Anonymous: The Tragedy of Nero (1624)


Act One.


Scene One.





                     Tush[2], take the wench

                 I showed thee now, or else some other seek.

                 What? Can your choler[3] no way be allayed

                 But with Imperial titles?

                 Will you more titles unto Caesar give?[5]



                 Great are thy fortunes, Nero, great thy power,

                 Thy Empire limited with nature's bounds.

                 Upon thy ground, the Sun doth set and rise,

                 The day and night are thine:

                 Nor can the Planets wander where they will[10]

                 See that proud earth, that fears not Caesar's name.

                 Yet nothing of all this, I envy thee,

                 But her, to whom the world, unforced,[4] obeys,

                 Whose eye's more worth than all it looks upon,

                 In whom all beauties Nature hath enclos'd,[15]

                 That through the wide earth, or Heaven are disposed.



                 Indeed she steals and robs each part o'th world,

                 With borrowed beauties[5] to enflame thine eye;

                 The Sea, to fetch her Pearl, is div'd into,

                 The Diamond rocks are cut to make her shine[20]

                 To plume her pride the birds do naked sing

                     When my Enanthe, in a homely [6] gown....



                 Homely, i'faith.



                 Aye, homely in her gown,

                 But look upon her face, and that's set out

                 With no small grace, no veiled shadow's help.

                 Fool, that hadst rather with false lights and dark

                 Beguiled be, than see the ware thou buyest.


POPPĆA, royally attended, passes over the stage, in State.



                 Great Queen, whom nature made to be her glory,

                 Fortune got eyes, and came to be thy servant;

                 Honour is proud to be thy title. Though

                 Thy beauties do draw up my soul, yet still

                 So bright, so glorious is thy Majesty,

                 That it beats down again my climbing thoughts.



                 Why true,

                 And other of thy blindness thou seest,

                 Such one to love thou dar'st not speak unto.

                 Give me a wench that will be easily had,

                 Not wooed with cost, and being sent for comes,

                 And when I have her folded in mine arms,

                 Then Cleopatra[7] she, or Lucres[8] is:

                 I'll give her any title.



                 Yet not so much her greatness and estate

                 My hopes dishearten, as her chastity.



                 Chastity, fool!  A word not known in courts.

                 Well may it lodge in mean and country homes,

                 Where poverty and labour keep them down,

                 Short sleeps, and hands made hard with Tuscan wool,

                 But never comes to great men's palaces,

                 Where ease, and riches, stirring thoughts beget,

                 Provoking meats, and surfeit wines inflame,

                 Where all there setting forth's be wooed,

                 And wooed they would not be, but to be won.

                 Will one man serve Poppća?  Nay, thou shalt

                 Make her as soon contented with an eye.


Nymphidius to them.



                 Whil'st Nero in the streets his Pageants shows,

                 I to his fair wife's chamber sent for am.

                 You gracious stars, that smiled in my birth,

                 And thou bright star more powerful then them all,

                 Whose favouring smiles have made me what I am

                 Thou shalt my God, my fate, and fortune be.


Exit Nymphidius.



                 How saucily yon fellow

                 Enters the Empress's chamber.



                 Aye, and her too? Antonius, knowest thou him?



                 What? Know the only favourite of the Court?

                 Indeed, not many days ago thou mightest

                 Have not unlawfully askt that question.



                 Why is he rais'd?



                 That have I sought in him,

                 But never piece of good desert could find:

                 He is Nymphidia's son, the freed- woman,

                 Which baseness to shake off, he nothing hath

                 But his own pride.



                 You remember when Gallus, Celsus,

                 And others too, though now forgotten, were

                 Great in Poppća's eyes?



                 I do, and did interpret it in them

                 An honourable favour.  She bare virtue,

                 Or parts like virtue.



                 The cause is one of theirs, and this man's grace;

                 I once was great in wavering smiles of Court,

                 I fell because I knew.  Since I have given

                 My time to my own pleasures, and would now

                 Advise to thee too, to mean and safe delights.

                 The thigh's as soft the sheep's back covereth

                 As that which crimson, and with gold adorn'd;

                 Yet cause I see that thy restrained desires

                 Cannot their own way choose, come thou with me:

                 Perhaps I'll show thee means of remedy.




Scene Two.


Enter two Romans at several doors.



                 Whither so fast, man?  Whither so fast?



                 Whither?  But where your ears do lead you;

                 To Nero's triumphs, and the shouts you hear.



                 Why?  Comes he crown'd with Parthian overthrow,

                 And brings he Vologeses[9] with him, chain'd?



                 Parthian overthrown[10]?  Why, he comes crown'd

                 For victories which never Roman won,

                 For having Greece in her own arts overthrown;

                 In singing, dancing, horse-race, stage-playing.

                 Never, O Rome had never such a Prince.



                 Yet have I heard our ancestors were crown'd

                 For other victories.



                 None of our ancestors were e'er like him.


Within,  “Nero, Apollo,[11] Nero, Hercules[12].”



                 Hark how th'applauding shouts do clear th'air.

                 This idle talk will make me lose the sight.


Two Romans more to them.



                 Whither go you?  All's done i'th Capitol,

                 And Nero, having there his tables hung,

                 And garlands up, is to the Palace gone.

                 'Twas beyond wonder; I shall never see,

                 Nay I never look to see the like again.

                 Eighteen hundred and eight Crowns[13]

                 For several victories, and the place set down.

                 Where, and in what, and whom he overcame.



                 That was set down i'th tables, that were borne

                 Upon the soldiers' spears.



                 O made, and sometimes used, to other ends.



                 But did he win them all with singing?



                 Faith all with singing, and with stage-playing.



                 Somany crowns got with a song?



                 But did you mark the Greek musicians

                 Behind his chariot, hanging down their heads?

                 Sham'd and o'ercome in their professions;

                 O, Rome was never honour'd so before.



                 But what was he that rode i'th chariot with him?



                 That was Diodorus the Minstrel[14], that he favours.



                 Was there ever such a Prince?



                 O Nero Augustus, the true Augustus.



                 Nay, had you seen him as he rode along,

                 With an Olympic Crown upon his head,

                 And with a Pythian on his arm[15], you would have thought,

                 Looking on one he had Apollo seem'd,

                 On th'other Hercules.



                 I have heard my father oft repeat the triumphs,

                 Which in Augustus Cćsar's time were shown

                 Upon his victory o'er the Illyrians,

                 But it seems it was not like to this.



                 Tush, it could not be like this.



                 O Nero, Apollo, Nero, Hercules.


Exeunt 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Romans.


Alanet Primus.



                 Whether Augustus' triumph greater was

                 I cannot tell; his triumph's cause I know       

                 Was greater far, and far more honourable.

                 What are we? People or our flattering voices,

                 That always shame and foolish things applaud

                 Having no spark of soul; all ears, and eyes,

                 Pleas'd with vain shows, deluded by our senses,

                 Still enemies to wisdom, and to goodness?




Scene Three.


Enter Nero, Poppća, Nymphidius, Tigellinus, Epaphroditus, Neophilus, and others.



                 Now fair Poppća, see thy Nero shine

                 In bright Achaia's[16] spoils, and Rome in him.

                 The capital hath other trophies seen

                 Then it was wont, not spoils with blood bedew'd,

                 Or the unhappy obsequies of death,

                 But such, as Cćsar's cunning, not his force,

                 Hath wrung from Greece, too bragging of her art.



                 And in this strife, the glory's all your own.

                 Your tribunes cannot share this praise with you,

                 Here your Centurions hath no part at all,

                 Bootless your Armies, and your Eagles[17] were,

                 No Navies helpt to bring away this conquest.



                 Even Fortune's self, Fortune the Queen of Kingdoms

                 (That war's grim valour graceth with her deeds,)

                 Will claim no portion in this victory.



                 Not Bacchus, drawn from Nisa[18] down with Tigers,

                 Curbing with viny rains their wilful heads,

                 Whilst some do gape upon this Ivy Thirse,

                 Some, on the dangling grapes that crown his head.

                 All praise his beauty, and continuing youth,

                 So struck, amazed India with wonder

                 As Nero's glories did the Greekish towns

                 Elis[19], and Pisa[20], and the rich Mycenae[21],

                 Junonian Argos [22] , and yet Corinth proud

                 Of her two seas, all which o'er-came, did yield

                 To me their praise, and prizes of their games.



                 Yet, in your Greekish journey, do we hear

                 Sparta [23] , and Athens [24] , the two eyes of Greece,

                 Neither beheld your person, nor your skill,

                 Whether because they did afford no games,

                 Or for their too much gravity.



                 Why? What

                 Should I have seen in them?  But in the one,

                 Hunger, black-pottage[25], and men hot to die

                 Thereby to rid themselves of misery,

                 And what in th'other?  But short capes, long beards,

                 Much wrangling, in things needless to be known,

                 Wisdom in words, and only austere faces.

                 I will not be Aiecelaus, nor Solon[26].

                 Nero was there, where he might honour win,

                 And honour hath he won, and brought from Greece

                 Those spoils which never Roman could obtain,

                 Spoils won by wit, and trophies of his skill.



                 What a thing he makes it to be a Minstrel.



                 I praise your wit, my Lord, that chose such safe

                 Honours, safe spoils, won without dust or blood.



                 What, mock ye me, Poppća?



                 Nay, in good faith my Lord, I speak in earnest.

                 I hate that heady and adventurous crew,

                 That go to lose their own, to purchase but

                 The breath of others, and the common voice.

                 Them that will lose their seeking for a sound,

                 That by death only, seek to get a living,

                 Make scars their beauty, and count loss of limbs

                 The commendation of a proper man,

                 And so, go halting to immortality.

                     Such fools I love worse than they do their lives.



