,
That most infects the minds of mortall men:
,,In princely palace and in stately townes
Ambition doth destroye al: equalytie doth maynteyne al things.
,,It crepeth ofte, and close with it convayes,
,,(To leave behind it) damage and decayes:
,,By it be love and amitie destroyde,
,,It breakes the lawes and common concord beates,
,,Kingdomes and realmes it topsie turvie turnes,
And now, even thee, hir gall so poisoned hath,
That the weake eies of thine affection
Are blinded quite, and see not to them selfe[.]
But worthy childe, drive from thy doubtfull brest
This monstrous mate, in steade wherof embrace
,,Equalitie, which stately states defends
,,And binds the minde with true and trustie knots
,,Of frendly faith which never can be broke[.]
,,This, man of right should properly possesse,
And who that other doth the more embrace,
Shall purchase paine to be his just reward
By wrathfull wo, or else by cruell death.
,,This, first devided all by equall bonds
,,What so the earth did yeld for our availe:
,,This, did devide the nightes and dayes alike,
,,And that the vaile of darke and dreadfull night
,,(Which shrowds in misty clouds the pleasaunt light,)
,,Ne yet the golden beames of Ph■bus rayes
,,(Which cleares the dimmed ayre with gladsome gleams)
,,Can yet heape hate in either of them both.
If then the dayes and nightes to serve our turne
Content themselves to yeld each other place,
Well oughtest thou with waightie dome to graunt
Thy brothers right to rule the reigne with thee,
Which heavens ordeyned common to you both:
If so thou nill O sonne, O cruell sonne,
,,In whose high brest may justice builde hir boure
If the head be evill the body cannot be good.
,,When princes harts wide open lye to wrong?
Why likes thee so the tipe of tyrannie
With others losse to gather greedy gaine?
,,Alas how farre he wanders from the truth
,,That compts a pompe, all other to command,
,,Yet can not rule his owne unbridled will,
,,A vaine desire much riches to possesse
,,Whereby the brest is brusde and battered still
,,With dread, with daunger, care and cold suspecte.
,,Who seekes to have the thing we call inough,
,,Acquainte him first with contentation,
Content is riche.
,,For plenteousnesse is but a naked name.
,,And what suffiseth use of mortall men,
,,Shall best apay the meane and modest hearts.
,,These hoorded heapes of golde and worldly wealth
,,Are not the proper goods of any one,
,,But pawnes which Jove powres out aboundantly
Riches are but borowed ware.
,,That we likewise might use them equally,
,,And as he seemes to lend them for a time,
,,Even so in time he takes them home agayne,
,,And would that we acknowledge every houre,
,,That from his handes we did the same receive:
,,There nothing is so firme and stayde to man
,,But whyrles about with wheeles of restlesse time.
Now if I should this one thing thee demaunde
Which of these two thou wouldest chuse to keepe,
The towne quiet or unquiet tyrannie?
And wouldest thou say I chuse my kingly chayre?
O witlesse answere sent from wicked heart,
For if so fall (which mightie God defende)
Thine enemies hand should overcome thy might
And thou shouldest see them sacke the towne of Thebes,
The chastest virgins ravished for wrecke,
More care to loose than plesure to posses.
The worthy children in captivitie,
,,Then shouldest thou feele that scepter, crowne, & wealth
,,Yeelde deeper care to see them tane away,
,,Than to possesse them yeldeth deepe content.
Now to conclude my sonne, Ambition
Is it that most offends thy blynded thought,
Blame not thy brother, blame ambition
From whome if so thou not redeeme thy selfe,
I feare to see thee buy repentance deare.
Cho. Yea deare, too deare when it shal come too late.
Joc. And now to thee my Polinices deare,
I say that sillie was Adrastus reade,
And thou God knowes a simple sillie soule,
He to be ruled by thy heady wil,
And thou, to warre against the Thebane walls,
These walls I say whose gates thy selfe should garde:
Tell me I pray thee, if the Citie yeelde,
Or thou it take by force in bloudie fight,
(Which never graunt the Gods I them beseeke)
What spoyles? what Palmes? what signe of victorie
Canst thou set up to have thy countrie woonne?
Small glory for a rebel see his own countrey spoyled.
What title worthie of immortall fame,
Shall blased be in honor of thy name?
O sonne, deare sonne, beleeve thy trustie dame,
The name of glorie shall thy name refuse,
And flie full farre from all thy fonde attemptes.
But if so fall thou shouldst be overcome,
Then with what face canst thou returne to Greece,
That here hast lefte so many Greekes on grounde?
Eache one shall curse and blame thee to thy face,
As him that onely caused their decaye,
And eke condemne Adrastus simple heade,
That such a pheere had chosen for his childe.
So may it fall, in one accursed houre,
That thou mayst loose thy wife and countrie both,
Both which thou mayst with little toyle attaine,
If thou canst leave high minde and darke disdaine.
Cho. O mightie Gods of goodnesse, never graunt
Unto these evilles, but set desired peace
Betwene the hearts of these two friendly foes.
Ete. The question that betwixt us two is growen,
Beleeve me mother, can not ende with words:
You waste your breath, and I but loose my time,
And all your travell lost and spent in vaine:
For this I sweare, that peace you never get
Betweene us two, but with condition,
That whilst I live, I will be Lord of Thebes.
Then set aside these vaine forwasted wordes,
And yeelde me leave to go where neede doth presse:
And now good sir, get you out of these walles,
Unlesse you meane to buy abode with bloude.
Po. And who is he that seekes to have my bloude,
And shall not shed his owne as fast as myne?
Ete. By thee he standes, and thou standst him before:
Loe here the sworde that shall perfourme his worde.
Po. And this shall eke mainteine my rightfull cause.
Joc. O sonnes, dear sonnes, away with glittring armes:
And first, before you touch eache others flesh,
With doubled blowes come pierce this brest of mine.
Po. Ah wretch, thou art both vile and cowarde like,
Thy high estate esteemes thy life to deare.
Ete. If with a wretch or coward shouldst thou fighte,
Oh dastard villaine, what first moved thee
With swarmes of Greekes to take this enterprise?
Po. For well I wist, that cankred heart of thine
Coulde safely kepe thy heade within these walles,
And flee the fielde when combate should be callde.
Ete. This truce assureth thee Polynices,
And makes thee bolde to give such bosting wordes:
So be thou sure, that had this truce not bene,
Then long ere this, these handes had bene embrude,
And eke this soyle besprinkled with thy bloude.
Po. Not one small drop of my bloude shalt thou spill,
But buy it deare against thy cankred will.
Joc. O sonnes, my sonnes, for pittie yet refrayne.
Ch. Good Gods, who ever sawe so strange a sight?
True love and frindship both be put to flight.
Po. Yelde villein, yelde my right which thou witholdst.
Ete. Cut of thy hope to reigne in Thebane walles,
Nought hast thou here, nor nought shal ever have,
Po. O aultars of my countrie soyle.
Ete. Whome thou art come to spoyle and to deface.
Po. O Gods, give eare unto my honest cause.
Ete. With forreine power his countrie to invade.
Po. O holy temples of the heavenly Gods.
Ete. That for thy wicked deedes do hate thy name
Po. Out of my kingdome am I driven by force.
Ete. Out of the which thou camst me for to drive.
Po. Punish O Gods this wicked tyrant here.
Ete. Pray to the Gods in Greece and not in Thebes.
Po. No savage beast so cruell nor unjust.
Ete. Not cruel to my countrie like to thee.
Po. Since from my right I am with wrong deprived.
Ete. Eke from thy life if long thou tarie here.
Po. O father heare what injuries I take.
Ete. As though thy divelishe deedes were hid from him.
Po. And you mother. Eteo. Have done thou not deservest
With that false tong thy mother once to name.
Po. O deare Citie. Eteo. When thou arivest in Greece,
Chuse out thy dwelling in some mustie Moores.
Po. I must departe, and parting must I prayse
Oh deare mother the depth of your good will.
Joc. O sonne. Eteo. Away I say out of these walls.
Po. I can not chuse but must thy will obey,
Yet graunt me once my father for to see.
Ete. I heare no prayers of my enemie.
Po. Where be my sweete sisters? Eteo. And canst thou yet
With shamelesse tong once name thy noble race
That art become a common foe to Thebes?
Be sure thou shall them never see againe,
Nor other friend that in these walls remaine.
Po. Rest you in peace, O worthy mother myne.
Joc. Howe can that be and thou my joye in warre?
Po. Hence forth n'am I your joy ne yet your sonne.
Joc. Alas the heavens me whelme with all mishap.
Po. Lo here the cause that stirreth me by wrong.
Ete. Much more is that he profereth unto me.
Po. Well, speake, darest thou come armed to the fielde?
Ete. So dare I come, wherfore dost thou demaunde?
Po. For needs or thou must ende this life of mine,
Or quenche my thirst with pouring out thy bloud.
Eteo. Ah wretch, my thirst is all as drie as thine.
Joc. Alas and welaway, what heare I sonnes?
How can it be? deare children can it be
That brethrens heartes such rancour should enrage?
Eteo. And that right soone the proofe shall playnely shew.
Jo. Oh say not so, yet say not so deare sonnes.
Po. O royall race of Thebes now take thine ende.
Cho. God shield. Eteo. O slow & sluggish heart of mine,
Why do I stay t'embrew these slothfull hands?
But for his greater griefe I will departe,
And at returne if here I finde my foe
This hastie hande shall ende our hote debate.
Eteocles here goeth out by the gates Electræ.
Po. Deare Citizens, and you eternall Gods,
Beare witnesse with me here before the worlde
How this my fierce and cruell enimie,
Whom causelesse now my brother I do call,
With threates of death my lingri[n]g steps doth drive
Both from my right and from my countrey soyle,
Not as beseemes the sonne of Oedipus,
But as a slave, an abject, or a wretche:
And since you be both pitifull and juste,
Vouchsafe O Gods, that as I part with griefe,
So may I yet returne with joyfull spoyle
Of this accursed tyraunt and (he slayne)
I may recover quietly mine owne.
Polynice goeth out by the gates Homoloides.
Jo. O wretched wretch Jocasta, wher is founde
The miserie that may compare to thine?
O would I had nor gasing eyes to see,
Nor listning eares to heare that now I dread:
But what remaines, save onely to entreate
That cruell dole wold yet so curteous be
To reave the breath out of this wofull brest,
Before I harken to some wofull newes.
Rest you here dames, and pray unto the Gods
For our redresse, and I in that meane while
Will shut my selfe from sight of lothsome light.
Jocasta goeth into hir Pallace.
Cho. O mightie God, the governour of Thebes
Pitie with speede the payne Jocasta bydes,
And eke our needes O mightie Bacchus helpe,
Bende willing eare unto our just complaint:
Leave them not comfortlesse that trust in thee,
We have no golde nor silver thee to give,
Ne sacrifice to those thine aultars due,
In steede wherof we consecrate our harts
To serve thy will, and hestes for to obey.
