The Tragedy of Claudius Tiberius Nero
To the readers
Instead of Prologue to my play,
Observe this one thing I shall say.
I use no scene suppos’d, as many do,
But make the truth my scene and actors too:
And what unto that state in Nero’s reign befell.
Enter mourners to the funeral.
Then the sound to the Coronation.
Enter two Consuls, then Tiberius Nero, Nerva with the crown imperial: then Asinius, Sabinus and Sejanus, then, Drusus Tiberius, Drusus, Nero, and Caligula.
Tiberius Nero ascends.
Victorious Consuls and grave Senators, 1
My noble kinsmen and dear countrymen;
Dear friends to dear Augustus’
(Happy to have such friends and countrymen)
But I in shadow out in mask of words, 5
The sorrowing language of my groaning soul,
Or with a stream of tears allay the flame,
Wherewith my heart doth like an Etna
Yea, Gods I call to witness of my thoughts;
My tongue should speak, and speak in weeping words, 10
Mine eyes should well out words and speak in tears:
Words in my weeping, weeping in my words,
To sympathize my dear affection.
He feigns to swoon.
Lectores : to the reader s
2. Flaminij: Flamens
What ails my Lord? How fares your noble grace? 15
See how the inundation of his
Does stop the fountain of his utterance.
So true a grief express’d with such true love,
Would make a man to be in love with grief.
My Lord and father, what deep passion 20
Your deep-engraven sorrows hath surprised!
Comparèd with this new privation (1),
Does rive my heart ’twixt contrarieties: 25
Now would my tongue remember his fair deeds,
But then my heart swells with remembrance.
Sweet Drusus, you whose young experience
Has not such deep impression of these woes,
Our honourable burial rights unfold, 30
As most befits these solemn exequies*(2).
My Lord, my duty binds me to obey,
Against my reason and my budding years.
Yet for to check my years, my reason says
My duty must be reason to my years. 35
Therefore, great states of this sad parliament,
Fathers of Rome, partakers of our woes,
Vouchsafe to wash your silver hairs more white,
With flowing tears of true compassion.
Augustus Cæsar, high Octavius, 40
The true successor of great Julius,
Who, while glittering in his sun-bright rays,
Surpassed the glory of young Phaeton;
Now in the dark eclipsing of his days,
Lies lower than Apollo’s breathless son. 45
But ne’er before the Gods’ mortality.
I’ll plead his justice, lo his mercy shines:
I’ll call him merciful, yet just withal:
In mercy just, in justice merciful. 50
I’ll plead his honour, then his meekness calls,
I’ll praise his meekness, yet in honour’s robes,
In honour meek, in meekness honourable.
1. Privation needs to be said / read with four stresses to keep the iambic pentameter.
2. Exequies: funeral rites.
I’ll plead his wisdom, but his wit
I’ll praise his wit, yet linked in wisdom’s chain, 55
In witty wisdom, and in wisdom wit.
I’ll plead his beauty, but his strength bids stay,
I’ll praise his strength but in a beauteous mansion,
Beauteous in valour, and in beauty strong:
So if you reck not man’s fragility, 60
Yet weep to see the Gods’ mortality.
No more, sweet
A story too displeasing you relate.
Good Drusus, add not water to the sea,
To make our sea of sorrows overflow. 65
In vain, in vain, these puling signs of grief,
Effeminate waywardness, inconstant minds,
Vassals to fortune, slaves to nature’s course;
Augustus dead and so must all men die,
So work the sisters of necessity. 70
No person human can eternal be,
But in succession hath eternity.
Since then the 'ternal(1) providence of heaven
We must provide for his poor widow left, 75
Left to our patronage (the Common-wealth),
And you, my
With loyal homage and true fealty,
We do create our gracious Emperor. 80
And must my silence break or heart dissolve
In the accepting of a double yoke?
Not so, Cocceius, ’tis impossible.
Poor soul, for me or for my modesty.
To sway th'imperial sceptre of the world, 85
That of this world am not I Emperor.
Presents a sacrifice to heaven’s eye.
One only Atlas by his providence,
The glittering stars of heaven can support.
One only, one
Our Roman Phoenix fit for empery.
Who I? No, no, I know not what you mean!
An Emperor must wake, I drowsy am,
An Emperor must be valiant, I am old, 95
He must be just, I may be over-ruled.
1. ‘ternal : to keep the iambic pentameter ‘ternal is reduced to one syllable.
Sole monarch must he be, my mother
And must, and shall be honoured while she lives.
An Emperor must be able to endure
In war the winter’s frosts and summer’s heat; 100
I feel a palsy rooted in my bones.
He must have honey-dropping eloquence,
I for my part ne’er played the orator.
By this my Tribune’s power well I know,
How many doubtful cares he must endure, 105
That taketh care to be an Emperor.
An empire (Gods forfend), a goodly bait
To fish for witless high aspiring fools.
Humility persuades me to avoid
A drop of honey in a flood of gall. 110
Lords, trouble not my resolution;
I dare not, can not, will not take the crown.
(Aside) By Jove, most gallantly dissembled!
Alas my Lord, let tribute of our tears
Plead for the orphan of our country’s state. 115
We know -
What do you know? I know well what you know!
You say the state is doleful, so am I,
The state is now an orphan, so am I,
The state has lost his head, and so have I. 120
My dear Augustus…
He feigns weeping.
Why weeps Tiberius and will not cease?
And will not cease the weeping of the state?
Yes, yes, Sabinus, I will help my part,
There is Germanicus, the hope of
Nero and Drusus, and Caligula.
These gallant blossoms of the goodly stem,
Cocceius, Titius, and Asinius,
The spotless records of antiquity.
These are fit actors for our Empire’s stage. 130
I for my part will act some little part,
Fit for my barren wit and leaden tongue,
And you, my Lords, share in equality,
The glorious scenes of
Why then, my Lord Tiberius, choose your part: 135
The fruitful Sicily or gold of Spain,
The Arabian spices, or the Indian pearls,
The English wells, or vines of Italy:
The palms of Jewry, or the Scythian baths,
Either Egyptian Isis, or Rome’s Jove, 140
Memphis or Rome, Athens or Troynovaunt.
Large cities, fertile soil, and gracious Gods.
If these or any other may content,
Within the circuit of our empery,
My Lord, choose out your part, and leave the rest 145
To be assigned at our discretion.
(Aside) O for a shift; now, lion, rouse yourself,
Or else forever lose your lion’s head.
May I, Asinius, choose? Then this I choose:
To take no charge, for all I know is care. 150
Sicilians mutinous and Spaniards proud,
Arabians simple fools, and Indians drolls,
Britons too rude, Italians too, too wise,
Disloyal Syrians, superstitious Jews,
Isis too far, and Jove is placed too near. 155
All goodly Cities, but all dangerous.
By Jove, my hate he deadly shall obtain,
That bids me but to take a part again.
Not so, my Lord, you did misconstrue me, 160
I did not mean to make division
In the united union of the realm;
I did not mean to separate the sun,
To run by piecemeal in the zodiac;
Nor dream of multiplicity of souls, 165
Which one continued essence animates.
The heavens cannot move without a sun
Nor can the heavens have more suns than one.
Asinius, I perceive I did you wrong
So to interpret your oration. 170
I am sorry (troth I am), and if I live,
I’ll recompense your mighty injuries.
Will not Tiberius then accept the crown?
Why should Tiberius’ liberty be ceased?
No, Princes have the rule of liberty. 175
If liberty in greatness did rely!
My Lord, my Lord, it is no time to jest,
Nor dally it out in quoin'd antithesis;
Emperor or no Emperor, will you the crown or no?
Nero, speak plain, it is high time to know. 180
Take heed, my lords, be wary in your choice,
Lest after storms control your rash attempt.
You are to choose but once, consider well;
After, all subjects to your Emperor.
If you constrain me to this doubtful task, 185
And I, (as God forbid), should change my mind,
Turning my pity to a lion’s rage,
My snow-white conscience to a scarlet dye,
Would not the nations of the lesser world,
That are not subject to our empery, 190
Deride your lunatic election?
And if you should but think amiss of me,
Would they not laugh at your inconstancy?
Take heed, take heed, in vain you will repent,
Being fore-warned, and yet would not prevent. 195
My Lord, how long shall we write in the sands?
Or plough the air with vain delusions?
Our tongues are tired, and our throats are hoarse,
And all in vain we bend our suppliant knees,
Vassal our idle thoughts of reverence, 200
Subdue our mounting fancies to your love,
And will not all this move Tiberius?
Good Grandsire, grant the senators’ request.
Grandsire, they speak in earnest, take the crown.
Grandsire, accept this gold, look
how it shines! 205
I think it would become you passing fine.
Dear children, (old Tiberius’ eldest care),
My heart does dance to hear the melody,
That heavenly consort tuned to mine ears.
Thanks, my kind kinsmen, noble Romans thanks, 210
Even from my heart, although my cares increase,
Constrained, yet grateful for your kind constraint,
Bound to receive that which my soul abhors,
Enforced to honour which my years deny,
Enchained to rule, bane to my modesty. 215
Yet were my cares in number infinite,
(For who can number all his cares hath none),
Should they shower down in drops of streaming blood,
Muster in troops of languishing despair,
Swarm like to bees, sting like to scorpions, 220
Or like a flock of vultures gnaw my heart:
Yet these and more, and twice ten thousand more,
Old Nero will for Country’s cause endure,
For you, my fathers, and for you, my sons.
Sound trumpets, Nerva crowns him.
Most mighty Cæsar, great Tiberius, 225
Ever Augustus, Tribune of the State,
Perpetual dictator, Lord of Rome,
Sole Consul for our conquered provinces,
Prince of the Senate in our policies,
We here invest your sacred Majesty 230
In all the Ornaments imperial,
Rome’s and the world’s most glorious Emperor.
Long live Tiberius,
Like as an heartless fawn, environèd
Within the circuit of the hunter’s cry, 235
So stand I, Romans, wondering at your shouts.
These new alarums quell my slumbering thoughts;
Chased to the bay, I breathless panting muse,
To view the uncouth glory of the hunt.
As for to have an Emperor at bay.
But noble Romans, there's another deer,
A gallant roebuck, brave Germanicus,
Rome’s shining beacon in rude Germany,
Our dear adopted son, our blessed care; 245
To him, my Lords, as zeal of my affection,
And sign of duty to the common state,
We do prorogue eight years' proconsulship.
On you, Asinius, we do impose
To be our legate to Germanicus. 250
Tell him we love him, and be sure
Tell him we honour him, do not forget;
We love and honour dear Germanicus,
And would be joyful to behold our son,
Honoured in triumph at the Capitol, 255
But that we know the honour of his mind
Disdains to crop the blossoms of his fame,
Till it be flowered in his summer’s pride,
And all the barbarous Germans be subdued.
This do, Asinius, and return with love; 260
In our new glory, we your honour prove.
1. Omnes : plural of Omnis everybody or all. All subsequent words will be written as Everybody.
My Lord, what e’er Asinius’ honour prove,
His expedition shall declare he loves.
Now Fathers, we will to the sacrifice,
Saluting all the Gods in visitation: 265
Let lectisternia*(1) three days be proclaimed,
The sibyls, consuls, and Flaminies,*(2)
Janus shut up, and Vesta’s fire blaze,
Into the middle region of the air,
We all my Lords, will to the Capitol, 270
In silver seal our records to enrol.
Enter four Plebeians.
Did you not see our new Emperor, how bravely he came from his coronation? 1
Yes, it was a gallant sight sure, but did you mark his countenance? I thought it was
mightily altered within this five or six quarters of a year since I saw him last.
Aye, and I saw him go to the Senate, and as you say, I think he is much altered, and looks
more terrible a great deal. 5
Aye, that same look, I promise, is an ill sign; pray God all be well.
Well, we must hope the best, and think it is a great change from a subject to become a sufficient, for simple as I stand here, if I should chance to be chosen Emperor, I should
assault myself highly, I can tell you, or any of us all.
Augustus was a goodly man, and I hope he has left such a gracious sample, 10
that Tiberius will not forget himself.
Never talk of Augustus more, we shall never see his
might be our Emperor.
Oh, worthy Germanicus! He’s a flower indeed.
1. lectisternia : plural of lectisternium a religious feast.
My ministers, let's talk no more of these state-matters, 15
for I am afraid we have said too much already, if the Emperor should know of it…
You have said wisely, neighbour, for Emperors see and hear all that they desire.
I have heard my father tell my mother so, they have millions of spirits that tells them all.
I care not, I said nothing, but prayed God he might be no worse than Augustus;
that was no harm. 20
Well, let us part upon this that hath been said, and let’s keep one another’s counsels,
and take heed hereafter.
Enter Germanicus with Centurion and Soldiers.
Well followed, Tribunes, gallant gentlemen, 1
Thus are these harts chased to their lurking dens,
That brayed like asses in their lion’s skin.
Worthy centurion, you whose might did break
The triple ranges of our dangerous foes, 5
Whose well-sway'd buckler took so many darts
As seemed to cloud the sun with multitude.
Accept the honour of a gentleman,
Crowned with the triumph of victorious spoils:
This crown thus pleated of the verdant grass 10
Your high uplifted head shall more adorn,
Than all the honour of proud
Noble Germanicus, a Roman heart
Has by inheritance a mounting spirit:
Did not great Coriolanus so advance 15
The mellow fruit of his old withered stock?
Did not three hundred Fabij all at once,
In one day, breathe, war, vanquish, fight and die,
All to maintain the honour of their name?
So did Marius in
And happy Scylla under Scipio.
With what alacrity did Scaevola
Encounter Porsena’s torture, death and fire,
All to maintain the honour of their name,
And should not I hazard this blaze of life, 25
This rising bubble, this imprisoned soul,
This changing matter, this inconstant act,
For country, friends, and honour of my name?
Enter a Page.
My Lord, here is a Legate sent from
Which craves access unto your Majesty. 30
Let him draw near: cousin Asinius!
Welcome, my noble friend, to
All happiness unto Germanicus!
I have a secret message to impart,
If please your Grace, of private patience. 35
Tribunes, look to the four gates of the camp:
See that the trenches be enchannelled deep;
Send out our scouts, if they can spy the foe,
Number their cohorts and their legions,
Comfort the maimed, bury all the dead, 40
Refresh your bodies, for tomorrow morn
We mean to scour this vanquished region.
Now, good Asinius, tell Germanicus
The substance that your message does import. 45
Were I not now to speak unto your Grace,
My tongue should play the rhetorician,
And in grave precepts strive to moralize,
Or make a long discourse of patience,
Adding a crookèd signed parenthesis 50
Of puling sorrow betwixt each siphered line.
But for Asinius knows your settled mind
So nursed in flowing streams of constancy,
Asinius does report Augustus’ death.
I will not commonplace of mortal men, 55
Nor of his virtue, nor his nobleness,
Nor Solon’s grave advice shall be my theme:
I know I speak unto Germanicus.
Besides, Tiberius is our Emperor:
He says he loves you, and to show his love, 60
Has your proconsulship eight years prolonged.
Enter the Centurion who was crowned.
Germanicus and grave Asinius,
Awake from counsel, all is in uproar!
Our German legions are all mutinous,
And cry 'Germanicus our Emperor,
Germanicus our noble Emperor'; 65
They make a throne of tufts, and then they cry,
' Germanicus shall be our Emperor.'
A world of cares at once assault my soul;
I am distracted. Hark! The mutinies.
They cry within, and everybody exits.
Enter Tiberius, Julia, and Sejanus
Impute it not unto ungratefulness, 1
And which doth touch me nearer dearest mother,
That Nero has deferred indebted thanks
Equivalent unto your high deserts. 5
I can not, mother, set your praise to sail,
Or orate it with a glozing tongue,
Graced with picked phrases, glorious speech,
Choice synonymies, pleasing epithets,
Plagued by apish action, toying gesture. 10
Mother, I hate this tip-tongued flattery,
Better is me, be as you see me now,
Thankful in outward deeds than outward show;
But forward, mother, with your former tale.
No sooner the uncontrolled fates 15
Exiled his life, and with his life our care,
But that Sejanus, from whose faithful tongue,
(As from Apollo’s true sent oracles,
We chief derive the drift of our affairs),
Roasted like to the palfreys of the sun, 20
To Rhodes where you in exile did remain,
There to inform you of Augustus’ death,
The Empire’s vacancy, and your repeal.