                 But now, Poppća, having laid apart

                 Our boastful spoils, and ornaments of triumph,

                 Come we, like Jove from Phlegrae-[27]--



                 O giantlike comparison.



                 When, after all this Fires, and wand'ring darts,

                 He comes to bathe himself in Juno's eyes:

                 But thou, (than wrangling Juno,) art far more fair.

                 Staining the evening beauty of the Sky,

                 Or the day's brightness shall make glad thy Caesar,

                 Shalt make him proud such beauties to enjoy.




Manet NYMPHIDIUS solus.



                 Such beauties to enjoy were happiness,

                 And a reward sufficient in itself,

                 Although no other end, or hopes were aim'd at;

                 But I have other.  'Tis not Poppća's arms,

                 Nor the short pleasures of a wanton bed

                 That can extinguish mine aspiring thirst.

                 To Nero's crown by her love I must climb;

                 Her bed is but a step unto his throne.

                 Already wise men laugh at him, and hate him.

                 The people, though his Minstrelsy doth please them,

                 They fear his cruelty, hate his exactions,

                 Which his need still must force him to increase.

                 The multitude, which cannot one thing long

                 Like, or dislike, being cloy'd with vanity

                 Will hate their own delights, though wisdom do not.

                 Even weariness, at length, will give them eyes.

                 Thus I, by Nero's and Poppća's favour,

                 Rais'd to the envious height of second place

                 May gain the first.  Hate must strike Nero down,

                 Love make Nymphidius' way unto a crown.




Scene Four.





                 His first beginning was his father's death[28],

                 His brother's poisoning [29] , and wife's bloody end [30] .

                 Came next his mother's murder [31] , clos'd up all;

                 Yet hitherto he was but wicked, when

                 The guilt of greater evils took away the shame

                 Of lesser, and did headlong thrust him forth,

                 To be the scorn and laughter to the world.

                 Then first an Emperor came upon the stage,

                 And sung to please Carmen, and candle-sellers,

                 And learnt to act, to dance, to be a fencer,

                 And in despite o'th majesty of Princes,

                 He fell to wrestling, and was soil'd with dust,

                 And tumbled on the earth with servile hands.



                 He sometimes trained was in better studies,

                 And had a childhood promis'd other hopes;

                 High fortunes, like strong wines, do try their vessels.

                 Was not the Race, and Theatre big enough

                 To have inclos'd thy follies here at home?

                 O could not Rome, and Italy contain

                 Thy shame, but thou must cross the seas to show it?



                 And make them that had wont to see our Consuls

                 With conquering Eagles waving in the field,

                 Instead of that behold an Emperor dancing,

                 Playing o'th stage, and what else but to name

                 Were infamy.



                 O Mummius[32], O Flaminius[33];

                 You, whom your virtues have not made more famous

                 Than Nero's vices; you went o'er to Greece,

                 But t'other wars, and brought home other conquests.

                 You Corinth, and Mycenae overthrew,

                 And Perseus' [34] self, the great Achilles' [35] race

                 O'er came, having Minerva's [36]stained temples,

                 And your slain ancestors of Troy reveng'd.



                 They strove with Kings, and King-like adversaries,

                 Were even in their enemies made happy.

                 The Macedonian courage tried of old,

                 And the new greatness of the Syrian power,

                 But he for Philip[37], and Antiochus[38]

                 Hath found more easy enemies to deal with;

                 Turpuus, Pammenes[39], and a rout of fiddlers.



                 Why all the begging Minstrels by the way,

                 He took along with him, and forc'd to strive,

                 That he might overcome, imagining

                 Himself immortal by such victories.



                 The men he carried over were enough

                 T'have put the Parthian to his second flight

                 Or the proud Indian taught the Roman yoke [40] .



                 But they were Nero's men, like Nero arm'd

                 With Lutes, and Harps, and Pipes, and Fiddle-cases:

                 Soldiers to the shadow trained, and not the field.



                 Therefore they brought spoils of such soldiers worthy.



                 But to throw down the walls, and Gates of Rome

                 To make an entrance for a Hobby-horse[41],

                 To vaunt[42] to th'people his ridiculous spoils,

                 To come with laurel, and with olives crown'd,

                 For having been the worst of all the singers,

                 Is beyond patience.



                 Aye, and anger too,

                 Had you but seen him in his chariot ride.

                 That chariot in which Augustus late

                 His triumphs o'er so many nations show'd,

                 And with him in the same a Minstrel plac'd,

                 The whilst the people, running by his side,

                 'Hail thou Olympic conqueror' did cry,

                 'O hail thou Pythian', and did fill the sky

                 With shame, and voices Heaven would not have heard.



                 I saw't, but turned away my eyes and ears,

                 Angry they should be privy to such sights.

                 Why do I stand relating of the story,

                 Which in the doing had enough to grieve me?

                 Tell on, and end the tale, you whom it pleaseth;

                 Me, mine own sorrow stops from further speaking.

                 Nero, my love doth make thy fault, and my grief greater.


Exit Seneca.



                 I do commend in Seneca this passion,

                 And yet me thinks our country's misery

                 Doth at our hands crave somewhat more than tears.



                 Pity, though't doth a kind affection show,

                 (If it end there) our weakness makes us know.



                 Let children weep, and men seek remedy.



                 Stoutly, and like a soldier, Flavius:

                 Yet, to seek remedy to a Prince's ill,

                 Seldom but it doth the Physician kill.



                 And if it do, Sceuinus, it shall take

                 But a devoted soul from Flavius,

                 Which to my country, and the gods of Rome,

                 Already sacred is, and given away.

                 Death is no stranger unto me: I have

                 The doubtful hazard in twelve battles thrown;

                 My chance was life.



                 Why do we go to fight in Brittany

                 And end our lives under another sun?

                 Seek causeless dangers out?  The German[43] might

                 Enjoy his woods, and his own Allis drink,

                 Yet we walk safely in the streets of Rome.

                 Bodinca[44] hinders not, but we might live.

                 Whom we do hurt, then we call enemies,

                 And those our Lords that spoil, and murder us.



                 Nothing is hard to them that dare to die.

                 This noble resolution in you, Lords,

                 Heartens me to disclose some thoughts that I---

                 The matter is of weight, and dangerous.



                 I see you fear us, Sceuinus.



                 Nay, nay, although the thing be full of fear.



                 Tell it to faithful ears, what ever it be.



                 Faith, let it go, it will but trouble us,

                 Be hurtful to the speaker, and the hearer.



                 If our long friendship, or the opinion...



                 Why should I fear to tell them?

                 Why, is he not a Parricide, a player?

                 Nay, Lucan, is he not thine enemy?

                 Hate not the Heavens, as well as man, to seeking          

                 That condemn'd head, and you, O righteous gods,

                 Whither so e'er you now are fled, and will

                 No more look down upon th'oppressed earth.

                 O severe anger of the highest gods,

                 And thou stern power, to whom the Greeks assign

                 Scourges, and swords to punish proud men's wrongs,

                 If you be more then names found out to awe us,

                 And that we do not vainly build you altars,

                 Aid that just arm, that's bent to execute

                 What you should do.



                 Stay [45] , y'are carried too much away, Sceuinus.



                 Why, what will you say for him?  Hath he not

                 Sought to suppress your poem, to bereave

                 That honour every tongue in duty paid it?

                 Nay, what can you say for him, hath he nothing            

                 Broach't[46] his own wife's (a chaste wife's) breast, and torn

                 With Scythian [47] hands his mother's bowels up.

                 The inhospitable Caucasus is mild;

                 The Moor, that in the boiling desert, seeks

                 With blood of stranger to imbrue his jaws,

                 Upbraid the Roman now with barbarousness.



                 You are too earnest.

                 I neither can, nor will I speak for him,

                 And, though he sought my learnčd pains to wrong,

                 I hate him not for that; my verse shall live

                 When Nero's body shall be thrown in Tiber[48],

                 And times to come shall bless those wicked arms.

                 I love th'unnatural wounds, from whence did flow

                 Another Syria, a new Hellicon[49].

                 I hate him that he is Rome's enemy,

                 An enemy to virtue, sits on high

                 To shame the seat, and in that hate, my life

                 And blood I'll mingle on the earth with yours.



                 My deeds, Sceuinus, shall speak my consent.



                 'Tis answered as I look't for, noble poet,

                 Worthy the double laurel, Flavius.

                 Good luck, I see, doth virtuous meanings aid,

                 And therefore have the Heavens forborne their duties,

                 To grace our swords with glorious blood of tyrants.




Act Two


Scene One





                 Here waits Poppća her Nymphidius' coming,

                 And hath this garden, and these walks chose out,

                 To bless her with more pleasures than their own.

                 Not only Arras hangings, and silk beads

                 Are guilty of the faults we blame them for.

                 Somewhat these arbours, and you trees do know,

                 Whilst your kind shades you to these night sports show.

                 Night sports? Faith, they are done in open day,

                 And the sun seeth, and envieth their play.

                 Hither have I love-sick Antonius brought,

                 And thrust him on occasion so long sought,

                 Showed him the Empress in a thicket by,

                 Her love's approach waiting with greedy eye

                 And told him, if he ever meant to prove

                 The doubtful issue of his hopeless love,

                 This is the place, and time wherein to try it.

                 Women will hear the suit, that will deny it.

                 The suit's not hard, that she comes for to take,

                 Who (hot in lust of men) doth difference make?

                 At last, loath, willing, to her did he pace;

                 Arm him, Priapus [50] , with thy powerful Mace.

                 But see, they coming are; how they agree!

                 Here I will harken, shroud me gentle tree.





                 Seek not to grieve that heart which is thine own;

                 In love's sweet fires, let heat of rage burn out.

