The Tragedy of Julia Agrippina; Empress of Rome.







Megæra ascends






Thus to the Roman Palace, as our home

And proper mansion, is Megæra come

No stranger to these walls: not more in Hell

Then here, do mischief, and we Furies dwell

Let the unenvied Gods henceforth possess

Poor Peasants’ hearts, and rule in Cottages;

Let virtue lurk among the rural Swains,

Whilst vice in Rome’s Imperial Palace reigns,

And rules those breasts, whom all the world obeys.

What though the Gods and virtue first did raise

Rome to that height it holds? They did but make

An Empire large enough for us to take,

And build a strength for us to manage now.

Though virtue made the Roman greatness grow,

She now forsakes it at the height: the Powers,

And fruits of all her diligence are ours.

But to preserve that interest, and keep high

Our hold in this commanding family,

A blacker Fury than myself must rise,

To fill these roofs with fresh impieties.

Rise cruel ghost, ascend Caligula,

That lately didst the world’s proud sceptre sway

Beyond our wish; who though an Emperor,

In wickedness wer't greater than in power;

[25] And clothed with flesh among mankind did'st dwell

A Fiend more black than any was in Hell.




From those dark vaults ascend, to blast this fair

And gorgeous Palace, like that poisonous air,

Which Earth-quakes from the ground’s torn entrails, breath

To fill the world with pestilence and death.

He comes; He comes: the very house begins

To shake with horror of approaching sins.

The night grows blacker than before, and I

Myself am filled with new impiety.


                                                      Ghost appears 


                    Caligula's Ghost.


Why am I raised from the vaults below?

What mischief can an airy shadow do?

What can a naked ghost perform? In vain

Are all intents, unless I reigned again,

Obeyed by all the Roman power, and wore

That wicked body which I had before.

What then I did you know, and if your power

Could have maintained me Emperor longer,

I had outdone your wishes, and given birth

To such new mischief, as the suffering earth

Had groaned to feel. What my intentions were

Did to the world in those black books appear,

When all Rome’s Senate were to death designed?

And chests of poison that I left behind,

Which since my death into the Ocean thrown,

[50] Poisoned the waves for many leagues, and on

Poor fishes wrought that execution,

Which on mankind I meant they should have done.

What can I now perform alas?






With thy contagious presence blast this roof;

Infect th’Imperial House with all the ill

That Hell and thou canst bring. Let mischief still

Reign here, and keep out banished Piety,

Justice, and Conscience; let no sacred tie

Of Nature, or Religious laws restrain

Their Parricidal hands: all names be vain




Of brother, child, or parent. Let the wife

with impious rage destroy her husband’s life,

The brother kill the brother, and the Son

Rip up his parent’s bowels.





It will be done.

The actors are my kindred, and like mine

Must play their parts: ambitious Agrippina,

Pursue thy cruel projects, and upon

A husband's murder raise thy impious Son,

That he may play the parricide again,

And murder thee, that gav'st him life and reign.

That all the world astonished at so high

Ingratitude and foul impiety,

May fear the Monster’s reign, yet suffer more

[75] Then they could fear, or e’re was felt before.

Let what no foes, no furies durst conspire

To act ‘gainst Rome, nor I myself desire

When I was Prince; be cursed Nero's crimes.

Let his dire story in succeeding times

From all earth’s Tyrants else the wonder draw,

And men almost forget Caligula.








The fates consent; that thunder, which we hear

From Acheron, confirms the omen there.

Down wicked Ghost into thy cell below,

We must no longer hide; the Cocks do crow,

The twinkling stars begin to hide their heads.

The day would down, and from Aurora’s bed

Would Titan rise, but that he fears to see

Such instruments of hell’s impiety.

The Gods themselves forbid our longer stay,

For fear our presence should retard the day.









































Act. I.

Scene. I.


                    Pallas, Vitellius, Pollio.






Now is the time noble Vitellius,

For you, and you most honoured Pollio,

To make that service you have done complete

To royal Agrippina; briefly thus:

The two commanders o’th Prætorian camp

Crispinus Rufus, and that Lucius Geta

Must be displaced, and someone of nearer trust

To her designs advanced in their room,

Or else our power will never be full. They love

Britannicus too well, this is the thing

The Empress wishes; let your eloquence

And wisdom further it in Cæsar's ear.





Fear us not Pallas; but what successes.

Have we to take their charge?






One must take all.




You may pretend the inconvenience

Of two commanders, and so take from Cæsar

All jealousy of the plot.





Who shall it be?





Burrhus Afranius, a wise valiant man,

Beloved and honoured by the soldiers.

None can except against him, and the change

Will not displease the camp; nor can his merit

Make him less thankful to her, knowing well,

[25] 'Twas in her power to make it otherwise.

But the advancing of such able men

As Seneca and Burrhus will take off

All envy from the Empress and ourselves.

Then we with praise have wrought our purposes,

And made our party strong, while Seneca

Shall sway the Senate, Burrhus rule the camp

To her designs. But I'll presume no further

T’instruct your wisdoms, or much less to doubt

Your true affections to the state and honour

Of Agrippina, who will then have power

To make more large requital to her friends,

In which most high and happy rank, you two

Are chiefly seated: she acknowledges

Her self indebted to your eloquence

Noble Vitellius, who in Senate lately

You proved her marriage lawful and being Censor,

Deposed Silenus from his Prætorship,

Who should have married young Octavia.

To you, brave Pollio, whose persuasions

Have ben the cause young Nero now enjoys

That happy marriage, which Silanus lost.

But most of all she owed to both your pains.

In causing Cæsar to adopt her Nero.







Twas hard to work at first. Cæsar stuck at it,

[50] Alleging that the Claudian family

Never adopted any, and besides

When Lucius Geta and Crispinus Rufus

In love they bore to young Britannicus

Told him that that adoption to the world

Would be ridiculous; by precedent

We did refute it, showing how Tiberius

Having a son and nephew both alive,

Adopted the issue of Germanions.





My Lords, 'twas nobly carried; this design

That now we have in hand, though not so hard

To work, will prove as advantageous.

Be you with Cæsar; I'll go satisfy

The Empress of your loves.



                    Vitellius. Pollio.


Farewell brave Pallas.


Exit Vitellius. & Pollio.







Farewell my Lords. Go flattering Senators,

Go use your best persuasive eloquence,

Whilst I alone upon your envy rise,

Whilst I enjoy in Agrippina’s love

The fruit of your obsequious diligence.

What though my birth be humble, and my style?

But one of Cæsar's freed-men? Though I boast not

Patrician blood, nor in my galleries

Display old ranks of nose-less ancestors,

Or ear-cropped images, if I enjoy

[75] Whatever high nobility can give

Respect and power, the state can witness it.

The Senate fear me, and in flattery

Have su'd to Cæsar to confer on me

Prætorian and Quæstorian ornaments,

Which I at last vouchsafed to accept.

When my command alone has doomed to death

The noblest of that order; men whose names

Old Rome has boasted of, whose virtues raised

Her to that envied height that now she holds.

Their murders stupid Cæsar rather chose

To take upon himself, than question me.

Let dull Patricians boast their airy titles,

And count me base, whilst I commend their lives,

And for the furtherance of my high intents,

Make noblest men my hated instruments.


Enter Narcissus.


But ha! Narcissus? Yes, there comes a man

That was my rival once, whom I feared more

Than all the Lords of Rome. My fellow freed man,

That knew our ways of power, that not the Senate,

But Cæsar’s chamber did command the world,

And rule the fate of men; But Fortune's turned,

And he not worth my regard or fear.

In mastering him I feel my greatest strength

                                                      Exit Pallas






Not look upon me! Am I fall’n so low?

[100] Did I in equal place with this proud man,

Nay fare above him, sway the state, and rule

Great Cæsar's heart, while Messallina lived?

And was not there content (Oh punishment

Of my ambitious aims) but caused the death

Of that loose Empress to bring in the expulst

Aelia Petina, and instead of her

Have let this Tigress Agrippina in,

This dragon spirit, to devour us all

Except proud Pallas her adulterer?

What unavoided dangers every way

Threaten this life? For if young Nero reign,

I die, that sought to cross his mother’s match.

If ere Britannicus do reign, I die

That caused his mother’s death. What shall I do?

Where shall I lean for safety? Better trust

The innocent goodness of Britannicus

Then Agrippina's fierce and cruel nature;

Nor can I hope more goodness from her son.

That may give longer respite to my fear.

Besides it bears the greater show of justice,

And honest service to my Royal Master.

Since we must fall, it is some happiness

To fall the honest way, if we may call

That honesty at all, or recall virtue

[125] To which necessity enforces us,

And we by fortune not election practise.


Enter Geta, Crispinus.


Here comes two friends of young Britannicus,

Hail Lucius Geta, hail Crispinus Rufus.





Narcissus, hail.





Brave Romans, you are come

Fitly to ease my overburdened breast

Of weighty thoughts, which I dare freely trust

Unto your noble ears.





You may Narcissus,

Trust truth with us.





Or any honest secret.





What is’t you would with us?





You know my Lords,

(And I must needs confess) I was a means

Of Messalina's death; but all the Gods

Can witness with me how unwillingly

I lent a hand to that sad action.

And but for Cæsar's safety, which I prize

Above my life and fortunes, and which then

I thought endangered much by her bold act,

Nought in the world could e’re have moved me to it.





What hence would you infer?





Then Know my Lords,

How little I respect my private ends

[150] To do the public service, and can lose

Myself for Cæsar’s good: it may be thought

When the most hopeful Prince Britannicus

Shall wear that wreath which all the world adores,

To me it may be fatal, as a foe

Unto his mother: but I rather wish

Myself for ever lost, than that brave Prince

Should not succeed his father.






How! Succeed?

What fear is there of that?





What power on earth,

Can bar his right, whilst we command the camp?

I'd rather see (which all the Gods avert)

Rome rent again with civil broils, than he

Should lose unjustly the Imperial throne.





Y’are true and noble friends; and here I vow

To join with you, and use my uttermost power

T’advance the honour of Britannicus.





What danger threatens it?







Do you not know

To whom the Son of Agrippina's married?










And that honour were enough for him.




Without adoption too, were his aims private,

And that his crafty mother did not cast

[175] A way for him to the succession.







'Twas strangely done of Cæsar, I confess.





They make the faction strong, and cunningly

Increase the train of Nero, and displace

The faithful servants of Britannicus.

Wise Seneca's recalled from banishment

By Agrippina’s means, not for the love

She bares his virtue; but to make him hers,

That Seneca's authority may gain

The people’s love to her ambitious son,

Of whose young years he takes tuition.





I think no less.





Besides to make the match

For her young Nero with Octavia.

Noble Silanus died, who might have proved

A faithful prop to Claudius’ family.







In blood that fatal marriage was begun,

I feared the Omen; Agrippina's fierce

And cruel nature has too much ben seen

In this short time. Lollia Paulina, Niece

To Cotta Messalinus, and late wife

To Caius Cæsar, for no other cause

Then aiming once at Claudius’ marriage

Is banished to Italy; her goods are seized,

And but five millions of Sesterces left her

[200] Of all her great estate; but there the malice

Of this fell woman stays not: now we hear

A Tribune is dispatched away, to kill

The banished Lady, and bring back her head.





Oh barbarous cruelty!






Yet more I fear,

Since her Domitius is adopted now.

I fear she’ll shortly aim at higher blood.






We’ll guard the life of young Britannicus.





And I'll be vigilant for Cæsar's safety.

When all her ends are wrought, his death is next.


Enter Britannicus.





Here comes the youthful hope of Rome and us.





Tell me, my friends, am not I Cæsar's son?





My Lord, who dares to question it?





I'm sure,

I was his eldest son, and whilst I lived

I thought that Cæsar had not lacked an heir.

But I at last have found an elder brother,

Domitius is adopted Cæsar's son

His name is Nero now. I cannot tell

What is my fault.





Excellent youth, how much

Beyond his years he apprehends his wrongs?






Fear not swet Prince, though Agrippina's son

Be two years elder then yourself, the Senate

[225] Will never judge that an adopted Son

Shall in succession be preferred before

The true and natural heir.





You ever loved me,

Pray do so still.





While we have breath, my Lord,

You shall command our lives.





How unawares

Has feeble Cæsar wrought a snare to catch

His own unhappy life in! Grow swet prince,

Grow up to strengthen the Imperial house,

And Curb the furious malice of thy foes.


Enter Nero, Pallas.





Brother Britannicus, hail.





Hail to you,

Domitius Anobarbus.





Do you scorn

My salutation, or not know my name?





That was your fathers name; and why not yours?






How's that? Proud boy.

                             Exit Britanicus,Geta,Crispinus &Narcicuss.







Well, let them go, my Lord.

'Twas not the brain of young Britannicus

That could give birth to this minurious scorn,

Though for his years, the boy be capable.