My tongue denies to blazon in harsh words,
Dear friends, the thankfulness my heart affords. 25
Meanwhile had I not with great policy,
Buried in silence great Augustus’ death,
And in the closet of my care-worn breast,
Embosomèd the notice of the same,
Shown unto thee, smothered to vulgar fame, 30
Barred from the base Plebeians’ itching ears,
A kestrel had possessed your eagle’s nest,
And you, the eagle, had been dispossessed.
But now that kestrel in his course is stopped.
Clipped are his pinions of ambitious flight, 35
Nor shall he hope to sit where Nero soars.
Were he the issue of eternal Jove,
Or far more fortunate in his success
Then was Alcides, or fair Thetis’ son,
More happy in the offspring of his loins 40
Than Priam in his children’s multitude,
Yet would I bridle his aspiring thoughts,
And curb the reins of his ambition.
Well can he brave it in his barbarous arms,
Against the opposing force of
And stranger nations of the farthest north,
Whose hearts, like to their climate hard congealed,
Are frozen cold to
A crested burgonet more fits him
Than to engirt his temples with a crown. 50
Therefore in policy by your advice,
Under pretext of honourable mind,
We delegated to Germanicus
Asinius Gallus into Germany,
With twice four years’ prolongèd consulship. 55
Which of necessity he must accept;
Such hope of higher honour is forestalled.
’Tis true, for what he aimed at, I enjoy;
This was the attractive magnet of his hopes.
To which, how hardly did you seem allured, 60
With such denial you refused it!
Making a commentary on the crown,
With oh! the duty of an Emperor,
How wary, watchful, wise he ought to be:
How drowsy and improvident you were, 65
With heaping up a story of what cares
They undergo, that undertake to rule.
So graced with sundry squeamish subtleties,
As Mercury himself, (the God of wit),
Might have admired, but not have matched it. 70
Yet did that Argus-eyed Asinius
Both mark and bluntly mate me in my drift,
With, ‘Choose your part, my Lord, in
Or, heyday, where you will, so not in
But by my genius I’ll remember! 75
Aye, had not wise Asinius uttered it.
Had I no had-nots, nor Asinius
Can so o’er canopy his close conceit,
But I will know the panther by his skin.
Nor am I ignorant of his great love 80
He bears unto the proud Germanicus,
However clothèd in hypocrisy.
Aye, that Germanicus holds all their hearts.
No marvel, for they call him
And some did say he should be Emperor, 85
In spite of Julia and her exiled son.
But neither Julia nor her exiled son
Would have endured such competitors.
Nero will brook no rival in his rule,
Unless it be the imperious Julia, 90
To whom the law of nature binds Tiberius
So firm obligèd in obedience
As all the attributes of majesty,
Rome, or the world, or Nero can afford,
I deem too mean a tribute for her love, 95
Whose love first lent the essence of my life,
Whose life does only make me love to live.
Enough, my son:
Sufficient precedents of duteous mind
We oft have provèd and approvèd oft, 100
And for our part never did Hecuba
Bear so great love to all the sons she bore,
As Julia does to one Tiberius.
Mother, I do confess and know it true,
But in the infancy of our estate, 105
More private consultation better fits,
We and Sejanus will into our study.
And we into our walking Gallery. 108
Enter Germanicus alone.
I have dispatched Asinius to
With thanks to Nero and the Senators.
Augustus dead, Tiberius Emperor,
The Roman Senate glozing flatterers, 5
The legions discontent and mutinous:
The Praetors tyrants in their provinces,
The navy spoiled, unrigged, dismemberèd,
The city made a brothel house of sin.
Italians' valour turned to luxury, 10
The field of Mars turned to a tennis-court,
Minerva’s olive to the myrtle tree,
Apollo’s laurel, into Bacchus’ vine,
High Jove contemn’d, and Vesta’s tapers scorned,
The oracles despised, the Sibyl’s books 15
Esteemed as superstitious delusions;
The orient up in arms and Piso fled,
The Gallogrecians proud for to rebel,
And these rude German kerns not yet subdued. 20
Besides a new devised religion,
Of the inconstant Jews called Christians;
Our sacred oracles, some are struck dumb,
And some foretold of
Vocal Boetia in deep miseries, 25
And Delphian glory in obscureness lies,
A geminied Phoebus, a three doubled moon,
A whirling comet, flashing in the air,
A wolf ascended to the Capitol;
The Temple blasted of fidelity, 30
A common harlot to bring forth a bear,
O Gods! My heart does quake, my soul does fear.
Enter a Page.
My Lord, the scouts discovered the wood
Wherein the Germans do in ambush lie.
Sir, go tell them I will scare the crows! 35
Boy, trouble not my meditations.
What should I spend my time to scare these crows,
When there's a coal-black raven perched so high?
Germanicus, soar you a higher pitch, 40
Tower like a lark, and like an eagle mount,
Till you have seized upon your prey. For why?
The legions love you, hate Tiberius,
Honour your virtues, scorn his cowardice,
Extol your meekness, and revile his pride: 45
Pray for your happiness and curse his days,
My father Caius; his was Claudius,
I am of Cæsar, he of Julia:
I heir by nature, he but by adoption.
Rome saw you honoured, Rhodes him banished; 50
He tamed the foxes of Illyria,
But I the lions of proud Germany,
And this were cause enough, were there no other:
I by Augustus made, he by his mother.
But you are heir imperial to the state, 55
But he that looks for death may hope too late.
Yet hope, Germanicus, good hope’s a treasure,
But he that hopes for meat, may starve at pleasure.
Aye, but Tiberius Nero's very old,
But young enough to live to see you sold. 60
Aye, but he loves you for Augustus’ sake,
Augustus gone, the match is new to make,
But since his death, your power he has augmented,
Aye, that at Rome my power might be prevented:
He sent you word he loves you; so I think; 65
Who would not love the wine he means to drink?
He honours you, he said, and so I deem:
Who would not of the fattest goat esteem?
Impatient fury, fly Germanicus;
How is your reason dimmed with cloudy passion? 70
Proud swelling dropsy, ever gnawing worm,
Insatiate vulture, vile ambition,
Deluding siren. Where’s Germanicus?
The Legions love you not for to aspire,
Your virtue shines not in oppression; 75
No honour in ambitious array,
No meekness in a traitor’s happiness.
Your father got you not for to rebel,
Nor Cæsar did abet your treacheries;
By nature heir, then be you natural: 80
Rome saw your honour, change not livery,
But make your harvest up in Germany.
Enter a Page.
My Lord, the Tribunes sent me to your grace
To know your royal pleasure in the case.
What, have they chased the foe, and I delay? 85
Run, Caius; fly for haste, away, away.
Exit Germanicus and Page.
Enter Caligula at one end of the stage, and Sejanus at the other end below. Julia at one end aloft and Tiberius Nero at the other.
I am a fool; I am Caligula, 1
Supposèd idiot, and am so indeed,
For he that will live safe must seem a fool.
Am not I Empress? And shall I be controlled?
Have I made him to reign, and shall I stoop?
Is he my son? And am not I his mother?
Tiberius you shall know a woman’s hate
Exceeded bounds, and never can have date.
How am I Emperor and my mother rule? 10
Is she the Sun? Shall I the shadow be?
I but the smoke, and shall she be the fire?
I but a bare imagination,
And she the image that is honoured?
I but the echo, shall she be the sound? 15
A plague upon her, I will her confound!
This will I do: no this, no villain this,
Poison Tiberius: aye, but Germanicus,
The Emperor and his mother seem to jar,
Fight dog, fight cat, for both your sports I’ll mar. 20
But Nero loves me; so did my mother too,
And yet I broke her neck in honesty;
Mother, forgive me, I’ll do so no more;
Yet if a thousand mothers’ necks would serve
To get me to be Emperor of Rome, 25
By heavens I would not leave one neck alive:
And to be sure that they should all be broke,
I’d hire some honest jointer them to set,
And break them over twenty thousand times,
And for to recompense his worthy pain, 30
I’d make him set his own nine times again.
I laugh to see how I can counterfeit,
And I should blush if that Germanicus,
My father, my dissembling should behold.
He knows I am a soldier, not a fool. 35
My mother was delivered in the camp,
And in my swaddling clothes I chased the foe;
My cradle was a corslet, and for milk
I battened was with blood: and fed so fast
That in ten years I was a colonel. 40
My mother knew this, but she deems me changed,
Poor woman, in the loathsome Roman stews.
O Mother, I am changed, but wherefore so?
Caligula of Caligula must not know.
Shall I call him a bastard? True it is, 45
But, Julia, then you do yourself the wrong.
Say that he was Augustus’ murderer,
Yet therein Julia, you were counsellor.
How then? A vengeance on his cursèd head;
So he was murdered, would that I were dead. 50
Vile monster that I am, to perish loath,
Yet heavens rain brimstone and consume us both!
I am impatient, yet I must dissemble.
She is my mother, I must honour her:
She is my lady, I must show her duty: 55
She is most wise, worthy of reverence.
Aye, but the hag is most ambitious,
She must have priests forsooth, and Flamens
To sacrifice unto her majesty;
She must check Nero, aye, and school him too, 60
As he were prentice to her tutorship.
She must incorporate free denizens,
Or else she’ll scold and rail, and snarl and bite,
And take up Nero for his lustiness.
Well, let her scold and rail, and snarl and bite, 65
Nero will manage well the haggard kite;
I will, by Jove, I will, yet I must seem
As though my mother I did most esteem!
He that will climb and aim at honour’s white,
Must be a wheeling turning politician, 70
A changing Proteus, and a seeming all,
Yet a discolourèd chameleon
Framed of an airy composition:
As fickle and inconstant as the air,
Fit for the sun to make a rainbow in, 75
By each new fangled reflection,
Ruled by the influence of each wandering star,
Wax apt to take each new impression.
With wise men sober, with licentious light,
With proud men stately, humble with the meek, 80
With old men thrifty, and with young men vain:
With angry, furious, and with mild men calm:
Humorous with one, and Cato(1) with another:
Effeminate with some, with other chaste,
Drink with the German, with the Spaniard brave: 85
Brag with the French, with the Egyptian lie,
Flatter in Crete, and fawn in Greece.
This is the way; Sejanus, use your skill:
Or this, or no way must you get your will.
If you do mean the Empire to obtain, 90
Swear, flatter, lie, dissemble, cheat, and feign.
Caligula, why does your slumbering soul,
Thus dream within your commonsense’s mansion?
Awake, for shame; fly to Germanicus:
Ring in your father’s ears a peal of sorrow, 95
Uncase this folly and unmask this face,
That has envelopèd Caligula.
But see, my motherAgrippina comes
With valiant Drusus and Nero my wise brother;
Caligula's now a fool, in faith no other. 100
Enter Agrippina with her two sons, Drusus and Nero.
Why then, my sons, Tiberius wears the crown.
Aye, mother, and he swears he’ll keep it too.
And reason, brother, has he so to do.
What reason, brother, has he but his will?
Will may be reason, if he’ll keep it still. 105
And shall he reign? A base Plebeian.
1. Cato : famous censor and author, idealised as the pattern of an ancient Roman; famous Stoic and republican leader
He was adopted a Patrician.
So may I choose my horse to be my Page.
Good brother, calm your furious swelling rage;
We gave our voices in his election. 110
No, brother, storm not, hear me what I say;
Did not we swear loyal fidelity
Within the Capitol unto his grace?
Did we not both at Vesta’s sacred shrine,
Pray for the safety of his Majesty? 115
And will you, Drusus, now recall your oath?
Recall your vows? Recall your prayers’ incense?
Remember, Drusus, what so e’er he be,
Now he is crowned all’s past recovery.
Crowned, aye, and may be uncrowned for ought you know. 120
How say you, mother, may it not be so?
Caligula (far off)
This is to be resolv’d, my gallant brother.
How hardly can I my affections smother!
Young imps of honour, in you both I find
A noble way to virtuous resolution: 125
In you, my Nero, wisdom’s treasury;
In you, my Drusus, magnanimity;
In both, your father’s honourable mind.
Speak fair, my sons, awhile unto Tiberius,
Until the triumph of Germanicus, 130
Then be resolved.
The cause is honourable, fear no
But O, my sons! Yonder's Caligula
Capering: he takes no heed of higher things.
I’ll call him hither and see what
he says. 135
Caligula, come hither, gentle son;
How do you like the great Tiberius?
Faith, he’s a brave man, Mother, and his apparel is fit, and he has a fine crown of gold,
and all this makes him but a brave man. For what would you have in a brave man,
but he may have it? 140
Well, well, my son, you’ll never leave your toys.
Why, Mother, he can turn above
ground, turn on the toe, turn every way; what
should I say more? By heaven, a brave man!
And what can you do, brother, let us see?
Faith, brother, I am not in the humour, and brave men can do nothing without it be 145
in a humour.
Come, let us leave this humorous gentleman.
Exit Agrippina, Drusus and Nero
Aye, I warrant you, for I’ll sup at court tonight.
Farewell, Mother, brethren both, farewell, 150
Whom I admire in such devotion
But dare not trust. Drusus, I know you well
And love you dearly for your high resolves,
But dare not trust you. Nero, I applaud
Your wisdom, but it wants a resolution. 155
Nero and Drusus beware the brain-sick fool
Caligula set you not both to school.
Enter Julia, Tiberius, and Sejanus.
Heard you not with what general applause, 1
Asinius was welcomed to
At his return from barbarous
How many greedy ears did glut themselves
With hearing news of their Germanicus? 5
How many greedy tongues in labour were,
To blazon forth the trophies of his praise?
Not Priam’s Hector from the flying Greeks,
Whom he had chased from the Tyrrhene shore,
Returned with greater expectation, 10
Than, laden with the spoils of German foes,
The people long to see Germanicus.
Not only the Plebeians, but the Equites
Do reverence him within their inward thoughts,
As if the vassal was a demigod. 15
And rightly, marry, for if Nero lives,
Nero shall defy him to the full.
But if you suffer him on honour’s wings
To soar up higher in ambitious flight,
Borne on the tempest of the people’s tongues, 20
It’s ten to one, he’ll never stoop to lure;
To keep him short, is only to be sure.
Let us command him, upon pain of death,
Not to approach within our city walls,
But either to dismiss his soldiers, 25
Or on the plains pitch his pavilions.
No, marry, mother, not for all the world.
Why? it were ominous:
With armèd garrisons of greatest foes?
Impoliticly counselled in my mind, 30
Administering too fit occasion
For to suspect and fear a foul pretence.
And further, that the base Plebeians,
As wavering, and inconstant in their loves,
As is your changing Laconians, 35
Who, hearing but a muttering of our drifts,
Would, like a world of rivers to the main,
Flow to Germanicus by multitudes,
Whose swelling pride, by their repair increased,
Will overflow the banks of loyalty. 40
Mother, this was but shallow policy;
But who is it that interrupts our conference?
It's Lucius Piso, Praetor of
What news in
With all our oriental provinces?
Peace has resigned her Rome to bloody war,
Whilst Mars, the fury-breathing God of armies,
Knits up his fore-head in a fearful frown
And in the furrows of his folded brows, 50
Displays the sable ensign of sad death,
Upon the spacious Armenian plains,
And all the orient in rebellious pride,
Threatening destruction to our western world
Do seem to challenge us in daring armies. 55
Who is the head in this rebellion?
The chief controller of these warlike troops
Is uncontrolled Vonones, on whose crest
Victory seems to dance among his plumes,
His burgonet and steel habergeon, 60
Of bloody colour like unto his mind,
Of visage stern, broad-browed and hollow-eyed,
Looking as though he did comprise the world
Within the complot of some stratagem.
Ha! What? So soon,
Have you forgot your wanted servitude?
Are Romans' virtues and their vigour done?
Or dead with
Are all the stripes that strong Lucullus gave
Unto your neighbour
Quite healèd up, without offensive scar?
Are mighty Pompey’s trophies quite forgotten?
Well, be it so, they blow rebellious flame,
And they shall feel the fury of the same.
Meanwhile return you, Piso, to your lodging, 75
Till fit occasion to employ you hence.
How likes your Majesty this woeful news?
Like enough, he dislikes it enough.