                 These brows could never yet to wrinkle learn,

                 Nor anger out of such fair eyes look forth.


                 You may solicit your presumptuous suits;

                 You duty may, and shame too laid aside,

                 Disturb my privacies, and I forsooth

                 Must be afeared even to be angry at you.



                 What shame is't to be master'd by such beauty?

                 Who but to serve you comes, how wants he duty?

                 Or if it be shame, the shame is yours.

                 The fault is only in your eyes; they drew me.

                 'Cause you were lovely, therefore did I love.

                 O, if to love you angers you so much,

                 You should not have such cheeks, nor lips to touch.

                 You should not have your snow, nor currall spy'd.

                 If you but look'd on us, in vain you chide;

                 We must not see your face, nor hear your speech.

                 Now, whilst you love forbid, you love do teach.



                 He doth better than I thought he would.



                 I will not learn my beauty's worth of you.

                 I know you neither are the first, nor the greatest

                 Whom it hath mov'd.  He whom the world obeys

                 Is fear'd with anger of my threatening eyes.

                 It is for you afar off to adore it,

                 And not to reach at it with saucy hands.

                 Fear is the love that's due to Gods, and Princes.



                 (Aside) All this is but to edge his appetite.



                 O do not see thy fair in that false glass

                 Of outward difference.  Look into my heart:

                 There shalt thou see thy self inthroned, set

                 In greater majesty than all the pomp

                 Of Rome or Nero.  Tis not the crouching awe

                 And ceremony, with which we flatter Princes,

                 That can to Love's true duties by compar'd.



                     Sir, let me go, or I'll make known your love

                 To them that shall requite it but with hate.



                 (Aside) On, on, thou hast the goal, the fort is beaten.

                 Women are won when they begin to threaten.



                 Your nobleness doth warrant me from that,

                 Nor need you others' help to punish me,

                 Who by your forehead am condem'd or free.

                 They that to be reveng'd do bend their mind,

                 Seek always recompense in that same kind

                 The wrong was done them; love was mine offence,

                 In that, revenge, in that seek recompense.



                 Further to answer, will still cause replies,

                 And those as ill do please me, as yourself.

                 If you'll an answer take, that's brief, and true,

                 I hate myself, if I be lov'd of you.





                 What, gone?  But she will come again sure, no;

                 It passeth clean my cunning, all my rules

                 For women's wantonness, there is no rule

                 To take her, in the itching of her lust.

                 A proper young man putting forth himself?

                 Why Fate, there's Fate and hidden Providence

                 In codpiece matters.



                 O unhappy man,

                 What comfort have I now, Petronius?



                 Counsel yourself, I'll teach no more but learn.



                 This comfort yet, he shall not so escape.

                 Who causeth my disgrace? Nymphidius

                 Whom I had here.---Well, for my true-heart's love

                 I see she hates me, and shall Ilove one

                 That hates me, and bestows what I deserve

                 Upon my rival? No, farewell Poppća,

                 Farewell Poppća, and farewell to all love.

                 Yet thus much shall it still prevail in me,

                 That I will hate Nymphidius for thee.



                 Farewell to her, to my Enanthe welcome,

                 Who now will to my burning kisses stoop,

                 Now, with an easier cruelty deny,

                 That which she, rather than the asker, would

                 Have forced from her, then begins herself.

                 Their loves that list upon great Ladies set;

                 I still love the wench that I can get.




Scene Two





                 Tigellinus, said the villain Proculus[51]

                 I was thrown down in running?



                 My Lord, he said that you were crown'd for that

                 You could not do.



                 For that I could not do?

                 Why, Elis saw me do't, and do't with wonder.

                 Of all the judges, and the lookers on,

                 And yet, to see a villain?  Could not do't?

                 Who did it better?  I warrant you he said

                 I from the chariot fell against my will.



                 He said, my Lord, you were thrown out of it,

                 All crusht, and maim'd, and almost bruis'd to death.



                 Malicious rogue, when I fell willingly

                 To show of purpose, with what little hurt

                 Might a good rider bear a forced fall.

                 How sayest thou, Tigellinus?  I am sure

                 Thou hast in driving as much skill as he.



                 My Lord, you greater cunning shrew'd in falling

                 Than had you sate.



                 I know I did, or bruised in my fall?

                 Hurt!  I protest I felt no grief in it.

                 Go, Tigellinus, fetch the villain's head;

                 This makes me see his heart in other things.

                 Fetch me his head, he ne'er shall speak again.




                 What do we Princes differ from the dirt,

                 And baseness of the common multitude

                 If to the scorn of each malicious tongue

                 We subject are? For that I had no skill,

                 Not he, that his far famed daughter set

                 A prize to victory, and had been crown'd

                 With thirteen suitors' deaths, till he at length

                 By fate of Gods, and servant's treason fell,

                 (Shoulder pack't Pelops glorying in his spoils,)

                 Could with more skill his coupled horses guide.

                 Even as a bark, that through the moving flood,

                 Her linen wings, and the forc't air do bear

                 The billows' foam, she smoothly cuts them through;

                 So passed my burning Axeltree along.

                 The people follow, with their eyes and voice,

                 And now the wind doth see itself outrun,

                 And the clouds wonder to be left behind.

                 Whilst the void air is filled with shouts and noise

                 And Nero's name doth beat the brazen sky,

                 Jupiter envying, loath doth hear my praise.
                 Then their green boughs, and crowns of olive wreaths

                 The conqueror's praise, they give me as my due,

                 And yet this rogue sayeth no, we have no skill.


Enter a servant to them.



                 My Lord, the Stage, and all the furniture.



                 I have no skill to drive a chariot:

                 Had he but robb'd me, broke my treasury,

                 The Red Sea's mine, mine are the Indian stones[52],

                 The World's mine own, then cannot I be robb'd?

                 But spitefully they undermine my fame

                 To take away my art; he would my life

                 As well no doubt, could he told how.


Enter TIGELLINUS, with Proculus' head.



                 My Lord,

                 Tigellinus is back come with Proculus' head.



                 O cry thee mercy, good Neophilus;


Strikes him.


                 Give him five hundred sesterces[53] for amends,

                 Hast brought him, Tigellinus?



                 Here's his head, my Lord.



                 His tongue had been enough.



                 I did as you commanded me, my Lord.



                 Thou toldst not me, though, he had such a nose.

                 Now are you quiet, and have quieted me;

                 This is to be Commander of the World...

                 Let them extol weak pity that do need it.

                 Let mean men cry to have Law, and Justice done

                 And tell their griefs to Heaven, that hears them not.

                 Kings must upon the people's headless corses

                 Walk to security, and ease of mind.

                 Why what have we to do with th'airy names

                 (That old age, and Philosophers found out,)

                 Of Justice, and ne'er certain Equity;

                 The gods revenge themselves, and so will we.

                 Where right is scant, authority is overthrown,

                 We have a high prerogative above it.

                 Slaves may do what is just, we what we please.

                 The people will repine, and think it ill,

                 But they must bear, and praise too, what we will.


Enter CORNUTUS to them.



                 My Lord, Cornutus whom you sent for's come.



                 Welcome, good Cornutus

                 Are all things ready for the stage

                 As I gave charge?



                 They only stay your coming.



                 Cornutus, I must act today Orestes[54].



                 You have done that already (aside) and too truly.



                 And when our scene is done, I mean besides

                 To read some compositions of mine own,

                 Which for the great opinion, I myself,

                 And Rome in general, of thy judgement hath,

                 Before I publish them, I'll show them to thee.



                 My Lord, my disabilities...



                 I know thy modesty,

                 I'll only show thee now my work's beginning.

                 Go see, Epaphroditus,

                 Music made ready; I will sing today.




                 Cornutus, I pray thee, come near,

                 And let me hear thy Judgement in my pains.

                 I would have thee more familiar, good Cornutus;

                 Nero doth prize desert, and more esteems

                 Them, that in knowledge second him than power.

                 Mark with what style and state my work begins.



                 Might not my interruption offend,

                 What's your work's name my Lord, what write you of?



                 I mean to write the deeds of all the Romans.



                 Of all the Romans?  A huge argument.



                 I have not yet bethought me of a title.


                 'You enthral powers which the wide fortunes doom,

                 Of Empire crown'd, seven mountain-seated Rome's     

                 Full-blown; inspire me with Machlaean rage,

                 That I may bellow out Rome's prentisage,

                 As when the Menades do fill their drums,

                 And crooked horns with Mimalonean hum:

                 And Ennion[55] do ingeminate a round,

                 Which reparable echo doth resound.


                 How dost thou like our Muse's pains, Cornutus?



                 The verses have more in them than I see,

                 Your work, my Lord, I doubt will be too long.



                 Too long?



                 Too long?



                 Aye, if you write the deeds of all the Romans,

                 How many books think you t'include it in?



                 I think to write about four hundred books.



                 Four hundred?  Why my Lord, they'll ne'er be read.






                 Why he, whom you esteem so much, Chrysippus[56],

                 Wrote many more.



                 But they were profitable to common life,

                 And did men honesty and wisdom teach.








                 See with what earnestness he crav'd my  judgement,

                 And now he freely hath it, how it likes him?



                 The Prince is angry, and his fall is near.

                 Let us begone, lest we partake his ruins.


Exit all except CORNUTUS.



                 What should I do at Court?  I cannot lie.

                 Why didst thou call me, Nero, from my book,

                 Didst thou for flattery of Cornutus look?

                 No, let those purple fellows that stand by thee,

                 That admire show, and things that thou canst give

                 Leave to please truth and virtue to please thee.

                 Nero, there's nothing in thy power Cornutus

                 Doth wish, or fear.


Enter TIGELLINUS to him.



                 'Tis Nero's pleasure that you straight depart

                 To Giarae, and there remain confin'd.