But riper heads then his: there went his counsel

Crispinus Rufus, and that Lucius Geta,

[250] Who swell the youth with boasting hopes, and think

Their power can give protection to his pride.

I’ll make them see their error, and perceive,

One breath of mine can blow them from their strengths.

This news I'll bear to Agrippina straight.

Come Prince; Britannicus shall find anon

What feeble props his pride has leaned upon.



Act I

Scene II


                    Agrippina, Seneca, Vitellius, Pollio.






You are my Judges.






Your poor servants, Madam.





Nay that must be your office; you have read

My Commentaries over, and I look for

A faithful censure. I am sure, my Lords,

You have both learning able to discern,

And such integrity as will not flatter.

Speak Seneca, I see they look on you,

How do you like them?






Royal Agrippina,

Such, and so good they be, that ablest men

May boldly speak, and not offend the truth,

Nor you at all; the style is full and Princely.





Stately and absolute, beyond what e’re

These eyes have seen; and Rome, whose majesty

Is there described, in after times shall owe

For her memorial to your learned pen,

More then to all those fading monuments

[275] Built with the riches of the spoiled world.

When rust shall eat her brass, when times strong hand

Shall bruise to dust her marble Palaces,

Triumphal Arches, Pillars, Obelisks’

When Julius’ Temple, Claudius’ Aqueducts,

Agrippa's Baths, and Pompey's Theatre,

Nay Rome itself shall not be found at all.

Historians books shall live; those strong records,

Those deathless monuments alone shall show

What, and how great the Roman Empire was.





The act is Noble; not the present world

Alone shall owe to Agrippina’s worth,

(As for her gracious government it dos)

But future ages shall acknowledge more

To the rich labours of her Royal pen.





The wisest Princes never sought to raise

Their present state alone, but to preserve

Themselves immortal by an endless fame.

For memory of me, besides these books,

If that our Augurs fail not in their skill,

Or flatter not, that German Colony,

Which I of late deducted over the Rhine

To Ubium, for evermore the name

Of Agrippina's Colony shall bear.




That act, though great, declares your power alone,

[300] Your wealth and greatness, but these learned books

Express your wisdom, and for these you owe

Nothing at all to Fortune.





Thus I mean

To spend all time which from affairs of state,

And business of our Empire can be spared.





Is she already turned our Emperor?





Those wretches have too narrow souls, who think

That persons great and eminent in state

Can spare no time to purchase fame by writing,

But what they steal from action and employment,

As if no mind were large enough for both.

Who was more full of action, and more fit

To rule, nay rule the world, than Julius Cæsar?

Yet he was of my mind.





Oh strange male spirit!

Can there be found no other parallel

But Julius Cæsar to a woman’s mind?





Yet Julius was to blame, he toiled too much

To get his honour, and too much debarred

His nature the free use of Princely pleasures.

Sure Lucius Sylla had an ample mind;

It is Sylla's character, that Sallust gives him,

A free and great enjoyer of his pleasures.

Yet how industrious his actions speak,

[325] He found fit time to rule the Roman world,

And write both Greek and Latin Commentaries.






The souls of Sylla and of Cæsar both

I think have entered her.





Well worthy friends,

You do approve my way of writing then?





Yes gracious Madam; and because you named

Great Julius to us, I was thinking now

That as in blood, so in your styles of writing

There was some nearness.





Seneca, I thank you;

But I confess your positive approbation

Pleased me as well as that comparison.





Dos not your Majesty esteem his book?





Indifferent well; a good loose careless way.

I think directly with Asinius Pollio,

Had Cæsar lived, he would have mended it;

The man had far more in him then that shows.





Yet under favour, Madam, some have thought

Those Commentaries hardly could be mended,

A style so strong, naked, and beautiful,

Free from affected words, and from all gloss

Or dress of Oratory, as in stead

Of leading others in a way to write,

It quite discourages the ablest men.

[350] So Hirtius thought, and that famed Cicero,

The greatest master of Rome's eloquence.







Are those your authors then? That Hirtius

Was Cæsar's servant partial in his heart,

Or else he flattered him; for Cicero,

They were so far out of his tedious strain,

He could not censure them.





Yet able men

Can truly censure of another style

Than what themselves have used.





He was not able,

No, not in Oratory. Had I ruled

Rome and her Senate then, as now I do,

Not all th’Orations that e’er Cicero

Made in the Senate, should have saved one hair

Of an offender, or condemned a Mouse.





How confident she is in censuring!







I am amazed, but let her have her way.

Forgive my silence noble Cicero,

Here thy defence is vain; but what I spare,

The tongues of all posterity shall speak.

Enter Pallas, Tribune.






The Tribune, Madam, is returned and brings

Lollia Paulina's head.







Let him come in.






Your pleasure, great Augusta, is performed.





[375] Let me peruse this face. Ha! ‘Tis is much changed.

Her teeth shall make me sure, they did not grow                                     

The common way; I am confirmed; ‘Tis she.

Reward him Pallas.





The Gods preserve

Augusta Agrippina.





O pale death,

Thou mock of beauty, and of greatness too;

Was this the face, that once in Cæsar's love

Was Agrippina's rival, and durst hope

As much 'gainst me, as my unquestioned power

Has wrought on her? Was this that beauty, once

That wore the riches of the world about it?

For whose attire, all lands, all seas were searched,

All creatures robbed? This! This was that Paulina,

Whom Cajus Cæsar served, whom Rome adored

And the world feared.






Such a sight me think

Should make her sadly think of human frailty.





Take hence the head, least in her death she gains

A greater conquest o’er me, than her life

Could ever do, to make me shed a tear.

I would not wrong the justice I have done

So much as to lament it now. You know

My friends, she had a spirit dangerous.

[400] And though my nature could have pardoned her,

Reason of state forbade it, which then told me





Great ruins have ben wrought by foolish pity.





Would she had such a nature! But it is now

Too late to give her counsel.





So let all

That dare contest with Agrippina, fall.

                                                      Enter servant.





Cæsar is come to visit you.





Now friends,

Vitellius, Pollio, Pallas, second me.


Enter Cæsar, Antistius.






How fares my Agrippina?





Wondrous well,

When I am blest with Cæsars company.





That shall be oft, my love, when Rome’s affairs

And public business will give me leave.





I would partake myself of those affairs,

Rather than want your presence





I believe it.





Thou shall; ‘Tis only for thy dearest sake

I love my fortunes, thy swet fellowship

Makes light the burthen of my government.





To ease great Cæsars care, shall ever be

The height of my desires: before you came

My heart was sad. I sent for these my friends

T’impart the reason to them.







[425] Sad; for what?





Weighing the troubles of a Princely state,

And all the dangers that still threaten it.












She strikes upon the fittest string;

No passion reigns in him so much as fear.





We were devising of the fittest means

To give your state security: you know

Your strongest guard is the Prætorian camp.





Most true.








That camp commanded now by two,

May be by captains too ambitious strife

Divided into fractions, and so made

Less serviceable, should your safety need them.





Cæsar remembers when that bold attempt

Of Silius was, how the Prætorian camp

Was by their general strife in mutiny,

And had not one ben chosen for that day

To rule them all, Cæsar had not ben safe.





Wise men in calms provide for storms to come.

None knows how dangerous the times may prove,

Though now the state be safe, and may the Gods

To Cæsar's honour long preserve it so.






What new design is this, that all of them

Second so readily, and I was not

[450] Acquainted with it? If’t proves mischievous,

I thank the Empress for my ignorance.





Burrhus Afranius is a worthy man,

Fit for the place, and faithful, well-beloved

By all the soldiers: such a change, my Lord,

None can except against: Let him take all.






What e’re her ends may be, this proposition

For noble Burrhus sake, I must approve.





It is true, my love, I make no question

Of Burrhus’ worth, and fitness for the place:

But what offence have Geta and Crispinus

Ben e’er accused of? Or what just suspicions

Are there of them?





I will not be unjust

To accuse guiltless men, although I price

Thy safety, Cæsar, equal to my life,

I know no crimes of note they have committed.





Cæsar, it is no loss to them at all,

They both have plenteous fortunes to retire to.





And in so neere a cause, who dares examine

Great Cæsar's counsels, or enquire the reason?





Shall Burrhus have it Cæsar? Speak thy pleasure.

Or if my care offend, I shall hereafter

Forbear to meddle.





No, swet Agrippina;

[475] Since thou wilt have it so; go Pallas, draw

The warrant straight, and seal it in our name.

Let Geta and Crispinus be removed,

And Burrhus take possession presently.

This day, my love, the Britain prisoners

Sent from Ostorius Scapula, and late

Arrived at Rome, shall be in public showed.

There thou shall see that brave Barbarian Prince,

That bold Caractacus, whose stubborn spirit

So many years contemned the Roman power.

He now is taken.





‘Twas a victory

Sent from the Gods to honour Claudius' reign.





Had he ben basely taken, or at first

Yielded himself, as he had got no honour,

But ben forgotten in his fall, and nought

Had e’er ben mentioned of him but his death:

So had thy glory Cæsar ben far less.





Not war-like Syphax the Numidian King,

Stubborn Jugurtha, nor great Perseus

Ever brought to Rome by their captivity

More real honour than this Britain Prince.





Nor do we price our name Britannicus

Fetched from that island, less than Scipio,

His honoured name of Africanus prized.





[500] Thy style, O Cæsar, is the greater far

Drawn from the conquest of another world,

Which nature meant by interposing cold

And stormy seas, to guard from Latin arms.





Great Julius Cæsar did but only show

That land to us, whose conquest was reserved

By heavens decree to honour Claudius name.





Cæsar, let's sit together; one Tribunal

Will hold us both.





It shall be so, my love,

Thou, as myself, shall pardon or condemn.














Act II.

Scene I.


                              Poppæa, Otho.






My love, dear Otho, faine would bid thee stay,

But danger now forbids it, for my Lord

Returns by this time homewards from the Palace.





We must obey the times necessity

Swetest Poppæa, though I part from thee

With such a sadness as will lose by all

Comparisons, and cannot be expressed

But by itself, to say that Otho parts

From fair Poppæa, is more tragic

Then soul from body, honour from a man.





I could, me thinks, flatter my fears, to keep

Thee ever here.





And I can scorn all fears,

And dangers too, if thou command me stay.






No, go, my Love, and warily let's meet

That we may often meet. But why should still

Our highest bliss want freedom?





‘Tis, my fair one,

The envy of the Gods, who think the state

Of men would equal theirs if greatest joys

Were easiest to obtain, and therefore still

In horrid dangers wrap their dearest gifts,

As all the poets ancient fables taught.

Fire-breathing bulls did guard the Colchian fleece;

[25] A waking dragon kept the golden fruit.

But thou, Poppæa, in my thoughts a prize

Of greater value, and more lustre far

Then that which drew the bold Thessalian forth

So far from Greece, or made Alcmenaes son

Invade th’Hesperides, are kept from me

By stronger guards, the awful Roman laws,

Those laws resist our love.





Oh where was Otho

Then, when my virgin blossom was the hope

Of thousand noble youths? Hadst thou ben seen,

Poppæaes bed and beauties had ben thine,

And with a lawful uncontrolled flame

Had met thy wish in those delights, which now

We are enforced to steal.





Must it be so.

Forever then?





It must while Rufus lives.





Nor can I blame blest Rufus, if he strives

To keep that wealth, which if it lay beyond



The Indian Ganges, Scythian Tanais,

Or horned Ammons scorched and thirsty sands,

Would draw the Roman Monarch to forsake

His worlds Imperial seat there to enjoy,

And think those banished that remained at Rome.

[50] If I were Cæsar, and condemned by fate

To want Poppæa’s love, I should be poor.

No other dear perogative could that

High wreath bestow, but only power to make

Thee mine without a rival, I might then

With boldness take thee from Crispinus arms.





But could that act be lawful?





Canst thou doubt it?

Where two loves meet can marriage be unlawful?

Of which love is the soul, the very form

That gives it being no dead outward tie,

But natures strong and inward sympathy,

Can make a marriage, which the Gods alone

Have power to breed in us, and therefore they

Have only power to tie so swet a knot.

I am thy mate; nor did thy father, when

He gave that snowy hand unto another,

Ought but rebel against the Gods decree.





Thou art to good an advocate, and I

Too partial for a judge.





Be constant to me

Till fortune give a bolder privilege.

And warrant to our love, of which I have

Received such fair presages, as I cannot

Despair; mean while by stealth I must behold

[75] Those starry eyes, and think myself most happy

In that, though no man know my happiness.






Can men count those delights a happiness

Which they conceal?





Yes, those that truly love.

                                                      Enter Fulvia.






Madam, my Lord is come.





Farewell dear Otho.





Farewell, love guard thee till we meet again.

                                                            Exit Otho.


Enter Crispinus, Geta.