Whyles the Chorus is thus praying to Bacchus,
Eteocles returneth by the gates called Electræ.
Scena .2. Actus .2.
SInce I have ridde mine enmie out of sight,
The best shall be for Creon now to sende,
(My mothers brother) that with him I may
Reason, consulte, conferre, and counsell bothe,
What shall be best to use in our defence,
Before we venter forth into the fielde.
But of this travayle, loe, he me acquites
That comes in haste towards these royall towres.
Here Creon attended by foure gentlemen, commeth
in by the gates Homoloydes.
Cre. O mightie king, not causelesse nowe I come,
To finde, that long have sought your maistie.
So to discharge the duetie that I owe
To you, by comforte and by counsell bothe.
Ete. No lesse desire this harte of mine did presse,
To send for thee Creon, since that in vaine
My mother hath hir words and travayle spent,
To reconcile Polynices and me:
For he (so dull was his capa[c]itie)
Did thinke, he could by dread of daunger, winne
My princely heart to yeeld to him his realme.
Cre. I understande, the armie that he brings
Agaynst these walles, is such, that I me doubte
Our cities force may scarce the same resist.
Yet true it is, that right and reason both
Are on our side, which bring the victorie
Oftetimes: for we our countrey to defend,
They to subdue the same in armes are come.
But what I would unto your highnesse shewe,
Is of more weight, and more behoves to know.
Ete. And what is that? oh quickly tell it me.
Cre. A Greeke prisner is come unto my hands.
Ete. And what sayth he that doth so much importe?
Cre. That even alredy b[e] their ranks in raye,
And streight will give assault to these our walles.
Ete. Then must I streight prepare our Citizens
In glittring arms to march into the fielde.
Cre. O Prince (and pardon me) thy youthfull yers
Nor see them selfe, ne let thee once discerne,
What best behoveth in this doubtfull case.
,,For Prudence, she that is the mightie queene
,,Of all good workes, growes by experience,
,,Which is not founde with fewe dayes seeking for.
Ete. And were not this both sounde and wise advise,
Boldly to looke our foemen in the face,
Before they spred our fields with hugie hoste,
And all the towne beset by siege at once?
Cre. We be but few, and they in number great.
Ete. Our men have yet more courage farre than they.
Cre. That know I not, nor am I sure to say.
Ete. Those eyes of thine in little space shall see
How many I my selfe can bring to grounde.
Cre. That would I like, but harde it is to doe.
Et[e]. I nill penne up our men within the walles.
Cre. In counsell yet the victorie consistes.
Ete. And wilt thou then I use some other reade?
Cre. What else? be still a while, for hast makes wast.
Ete. By night I will the Cammassado give.
Cre. So may you do and take the overthrowe.
Ete. The vauntage is to him that doth assaulte.
Cr[e]. Yet skirmishe given by night is perillous.
Ete. Let set upon them as they sit at meat.
Cre. Sodayne assaults affray the minde no doubt,
But we had neede to overcome. Ete. So shall we do.
Cre. No sure, unlesse some other counsell helpe.
Ete. Amid their trenches shall we them invade?
Cre. As who should say, were none to make defence.
Ete. Should I then yeeld the Citie to my foes?
Cre. No, but advise you well if you be wise.
Ete. That were thy parte, that knowest more than I.
Cre. Then shall I say that best doth seeme to me?
Ete. Yea Creon yea, thy counsell holde I deare.
Cre. Seven men of courage have they chosen out.
Etr. A slender number for so great emprise.
Cre. But they them chose for guides and capitaynes.
Ete. To such an hoste? why they may not suffise.
Cre. Nay, to assault the seven gates of the citie.
Ete. What then behoveth so bestad to done?
Cre. With equall number see you do them match.
Ete. And then commit our men in charge to them?
Cre. Chusing the best and boldest blouds in Thebes.
Ete. And how shall I the Citie then defende?
Cre. Well with the rest, for one man sees not all.
Ete. And shall I chuse the boldest or the wisest?
Cre. Nay both, for one without that other fayles.
,,Ete. Force without wisedome then is little worth.
Cre. That one must be fast to that other joynde.
Ete. Creon I will thy counsell follow still,
For why, I hold it wise and trusty both,
And out of hand for now I will departe
That I in time the better may provide
Before occasion slip out of my hands,
And that I may this Polynices (*) quell:
For well may I with bloudy knife him slea
That comes in armes my countrie for to spoyle.
But if so please to fortune and to fate
That other ende than I do thinke may fall,
To thee my frend it resteth to procure
The mariage twixt my sister Antygone
And thy deare sonne Hæmone, to whom for dowre
At parting thus I promise to performe
As much as late I did (*) beheste to thee:
My mothers bloude and brother deare thou arte,
Ne neede I crave of thee to gard hir well,
As for my father care I not, for if
So chaunce I dye, it may full well be sayd
His bitter curses brought me to my bane.
Cre. The Lord defend, for that unworthy were.
Ete. Of Thebes towne the rule and scepter loe
I neede nor ought it otherwise dispose
Than unto thee, if I dye without heyre.
Yet longs my lingring mynde to understand,
The doubtfull ende of this unhappie warre:
Wherfore I will thou send thy sonne to seke
Tyresias the devine, and learne of him,
For at my call I knowe he will not come
That often have his artes and him reprovde.
Cre. As you commaund, so ought I to performe.
Ete. And last, I thee and citie both commaund,
If fortune frendly favour our attemptes,
And make our men triumphant victors all,
That none there be so hardie ne so bolde
For Polynices bones to give a grave:
And who presumes to breake my heste herein,
Shall dye the death in penaunce of his paine:
For though I were by bloud to him conjoynde
I part it now, and justice goeth with me
To guide my steppes victoriously before.
Pray you to Jove he deigne for to defende,
Our Citie safe both now and evermore.
Cre. Gramercie worthie prince, for all thy love
And faithfull trust thou doest in me repose,
And if should hap, that I hope never shall,
I promise yet to doe what best behoves,
But chieflie this I sweare and make a vowe,
For Polynices nowe our cruell foe,
To holde the hest that thou doest me commaunde.
Creon attendeth Eteocles to the gates Electræ, he returneth
and goeth out by the gates called Homoloydes.
O Fierce and furious Mars, whose harmefull harte,
Rejoyceth most to shed the giltlesse blood,
Whose headie wil doth all the world subvert,
And doth envie the pleasant mery moode,
Of our estate that erst in quiet stoode.
Why doest thou thus our harmelesse towne annoye,
Which mightie Bacchus governed in joye?
Father of warre and death, that dost remove
With wrathfull wrecke from wofull mothers breast,
The trustie pledges of their tender love,
So graunt the Gods, that for our finall rest,
Dame Venus pleasant lookes may please thee best,
Wherby when thou shalt all amazed stand,
The sword may fall out of thy trembling hand.
And thou maist prove some other way full well
The bloudie prowesse of thy mightie speare,
Wherwith thou raisest from the depth of hell,
The wrathfull sprites of all the furies there,
Who when the[y] w[a]ke, doe wander every where,
And never rest to range about the coastes,
Tenriche that pit with spoile of damned ghostes.
And when thou hast our fieldes forsaken thus,
Let cruell discorde beare thee companie,
Engirt with snakes and serpents venemous,
Even she that can with red virmilion dye
The gladsome greene that florisht pleasantly,
And make the greedie ground a drinking cup,
To sup the bloud of murdered bodyes up.
Yet thou returne O joye and pleasant peace,
From whence thou didst against our wil depart,
Ne let thy worthie minde from travell cease,
To chase disdaine out of the poysned harte,
That raised warre to all our paynes and smarte,
Even from the brest of Oedipus his sonne,
Whose swelling pride hath all this jarre begonne.
And thou great God, that doest all things decree,
And sitst on highe above the starrie skies,
Thou chiefest cause of causes all that bee,
Regard not his offence but heare our cries,
And spedily redresse our miseries,
For what ca[n] we poore wofull wretches doe
But crave thy aide, and onely cleave therto?
Finis Actus secundi.
Done by G. Gascoygne.
The order of the thirde dumbe shewe.
BEfore the beginning of this .iii. Act did sound a very dolefull noise of cornettes, during the which there opened and appeared in the stage a great Gulfe. Immediatly came in .vi. gentlemen in their dublets & hose, bringing upon their shulders baskets full of earth and threwe them into the Gulfe to fill it up, but it would not so close up nor be filled. Then came the ladyes and dames that stoode by, throwing in their cheynes & Jewels, so to cause it stoppe up and close it selfe: but when it would not so be filled, came in a knighte with his sword drawen, armed at all poyntes, who walking twise or thrise about it, & perusing it, seing that it would nether be filled with earth nor with their Jewells and ornaments, after solempne reverence done to the gods, and curteous leave taken of the Ladyes and standers by, sodeinly lepte into the Gulfe, the which did close up immediatly: betokning unto us thelove that every worthy person oweth unto his native coutrie, by the historye of Curtius, who for the lyke cause adventured the like in Rome. This done, blinde Tyresias the devine prophete led in by hys daughter, and conducted by Meneceus the son of Creon, entreth by the gates Electræ, and sayth as followeth.
Actus .iii. Scena . I.
TYRESIAS. CREON. MANTO. MENECEUS. SACERDOS.
THou trustie guide of my so trustlesse steppes
Deer daughter mine go we, lead thou ye way,
For since the day I first did leese this light
Thou only art the light of these mine eyes:
And for thou knowst I am both old & weake
And ever longing after lovely rest,
Direct my steppes amyd the playnest pathes,
That so my febled feete may feele lesse paine.
Meneceus thou gentle childe, tell me,
Is it farre hence, the place where we must goe,
Where as thy father for my comming stayes?
For like unto the slouthfull snayle I drawe,
(Deere sonne) with paine these aged legges of mine,
Creon returneth by the gates Homoloydes.
And though my minde be quicke, scarce can I move.
Cre. Comfort thy selfe devine, Creon thy frend
Loe standeth here, and came to meete with thee
To ease the paine that thou mightst else sustaine,
,,For unto elde eche travell yeldes annoy
Age must be helped by youth.
And thou his daughter and his faithfull guide,
Loe rest him here, and rest thou there withall
Thy virgins hands, that in sustayning him
Doest well acquite the duetie of a childe.
,,For crooked age and hory silver heares
,,Still craveth helpe of lustie youthfull yeares.
Tyr. Gramercie Lorde what is your noble will?
Cre. What I would have of thee Tyresias
Is not a thing so soone for to be sayde.
But rest a whyle thy weake and weary limmes
And take some breath now after wearie walke,
And tell I pray thee, what this crowne doth meane,
That sits so kingly on thy skilfull heade?
Tyr. Know this, that for I did with grave advise,
Foretell the Citizens of Athens towne,
How they might best with losse of litle bloude,
Have victories against their enimies,
Hath bene the cause why I doe weare this Crowne,
As right rewarde and not unmeete for me.
Cre. So take I then this thy victorious crowne,
For our availe in token of good lucke,
That knowest, how the discord and debate
Which late is fallen betwene these brethren twaine,
Hath brought all Thebes in daunger and in dreade.