                 Thus he, out of his princely clemency

                 Hath death, your due, turn'd but to banishment.



                 Why, Tigellinus?



                 I have done.  Upon your peril go, or stay.





                 And why should death or banishment be due

                 For speaking that which was requir'd, my thought?

                 O why do Princes love to be deceiv'd

                 And even do force abuses on themselves?

                 Their ears are so with pleasing speach beguil'd,

                 That truth they malice, flattery, truth account,

                 And their own soul, and understanding lost.

                 Go (what they are) to seek in other men.

                 Alas, weak Prince, how hast thou punisht me

                 To banish me from thee?  O let me go

                 And dwell in Taurus, dwell in Ethiopia,

                 So that I do not dwell at Rome, with thee?

                 The further still I go from hence, I know

                 The further I leave shame and vice behind.

                 Where can I go, but I shall see the Sun?

                 And Heaven will be as near me still, as here.

                 Can they so far a knowing soul exile,

                 That her own roof she sees not o'er her head?




Scene Two.





                 Noble gentlemen, what thanks, what recompense

                 Shall he give you, that give him to the world?

                 One life to them, that must so many venture,

                 And that the worst of all, is too mean pay.

                 Yet I can give no more; take that, bestow it

                 Upon your service.



                 O Piso, that vouchsafest

                 To grace our headless party with thy name,

                 Whom, having our conductors, we need nothing          

                 Have fear'd to go again the well- tried valour

                 Of Julius, or stayedness of Augustus,

                 Much less the shame, and womanhood of Nero.

                 When we had once given out that our pretences

                 Were all for thee; our end, to make thee prince,

                 They thronging came to give their names: men, women,

                 Gentlemen, people, soldiers, Senators,

                 The Camp, and City, grew asham'd that Nero

                 And Piso should be offered them together.



                 We seek not now (as in the happy days

                 O'th common wealth they did), for liberty.

                 On your dear ashes, Cassius and Brutus,

                 That was with you entomb'd, there let it rest.

                 We are contented with the galling yoke,

                 If they will only leave us necks to bear it,

                 We seek no longer freedom; we seek life,

                 At least not to be murdered.  Let us die

                 On enemies' swords; shall we, whom neither

                 The Median bow, nor Macedonian Spear

                 Nor the fierce Gaul, nor painted Britain could

                 Subdue, lay down our necks to tyrant's axe?

                 Why do we talk of virtue, that obey

                 Weakness and vice?



                 Have patience, good Sceuinus.



                 Weakness, and servile Government, we hitherto

                 Obeyed have, which that we may no longer

                 We have our lives and fortunes now set up,

                 And have our cause with Piso's credit strengthened.



                 Which makes it doubtful, whether love to himself         

                 Or Nero's hatred, hath drawn more unto us.



                 I see the good thoughts you have of me, Lord.

                 Let's now proceed to the purpose of our meeting:

                 I pray you take your places.

                 (Aside) Let's have some paper brought.



                 Who's within?


Enter MILICHUS to them.



                 My Lord.



                 Some ink and paper.


Exit MILICHUS, and enter again with ink and paper.



                 Who's that, Sceuinus?



                 It is my freed-man Milichus.



                 Is he trusty?



                 Aye, for great matters as we are about.



                 And those are great ones.



                 I ask not that we mean to need his trust.

                 Gain hath great sovereignty o'er servile minds.



                 O but my benefits have bound him to me.

                 I from a bondman, have his state not only

                 Advanc't to freedom, but to wealth and credit.



                 Milichus, wait i'th next chamber till we call.  


Abscondit se


                 The thing determin'd on our meeting now,

                 Is of the means and place, due circumstance.

                 As to the doing of things, 'tis requir'd

                 So done it names the action.



                 (Aside) I wonder,

                 What makes this new resort to haunt our house,

                 When wonted Lucius Piso to come hither?

                 Or Lucan when so oft, as now of late.         



                 And since the field, and open show of arms

                 Dislike you, and that for the general good

                 You mean to end all stirs, in end of him:

                 That, as the ground, must first be thought upon.



                 (Aside) Besides, this coming cannot be for form,

                 Or visitation; they go aside,

                 And have long conferences by themselves.



                 Piso, his coming to your house at Baiae[57]

                 To bathe and banquet will fit means afford

                 Amidst his cups, to end his hated life;

                 Let him die drunk, that ne'er lived soberly.



                 O be it far that I should stain my table

                 And gods of Hospitality with blood;

                 Let not our cause (now innocent) be soiled

                 With such a blot, nor Piso's name made hateful.

                 What place can better fit our action

                 Than his own house?  That boundless envied heap[58],

                 Built with the spoils, and blood of citizens

                 That hath taken up the City, left no room

                 For Rome to stand on. Romans, get you gone

                 And dwell in Veiae, if that Veiae too

                 This house o'er run not.



                 But 'twill be hard to do it in his house,

                 And harder to escape being done.



                 Not so;

                 Rufus [59] the Captain of the Guard's with us,

                 And diverse other o'th Prćtorian Band

                 Already made many, though unacquainted

                 With our intents, have had disgrace and wrongs,

                 Which grieve them still.  Most will be glad of change,

                 And e'en they that lov'd him best, when once

                 They see him gone, will smile o'th coming times,

                 Let go things past, and look to their own safety.

                 Besides, th'astonishment and fear will be

                 So great, so sudden [60] , that 'twill hinder them

                 From doing anything.



                 (Aside) No private business can concern them all;

                 Their countenances are troubled, and look sad.

                 Doubt and Importance in their face is read.



                 Yet still I think it were

                 Safer t'attempt him private, and alone.



                 But 'twill not carry that opinion with it;

                 'Twill seem more foul, and come from private malice.

                 Brutus and they, to right the common cause,

                 Did choose a public place[61].



                 Our deed is honest, why should it seek corners?

                 'Tis for the people done; let them behold it,

                 Let me have them a witness of my truth,

                 And love to'th common-wealth; the danger's greater,

                 So is the glory.  Why should our pale counsels

                 Tend whither fear, rather than virtue calls them?

                 I do not like these cold considerings;

                 First, let our thoughts look up to see what is honest,

                 Next, to what's safe.  If danger may deter us,

                 Nothing that's great or good, shall e'er be done,

                 And when we first gave hands upon this deed

                 To'th commons' safety, we our own gave up.

                 Let no man venture on a Prince's death,

                 How bad soever, with belief to escape.

                 Despair must be our hope, fame our reward.

                 To make the general liking to concur

                 With others, were even to strike him in his shame,

                 Or (as he thinks) his glory, on the stage,

                 And so truly make't a tragedy,

                 When all the people cannot choose but clap

                 So sweet a close, and 'twill not Caesar be

                 That shall be slain, a Roman prince,

                 'Twill be Alcmaeon [62] , or blind Oedipus.



                 (Aside) And if it be of public matters, 'tis not

                 Like be to talk, or idle fault finding,

                 On which the coward only spends his wisdom.

                 These are all men of action, and of spirit,

                 And dare perform what they determine on.



                 What think you of Poppća, Tigellinus,

                 And th'other instruments of Court?

                 Were it not best at once to rid them all?



             In Caesar's ruin, Antony was spared;

                 Let's not our cause with needless blood disdain.

                 One only mov'd, the change will not appear

                 When too much licence given to the sword,

                 Though against ill, will even good men fear.

                 Besides, things settled, you at pleasure may

                 By Law, and public judgement have them rid.



                 (Aside) And if it be but talk o'th State, 'tis Treason.

                 Like it they cannot, that they cannot do;

                 If seek to mend it, and remove the prince,

                 That's highest Treason: change his Councillors,

                 That's alteration of the government,

                 The common cloak that Treason's muffled in.

                 If laying force aside, to seek by suit

                 And fair petition, t'have the State reform'd;

                 That's tutoring of the Prince, and takes away,

                 Th'one his person, this his Sovereignty;

                 Barely in private talk to show dislike

                 Of what is done, is dangerous; therefore the action

                 Mislike you, cause the doer likes you not?

                 Men are not fit to live i'th state they hate.



                 Though we would all have that employment sought,

                 Yet, since your worthy forwardness, Sceuinus,

                 Prevents us, and so nobly begs for danger,

                 Be this the chosen hand to do the deed.

                 The fortune of the Empire speed your sword.



                 Virtue, and Heaven speed it.  O you homeborn

                 Gods of our country, Romulus and Vesta,

                 That Tuscan Tiber, and Rome's tower defends,

                 Forbid not yet at length a happy end

                 To former evils; let this hand revenge

                 The wronged world, enough we now have suffered.


Exit all.





                 (Aside) Tush, all this long consulting's more than words,

                 It ends not there; th'have some attempt, some plot

                 Against the State:

                 Well, I'll observe it farther,

                 And if I find it, make my profit of it.




Act Three.


Scene One.





                 I lookt[63] Nymphidius would have come ere this,

                 Makes he no greater haste to our embraces?

                 Or, doth the easiness abate his edge?

                 Or, seem we not as fair still as we did?

                 Or, is he so with Nero's playing won,

                 That he, before Poppća, doth prefer it?

                 Or doth he think to have occasion still?

                 Still, to have time to wait on our stolen meetings?


Enter NYMPHIDIUS to her.



                 But see his presence now doth end those doubts,

                 What is't, Nymphidius, hath so long detained you?



                 Faith Lady, causes strong enough;

                 High walls, barr'd doors, and guards of armed men.



                 Were you imprisoned then, as you were going

                 To the Theatre?



                 Not in my going, Lady,

                 But in the Theatre I was imprisoned:

                 For after he was once upon the Stage,

                 The Gates were more severely lookt into

                 Than at a town besieged.  No man, no causes              

                 Was currant, no, nor passant; at other sights

                 The strife is only to get in, but here

                 The stir was all in getting out again.