Come Lucius study to forget it now,

And let's be truly merry. My Poppæa

Bid' Lucius Geta welcome, my colleague

That was, but still my friend.





You are most welcome.





Thanks fairest Lady.





But my Lord, what means

That speech of yours, that Lucius Geta once

Was your colleague and is not?





I’ll tell thee,

Great Agrippina has commanded Cæsar,

To command Pallas, to command us two,

To quit our charge and suddenly resign

The government of the Prætorian camp

To Burrhus handa at which he storms; but I

Am merrier far, and lighter then before.

We may live freely now; Cæsar has taken

[100] A weighty burden from my weary neck

I thank his goodness.





Thank his sottishness,

It is that has pleasured you. Ah friend, it needs

Must grieve all noble hearts, that can love justice,

And pity suffering innocence, to see

The harmless years of young Britannicus

Exposed to all the malice of his foes;

And stupid Cæsar made the instrument

To ruin his own son, whilst his great power

By others is abused against himself

And his posterity.





I do believe it.





His servants all, that to himself were true,

Or faithful to his son, are murdered now,

Or else displaced by her: our truth's the cause

That we have lost our places.





It is no matter;

We loose no honour by our truth; and since

While we had power, we faithfully discharged

Our trust to Cæsar, let's no longer strive

To guard him 'gainst his will, but take his gift.

He gives us ease, and freedom, to retire,

And taste the swets of privacy, and there

Enjoy our lives free from the glorious noise

[125] And troubles of a Court. Instead of waiting

On Cæsar now, on thee I will bestow

That time, my fair Poppæa, and attend

On thy delights; thou wilt not cast me off

As Cæsar dos.







She cannot promise you,

I know her heart better than you in that.






None can describe the swets of country life

But those blest men that do enjoy, and taste them.

Plain husband men, though far below our pitch

Of fortune placed, enjoy a wealth above us.

To whom the earth with true and bounteous justice

Free from wars cares, returns an easy food.

They breath the fresh and uncorrupted air,

And by clear brooks enjoy untroubled sleeps.

Their state is fearless and secure, enriched

With several blessings, such as greatest Kings

Might in true justice envy, and themselves

Would count too happy, if they truly knew them.







It is true, Crispinus, greatest Monarchs oft

Have in the midst of all their careful glories,

Desired such lives as those plain people lead.





Let us enjoy that happiness then Lucius

The country sports and recreations

And friends as innocent as we, with whom

[150] We need not fear the strength of richest wine

In drawing out our secrets; but well filled

At suppertime may hold a free discourse

Of Cæsar's weakness, of the wealth and pride

Of his freedmen, how lordly Pallas rules;

How fierce and cruel Agrippina is,

What slaves the Roman Senate are become,

And yet next morn awake with confidence.





All this, my Lord, you may discourse at Rome

If you can wisely choose your company.





Well said Poppæa, thou art a woman right,

Thou love’s the city well.






I cannot blame her,

Such beauty seeks no corners, but may well

Become th’Imperial city of the world.





Come Lucius Geta, let's go in and laugh

At our proud enemies, enjoy their malice,

And drown our cares in rich Falernian wine

As ancient as Opimius Consulship.

Enter Narcissus.






Here comes a man Crispinus, I believe

Is sorry for this change.





I think so Lucius.





Hail noble Romans.





Hail to you Narcissus.

How dare you venture a salute on us,

[175] Or make a visit to such guilty men?





Guilty my Lord, in what?





In being wronged.

Those that are wronged in Court, are made offenders.





I must confess, my Lord, it was a wrong

To you and your Colleague to be displaced.

But you have spirits great enough to scorn

That injury, and pity him that did it,

I mean that suffered his proud foes to do it

Rather against himself then you; the wrong

Must fall on Cæsar, and his hapless house.

Blinded by fate, and never his fall, he throws

Away the best supporters of his state.






The thought of that as I am true, Narcissus,

Afflicts me more then mine own loss can do.





For me, I think myself well freed from trouble

Were’t not for fear of poor Britannicus.







I do believe it, noble Lords, but you

Are now discharged, and may retire with safety.

My part is yet to play, a part of danger,

And I will act it bravely. Here I vow

By all the Gods, no fear shall make me shrink

Till I have once more righted Claudius

Against the lusts and treasons of a wife.

Nor do I boast of Messalina's death.

[200] It was the times necessity, that made

Me then to show my power: that power perchance

Is yet as much; nor shall the Lordly Pallas,

Though swelled with Agrippina’s lustful favours,

And back’s by her authority, he thinks

Himself sole ruler in th’Imperial house,

Fined that Narcissus is so fallen in spirit

But that I dare attempt as much as then.

Great Cæsar's safety is as much in danger

As then it was, his nuptial bed as stained.

And I will die, or take the same revenge,

That then was taken; all their plots and treasons

Will I reveal to Cæsar, and pursue it

With such a dauntless constancy, that if

The Gods forget not to be just, this day

Proud Agrippina, and her minion fall.

The young Britannicus shall stand secure

In his high birthright; Messalina's ghost

Shall then perchance, although she hate me now,

Forgive the hand that caused her overthrow.






Bravely resolved, Narcissus.





You shall do

An act that all good men shall thank you for.

Will you go in, and taste my wine.





Not now.

[225] I came but only to reveal my purpose

To you, whose noble wishes may befriend it.

And when occasion serves, may truly witness

My just intents; this hour I am expected

By Cæsar in his gardens; there I'll put

My life upon the hazard; every minute

May breed a change, and all delays have danger.

For Cæsar upon those discoveries

That I already have made to him, uttered

Some words last night at supper in his wine.

Of which I fear that Agrippina took

Too great a notice, therefore speed must help us.

Farewell my Lords.





Farewell: the Gods assist thee.


Act I

Scene II.






So rich a bondage is Poppæas love,

That I were base if I should wish for freedom,

Nay more, ingrate, should I desire to change

So swet a care for quietness itself.

Should I suppose that state, which some dull souls

Call calm content, were half so rich, so free

As are these pinings, this captivity.

Were there in love no cares, no sighs, no fears,

There were in love no happiness at all.

What bliss, what wealth did e're the world bestow

On man, but cares and fears attended it?




[250] Yet who so base, as to be freed from those,

Would throw away the highest bliss on earth?

Let silly shepherds, whose poor narrow souls

Not much exceed the beasts they tend and feed,

That know, like them, no farther regions

Then some few fields, no larger bounds of pleasure

Then satisfaction of bare natures needs,

Be still secure since they have nought to lose,

And rest content because they never knew

What cities were, and gorgeous Palaces.

Should Monarchs, who are taught to know th'extent

Of natures wealth, and what the world affords,

Forgo their glorious fortunes, cause they want

That wretched thing, which only ignorance,

And low contempt can give, Security?

Should I forgo my fair Poppæae's love

Because some cares, some fears and sighs attend it:

When every smile of hers can recompense

A thousand such? Were too much poorness in me

Had I nere seen those starry eyes of hers

More hapless far my ignorance had ben.

I had, like wretched men, that are borne blind,

Ne’re known there was a Sun to guidE the world.

But to enjoy her love without all fears,

Without all rivals, were a bliss beyond

[275] Mortality; the Gods would envy me.

She’s now another mans; that may be thought

The greatest bar to Otho's happiness.

But I have framed in my jealous thoughts

A greater bar than that, young Nero Cæsar,

In whose acquaintance I of late have found

So near a room, as fair presages tell us,

Is like to wear th'Imperial wreath; his power

May take her for me from Crispinus arms.

But then perchance I loose her more then ever.

Or should he see her now to rival me

T'were undone: he’s amorous, and oft

Solicits me to let him see my Mistress.

I for that friendship, which I dare not lose,

Dare not deny his importunity.

And therefore to prevent what may ensue

(For yet he never heard Poppæa's name)

I have made love to the fair freed woman,

Young Acte of mean rank, but such a face,

As whosoever had not seen Poppæa,

Would think this Acte nature’s Masterpiece.

On her will I divert young Nero's love.

And to that purpose I have got her picture.

But here he comes.

                                                            Enter Nero.






What Otho, still retired?

[300] Where lives the face that breeds this melancholy?

There is no other cause can do't; I know

Thou art not busy'd with affairs of state.

I prithee let me see her, a friends counsel

I say ease thy passion.





'Tis not fit a Prince

Should stoop so low as to the passions

Of private men.





The name of friend admits

Of no such distance.





A no man, whom you

Are pleased to call a friend, deserves that name,

Unless he know himself to be your servant.





Come prithee, leave thy fooling, and be plain.

Where there is no familiarity

Society is lost. Why art thou fearful

To let me see her whosoever she be?






Sir. I could give you a plain common reason,

If she be foul, she is not worth your sight.

If faire, you are too great a rival for me.

But yet, know Sir, I am so free from those

Unworthy fears, that I dare trust my life,

My love, and all I have into your hands.





Spoke like a friend, and thou may safely do't.

Then first behold her picture, and by that

[325] Find whether she be worth the sight or no.

Can any mortal beauty be so swet?





I would there were not.





Sure the painter flatters.





Oh no, he had not art enough to reach

The glory of it; were the substance here

How dull would this now lovely table show!


See how his greedy eyes devour the picture.

He’s caught, he’s caught. Cupid, I thank thee now.






I never saw true beauty ‘till this hour.

But wherefore didst thou wish there were no substance

So swet as this? Why would'st thou be deprived

Of such a happiness? But I perceive

It is thy fear, come, let it not be so.

I but desire to see whether the painter

Have err'd or no, and do not think, my Otho,

That I will wrong thy love so much, or make

My wife Octavia jealous.





Sir, how e’re,

My life, my love, and fortunes all are yours.



Act I

Scene III.


                    Claudius, Narcissus.






Your Majesty may yet prevent it all,

And justly throw upon the Traitors heads

That ruin which so boldly threatens you,

And your too much abused family.

Yet Cæsar may be safe, if he will use

[350] That power the Gods have put into his hands.





That course, Narcissus, can we run, to make

The people sensible of our estate,

That danger threatens us, and how our Justice

Is forced to meet the treasons of a wife?





Yet not too vain a care of popular breath,

Or what the Vulgar may surmise, outweigh

The safety of your person, and your house.

But I am most assured that all the world

Except yourself, have long observed their plots;

And if they see your wakened Justice now

Arise to censure Agrippina's death,

They will not think the execution done

Too soon on her. These humble knees, Oh Cæsar.

Which for your safety I so oft have bowed

Before the Gods, now to your sacred self

I bow, entreating that you would be safe,

And not believe the Gods by miracle

Will work for you, whilst you neglect yourself.







Arise Narcissus, 'tis th'unhappy fate

Of Princes ever (as Augustus Cæsar

Was wont to say), the people ne're believe

That treasons were complotted 'gainst their persons,

Until those treasons take effect, and then

Too late perchance they pity and believe.






[375] But was the wise Augustus therefore slow

Or timorous to cut offenders off?

Feared he the peoples whispers? Cæsar, no.

He well knew to use the sword he had.

He had not else lived ‘till times gentle hand

Dissolved in peace his long felicity,

And made the world by such continuance

Of power, believe he was a God on earth.





But some offenders are too great to suffer

The common course of Justice; against such

Wise Princes have forborne to draw the sword,

And rather sought some ways of policy

How to ensnare them.





Cæsar, those are ways

As much unfit for Princes as unsafe.

As many Monarchs have in dangerous times

Ben ruined quite by going ways too low

(Though they have seemed subtle), as proud subjects

Have ben undone by playing Princes parts.

And as this high, and open way befits

The power and person of earths greatest Monarch,

So it befits the times necessity.

You have already, Cæsar, showed your sword,

And if you strike not now, you do not right

Yourself at all, but only arm your foes

[400] With plots of mischief to prevent their own,

And hasten on your quick destruction.

You have already threatened, and those speeches

By Agrippina, and her minion Pallas

Were overheard; who, like seen snakes will now

Bestir themselves in a more desperate fury.

I have already cast mine own poor life

Into the utmost hazard, but alas!

That is a thing not now considerable.

The Gods above can tell how willingly

For Cæsar's safety I would sacrifice

This life; make me the chief instrument

Impose what part of this exploit you please

Upon Narcissus hand, and if I fail

To execute, I'll not refuse to die.





Oh my Narcissus, I have found thy faith

In other services; it is resolved,

Their pride shall feel my justice; thou shall see

How soon I will secure myself and thee.



Act II.

Scene IV.


                    Agrippina, Pallas.






We are discovered Pallas, all our drifts

Are sounded by Narcissus, and by him

Laid open to Cæsar, who dissembling yet

The knowledge of it, seeks a sudden way

To ruin both of us. Nor had we feared

So soon as felt his fury, had not wine

[425] Betrayed his thoughts to us. You know last night

What speeches Cæsar in his drunkenness

Let fall before us, and 'twas lately told me

That meeting young Britannicus he wept,

Confessed that he had wronged him, and there vowed

A quick redress. What counsel shall we take?