Eteocles our king, with threatning armes,
Is gone against his greekish enimies,
Commaunding me to learne of thee (who arte
A true divine of things that be to come)
What were for us the safest to be done,
From perill now our countrey to preserve.
Tyr. Long have I bene within the towne of Thebes,
Since that I tyed this trustie toung of mine
From telling truth, fearing Eteocles:
Yet, since thou doest in so great neede desire
I should reveale things hidden unto thee,
For common cause of this our common weale,
I stand content to pleasure thee herein.
But first (that to this mightie God of yours
There might some worthie sacrifice be made)
Let kill the fairest goate that is in Thebes
Within whose bowelles when the Preest shall loke,
And tell to me what he hath there espyed,
I trust t'advise thee what is best to doen.
Cre. Lo here the temple, and ere long I looke
To see the holy preest that hither commes,
Bringing with him the pure and faire offrings,
Which thou requirest: for not long since, I sent
For him, as one that am not ignorant
Of all your rytes and sacred ceremonyes:
He went to choose amid our herd of goates,
The fattest there: and loke where now he commes.
Sacerdos accompanyed with .xvi. Bacchanales and all
his rytes and ceremonies, entreth by the gates Homoloydes.
Sacer. O famous Citizens, that holde full deare
Your quiet country: Loe where I doe come
Most joyfully, with wonted sacrifice,
So to beseeche the supreme Citizens,
To stay our state that staggringly doth stand,
And plant us peace where warre and discord growes:
Wherfore, with hart devoute and humble cheere,
Whiles I breake up the bowels of this beast,
(That oft thy veneyarde Bacchus hath destroyed,)
Let every wight crave pardon for his faults,
With bending knee about his aultars here.
Tyr. Take here the salt, and sprincle therwithall
About the necke: that done, cast all the rest
Into the sacred fire, and then annoynte
The knife prepared for the sacrifice.
O mightie Jove, preserve the precious gifte
That thou me gave, when first thine angrie Queene,
Venus made him blynde for giving sentence against hir.
For deepe disdayne did both mine eyes do out,
Graunt me, I may foretell the truth in this,
For, but by thee, I know that I ne may,
Ne wil, ne can, one trustie sentence say.
Sa. This due is done. Tyr. With knife then stick ye kid.
Sac. Thou daughter of devine Tyresias,
With those unspotted virgins hands of thine
Receive the bloude within this vessell here,
And then devoutly it to Bacchus yelde.
Man. O holy God of Thebes, that doest both praise
Swete peace, and doest in hart also disdayne
The noysome noyse, the furies and the fight
Of bloudie Mars and of Bellona both:
O thou the giver both of joy and health,
Receive in gree and with well willing hand
These holy whole brunt offrings unto thee:
And as this towne doth wholy thee adore,
So by thy helpe do graunt that it may stand
Safe from the enimies outrage evermore.
Sac. Now in thy sacred name I bowell here
This sacrifice. Tyre. And what entrails hath it?
Sac. Faire and welformed all in every poynt,
The liver cleane, the hart is not infest,
Save loe, I finde but onely one hart string
By which I finde something I wote nere what,
That seemes corrupt, and were not onely that,
In all the rest, they are both sound and hole.
Tyr. Now cast at once into the holy flame
The swete incense, and then advertise mee
What hew it beares, and every other ryte
That ought may helpe the truth for to conjecte.
Sac. I see the flames doe sundrie coulours cast,
Now bloudy sanguine, straight way purple, blew,
Some partes seeme blacke, some gray, and some be greene.
Tyr. Stay there, suffyseth this for to have seene.
Know Creon, that these outward seemely signes
(By that the Gods have let me understand
Who know the truth of every secrete thing)
Betoken that the Citie great of Thebes
Shall Victor be against the Greekish host,
If so consent be given: but more than this
I lyst not say. Cre. Alas, for curtesie
Say on Tyresias, never have respect
To any living man, but tell the truth.
Sacerdos returneth with the Bacchanales, by the
Sac. In this meane while I will returne with speede
From whence I came: for lawfull is it not,
That suche as I should heare your secrecies.
Tyr. Contrary then to that which I have sayde,
The incest foule, and childbirth monstruous
Of Jocasta, so stirres the wrath of Jove,
This citie shall with bloudy channels swimme,
And angry Mars shall overcome it all
With famine, flame, rape, murther, dole and death:
These lustie towres shall have a headlong fall,
These houses burnde, and all the rest be razde,
And soone be sayde, here whilome Thebes stoode.
One onely way I finde for to escape,
Which bothe would thee displease to heare it tolde,
And me to tell percase were perillous.
Thee therfore with my travell I commende
To Jove, and with the rest I will endure,
What so shall chaunce for our adversitie.
Cre. Yet stay a whyle, Tyr. Creon make me not stay
By force. Cre. Why fleest thou? Tyr. Syr tis not from thee
I flee, but from this fortune foule and fell.
Cre. Yet tell me what behoves the citie doe?
Tyr. Thou Creon seemest now desirous still
It to preserve: but if as well as I
Thou knewest that which is to thee unknowne,
Then wouldst thou not so soone consent thereto.
Cre. And would not I with eagre minde desire
The thing that may for Thebes ought avayle?
Tyr. And dost thou then so instantly request
To know which way thou mayest the same preserve?
Cre. For nothing else I sent my sonne of late
To seeke for thee. Tyr. Then will I satisfie
Thy greedie minde in this: but first tell me,
Menetius where is he? Cre. Not farre from me.
Tyr. I pray thee sende him out some other where.
Cre. Why wouldest thou that he should not be here?
Tyr. I would not have him heare what I should say.
Cre. He is my sonne, ne will he it reveale.
Tyr. And shall I then while he is present speake?
Cre. Yea, be thou sure that he no lesse than I,
Doth wishe full well unto this common weale.
Tyr. Then Creon shalt thou knowe: the meane to save
This Citie, is, that thou shalt slea thy sonne,
And of his bodie make a sacrifice
For his countrey: lo heere is all you seeke
So much to knowe, and since you have me forst
To tell the thing that I would not have tolde,
If I have you offended with my words,
Blame then your selfe, and eke your frowarde fate.
Cre. Oh cruel words, oh, oh, what hast thou sayde,
Thou cruell sothsayer? Tyr. Even that, that heaven
Hath ordeined once, and needes it must ensue.
Cre. How many evils hast thou knit up in one?
Tyr. Though evill for thee, yet for thy countrey good.
Cre. And let my countrey perishe, what care I?
,,Tyr. Above all things we ought to holde it deare.
Cre. Cruell were he, that would not love his childe.
,,Tyr. For conmon weale, were well, that one man waile.
Cre. To loose mine owne, I liste none other save.
,,Tyr. Best Citizens care least for privet gayne.
Cre. Depart, for nowe, with all thy prophecies.
,,Tyr. Lo, thus the truth doth alwayes hatred get.
Cre. Yet pray I thee by these thy silver heares,
,,Tyr. The harme that conmes from heaven can not be scapt.
Cre. And by thy holy spirite of prophecie,
,,Tyr. What heaven hath done, that cannot I undoe.
Cre. That to no moe this secrete thou reveale.
Tyr. And wouldst thou have me learne to make a lye?
Cre. I pray thee hold thy peace. Tyr. That will I not:
But in thy woe to yeelde thee some reliefe,
I tell thee once, thou shalt be Lorde of Thebes,
Which happe of thine this string did well declare,
Which from the heart doth out alonely growe.
So did the peece corrupted playnly shewe,
An argument most evident to prove
Thy sonne his death. Cre. Well, yet be thou content
To keepe full close this secrete hidden griefe.
Tyr. I neither ought, ne will keepe it so close.
Cre. Shall I be then the murtherer of mine owne?
Tyr. Ne blame not me, but blame the starres for this.
Cre. Can heavens condemne but him alone to dye?
Tyr. We ought beleeve the cause is good and just.
,,Cre. Unjust is he condemnes the innocent.
,,Tyr. A foole is he accuseth heavens of wrongs.
Great follye to accuse the gods.
,,Cre. There can no ill thing come from heavens above.
Tyr. Then this that heaven commaunds can not be ill.
Cre. I not beleeve that thou hast talks with God.
Tyr. Bicause I tell thee that doth thee displease.
Cre. Out of my sight accursed lying wretch.
Tyr. Go daughter go, oh what foole is he
A thankles Office to foretell a mischiefe.
That puts in ure to publish prophecies?
,,For if he do fore tell a froward fate,
,,Though it be true, yet shall he purchase hate:
,,And if he silence keepe, or hide the truth,
,,The heavy wrath of mightie Gods ensuth.
Appollo he might well tell things to come,
That had no dread the angry to offende.
But hye we daughter hence some other way.
Tyresias with Manto his daughter, returneth by the gates
OH my deare childe, well hast thou heard with eare
These weery newes, or rather wicked tales
That this devine of thee devined hath:
Yet will thy father never be thy foe,
With cruell doome thy death for to consent.
Me. You rather ought, O father, to consent
Unto my death, since that my death may bring
No greater honor than to dye for thy countrey.
Unto this towne both peace and victorie.
,,Ne can I purchase more prayse worthy death
,,Than for my countries wealth to lose my breath.
Cre. I cannot prayse this witlesse will of thine.
,,Me. You know deare father, that this life of ours
,,Is brittle, short, and nothing else in deede
,,But tedious toyle and pangs of endlesse payne:
,,And death, whose carte to some men seemes so fell,
,,Brings quiet ende to this unquiet life.
Death (indeed) yeldeth more pleasure than lyfe.
,,Unto which ende who soonest doth arrive,
,,Finds soonest rest of all his restlesse griefe.
,,And were it so, that here on earth we felte
,,No pricke of paine, nor that our flattring dayes
,,Were never dasht by froward fortunes frowne,
,,Yet beeing borne (as all men are) to dye,
,,Were not this worthy glory and renowne,
,,To yeelde the countrey soyle where I was borne,
,,For so long time, so shorte a time as mine?
I can not thinke that this can be denied.
Then if to shunne this haughtie high behest,
Mine onely cause, O father, doth you move,
Be sure, you seeke to take from me your sonne,
The greatest honor that I can attayne:
But if your owne commoditie you move,
So much the lesse you ought the same allowe:
For looke, how much the more you have in Thebes,
So much the more you ought to love the same:
Here have you Hemone, he that in my steade
(O my deare father) may with you remaine,
So that, although you be deprived of me
Yet shall you not be quite deprived of heires.
Cre. I can not chuse, deare sonne, but disalowe
This thy too hastie, hote desire of death:
For if thy life thou settest all so lighte,
Yet oughtest thou thy father me respect,
Who as I drawe the more to lumpishe age,
So much more neede have I to crave thine ayde:
Ne will I yet, with stubborne tong denye,
,,That for his common weale to spende his life,
,,Doth win the subject high renoumed name.