Might Julia counsel him, he should revenge it
With more extremity of punishment 80
Than angry Jove reigned from the vault of heaven
Upon his throne, oppugning Briareus.
Aye, soft and fair, first stop our fears at home,
Good counsel, great Tiberius, knew we how! 85
How? What, are all our policies extinct?
No, be attentive and I’ll tell you how;
The head-spring stopped, the smaller founts will fail,
And thus our home-bred fear, Germanicus,
Grounding their hopes upon their father’s haps, 90
Take from his life their light countenance;
His life therefore extinct, their light is done.
This is the thing that we consulted of,
But to no purpose yet.
Yes, Mother, yes: 95
By this occasion of the Armenian wars,
An opportunity is offered us
Both to revenge and rid us of our foes.
This usurer of fame, Germanicus,
(Who gapes as greedily for fair renown, 100
As does a niggard for a shower of gold),
No sooner shall return to Rome,
Graced with the triumphs of his victories,
But by my policy and fair pretext,
We will conclude it in the Senate house, 105
That for the safety of Rome’s tottering state,
Germanicus must to Armenia,
Where he shall fall by fierce Vonones’ sword;
Or if he escape, we’ll so determine it,
As Jove to Saturn shall resign his throne, 110
And banished from the sphere where now he reigns,
Humble himself, below the hornèd moon,
Before he shall return to visit Rome.
Enter Drusus, Livia, and Spado.
The Gods preserve your royal Majesty!
Good day unto you, son, and Livia. 115
Have you attended long our coming forth?
Not very long, my gracious Grandmother,
But hearing you were in close conference,
It had been rudeness to have interrupted you.
We were indeed in consultation, 120
About affairs of special secrecy.
But wherefore looks our son so sad this morn?
the clang of harsh Armenian
The rattling sound of clarions and drums,
Thundered into your ears a deep revenge? 125
The orient does shine in warlike steel,
And bloody streamers, wavèd in the air,
By their reflections dye the plains in red,
As ominous unto destructive wars,
As are the blazing comets in the East. 130
We have both heard, and eke consulted of,
The whole effect of which our conference
We shall at fitter time relate to you;
Meanwhile let’s make our preparation
Against the arrival of Germanicus, 135
Who means tomorrow for to royalise
The triumphs of his German victories.
Exit Tiberius, Julia, and Drusus.
Remain Sejanus, Livia and Spado.
Madam, a word with your good ladyship.
So please it your good Lordship, so you may.
But shall I speak my mind without control? 140
I have no patent to control you, sir.
But will you not be angry if I do?
That is if yourself shall give me cause to.
But say my tongue should fault before I find it? 145
If lightly I would pass it, and not mind it.
What if I should offend with heart’s assent?
The offence should pardoned be, if you repent.
Thinketh my Lady as she say to me?
No other ways, my Lord. But well I see, 150
By these your long circumlocutions,
Your business is of small import with me.
Of more import, sweet Lady, than my life.
A matter of more weight than I must know?
Yet must you know it or I must not be. 155
Can Livia then impart a remedy?
Aye, if she please to salve my malady.
What salve should Livia to your sore apply?
Pity’s quintessence and soft clemency.
Strange sore, strange salve. 160
Yet not so strange as true.
I pity it: God send you ease, adieu.
Yet hear me, gentle Lady, ere you part:
To tell my pain does somewhat ease my heart,
And to be graced with attentive heed, 165
To lovers does especial comfort breed.
Then is my Lord a lover?
You have read.
How wonderfully metamorphosèd!
More wonders can she work that wrought my bane, 170
Able to change the chastest Utican.
What, is your Goddess then a sorceress?
The first, but than the latter nothing less.
You said she usèd charming sorceries.
Only the enchantments of her crystal eyes, 175
Which had they glancèd on enamoured Jove
While Io lived, Jove would have begged
And spite of Juno, Hebe and Ganymede,
She only should have graced Theatates’ bed.
Peerless belike, and fit to be a cow. 180
Farewell, Sejanus, I must leave you now.
Dear Madam, one word more, and then farewell.
Be brief, Sejanus, then.
Beauteous fair cell,
The heavenly panymphea of our days - 185
No, then I am gone if you begin to praise.
By these bright shining tapers, your fair eyes,
The guiding planets of Sejanus’ life,
Which beautify the heaven of your face
With far more glorious admiration, 190
Than chaste Dictynna or Latona’s son.
But one word more (dear soul) and I have done:
By this fair branch, sprouted from fairer tree,
Enamellèd with azure rivulets,
Blue coloured veins, which every ways dispersed, 195
In kind embraces clip your tender hand...
Villain, let go, grip not my hand so hard.
How can I choose? Such you do grip my heart.
Let go my hand, or I will have your head.
I grip your heart, villain as thou art! 200
Aye, in your lovely but obdurate breast.
In my breast? Though it were there indeed,
I would unrip my breast and tear it out.
Yet for yourself’s sweet sake, to self be kind,
So fair a frame holds not so foul a mind. 205
But Madam, leaving off this angry mood,
In sadness would you grant, if you were wooed?
Blast not my name with lustful infamy,
For if you do, by heaven I will …
She pulls his rapier.
Lady, these hands were never made to brandish steel. 210
Could I but get it, you should quickly feel.
Fie Lady, fie. What turned a soldier?
If you be so resolved, let this be war.
He kisses her.
Uncivil by violence! Spado, I am wronged.
By Jove, or ask forgiveness for your fault, 215
Or I will sheath my rapier in your heart.
Put up, put up, pigmy, hold, I say; put up.
Sejanus gives Spado his purse.
What, will you kill your Lady’s paramour?
Leaden resolvèd coward, let me see it;
I will phlebotomize his lustful blood. 220
She takes the rapier.
That have you done already by your spite,
And now accept this sacrifice.
O cruel plight!
Yet will I breathe another life into
Or bury him within this sepulchre. 225
Spado, help! Help! For God’s sake hold his head;
See how the tears congealed in his eyes
Do make me see my shame that was unkind;
Good gentle heart, I should have pardoned him.
Fair Proserpine, 230
I am a lover …
See how his idle soul,
Not quite dissevered from his arteries,
Makes him dream vainly of Elysium!
Who calls that name?
He lifts himself up, and Livia flies back.
The very index of all misery.
I am ashamèd for I was too nigh.
Ah Lady, I did dream that you did grant me…
What shall I say? Words fail me to deny him. 240
Sejanus, dream you still that I did grant?
But dreams without effects be but vain hopes.
No more was yours; yet dream you still in hope?
But shall my hopes succeed?
I will not promise. 245
But perform indeed.
Exit Livia and Spado.
Sejanus remains alone.
Wrong me not, shallow politicians,
By misinterpreting my actions;
A farther reach is in Sejanus’ head,
Than to adulterate a Prince’s bed. 250
Not lust nor love, but hate and injury
Inspire me with profounder policy.
Under this vale of love envelopèd,
It’s not a kiss, an Empire it’s I seek,
An opportunity to claim the crown, 255
And fit occasion to wreak revenge
Upon her husband for his injuries.
Drusus, the box on the ear you gave me
Becomes the prologue of your tragedy.
Meanwhile, let this suffice, for my intent 260
Is only for to love this instrument,
As did Ulysses Troy’s Palladium,
Not for itself, but
But whilst, Sejanus, prison up your tongue;
Now to the triumphs, I have stayed too long. 265
Enter Germanicus in triumph with the Arch-Flamen before him, Tiberius on his right hand, Asinius and Sabinus. Next Julia, Agrippina and Livia, then Nero, Drusus and Caligula Germanici, then Sejanus and other Senators, then the captains of Germanicus with his soldiers and prisoners. They crown him with crowns and garlands according to the custom and all cry:
Long live victorious Germanicus: 1
In glory royalise.
Noble Germanicus, whose wingèd fame,
Swift gliding through the frozen Germany,
Has brought us news of your fair victories, 5
You that do equalize in honours’ titles,
The elder Scipio, noble African,
And younger Scipio Asiaticus,
Paulus Emilius of proud Macedon,
Flamen’s conquest, and Metellus’ glory: 10
Old Fabius’ wisdom and Marcellus’ fury,
Renownèd Gracchus’ gallant resolution,
Brave man at arms, unfold your victories,
Which heavens themselves do seem to solemnize
First to the Gods, the authors of
my good, 15
I sacrifice the incense of my thanks.
Next unto you, my Lord imperial,
I wish eternity of happiness.
All you that wear the snowy livery
Of long experience, worthy Senators, 20
And you the flowing blossoms of fair Rome,
My very essence, valiant soldiers all
Loving Quirites, loyal countrymen,
Fair ladies, mirrors of the amazed world,
Embellishèd with royal chastity; 25
In all the circuit of my humble vows,
I offer up to Jove’s protection.
Since first, my lords, I entered Germany,
The fertile soil of base rebellion,
Our eagles twice nine times have been displayed, 30
And twice nine times with trophies honoured.
The barbarous marshes on the southern side
Hailed down three furious storms of poisoned darts.
Not Cicas’ torture, bloody Scythian;
Nor Crassus’ scourge, dissembling Parthians, 35
Did ever rage in such tempestuous showers;
But by the prowess of our valiant knights,
Who all alighted from their furious steeds,
We stilled the hissing of these poisonous snakes,
Which all the neighbour country stings to death. 40
Long live the valiant Germanicus.
But on the northern side of Germany,
Whereas the Usipites kept the plain,
Impalèd in a wilderness of wood,
Walled with a rocky mountain in the east, 45
Backed with the sea upon the northern coast,
Enchannelled with a deep entrenchèd mere,
Between our legions on the southern side,
These mewed up foxes in this stratagem
Derided all our legion’s braveries. 50
Four times with all our power we gave assault
To win the passage of that dangerous mere,
Four times repulsèd by the quaking ground
That, trembling, durst not bear our soldiers.
At length when Cynthia’s borrowed waning light 55
Repaid the essence of her brother’s lamp,
Behind the low descending of the hill,
I saw the ocean afar batterèd,
As when the elder African in Spain,
By ebbing Thetis scarrèd Carthage walls, 60
So by the flying backward of the main,
The foxes on the back I saw engirt,
That, thanks to Neptune for his clemency,
They all adorn our royal victory.
Long live the valiant Germanicus. 65
Next to the Usipetes were encamped
The Tubants hovering on the mountain’s side,
That if our legions approached the hill,
They roll down rocks of stone to murder them.
Upon the hanging of the steep cliff, 70
There was by nature placed a little grove,
But surely guarded for the Druids,
To solemnize their human sacrifice,
As in the second cruel Punic war
The tents of Siphax, and of Hasdruball, 75
Were all enflamed by noble Scipio,
So by the burning of this little grove,
The mountain quite consumed where Tubants lay,
And they became our triumph’s goodly prey:
But in the wood that borders on the mount, 80
The cruel tigers hid their damnèd heads,
The savage Agriuarij kept their den,
Who ranging now and then would snatch their prey,
Renting each joint, dissevering each part,
And never leave till they had found the heart. 85
Not Massagetes was so cruel called,
Nor Babylon was e’er so strongly walled;
For since Usipetes’ last confusion,
They made the sea a moat unto the wood,
That great Alcides would have wonderèd, 90
To see this land so environèd.
Hard by the southern frontier of the wood,
Unto the checker of the ocean,
Muttering repaid his tributary due. 95
There did I make my skilful pioneers
To cut a trench from the great
That this new sea which walled in the wood
Was now the grave of their perdition.
The savage Agriuarij all were drowned.
But such as swam to us we would not slay,
That they might grace the honour of our day.
Long live victorious Germanicus.
Twice did we meet the buckstars in the field, 105
And forty thousand quite were vanquished.
Of stiff-necked Chatti, never yet controlled,
A hundred thousand perished in one field;
Not Cannas, nor the fields of Pharsaly:
So dyed in blood as was Danube’s, 110
And which my private joy does more obtain,
Of all the Romans were but ninety slain.
This is the theatre of Germany,
And these the countries which I conquered.
Now, worthy Emperor, I made a vow 115
To dedicate my sword to Jove’s protection.
If it please your Majesty for to ascend
Unto the Senate, where Germanicus
Will all the secrets more at large disclose.
Meanwhile, my followers, I you dismiss, 120
And all my gracious friends with thanks I leave,
Until our country rights we do perform,
Which done, Germanicus will soon return.
Long live the valiant Germanicus. 125
Long live victorious Germanicus.
Exit all, in order to the Senate at one door: Julia, Agrippina, Livia, and Caligula, at the other.
Remain, Nero, Drusus and Germanici.
Drusus, if you had been so valorous 1
As over-boasting in your humblest terms,
We might have sealed our league of amity
Now with Tiberius’ cold congealed blood.
And if your bookish wisdom, clerkly art, 5
Had armed been with Roman resolution,
I tell you, Nero, coward as you are,
Tiberius should not thus have ’scaped our hands.
By Jove, my father was his coat of steel,
Placed between my sword and him, or else… 10
Or else you would have sworn
Volumes of six foot oaths, but never a blow!
No more, my father comes.
Coward, I do retort it in your teeth.
Why Nero, brother, are you mad? 15
Enter Tiberius and Germanicus, Nerva, Sabinus, Asinius, Sejanus, Piso, with other Senators from the Senate.
I hope this solemn business of the East, 1
Does not aggravate our son Germanicus.
My Lord, the honour of my country’s cause,
Does counterpoise my sad affections.
Farewell, my honourable gallant son, 5
The hope of
Piso, farewell, remember well your duty.
Once more adieu, my dear Germanicus.
My Lord Germanicus, the heavens conduct
Your high resolves to happy victory. 10
Thanks, good Sejanus; gentle friend farewell.
Exit Tiberius, Sejanus and
My Lord Germanicus, I much lament
The strong rebellion of the Orient.
My heart presages what I dare not say;
Farewell, Germanicus, for now I dare not stay, 15
And yet I will. Ah dear Germanicus!
How does old Nerva wish your company?
And but my honour does control my will,
I would, Germanicus… farewell, farewell.
No, good Cocceius, stay a little while, 20
To hear the last perchance I e’er shall tell you.
So variable is the chance of war.
Unto you three, the patrons of my life,
Nerva, Sabinus, and Asinius,
Unto your patronage I recommend, 25
My orphan children, and my widow wife,
No more, my Lord, let heavens tell the rest;
Remember your true friend Germanicus.
They embrace, and so part. Exit Cocceius, and enter Piso.
My Lord, it was time your business was dispatched,
The journey craves great expedition, 30
And date of your abode is well-nigh out.
Nor ought you to extenuate the same;
What though the Senate has decreed it so?
Germanicus should give adieu to
Before tomorrow’s sun salute the world; 35
Yet have I some time to remain therein.
Which being small, that small space let me spend
To satisfy my eyes with gazing on
Who for these many winters have desired,
Although in vain, to resalute this place, 40
And now no sooner resalute the same,
But am constrained to bid it adieu,
It may be never to return again.
It may be? No, that’s sure.
The Senate has decreed, and it must be, 45
There’s no resisting of necessity.
Yet, gentle Piso, suffer me to grieve,
If at nothing else, yet at necessity,
Too strict for over-toiled Germanicus,
Whose weary limbs require a longer rest 50
Than is one day’s short intermission.
Yet were it, Piso, but an hour’s space,
Were all my body brushed with bearing arms,
Yet would Germanicus bear it as he may,
And rather sink under his armour’s weight, 55
Than leave to wear it in defence of Rome,
To whom, though Rome for harbour be denied,
Yet has he room in all the world beside:
Only this respite, and I crave no more,
To give my wife and sons their last farewell. 60
You may, and I will call you presently.
Enter Nero and Drusus.
Do, Piso, and be honoured for this favour.
But see your sons, Germanicus, your sons,
Declaring by their angry clouded frowns,
Some civil discord, or some discontents. 65
For shame, my boys, if so a father’s power
May have predominance in sons’ dissent,
Clear up those cloudy vapours of your brows,
That threaten storms of dreadful discontent.
Leave off your over-daring menaces, 70
And tell the cause of your dissention,
Tell me, for I ought, must, and will know.
Only this, Father, caused our controversy:
Going to the Capitol to the triumph,
We saw a kite usurp the Eagle’s place, 75
Whereat enraged, we cast our falcons off,
And for mine was not of such speedy flight
As was my brother’s, he began to chafe.