We have no time for counsel, but must act

As soon as think. we go not now to work

But to prevent a mischief, and our cure

Must be as strong, and quick of operation

As our disease is dangerous and sudden.

That bird, that sees the snare, and will be caught

Deserves his death; and since that Cæsar knows

His purpose is discovered, (as Narcissus

He’s before this informed him that we heard it)

He’ll quickly act what else he had deferred.

No way is left us but to meet the danger,

And for prevention first attempt to do

That which we fear to suffer.







By what means

Shall we procure his death? For poison slow

Perchance may fail to lend a timely help

Unto our safety, and too quick a venom

May make the fact suspected.





Should the fact

[450] Be ne're so much suspected, your estate

Would be more safe then now it is; but who

Would dare to utter it when Cæsar's dead,

And your own Son the Emperor? For so

My confidence assures me it will be.

Therefore be speedy, Madam, for your danger

Where fame, where life, and Empire all are threatened,

Gives you no nice election. So 't be done,

No matter how.





Thou hast confirmed me, Pallas.

The way's resolved already; there were lately

The fairest mushrooms sent from Libya

That e're these eyes beheld, a meat which he

Affects with greediness; in one of those

Cæsar shall meet his death; if that should fail

His chief Physician Xenophon is mine.

But are things strong, and ready to confirm

The Empire upon Nero?





'Tis the best

And happiest time, before Britannicus

Be grown to riper years, while yet he wears

His childish robe, and Nero has ben shown

To all the people in triumphal weds.

But when the deed is done, place warily

Your guards about the Palace gates, and keep

[475] Britannicus within, whilst Nero backed

By Seneca and Burrhus, by the camp

And Senate be saluted Emperor,

And all be settled sure.





How fit a time

To work his own destruction Cæsar chose

To tempt with threatening Agrippina's fury!




Act III.

Scene. I.


                    Petronius, Otho, Montanus.






Is Nero fired?





Extremely. I at first

Seemed melancholy to loose Acte so,

And he seemed loath to wrong me, but at last

When his desires were high, I cunningly

Withdrew my interest, and gave way to his.

Which he has taken for the greatest favour



That ever man could do him and I hope

It has endeared him strongly.





Thou wilt grow

A happy man.





'Tis the best way to rise.

The wench is fair, and of behaviour

Wanton enough to make the arrantst novice

A perfect scholar in the school of Venus.

Seneca himself rather will give way

That he should satisfy his lust on her

Then seek th'adulteries of noble women.






But gentlemen, have you not heard the news?

There is a great combustion in the Palace

As I have ben informed thieves, are fallen out.

The two proud freemen Pallas and Narcissus

Are clashing 'gainst each other.






I am glad on’t.

[25] I hope some curious rogueries will come on't.

Those are the fellows that have ruled the state

These many years, and trampled on the lives

Of noble men Cæsar's credulous weakness.

But yet me thinks Narcissus should not dare

Not to contest with Pallas he has got

Too great a start of him, and is too near

Acquainted with the empress.





So they say.





Has a fine time on't who would think the rogue

Could be so ambitious as to court an Empress?





'Twas her ambitions to be made the wife



Of Claudius, that first made her prostitute

Herself so low, and court this fellows love,

Whom she perceived to have a ruling power

Over his doting master; to ambition

She sacrificed her honour ‘tis well known.





And he by doing of the Empress, takes

The surest way of keeping Cæsar’s love.





Yes, there's no doubt of that. You know the proverb.

Enter Anicetus.






Well met my Lords; I come to find you out.





What's the news Anicetus?





Great my Lord.

Cæsar, is wondrous sick, 'tis thought to death.

The Palace is by soldiers guarded round.

[50] A great and frequent Senate is assembling.

The Consuls and the Priests are making vows

For Cæsar's safety.





Claudius is old





There have been other ways to end a Prince

Besides old age. But what is that to us?

Come let's away and show our forwardness

To joy or mourning as occasion serves.

I am prepared for both.





And so am I.





Both must be done, if Cæsar dies, our grief

Must last but ‘till the successor be known;

And then we must rejoice.






‘Tis true.





But I

Shall have true cause of joy if Nero reign,




Act III.

Scene II.


                    Britannicus, Octavia, Xenophon.




Shall I not see my father ere he die?





Good Xenophon.





Good Madam, pardon me,

Nothing is now so great an enemy

To his disease as noise and company.

He's lately fallen into a gentle slumber.

Deep sleeps his fever will not let him take.

I'll certify your highness when he wakes.

And wait upon you.





[75] Thanks good Xenophon.



Act III.

Scene III.








I long to hear what favour Nero finds

In the Praetorian camp, how Cæsar's death

Is by the soldiers and the Senate taken.

Enter Pallas.


Welcome my dearest Pallas. What's the news?






Madam, as good as Jove himself could send,

No sooner in the camp was Cæsar's death

Divulged, but Burrhus enters to his charge,

And Nero with him, who by all the cohorts

Was presently saluted Emperor.

Only some few were silent, and a while

Stood still expecting young Britannicus.

But when they saw their expectation

Was all in vain, and none but Nero came,

Fearing at last to lose the Donative

Which Burrhus promised them in Nero's name,

They joined themselves unto the greater part.





Britannicus within the Palace here

Is safe enough for coming forth today.

The Senate have scarce heard of Cæsar's death

For we concealed it ‘till all things were ready.





Now in a Princely chariot mounted high

Guarded by Burrhus and the soldiers,

Nero sets forward to the Senate house.

But having past the camp, you need not fear

[100] The Senate, Madam.





Pallas thou wert never

A messenger of lucky news to me.

A safe contriver of the highest plots,

A happy instrument thou hast deserved

What e’re thou hast enjoyed, though thou have tasted

That which a Cæsar sued to taste, and bought

The world in recompense.





If ever Pallas

Had any fire that could advance his thoughts

To high and great exploits, he kindled it

At your cælestial beauty, as from heaven

Prometheus stole that active fire, by which

He durst himself adventure to create

The noblest creature man. What act on earth,

What undertaking should he tremble at

Whom Agrippina's favours animate?

And what had I ben but a piece of earth

Cold, dull, and useless, had I not ben quickened

By your ethereal touch.





The happiness

Of this high day has made thee eloquent





The love of royal Agrippina can

Inspire the dullest Soul with life and language.

When the Italian Queen was pleased to grace

[125] A shepherds boy more then his humble thoughts

Could hope or wish, the ravished tongue forgot

That rural language which before it used.





Ah Pallas, what a glorious change is here!

How is the lowness of our late despair

Turned to the height of joy and happiness?





Quick resolution well purfu'd will cure

The saddest state.





Go thou and hear more news,

Whilst I dispose of things about the Palace.






Scene IV


A Senate, Pollio Consul, Vitellius, Seneca, Otho, Petronius, Montanus.






May all the Gods accept our sacrifice,

And be propitious to the vows, that we

Have vowed for Cæsar's safety.





Let the great,

Divine and sacred Nero Claudius,

The care of heaven, sole ruler of the earth,

And Rome's high Father not forsake his world

So soon t'increase the number of the Gods.

Enter Burrhus.






Hail to the Consul, and this sacred Senate.

Great Claudius Cæsar's dead, in whose high throne

With one consent the soldiers have agreed

To seat young Nero, his adopted son.

And do by me entreat your suffrages

Fathers conscript, to ratify their choice.





Let not young Nero's years disparage him,

[150] Nor trouble you, since happy presidents

May well be shown, grave Fathers. Great Augustus

Of glorious memory, no more in debt

To years than he began to rule the state,

With what success not one in all this noble

And great assembly can be ignorant.

But weigh with me the difference of the times.

The state is settled, and has flourished long

In peaceful government, no civil rents.

No factions now, nor armies are a foot

To stain with Latin blood Philippi Plaines,

To dye the Artic and Sicilian Seas,

And through all regions bare th'unnatural wounds

Of bleeding Rome. No such affrighting names

As Marcus Brutus, Cassius, Lepidus.

Great Pompey's son, or fierce Antonius,

Armed with the power of half the Roman world

Stand to oppose him. Oh yee Gods how great!

How many dangers had beset the state

When young Augustus managed it! Yet he

Withstood and vanquished all those difficulties.

And why should Nero our elected Prince

Aged like Augustus, not be able now

To sway a peaceful sceptre? For the right

To this high wreath, although Britannicus

[175] Were born the natural son of Claudius,

A Prince of hope enough, and may by some

Be thought much wronged in this election,

Yet weigh it rightly, and no wrong is done.

For Nero was adopted. But besides

The claim of his adoption, he is born

A truer heir to our Imperial house,

Sprung up from the loins of great Augustus Cæsar.

Britannicus from Livia's sons alone.





Nor are the years of young Britannicus

So ripe as his to govern.






Has wisely showed his undoubted right,

And I with joy approve the soldier’s choice.





The Gods preserve Nero our Emperor.





Now is the height of all my wishes reached.

Enter Nero with Tribune.






Room for Cæsar.

He goes on, and takes his state.





Hail, Nero Cæsar.





Hail great Emperor.





Ever Augustus.





Most invincible.





Most sacred Tribune.





Holiest highest Priest.





Father of Rome.







[200] That honourable title

Is yet too weighty for my tender years.

Then let me wear it, fathers, when my pains

My toil and travel for the public weal

By aide and favour of the Gods have made

Me worthy of it. But your free consent

Fathers conscript, your powerful suffrages,

Powerful and honoured as the voice of heaven

In confirmation of the soldiers choice,

Fills me with joy immortal, and shall bind

My best endeavours to requite that love.

My heart is clear, my education

Was not in factious, in tumultuous times,

Or civil broils, my former life has been

As free from doing as receiving wrong.

And therefore bring I to th'Imperial Throne,

No fears, no grudges, hatred or revenge.

This sacred Senate, which the world adores,

Shall still retain her old prerogative

While Nero lives. My private house affairs

Shall from the free Republic be divided,

And never turn the course of common Justice.

No public Office shall be bought for gold.

The sacred Consulary power shall judge

As heretofore, th'affairs of Italy

[225] And foreign provinces. My care alone

Shall be to rule and lead the Soldiers.

And such to all the people will I be

As I would wish th'immortal Gods to me.





Oh speech most worthy Jupiter himself!

Worthy forever to be registered

In brazen Pillars for the world to read.





Let public thanks by Senate be decreed

To Cæsar's grace and goodness.





No Asinius,

Let me deserve them first. First give me leave

What I have promised to perform in deeds,

That then if thanks or praises be bestowed

They may be judged as due, and better Crown

Your own true justice, and the Princes merits.






Oh happy Rome in such an Emperor!

Long may he reign on earth, and late, oh late

Become a glorious star in Heaven.





What word

Will Cæsar give the watching soldiers?





The excellent mother, Tribune, is their word.

Your company, noble Consul, we'll entreat

Home to the Palace.





I'll attend on Cæsar.





Scene V


Otho, Petronius, Montanus.






The Prince has promised fair.





[250] Else Seneca,

That made the speech for him had been too blame.







Well, let him speak as Seneca instructs

In public still say I, I know his heart

And secret thoughts better then Seneca

Shall ever do; and there are Jovial days

A coming, gallants, say I prophecy.






Will it be lawful to eat Lybian mushrooms,

And British oysters without being cited

Before the censor?





Yes Curtius, and to whore

For vacuation after them; those gifts

Will be Court virtues. Come, the Prince is hopeful.





Would I might have the bringing of him up.





If I can help it, thou shalt have a share

In his tuition. Welcome Anicetus. Anicetus

Is it to me you come?





To you, my Lord.

Cæsar desires your company at the palace.





Cæsar's desire, is a command, which I

With joy obey, return my humble duty

Good Anicetus, I'll attend him straight.

                                                      Exit Anicetus.






Now my mad shavers, do you know me yet?







Yes, very well.  The question is, if thou

Wilt know us now?





[275] Tut man, Nero shall know you.

I'll bring you both into his near acquaintance.

Now fair Poppæa's mine and mine alone.

Cæsar must grant my first petition,

Or else deny the love he swore to me

If e're he wore the worlds Imperial wreath.

His power must fetch Poppæa from her husband.

Nor is the deed so envious. Other Princes

Have done the like, and yet not taxed in story.





Besides, he knows Crispinus never loved him,

And was an enemy to his adoption.

'Gainst him perchance he will the sooner grant it.




Scene VI






This is the day that sets a glorious Crown

On all my great designs. This day declares

My power, and makes the trembling world to know

That Agrippina. only can bestow

The Roman Empire, and command the wheel

Of suffering Fortune, holding in her hand

The fate of nation. Is there not a name

Above Augusta to inform the world

How great I am? What Roman Deity

Shall I assume? The petty Goddesses

Would all resign; but that they blushing think

Their styles and altars are too mean for me.