,,But howe? in armour to defende the state,
,,Not like a beast to bleede in sacrifice:
And therwithal, if any shoulde consent
To such a death, then should the same be I
That have prolonged life even long enough,
Nay many dayes have I nowe to drawe on.
And more availe might to the countrie come,
Deare sonne, to hold that lustie life of thine
That art both yong and eke of courage stout
Than may by me that feeble am and olde.
Then live deare sonne in high prosperitie,
And give me leave that worthy am to dye.
Mene. Yet worthy were not that unworthy chaunge.
Cre. If such a death bring glorie, give it me.
Mene. Not you, but me, the heavens cal to die.
Cre. We be but one in flesh and body both.
Mene. I father ought, so ought not you, to die.
Cre. If thou sonne die, thinke not that I can live:
Then let me die, and so shall he first die,
That ought to die, and yet but one shal die.
Me. Although I, father, ought t' obey your hestes,
Yet evill it were in this to yelde your will.
Cre. Thy wit is wylie for to worke thy wo.
Me. Oh, tender pitie moveth me thereto.
,,Cre. A beast is he, that kils himselfe with a knife,
,,Of pitie to preserve an others life.
,,Me. Yet wise is he, that doth obey the Gods.
Cre. The Gods will not the death of any wight.
,,Me. Whose life they take, they give him life also.
Cre. But thou dost strive to take thy life thy selfe.
Me. Nay them to obey, that will I shall not live.
Cre. What fault, O sonne, condemneth thee to death?
,,Me. Who liveth (father) here without a fault?
Cre. I see no gylte in thee that death deserves.
Me. But God it seeth that every secrete seeth.
Cre. How shoulde we knowe what is the will of God?
Me. We knowe it then, when he reveales the same.
Cre. As though he would come doune to tell it us,
Me. By divers meanes his secrets he discloseth.
Cre. Oh, fonde is he, who thinkes to understand
The mysteries of Jove his secrete mynde:
And for to ende this controversie here,
Loe thus I say, I will we both live yet:
Prepare thee then, my (*) hestes to holde and keepe,
And pull a downe that stubborne heart of thyne,
Me. You may of me, as of your selfe dispose,
And since my life doth seeme so deare to you,
I will preserve the same to your availe,
That I may spende it alwayes to your wil.
Cre. Then, thee behoves out of this towne to flie:
Before the bold and blinde Tyresias
Doe publish this that is as yet unknowne.
Me. And where, or in what place shall I become?
Cre. Where thou mayste be hence furthest out of sight.
Me. You may commaunde, and I ought to obey.
Cre. Go to the lande of Thesbeoita.
Me. Where Dodona doth sit in sacred chaire?
Cre. Even there my childe.
Me. And who shall guide my wandring steps? Cre. high Jove.
Me. Who shal give sustenance for my reliefe?
Cre. There will I send thee heapes of glistring golde.
Me. But when shall I eftesoones my father see?
Cre. Ere long I hope: but now, for now depart,
For every lingring let or little stay,
May purchase payne and torment both to me.
Me. First would I take my conge of the Queene,
That since the day my mother lost hir life,
Hath nourisht me as if I were hir owne.
Creon goeth out by the gates Homoloydes.
Cre. Oh, tarry not my deare sonne, tarry not.
Me. Beholde father, I goe. You dames of Thebes
Pray to almightie Jove for my retourne:
You see how mine unhappie starres me drive
To go my countrie fro: and if so chaunce,
I ende in woe my pryme and lustie yeares
Before the course of Nature do them call,
Honor my death yet with your drery plaints:
And I shall eke, where so this carkas come,
Pray to the Gods that they preserve this towne.
Meneceus departeth by the gates Electræ.
WHen she that rules the rolling wheele of chaunce,
Doth turne aside hir angrie frowning face,
On him, whom erst she deigned to advance,
She never leaves to gaulde him with disgrace,
To tosse and turne his state in every place,
Till at the last she hurle him from on high
And yeld him subject unto miserie:
And as the braunche that from the roote is reft,
He never winnes like life to that he lefte:
Yea though he do, yet can not tast of joy
Compare with pangs that past in his annoy.
Well did the heavens ordeine for our behoofe
Necessitie, and fates by them alowde,
That when we see our high mishappes aloofe
(As though our eyes were mufled with a cloude)
Our froward will doth shrinke it selfe and shrowde
From our availe wherwith we runne so far[r]e:
As none amends can make that we do marre:
Then drawes evill happe & strives to shew his strength,
And such as yeld unto his might, at length
He leades them by necessitie the way
That destinie preparde for our decay.
The Mariner amidde the swelling seas
Who seeth his barke with many a billowe beaten,
Now here, now there, as wind and waves best please,
When thundring Jove with tempest list to threaten
And dreades in depest gulfe for to be eaten,
Yet learnes a meane by mere necessitie
To save himselfe in such extremitie:
For when he seeth no man hath witte nor powre
To flie from fate when fortune list to lowre,
His only hope on mightie Jove doth caste,
Whereby he winnes the wished heaven at last.
How fond is that man in his fantasie,
Who thinks that Jove the maker of us al,
And he that tempers all in heaven on high,
The sunne, the mone, the starres celestiall,
So that no leafe without his leave can fall,
Hath not in him omnipotence also
To guide and governe all things here below?
O blinded eies, O wretched mortall wights,
O subject slaves to every ill that lights,
To scape such woe, such paine, such shame and scorne,
Happie were he that never had bin borne.
Well might duke Creon driven by destinie,
(If true it be that olde Tyresias saith)
Redeme our citie from this miserie,
By his consent unto Meneceus death,
Who of himselfe wold faine have lost his breth:
,,But every man is loth for to fulfill
,,The heavenly hest that pleaseth not his will.
,,That publique weale must needes to ruine go
,,Where private profite is preferred so.
Yet mightie God, thy only aide we crave,
This towne from siege, and us from sorowe save.
Finis Actus tertii. done by G. Gascoygne.
The order of the fourth dumbe shewe.
BEfore the beginning of this fourth Acte, the Trumpets, drummes and fifes sounded, and a greate peale of ordinaunce was shot of: in the which ther entred upon the stage .vi. knights armed at al points: wherof three came in by the Gates Electræ, and the other three by the Gates Homoloides: either parte beeing accompanied with .vii. other armed men: and after they had marched twice or thrice about the Stage, the one partie menacing the other by their furious lookes and gestures, the .vi. knights caused their other attendants to stand by, and drawing their Swords, fell to cruell and couragious combate, continuing therein, till two on the one side were slayne. The third perceiving, that he only remayned to with stand the force of .iii. enimies, did politiquely runne aside: wherewith immediatly one of the .iii. followed after him, and when he had drawen his enimie thus from his companie, hee turned againe and slewe him. Then the seconde also ranne after him, whom he slewe in like manner, and consequently the thirde, and then triumphantly marched aboute the Stage wyth hys sword in his hand. Hereby was noted the incomparable force of concorde betwene brethren, who as long as they holde togither may not easily by any meanes be overcome, and being once dissevered by any meanes, are easily overthrowen. The history of the brethren Horatii & Curiatii, who agreed to like combate and came to like ende. After that the dead carkasses were caried from the Stage by the armed men on both parties, and that the victor was triumphantly accompanied out, also came in a messenger armed from the campe, seeking the Queene, and to hir spake as foloweth.
Actus .iiii. Scena .i.
Nuncius commeth in by the gates Homoloides.
O Sage and sober dames, O shamefast maids,
O faithful servants of our aged Queene,
Come leade hir forth, sith unto hir I bring
Such secrete newes as are of great importe.
Come forth, O Queene, surceasse thy wofull plaint,
And to my words vouchsafe a willing eare.
The Queene with hir traine commeth out
of hir Pallace.
Joca. My servant deare, doest thou yet bring me newes
Of more mishappe? ah werie wretch, alas,
How doth Eteocles? whom heretofore
In his encreasing yeares, I wonted ay
From daungerous happe with favoure to defend,
Doth he yet live? or hath untimely death
In cruell fight berefte his flowring life?
Nun. He lives (O Queene) hereof have ye no doubt,
From such suspecte my selfe will quit you soone.
Joca. The vertrous Greekes have haply tane the towne?
Nun. The Gods forbid.
Joca. Our souldiers then, perchance,
Dispersed bene and yelden to the sword.
Nun. Not so, they were at first in daunger sure,
But in the end obteined victorie.
Joca. Alas, what then becommes of Polynice
Oh canst thou tell? is he dead or alive?
Nun. You have (O Queene) yet both your sonnes alive.
Joca. Oh, how my harte is eased of his paine.
Well, then proceede, and briefly let me heare,
How ye repulst your proud presuming foes,
That thereby yet at least I may assuage
The swelling sorrowes in my dolefull brest,
In that the towne is hitherto preservde:
And for the rest, I trust that might[ie] Jove
Will yeld us ayde.
Nun. No soner had your worthy valiant sonne,
Severde the Dukes into seaven severall partes,
And set them to defence of severall gates,
And brought in brave arraye his horssemen out,
First to encounter with their mightie foen,
And likewise pitcht, the footemen face to face
Against the footemen of their enimies,
But fiercely straight, the armies did approche,
Swarming so thicke, as coverde cleane the fielde,
When dreadfull blast of braying trumpets sounde,
Of dolefull drummes, and thundring cannon shot,
Gave hideous signe of horrour of the fight,
Then gan the Greekes to give their sharpe assaulte,
Then from the walls our stout couragious men,
With rolling stones, with paisse of hugie beames,
With flying dartes, with flakes of burning fire,
And deadly blowes, did beate them backe againe:
Thus striving long, with stout and bloudie fighte,
(Whereby full many thousande slaughtered were)
The hardie Greeks came underneath the walls:
Of whome, first Capaney (a lustie Knight)
Did scale the walls, and on the top thereof
Did vaunt himselfe, when many hundred moe,
With fierce assaultes did follow him as fast.
Then loe, the Captaines seaven bestirrde themselves,
(Whose names ye have alreadie understoode)
Some here, some there, nought dreading losse of life,
With newe reliefe to feede the fainting breach:
And Polynice, he bended all the force
Of his whole charge, against the greatest gate,
When sodenly a flashe of lightning flame
From angrie skies strake captaine Capaney
That there downe dead he fell: at sight whereof
The gazers on were fraught with soden feare.
The rest, that strove to mount the walles so fast,
From ladders toppe did headlong tumble downe.
Herewith our men encouragde by good happe,
Toke hardy harts, and so repulst the Grekes.
Ther was Eteocles, and I with him,
Who setting first those souldiers to their charge,
Ranne streight to thother gates: unto the weake
He manly comforte gave: unto the bold
His lusty words encreased courage still:
In so much as th' amased Grecian king
When he did heare of Capaney his death,
Fearing thereby the Gods became his foen,
Out from the trench withdrewe his wearie host.
But rashe Eteocles (presuming too too much
Uppon their flight) did issue out of Thebes,
And forwarde straight with strength of chivalrie,
His flying foes couragiously pursude.