                 Had we not been kept to it so, I think

                 'Twould ne'er have been so tedious, though I know

                 'Twas hard to judge, whether his doing of it

                     Were more absurd, than 'twas for time to do it.

                 But when we once were forc't to be spectators,

                 Compelled to that, which should have been a pleasure,

                     We could no longer bear the wearisomeness:

                 No pain so irksome, as a forc't delight.

                 Some fell down dead, or seem'd at least to do so,

                 Under that colour, to be carried forth.

                 Then death first pleasur'd men: the shape all fear'd

                 Was put on gladly; some climbed o'er the walls,

                 And so, by falling, caught in earnest that

                 Which th'other did dissemble.  There were women

                 That not being able to entreat the guards    

                 To let them pass the gates, were brought to bed

                 Amidst the throngs of men, and made Lucina

                 Blush, to see that unwanted company.



                 If 'twere so straightly kept, how got you forth?



                 Faith, Lady, I came pretending haste

                 In face and countenance; told them I was sent

                 For things, by th' Prince forgot about the scene,

                 Which both my credit made them to believe,

                 And Nero newly whispered me before.

                 Thus did I pass the gates; the danger, Lady,

                 I have not yet escap't.



                 What danger mean you?



                 The danger of his anger, when he knows

                 How I thus shrunk away, for there stood knaves

                 That put down in their tables all that stir'd,

                 And markt in each their cheerfulness, or sadness.



                 I warrant I'll excuse you, but I pray,

                 Let's be a little better for your sight;

                 How did our princely husband act Orestes?

                 Did he not wish again his mother living?

                 Her death would add great life unto his part:

                 But come, I pray, the story of your sight.



                 O do not drive me to those hateful pains,

                 Lady; I was too much in seeing vext;

                 Let it not be redoubled with the telling.

                 I now am well, and hear, my ears set free.

                 O be merciful, do not bring me back

                 Unto my prison; at least free yourself:

                 It will not pass away, but stay the time,

                 Wrack out the hours in length.  O give me leave,

                 As one that wearied with the toil at sea,

                 And now on wished shore had firmed his foot.

                 He looks about, and glads his thoughts and eyes

                 With sight o'th green cloth'd ground, and leafy trees,

                 Of flowers that beg more than the looking on,

                 And likes these other waters' narrow shores.

                 So let me lay my weariness in these arms,

                 Nothing but kisses to this mouth discourse,

                 My thought be compassed in those circl'd eyes.

                 Eyes, on no object look, but on those cheeks;

                 Be blest my hands to touch of those round breasts,

                 Whiter and softer than the down of swans.

                 Let me of thee, and of thy beauty's glory,

                 An endless tell, but never wearying story.




Scene Two.





                 Come Sirs, i'faith, how did you like my acting?

                 What? Was't not as you lookt for?



                 Yes, my Lord, and much beyond.



                 Did I not do it to the life?



                 The very doing never was so lively,

                 As now this counterfeiting.



                 And when I came

                 To'th point of Agrippina - Clytemnestra's death,

                 Did it not move the feeling auditory?



                 They had been stones, whom that could not have mov'd.



                 Did not my voice hold out well to the end?

                 And serv'd me well afterwards afresh to sing with?



                 We know Apollo cannot match your voice.



                 By Jove, I think you are God himself,

                 Come from above to show your hidden arts,

                 And fills us men with wonder of your skill.



                 Nay faith speak truly, do not flatter me,

                 I know you need not: flattery's but where

                 Desert is mean.



                 I swear by thee O Cćsar,

                 Than whom no power of Heaven I honour more.

                 No mortal voice can pass, or equal thine.



                 They tell of Orpheus, when he took his Lute,

                 And mov'd noble Ivory with his touch:

                 Hebros[64] stood still, Pangea bow'd his head,

                 Ossa then first shook off his snow, and came

                 To listen to the movings of his song.

                 The gentle Poplar took the Oak along,

                 And call'd the Pine down from his mountain seat,

                 The virgin Bay [65] , although the Arts she hates

                 O'th Delphic God, was with his voice o'ercome,

                 He his twice-lost Eurydice[66] bewails,

                 And Proserpine's[67] vain gifts, and makes the shores

                 And hollow caves of forests now untreed

                 Bear his grief company, and all things teacheth

                 His lost love's name.  Then water, air, and ground

                 Eurydice, Eurydice”, resound.

                 These are bold tales, of which the Greeks have store,

                 But if he could from Hell once more return,

                 And would compare his hand and voice with mine,

                 Aye, though himself were Judge, then he should see

                 How much Latin stains the Thracian lyre.

                 I have oft walkt by Tiber's flowing banks,

                 And heard the swan sing her own epitaph.

                 When she heard me, she held her peace and died.

                 Let others raise from earthly things their praise,

                 Heaven hath stood still to hear my happy airs,

                 And ceases th'eternal Music of the Spheres[68]

                 To mark my voice, and mend their tunes by mine.



                 O divine voice.



                 Happy are they that hear it.


Enter TIGELLINUS to them.



                 But here comes Tigellinus; come, thy bill:

                 Are there so many?  I see I have enemies.



                 Have you put Caius in?  I saw him frown.



                 And, in the midst o'th' Emperor's act,

                 Gallus laught out, and as I think in scorn.



                 Vespasian [69] too asleep; was he so drowsy?

                 Well, he shall sleep the iron sleep of death,

                 And did Thrasea look so sourly on us?



                 He never smiled, my Lord, nor would vouchsafe

                 With one applause to grace your action.



                 Our action need not be grac'd by him,

                 He's our old enemy, and still maligns us.

                 'Twill have an end, nay it shall have an end.

                 Why, I have been too pitiful, too remiss,

                 My easiness is laught at and condemned,

                 But I will change it - not, as heretofore,

                 By singling out them one by one to death -

                 Each common man can such revenges have;

                 A Prince's anger must lay desolate.

                 Cities, Kingdoms consume, root up mankind.

                 O could I live to see the general end,

                 Behold the world enwrappt in funeral flame

                 Whenas the Sun shall lend his beams to burn

                 What he before brought forth, and water serve,

                 Not to extinguish, but to nurse the fire.

                 Then, like the Salamander, bathing me

                 In the last Ashes of all mortal things,

                 Let me give up this breath; Priam[70] was happy,

                 Happy indeed: he saw his Troy burnt,

                 And Ilium lie on heaps, whilst thy pure streams,

                 (Divine Scamander) dyed Phrygian blood [71]

                 And heard the pleasant cries of Trojan mothers.

                 Could I see Rome so!



                 Your Majesty may easily,

                 Without this trouble to your sacred mind.



                 What may I easily do?  Kill thee, or him,

                 How may I rid you all?  Where is the man    

                 That will all others end, and last himself?

                 O that I had thy Thunder in my hand,

                 The idle rover; I'll not shoot at trees,

                 And spend in woods my unregarded vengeance,

                 I'll shower them down upon their guilty roofs,

                 And fill the streets with bloody burials.

                 But 'tis not Heaven can give me what I seek;

                 To you, you hated Kingdoms of the night,

                 You severe powers, that not like those above

                 Will with fair words, or children's cries be won,

                 That have a style beyond that Heaven is proud of,

                 Deriving not fromArt a maker's name,

                 But in destruction power, and terror show.

                 To you I fly for succour: you, whose dwellings

                 For torments are belied, must give me ease;

                 Furies, lend me your fires [72] , no, they are here,

                 They must be other fires; material brands

                 That must the burning of my heat allay.

                 I bring to you no rude unpractised hands,

                 Already do they reek with Mother'd blood.

                 Tush, that's but innocence to what now I mean,

                 Alas, what evil could those years commit,

                 The world in this shall see my settled wit.




Scene Three.





                 Petronius, you were at the theatre?



                 Seneca, I was, and saw your kingly pupil

                 In Minstrel's habit stand before the judges,

                 Bowing those hands, which the world's sceptre hold,

                 And with great awe and reverence beseeching

                 Indifferent hearing, and an equal doom,

                 Then Cćsar doubted first to be o'erborne,

                 And so he joined himself to th'other singers,

                 And straitly all other Laws o'th Stage observed,

                 As not (though weary) sit down, not spit,

                 Not wipe his sweat off, but with what he wore.

                 Meantime, how would he eye his adversaries,

                 How he would seek to have all they did disgraced,

                 Traduce [73] them privily [74] , openly rail at them:

                 And them he could not conquer so, he would

                 Corrupt with money to do worse than he.

                 This was his singing part, his acting now.



                 Nay even end here, for I have heard enough.

                 I have a fiddler heard him; let me not

                 See him as a player, nor the fearful[75] voice

                 Of Rome's great monarch, now command in jest

                 Our Prince be Agamemnon[76] in a Play.



                 Why Seneca, 'tis better in Play

                 Be Agamemnon than himself indeed.

                 How oft, with danger of the field beset,

                 Or with home mutinies, would he unbe

                 Himself, or, over cruel altars weeping,

                 Wish that with putting off a vizard, he

                 Might his true inward sorrow lay aside.

                 The shows of things are better than themselves:

                 How doth it stir this airy part of us,

                 To hear our poets tell imagined fights,

                 And the strange blows, that feigned courage gives.

                 When I Achilles hear upon the Stage

                 Speak honour, and the greatness of his soul,

                 Me thinks I too could on a Phrygian spear  

                 Run boldly, and make tales for after times;

                 But when we come to act it in the deed,

                 Death mars this bravery, and the ugly fears

                 Of the other world sit on the proudest brow,

                 And boasting valour loseth his red cheek.


A Roman to them.