Lacinion Juno shall be proud to share

300 Her glories all with me, and think her power

Graced with my fellowship would brighter shine;

Or leave her name, and be adored by mine.

Enter Nero, Pollio, Seneca,






My Nero is returned, hail Nero Cæsar.





Hail great and dear Augusta, best of Mothers.

To whose sole care and goodness Cæsar owes

All those rich honours that he wears today,

And will acknowledge ever.





Brighter still

For many years let this blest day return,

That dos bestow for my dear Lord and husband

The ne're-enough lamented Claudius

So true a solace on my grieved Soul.

This is that Cæsar now, on whom my hopes

And comforts all rely.





This is that Cæsar.

Who in obedience and true filial love

To Agrippina will forever strive

With virtuous emulation, to excel

Her most admired and exemplary goodness.






How well this piety becomes them both.



                                                          Enter Pallas




Long live great Nero Cæsar.





Thanks good Pallas.

We are indebted to thy faithful service;

And therefore till we find some greater means

[325] To make requital, still retain that office

Which in our father Claudius time thou held'st.

Be still our steward of th'Imperial house.





He has deserved it.





For the funerals

Of our dead father, in what state and order

They shall be celebrated, we refer

To you dear Mother.





Let the order of them

Be like Augustus Cæsar's. Let him have

A Censors funeral with divine honours,

And put among the number of the Gods.

Nor shall our grandmother great Livia

With her Tiberius to Augustus’ show

More piety, or more magnificence

Then we to our divinest Claudius.

















































Scene I.



Narcissus, Geta.






If we be bound to think the Gods consider

This human world, why are we not as well

Bound to believe the greatest members of it

On whom the fates of all the rest depend,

Should be their greatest care? Why should the Gods

Extend their narrow providence, and show

Their power in woods and rural villages,

Yet think th'Imperial family of Rome

Not worth their care at all? For if they had

Where slept their justice, when great Claudius

Was murdered by his servants and his wife,

And they adored, and honoured by the state

For acting that accursed deed! What right

Can all the subject world receive from thence!

What good can dwell upon the earth with safety?

Proud Pallas, thou hast got the victory

O're poor Narcissus, and mayest safely triumph

With thy false Empress, for no law can reach

The height you soar at now.  But yet take heed

That very crime, the same Impiety

That aided you in your foul enterprise

To vanquish me and justice on my side,

May one day pull you down.






Alas Narcissus!

[25] Too truly Rufus, thou, and I foresaw

This fatal storm 'gainst Claudius’ woeful house.

Britannicus is now the object grown

Of all men's piety.





In the wrong he did

Unto his hopeful son, he needs must see

His own destruction woven. But if Claudius,

When I detected all their plots to him,

Had ben of nature quick and resolute

He had prevented all, and scap'd his murder.

'Tis certain he was poisoned.






Rome itself

I fear will rue that sad adoption,

And in the wrongs of young Britannicus

Will bear too deep a share. While the fierce rule

Of Agrippina lasts.





What better hope

Does Nero promise us? Those that are near,

And inward with his nature, do suspect

In him all seeds of vice and tyranny,

Though smothered for a time, at least, not hurtful

While he refrains from melding with the state

That his night rambling revels, drinking feasts,

And cruel sports that he's delighted in,

[50] Are vices of his nature, not his youth.





'Tis true, Narcissus, I of late have heard

Many begin to fear the prophecy

of Aenobarbus his detested sire 

That nothing good could be begot twixt him

And Agrippina. Too too true alas!

Such prophecies of some of our late Princes

Have proved to Rome, as that Augustus made

Of the slow-jawed Tiberius, and Tiberius

Of his successor Caius, whom he named

A Phaeton to the unhappy world.





All that I hope for is a wretched life,

If that be not too much for me to hope.

Into Campania will I go, but there

If death pursue me, Cæsar's arms are long,

And I am armed for any accident.

Let none, but with a spirit prepared to die,

Dare to adventure on prosperity.






Rufus and I are both resolved to leave

The city too, we are not safe within it.

But far perchance, removed from her sight

We may escape fell Agrippina's spite.

Enter Crispinus.






Ah Lucius Geta, I am now enforced

To that retirement, which we lately talked of.

Because my danger moved me not before,

[75] Fresh cause is given me. Now I would not breath

The air of Rome for all the wealth within it.





What cause is that Crispinus? Speak.






That was my wife is carried from my house,

And divorced from me by command from Cæsar.





The Prince begins his reign most hopefully.





Do you not wonder how I bear it thus?





I must confess the loss is wondrous great.





True, had she ben my chaste and faithful wife,

The loss had ben beyond all estimation.

Nor could a manly spirit have borne the wrong.

But she was none of mine, her heart, my Lucius.

As I have since discovered, long ago

Was given to wanton Otho, and with him

'Tis thought she stole her close adulterous hours.

For on that Otho, Nero has bestowed her

Wanting her heart, that gaudy piece of Earth

That men call beauty, I should soon have scorned,

Though Cæsar's warrant had not come at all.

Shall we be gone, my friend?





With all my heart.

It was my fear Poppæa would have caused

Your stay too long.





I'll put her from my thoughts.





[100] Farewell my Lords, all happiness attend

Your Country life, though I can hope for none.





Farewell Narcissus may the Gods protect thee.






Scene II


Otho, Poppæa.






Thus greatest Monarchs oft have given away

What they themselves ne're saw, nor e're knew how

To value truly. Nero has bestowed

A gift unknown on me, which I, that taste

How swet it is, would not again forgo

For all his Empire’s wealth.





Nor would I change

My Otho's love for great Augustus’ state.





There to enjoy where both extremely love

Is such a happiness (as I have heard

Some do observe) it seldom does befall

A married pair, or if it do, that bliss

Endures not long, so envious are the fates.

But that's a dream, my love, I do not fear.






Thou need'st not fear Poppæa's constancy

Though Cæsar were thy rival,







Sweet I do not;

I dare not wrong thy truth, or take so much

From mine own happiness, as to suspect

Thy constant mind at all.  But Cæsar's power

Is of extent as large as mans desire.

'Twas that, that made thee mine; and nought but that

[125] That gave, can take my happiness away.

Thou hast a face, Poppæa, that would clear

A ravisher from guilt, that would excuse

The treason of a friend, and make my wrong

No stain to Cæsar's honour, though the Gods,

Or Cato were his judges.





Cæsar would not;

He loves thee well, besides a noble mind

Would scorn to taste the fruits of forced love.





A long besieging is as forcible

As an assault, and wins the fort as sure

Though not so soon.






Nay, spare your arguments.

I can look through them; thou art fearful, Otho,

That I should long to see the Court, alas

I have no such ambition to be known

To Agrippina or Octavia.





Mistake me not, swet love, I am so far

From jealousy of thee, that 'twas my purpose

To make it my request that thou would'st go

And see great Cæsar's Court. Nor do I think

Octavia would be jealous, or that danger

That once befell the fair Calpurnia,

Whom Agrippina banished Italy

Because that Claudius Cæsar praised her beauty,

[150] Should fall on thee.





It shall not fall on me,

I will not see the Court. Fie Otho fie

How wretchedly in striving to conceal

Thy jealousy, thou dost betray it to me!

Why dost thou tell me so of Cæsar's power,

Octavia's wrath, Calpurnia's banishment

Through Agrippina's envy? 'Tis thy love

Better then all these subtle tricks will keep

My thoughts at home.





It shall appear to thee

I do not fear at all, or if I did,

Tis not the failing of thy constancy.

Enjoy what freedom thou desir'st, Poppæa.

Now for a little while excuse my absence,

I must for sake thee, though unwillingly.

Cæsar, I fear, expected my return

Long before this love has beguiled the time,

And made my stay seem shorter than it is.

But I shall think till I return again

The hours are long, till then, farewell Poppæa.

                                                            Exit Otho.






I find his fears already, my estate

Was better far before Rufus Crispinus

Was grave and knew not wantonness enough

To make him jealous as this Otho dos

[175] That too unlawful love, which then I showed

To Otho, is the mother of these fears.

Is old Seleucus the Magician come?

                                                      Enter Fulvia






Madam he waits without,





Go call him hither.

Seleucus is the master of his Art.

All his predictions hitherto have proved

Most true and certain. why should I desire

To know my future fate; and hasten woe

(Should it prove ill) before the time of woe?

But 'tis a longing that I cannot check

                                                      Enter Seleucus.


Welcome Seleucus, have you found it out?





Madam, your scheme is drawn, and there I find

The stars allot another husband to you.





Another, after Otho?





Yes, a third.





What shall he be?





The greatest Prince on earth.





Ha, Cæsar?





Yes, it must be Cæsar, Madam.

And 'tis as true as if the oracles

Of Jove and Phoebus had foretold it both.





This Cæsar that now lives?





I can no further

Instruct you Madam; what you hear is true.





[200] Drink this Seleucus for my sake. Farewell.

                                                      Exit Seleucus


To be Augusta is the greatest gift

The fates can give; nor dos it seems to me

A thing so much unlikely. Otho's fear

Perchance was fatal. If it were, in vain

His care will be, nor can he then accuse

Me, but the fates that overruled my love.





Scene III


Agrippina, Pallas.






It is decreed, Silanus must not live.

Th'Imperial blood, that runs within his veins

Were there no other cause, is crime enough.

He is descended in the same degree

That Nero is from great Augustus’ loins.

And some have lately whispered that his age

Is more mature for sovereignty then Nero's.

Besides thou know'st his brother Lucius,

That should have married young Octavia,

By us was hunted to his death, and he

May meditate revenge.








You need not fear

A spirit so sluggish as Silanus’.

Your brother Caius Cæsar, in the midd'st

Of all his fears and jealousies to which

He sacrificed so many noble branches

Of your Imperial house, contemned Silanus

Is one in whom there was no spirit, or danger,

[225] And called him nothing but the golden beast.





We cannot tell, if times of trouble come,

How much that beast by courage of attendants

And confluence of soldiers may be changed.

He is Proconsul now of Asia,

And may here after, if the people should

Malign our government, bring power against us.





If you will have it so Publius Celerius

And Aelius now going for Asia

Have undertaken there to poison him.





Let it be done. But Pallas, first of all

Let a centurion be dispatched into

Campania, to kill Narcissus. There

He must not live, that did contrive our ruin

And knows, I fear, the means by which we scap'd it

By our command it shall be warranted.

But tell me Pallas, ere thou goest, are all

The German soldiers come?





Madam they are.

You have a royal guard.



                                        Go dearest Pallas,

Dispatch Celerius into Asia,

And the Centurion to Campania.

                                                            Exit Pallas


Now Agrippina is herself, and all

The power and dignity she holds, her own.

[250] I do not owe it to a marriage bed,

Or poor dependence on a husbands love,

Where every minion might have rivalled me.

There is no power, no state at all, but what

Is independent, absolute and free.

Besides my proper and peculiar guards

Two lectors by the Senate are assigned

Distinct from Cæsar and the Consuls state

To wait on me, that all the world at last

Th'Imperial power may in a woman know.

I was an Empresses but ne're reigned till now.










Scene IIII


A Banquet.

Enter Nero, Britannicus, Otho, Petronius, Montanus, Acte.






Come sit my friends, they here are freely welcome

That bring free Jovial hearts far hence be all

Sad looks, sour gestures, and Censorious thoughts.

They fit not Nero's table. Kiss me Acte,

And smile upon the feast.





                         Cæsar's command

Is warrant strong enough.





And thou shalt find

No rigid Catoes here.





True, great Cæsar,

Let such sour Scauri sit at home, and write

Against the pleasure of this happy age

Dull satyrs, such as water, or the lees

Of Tuscan wine beget.  Let them admire

[275] Those old penurious times, when Curius fed

On leeks and onions, when Fabritus

Feasted the frugal Senate with hung bef

And rusty bacon, and in earthen pots

Drunk small Etruscan wine; let them be still

Such as themselves would make themselves, unworthy

To taste the plenty that Rome now enjoys.





Why did our famed ancestors so far

Extend their conquering arms, and strive to get

The riches of the world, but that their Nephews

Might now enjoy them? 'Twere ingratitude

To their rich labours, should we scorn to use

What they have got, or if the use of it

In us be riot, sure 'twas avarice

In them, that toiled so much to purchase it.





Which of those rigid Censors, that declaim

Against the vices of the times, and tax

Rome as luxurious now would call it virtue

In a rich citizen, whose store-houses

Were fraught with the best provisions, his chests crowded

His cellars full of rich Campanian wine,

Yet he himself to drink the coarsest lees,

To feed on acorns, pulse, and crabs, to wrong

His nature, and defraud his Genius?

Tis said the Furies keep pined Tantalus

[300] From tasting those delicious fruits he sees.