Too long it were to make recompt of all
That wounded bene, or slaine, or captive now:
The cloudy ayre was filled round aboute
With houling cries and wofull wayling plaints:
So great a slaughter (O renowmed Queene)
Before this day I thinke was never seene.
Thus have we now cut of the fruitlesse hope
The Grecians had, to sacke this noble towne.
What joyfull end will happen hereunto
Yet know I not: the gods tourne all to good.
,,To conquere, lo, is doubtlesse worthy praise,
,,But wisely for to use the conquest gotte,
,,Hath ever wonne immortall sound of fame.
Well, yet therewhile in this we may rejoyce,
Sith heaven and heavenly powers are pleasde therewith.
Joca. This good successe was luckie sure, and such,
As for my parte I little loked for:
To save the towne and eke to have my sonnes
(As you report) preserved yet alive.
But yet proceede, and further let me know
The finall ende that they agreed upon.
Nun. No more (O queene) let this for now suffise,
Sith hitherto your state is safe inough.
Joca. These words of thine, do whelme my jealous mind
With great suspecte of other mischiefes hidde.
Nun. What would you more, alredy being sure
That both your sonnes in safetie do remaine?
Joca. I long to know the rest, or good or bad.
Nun. O let me now retourne to Eteocles,
That of my service greatly stands in neede.
Joca. Right well I see, thou doest conceale the woorst.
Nun. Oh force me not, the good now beeing past,
To tell the yll.
Joca. Tell it I say, on paine of our displeasure.
Nun. Since thus ye seeke to heare a dolefull tale,
I will no longer stay: witte ye therefore,
Your desperate sonnes togither be agreed
For to attempt a wicked enterprise:
To private fight they have betroutht themselves,
Of which conflicte, the ende must needes be this,
That one do live, that other die the death.
Joca. Alas, alas, this did I ever feare.
Nun. Now, sith in summe I have revealed that,
Which you have heard with great remorse of mind,
I will proceede, at large to tell the whole.
When your victorious sonne, with valiant force
Had chast his foes into their joyning tents,
Even there he staide, and straight at sound of trumpe
With stretched voice the herault thus proclaimde:
You princely Greekes, that hither be arrived
To spoile the fruite of these our fertile fields,
And us to drive from this our Native soile,
O suffer not so many giltlesse soules
By this debate descend in Stygian lake,
For private cause of wicked Polynice,
But rather let the brethren, hand to hand
By mutuall blowes appease their furious rage,
And so to cease from sheding further bloud:
And, to the end you all might understand
The profite that to every side may fall,
Thus much my Lord thought good to profer you,
This is his will, if he be overcome,
Then Polynice to rule this kingly realme:
If so it happe (as reason would it should)
Our rightfull prince to conquere Polynice,
That then no one of you make more adoo,
But straight to Argos Ile hast home againe.
This, thus pronounst unto the noble Greeks,
No soner did the sound of trumpet cease,
But Polynice stept forth before the host,
And to these words this answere did he make:
O thou, (not brother) but my mortall foe,
Thy profer here hath pleased me so well,
As presently, without more long delay,
I yeld my selfe prepared to the field.
Our noble King no soner heard this vaunt,
But forth as fast he prest his princely steppes,
With eger mind, as hoovering falcon woonts
To make hir stoope, when pray appeares in sight:
At all assayes they both were bravely armed,
To eithers side his sword fast being girt,
In eithers hand was put a sturdy launce:
About Eteocles our souldiers cloong,
To comforte him, and put him then in mind,
He fought for safetie of his country soile,
And that in him consisted all their hope.
To Polynice the king Adrastus swore,
If he escaped victor from the fielde,
At his returne he would in Greece erecte
A golden Image unto mightie Jove
In signe of his triumphing victorie.
But all this while seeke you (O noble queene)
To hinder this your furious sonnes attempte:
Intreat the Gods it may not take effecte,
Els must you needes ere long deprived be
Of both your sonnes, or of the one at least.
Nuncius returneth to the camp by the gates
ANtigone my swete daughter, come forth
Out of this house, that nought but woe retaines,
Come forth I say, not for to sing or daunce,
But to prevent (if in our powers it lie)
That thy malicious brethren (swolne with ire)
And I alas, their miserable mother,
Be not destroide by stroke of dreadfull death.
Antigone commeth out of hir mothers Pallace.
Anti. Ah swete mother, ah my beloved mother,
Alas alas, what cause doth move ye now
From trembling voice to send such carefull cries?
What painefull pang? what griefe doth gripe you now?
Joca. O deare daughter, thy most unhappie brethren
That sometimes lodgde within these wretched loynes
Shall die this day, if Jove prevent it not.
Anti. Alas what say you? alas what do you say?
Can I (alas) endure to see him dead,
Whom I thus long have sought to see alive?
Joca. They both have vowde (I quake alas to tell)
With trenchant blade to spill eche others blood.
Antig. O cruell Eteocles, ah ruthlesse wretch,
Of this outrage thou only art the cause,
Not Polynice, whom thou with hatefull spight
Hast reaved first of crowne and countrie soyle,
And now doest seeke to reave him of his life.
Joca. Daughter no more delay, lets go, lets go.
Anti. Ah my sweete mother, whither shall I go?
Joca. With me, deere daughter, to the greekish host.
Anti. Alas how can I go? unles I go
In daunger of my life, or of good name?
Joca. Time serves not now (my well beloved childe)
To way the losse of life or honest name,
But rather to prevent (if so we may)
That wicked deede, which only but to thinke,
Doth hale my hart out of my heavie brest.
Anti. Come then, lets go, good mother let us go,
But what shall we be able for to doe,
You a weake old woman forworne with yeares,
And I God knowes a silly simple mayde?
Joca. Our wofull wordes, our prayers & our plaintes,
Pourde out with streames of overflowing teares,
(Where Nature rules) may happen to prevayle,
When reason, power, and force of armes do fayle.
But if the glowing heate of boyling wrath
So furious be, as it may not relent,
Then I atwixt them both will throw my selfe,
And this my brest shal beare the deadly blowes,
That otherwise should light upon my sonnes:
So shall they shead my bloud and not their owne.
Well now deere daughter, let us hasten hence,
For if in time we stay this raging strife,
Then haply may my life prolonged be:
If ere we come the bloudy deede be done,
Then must my ghost forsake this feeble corps:
And thou, deare childe, with dolour shalt bewaile,
Thy brothers death and mothers all at once.
Jocasta with Antigone, and all hir traine (excepte the
Chorus) goeth towards the campe, by the gates Ho
WHoso hath felt, what faith and fervent love
A mother beares unto hir tender sonnes,
She and none other sure, can comprehende
The dolefull griefe, the pangs and secret paine,
That presently doth pierce the princely brest
Of our afflicted Queene: alas, I thinke
No martyrdome might well compare with hirs.
So ofte as I recorde hir restlesse state,
Alas me thinkes I feele a shivering feare
Flit to and fro along my flushing vaines.
Alas for ruth, that thus two brethren shoulde,
Enforce themselves to shed each others bloud.
Where are the lawes of nature nowe become?
Can fleshe of fleshe, alas can bloud of bloud,
So far forget it selfe, as slay it selfe?
O lowring starres, O dimme and angrie skies,
O geltie fate, suche mischiefe set aside.
But if supernall powers decreed have,
That death must be the ende of this debate,
Alas what floudes of teares shall then suffise,
To weepe and waile the neere approching death:
I meane the death of sonnes and mother both,
And with their death the ruine and decay,
Of Oedipus and his princely race?
But loe, here Creon comes with carefull cheare:
Tis time that now I ende my just complaint.
Creon commeth in by the gates Homoloydes.
ALthough I straightly charg[d]e my tender childe
To flee from Thebes for safegarde of him selfe,
And that long since he parted from my sight,
Yet doe I greatly hang in lingring doubt,
Least passing through the gates, the privie watch
Hath stayed him by some suspect of treason.
And so therewhile, the prophets having skride
His hidden fate, he purchast have the death
Which I by all meanes sought he might eschewe:
And this mischaunce so much I feare the more,
How much the wished conquest at the first
Fell happily unto the towne of Thebes,
,, But wise men ought with patience to sustaine
,,The sundrie haps that slipperie fortune frames.
Nuncius commeth in by the gates Electræ.
Nun. Alas, who can direct my hastie steppes
Unto the brother of our wofull Queene?
But loe where carefully he standeth here.
Cre. If so the minde may dread his owne mishap,
Then dread I much, this man that seekes me thus,
Hath brought the death of my beloved sonne.
Nun. My Lorde, the thing you feare is very true,
Your sonne Meneceus no longer lives.
Cre. Alas who can withstand the heavenly powers?
Well, it beseemes not me, ne yet my yeares,
In bootelesse plaint to wet my wailefull teares:
Do thou recount to me his lucklesse deathe,
The order, forme, and manner of the same.
Nun. Your sonne (my Lorde) came to Eteocles,
And tolde him this in presence of the rest:
Renoumed King, neither your victorie,
Ne yet the safetie of this princely Realme
In armour doth consist, but in the death
Of me, of me, (O most victorious King)
So heavenly dome of mightie Jove commaunds.
I (knowing what avayle my death should yeeld
Unto your grace, and unto native land)
Might well be deemde a most ungratefull sonne
Unto this worthy towne, if I would shunne
The sharpest death to do my countrie good:
In mourning weede now let the vestall Nimphes,
With [pl]ainyug tunes commend my faultlesse ghost
To highest heavens, while I despoyle my selfe,
That afterwarde (sith Jove will have it so)
To save your lives, I may receyve my death,
Of you I crave, O curteous Citizens,
To shrine my corps in tombe of marble stone:
Whereon grave this: Meneceus here doth lie,
For countries cause that was content to die.
This saide, alas, he made no more a doe,
But drewe his sword, and sheathde it in his brest.
Cre. No more, I have inough, returne ye nowe
From whence ye came.
Nuncius returneth by the gates Electræ.
Well, since the bloud of my beloved sonne,
Must serve to slake the wrath of angrie Jove,
And since his onely death must bring to Thebes
A quiet ende of hir unquiet state,
Me thinkes good reason would, that I henceforth
Of Thebane soyle should beare the kingly swaye:
Yea sure, and so I will ere it be long,
Either by right, or else by force of armes.
Of al mishap loe here the wicked broode,
My sister first espoused hath hir sonne
That slewe his sire, of whose accursed seede
Two brethren sprang, whose raging hatefull hearts,
By force of boyling yre are borne so sore
As each do thyrst to sucke the others bloude:
But why do I sustaine the smart hereof?
Why should my bloud be spilt for others gilte?
Oh welcome were that messenger to me
Any messenger is welcome that bringeth tydings of advancement.
That brought me word of both my nephewes deathes:
Then should it soone be sene in every eye,
Twixt prince and prince what difference would appeare,
Then should experience shewe what griefe it is
To serve the humours of unbridled youth.
Now will I goe for to prepare with speede
The funerals of my yong giltlesse sonne,
The which perhaps may be accompanyed
With th' obsequies of proude Eteocles.