Patience herself, I think, would be enraged
To see a man so faintly falconer it; 80
For, Father, had my brother done his best,
We might have taken down the haggard kite.
What, for so small a matter fall at odds?
Fie, never violate true brothers' love
By furious rages and dissentious jars; 85
It not befits your title, nor these times.
Sad time, wherein perhaps, my last farewell
Is to be taken of my dearest sons,
Whom if I leave distract in factious hate,
How can I hope to bid you once farewell, 90
Since faring as I see, you fare but ill?
My time of residence is short in Rome,
And yet too long, if long you disagree;
Be reconcilèd, therefore, to yourselves,
Shake hands, embrace, be friends, forget, forgive: 95
Why, so, my sons, thus should kind brothers live.
Now is my heart disburdened of great care,
To see you, my dear sons, accord so well,
And though I straight must part, take this farewell
Left with you as my testimonial will. 100
Help, honour, cherish, love each other still,
And think how oft you break your amity,
So oft you act your father’s tragedy.
Enter Caligula with a racket and tennis ball in his hand.
Now a God’s name give me a hand ball,
For that a man may toss against the wall, 105
Now up, now down, now fly, now fall,
Yet has no danger therewithal,
Come, brother, will you play a set?
Cross to my comfort, and your father’s grief,
Why do you still continue in these fits? 110
What frantic humour has bereft your wits?
Cast down, Caligula, cast down your ball.
No by'rlady, father, no, first
take my life away,
Take up my ball; lay down my ball, tush, tush!
To tennis with an Emperor is not worth a rush! 115
Where's never a stroke but all in hazard played.
No, father, I’ll do with it as poor men do
With great men’s injuries, put it up till time serve.
Yet now, at length, cease to torment my soul,
More scourged with sorrow to behold you thus, 120
Than Priam was to see his Ilium burn.
O speak like to yourself, speak to my joy,
More joy unto joy-robbed Germanicus,
Than was the Lydian Crassus’ dumb-born son,
Stopping his father’s execution. 125
Not for the world, Father, pardon me, no, no.
What? Play the blab before such company?
What company's here? Only but we three.
Marry, too many sir, by he, and he.
Sons, stand aside, while we confer together. 130
Not far enough, we need no counsellors.
Not, on my blessing, till our talk be done.
Then, Father, lo, your metamorphosèd son,
Changèd in wit, and in condition changed,
Whose hellish fit has left at length to rage, 135
And plague my senses with a lunacy,
Which has made me to be esteemed a fool;
And so I am, and deem it best be so:
For he that would live safe in brutish Rome,
Father, a foolish Brutus must become. 140
Don’t blame me, Father, nor upbraid me for it,
His was by policy, mine by ecstasy,
Which takes me evermore in company.
Nor, (but conjured by your reverend command),
Could I have half abstainèd from it thus. 145
The strangest fit that ever I have known,
Which howe'er strong, yet strive to bridle it:
Once give repulse and you the conquest get;
But time cuts off our talk, my glass is run,
And date of my abode is almost done. 150
Say therefore, how does Agrippina fare?
What makes her stay? How brooks she my depart?
Briefly to say, my Lord, with an ill heart,
For Lucius Piso, with this baleful news,
No sooner gave her notice of your state, 155
And sudden expedition to the East,
But as if some torpedo had her touched,
A numbing slumber rocked her sense asleep,
And in a swoon fell down between my arms:
Then scarce remembering how or where she was, 160
She locked her winding arms about my neck,
And thinking me to be Germanicus,
She sealed a thousand kisses on my lips,
Each being steeped in a stream of tears,
And then she sighs and straight begins to frown. 165
Thrice she disjoined the cherries of her lips
As if she meant to speak, and thrice she spoke;
Her voice seemed dead in labour with her words,
And only rendered an abortive sound,
Till thrice recalled at length recovered, 170
She sighed forth, ‘Ah dear Germanicus!
And, will you then so soon?’ What more she said,
Drowned in the salient ocean of her tears,
Gaspèd a period to her abrupt speech.
Ah me! And does she still continue thus? 175
Not now, my Lord, for when as this was done,
She waked out of her slumbering ecstasy,
Receiving fruition of her senses,
And then she blushed, and sighed to see her error,
And gave to frame excuses for her fault, 180
Promising speedily to come to you.
Enter Piso and Agrippina.
And here she comes! My dear Agrippina.
Most dear Germanicus.
Nero and Drusus stand away from the rest.
Ah! See how the extremity of loyal love
Succeeds in passions of affection, 185
As it denies passage to their speech.
Cursed be the authors through whose occasion
Haps the dissevering of so sweet a union.
Fain would she bid him stay, fain say farewell, 190
But fear and love amaze her in misdoubt,
She doubts to stay him, fearing to offend him,
She loves too well, too willingly to leave him.
Enforced, I doom the sentence of my death,
For can I live if parted from my love, 195
That are both essence of my love and life?
Enforcèd, I? Yet not I, it is my tongue,
O’er-ruled by too strict times' necessity,
Makes me pronounce this loathèd word, farewell.
I fare so ill: then bid me not farewell,
Yet wish I not your stay, my dearest Lord,
But that you would assent to one petition.
Be not inquisitive; speak not at all,
Unless when as you speak, you say I shall. 205
I shall, my dearest dear, if so you shall
Ask only what shall be convenient,
And disparage unto our good,
Which for I doubt not, speak; I give consent.
Then in your little less than banishment, 210
Refuse me not for your companion,
And this with tears I beg for. Ratified,
Revoke not what is promised, nor excuse
With arguments drawn from my sex and life,
Too weak, too feeble, and unfit for war, 215
Or by relating all the miseries,
Long travels, dangerous toils, misfortunes, wants;
For all the ills that issue out of war,
I have them passed or pass not what they are.
Witness this lively image of yourself, 220
Of whom I was delivered in the camp;
Bellona was my midwife, and my pains
Were easèd by the ever rending sounds
Of warlike sackbuts, clarions, and drums.
Your love does make a wanton of your leave, 225
And through extremity of passion,
You make me half to fear you leave to love.
Pardon me, Agrippina, if my love
Through fear to lose my love, doth love to fear,
For life takes life from love, love grows from fear, 230
Fear to dislike, fear to be faithless proved.
Fear for to lose himself from his best belov'd,
This fearing love, and loving fearfulnesses,
Does bind my heart, and prison up my tongue.
Why would you this? I know you would it not; 235
So many miles, so many mischiefs lies:
Where should you hapless me accompany,
The mischief were redoubled, and one hour
Perhaps should cause me die a double death. 240
Once in myself, and ten times more in you;
Yet would you this? I know you would it not.
Ay me, my Lord, your word controls my will.
Time intercepts my time, adieu;
Dear Agrippina, once again adieu. 245
The time is now expired of our stay,
And therefore you must either now agree,
Or, Madam, against your will he must depart;
For my part I will presently depart.
Ah! Stay a little while and I have done. 250
Madam, for all the world I dare not. Fare you well.
And is your haste so great as his, my Lord?
Must Agrippina then forsake her love?
Or else Germanicus must leave his life.
Therefore my dear, dear wife, and dearest sons, 255
Let me engirt you with my last embrace,
And in your cheeks impress a farewell kiss,
Kiss of true kindness and affection’s love,
Bathed in the liquor of distilled rain,
Which ne'er before dissolvèd into tears, 260
Which falling lowly down before your feet,
Seem for to beg a mutual unity,
To be continued after my depart.
Which if you are resolved to maintain,
Then use no dallying protractions, 265
But now compendiously let’s take our leave.
As wills Germanicus so must it be,
Farewell, dear Lord, therefore this way for me.
Exit Agrippina. Nero, Drusus, and Caligula embrace Germanicus, and follow her.
Germanicus at another door.
Dear wife, dear sons, heavens your protectors be,
The Gods our guide, farewell, this way for me. 270
Enter Tiberius and Sejanus.
Thus is Germanicus, our greatest fear, dispatched 1
With subtle Piso to the Orient.
Did you not see with what alacrity
All the Plebeians at his triumph showed
At every period of his pleasing song? 5
How that discordant choir redoubled
With their untuned voices relishing,
'Long live victorious Germanicus'?
But he’s dispatched into
And soon shall be dispatched by Piso true. 10
My Lord, upon mine honour I’ll aver
Speedy performance of this action;
I so inveigled Piso, so enwrapped him,
So conjured his traitorous resolution,
Storing the villain with such poisonous drugs, 15
As never Circe nor Aêtes knew.
I so incensed his damnèd ambition,
Soothing his humour, praising his great worth,
Adding the favours of Tiberius,
That were Germanicus imperious Jove, 20
Piso would poison him to gain my love.
So much, Sejanus, for Germanicus!
But now another cloud obscures our sun,
Of lesser favour, but of greater show;
That same infamous tigress, Julia. 25
Was half so furious as is Julia.
Did you not see her yawning sepulchre
Ravening to swallow up my Empire?
Did she not show Augustus’ testament 30
To have discarded me from regiment?
How can I brook it? Do not make reply:
If Nero live, Julia shall surely die.
Then, Julia, make your quick confession.
But yet there does remain a corrosive, 35
A canker that does gnaw my festered soul:
Nero, and Drusus, young Germanici,
Whose youth is guided by two elder stars,
Titius Sabinus, and Asinius.
Were these made counsellors to Proserpine, 40
For neither Minos nor stern Aeacus,
Nor Rhadamanthus were so just as these,
Nero and Drusus might be soon enrapt.
If that Sejanus loves Tiberius,
If ever Nero did repay his love, 45
Then see these Phosphori be made away,
That dim the glory of our happy day.
Here, take my signet, use what means you will;
Be Emperor, so I may have my will,
For even as sure as Nero draws his breath, 50
Asinius and Sabinus dies the death.
If they did both Ulysses equalize,
Matchless Penelope’s unmatched mate,
And if Minerva should becloud their thoughts,
As Cypria wrapped her Anchisiades: 55
Aye, were Apollo their eternal friend,
They should not live if Nero sought their end.
Meanwhile, as clear from all suspicion,
Tiberius will leave this wicked
Julia, Sabinus, and Asinius 60
Shall rue the absence of Tiberius.
Enter Nerva, Sabinus, and Asinius.
Who sees the sun encumbered in dark clouds, 1
And exhaled vapours dim the welkin’s
Followed in pursuit with th'assaulting wind,
Which play their furious prizes in the air,
And not expects a sharp tempestuous storm? 5
Who views the troubled bosom of the main,
Endiapered with coal black porpoises,
Prodigious monsters, and presaging signs,
Marked in th'appearance of unwonted shapes,
Strange figures, and amazing spectacles, 10
And looks not for a civil war of whales?
Who sees the rules to be unfeigned true,
And not provides preventing remedies?
Well might he prove the peril to his pain.
The walls once battered by the boisterous Roman, 15
And open passage forced to their foes,
Too late it is for the engirt to plead
In matters, where foresight might frame a veil,
Folly it is to trust to, had I wist!
Late providence procures long repentance, 20
And thus I quit you for similitudes.
Cancel that quittance, Gallus, Nerva knows
How deep researching is Asinius’ skill,
But yet I wonder you will sentence it,
Rather than to acquire the hidden sense. 25
Sense then is hidden in those similitudes.
Aye, such deep sense as makes my senses droop.
No, senses droop where sense of ill is none.
Sharp sense may censure ill, all thoughts not shown.
Blind is the censure of uncertainties. 30
Aye, to the eye which sees what open lies.
You speak enigmas, doubtful and obscure.
Yet not so dark and hard, as true and sure.
Then be my Oedipus, interpret it.
Not Oedipus, it needs a searching wit, 35
A quick conceit, an all observing mind,
It’s that that must explain this hidden sense.
Such one was wont agèd Asinius have,
Such grounded wisdom reaching at conceit,
Like as the fire in chemic distillation, 40
Able to separate the elements.
But wherefore weeps Asinius? Your grief disclose:
Nerva will hear, and help, who has like woes.
Not for myself I shed these brinish tears.
Tears shed for
Hard state where vices live, and virtue dies.
Witness the secret counsels which are kept,
Whereto no state of Senate is requested,
But old established orders quite detested.
Like to a butchered body,
And secret factions, complete treacheries
Are common set, broachèd by each degree.
Nero has taken adieu of stately Rome,
And posted down into the country,
Nothing regarding his imperial state, 55
And here Sejanus revels all alone,
Free from the check of magistrates’ control,
Commanding all, as he were Emperor.
And with him keeps the high
But to what end? The Gods alone do know, 60
Who grant that all may issue to the best.
Amen, Amen. My mind presages ill,
And say we what we can, they’ll have their will.
Exit Asinius, Nerva and Sabinus.
Enter Julia and Sejanus.
And dare Tiberius work old Julia’s death? 1
Excellent Lady, worthy Julia,
Upon my honour, Nero seeks your life.
And can the heavens see and not revenge?
Not mad Orestes, Clytemnestra’s son, 5
Was so unnatural as this bear whelp is.
I did conceive the villain in my womb,
Which now I hate because it fostered him;
Could I not get some Taxus to have made
My womb abortive, when I him conceived! 10
Nero, ah Nero! Did I not procure
Your first adoption by Augustus’ bounty?
Caius and Lucius, your elder brethren,
And all that you the Empire might obtain. 15
Proud Phaeton, ascend your father’s throne,
And rouse the frozen serpent from his den.
Father of darkness, patron of confusion,
Reduce the chaos of eternal night,
Let heaven and earth, and air, be brought to nought,
For Nero lives, and Julia’s life is sought. 20
In vain the fury of such idle thoughts
Do but augment the habit of your passion.
The virgin air does only hear your moans,
Which, fleeting, takes no impression of your grief.
In vain you do implore the senseless creature, 25
For to unbind the chain of constant nature.
Sejanus! Wise Sejanus! Lovely man,
What shall I call you to obtain your love?
And yet I know you love not Julia.
Madam, upon my honour I protest… 30
Protest no more, Sejanus, swear no more,
I do believe you love Julia,
And may I trust Sejanus with my love?
And may you trust Sejanus with your love?
If I had not engaged my honour’s pawn, 35
If I had not admired Julia,
Lovèd Augusta more than mine own life,
How dared I have disclosed Cæsar’s drifts,
Broke my allegiance to my sovereign,
Clearing the misty clouds of his revenge, 40
But that I loved you more than all the world?
Why then, Sejanus, counsel Julia:
Were it not cunning, tell me, gentle friend,
For to beguile the lion of his prey? 45
Augusta, Cæsar is your noble son.
Aye, but he seeks the life of Julia.
Madam, he may be moved to pity you.
Shall Julia then entreat, degenerate man,
That never knew
Did Sophonisba beg her princely life?
Did Philip’s high resolved Olympias
Crouch to Seleucus for her weary days?
And shall Augusta, royal Julia, 55
Crouch, beg, entreat her boy,
Lady, not so. Sejanus will entreat.
Not you, nor any, shall entreat for me,
Did not I bear him? Who shall beg my life?
I shame to hear your foolish pitying. 60
Did not we make Tiberius Emperor?
And can we not depose Tiberius?
Where are those volumes of inventions,
Which once had residence in your conceit?
Those massacres and golden policies, 65
That over your fortunes ever hoverèd?
Record, Sejanus, all your chronicles,
Dive to the bottom of your memory
And plot some labyrinth of villainy.
Do not, Sejanus, all in vain contend: 70
Nero, or Julia, or both must end.
Royal Augusta, Julia, command
The utmost that Sejanus can invent.
Madam, you know that Cæsar three days since,
Removed his Court into
Where by his Orchard…
What by his Orchard? Speak, Sejanus, speak,
What, does the smoke of Lerna lurk thereby?
Or Theban Sphinx, or
What Dipsas, or what monster can we find, 80
But half so cruel in his proper kind?
There is a cave, Spelunca called,
Vaulted by art, made by geometry,
Whose top is woven with a waving vine;
The leaves of tempered plaster flagging down 85
Are fanned with motion of each little wind;
The ruddy clusters of the grapes appearing,
Lively engraven in dependent stones;
Never Mausolus, nor Amphion’s towers,
Nor Asia’s immortal workmanship, 90
Diana’s temple half so curious,
As this entrenchèd earthly paradise.
But which increases most amazing wonder,
With turning of one stone all falls asunder.