Such would the Roman virtue be, should she

Affright her sons the masters of the world

From tasting that which they themselves possess.





Tis true, those former ages were most frugal,

We thank them for't, the better is our fare.

Let those that list, now when they have no need,

Still imitate, and boast their hungry virtue.

Whilst we poor sinners are content with pheasants,

Numidian hens, and Lybian purple wings

Wild goats, bores, hares, thrushes, and mushrooms,

Oysters, and mullets, and such vicious meats.





Fill me some wine. Montanus melancholy,

And silent now?





Cæsar, I was but listening

To hear Petronius good morality,





Otho I know cannot be melancholy,

He is a bridegroom, and but new posses't

Of that fair treasure he has courted

So long, well Otho, I must have a sight

Of fair Poppæa, such I know she is.





She is unworthy of great Cæsar's sight.





A round, go Anicetus bring the lots,

Because that no respect of power shall let

The freedom of our mirth, whoever draws

[325] The longest cut shall be our King tonight,

And be obeyed what e’re he shall command.

I will resign my chair to him. Come draw.

                                          Enter Anicetus they draw.


‘Tis I that am your King.





I shall believe

That Fortune has her eyes.





In getting Crowns

Nero, thy fortune is too good for mine.





I know none envy me.





No envy can

Redress my wrongs.




I will begin with Otho.

I do command thee send by Anicetus

Some trusty token that immediately

May fetch Poppæa hither to the banquet.





It shall be done, this ring will fetch her hither.

                                                      Exit Anicetus.

I never thought 'twould come to this.





Thy plot

Of bringing Acte in, I see has failed.






I care not much, he would at last have seen her.





Thou wilt not frown my Acte, though thou see

Another beauty here.





So royal Cæsar,

Nor shall you hear me envious, or detracting,

Although I know Poppæa is a Lady

[350] Whose beauty dos as far excel poor Acte,

As Cinthia dos the lesser stars, or Venus

The other Sea-nymphs.





Freely spoke, fair Acte.





Here you shall find the saying dos not hold

That women are detractors from each other.





Mean time begin a health.





So please it Cæsar

To great Augusta, Agrippina's health.






Let it go round. And now Petronius.

I come to thee, I do command thee write

A Satire presently against those pleasures

Thou didst so lately praise, against th'attire,

And costly diet of this notorious age.

This is thy task.





I must obey the King:

And now's the fittest time for such a satire.

I never find my virtue of that strength

As to contemn good Victuals, but upon

A well filled stomach.





Give him wine to heighten't.





I've writ already a Satiric Poem

In a grave angry way, where I complain

That Rome’s excess, corruption, luxury,

Ruined the present government, and twixt

[375] Cæsar, and Pompey caused a civil war.

Listen, and hear my castigations.

"Now all the world victorious Rome had won

"All lands, all Seas, the morn and evening Sun,

"Nor was content; the Ocean's furrowed o’re

"With armed ships; if any far-hid shore,

"Or land there were, whence burnished gold was brought

"It was their foe: by impious war they sought

"(Fates fitted so), for wealth, old known delight

"They scorn, and Vulgar bare-worn pleasure slight.

"Pearls in th'Assirian lakes the soldier's love.

"Bright polished earth in hew with purple strove.

"Numidia marble brings the Scythian yields

"His early fleece, the Arabs spoil their fields.

"But see more ruin yet, and greater wounds

"Of injured peace, the Mauritanian grounds

"And Libyan Ammon's farthest woods, to get

"Wild beasts are searched whose teeth a price must set.

"Upon their death, fierce Tigers fetched from far,

"And stalking stately on the Theatre

"Are fed with humane slaughter to delight

"The peoples eyes. After the Persian rite

"(Alas I shame to speak it, and display

"The ruin-threatening fates), they cut way

"Manhood from growth spoiled youths, for Venery

[400] "Softening their nature, to keep back thereby

"In spite of time, their age herself in kind

"Abused nature seeks, but cannot find.

"They dote on Catamites, weak bending hammes,

"Unnerved bodies, and a thousand names

"Of new attires, loose hair of men, in whom

"All man is lost! O slaves from Africa come,

"Rich Citron boards, bright purple, which to view

"Loosening the senses bear a gold like hew.

"A wanton train, in wine and surfeits drowned

"The far fetched table do encompass round.

"The wealth that all the spacious world contains

"By lawless arms the roaming soldier gains,

"Their gluttony grows witty; guilt-heads caught

"At Sea, alive are to their tables brought.





No more, my furious Satirist, thou hast chide

The times sufficiently.





If you be pleased

I have obeyed.





Well, I perceive Petronius

A man may write a Satire, and yet be

No Scaurus, Curius, or Fabritius.





A Satirist should be the contrary,

And know those vices, which he means to tax.





Brother Britannicus thy task is next,

[425] Stand up and sing a song.





Give me some time:

I cannot do't extempore, what subject?





Choose that yourself.





Then give me leave to sing

Mine own misfortunes, how I came to loose

The Roman sceptre.





How! That will not fit

A feast of mirth.





No, let them laugh that wine.

Exit Britannicus.




A good smart youth.





This must not be endured.

I must be freed from this continual fear,

Than be excused. Be merry Gentlemen,

I wonder Anicetus stays so long.

Enter Anicetus with Poppæa.

But see they come. Is this Poppæa, Otho?





‘Tis she, great Cæsar.





Wonder of her sex!

Bright paragon of Rome! All beauties yet

That I have seen, have ben but foils to set

A greater lustre on this star of light.





His eyes are fixt; his changing looks do speak

A depth of passion, or my jealous fears,

Dazzle mine eyes too much.





Tis so, she's lost.

[450] If ever Lady were a tennis ball,

'Tis this, she’s bandied so from one to t'other.





Must then another reap the envied fruit

Of my injustice? Must Poppæa be

My crime, that took her from her other Lord,

To be his pleasure?







Is great Cæsar sad!





No Otho, still she shows more fair and fair.

I cannot check my love; sit fairest Lady.

And with your lustre grace our feast. I see

Thou art a most incomparable judge

In beauty, Otho, and were I to choose

A wife again, I'd trust no eye but thine.





Would I might serve you Sir in anything.





But tell me thy opinion in one question.

Which dost thou think the noblest in a Prince,

If he would use his power, and do an act

That may be thought unjust, to do't for friendship,

Or satisfaction of his own delight?





Sir, had you made the case a private man's

(For the delights of Princes, as themselves,

We must count sacred) I could soon resolve it.





Let it be so, for 'tis the same in justice.





I think it noblest then to do't for friendship.

For friendship ever was held honourable,

[475] But satisfaction of our own delights

A thing of weaknesses rather than of honour.





I see his drift.





Augustus Cæsar then    

And I by power have done the self same act.

But in the cause I have excelled Augustus,

For he to satisfy his own hot love

From Claudius Nero took fair Livia.

I from Crispinus took a brighter beauty

To show myself no lover, but a friend.

Do not mistake me Otho, and suppose

I do repent the favour I have done

I know ‘tis well bestowed.





‘Twas such a favour

That I confess, great Cæsar, as no tongue

Can be enough expressive; so ‘tis hard

To find a heart that's large enough to pay

Sufficient thanks in thought, but pious men

Have still acknowledged that no thanks of ours

Can equalize the bounty of the Gods.

And Princes are like them, should I think less

I should both wrong the giver, and the gift.





In valuing her aright thou show'st thy self

As wise as just. I wish thee joy of her.

But fairest Lady, since it was so late

[500] Before you graced our feast, I cannot think

That I have entertained you yet at all.

The scene shall therefore change, another room

Shall bid Poppæa welcome to the Court.





Scene V


                    Vitellius, Pollio.





Yet Cæsar and his mother well agree.





The Gods continue it, but Vitellius,

I fear the sequel. Agrippina’s fierce

And haughty disposition will too much

Provoke her son 'tis thought, and he too forward

To throw all nature off.





I think so too.

And therefore I could wish that Agrippina

Would go a gentler way; she must not build

Too much upon her merits, though we know

‘Twas she that put the sceptre in his hand.

For vicious natures, where they once begin

To take distaste, and purpose no requital,

The greater debt they owe, the more they hate.





Besides she’ll find it harder far to work

Her ends upon a son, than 'twas to rule

A doting husband.





Time will show it all,

And we ere long shall know which way to lean.






Scene VI


Burrhus, Seneca.






Will Agrippina sit today with Cæsar

On his Tribunal, to give audience

[525] To those Armenian Ambassadors?





There is no doubt she would, but I have spoiled

That state I hope; for I have counselled Nero.

That if she come, he shall arise and meet her,

As if he did it in respect, and duty


Deferring th'audience of th'Ambassador;

I hope she will not understand our drift.





Pray heaven she do not, for you know her fierceness.





It would be Rome’s disgrace, the Senate’s shame

And my great crime, if the Ambassadors

That come to plead their country’s cause at Rome,

Should see a woman perching up with Cæsar

Into the chair to give them audience.

And sit commanding o’re the Roman ensigns;

'Twas not the custom of our Ancestors

To see such sights.





True Lucius Seneca,

Our Ancestors had no such kind of women;

She in her heart's a man, and you mistake

If you esteem her only Cæsar's mother,

Not his Colleague, and partner in the Empire

Or more than so.





I am not so ungrateful

To hate the woman, since I know it was

Her favour, that repealed my banishment.

[550] But I dislike these things, that foreign states

In her unseemly carriage should behold 

The shame of Rome, and would she keep a temper

Fitting the quality of her sex and place,

I should admire the bravery of her mind.



Enter Nero, Vitellius, Pollio, Nero, takes his state, after them the







Long live great Nero Cæsar, the chief care

Of heaven, and highest Sovereign of the Earth,

The Princes of Armenia, Vologeses

And Tiridates greet your Majesty

By us, and do congratulate the honour,

Which since divinest Claudius left the earth

To make a God in heaven, is fallen on you.

And to your high Tribunall do refer

The controversy that is now betwixt them.



                                                                             Enter Agrippina






My mother's come, defer th'Ambassadors

As ‘twas appointed Seneca.





I will.





Hail dearest mother.





Wherefore rises Cæsar

From his Tribunal when affairs of state

Are brought before him?





No respect can be

Too much for me to give great Agrippina.





Excuse me, Cæsar, if it be respect,

‘Tis now unseasonable, take your seat,

[575] I'll sit with you myself, and hear th'affairs

Of these Armenian Ambassadors.





We have deferred the business a while,

And thought upon a fitter time to hear it.





If you arise because the audience

Is ended or deferred upon just reasons,

‘Tis not respect to   me that made you rise,

As you alleged at first, but I have found it,

The reason that deferred this audience


Was Agrippina’s coming.





This I feared.





‘Twas carried ill of Cæsar at the first.





I see thou blushest, Nero, and may'st justly,

To call that reverence, which was affront,

Was a dissembling not befitting Cæsar.

And to affront a mother so deserving

Was not the duty that befitted Nero.





Can nearest Agrippina, think her Nero

Will ever do an act that may be judged

Affront to her?





This was thou knot’s it Nero.

And so dos thy adviser Seneca

From him it came, no other Senator

Durst to have counselled my disgrace but he.





Never will Seneca, so much obliged

[600] To Agrippina’s royal favour, wish

Or council her disgrace.





Oh Seneca.

Philosophy ne're taught ingratitude.

If you had thought the place unfit for me,

You might have told me privately before,

Not used this trick which how so e’re it hold

In Stoicism, I'm sure is nought in state.







She pays him home.







Her spirit cannot brake

The least appearance of an injury.






Cæsar, I'll leave thee now, nor shall my presence

Be any hindrance to thy state affairs.





I'll go along with you.





For Seneca

I'll shortly teach him new Philosophy.

                                          Exit Agrippina and Nero.





She’s full of anger; but it moves not me,

Since what I did was just, and for the honour

Of Rome and Cæsar; honest actions

Will be enough protection to themselves.





Take the best courses to prevent her fury.





Ah noble Burrhus, it must be hereafter

Our greatest care to curb that woman’s pride.

And what we can remove her from all rule

And government of state, for Agrippina

[625] Is of too hot and fierce a disposition.





What should we do? ‘Twere pity to incense

Her son against her.





The Gods forbid that we

Should strive to make the Prince unnatural.

But to prevent this inconvenience,

I will persuade young Cæsar not with purpose

to wrong his mother, somewhat to abate

Her dangerous greatness, to remove from her

Part of her guard of German soldiers,

And to displace her wicked counsellor

That insolent and Lordly freedman Pallas.





You need not use persuasions to your pupil

(The Gods forgive it if I judge amiss)

To stand against his mother; I much fear

He will too quickly hate her, for no reason

To state belonging, but because she grows

Imperious over him, and strives to curb

His lust and riots, those, those Seneca

I fear are seeds of future tyranny.