Creon goeth out by the gates Homoloydes.
Finis Actus. 4.
O Blisful concord, bredde in sacred brest
Of him that guides the restlesse rolling sky,
That to the earth for mans assured rest
From heigth of heavens vouchsafest downe to flie,
In thee alone the mightie power doth lie,
With swete accorde to kepe the frouning starres
And every planet else from hurtfull warres.
In thee, in thee such noble vertue bydes,
As may commaund the mightiest Gods to bend,
From thee alone such sugred frendship slydes
As mortall wightes can scarcely comprehend,
To greatest strife thou setst delightfull ende,
O holy peace, by thee are onely founde
The passing joyes that every where abound.
Thou onely thou, through thy celestiall might,
Didst first of al, the heavenly pole devide
From th'olde confused heape that Chaos hight:
Thou madste the Sunne, the Moone, and starres to glide,
With ordred course about this world so wide:
Thou hast ordainde Dan Tytans shining light,
By dawne of day to chase the darkesome night.
When tract of time returnes the lustie Ver,
By thee alone, the buddes and blossomes spring,
The fieldes with floures be garnisht every where,
The blooming trees, aboundant fruite do bring,
The cherefull birds melodiously do sing,
Thou dost appoint, the crop of sommers seede
For mans reliefe, to serve the winters neede.
Thou doest inspire the heartes of princely peeres
By providence, proceeding from above,
In flowring youth to choose their worthie feeres,
With whome they live in league of lasting love,
Till fearefull death doth flitting life remove,
And loke how fast, to death man payes his due,
So fast againe, doste thou his stocke renue.
By thee, the basest thing advaunced is,
Thou everie where, dost graffe such golden peace,
As filleth man, with more than earthly blisse,
The earth by thee, doth yelde hir swete increase
At becke of thee, all bloudy discords cease,
And mightiest Realmes in quiet do remaine,
Wheras thy hand doth horde the royall raine.
But if thou faire, then al things gone to wrecke,
The mother then, doth dread hir naturall childe,
Then every towne is subject to the sacke,
Then spotlesse maids, the virgins be defilde,
Then rigor rules, then reason is exilde:
And this, thou wofull Thebes, to our great paine,
With present spoile, art likely to sustaine.
Me thinke[s] I heare the wailfull weeping cries
Of wretched dames, in everie coast resound,
Me thinkes I see, how up to heavenly skies
From battred walls, the thundring clappes rebound,
Me thinke[s] I heare, how all things go to ground,
Me thinke[s] I see, how souldiers wounded lye
With gasping breath, and yet they can not dye,
By meanes wherof, oh swete Meneceus he,
That gives for countries cause his guiltlesse life,
Of others all, most happy shall he be:
His ghost shall flit from broiles of bloudy strife,
To heavenly blisse, where pleasing joyes be rife:
And would to God, that this his fatall ende
From further plagues, our citie might defend.
O sacred God, give eare unto thy thrall,
That humbly here upon thy name doth call,
O let not now, our faultlesse bloud be spilt,
For hote revenge of any others gilt.
Finis Actus quarti.
Done by F. Kinwelmarshe.
The order of the laste dumbe shewe.
FIrst the Stillpipes sounded a very mournful melody, in which time came upon the Stage a woman clothed in a white garment, on hir head a piller, double faced, the formost face fair & smiling, the other behinde blacke & louring, muffled with a white laune about hir eyes, hir lap ful of Jewelles, sitting in a charyot, hir legges naked, hir fete set upon a great round teal, & beyng drawen in by.iiii. noble personages, she led in a string on hir right hand .ii. kings crowned, and in hir lefte hand .ii. poore slaves very meanly attyred. After she was drawen about the stage, she stayed a little, changing the kmgs unto the left hande & the slaves unto the right hand, taking the crownes from the kings heads she crowned therwith the ii. slaves, & casting the vyle clothes of the slaves upon the kings, she despoyled the kings of their robes, and therwith apparelled the slaves. This done, she was drawen eftsones about the stage in this order, and then departed, leaving unto us a plaine Type or figure of unstable fortune, who dothe oftentimes raise to heigthe of dignitie the vile and unnoble, and in like manner throweth downe from the place of promotion, even those whom before she hir selfe had thither advaunced: after hir departure came in Duke Creon with foure gentlemen wayting upon him and lamented the death of Meneceus his sonne in this maner.
Actus.[v]. Scena. I.
ALas what shall I do? bemone my selfe?
Or rue the rune of my Native lande,
About the which such cloudes I see enclosde,
As darker cannot cover dreadfull hell.
With mine own eyes I saw my own deare sonne
All gorde with bloud of his too bloudy brest,
Which he hath shed full like a friend, too deare
To his countrey, and yet a cruell foe
To me, that was his friend and father both.
Thus to him selfe he gaynde a famous name,
And glory great, to me redoubled payne:
Whose haplesse death in my afflicted house,
Hath put suche playnt, as I ne can espie
What comfort might acquiet their distresse.
I hither come my sister for to seeke,
Jocasta, she that might in wofull wise
Amid hir high and overpining cares,
Prepare the baynes for his so wretched corps,
And eke for him that nowe is not in life
May pay the due that to the dead pertaynes,
And for the honor he did well deserve,
To give some giftes unto infernall Gods.
Cho. My Lorde, your sister is gone forth long since,
Into the campe, and with hir Antigone,
Hir daughter deare.
Cre. Into the campe? alas and what to do?
Cho. She understoode, that for this realme foorthwith
Hir sonnes were greed in combate for to joyne.
Cre. Alas, the funerals of my deare sonne
Dismayed me so, that I ne did receive,
Ne seeke to knowe these newe unwelcome newes.
But loe, beholde a playne apparent signe
Of further feares: the furious troubled lookes
Of him that commeth heere so hastilye.
NUNCIUS. CREON. CHORUS.
ALas, alas, what shall I doe? alas,
What shriching voyce may serve my wofull wordes?
O wretched I, ten thousande times a wretch,
The messenger of dread and cruell death
Cre. Yet more mishap? and what unhappie newes:
Nun. My Lord, your nephues both have lost their lives.
Cre. Out and alas, to me and to this towne,
Thou doest accompt great ruine and decay,
You royall familie of Oedipus:
And heare you this? your liege and soveraigne Lordes
The brethren both are slayne and done to death.
Cho. O cruell newes, most cruell that can come,
O newes that might these stony walles provoke
For tender ruthe to brust in bitter teares,
And so they would, had they the sense of man.
Cre. O worthy yong Lordes, that unworthy were
Of such unworthy death, O me moste wretch.
Nun. More wretched shall ye deeme your selfe, my lord,
When you shall heare of further miserie.
Cre. And can there be more miserie than this?
Nun. With hir deare sonnes the queene hir self is slaine.
Cho. Bewayle ladies, alas good ladies waile,
This harde mischaunce, this cruell common evill,
Ne hencefoorth hope for ever to rejoyce.
Cre. O Jocasta, miserable mother,
What haplesse ende thy life alas hath hent?
Percase the heavens purveyed had the same,
Moved therto by the wicked wedlocke
Of Oedipus thy sonne yet might thy scuse
But justly made, that knewe not of the crime.
We harken somtime[s] willingly to wofull news.
But tell me messenger, oh tell me yet
The death of these two brethren, driven therto,
Not thus all onely by their drearie fate,
But by the banning and the bitter cursse
Of their cruell sire, borne for our annoy,
And here on earth the onely soursse of evill.
Nun. Then know my Lorde, the battell that begonne
Under the walles, was brought to luckie ende.
Eteocles had made his fo[e]men flee
Within their trenches, to their foule reproche:
But herewithall the brethren both straightway
Eche other chalenge foorth into the fielde,
By combate so to stinte their cruell strife,
Who armed thus amid the fielde appeard,
First Polynice turning toward Greece
His lovely lookes, gan Juno thus beseeche:
O heavenly queene, thou seest, that since the day
I first did wedde Adrastus daughter deare,
And stayde in Greece, thy servaunt have I bene:
Then (be it not for mine unworthinesse)
Graunt me this grace, the victorie to winne,
Graunt me, that I with high triumphant hande,
May bathe this blade within my brothers brest:
I know I crave unworthy victorie,
Unworthy triumphes, and unworthy spoyles,
Lo he the cause, my cruell enimie.
The people wept to heare the wofull wordes
Of Polynice, foreseeing eke the ende
Of this outrage and cruell combate tane,
Eche man gan looke upon his drouping mate,
With mindes amazed, and trembling hearts for dread,
Whom pitie perced for these youthfull knightes,
Eteocles with eyes up cast to heaven,
O mightie Jove his daughter graunt to me,
That this right hande with this sharpe armed launce
(Passing amid my brothers cankred brest,)
It may eke pierce that cowarde hart of his,
And so him slea that thus unworthily
Disturbes the quiet of our common weale.
So sayde Eteocles, and trumpets blowne,
To sende the summons of their bloudy fighte,
That one the other fiercely did encounter,
Like Lions two yfraught with boyling wrath,
Bothe coucht their launces full agaynst the face,
But heaven it *nolde that there they should them teinte:
Upon the battred shields the mightie speares
Are bothe ybroke, and in a thousande shivers
Amid the ayre flowne up into the heavens:
Beholde agayne, with naked sworde in hande,
Eche one the other furiously assaultes.
Here they of Thebes, there stoode the Greekes in doubt,
Of whom doth eche man feele more chilling dread,
Least any of the twayne should lose his life,
Than any of the twayne did feele in fight.
Their angry lookes, their deadly daunting blowes,
Might witnesse well, that in their heartes remaynde
As cankred hate, disdayne, and furious moode,
As ever bred in beare or tygers brest.
The first that inapt to hurt was Polinice,
Who smote the righte thighe of Eteocles:
But as we deeme, the blow was nothing deepe,
Then cryed the Greekes, and lepte with lightned harts,
But streight agayne they helde their peace, for why?
Eteocles gan thrust his wicked sworde
In the lefte arme of unarmed Pollinice,
And let the bloud from bare unfenced fleshe,
With falling drops distill upon the ground,
Ne long he stayes, but with an other thrust
His brothers belly boweld with his blade,
Then wretched he, with bridle left at large,
From of his horsse fell pale upon the ground,
Ne long it was, but downe our duke dismountes
From of his startling steede, and runnes in hast,
His brothers haplesse helme for to unlace,
And with such hungry minde desired spoyle,
(As one that thought the fielde already woonne)
That at unwares, his brothers dagger drawne,
And griped fast within the dying hand,
Under his side he recklesse doth receive,
That made the way to his wyde open hart.
Thus falles Eteocles his brother by,
From both whose breasts the bloud fast bubling, gave
A very shewe to Greekes and Thebanes both.
Cho. Oh wretched ende of our unhappie Lordes.
Cre. Oh Oedipus, I must bewaile the death
Of thy deare sonnes, that were my nephewes both,
But of these blowes thou oughtest feele the smarte,
That with thy wonted prayers, thus hast brought
Such noble blouds to this unnoble end.