                 Fire! Fire! Help, we burn!



                 Fire! Water!  Fire, help, Fire!



                 Fire, where?



                 Where?  What fire?



                 O round about; here, there, on every side.

                 The girdling flame doth with unkind embraces

                 Compass the City.



                 How came this fire, by whom?



                 Was't chance, or purpose?



                 Why is it not quenched?



                 Alas, there are many there with weapons,

                 And whether it be for prey, or by command

                 They hinder, nay, they throw on fire brands.


Enter ANTONIUS to them.



                 The fire increaseth, and will not be stayed,

                 But like a stream that tumbling from a hill

                 O'erwhelms the fields, o'erwhelms the hopeful toil

                 O'th the husbandman, and headlong bears the woods.

                 The unweeting Shepherd on a rock afar

                 Amazed, hears the fearful noise; so here

                 Danger and Terror strive, which shall exceed.

                 Some cry, and yet are well, some are killed silent,

                 Some kindly run to help their neighbour's house,

                 The whilst their own's afire, some save their goods

                 And leave their dearer pledges in the flame.

                 One takes his little sons with trembling hands,

                 T'other, his house-Gods saves, which could not him.

                 All ban the door, and with wishes kill

                 Their absent murderer.



                 What, are the Gauls returned?

                 Doth Brennus[77] brandish fire-brands again?



                 What can Heaven now unto our sufferings add?


Enter another Roman to them.



                 O all goes down, Rome falleth from the roof.

                 The wind's aloft, the conquering flame turns all

                 Into intself.  Nor do the Gods escape;

                 Pleiades burns, Jupiter Stator burns,

                 The Altar now is made a sacrifice;

                 And Vesta [78] mourns, to see her Virgins' fires

                 Mingle with profane ashes.



                 Heaven, hast thou set this end to Roman greatness?

                 Were the world's spoils for this to Rome divided,

                 To make but our fires bigger?

                 You Gods, whose anger made us great, grant yet

                 Some change in misery.  We beg not now

                 To have our Consul tread on Asian kings,

                 Or spurn the quivered Susa at their feet.

                 This we have had before; we beg to live,

                 At least not thus to die.  Let Cannos come,

                 Let Allius' waters turn again to blood.

                 To these will any miseries be light.



                 Why with false auguries have we been deceived?

                 Why was our Empire told us, should endure

                 With Sun and Moon in time, in brightness pass them,

                 And that our end should be o'th world, and it?

                 What, can celestial Godheads double too?



                 O Rome, the envy late,

                 But now, the pity of the world thee gets.

                 The men of Choleos at the sufferings grieve,

                 The shaggy dweller in the Scythian rocks,

                 The most condemned to perpetual snow,

                 That never wept at kindred burials

                 Suffers with thee, and feels his heart soften.

                 O, should the Parthian hear these miseries,

                 He would, (his low and native hate apart)

                 Sit down with us, and lend an enemy tear,

                 To grace the funeral fires of ending Rome.




Scene Four.


Soft music, enter NERO above, alone with a Timbrell[79].



Aye, now my Troy looks beauteous in her flames,

The Tyrrhenian seas are bright with Roman fires,

Whilst the amazing mariner, afar

Gazing on the unknown light, wonders what star

Heaven hath begot, to ease the aged moon.

When Pyrrhus, striding over the cinders, stood

On ground where Troy late was, and with his eye

Measur'd the height of what he had thrown down;

A City, great in people, and in power,

Walls built with hands of Gods;  he now forgives

The ten years length, and thinks his wounds well healed,

Bathed in the blood of Priam's fifty sons.

Yet am not I appeased, I must see more

Than towers and columns tumble to the ground.

'Twas not the high built walls, and guiltless stones

That Nero did provoke, themselves be wood

To feed this fire, or quench it with their blood.


Enter a woman with a burnt child.



                 O my dear infant, O my child, my child,

                 Unhappy comfort of my nine months' pains,

                 And did I bear thee only for the fire?

                 Was I to that end made a mother?



                 Aye, now begins the scene that I would have.


Enter a man bearing another dead.



                 O Father, speak yet; no, the merciless blow

                 Hath all bereft, speech, motion, sense, and life.



                 O beauteous innocence, whiteness ill blacked,

                 How to be made a coal couldst thou deserve?



                 O reverend wrinkles, well becoming paleness.

                 Why hath death now life's colours given thee,

                 And mocks thee with the beauties of fresh youth?



                 Why wert thou given me, to be taken away

                 So soon, or could not heaven tell how to punish

                 But first by blessing me?



                 Why were thy years lengthened so long,

                 To be cut off untimely?



                 Play on, play on, and fill the golden skies

                 With cries, and pity, with your blood, men's eyes.



                 Where are thy flattering smiles, thy pretty kisses,

                 And arms that wont to writhe about my neck?



                 Where are thy counsels, where their good example?

                 And that kind roughness of father's anger?



                 Whom have I now to leave my old age on?



                 Who shall I now have to set right my youth?


Chorus from within.


                 “Gods if ye be not fled from Heaven, help us.



                 I like this music well, they like not mine:

                 Now in the tears of all men, let me sing,




                 And make it doubtful to the Gods above

                 Whether the earth be pleased, or do complain.



                 But may the man, that all this blood hath shed,

                 Never bequeath to th'earth an old grey head.

                 Let him untimely be cut off before,

                 And leave a corse like all wounds and gore.

                 Be there no friend at hand, no standers by,

                 In love, or pity mov'd to close that eye.

                 O let him die the wish, and hate of all,

                 And not a tear to grace his funeral.





                 Heaven, you will hear (that which the world doth scorn,)

                 The prayers of misery, and souls forlorn.

                 Your anger waxeth by delaying stronger,

                 O now for mercy be despis'd no longer.

                 Let him, that makes so many mothers childless,

                 Make his unhappy, in her fruitfulness.

                 Let him no issue leave to bear his name,

                 Or some to right a Father's wronged fame.

                 Our flames to quit, be righteous in your ire,

                 And when he dies let him want funeral fire.





                 Let Heaven do what it will, this I have done!

                 Already do you feel my fury's weight.

                 Rome is become a grave of her late greatness;

                 Her clouds of smoke have taken away the day,

                 Her flames the night,

                 Now, unbelieving eyes what crave you more?


Enter NEOPHILUS to him.



                 O save yourself (my Lord), your palace burns.



                 My palace?  How?  What traiterous hand?


Enter TIGELLINUS to them.



                 O fly, my Lord, and save yourself betimes.

                 The wind doth beat the fire upon your house;

                 The eating flame devours your double gates,

                 Your pillars fall, your golden roofs [80] do melt,

                 Your antique tables, and Greek imagery

                 The fire besets, and the smoke you see

                 Doth choke my speech.  O fly, and save your life.



                 Heaven, thou dost strive, I see, for victory.






                 See how Fate works unto their purpos'd end,

                 And without all self-industry will raise

                 Whom they determine to make great and happy.

                 Nero throws down himself, I stir him not,

                 He runs unto destruction, studies ways

                 To compass danger, and attain the hate

                 Of all.  Be his own wishes on his head,

                 Nor Rome with fire, more than revenges burn,

                 Let me stand still, or lie, or sleep, I rise.

                 Poppća some new favour will seek out

                 My wakings to salute; I cannot stir,

                 But messengers of new preferment meet me:

                 Now she hath made me Captain of the Guard;

                 So well I bear me in these night alarms,

                 That she imagined I was made for arms.

                 I now command the soldier, he the City,

                 If any chance do turn the Prince aside,

                 (As many hatreds, mischiefs threaten him,)

                 Ours is his wife, his seat and throne is ours.

                 He's next in right that hath the strongest powers.




Scene Five.





                 O Troy, and O ye souls of our forefathers,

                 Which in your country's fires were offered up,

                 How near your nephews, to your fortunes come,

                 Yet they were Grecian hands began your flame.

                 But that our Temples, and our houses smoke,

                 Our Marble buildings turn to be our Tombs,

                 Burnt bones, and spurned at corses fill the streets,

                 Not Pyrrhus[81], nor thou Hannibal[82], art author.

                 Sad Rome is ruined by a Roman hand.

                 But if to Nero's end, this only way

                 Heaven's justice hath chose out, and people's love

                 Could not but by these feebling ills be mov'd,

                 We do not then at all complain our harms.

                 On this condition please us, let us die,

                 And cloy the Parthian, with revenge and pity.



                 (Aside) My Master hath sealed up his Testament,

                 Those bond-men which he liketh best, set free,

                 Given money, and more liberally than he us'd

                 And now, as if a farewell to the world

                 Were meant, a sumptuous banquet hath he made,

                 Yet not with countenance that feasters use,

                 But cheers his friends the whilst himself looks sad.



                 I have from Fortune's temple taken this sword;

                 May it be fortunate, and now at least,

                 Since it could not prevent, punish the Evil.

                 To Rome it had been better done before,

                 But though less helping now, they'll praise it more.

                 Great Sovereign of all mortal actions,

                 Whom only wretched men, and poets blame,

                 Speed thou the weapon, which I have from thee.

                 'Twas not amidst thy Temple Monuments

                 In vain reposed; somewhat I know't hath done.

                 O with new honours let it be laid up,

                 Strike boldly, arm so many powerful prayers

                 Of dead, and living hover over thee.



                 (Aside) And though sometimes, with talk impertinent

                 And idle fancies, he would feign a mirth;

                 Yet it is easy seen, somewhat is here

                 The which he dares not let his face make show of.



                 Long want of loss hath made it dull, and blunt:

                 See, Milichus, this weapon better edged.



                 (Aside) Sharpening of swords, when must we then have blows,

                 Or means my Master, Cato-like, to exempt

                 Himself from power of Fates, and cloyed with life,

                 Give the Gods back their unregarded gift?