And for his love (as if the fates decreed

To make his passions all preposterous)

His virtuous wife, noble Octavia,

The only inocence in this wicked age

Of women great and good, is loathed by him.





[650] That most afflicts me, could we find a cure

For that disease? All other maladies

A riper age will in some part redress,

And I will strive to change them by degrees,

And get him to forsake his loose associates.

But let us first endeavour to remove

Fierce Agrippina from all rule of state.





I’ll join with you, and use my best endeavours.




Scene VII







Shall I that am an Emperor, be checked,

Controlled and baffled in my Palace thus?

I will remove this mother far from me,

And give command to Burrhus to provide

That house that was Antonia's for her.

The Palace shall be free to my delights,

I make no doubt but that the people know,

And hate her pride, and will the less repine

At what I do against her. I have told her

(For she provoked me past all patience)

Part of my mind already, she shall rue

Perchance too late the fierceness she has showed





Scene IIX






Ungrateful Nero, is thy mothers power

So soon offensive grown? Canst thou so soon

Cast off all filial duties, and forget

What I deserve from thee? Wouldst thou deprive

Me of all power that gave all power to thee?

[675] Did I so wickedly for thee procure

The height of human state, that thou shouldst take

All state from me with greater wickedness?

Oh wronged Claudius, this sad punishment

My bloody treason, and ingratitude

To thy offended Manes justly pays.

By the most loving, and most injured Lord,

The worst of wives was more beloved than now,

The best of mothers by a wicked Son.

I’ll make him know what hand it was that raised

His fortunes to this height. But wherefore weeps

                                                       Enter Octavia.


My dear Octavia?





What accursed fate

Pursues the woeful Claudian family?





Dear daughter, speak thy grief.





Was I bestowed,

Or rather lost in marriage, to advance

Upon my brother's ruin, Nero's state

To be by him despised, hated and made

A base freed-woman’s slave?





What freed woman?





Acte, thy Nero's concubine, my mistress

That dares within the palace to contest,

Nay, to revile Octavia.





                        She dares not,

[700] Nor shall she do't, I'll slit the strumpets nose,

If she dare speak 'gainst thee.





                              You cannot mother.

Nero delights in none but her, his soul

In Acte lives; on her he dos bestow

That love, that's due to me, but me he loathes.

Oh dismal love, Oh fatal marriage!





Take comfort sweet Octavia, I'll redress

Thy wrongs, or venture mine own fall with thee.

                                                            Enter Nero.






You have complained I see, Octavia.

Is there a chiding toward?





                        Has thy guilt,

And th'unkind wrongs thou hast already done

Unthankful Nero, to thy virtuous wife 

Armed thee with such an impudence, that now

Thou canst prevent her just accusing thus?







How's this?





         Me thinks although thou had'st no spark

Of goodness left thee, yet in Policy

Thou should'st not dare maintain a base borne strumpet

Against thy lawful wife great Claudius daughter.





Me thinks in policy you might remember

You speak to Cæsar, not a child.





‘Tis true,

Thou hast forgot the duty of a child.





[725] I will be better known; if I be crossed

In my delights, I will be bold to cross

You in your pleasures too.





Oh heavens, what pleasures,

What joys or studies have I ever had

But to prefer thee Nero? are my cares

And all my labours thus requited now?

Let not too vain and foolish confidence

Of what thou art, make thee presume to wrong

Thy mother and thy wise, or thou shalt know

The Empires lawful heir is yet alive.

The wronged Britannicus is growing up

To take his right, and to revenge the wrongs

Which he and all his family sustain;

I'll go myself to the Prætorian Camp,

And plead his cause before the Soldiers.

There let one-handed Burrhus, and that base

Unthankful exile Seneca, appear

Against the daughter of Germanicus.





Yes, plead the cause of young Britannicus,

And when y'have done, provide an advocate

To plead your own.

                                        Exit Nero.






Gone so abruptly from us,

Slights he mine anger so?





Madam I fear

[750] You took too harsh a way, his looks were wild

And full of rage; my sad misgiving soul

Tells me some mischief’s working in his thoughts.





Fear not, Octavia, we’ll take the best

And surest courses to prevent the ill

That may ensue, and if mature advice

And counsel cannot bridle him, we’ll use

Another means to curb his insolence.

I have already by my bounty made

Most of the Tribunes and Centurions.

My guards are strong, and shall be vigilant

Over the safety of Britannicus,

As mine own person, there's no open act

Of mischief can be on the sudden wrought.





The Gods I hope will guard our innocence.





Scene IX









My fears have ben too slow, and 'twas high time

That Agrippina's thundering threats had waked

My sleeping mischief’s; which shall now no more

Study disguises, but appear in bold

And open acts with Cæsar’s stamp upon them,

Fearless of vulgar whispering jealousies.

Upon thy death, Britannicus, a price

No less then Rome’s imperial wreath is set.

The deed, when done, will privilege itself,

And make the power of Nero strong enough

[775] To warrant his misdeed, who dare revenge

Or blame th'offence that frees me from a rival?

But I shall leave a worse, and nearer fare

Behind, my mother Agrippina lives;

She lives my rival, nay my partner still,

Nay more than that my Queen and Governess.

I am no Prince, no man, nothing at all

While Agrippina lives, must she then live

To make me nothing? Must the name of mother

Outweigh a sceptre? Could the name of husband

Protect her Claudius? No; her own example

Shall teach me state. But first, Britannicus

Must be removed; his death assures my state,

And makes me able to contest with her.

That gentle poison, which Locusta gave him,

If poison 'twere, whilest we did vainly fear

The peoples talk, has kept my fears alive.

Where is this hag?

                                                      Enter Locusta.












                                                            Beats her.


Fiend, fury, devil.





Mercy, mercy, Cæsar.





I'll hew thy cursed carcass into a tome,

Thou gav'st Britannicus an antidote

In stead of poison.





[800] Twas a gentle poison,

And such as you commanded me to make,

Hold Cæsar hold; I will redeem all yet.








Do it or die, make me a poison strong,

A quick and speeding one.





It shall be done.

No sooner tasted, but it shall destroy.





I'll see the trial of it, and reward

Thy service well, but if Britannicus

Out live this day, this day shall be thy last.









































Act V.

Scene I



Burrhus, Vitellius, Anicetus, Soldiers






It is the will of Cæsar, soldiers

You must be all discharged from guarding her.

But you shall have allowance, and thus much

I'll promise for your comforts, you shall be

The next that are ascribed into the list

Of the Prætorian camp.





Thanks, noble Burrhus.


Exit Soldiers



Go Anicetus, give command that straight

That house, which was Antonia's, be prepared

For Agrippina, and her family.

Cæsar will have the Palace to himself.

Exit Anicetus




Does Agrippina know't?





Not yet I think.




Is there displeasure then 'twixt her and Cæsar?





I know not. You'll excuse my hast, my Lord

I must take leave.

                                                      Exit Burrhus.






I like not these new turns.

I came to visit her: but now I'll spare

My hail this morn.

Enter Pollio

Whither so fast my Lord?





To visit Agrippina.





Stay, I'll tell you.

There is some difference twixt her and Cæsar.

Her guards are tak'n away. I parted now

From Burrhus, who discharged them. She herself

[25] Shall be removed from the Imperial palace.





I like not that, I'll spare my visit then.




Act V

Scene II


Petronius, Montanus.






Otho will loose his wife then?





Yes, no doubt,

And I believe must leave the City too.

Nero's extremely fired, and he will have her

Alone; poor Otho must not rival Cæsar

Nor indeed is it fitting that the husband

Should make th'adulterer a cuckold.





Do'st thou believe, Petronius, that this change

Pleases Poppæa?







Yes, I warrant her.

She thinks her beauty never could have done her

A greater service.





But she seemed to love

Otho extremely.





I confess Montanus,

I think her appetite stood well to Otho,

For it is a rascal of a winning carriage

And curious feature.  But she has enjoyed him

Sometime already, and that passion

Which you call love, dos move in a degree

So low, and feeble, it is soon swallowed up

In the deep torrent of ambition.

Poppæa's proud, nor can that breast of hers

[50] Harbour a love so strong, but it must yield

To pride her quality predominant.





What can she be but Nero's concubine?

I see not what high honour lies in that.





You cannot tell what she may be in time.





She cannot be Augusta, that high name

Octavia, while she lives, will keep; he dares not

Forsake that wife (how e're he do affect her)

To whom he may be said to owe the Empire.





For mine own part, I know not how ‘twill go.

But I dare swear Poppæa, e're this time,

Has asked and heard what the Chaldæans say

About her fortunes; our fine dames of Rome

Must still be tampering with that kind of cattle.

Their dogs, their monkeys, and themselves do nothing

Without th'advise of such a cunning man,

Last thou seen Otho lately?





Yes, today.





How dos he look upon the business?





With somewhat sad; but Cæsar seems to use him

So wonderful kindly that he cannot think

He’s wronged at all.





Prithee, let's find him out.



Act V

Scene III







No longer steward of th'Imperial house!

Are greatest benefits so soon forgot

[75] By wicked Princes? 'Tis and ever was

The fate of Courts, Monarchs unjustly hate

Acknowledgment. What power, what honour now

Dos Nero, hold but what he owes to me?

My merit, nay my wickedness, which did

To him increase the merit, for this heart

Has bled the more for my ingratitude

To my best master Claudius, his sad wrongs

Another now revenges! Oh Narcissus,

I chance the conquest that I got o’re thee,

When we two strove about the successor

To Claudius Cæsar, will hereafter prove

More fatal to the conqueror, then him

That lost the day. Thou in Campania

Liv'dst happily, though hunted to thy death

By us; and carried to thy grave the honour

By aiding the just side, Oh Royal Empress,

                                                      Enter Agrippina.


I fear our care to raise unthankful Nero

Will prove at last our own destruction


My place loss I, weigh not, but for fear

It prove a step to your dishonour, Madam.





‘Tis for my sake that thou hast lost it, Pallas,

With me my friends are hated. Oh sad fate

That follows impious actions! Well perchance

And happily might I have lived if wronged

[100] Britannicus had reigned! Oh would the loss

Of this unworthy life could yet procure

That injured Prince his due.





Can fortune turn

The course of things so strangely, that you Madam,

The Prince’s mother and his raiser too

Should wish the others reign.





It can, it can.

This is the power and justice of the Gods,

That when we think ourselves most safe in ill,

Can frustrate all our confidence and make

That power, which seemed to be our prop, to be

Our only cause of ruin. We are children,

Vice makes us children, like to them, we cry

For knives to hurt ourselves with, and the Gods

To punish us oft grant what we desire.


A hearse brought in. Octavia following.






What doleful noise is this?





A me, I fear.





Oh dismal day! Oh wretched family!

Fly back bright Phoebus to the Eastern shore,

Or hide thy head; thou hast at Rome beheld

A feast more black then e’re Mycenæ saw.

Ah dearest brother, sweet Britannicus.









Murder'd Britannicus,

[125] Poisoned at Nero's table.





Break my heart

The greatest woe, that could befall, is come.

Forgive me, gentle Soul; 'twas I that gave

That viper life, and rule to ruin thee.

Thou need'st not curse me; the impiety

Of him that killed thee, will revenge thy death.





Fair hope of Rome, sweet flower untimely cropped,

What presentation shall sad Pallas make

T'appease thy wronged ghost, and expiate

My foul offences? To the King and Queen

Of sable night I'll build two grassy altars;

And yearly there, if any years at all

I have to live, with sad libations

Invoke the manes of Britannicus;

Thou from the groves of fair Elysium

Forever wailed, forever honoured Prince,

Deign to accept my humble sacrifice.

Or if those rights be too too mean for thee,

Perchance the Genius of afflicted Rome

Shall wep hereafter o’re thy grave, and wail

Th'untimely death of her Britannicus.





Gentle to thee let earth and water prove.

                                                      Exit Octavia.


This woeful murder of Britannicus.                                 

Bodes ill to me, and my presaging soul

[150] Is filled with ghastly fears. Ah Pallas, Pallas,

This is the entrance into Parricide,

And but the Prologue to a mothers death.





Would I could speak to your distress and fears

A true and real comfort, such a one

As might not flatter your estate, and make

You weaker then before, by taking from you

All study of prevention.

                                                      Enter Servant.






Cæsar, Madam,

Is come to visit you.





Pallas, farewell.

                                          Exit Pallas, Enter Nero.






What, weping Madam? What unworthy cause

Dares force a tear from great Augusta's eye

While Nero lives? If't be my brother's death,

That caused this sorrow, I could join in tears,

Had not that tragedy already robbed

Mine eyes of moisture.





This hypocrisy

Makes me less trust his nature then before.





The Gods have robbed me of one comfort now

The fellowship of swet Britannicus,

That all my piety may be confined

To you, dear mother, you contain alone

Within a parent’s sacred name, all styles

Of kindred now, all bonds of pious love.