What of this? What of the cave, Sejanus? 95
Here oftentimes the weary Emperor
Does banquet and refresh his troubled mind.
Enough, Sejanus, promise to turn the stone;
Julia is sick;
Madam, upon my honour I’ll make him sure. 100
Farewell, Sejanus, I must needs be gone.
Sejanus remains alone.
Madam, farewell. Go, stepdame Julia,
Plot with Sejanus, for Tiberius’ death;
But first go tell the Queen of fearful Dis,
And read a lecture there of policy, 105
Never to trust a friend in secrecy.
So then, Sejanus, here epitomize
All your devices for to get the crown!
Between your hopes and you are seven lights,
Seven wandering planets, seven obstacles: 110
Tiberius Cæsar, and Germanicus,
The triple offspring of Germanicus,
Julia, Agrippina, and Livia.
All these, Sejanus, between your hopes and you!
But for Germanicus, he is eclipsed, 115
His Orient of honour is obscured,
I hope, ere this by Piso’s diligence.
Julia is in her struggling agony
Between the poison and concoction;
Drusus, Tiberius’ son, I mean to speed, 120
And make his father for to murder him.
Even this, the cave I told to Julia,
Is very true; I do not use to lie,
Not to complot the deepest villainy.
Nor did I lie, there’s such a cave indeed; 125
And with one stone I can consume the work.
Some slender shallow politician, now,
Would deem it here a point of wondrous reach,
To murder son and father in this cave.
Not so; Sejanus has a farther scope, 130
Deeper conceit, and far more mystical:
The cave shall fall, and yet Tiberius live,
But I will seem to under-prop the cave,
With these my pillars, and bear all the load.
So shall I get more favour with the Prince, 135
That whomsoever I shall countenance,
Shall seem as e’er-repealèd Oracles.
Then will I work this credulous conceit,
To what impression my brain invents.
I’ll to Campania. Now first, have at his son, 140
Then for himself, when all my plot is done.
Enter Germanicus, and Piso at one door, Vonones and his son at the other.
Vonones, though this proud rebellion 1
Disturb the universal unity,
Although this utmost member of the world,
Has made a separation from the head,
Though you and your proud son in daring arms 5
Have made our Eagles sweat in your pursuit,
Yet know a Roman is your enemy,
Whose legions far surpass in chivalry
The triple phalanx of Armenia.
Were every man a furious elephant, 10
Ruled by a castle of Numidians,
These German legions would encounter them,
And these new squadrons out of Italy
Would strive with them in glorious emulation,
Till with the spoil of vanquished elephants, 15
They might encamp as pale as ivory.
Yet know my mercy far exceeds my strength.
An olive branch wreathed with humility
Shall win more favour with Germanicus
Than all the ensigns in
Speak then, Vonones, will you fight or yield?
Germanicus, as to my hostile friend,
Vonones knows your honourable mind,
Admires, but nothing fears, your victories.
Except your person, this much for your state! 25
Germanicus, it is no rebellion
For to maintain our ancestors’ renown;
It is your pride to seek dominions,
Finding occasions still to conquer all:
First Romulus increased his colonies 30
By ruin of his neighbour borderers,
Within the circuit of fair
Subjected to your lordly Empire.
Then must Sicily be your granary,
Carthage be sacked for emulation, 35
Spain must find horses, France an enemy
Because that Brennus scaled the Capitol,
Young Philip in the second Punic war
Must be reclaimed by old Æmilius,
Mithridates, for helping Perseus, 40
Must pay a ransom of all Asia
To Taurus Mountain; yet not so content,
Except he yield up Lisimachium,
For him Tigranes, Ptolemy for Antony,
My Grandsire for great Pompey’s dignity, 45
Must yield the title of his royalty.
Romans, you wrong the world by false pretences,
To make them all your vassal provinces.
How did the Britons wrong your Empire?
The Gallogrecians, or the Scythians? 50
The late character of your victory?
Let fearful cowards to the Romans yield:
Vonones will fight out this bloody field.
Exit both ways, and enter again to fight. Vonones and his son flee.
Enter Germanicus and Piso.
Now are these Oriental braveries quailed, 55
These ravening wolves hemmed in their lurking dens.
Tigramenta, were it proud
Glued with Asphaltes’ slime impenetrable,
Were it Pireus, or
Germanicus would never leave assault, 60
Till it was subject to Germanicus.
Sound them a parley.
Enter Vonones upon the walls. Germanicus speaks .
Vonones, first to your upbraiding taunts,
Which then your fury would not let you hear:
You called us Romans too ambitious, 65
Competitors to all the world’s domain,
Proud to insult upon dominions,
By feignèd show of some receivèd wrong.
First know, Vonones, that great
Divinest offspring of the immortal Gods, 70
Never usurped upon his neighbour bounds,
Without the just occasion of revenge.
Witness the tempests of the Solines’ troops,
And Titias, Titaias’ doubtful treachery:
Silicia we redeemed from servitude, 75
From Carthage bondage, whose ambitious pride,
Five hundred thousand slew in Italy:
Spain as beaters of false Hannibal,
Subdued by Africans to our rule,
France, Philip, Perseus, and Mithridates, 80
Tigranes, Ptolemy, and Numidians,
Bold Britons, Scythians, Gallogrecians,
Never without defiance were surprised,
Never without just cause we them defied:
Vonones, you do know this to be true, 85
Yet your presumption makes you all to rue.
Germanicus, were all the Roman spirits
Embarked within your royal courtesy,
Or were your spirit infused into all,
Tigranocerta, by the die of war, 90
Should never make my realm unfortunate.
Vonones would be to Germanicus
A vassal subject, tributary King.
Vonones, not unto Germanicus,
But unto Nero, bend your humble knee. 95
If at our Eagle you will lay your crown,
Then sail to Rome, and in the Capitol
There reiterate great Cæsar’s clemency,
Yield up your city and dismiss your force.
Vonones, I admire your valorous mind; 100
This is the way to find Tiberius kind.
Germanicus, how much I honour you!
Vonones fawns not for his liberty,
For know, before that tyrant shall insult
Over the Armenian Oriental Prince, 105
Even by the sun, and all his counsellors,
The author of our royal progenies,
Scale, burn, assault, batter, undermine,
Renew as often your wearied legions,
As Polynices o’er the Theban wall; 110
Nothing but death Vonones shall enthral.
Then to the fight,
And heaven, I trust, will aid us in our right.
Germanicus and Piso scale the walls. Germanicus is repulsed at the first assault, Piso wins the wall first, but is in danger by Uonones and his son. Germanicus rescues Piso. Vonones and his son flee.
sara, sara; maugre all their force,
Tigranocerta is subdued to us. 115
Romans, assault the keep, let them not breathe
Till with the cinders of the fired tower,
Your dreadful fury clean dissolvèd be.
Sound a parley within.
But hark! The Armenians do a parley crave;
I think they’ll yield, and so our labour save. 120
Then sound terror to their melting hearts!
They resound a parley, and Vonones on the keep.
Germanicus, and Roman conquerors,
Imperious Lords of Fortune’s Empery,
Vonones, here, upon his suppliant knee,
Which ever yet was like the elephant’s 125
That had no sinew, had no bending joint.
Here, he that never begged does now entreat
Anon, a glorious boon: Germanicus,
It’s not my life, Vonones’ heart would break
Before his tongue should be his orator. 130
It’s not captivity, nor town, nor friends,
Nor realm, nor wife, nor my posterity,
Germanicus, it is a boon of fame
Vonones begs, that ne’er will beg again.
And as I live, Vonones shall obtain; 135
How honour crossed by chance revives again!
Then thus, in single combat I defy
Some worthy man at arms, that dare perform
This honourable challenge in the field.
If that Vonones live, this is the boon: 140
For four and twenty hours to have my scope,
For to ordain a new supply of war;
If I be vanquished, use the law of arms.
Descend, Vonones, on my honour’s pawn,
For to perform this resolution. 145
Germanicus comes down stage.
Romans, on your allegiance be gone:
Persuasion is the sight of present death.
I see the garlands dangling in the skies
Of Corvinus' and Torquates’ victories.
Vonones comes down, they fight and breathe, Vonones being wounded.
Cursed be the hour, and cursèd be the lamp, 150
Which gives the influence to my hapless being:
I had not deemed that twenty thousand souls
Could have over quellèd in a single fight
My armour, purpled with vermilion blood,
More than the scarlet blush the maker gave. 155
You hell-bred furies, I plague you all in hell,
That thus do torture me: come on, you targe of
Fight again, and Vonones is slain.
Ah noble spirit, and are you quite extinct?
Gallant Vonones, much I pity you,
Too much, dear earth, oppress him not with weight, 160
Whose mind was elevated whilst he lived.
Let lilies deck his ever flowering tomb,
And rosettes border on his wailed grave;
Sweet nightingales, participate his breath,
Help to immortalize his glorious death. 165
Piso and all the Romans come down from the wall to Germanicus, and Germanicus speaks to them.
Now, brave centurions, worthy legions,
After the night of labour, honour’s day!
Bring forth the mural crown and ornaments.
Germanicus, whose head shall this adorn?
His that deserved it, and I deem 'twas I. 170
No! No, Germanicus. But it was I
That first repulsed the Armenians from their walls,
First pitched my Eagle in the conquered town.
Not honour, nor imperious ambition
Can make a Roman yield his honour's title. 175
I scal’d the sconce, therefore the crown is mine,
I pitched my Eagle, mine are the ornaments,
And by my soul, and by Bellona’s night,
Piso will have his own, his crown, his right.
Piso shall have his own, shall have his right, 180
But for the mural crown, my honour's meed,
The glorious signet of my victory,
First stars shall turn upon this earthly pole,
Bound to this shady orb’s circumference,
And herds of beasts shall graze on earthly pasture 185
Between the lion and the double bear,
Nature turned topsy-turvy before that day
Piso, my honour’s crown shall brave away.
Brave! Piso will not brave. His deeds shall plead.
His deeds, alack, are tongue-tied orators; 190
Without ambition I plead my right.
Did not I myself, in the first assault,
Thrice change my target over-poised with darts?
Did not I brandish in the second fight
My burning scimitar, that all their eyes 195
Could not endure the heat of his reflection?
Then in the midst of all the frontier’s strength
Hewed me a passage to Vonones’ son,
Whose dying ghost bare record of my force,
That did dismay their power, unman their walls, 200
There fixed my Eagle, then unbarred their gates,
And straight remounted to assault the keep.
Perchance that Piso, by some postern gate,
Crept through a mews and by the winding stairs,
Panting and breathless, stole up to the walls. 205
No, stay, Germanicus, my heart does throb,
My ears do glow to hear your braving taunts:
I am a soldier, and as good as you,
But for the childish rumour of your name, 210
And shall I lose by these insulting terms
The crown of honour that I have deserved?
Not one salt drop of sweat that I have spent,
But honour's fountain shall repay again.
Germanicus, Piso will have his due 215
Or you or he this fact of yours shall rue.
My Lords, what dismal fury does enchant
Your noble spirits to this mortal strife?
The Roman military laws enforce
That in these grave demurs the soldiers’ quest 220
Should give the honour by a whole consent.
Are you, my Lord Germanicus, content,
And you, Lord Piso, with our Roman laws?
Worthy Centurion, with all my heart.
I must perforce, or else not have my part. 225
Speak, soldiers, Piso, or Germanicus?
Germanicus, Germanicus, the crown is to Germanicus!
Trumpets, relate to heaven this unity.
Germanicus sits down, Piso at the other end of the stage sprinkles powder on the crown, and then he sets it on Germanicus’ head. Trumpets sound.
(Aside) I lost the crown, but I have won the day.
Long live victorious Germanicus! 230
Piso, grieve not at justice’ equity;
My honour's dearer, Piso, than my life,
Except this grudge. Piso, I honour you,
Depute you, Lord, Armenian governor,
To grace your virtue and reward your pain 235
Farewell, good Piso; I’ll to
Exit Germanicus and soldiers.
Aye, go, Germanicus, but never return;
That crown shall be the last you ever shall wear,
That garland decks your speedy funeral
If that Germanicus passes
Piso's a fool, Sejanus had no wit.
That powder which I sprinkled on the leaves
Me of my death, him of his life bereaves.
Enter Tiberius alone.
I am disposed to meditate alone, 1
Here in my orchard; let none dare trouble me.
These poppies too much aspire, they are too high,
I must needs make them headless for their pride,
And sure their seed would breed a deadly sleep, 5
Should I not crop them in their flowering prime.
These marigolds would fellow with the sun,
If I should suffer them to sprout on high,
But I’ll confine their stature to my measure,
So will I do with all competitors. 10
Here's an old root does hide the rising plants,
And that does make me think on Julia.
Where is Sejanus, that incarnate devil?
Has he not ended yet my greatest evil?
I do misdoubt the villain. Oh the slave! 15
He may betray me to the Senators,
He may disclose me unto Julia,
He may discover me to Germanicus,
He may do what he will, to seek my end.
Enter the Ghost of Germanicus.
Ungrateful Nero, and ungrateful
Unto the merits of Germanicus!
Revenge my causeless wrongs, great Proserpine,
Who murdered was by hateful treachery.
I think I am a man, and now could rave,
That never before did know what anger meant. 25
This mural crown wrought my untimely death,
By Piso’s envy, and Tiberius’ pride.
Germanicus, poor soul do not complain,
For prayers cannot your life restore again.
I will go see my children and my wife, 30
That I may think on them in this new life.
Enter Agrippina at one door, Drusus and Nero at the other crying out, as from their beds.
My father! My dear Lord Germanicus. 1
My husband! My dear Lord Germanicus.
My father! My dear Lord Germanicus!
Mother and brother, help Germanicus!
Fie, sluggish brother, draw your baleful sword; 5
Mother, fling wild fire at the crocodile,
For nothing else can pierce his brazen scales.
Drusus, what spirit does disturb
Mother, I thought I saw Mantichore,
The dreadful hideous Egyptian beast, 10
Horrid and rough, slimy and terrible,
Faced as a Hydra, like some uncouth man,
Whose ears hang trailing down onto his feet,
Sweeping the loathsome soil with greediness,
Fanged with three iron grates of steely tusks, 15
Wall eyed, with colour steeped in deepest blood,
With lion’s claws, and scorpions’ poisonous sting
Woven in Gorgias’ hundred thousand knots.
His murmuring sound, mixed of two symphonies,
Bellowed between a flute and trumpet sound, 20
That seemed the world with roaring to confound.
By him I thought I saw a gallant beast,
A princely lion crowned with honour’s meed,
At which this ugly monster wrought amain,
For to defeat the lion of his prey, 25
But all in vain, till this deceitful beast
Belched forth a very death-infecting breath,
At which at once the lion vanished,
And my dear father, great Germanicus,
Placed in his room by this beast perished. 30
Twice this I dreamt and still I think I dream;
But mother, what did your affrighting mean?
Oh son! I dreamt that in the azure sky,
For one epicycle two suns did strive:
One darted rays, the other rainbows made, 35
One succoured plants, the other moved the fire:
One shining, the other dim, one true, the other false,
And in this discord all in heavenly motion,
The host of starry clouds did hide the air.
These hideous monsters met in furious rage, 40
As if the world had been disseverèd.
Like when a whale runs in the boisterous main,
Seeming to shoulder all the yielding waves,
So by contrition of this dawning night,
The axle tree of heaven did seem to move 45
From whence, as from an anvil seemed to stream
A day of lightning, and a thunder bolt,
Which rending passage to the orient,
Seemed for to light upon Germanicus.
This frightened Agrippina, in her dream; 50
But, Nero, what did your upstarting mean?
I thought I saw a snowy milk white swan
Encountering with a ravening bloody stork,
When in the furious heat of all their broil,
The stork was succoured by a neighbour crane, 55
The swan, relievèd by a dunghill cock.
All join in battle, all too furious.
But whether by fair Venus’ prayers to Jove,
Or other fate, the swan and gallant cock
Seized on the crane and carcass of the stork, 60
All which seemed pleasing to my slumbering sense,
But all too rueful that which after fell,
Fell discord between the swan and cock arose.
The peerless swan was worthy conqueror,
But yet alas the gallant cock…. 65
Enter Maximus, a messenger from Germanicus. He knocks at the door.