                 But he hath neither Cato's mind, nor cause;

                 A man given over to pleasures and soft ease,

                 Which makes me still to doubt, how in affairs

                 Of Princes he dares meddle, or desires?



                 We shall have blows of both sides, Milichus.

                 Provide me store of clothes to bind up wounds:

                 What an't be heart, for heart.  Death is the worst,

                 The Gods sure keep it, hide from us that live

                 How sweet death is, because we should go on

                 And be their bails.  There are about the house

                 Some stones that will staunch blood, see them set up.

                 This world I see hath no felicity,

                 I'll try the other.



                 (Aside) Nero's life is soft[83],

                 The sword's prepared against another's breast,

                 The help for his; it can be no private foe,

                 For then 'twere best to make it known, and call

                 His troops of bond, and freed- men to his aid.

                 Besides, his Counsellors, Seneca               

                 And Lucan, are no managers of quarrels.



                 Methinks I see him struggling on the ground,

                 Hear his unmanly outcries, and lost prayers

                 Made to the Gods, which turn their heads away.

                 Nero, this day must end the world's desires,

                 And head-long send thee to unquenched fires.





                 (Aside) Why do I further idly stand debating?

                 My proofs are but too many, and too pregnant,

                 And Prince's ears still to suspicions open.

                 Whoever, being but accused, was quit,

                 For States are wise, and cut off ills that may be.

                 Mean men must die, that t'other may sleep sound,

                 Chiefly, that rule whose weakness apt to fears

                 And bad deserts of all men, makes them know't.          

                 There's none but is in heart, what he's accus'd.




Act Four.


Scene One.





                 This kiss, sweet love, I'll force from thee, and this,

                 And of such spoils, and victories be prouder

                 Than if I had the fierce Panonian,

                 Or grey-eyed German ten times overcome.

                 Let Julius go, and fight at end o'th world,

                 And conquer from the wild inhabitants

                 Their cold, and poverty, whilst Nero here

                 Makes other wars, wars where the conquered gains,

                 Where to o'ercome, is to be prisoner.

                 O willingly I give my freedom up,

                 And put on my own chains,

                 And am in love with my captivity.

                 Such Venus is, when on the sand shore

                 Of Xanthus or on Ida's pleasant green

                 She leads the dance; her nymphs all are we,

                 And smiling graces do accompany.

                 If Bacchus could his straggling Minion

                 Grace with a glorious wreath of shining Stars,

                 Why should not Heaven my Poppća crown?

                 The Northern team shall move into a round;

                 New constellations rise, to honour thee;

                 The Earth shall woo thy favours, and the Sea

                 Lay his rich shells and treasure at thy feet.

                 For thee, Hidapis shall throw up his gold,

                 Pauchaia breath the rich delightful smells,

                 The Seres, and the feathered man of Ind

                 Shall their fine arts, and curious labours bring,

                 And where the Sun's not known, Poppća's name

                 Shall 'midst their feasts, and barbarous pomp be sung.



                 I know I am worthy to be Queen o'th world;

                 Fairer than Venus, or than Bacchus' love,

                 But you'll anon unto your cut-boy Sporus [84] ,

                 Your new wedded woman, to whom, now I hear

                 You are wedded too.



                 I wedded?



                 Aye,  you wedded;

                 Did you not hear the words o'th auspices,

                 Was not the boy in bride-like garments drest,

                 Marriage books sealed, as 'twere for issue to

                 Be had between you, solemn feasts prepared;

                 While all the court, with God give you joy, sounds.

                 It had been good Domitius your Father     

                 Had ne'er had other wife...



                 You forward fool, y'are still so bitter?  Who's that?


Enter MILICHUS to them.



                 One that it seems, my Lord, doth come in haste.



                 Yet in his face he sends his tale before him,

                 Bad news thou tellest?



                 'Tis bad I tell, but good that I can tell it,

                 Therefore your Majesty will pardon me

                 If I offend your ears to save your life.



                 Why, is my life endangered?

                 How ends this circumstance, thou wrackst my thoughts.



                 My Lord, your life is conspir'd against.



                 By whom?



                 It must be of the world excused in this,

                 If the great duty to your Majesty,

                 Makes me all other lesser to neglect.



                 Th'art a tedious fellow, speak, by whom?



                 By my Master.



                 Who's thy Master?






                 Sceuinus, why should he conspire?

                 Unless he think that likeness in conditions

                 May make him too worthy o'th Empire thought.



                 Who are else in it?



                 I think Natalis, Subius, Flavius,

                 Lucan, Seneca, and Lucius Piso,

                 Asper, and Quintilianus.[85]



                 Ha' done,

                 Thou'llt reckon all Rome anon; and so thou mayest;

                 Th'are villains all, I'll not trust one of them.

                 O that the Romans had but all one neck.



                 Piso's creeping into men's affections,

                 And popular arts have given long cause of doubt,

                 And th'others' late observed discontents

                 Risen from misinterpreted disgraces,

                 May make us credit this relation.



                 Where are they?  Come they not upon us yet?

                 See the guard doubled, see the Gates shut up,

                 Why, they'll surprise us in our Court anon.



                 Not so, my Lord, they are at Piso's house,

                 And think themselves yet safe, and undiscried.



                 Let's hither then,

                 And take them in this false security.



                 'Twere better first publish them traitors.



                 That were to make them so,

                 And force them all upon their enemies.

                 Now, without stir, or hazard they'll be taken,

                 And boldly try all dare and Law demand.

                 Besides, this accusation may be forged

                 By malice or mistaking.



                 What likes you do, Nymphidius, out of hand.

                 Two ways distract, when either would prevail;

                 If they, suspecting but this fellow's absence

                 Should try the City, and attempt their friends,

                 How dangerous might Piso's favour be?



                 Aye, to himself would make the matter clear,

                 Which now upon one servant's credit stands.

                 The City's favour keeps within the bonds

                 Of profit, they'll love none to hurt themselves.

                 Honour, and friendship they'll hear others name,

                 Themselves do neither feel, nor know the same;

                 To put them yet, (though needless) in some fear.

                 We'll keep their streets with armed companies,

                 Then if they stir, they see their wives, and houses

                 Prepared a prey to the greedy soldier.



                 Let us be quick then.  You, to Piso's house,

                 While I and Tigellinus further sift

                 This fellow's knowledge.


Exit all except NERO.



                 Look to the gates and walls o'th City, look

                 The river be well kept, have watches set

                 In every passage, and in every way;

                 But who shall watch these watches, what if they           

                 Begin and play the traitors first?  O where shall I

                 Seek faith, or them that I may wisely trust?

                 The City favours the conspirators,

                 The Senate in disgrace, and fear hath lined;

                 The Camp, why most are soldiers that he named.

                 Besides, he knows not all, and like a fool

                 I interrupted him, else he had named

                 Those that stood by me.  O security,

                 Which we so much seek after, yet art still

                 To Courts a stranger, and dost rather choose

                 The smoky reeds, and sedgy cottages,

                 Than the proud roofs, and wanton cost of Kings.

                 O sweet despised joys of poverty,

                 A happiness unknown unto the Gods.

                 Would I had rather in poor Gallij been,

                 Or Vlubrae, a ragged magistrate,

                 Sat as a judge of measures, and of corn,

                 Than the adored Monarch of the world.

                 Mother, thou didst deservedly in this,

                 That from a private and sure state, didst raise

                 My fortunes to this slippery hill of greatness,

                 Where I can neither stand, nor fall with life.




Scene Two.





                 But since we are discovered, what remains

                 But put our lives upon our hands; these swords

                 Shall try us traitors, or true Citizens.



                 And what should make this hazard doubt success;

                 Stout men are oft with sudden onsets daunted;

                 What shall this Stage-player be?



                 It is not now

                 Augustus' gravity, nor Tiberius' craft,

                 But Tigellinus, and Crisogorus,

                 Eunuchs and women that we go against.



                 This is for thy own sake, this is for ours we beg,

                 That thou wilt suffer him to be overcome.   

                 Why shouldst thou keep so many vowed swords

                 From such a hated throat?



                 Or shall we fear

                 To trust unto the Gods so good a cause?



                 By this we may ourselves in Heaven favour promise,

                 Because all nobleness, and worth on earth

                 We see's on our side; here the Faby's Sun,

                 Here the Coruini are, and take that part

                 Their noble fathers would, if now they liv'd.

                 There's not a soul that claims nobility

                 Either by his, or his forefathers' merit

                 But is with us, with us the gallant youth

                 Whom passed dangers or hot blood makes bold.

                 Staid men suspect their wisdom, or their faith,

                 To whom our counsels we have not revealed.

                 And while (our party seeking to disgrace)

                 They traitors call us, each man treason praiseth,

                 And hateth faith, when Piso is a traitor.        



                 And at adventurewhat by stoutness can

                 Befall us worse, than will by cowardice?

                 If both the people, and the soldier failed us,

                 Yet shall we die at least worthy ourselves,

                 Worthy our ancestors.  O Piso, think,

                 Think on that day, when in the Parthian fields

                 Thou criedst to the flying Legions to turn,

                 And look death in the face; he was not grim,

                 But fair and lovely, when he came in arms.

                 O why, there died we not on Syrian swords?

                 Were we reserved to prisons, and to chains?

                 Behold the Gallias in every street,

                 And even now they come to clap on irons.

                 Must Piso's head be showed upon a pole?

                 Those members torn, rather than Roman-like,

                 And Piso-like, with weapons in our hands

                 Fighting, in throng of enemies to die:

                 And that it shall not be a civil war

                 Nero prevents, whose cruelty hath left

                 Few Citizens.  We are not Romans now,

                 But Moors, and Jews, and upmost Spaniards,

                 And Asiatics refuge that do fill the City.