[175] Fear not a change in me.





I do not Cæsar.





Minarvus feast is celebrated now

Five days at Baiæ thither you shall go 

And feast with me dear mother, there forget

All jealous fears, and you shall never more

Complain of Nero.


If the stratagem

Of Anicetus prosper, her complaint

Shall be to Pluto, and the Ghosts below.



Act V

Scene IV


Otho with his Commission.





The Government of Lusitania,

By Nero's grace and favour is bestowed

On me! Oh glorious name of banishment!

Yet welcome now, since fair Poppæa's lost.

I thank thee, Nero, thou provid'st a brave

And honourable cure for that sad wound

Thou hast inflicted on my love-sick Soul.

How great a torture had it ben to me

To live in Rome divorced from her, and see

That beauty folded in another's arms!

Hence wanton thoughts; fond love forever vanish,

Collect my soul what e’re thou hast within thee

Of Roman left, and answer to the call

Bright honour makes, some favourable God

Pitying the lusts and riots of a youth

So much misled, has sent this seeming loss

[200] To wake me from so base a lethargy.

Employed in foreign action, I shall live

Free from th'infectious vices of this Court,

And far from seeing the abhorred effects

Of future tyranny, which needs must break

From Nero's vicious nature. At my birth

The Augures promised high and glorious hopes,

This is the way to bring them. Spain shall find

Another Otho than was sent from Rome.

Poppæa promised here to meet, and take

Her last leave of me. Why should I again

Renew my passion by the sight of her?

But't is but one poor look, and so farewell.

Enter Seleucus.






Hail Marcus Otho Emperor of Rome,

Cæsar that shall be.












It is thy fate,

Which shall not be prevented.





Tell me father,

(For your predictions ever have ben true)

Shall I behold Poppæa's face again,

When I have left the City?





Never more.

                                                      Exit Seleucus.





Never! A heavy doom yet I in lieu

Of her shall gain the Empire of the world.

[225] Juno will heal the wounds that Venus gives.

Enter Poppæa.


See, there she comes; her beauty waxes still,

Or else the sad conceit of never more

Seeing that face, makes it appear more fair.

How dull the edge of Honour grows already!

Here could I stay, and like the Trojan Prince

Locked in fair Dido’s arms forget forever

Th'Italian land, and all my future fame.

Him Jove admonished to depart from thence.

Me the command of Cæsar forces hence,

And leaves no power in my election.

Farewell Poppæa.





Oh hard fate in love

Is mine, whose joys were never lasting yet.

Speak not so soon that killing word farewell.





What gain, alas, can one small minute be?

Or if 'twere gain to me, to the Poppæa

'Twere loss to keep thee from thy Cæsar’s sight.

He is thy servant, whom the world obeys.





Ah Otho, love can witness that this fortune

Was never sought by me.





Thou wert too great

A treasure for a private man to keep.

No; live still happy with thy Cæsar here

And grant me one request, if of that love

[250] Which once we vowed so dear, there yet remains

So small a part as may deserve the name

Of common friendship, use thy power with Cæsar

My government may be continued long.





Rather let me entreat the contrary,

And keep thee here at Rome.





It must not be.

Never while Nero lives, and lives with thee.

It must be love no more, but friendship now

Twixt us Poppæa, which may still be kept

In absence by good wishes, and without

Those nearer comforts which fond love requires.

But who shall teach me to forget that swet

Delicious lesson which loves school did teach?

When thy admired beauty was the book,

And I a Scholar too too forward then?

Oh would great Cæsar’s power to cure my wound,

Could but bestow so privative a good

As loss of memory. But that, alas,

Were too unjust a cure, and I could wish

Rather to suffer still then quite forget

That I was once Poppæa’s envied love.

I'll rather strive to solace my fick soul

With contemplation of past happiness,

And by recounting o're our former joys

[275] Deceive those hours of sorrow I must pass.





And I for comfort of our absent love

Will cherish hopes that we shall meet again.





No, think me dead, bright love, and I'll enforce

My imagination to believe that thou

Translated by some amorous Deity

Hast left the earth to beautify the sky,

And turn Astronomer in love, to find

Thy figure out among those radiant lights

Which Jove’s transformed Paramours have made.

'Mongst those I'll seek for fair Poppæa’s star,

And swear I see it, rather then believe

Thou liv'st on earth debarred from Otho's sight.

I must begin to part, I see; for thou

In modesty art loath to chide me hence,

And bid me quit the place. Farewell Poppæa.

Such height to happiness may'st thou enjoy

As Cæsar’s constant love can bring to thee.





As much good fortune follow Otho still

‘Tis power that parts us, All the Gods can tell.

                                                            Exit Otho


How well I love thee Otho. But those Gods,

That have ordained another fate for me

Must be obeyed yet Nero must be wrought

With cunning to my ends, or else my fortune

Is low and poor, my title nought at all.

[300] Tis not the love of Cæsar, but the honour,

And that high title which attends his love

That is Poppæa’s aim; Octavia

Debars me yet from that, and Agrippina

Is fierce, and keeps her son in Pupillage.

Enter Nero.






Now fair Poppæa, thou art mine alone;

Otho's removed, embrace the happy change

That fortune brings thee, thou hast found instead

Of him, a Cæsar, who besides his state

Has brought a heart as true to thee, and love

As strong and fervent as poor Otho's was.

Thou we'rt before a diamond coarsely set,

A clouded star, the Fates did pity thee,

And would no longer let that beauty lie

Eclipsed in a private family;

No seat but Rome’s Imperial throne, no sphere

But Cæsar’s arms were fit for these bright eyes

To shine in, and the subject world t'adore

Their lustre, like some constellation

New risen to amaze mortality.

Not Rome alone, but all the farthest shores

That Peleus silver-footed wife e're knew

Shall call Poppæa mistress.





Those are honours

Cæsar, too high, too great for me to hope.





[325] To hope, my love, they are thine own already.





Cæsar, thou know'st it cannot be; and I

That might have lived content with Otho's love;

And there enjoyed the honoured name of wife,

Must in the Palace find a baser style.





Thou wrong'st my power, Poppæa, if thou think

I cannot give the highest style to thee,

And if thou think I mean it not, thou wrong'st

My truest love.





Octavia is alive

No love of thine can bear Augustus’ state

But only she.





She shall be soon removed

To make a room for fair Poppæa's honour.

Nor will the Senate dare to grumble at it.





Though all were silent else, fierce Agrippina 

Would in that act control thee, and think me

To meane for Cæsar’s wife, though I am sprung

(For I may speak a truth that Rome can witness)

From noble and triumphant Ancestors.





There, love, thou strik'st upon the truest string.

That Agrippina was my greatest fear,

Though now she is not; for I'll tell it thee,

If Anicetus stratagem have taken,

Ere this she wanders on the Stygian shore.

[350] Weary I was of her imperious pride,

And feared her cruel plots. How that succeeds

Is now my greatest expectation.

Nor do I live till Anicetus come

And bring my safety in that woman’s death.

Enter Anicetus.






See, Anicetus is returned.





Speak man,

What is my fate? Thou carry’st in thy voice

The life and death of Cæsar.





Your command

Was done, great Cæsar, but your mother scap'd.





Escap'd? How could it be, but you were false,

And all conspired together to betray 

My life in saving hers? How could she ‘scape?





We chose the night to act it in; but night,

Proved not so black as night; the stars gave light,

No wind at all blew as we launched forth. 

Down in the Galley Agrippina lay,

And at her feet lay Aceronia

With joy discoursing of your courtesy,

And favour lately showed her, but when I

The watch-word gave, the covering of the place

Loaded with lead fell down, and pressed to death

Her servant Gallus. But when th'other part

By fortune stronger, broke not, nor the vessel

[375] Was loosed asunder, all being in amaze

The rowers straight 'way thought it best to weigh,

The galley at one side, and sink her so

There Aceronia floating in the waves

Faining herself to be the Empress, cried

Help, help the Prince’s mother. But the rowers

With poles, and oars straight killed her as she swam.

But Agrippina in a silence caused

By policy or fear, swam to the bank,

Having received but one wound, and there

Succoured by little barks, through Lucrine lake

To her own house was carried at the last.





Oh, I am lost and dead, I shall be straight

Surprised and killed; she’ll arm her slaves, and stir

The soldiers up, or to the Senate house

Complain, and show the wound she has received

And tell the story there. What shall I do?

Advise me, my Poppæa, Anicetus,

But yet advise me nothing but her death,

No other course is safe, Nero must die

If Agrippina live.  Call Burrhus to me.

Send forth the soldiers to dispatch her straight.





It is no action for a soldiers hand

Nor will the camp for brave Germanicus,

Her father's sake, be drawn to butcher her;

[400] Let Anicetus finish the exploit

He has begun.





It must be so; go on

With thy religious act, good Anicetus.

Thou art obliged to finish it, or else

What thou hast done already, will procure

My ruin rather than security;

Choose thee what aid thou wilt.





I have them ready.

Fear it not Cæsar, Agrippina’s dead.





Oh comfortable voice thou art, the man

Thou only Anicetus, that bestow'st

The Empire upon Nero. To thy gift

I will acknowledge it, and celebrate

This as my day of coronation.

What plot shall we invent to hide the deed,

And put th'intent of murder upon her?

To bring you news of her escape, I'll find

A way to do’t, 'tis strange none yet come from her.

See Agerinus comes.

                                                Enter Agerinus.






All health to Cæsar

Augusta by the favour of the Gods

Has lately scap'd a strange and wonderful

Danger at Sea.




Cæsar when any of her servants come,

[425] What means this poniard?


  Anicetus lets fall a ponyard behind Agerinus.


In Cæsar’s presence, Agerinus?






She sends to murder me. Drag hence the slave,

And torture him to death.





I am as free

From guilt in this as innocence itself.





Hence with the villain to his death, and thou

Dear Anicetus, forward with thy plot.




Act V

Scene V



Agrippina, brought in by Seleucus, she sits.






Leave me alone; but be not far from me.

                                                            They Exit.


Who would rely upon the gratitude

Of men? Or trust the fruit of benefits,

That now behold, or shall hereafter read

My woeful fortune? I, that have bestowed

What ere the world contains, to be possesed

By impious Nero, in reward, expect

Nothing but bloody death. 'Twas too too true

That strange deceitful galley was a plot

An impious engine made to murder me,

As by the fierceness of the slaves, my wound,

And Aceroniaes death it did appear.

Can I expect that Nero should relent?

Or that the tyrant in a brothers blood

Imbrued already, should not rather think

No mischief can be safe till fully done?

[450] Oh had his thoughts ben good, had my escape

Ben grateful to him, all the house ere this

With visitants, and clients had ben filled

To ask and see how Cæsar’s mother did

Where now are all the hails, the bended knees,

Low prostrate faces, and officious tongues,

That strove in honouring Agrippina’s name?

Vanished alas, and nought but solitude,

Ill-boding silence, and neglect remain

In this forsaken Palace. But too soon

Ay me, I fear the approach of villainy.

What noise is that at door! Where are my servants?

Mnester, Seleucus, Galla, Xenophon.

No answer made! Are they departed too!

Then vanish all my hopes, false world farewell

With all thy fading glories. But alas,

Whither from hence shall Agrippina fly?

What regions are there in the other world

But my injustice has already filled

With wronged Ghosts? There young Silanus wanders,

Lollia Paullina and great Claudius

My murdered Lord, yet those sad spirits perchance

Abhorring Nero's base ingratitude,

And glutted with revenge, will cease to hate

At last, and pity Agrippina's state.

Enter Anicetus, Oloaritus, and others.


[475] Ay me, is Anicetus, come again?

Then I am dead past hope, murder, help, help. 





You guess our business right, but 'tis in vain

To call for help, your guards are far enough.





Oh hold your hands a while; hear me but speak

Consider with yourselves before you act

A deed so execrable as will stick

A lasting brand on your abhorred names.

This murder will be famous through the world.

All men will fly your hated company.

Like birds of night shall you for ever hide

Your guilty heads. Or, which is worse then that,

Nero himself, who did command the deed,

(As you pretend) shall guerdon you with death,

And quit himself by punishing of you.

O rather venture Nero’s frown, and keep

Your innocence.





Can they be innocent,

That disobey their Prince’s will?





But sure

You did mistake the Prince. I am his mother.

‘Twas I that gave him birth; nay more, that put

Into his hand the sceptre of the world.

Could he command my death?





We did not stand

[500] Examining the cause.





Then strike this womb

This tragical, and ever cursed womb,

That to the ruin of mankind brought forth 

That monster Nero, here, here take revenge.

Here Justice bids you strike. Let these sad wounds

Serve to appease the hatred of the earth

'Gainst Agrippina for dire Nero's birth.

                                                            She dies.