But who disturbs us at this time
Where is the Porter with the city’s watch?
Open. Ah! Open
The faithful Maximus! God send good news.
Too much I see, I dare not hear the rest, 70
And yet I will: no, farewell, Maximus -
I will not fear, yet fear comes against my will;
My ears are stopped; how does Germanicus?
Oh! Were I mute, or had my careful nurse
Never taught this doleful engine for to speak; 75
Then should my soul in mourning silence groan.
Ah! Dear Maximus, by all that ever was dear
Within your trusty heart, make no delays;
Tell Agrippina, rid her of her fear;
My heart is hardened even the worst to hear. 80
Then, Madam, since we left this stately
Proud in the triumphs of Germanicus,
My Lord first sailed to Brindisium,
From there to
To Lysichium we bent our course,
There to the mountain Taurus marched by land,
Shelving on which we coast
And in her fertile bowels pitched our tents.
Vonones three leagues off displayed his flag, 90
The scarlet ensign of his bloody mind.
There like two herds of lions we arranged
Our squadron to their phalanx, to their darts
Our slings: against their camels, all our horse
Between our armies, Tigris swiftly ran, 95
And there within a league on our right hand,
A deep delved cave, (fit ambush to entrap),
All vaulted with a young displayed grove.
Here with five hundred footmen light of arms,
My Lord did place me till he gave the sign, 100
So in the heat our legions seemed to fly,
Till all Vonones’ army passed the flood,
And in pursuit of our supposèd flight,
There all environèd with hidden troops,
That saw Vonones and his fiery son 105
And some few more, which they accompanied,
We made an end of this rebellion.
Tigranocerta then we all enclosed,
And won it, and my Lord Germanicus,
In single combat, slew their governor. 110
Ah, my dear Lord! How fares Germanicus?
Aye, that’s the dismal news I have to tell.
Leaving the orient thus in settled peace,
And Piso Praetor of Armenia,
We marchèd to the city
Whereas my Lord had heard were Christians,
Judaean priests, the which did magnify
An unknown God, in daily piety.
Before the city grew a cypress grove,
Strewed underneath with fading violets, 120
Where ghastly screech owls hold their residence,
True prodigies of fatal miseries.
About the of
When our horizon was benumbed with sleep,
A fury and a passion both at once 125
Began surprise my Lord Germanicus.
Oh heavens! …
She faints and is upheld by her sons.
Mother, you promised for to hear the worst,
And can you not endure the first assault?
Yes, Maximus, tell out the direst woe; 130
My heart conceives more grief than you can show.
What time the living dial of the night,
His first alarum rang to Cypria,
Gall of my soul, I saw that woeful sight,
Wherein my Lord, tormented, meekly lay, 135
Like to a lion in his generous kind,
Does gnaw the earth in fellness of his mind,
Grudging sorrow but disdains to moan,
Or roar in torment of his agony.
So lay Germanicus, in grievous pain, 140
Yet grief from outward show did much restrain.
But feeling that his spirits began to fail,
And vital pulses leave their motion,
He called for Plato, and there two hours read
Of the immortal essence of the soul; 145
So constant in his soul’s divine relieving,
That grief e’en grieved herself for him not grieving.
Then to his friends, he gave this last farewell:
'Dear friends, and worthy countrymen, adieu;
Had I in this fair May of all my glory 150
By fate’s eternal hand been caught from earth,
I might accuse the justice of the Gods,
But since by Piso and his poisonous drugs
Germanicus is lost, revenge my death!’
Enough, too much. Oh, I can bear no more. 155
Good Nero, go, run to Sabinus’ house
And ’treat him come, and comfort your sad mother.
Drusus, go you unto Asinius’ lodge,
And woo him hither to your sorrowing mother.
But was my husband poisoned by that slave? 160
Oh, monstrous hell-hound of ambition!
No man could prove it, but it was surmised,
Both by the dying words of my dear Lord,
And by the sudden swelling of his head,
That like a snow-white leopard was defiled. 165
As by the heart of great Germanicus,
Whose body being burnt, that yet untouched,
A certain note of poison still remained,
Which I, embalmed with Arabian spices
Mixed with the ashes of my dearest Lord, 170
Have in this alabaster box preserved,
The only relic of this tragedy,
Which to you, worthy Lady, I present:
Yours it was living, yours it must be dead.
I had it living, and must have it dead; 175
All may befall that must necessity.
Fly, living soul, into this lifeless heart,
That it may animate my greater part,
Or else, O Gods, grant this felicity,
That here my breathing soul may entombed be. 180
My eyes shall drizzle down Arabian myrrh,
To garnish all Armenian infections
Or falling from my eye-balls covered be,
With this fair cover of sad miseries.
I must needs look upon this last relief, 185
Which swells, as being angry for my grief.
Ah, my Germanicus! Thus to hold your heart
Yields me no comfort, but augments my smart.
Mother, Sabinus, some two hours since,
Is gone to visit fair Elysium. 190
What, to your father, my Germanicus?
Mother, Asinius Gallus, very weak,
Expects the fatal hour of his death;
Physicians tell him he is poisoned.
Too much, my son, great sorrow still is dumb. 195
Enter Plebeians with one of Maximus’ soldiers.
And is it true, did Piso poison Germanicus? 1
True, aye, as true as this is an Armenian louse that bit me by the back,
and I am sure I carried none out
his hair would not burn, and he died in a fury, and we all know that Piso
had mortal hatred against him because he would not let him have his mural crown. 5
Oh, Germanicus, Germanicus! Oh, good Germanicus! The very honeysuckle of humanity,
and the marigold of magnanimity. Piso is not to be compared to him. Piso, no, he is to
him (even in the cream of his nature), the very dregs of licentiousness, the very vice of
villainy, the very excrement of evil, and which is more, he had no reason to poison him.
Good Germanicus. Oh, when shall I make you another pair of boots? 10
That would even smile when they should come upon his legs. Oh, I shall never make such merry boots again, for all the dry leather in my shop, I warrant, will weep entirely when they hear this news.
Consent to me; Piso will be here presently, (he thought to have been here before us),
consent to me, let’s plague him for Germanicus. 15
Agreed, and let’s roast him in his skin, as you roast a cat.
No, let’s drown him alive, or else bury him quick.
No, will you all keep touch, and we’ll tear him joint by joint when we have got him. Therefore stand close, for I hear his horse neigh, though Piso will be here presently.
Hail, Mother Rome! 20
Aye, storms of vengeance on your cursèd head.
Where is Germanicus? Speak!
Speak! What have you done with Germanicus?
I cannot tell.
But we will make you tell. 25
They drag him in, and enter again with his limbs in their hands, they shout and cry.
Thus have we sent revenge to our dear Lord.
Thus have we sent Germanicus revenge.
Enter Tiberius and Sejanus out of the cave.
Here, my gracious Lord.
A plague upon him that first made this cave, 5
It was not sumptuous, not fair enough
To be the tomb of a live Emperor.
Thanks to my genius, and your providence,
That has defended me from further ill,
And yet my shoulders feel the heavy load. 10
Sirrah, a brush:
Vanish the monuments of antique worlds,
Mewed in external silence be obscured,
Not Theseus’ love unto Pirithous
Not Alexander’s to Hæphestion, 15
Nor the two brethren of
That in eternal courses scale the heavens,
Did ever manifest such demonstrations
Of faith unfeigned, and more than turtle-dove:
Saved my life! Now by my genius, 20
If all the world were ten times multiplied,
And one of them were made of massy gold,
Enamelled with pearls and diamonds,
Embossed with jasper and Alites’ virtue:
Yes, were all these imaginary worlds 25
Under Tiberius his dominion,
This world, this rough-cast world with precious gems,
Should be the guerdon of my savèd life.
Ah, my Sejanus, what can Nero find,
To counter-balance such a faithful mind? 30
Most gracious Cæsar, mighty Emperor,
Had Pelion and Ossa been conjoined,
Had mounting Tenarus with the snowy alps,
And high Olympus overwhelmed the cave,
Yet would Sejanus, like Briareus, 35
Have been embowelled in this earthy hell,
To save the life of great Tiberius.
Now have I tried the trueness of your stamp,
Blithe touchstone of this late oppression,
Nero repays your love with usury. 40
But by my genius, how this sudden fear
Has made us clean forget our mother’s care.
Tell me, Sejanus, how fares Julia?
My Lord, she does commend her to
But very weak upon a surfeit taken. 45
As how, Seianus? Old folks use good diet.
And so did she, my Lord; at supper time
She took a kernel of restorative
In a pomegranate, which did so prevail,
As that left her sicker with her physic. 50
Asinius and Sabinus, her dear friends,
From that apothecary did receive
The like restorative with like effect,
And then I posted to your Majesty.
Julia, Sabinus, and Asinius, 55
For each a tear, so to Elysium.
But what, Sejanus, note I in your face?
The seal of fear? Though well dissembled,
Are they not all dispatched? Why do you fear?
Upon my honour, all are perishèd. 60
What does your conscience then disturb your soul?
What means the careless rolling of your eyes?
Your loving sorrow? Folding of your arms?
Your sudden sighs? Your wavering countenance?
Now all your blood does ebb into your heart, 65
Now all your blushing visage overflows;
Speak, my Sejanus, saviour of my life,
And by my genius you shall obtain.
Fear and allegiance, duty and affection,
Honour and pity, loyalty and love, 70
Raise mutual tumults in my cloven heart.
Speak, good Sejanus, Nero longs to hear
The mutinous dissention of your fear.
Maybe, my Lord, Sejanus fears in vain.
Let Cæsar know, lest Cæsar fear in vain. 75
What if, my Lord, it does concern my hurt?
Yet, tell to Cæsar who can cure your hurt.
I am persuaded that it is but forged.
Well howsoever, I command you show.
Falter my tongue you doleful instrument, 80
Unfortunate to tell so bad a story.
Pardon, my Lord.
Sejanus, I command.
And by my genius I will be obeyed.
Then heavens bear witness, what I do record 85
Comes of no malice nor ambition,
For of my honour I do think it forged.
My Lord, since you lay in
It is a rumour blown by vulgar wind,
That you will never back return to
I could not guess on what presumption,
But when I first assaulted Julia,
And she had swallowed up the poisonous bait,
Faith then in love unto her Ladyship,
I told her that your Grace did seek her death. 95
Not Maenads with the frantic dames of
That in their Dionysian sacrifice
Mangled the body of poor Pentheus,
Ravèd like Julia in her passion.
Oh, how it does me good to hear her mad! 100
May it please your Majesty to give me leave,
Here to set down a doleful period.
No by my genius, Nero will hear all.
After the fury, anger took her throne,
Like a fierce lion chafed to seek revenge, 105
When wooing me with many honey words,
Of 'good', and 'wise', and 'friend', and 'debonair',
Idle synonymies of women’s wit,
She all too prayed my constant secrecy
And I to hear the sum all exigent, 110
Swore never to reveal her policy
Whilst Julia and Sejanus both should live;
And I have kept my promise with her too.
Then did she seem to woo me with her looks,
But good my Lord, let her Sejanus leave, 115
For on my honour, all may be but forged.
If you concealèd but one syllable,
Nero will hate you in eternity.
My Lord, great Julia said she would prevent
Tiberius, in his tiger’s cruelty: 120
She swore my aid, she swore my secrecy,
Adding a gift to every word she spoke -
This ring, this signet of Augustus’ arms,
This jewel, picture of your noble father.
Yet Julia, you know, my Lord, was wise, 125
And all may be but forgèd policy:
She said how she devised had the plot
In this Campanian cession
(Oh Gods, forefend) to end Tiberius’ days.
It’s well, Sejanus, she’s … but proceed. 130
The day before the blustering Ides of March,
Which as I take it, this day is expired -
That made me post so hastily from Rome -
On this same fatal day, old Julia swore,
Her son, Tiberius, should be poisoned. 135
But by whose means, my Lord, I must conceal,
For of my honour I do think it forged.
Conceal a traitor, and my guard shall lop
Your jointed carcass! Go to, tell me all.
Why then my Lord, imagine all is false, 140
And what I say, is all but counterfeit.
Do not conceive that Drusus, your dear son,
Aspires to be a present Emperor:
Believe not that this day he makes a feast,
Where mighty Cæsar should be poisoned. 145
Think not that Spado, that twig soon bent to it,
Is now corrupted to perform the act,
Who tasting first unto your Majesty,
With a vine-branch enfolded on his arm
Will squeeze in poisonous drugs to slay my Lord. 150
Imagine this to be a lying dream,
Though Julia swore and vowed it should be so,
And made great joy, that it should be so;
Believe it not, surely she said not true,
For on my honour I do think it forged. 155
No, no, Sejanus, I have well observed,
The haughty stomach of th’aspiring boy,
But I’ll pull down his lofty crested plumes,
And teach him homage to his sovereign.
How dare the straggling elf once look on me, 160
And not be turned into an aspen leaf,
To tremble at each breathèd syllable?
Be patient, good my Lord, perhaps it’s false,
Or be it true - as who would once conceive
Such headlong fury in ambitious thoughts? - 165
Did not Mithridates, Pontus’ King,
Forgive Phraates, his rebellious son?
Did not Iugurthus’ father often check
His high aspiring thoughts? Yet him forgave.
Talk of forgiveness in some petty Kings, 170
Not in the state of mighty Emperors.
This day he does provide Thyestes’ feast,
And bids his father to the bloody cates.
Persuade me not, Sejanus, I will go,
I have already promised him to come, 175
And if the villain offer me these drugs,
I’ll make him swill the cup I should carouse.
Enter Spado toward them.
But here comes Spado, his fine instrument!
See where his garland is; I’ll stab the slave.
No, good my Lord, how can you then inquire 180
The hateful treasons of your wicked son?
It’s true, Sejanus, I will hold my hands.
Oh, how I feared I should have been betrayed.
Ever Augustus! Drusus’ royal banquet
Requires the presence of Tiberius. 185
They draw aside the arras, and banquet on the stage. Spado tastes for Tiberius, and after infuses the poison.
My Lord, young Drusus wishes happiness
To Nero Cæsar, in this cup of wine.
Drusus, do you begin unto Tiberius?
My Lord, may it please you, here is other wine. 190
But taste of this, my son, I’m sure it’s good.
Here is the like, my gracious Lord, beside.
It may be like, but not so altogether.
It is the same.
Well, please my humour, son. 195
Why, good my Lord?
By Jove, I’ll have it so!
He drinks and falls down. Sejanus stabs Spado.
Enter a Messenger.
Where is the Emperor?
Go tell that news to Proserpine.
Where's Cæsar? Great Germanicus is dead. 200
Commend me to Germanicus.
Where's Nero? Piso is by the Plebeians slain.
Let ravens and vultures gorge on his flesh and yours.
Where is Tiberius? Where is Cæsar’s
Asinius and Sabinus both are dead. 205
Go greet them both, thus, from Tiberius.
How now, what news brings you? Speak, villain, speak!
Sejanus comes toward him, and he makes at him. Sejanus cries out, and Nero stares on him.
No news, my Lord, I am Sejanus,
I saved your life, my Lord; I am Sejanus.
Pardon, Sejanus, only faithful friend, 210
The headlong fury of a troubled soul,
I dare not trust myself to see my son.
Oh, who would wear a crown to be tormented?
Sejanus, I must ride in post to
To rein the fury of the common herd. 215
See these foul carcasses be buried,
Go to, Sejanus. (Aside) When I have my will,
I’ll make thee pattern of thy villainies.
Meanwhile, I will to
Augustus wrote, and left with Julia. 220
Why this is well, Germanicus is gone
With Julia and with Drusus into hell.
Follow, Sejanus, know your wits I mean.
Alas, poor Drusus, truth I pity you,
And Spado too; I think now I could weep, 225
But that it is too womanly: this chopping boy
Whom I corrupted for this stratagem,
I did him a great favour: had he lived
Tiberius would have had him tortured,
Hanged by the navel for confession. 230
Drusus, for you I could have wished your life,
But reason did enforce your destiny.
First, that you were heir to Tiberius,
Next, an observer of my secrecies,
Thirdly, your Livia, that Queen of beauty, 235
The eldest daughter to Germanicus,
Sejanus’ secret friend, your secret foe,
Next to Germanicus, heir to the crown,
Your sometime, now my wife; if heavens agree
To make me heir unto a prince’s throne - 240
No more, an Empire thus shall be my own.