But now tell on, what followed of the Queene?
Nun. When thus with pierced harts, by their owne hands
The brothers fell and wallowed in their bloud,
(That one still tumbling on the others gore)
Came their afflicted mother, then to late,
And eke with hir, chast childe Antygone,
Who saw no sooner how their fates had falne,
But with the doubled echo of alas,
She dymmde the ayre with loude complaints and cryes:
Oh sonnes (quod she) too late came all my helpe,
And all to late have I my succour sent:
And with these wordes, upon their carcas colde
She shriched so, as might have stayed the Sunne
To mourne with hir: the wofull sister eke,
(That both hir chekes did bathe in flowing teares)
Out from the depth of hir tormented brest,
With scalding sighes gan draw these weary words,
O my deare brethren, why abandon ye
Our mother deare, when these hir aged yeares,
(That of themselves are weake and growne with griefe,)
Stoode most in neede of your sustaining helpe?
Why doe you leave hir thus disconsolate?
At sounde of such hir weeping long lament,
Eteocles our king helde up his hand,
And sent from bottome of his wofull brest
A doubled sighe, devided with his griefe,
In faithfull token of his feeble will
To recomfort his mother and sister both:
And in [the] steade of sweete contenting words,
The trickling teares raynde downe his paled chekes:
Then clasps his hands, and shut his dying eyes.
But Polynice, that turned his rolling eyen
Unto his mother and his sister deare,
With hollow voyce and fumbling toung, thus spake:
Mother, you see how I am now arryved
Unto the h[a]ven of mine unhappie ende:
Now nothing doth remaine to me, but this,
That I lament my sisters life and yours,
Left thus in everlasting woe and griefe:
So am I sory for Eteocles,
Who though he were my cruell enimie,
He was your sonne, and brother yet to me:
But since these ghostes of ours must needes go downe
With staggring steppes into the Stigian reigne,
I you besech, mother and sister bothe,
Of pitie yet, that you will me procure
A royall tombe within my native realme:
And now shut up with those your tender handes,
These grieffull eyes of mine, whose dazeled light
Shadowes of dreadfull death be come to close.
Now rest in peace, this sayde, he yeelded up
His fainting ghost, that ready was to part.
The mother thus beholding both hir sonnes
Ydone to death, and overcome with dole,
Drewe out the dagger of hir Pollinice,
From brothers brest, and gorde therewyth her throte,
Falling betweene hir sonnes:
Then with hir feebled armes, she doth [e]nfolde
Their bodies both, as if for company
Hir uncontented corps were yet content
To passe with them in Charons ferrie boate.
When cruell fate had thus with force bereft
The wofull mother and hir two deare sonnes,
All sodenly allarme, allarme, they crye,
And hote conflict began for to aryse
Betwene our armie and our enemyes:
For either part would have the victorye.
A while they did with equall force maintaine
The bloudy fight, at last the Greekes do flie,
Of whom could hardly any one escape,
For in such hugie heapes our men them slew.
The ground was coverde all with carcases:
And of our souldiers, some gan spoyle the dead,
Some other were that parted out the pray,
And some pursuing. Antigone toke up
The Queene Jocasta, and the brethren both
Whom in a chariot hither they will bring
Ere long: and thus, although we gotten have
The victory over our enemies,
Yet have we lost much more than we have wonne.
Cho. O hard mishap, we doe not onely heare
The wearie newes of their untimely death,
But eke we must with wayling eyes beholde
Their bodies deade, for loke where they be brought.
MOst bitter plaint, O ladyes, us behoves
Behoveth eke not onely bitter plainte,
But that our heares dyshevylde from our heades
About our shoulders hang, and that our brests
With bouncing blowes be all be battered,
Our gastly faces with our nayles defaced:
Behold, your Queene twixt both hir sonnes lyes slayne,
The Queene whom you did love and honour both,
The Queene that did so tenderly bring up
And nourishe you, eche one like to hir owne,
Now hath she left you all (O cruell hap)
With hir too cruell death in dying dreade,
Pyning with pensifenesse without all helpe.
O weary life, why bydste thou in my breast
And I contented be that these mine eyes
Should see hir dye that gave to me this life,
And I not venge hir death by losse of life?
Who can me give a fountaine made of mone,
That I may weepe as muche as is my will,
To sowsse this sorow up in swelling teares?
Cho. What stony hart could leave for to lament?
Anti. O Polinice, now hast thou with thy bloud
Bought all too deare the title to this realme,
That cruell he Eteocles thee refte,
And now also hath reft thee of thy life,
Alas, what wicked dede can wrath not doe?
And out alas for mee.
Whyle thou yet livedst, I had a lively hope
To have some noble wight to be my pheere,
By whome I might be crownde a royall Queene:
But now, thy hastie death hath done to dye
This dying hope of mine, that hope hencefoorth
None other wedlocke, but tormenting woe,
If so these trembling hands for cowarde dread
Dare not presume to ende this wretched life.
Cho. Alas deare dame, let not thy raging griefe
Heape one mishap upon anothers head.
Anti. O dolefull day, wherein my very sire
Was borne, and yet O more unhappie houre
When he was crowned king of stately Thebes
The Hymenei in unhappie bed,
And wicked wedlocke, wittingly did joyne,
The giltlesse mother with hir giltie sonne,
Out of which roote we be the braunches borne,
To beare the scourge of their so foule offence:
And thou, O father, thou that for this facte,
Haste torne thine eyes from thy tormented head,
Give eare to this, come foorth, and bende thine eare
To bloudie newes, that canst not them beholde:
Happie in that, for if thine eyes could see
Thy sonnes bothe slayne, and even betweene them bothe
Thy wife and mother dead, bathed and imbrude
All in one bloud, then wouldst thou dye for dole,
And so might ende all our unluckie stocke.
But most unhappie nowe, that lacke of sighte
Shall linger life within thy lucklesse brest,
And still tormented in suche miserie,
Shall alwayes dye, bicause thou canst not dye.
OEDIPUS. ANTIGONE. CHORUS.
WHy dost thou call out of this darkesome denne,
(The lustlesse lodge of my lamenting yeres,)
(O daughter deare) thy fathers blinded eyes,
Into the light I was not worthy of?
Or what suche sight (O cruell destenie)
Without tormenting cares might I beholde,
That image am of deathe and not of man?
Anti. O father mine, I bring unluckie newes
Unto your eares, your sonnes are nowe both slayne,
Ne doth your wife (that wonted was to guyde
So piteously your staylesse stumbling steppes)
Now see this light, alas and welaway.
Oed. O heape of infinite calamities,
And canst thou yet encrease when I thought least
That any griefe more great could grow in thee?
But tell me yet, what kinde of cruell death
Had these three very soules?
Anti. Without offence to speake, deare father mine,
The lucklesse lotte, the frowarde frowning fate
That gave you life to ende your fathers life,
Have ledde your sonnes to reave eche others life.
Oed. Of them I thought no lesse, but tell me yet
What causelesse death hath caught from me my deare,
(What shall I call hir) mother or my wife?
Anti. When as my mother sawe hir deare sonnes dead,
As pensive pangs had press hir tender heart,
With bloudlesse cheekes and gastly lookes she fell,
Drawing the dagger from Eteocles side,
She gorde hirselfe with wide recurelesse wounde:
And thus, without mo words, gave up the ghost,
Embracing both hir sonnes with both hir armes.
In these affrightes this frosen heart of mine,
By feare of death maynteines my dying life.
Cho. This drearie day is cause of many evils,
Poore Oedipus, unto thy progenie,
The Gods yet graunt it may become the cause
Of better happe to this afflicted realme.
CREON. OEDIPUS. ANTIGONE.
GOod Ladies leave your bootelesse vayne complaynt,
Leave to lament, cut off your wofull cryes,
High time it is as now for to provide
The funerals for the renowmed king:
And thou Oedipus hearken to my wordes,
And know thus muche, that for thy daughters dower,
Antigone with Hemone shall be wedde.
Thy sonne our king not long before his death
Assigned hath the kingdome should descende
To me, that am his mothers brother borne,
And so the same might to my sonne succeede.
Now I that am the lorde and king of Thebes,
Will not permit that thou abide therein:
Ne marvell yet of this my heady will,
Ne blame thou me, for why, the heavens above
(Which onely rule the rolling life of man,)
Have so ordeynde, and that my words be true,
Tyresias he that knoweth things to come,
By trustie tokens hath foretolde the towne,
That while thou didst within the walles remayne,
It should be plagued still with penurie:
Wherfore departe, and thinke not that I speake
These wofull wordes for hate I beare to thee,
But for the weale of this afflicted realme.
Oedipus. O foule accursed fate, that hast me bredde
To beare the burthen of the miserie
Of this colde death, which we accompt for life:
Before my birth my father understoode
I should him slea, and scarcely was I borne,
When he me made a pray for savage beastes.
But what? I slew him yet, then caught the crowne,
And last of all defilde my mothers bedde,
By whom I have this wicked ofspring got:
And to this heinous crime and filthy facte
The heavens have from highe enforced me,
Agaynst whose doome no counsell can preveyle.
Thus hate I now my life, and last of all,
Lo by the newes of this so cruell death
Of bothe my sonnes and deare beloved wife,
Mine angrie constellation me commaundes
Withouten eyes to wander in mine age,
When these my weery, weake, and crooked limmes
Have greatest neede to crave their quiet rest.
O cruell Creon, wilt thou slea me so,
For cruelly thou doste but murther me,
Out of my kingdome now to chase me thus:
Yet can I not with humble minde beseeche
Thy curtesie, ne fall before thy feete.
Let fortune take from me these worldly giftes,
She can not conquere this courageous heart,
That never yet could well be overcome,
To force me yeelde for feare to villanie:
Do what thou canst I will be Oedipus.
Cre. So hast thou reason Oedipus, to say,
And for my parte I would thee counsell eke,
Still to maynteine the high and hawtie minde,
That hath bene ever in thy noble heart:
For this be sure, if thou wouldst kisse these knees,
And practise eke by prayer to prevayle,
No pitie coulde persuade me to consent
That thou remayne one onely houre in Thebes.
And nowe, prepare you worthie Citizens,
The funeralls that duely doe pertayne
Unto the Queene, and to Eteocles,
And eke for them provide their stately tombes.
But Pollynice, as common enimie
Unto his countrey, carrie foorth his corps
Out of the walles, ne none so hardie be
On peine of death his bodie to engrave,
But in the fieldes let him unburied lye,
Without his honour, and without complaynte,
An open praie for savage beastes to spoyle.
And thou Antigone, drie up thy teares,
Plucke up thy sprites, and cheere thy harmelesse hearte
To mariage: for ere these two dayes passe,
Thou shalt espouse Hemone myne onely heire.
Antig. Father, I see us wrapt in endlesse woe,
And nowe muche more doe I your state lamente,
Than these that nowe be dead, not that I thinke
Theyr grease missehappes too little to bewayle,
But this, that you (you onely) doe surpasse
All wretched wightes that in this worlde remayne.