Fourthly, the blow which I received in peace,
Until revenge might satisfy my will;
All these, or any were sufficient.
I am sorry; I have used you too, too well. 245
Now, to the sum of all my foes are left:
Tiberius Cæsar, with him Agrippina,
Nero and Drusus, the Germanici;
Then, thus the fierce enraged Germanici
I will incense against Tiberius, 250
As the sole agent in their father’s death.
Show them the favours of the Senators,
The Plebeians’ hearts enchained to their backs,
Fair baits for to allure their young conceits.
Rebellion I’ll entitle honourable, 255
And if that we obtain the victory,
As I have bound them legions to my host,
Then will I have my spies, my fawning curs,
My hireling hell-hounds in the battle’s heat,
To murder both the young Germanici. 260
Tiberius vanquished, and these made away:
Cæsar Sejanus! Empress Livia!
Enter Caligula alone.
Now pleasurèd by fit occasion, 1
Pour forth the treasures of your inward thoughts,
Which too, too long have been imprisoned.
Now muse on
Tiberius’ treasons, and your father’s death, 5
Your brothers’ danger, and your own contempt
And musing, meditate upon revenge.
Banish heart’s quiet from your sleeping thoughts,
Until your thoughts be satisfied with blood.
Nero, I come, inspire me, just rage,
And Rome shall tremble at Caligula. 10
Enter Sejanus, with Nero and Drusus Germanici.
Nero, Drusus, Drusus, Nero, both are one, 1
Or one or both, for both I know are one,
And what I speak to one, I speak to both.
No, hear me out, for what I speak is true:
Piso did poison great Germanicus 5
Your father, Nero’s son, and my good Lord,
Aye, by Tiberius’ policy.
Lo, here the pardon made for Piso drawn
Which Julia, dying, did to me commend.
What, shall I speak to move you to revenge? 10
The Senate is devoted to your stock;
The common people, in soft murmuring
Like bees do seek the honey of your hives.
What if some wasps do move Tiberius,
I have a swarm in spite these lazy drones, 15
I have the legions at Sejanus’ beck,
And for my sake, and specially for yours,
I know they will evibrate all their force;
Besides the honour of your country’s good.
Exile the tyrant: so did Cassius, 20
Brutus the elder, and the younger Brute.
Honour and favour, youth and legions,
The Senators, and the Plebeians:
If all may move you, courage, noble hearts;
Let hares and harts be fearful in their kinds; 25
Romans have valiant and undaunted minds.
Brother, a word with you…
Takes him aside.
Aye go, consult, whilst I centuriate
A thousand nets to catch such tender fools.
Drusus, how do you like Sejanus’ gesture? 30
Faith, like his words, for both are counterfeit.
Upon my life, Tiberius sent the slave.
It’s so, by Jove, it’s so. Look, brother, see
How the damnèd villain fleares, and laughs, and lours.
We’ll first begin with him, and then for Nero. 35
They begin to draw.
Brother, content, and now be resolute,
But here comes Julius Celsus; hold your hand.
Enter Julius Celsus.
Fly, fly, Sejanus, Julius bids you fly.
Nero has found your death in Julia’s house,
I mean, the cause of death, your treacheries, 40
The letter that you sent to Livia:
Away, shift for yourself and so will
Has he found that? Sejanus, curse yourself,
The lower world, and the highest heaven
That he has found them; die, consume, and burn. 45
I hear the noise of horses, they are here,
A plague upon them all, then here away.
Brother away, it’s time, we may suspect.
Sejanus looks in at the door, and speaks.
Hell yawn and swallow them! That way I am stopped,
This way the dogs will bark and so betray me: 50
The geese will gaggle, if I fly this way.
There are his murderous guard, a hell confound them.
Oh, for the seven-way house of
Sejanus, kill yourself. Oh no, I dare not.
Would I were an ass to bear: so I am. 55
I am not. I fly, I dare not, I cannot, I must.
Enter Tiberius with his guard pursuing Sejanus.
As for your lives, seek, search, enquire, stop, stay, 1
Misdoubt, examine, spy, watch, have a care,
And if he passes, not one of you shall ’scape
The extremest torments that I can inflict.
Post, post, away! Some to the Capitol, 5
Some to Port Esquiline, Mount Palatine,
Watch, watch the streets, the Drusian streets,
Hie, to the altars, the Ægerian wood:
The bridge of Tiber, and Prometheus’ lake,
Somewhere, anywhere, everywhere, away, away! 10
Enter Sejanus. The guard besets all the doors; he draws and proffers to come divers ways: at last rushes on the guard, fights, and is taken.
Heaven, earth, hell: help, hide,
Here swallow up a living sacrifice
Graced with a hecatomb of slaughtered slaves,
Hold sword, Sejanus barters death for death.
So, bind the traitor fast in iron chains. 15
Now, slave of honour, ground of infamy,
Obloquy’s subject, and fair dealings shame,
No, hear me, villain, for you must and shall.
Must, shall, and will, for I am bound to do it.
Aye, and to bear whatever I inflict. 20
Strike quickly, and strike home; I wait the stroke
And shall embrace the instrument of death,
And never grieve to drown it in my blood,
So that the steamy spirits that ascend
Were of sufficient force to strangle you. 25
Ah, good Sejanus, how yet I pity you!
I crave no pity, neither fear your pride,
Whose pity only servès for a truce
To levy new supply of tyranny.
The man begins to play the orator; 30
Get him a throne to grace his eloquence.
This kind of courtesy I will accept.
Yet shall you not perform’t, except I will.
If, tiger’s issue, you should cut out my tongue
And rob my thoughts of their ambassador, 35
The boundless ocean of my swelling thoughts,
(Enraged with the malice of my heart),
Would overflow my breast’s immuring banks,
To make relation of your villainy.
Oh, terrible revenge, intolerable. 40
But I shall undergo it as I may,
And here and there, still as you glance at me.
But touch a little your own villainies,
And therein play the true historian.
Tut! Courage, man, why do you not begin? 45
Bid you begin, who long will wish my end,
Before I have ripped up half your villainies,
Which never will have end until your end.
Oh, had you ended before you had begun,
So many evils had not chanced in Rome: 50
Then had not Vesta’s tapers been defiled,
Nor the altars turned to irreligious uses:
When you did make her never-dying lamps
Serve for the torches to your burning lust,
The while her Temple made a brothel-house, 55
And all her virgins prostitute to you.
But these are but your meanest outrages,
Wrought in your villainous minority.
Your Cleopatrean cates could scarce digest,
Without a measure danced by naked trulls, 60
To feed your glutton-eyes’ immodest gaze.
And where was then Sejanus, holy man?
Herein I do accuse myself of guilt.
Beshrew your hateful head for doing it.
Bale to your hateful heart for
causing it. 65
Your plotting head for so inventing it.
Your bloody mind for so concluding
And on Sejanus, for effecting it.
And on Sejanus, for effecting it?
Yet, villain, do I curse my cursèd self. 70
Down, poised by the execrations
Of those that you by me have murdered.
Believe him, sirs, maybe he speaks truth.
It may be, tyrant? Nay, it is too true.
Caius and Lucius were murdered, 75
And Agrippina, by Tiberius.
So poisonèd, Germanicus was slain.
Sabinus and Asinius were dispatched,
And Julia, for her son, Tiberius;
And so you lovèd Drusus, your own son, 80
To suck his blood, in whose death still I joy,
To think that therein, I o’er reached a tyrant.
Poor Prince, unjustly doomed to sudden death,
Which in his life he only this deserved
By giving me a whirret on the ear: 85
But as for treason’s ignominious spot
Against yourself, your life or diadem,
His innocent thoughts never were tainted with.
(Aside) Hold heart, break not betwixt my rage and grief.
Only for this. 90
Only for this! Oh, fury teach my tongue
To breath eternal curses on his soul.
Oh, how I triumph in soul-pleasing joy,
That herein yet I die not unrevenged.
I made him die for my own proper fault, 95
For know, Tiberius, as in all the rest,
So in your son Drusus’ sad tragedy,
I grounded the foundation of my hopes,
Meaning upon the ocean of their bloods,
To swim unto the throne of majesty, 100
And from your hand rend the imperial crown.
Here is the catalogue of his deserts,
’Tis pity but he was an Emperor.
He whispers in his ear. Exit Spurius.
Make haste, I charge you on your life. 105
Herein I must detract from policy,
And fortune attribute the cause to you,
That thus I may revenge this treachery.
Revenge! Alas you may perhaps on me
Inflict the extremity of punishment, 110
And rid you so of one piece of your fear,
But yet you can not ’scape deservèd death,
For from the Phoenix’s ashes of their sire,
The heart-revived young Germanici,
Wise Nero, and fierce Drusus, armed with rage, 115
Come like a lightning to consume your state.
Soldiers, pursue them before they pass the walls
To join themselves unto the legions.
Why, lunatic usurper of the crown,
They are the lawful heirs unto the state, 120
You but adopted by false treachery.
My right as good as yours is to the crown,
For both but false, and both but villainy.
You do me wrong, Sejanus, to upbraid me thus
With ignominious title of ingrate; 125
Or wrong detaining what is not my own.
Enter Spurius with a burning crown.
Who I, usurp your crown and your
I was not fit to live an if I should.
Therefore my masters, here before you all,
I do resign my crown imperial 130
Unto Sejanus, and do invest him Cæsar.
He sets the burning crown upon his head.
All hail, Sejanus!
All hail: hell, death, destruction plague you all,
Let all the tortures, torments, punishments.
In earth, in heaven, in hell, revenge my death, 135
Whose burning pain torments me not so much
As that there comes not from my scalded brains
Sufficient smoke to smother all of you.
So die your curses with your cursèd
Now, one go cast his body in to
The rest go with me, it’s high time to haste.
Enter Agrippina alone.
Oh heavens! And if that any power be higher! 1
Oh earth! And if that any lower lie?
Melt heavens into a shower of supple balm.
Flower earth, all purpled with Nepenthes' leaves,
Too foolish Agrippina to complain, 5
Earth, heavens, Nepenthes' balm, and all in vain.
This earthly heart, it is my pleasing earth.
She opens the box with the heart of Germanicus.
This is Nepenthes that does cure
This balm, this cassia, this is sweetest myrrh,
When I forget to joy in this respect, 10
Heaven, earth, Nepenthes all do me neglect.
Oh, what a dungeon is this tabernacle!
To whom, and when, and where shall I complain?
I know not, and again I know,
For Agrippina is amazed with woe. 15
Madam, Tiberius Cæsar’s majesty
Sent me to tell you of his near approach.
Will Nero come? Where are his tortures then?
His rod, his hatchets, racks, gyves, manacles,
Whips, gridirons, tumbrels, lions, tigers, bears 20
And all his uncouth new-found messengers,
Which bloody Phalaris could never invent.
Can fair Pallantias leave her Lucifer?
Or Phoebus shine, and not
Tush! You are much deceived, Nero will not come. 25
Lady, my heart does yearn to hear your grief
To surge in billows of such bitter waves.
And what? Good gentleman, tell out the rest:
What, will you set a ship upon my sea,
Fraught with a thousand ton of heavy cares, 30
And with a sharp tempestuous Roman wind,
Sail unto Thule or the frozen main,
Then glide upon the ice and so to land,
And sow these seeds of care between banks of rue,
Deep delved, and deep rooted in cold clay, 35
Then in pursuing of this fainty soil,
Stay until harvest, and in Autumn shear
This fruitful corn, and so return again.
But, Agrippina, these fond humours leave,
Macro, my grief my senses half bereave. 40
True, Agrippina, Macro much did wonder
The variable passions of sad sorrow,
That I lament the tragic history
This doleful faltering engine should impart: 45
Nero will hither come under pretext
To comfort, but to try your patience.
He has an apple in such syrup dipped,
Which he in kindness means to offer you:
If you accept, accept a present death. 50
If you deny, he’ll take exceptions
Against your faith, and subject’s loyalty.
Dreadful dilemma, counsel as you may.
I doubt that Nero will misdoubt my stay.
Dare he not stay? Oh monstrous perjury!
Did he not vow by Jove’s eternal crown,
By Saturn’s sigh, and Venus’ golden belt,
Mercury’s changing rod and Luna’s horn,
That he would stay with me? Oh, perjury!
Nero, make haste: yet stay, I’ll pare my nails, 60
Lest that I set my talons on his face,
And spoil Narcissus’ comely personage.
He will give me an apple; I’ll give him…
A what? A lemon: no but I’ll give him
A chestnut, and he’ll crack the riven shell, 65
And between his millstones, grind the yielding meat,
Germanicus, oh my Drusus! Oh my dear
Nero, no! Nero Cæsar will visit me,
And feed me fat with capons and with quails.
Quails! No, with apples; so he comes: 70
I shall be crammed today.
Enter Tiberius with his attendants Spurius and Nerva, Macro and Caligula following after.
Fair daughter, Agrippina, you do wrong
That spotless beauty with congealèd tears,
Blotting those rubies with dissolvèd pearls,
Staining those roses with such crystal streams. 75
Is not the world subject to Roman power?
And you the daughter of the Emperor
And so the imperial mistress of the world?
Then, Agrippina, but command the world
And all the world shall seek to comfort you. 80
Nero, not all the world can comfort me,
Since all the world has lost my comforter.
Has all the world? What did your Lord aspire?
Daughter, you cannot rule unless you reign.
Blush not, dear ensign of my modesty, 85
Shame light on me if that I be ashamed,
Since you will never be ashamed of shame.
My Lord Germanicus, did he aspire?
No, Nero no, there lurks the fistula
Of fawning hatred that did murder him. 90
Did he not honour
Did he not homage to Tiberius?
Did he not love his country past compare?
Courteous and mild, and too obsequious,
Too well belovèd and too credulous, 95
And therefore murderèd.
No, stay a while,
And breathe, and rail, and rail and breathe again,
And then I hope your ladyship will stay.
Meanwhile hold, here’s an apple to refresh 100
The drièd vapours of your fuming head.
Eat it and breathe, eat it and rail again;
Do so, fair daughter, to allay your pain.
Words ease the stomach.
So must they mine, 105
Or else my heart would break in vile dispute.
Monster of monsters, ill is too, too good,
Cruel, too mild a title for your deeds:
Nature could never find a man so bad,
That might resemble your foul villainies. 110
Toad, crocodile, asp, viper, basilisk,
Too wholesome, tame, mild, gentle, virtuous,
For Nero’s poison, fury, envy, wrath.
Woman, I listen much unto your taunts,
Yet know that I have Pandataria;
There babble to the wind your foolish moans, 115
There in some desert make your elegies,
Tune them unto the puling harmony
Of the lamenting consort bred in Thrace:
Rome shall not hear your yelling execrations.
Before Eros shall four times be washed 120
In Nereus’ fountain with Hyperion,
Upon your life see that you see not
But banished, back to Pandataria.
First, let the head of Nilus be revealed,
Let Tiber flow in
Let earth to air, and water turn to fire,
All to confusion, let heaven turn to hell,
And which is more and most prodigious,
Let Nero think one thought of honesty,
If Agrippina yield to banishment. 130
Did not Sejanus blazon all your wrongs,
That all the world does loathe your treacheries?
Did not the Parthian King admonish you?
You were a villain, and you swore it was true.
Does not each night with dreams of your foul sins 135
Torment your soul with ghastly spectacles?
Caius, Lucius, Augustus, Julia,
Sejanus, and my Lord Germanicus,
Solicit Pluto for your deep revenge?
They do, they do, and all the furies shake 140
Their new filled iron whips for their revenge.
If there be heaven, be sure of Nemesis:
If there be hell, be sure to be tormented,
With baleful tortures never yet invented.
Not all this while, good daughter,
out of breath? 145
Well, speak your last that
My last, fond tyrant, know that I will speak
In spite of Nero, in disdain of Rome,
Nero, the butcher, bloody shambles Rome,
Who sells the fairest ware at meanest price. 150
Aye, and because peevish, wilful grief,
Has made you somewhat lean, not fit for sale,
You shall to grass to Pandataria:
Provide her hay and water store enough.
No, no, what shall I call this hate of earth? 155
I’ll call him Nero, that’s the worst of all.
Nero, it shall not need, I am provided
Of fairer cates without your honest care:
The corn that makes my bread are yellow cares,
Ripened by heat of anger, in my breast 160
The barren field of nought but careful seeds.
My meat the sodden sorrows of my heart,
Which boil with soft remembrance of my woes.
And if I play the epicure in grief,
My tears shall be the sense of my repasts. 165
If ever other food my tongue do taste,
If ever other food my stomach do concoct,
Let all be turned from sustentation,
To fill impostures with contagious filth.
I tell you, Nero, Agrippina will die, 170
And starve herself, and scorn your banishment.
It’s two days since I last did taste of meat;
Cursed be my soul, if ever I do eat.
Will you not? See, Sirrah, go fetch some food
I’ll make you curse yourself: hold, take, fall to. 175
Detested tyrant, I do scorn your food.
Then help, Sirrah, open her mouth and feed her,
Cut her meat small, and feed her daintily.
He feeds her, and she puts it out again.
Sirrah, dispatch I say! 180
No, cram her then, and feed her fat withal.
He chokes her and so she dies.
What, have you strangled her? Here
take your hire.
Can you not feed a daw no better yet?
Ah, Nero, Nero.
What, Nerva? Be content, 185
She chose of this rather than banishment,
And better choke than starve our wilful daughter,
(Aside) She’s gone, and if I live you shall go after.
Exit all but Macro and Caligula.
Barbarous, inhumane, worse than cruelty,
Which Gods and men, mine eyes, and soul, do hate. 190
What Hyperborean climate in the north,
What Lydian desert, Indian vastacy,
What wilderness in wild Arabia,
So hateful a monster ever nourished,
To hinder willing death by villainy? 195
Caligula, changeling Caligula,
Where is the spirit of Germanicus?
Did he beget you in an idle dream?
Or did your mother think it vanity
As Æthiop’s Queen upon Andromeda? 200
If but one spark by chance remain alive,
If but one drop, one mathematic point,
Make up a sea, a body by addition:
Blow up, Caligula, this sleepy spark;
Caligula, remember what you are. 205
Macro, Caligula can bear your taunts,
Can be upbraided at a captain’s hand.
My Father told me, and I remember it,
The highest virtue is true patience.
I know not what you mean by all these words, 210
That mount my Father’s praises to the sky;
To live securely, I deem that the best,
And a great virtue to be patient.
Patient, Caligula? I am ashamed;
I am impatient to hear that word, 215
That noble title wrested from his sense.
Ah! Did not Macro serve Germanicus
Whenas your mother bore you in the field?
Did not a peal of trumpets sound your birth
And drums make music to allay her pains? 220
Were you not trainèd before you could speak?
Did you not wear a common soldier’s suit,
And therefore had your name, Caligula?
Where is your captive soul imprisoned?
Your lion’s heart? Encaged! No, you are wise, 225
You deem that Nero has suborned my tongue,
To make a glozing theme of flattery,
To sift your secrets, and to sell your life.
First, let the earth open her cursèd womb,
And swallow up this hellish mansion. 230
Let every step tread on a scorpion:
Let every object be a basilisk:
Let heaven… What can I wish, Caligula?
Here is my poniard: here, be sure, strike home,
If you can have but least suspicion 235
That Macro seeks to undermine my lord.
What? Shall I now become a sycophant?
Macro, Caligula doth not mistrust,
Nor hath he reason to misdoubt thy faith,
But Macro, thus much for Caligula: 240
Meet me at Fides’
More than unto my mother I dare show.
Were it to
To hear the sentence of Caligula;
Till then, my lord, adieu. 245
My father slain or poisoned in the East,
Livia become a foul adulteress;
Nero and Drusus, fast shut up inward;
And you, dear mother, here lies butchered. 250
Grow to the earth, you feeble instruments,
He kneels down.
Till I distil a liquid sacrifice
From my heart’s furnace, and these crystal streams,
You dried up wells, strain out a little more:
It’s Agrippina that you must deplore. 255
Proud spirit, bound your swelling tympany,
Till I unfraught this galley of laments.
Then clear your passage and burst out in fire,
And make an earthquake in this little world.
What shall I vow? To whom shall I lament? 260
Unto the marbles? They do weep for sorrow.
Unto the walls? They rive themselves with grief.
Unto the beasts? Why they would starve themselves
To feed themselves upon this fading hue.
Marbles and walls, and beasts more ruth than he, 265
That was the author of this tragedy.
He takes her in his arms and goes in.
Æneas’ burden never was so dear,
As this celestial burden which I bear.
Nero and Drusus chained in prison.
Brother, I faint, and now my starved soul 1
Seeks for to feed upon ambrosia
Dear Drusus, would my arms were but unchained
That you might staunch your hunger on my flesh:
My colder humours feed my gnawing heat, 5
That I can better yet endure the fast.
See, brother, I think you may reach my arm:
I pray you feed upon this lean repast.
No, brother, if it would prolong my life
Till the great year when all things must be changed 10
To the idea of the former’s will.
But if your hungry wolf does vex your soul,
Feed on these cates, taste on this brawny arm,
That will rejoice to feed your appetite.
No, brother, feed on mine. 15
They eat each other’s arms.
No brother, mine.
Enter Caligula again.
Boast not, Antigone, of your dear love
To Polynices, your affected brother,
Whom you in spite of Creon did entomb;
I have entombed a far more precious jewel, 20
Aye, in despite of Nero, far more cruel.
Ah, Nero, Nero, that does us enforce
To be such loving Roman cannibals.
Who calls on Nero, was’t my mother’s ghost?
Ah, cruel Cæsar; brother, forgive, forgive, 25
My food digests not, nor can I live.
Or am I blind, or do my eyes behold
My starvèd brothers? It’s so, Caligula.
Brother, farewell, my glass of life is run.
And I’ll go with you to Elysium. 30
They both die
Is there a provident intelligence
That rules the world by his eternal being?
Is there a Jove? And will he not be just?
Or is he just? And will he not revenge?
What is he? Whom, or where, or who can tell? 35
Can you not move the heavens? Then raise up hell!
Enter Tiberius with his guard.
Cocceius Nerva starved himself to death; 1
I wonder much what made the old man die.
In truth I loved him for his naked truth,
In truth he was an honest simple man.
Well, virtue go with him, vice stay with me, 5
Till I have massacred my prisoners,
And rooted out all this conspiracy:
Then will I seem a new reformed man,
And rise betimes each morning to the temple,
So afterwards I may continue some drifts. 10
I have a catalogue which I must find,
And search the prisons whether I have all.
Julius Celsus cries out of prison.
Ah, Nero, Nero, Celsus begs your aid.
Julius Celsus, what is your petition?
A humble suitor for your clemency. 15
My clemency, Celsus? Marry, and you shall,
Aye, and great reason for Sejanus’ sake.
Not in his name I beg compassion,
But by your virtues I do you entreat,
Ah, gracious Nero, let my gyves be loosed. 20
And Celsus led to execution.
Ah, no Tiberius, I desire not death,
But better ease in my imprisonment;
For this I beg.
For whose sake, Julius? 25
For mercy’s sake, and your dear genius.
For that word, jailer, loose his iron bands,
Or by my genius you shall lose your head.
Oh, voice of comfort; thanks, Tiberius.
It’s but for a while; know that, Julius. 30
Now monster, tiger, earth’s infection,
Plague of the world, scourge of our happy Rome,
Treason’s first born, hell’s out-spewed vomit,
Prodigious homicide, and murder’s law,
That makes a sporting law to murder men - 35
Holler and breathe, and then begin again;
Nero shall recompense you for your pain.
Such recompense had good Germanicus,
Such Agrippina, such had Julia:
Such Nero, Drusus, and their dearest mother, 40
Poor Agrippina, wise Asinius:
Sabinus, Nerva, and your other self,
Young Drusus, whose dear blood was once your own,
Yet of your own had no compassion.
And lastly, (though not undeserving it), 45
Yet herein well deserving at your hands,
In that he was your mischief’s instrument:
Hapless Sejanus, too improvident
Of his intended fall, your false intent.
And such a recompense remains for me, 50
The meanest subject of your tyranny.
Marry, amen; swear it, an oracle.
But tyrant, Celsus does contemn your fury;
My mind was never fever-shook with fear
Of meagre death, life’s due privation, 55
I have already armed my age to die,
Whose age deems death the end of misery.
See therefore, tiger, here your mercy’s fruit,
The ease I sought, the end of earnest suit.
For this I begged, for this I seemed unwilling, 60
For to be dead, that I might gain my killing.
He puts the chain about his neck and strangles himself.
Wondrous well gained; here is good usury,
Where it’s the gainer’s interest to die:
But O, for charity! Jailer, soldiers run,
Rescue his life, before his life be gone. 65
Yet let him go.
What is your Highness’ will?
No, nothing now, but that as yon man dies,
For charity, close up his dying eyes.
Why this it is to have a policy: 70
Here's a poor plot to prevent cruelty,
And ten to one the villain understands
How this will vex me that he 'scapes my hands.
But let that pass, leave him to Acheron;
His part is past, part of my part's to come. 75
Enter Caligula and Macro from Fides’
Thus have we interchanged our mutual oaths 1
In presence of the goddess of all truth:
Macro, remember how you are enjoined
By words, by signs, by letters and by thoughts,
For to adore eternal secrecy. 5
And if my lord misdoubt my secrecy,
Cut out my tongue, cut off my traitor’s hands,
Unjoin my body, and pull out my heart,
That I may neither tell, nor make a sign,
Nor think one thought against your royalty. 10
Pardon me, Macro, if I somewhat fear,
That having all this while securely slept
Under the canopy of vanity,
And never did impart my secrecy
To father, mother, or my brethren, 15
Nerva, Sabinus, or Asinius:
Nero, Sejanus, all I have deceived,
Under pretext of youthful bravery.
But Macro, to your youth I recommend
The supreme relic of Germanicus. 20
By Agrippina’s loathèd execution,
By my dear brothers’ starvèd carcasses,
By you, by me, by all the gods, by all:
And if that any number be, more than all,
Join to exile this proud Tarquinius, 25
Insulting Nero. No, not so, not so;
Yes, so it must be, or else murdered,
For nought but death can satisfy my wrongs.
Like as a greyhound in his hot pursuit
Strives to out-strip the fearful flying doe, 30
Or as Diana’s gift to Cephalous
Yearned to out-run the beast of Arcady,
Both striving, yet both swifter then the blasts,
Disdain Boreas in his swelling pride,
Shot for the sister of fair Diana: 35
So does the honour of your hovering thoughts,
Grudge to be equalled by my fluttering flight,
Yet, good my Lord, give Macro leave to mount,
And cease upon the accosting stooping prey.
Not so, I, Macro, it’s I that have the wrong. 40
But I, my Lord, …
Do not entreat,
Do not prolong with idle breathing words
The date of cold revenge: for even this night
Nero shall be enrolled in Pluto’s court.
Within the circuit of a deserted wood,
A wilderness of deadly basilisks,
Within this circuit is an hellish pool,
Cold in the tenth degree. Not Styx so cold,
Wherein the fearful Thetis drenched her son; 50
In a mule’s hoof this water have I kept,
As fatal drink to Philip’s worthy son,
And even this night this water shall revenge
The tyrant’s wrongs unto Caligula.
Macro, fly unto the legions, win their hearts, 55
Persuade with all your warlike eloquence,
Advance our Eagles, and tomorrow morn
Approach with them unto the Capitol.
Fail not, good Macro, but make haste away,
This night for Nero or Caligula. 60
Enter Livia alone.
Can Livia still participate this air? 1
Still temporise with fawning misery?
Still feed on cares, yet still vain hopes repair?
Will nothing end my cruel destiny?
What lumpish Saturn did inspire my breath, 5
Did make me die in life, yet live in death?
Breathe out your plaints, withal breathe out your heart;
Evaporate the spirits of your soul,
Weep out your brain, the substance of your smart,
That knew your shame, yet would not sin control; 10
Anatomise this sepulchre of shame,
Soul, heart, and brain, and all, and all to blame.
Is Drusus dead? And yet can Livia live?
Sejanus at Elysium, and I stay?
My father murdered? Who me life can give? 15
My brothers starved? Livia not made away?
Old Hecuba by death could ease her grief,
And cannot Livia find out like relief?
Can I that flourishèd like fairest rose,
Droop like the lily, beaten down with rain? 20
Can I to whom each courtier’s tongue would gloze,
Endure their scorns, their taunts and vile disdain?
Could Livia live, when Livia was contented,
And cannot Livia die now she’s tormented?
She kneels down by the well’s side.
Great Faunus, to whose sacred deity 25
This sanctified grove is consecrated:
Accept the incense of my last piety,
The best devotion I can dedicate:
Accept, great Faunus, this my dying proffer,
Many more great, none more sincere can offer. 30
Not Dido to Scythians' sacrifice,
Nor Cleopatra unto
Nor Sophonisba’s loyal misery:
Zenobia, Palmyra’s noble queen, 35
This fatal end of Livia might be seen.
Fair fountain, clear the blots of infamy;
Cold streams, conceal the rumour of my death;
You only, Philomela, sing my tragedy,
Carol a dirge for my exhalèd breath. 40
Fair streams, I come; let no man hear my cries,
Let no man shed one tear that Livia dies.
Here she leaps in.
Enter Caligula alone.
By this, the cruel Tarquin should be sped, 1
But much I fear preservatives do stay
The fury of his watery receipt,
And Macro may be treacherous; what a fool 5
Was I for to impart my secrecy!
Oh, what a villain was Caligula?
Horror confounds me in this agony:
But I’ll catastrophise this tragedy.
Did not the villain swear, and vow, and weep, 10
Offer his breast, that I might make a window
To see the cankers of his festered soul,
And who would not take him at his word?
My Lord, the legions are all up in arms,
For to salute your grace the Emperor. 15
Thanks, Macro. Loyal friend, command them stay,
Till I return from Nero back again.
Caligula goes to the place where Nero Tiberius lies sick, and pulls aside the arras.
All happiness unto your Majesty.
Cursed be all happiness, for I have
I have a fire, a fire within my bowels, 20
That burns, and scalds, and mads me with the pain:
If I must die, yet would I had my wish,
Oh, that even all the people in the world,
Had but one neck that at one deadly blow,
I might unpeople all the world and die. 25
Give me my hands that I may rend my flesh,
And tear this raging from out my burning entrails.
Where is Æsculapius? Who goes for him?
I’ll hale the leech from hell to cure my pain,
And if that Nero does not quickly mend, 30
I’ll burn even all the temples of the Gods,
That cannot help the Roman Emperor.
Yes, I will help the Roman Emperor,
And be revenged on you, Tiberius:
You monster tyrant, thus I’ll help you, thus. 35
He stops his breath with the sheet, and stabs him.
for Germanicus, this for Agrippina,
This for Nero, this for Drusus, this for Caligula,
Re-enters upon the stage.
Nero, the hate of
He reigned no day, but some were murdered. 40
Asking his master Zeno a Greek word,
What dialect? He answered, Doric,
And therefore killed him, for because he thought
He mocked him for his Rhodian banishment.
He loathed wine now, because he swillèd gore 45
More greedily then he did wine before.
He slew a poet for this little cause,
Because that in a doleful tragedy,
He railed on Agamemnon’s cruelty.
It is a holy law, and Roman rite, 50
No vestal virgin should be strangled;
He for to invent a cruelty,
Made first the hang-man to deflower the maids,
And then commanded for to strangle them.
When one had almost killed himself for fear, 55
He made his surgeons for to cure his wounds.
The tyrant would deny no witnesses;
If any did accuse ’twas present death.
When first the tyrant did possess the crown.
He sent to
Who cherished Nero in his banishment.
He coming unto
But in an angry, sullen, discontent:
Who in a rage made him be torturèd:
And when the villain saw he had wronged his friend 65
He murdered him, that it might be concealed.
He crucified one Peter, called a saint,
Of holy Jews, that did adore one Christ,
Which they entitle Saviour of the world.
He killed one Priam there, unhappy most 70
In that he lived and all his children lost.
These and so many more as should I tell,
I should employ a world to number them,
And still be further with Simonides,
To signify the certain multitude. 75
By these his acts I’ll justify his death,
That I may get Rome’s royal Empery,
And to eternal glory of renown,
I was a fool, but all to get the crown.