But you my Lorde, why banishe you with wrong
My father thus out of his owne perforce?
And why will you denye these guiltlesse bones
Of Polinice, theyr grave in countrey soyle?
Creon. So would not I, so woulde Eteocles.
Anti. He cruel was, you fonde to hold his hestes.
Creon. Is then a fault to doe a kings commaund?
Anti. When his comaunde is cruell and unjust.
Creon. Is it unjust that he unburied be?
Anti. He not deserv'd so cruel punishment.
Creon. He was his countreys cruell enimie.
Anti. Or else was he that helde him from his right.
Cre. Bare he not armes against his native land?
Anti. Offendeth he that sekes to winne his owne?
Cre. In spite of thee he shall unburied be.
Anti. In spite of thee these hands shall burie him.
Cre. And with him eke then will I burie thee.
Anti. So graunt the gods, I get none other grave,
Then with my Polinices deare to rest.
Cre. Go sirs, lay holde on hir, and take hir in.
Anti. I will not leave this corps unburied.
Cre. Canst thou undoe the thing that is decreed?
Anti. A wicked foule decree to wrong the dead.
Cre. The ground ne shall ne ought to cover him.
Anti. Creon, yet I beseche thee for the love,
Cre. Away I say, thy prayers not prevaile.
Anti. That thou didst beare Jocasta in hir life,
Cre. Thou dost but waste thy words amid the wind.
Anti. Yet graunt me leave to washe his wounded corps.
Cre. It can not be that I should graunt thee so.
Anti. O my deare Polinice, this tirant yet
She sheweth ye frutes of true kyndly love.
With all his w[r]ongfull force can not fordoe,
But I will kisse these colde pale lippes of thine,
And washe thy wounds with my waymenting teares.
Cre. O simple wench, O fonde and foolishe girle,
Beware, beware, thy teares do not foretell
Some signe of hard mishap unto thy mariage.
Anti. No, no, for Hemone will I never wed.
Cre. Dost thou refuse the mariage of my sonne?
Anti. I will nor him, nor any other wed.
Cre. Against thy will then must I thee constraine.
Anti. If thou me force, I sweare thou shalt repent.
Cre. What canst thou cause that I should once repent?
Anti. With bloudy knife I can this knot unknit.
Cre. And what a foole were thou to kill thy selfe?
Anti. I will ensue some worthie womans steppes.
Cre. Speake out Antigone, that I may heare.
Anti. This hardie hande shall soone dispatch his life.
Cre. O simple foole, and darste thou be so bolde?
Anti. Why should I dread to do so doughtie deed?
Cre. And wherfore dost thou wedlocke so despise?
Anti. In cruel exile for to folow him. (pointing to Oedipus
Cre. What others might beseeme, beseemes not thee.
Anti. If neede require with him eke will I die.
Cre. Departe, departe, and with thy father die,
Rather than kill my childe with bloudie knife:
Go hellish monster, go out of the towne.
Oed. Daughter, I must commende thy noble heart.
Anti. Father, I will not live in companie
The duty of a childe truly perfourmed.
And you alone wander in wildernesse.
Oed. O yes deare daughter, leave thou me alone
Amid my plagues: be merrie while thou maist.
Anti. And who shal guide these aged feete of yours,
That banisht bene, in blinde necessitie?
Oed. I will endure, as fatal lot me drives:
Resting these crooked sorie sides of mine
Where so the heavens shall lend me harborough.
And in exchange of rich and stately towers,
The woodes, the wildernesse, the darkesome dennes,
Shall be the bowre of mine unhappie bones.
Anti. O father now where is your glorie gone?
,,Oed. One happie day did raise me to renoune,
,, One haplesse day hath throwne mine honour doune.
Anti. Yet will I beare a part of your mishappes.
Oed. That sitteth not amid thy pleasant yeares.
,, Anti. Deare father yes, let youth give place to age.
Oed. Where is thy moother? let me touch hir face,
That with these handes I may yet feele the harme
That these blinde eyes forbid me to beholde.
Anti. Here father, here hir corps, here put your hande.
Oed. O wife, O moother, O both wofull names,
O wofull mother, and O wofull wyfe,
O woulde to God, alas, O woulde to God
Thou nere had bene my mother, nor my wyfe.
But where lye nowe the paled bodies two,
Of myne unluckie sonnes, Oh where be they?
Anti. Lo here they lye one by an other deade.
Oedip. Stretch out this hand, dere daughter, stretch this hande
Upon their faces.
Anti. Loe father, here, lo, nowe you touche them both.
Oedi. O bodies deare, O bodies dearely boughte
Unto your father, bought with high missehap.
Anti. O lovely name of my deare Pollinice,
Why can I not of cruell Creon crave,
Ne with my death nowe purchase thee a grave?
Oedi. Nowe commes Apollos oracle to passe,
That I in Athens towne should end my dayes:
And since thou doest, O daughter myne, desire
In this exile to be my wofull mate,
Lende mee thy hande, and let us goe togither.
Anti. Loe, here all press my deare beloved father,
A feeble guyde, and eke a simple scowte,
To passe the perills in a doubtfull waye.
Oedi. Unto the wretched, be a wretched guyde.
Anti. In this all onely equall to my father.
Oedi. And where shall I sette foorth my trembling feete?
O reache mee yet some surer staffe, to steye
My staggryng pace amidde these wayes unknowne.
Anti. Here father here, and here set forth your feete.
She giveth him a staffe and stayeth hym hir self also.
Oedi. Nowe can I blame none other for my harmes
But secrete spight of foredecreed fate,
Thou arte the cause, that crooked, olde and blynde,
I am exilde farre from my countrey soyle,
And suffer dole that I ought not endure.
,, Anti. O father, father, Justice lyes on sleepe,
,, Ne doth regarde the wrongs of wretchednesse,
,, Ne princes swelling pryde it doth redresse.
Oedi. O carefull caytife, howe am I nowe changd
From that I was? I am that Oedipus,
A Glasse for brittel Beutie and for lusty limmes.
That whylome had triumphant victorie,
And was bothe dread and honored eke in Thebes:
But nowe (so pleaseth you my frowarde starres)
Downe headlong hurlde in depth of myserie,
So that remaynes of Oedipus no more
As nowe in mee, but even the naked name,
And lo, this image, that resembles more
Shadowes of death, than shape of Oedipus.
Antig. O father, nowe forgette the pleasaunt dayes
And happie lyfe that you did whylom leade,
The muse whereof redoubleth but you[r] griefe:
Susteyne the smarte of these your present paynes
With pacience, that best may you preserve.
Lo where I come, to live and die with you,
Not (as sometymes) the daughter of a king,
But as an abject nowe in povertie,
That you, by presence of suche faithfull guide,
May better beare the wrecke of miserie.
Oedi. O onely comforte of my cruell happe.
Anti. Your daughters pitie is but due to you:
Woulde God I might as well ingrave the corps
Of my deare Pollinice, but I ne maye,
And that I can not, doubleth all my dole.
Oedi. This thy desire, that is both good and juste,
Imparte to some that be thy trustie frendes,
Who movde with pitie, maye procure the same.
,,Anti. Beleeve me father, when dame fortune frownes,
,,Be fewe that fynde trustie companions.
Oedi. And of those fewe, yet one of those am I:
Wherefore, goe we nowe daughter, leade the waye
Into the stonie rockes and highest hilles,
Where fewest trackes of steppings may be spyde.
,,Who once hath sit in chaire of dignitie,
May shame to shewe himselfe in miserie.
Anti. From thee, O countrey, am I forst to parte,
Despoiled thus in flower of my youth,
And yet I leave within my enimies rule,
Ismene my infortunate sister.
Oed. Deare citizens, beholde your Lord and King
That Thebes set in quiet government,
A mirrour for Magistrates.
Now as you see, neglected of you all,
And in these ragged ruthfull weedes bewrapt,
Ychased from his native countrey soyle,
Betakes himself (for so this tirant will)
To everlasting banishment: but why
Do I lament my lucklesse lot in vaine?
,,Since every man must beare with quiet minde,
,,The fate that heavens have earst to him assignde.
EXample here, loe take by Oedipus,
You Kings and Princes in prosperitie,
And every one that is desirous
To sway the seate of worldlie dignitie,
How fickle tis to trust in Fortunes whele:
For him whome now she hoyseth up on hie,
If so he chaunce on any side to reele,
She hurles him downe in twinkling of an eye:
And him againe, that grovleth nowe on ground,
And lieth lowe in dungeon of dispaire,
Hir whirling wheele can heave up at a bounde,
And place aloft in stay of statelie chaire.
As from the Sunne the Moone withdrawes hir face,
So might of man doth yeelde dame Fortune place.
Finis Actus quinti. Done by G. Gascoigne.
LO here the fruit of high aspiring minde,
Who weenes to mount above the mooving Skies:
Lo here the trap that titles proud do finde,
See, ruine growes, when most we reach to rise:
Sweete is the name, and statelie is the raigne
Of kinglie rule, and swey of royall seate,
But bitter is the test of Princes gaine,
When climbing heades do hunte for to be great.
Who would forecast the banke of restlesse toyle,
Ambitious wightes do freight their brestes withall,
The growing cares, the feares of dreadfull toyle,
To yll successe that on such flightes doth fall,
He would not streyne his practize to atchieve
The largest limits of the mightiest states.
But oh, what fansies sweete do still relieve
The hungrie humor of these swelling hates?
What poyson sweet inflameth high desire?
Howe soone the hautie heart is pufft with pride?
Howe soone is thirst of sceptre set on fire?
Howe soone in rising mindes doth mischief slide?
What bloudie sturres doth glut of honor breede?
Thambitious sonne doth oft surpresse his sire:
Where natures power unfained love should spread,
There malice raignes and reacheth to be higher.
O blinde unbridled search of Sovereintie,
O tickle traine of evill attayned state,
O fonde desire of princelie dignitie,
Who climbes too soone, he ofte repentes too late.
The golden meane, the happie doth suffise,
They leade the posting day in rare delight,
They fill (not feede) their uncontented eyes,
They reape such rest as doth beguile the [n]ight,
They not envie the pompe of haughtie traine,
Ne dreade the dinte of proude usurping swoorde,
But plaste alowe, more sugred joyes attaine,
Than swaye of loftie Scepter can afoorde.
Cease to aspire then, cease to soare so hie,
And shunne the plague that pierceth noble breastes.
To glittring courses what fondnesse is to flie,
When better state in baser Towers rests?
Finis Epilogi. Done by Chr. Yelverton.
NOte (Reader) that there were in Thebes fowre principall gates, wherof the chief and most commonly used were the gates called Electræ and the gates Homoloydes. Thys I have thought good to explane: as also certen words which are not common in use are noted and expounded in the margent. I did begin those notes at request of a gentlewoman who understode not poëtycall words or termes. I trust those and the rest of my notes throughout the booke, shall not be hurtfull to any Reader.