                 Part of us are already taken, the rest

                 Amazed, and seeking holes, our hidden ends

                 You see laid open, Court and City armed,

                 And for fear joining to the part they fear.

                 Why should we move desperate and hopeless arms,

                 And vainly spill that noble blood, that should

                 Crystal Rubes, and Median fields,

                 Not Tiber colour[86], and the more your show be

                 Your loves, and readiness to lose your lives,

                 The loather I am to adventure them.

                 Yet I am proud you would for me have died;

                 But live, and keep your selves to worthier ends.

                 No mother but my own shall weep my death,

                 Nor will I make by overthrowing us

                 Heaven guilty of more faults; yet from the hopes,

                 Your own good wishes, rather than the thing

                 Do make you see this comfort I receive,

                 Of death unforced.  O friends, I would not die

                 When I can live no longer; 'tis my glory

                 That free and willing I give up this breath,

                 Leaving such courages as yours untried.

                 But to be long in talk of dying, would

                 Show a relenting, and a doubtful mind:

                 By this you shall my quiet thoughts intend,

                 I blame nor Earth, nor Heaven for my end.


He dies..



                 O that this noble courage had been shown

                 Rather on enemies' breasts, than on thy own.



                 But sacred, and inviolate be thy will,

                 And let it lead, and teach us;

                 This sword I could more willingly have thrust

                 Through Nero's breast.  That fortune deni'd me,

                 It shall now through Sceuinus.





                 What multitudes of villains are here gotten

                 In a conspiracy, which Hydra-like,

                 Still in the cutting off, increaseth more[87].

                 The more we take, the more are still appeach'd,

                 And every man brings in new company.

                 I wonder what we shall do with them all;

                 The prisons cannot hold more than they have,

                 The jails are full, the holes with gallants stink,

                 Straw and gold lace together live I think.

                 'Twere best even shut the gates o'th City up,

                 And make it all one jail for, this I am sure,

                 There's not an honest man within the walls,

                 And though the guilty doth exceed the free,

                 Yet through a base, and fatal cowardice

                 They all assist in taking one another,

                 And by their own hands are to prison led.

                 There's no condition, nor degree of men

                 But here are met; men of the sword and gown,

                 Plebeians, Senators, and women too,

                 Ladies that might have slain him with their eye

                 Would use their hands, philosophers,

                 And politicians, politicians?

                 Their plot was laid too short.  Poets would now

                 Not only write, but be the arguments

                 Of tragedies.  The Emperor's much pleas'd,

                 But some have named Seneca, and I

                 Will have Petronius, on promise of pardon,

                 Or fear of torture, will accusers find.




Scene Three.


Enter NYMPHIDIUS, LUCAN and SCEUINUS with a guard.



                 Though Piso's suddeness, and guilty hand

                 Prevented hath the death he should have had,

                 Yet you abide it must.



                 O may the earth lie lightly on his corse;

                 Sprinkle his ashes with your flowers and tears,

                 The love and dainties of Mankind is gone.



                 What only now we can, we'll follow thee

                 That way thou lead'st, and wait on thee in death,

                 Which we had done, had not these hindered us.



                 Nay, other ends your grievous crimes await,

                 Ends which the law and your deserts exact.



                 What have we deserved?



                 That punishment which traitors unto Princes,

                 And enemies to the State they live in merit.



                 If by the State, this government you mean,

                 I justly am an enemy unto it.

                 That's but to Nero, you, and Tigellinus,

                 That glorious world, that even beguils the wise,

                 Being lookt into includes but three, or four

                 Corrupted men, which, were they all remov'd,

                 'Twould for the common State much better be.



                 Why, what can you i'th Government mislike?

                 Unless it grieve you, that the world's in peace,

                 Of that our arms conquer without blood.

                 Hath not his power with foreign visitations,

                 And strangers' honour more acknowledg'd been,

                 Then any was afore him?  Hath not he

                 Dispos'd of frontier kingdoms with success,

                 Given away crowns whom he set up[88], prevailing?

                 The rival seat of the Arsacidae,

                 That thought their brightness equal unto ours,

                 Is't crown'd by him, by him doth reign?

                 If we have any war, it's beyond Rheims,

                 And Euphrates, and such whose different chances

                 Have rather serv'd for pleasure, and discourse,

                 Then troubled us.  At home, the City hath

                 Increased in wealth, with building been adorn'd;

                 The arts have flourisht, and the Muses sung,

                 And that, his justice, and well tempered reign,

                 Hath the best judges pleas'd, the powers divine;

                 Their blessings, and so long prosperity

                 Of th'Empire under him, enough declare.



                 You freed the State from wars abroad, but 'twas

                 To spoil at home more safely, and divert

                 The Parthian enmity on us, and yet,

                 The glory rather, and the spoils of war

                 Have wanting been; the loss, and charge we have.

                 Your peace is full of cruelty and wrong,

                 Laws taught to speak to present purposes,

                 Wealth, and fair houses dangerous faults become,

                 Much blood i'th City, and no common deaths,

                 But gentlemen, and Consulary houses

                 On Cćsar's own house look, hath that been free?

                 Hath he not shed the blood he calls divine?

                 Hath not that nearness which should love beget

                 Always on him, been cause of hate, and fear;

                 Virtue and power suspected, and kept down.

                 They whose great ancestors this Empire made,

                 Distrusted in the government thereof;

                 A happy state, where Decius is a traitor,

                 Narcissus is true; nor only wast unsafe

                 T'offend the Prince, his freed- men worse were fear'd,

                 Whose wrongs with such insulting pride were heard,

                 That even the faulty, it made innocent.

                 If we complained, that was itself a crime,

                 Aye, though it were Cćsar's benefit;

                 Our writings pry'd into, false guiltiness

                 (Thinking each taxing pointed out itself)

                 Our private whisperings listened after; nay,

                 Our thoughts were forced out of us, and punisht

                 And had it been in you, to have taken away

                 Our understanding, as you did our speech,

                 You would have made us thought this honest too.



                 Can malice' narrow eyes,

                 See anything yet more it can traduce?



                 His long continued taxes I forbear,

                 In which he chiefly showed him to be Prince,

                 His robbing altars, sale of Holy things,

                 The antique goblets of adored rust,

                 And sacred gifts of Kings and people sold.

                 Nor was the spill more odious than the use

                 They were employed on, spent on shame, and lust,

                 Which still have been so endless in their change,

                 And made us know a diverse servitude.

                 But that he hath been suffered so long,

                 And prospered, as you say.  For that, to thee

                 O Heaven I turn myself, and cry

                 'No God hath care of us, yet have we our revenge,

                 As much as earth may be reveng'd on Heaven'

                 Their divine honour Nero shall usurp,

                 And prayers, and feasts, and adoration have

                 As well as Jupiter.



                 Away, blaspheming tongue,

                 Be ever silent for thy bitterness.




Scene Four.





                 What could cause thee,

                 Forgetful of my benefits and thy oath,

                 To seek my life?



                 Nero, I hated thee.

                 Now was there any of thy soldiers

                 More faithful, while thou faith deserv'dst than I?

                 Together did I leave to be a subject,

                 And thou a Prince; Cćsar, was now become

                 A player on the stage, a waggoner,

                 A burner of our houses and of us,

                 A parricide of wife, and mother.



                 Villain, dost know where, and of whom thou speakst?



                 Have you but one death for him, let it be

                 A feeling one.  Tigellinus, be it

                 Thy charge, and let me see thee witty in't.



                 Come sirrah,

                 We'll see how stoutly you'll stretch out your neck.



                 Would thou durst strike as stoutly.





                 And what's he there?



                 One that in whispering o'erheard

                 What pity 'twas, my Lord, that Piso died.



                 And why was't pity sirrah, that Piso died?



                 My Lord 'twas pity he deserved to die.



                 How much this youth, my Otho[89] doth resemble;

                 Otho, my first, my best love, who is now

                 (Under pretext of governing) exiled

                 To Lucitania, honourably banisht.



                 Well, if you be so passionate,

                 I'll make you spend your pity on your Prince,

                 And good men, not on traitors.



                 The Gods forbid my Prince should pity need.

                 Somewhat the sad rememberance did me stir

                 O'th frail and weak condition of our kind,

                 Somewhat his greatness than whom yesterday,

                 The world, but Cćsar, could show nothing higher.

                 Besides, some virtues and some worth he had,

                 That might excuse my pity to an end

                 So cruel, and unripe.



                 I know not how this stranger moves my mind,

                 His face, methinks, is not like other men's,

                 Nor do they speak thus.  Oh, his words invade

                 My weakened senses, and overcome my heart.



                 Your pity shows your favour and your willing            

                 Which side you are inclined to, had you power.

                 You can but pity, else should Cćsar fear,

                 Your ill affection then shall punisht be.

                 Take him to execution, he shall die,

                 That the death pities of mine enemy.



                 This benefit at least

                 Sad death shall give, to free me from the powers          

                 Of such a government, and if I die

                 For pitying human chance, and Piso's end,

                 There will be some too, that will pity more.



                 O what a dauntless look, what sparkling eyes,

                 Threating in suffering; sure some noble blood

                 Is hid in rags; fear argues a base spirit;

                 In him what courage, and contempt of death,

                 And shall I suffer one I love to die?

                 He shall not die.  Hands off this man, away.

                 Nero, thou shalt not kill this guiltless man.



                 He guiltless?  Strumpet.


Spurns her and POPPĆA falls.


                 She's in love with the smooth face of the boy.



                 Alas, my Lord, you have slain her.



                 Help, she dies.



                 Poppća, Poppća, speak, I am not angry,

                 I did not mean to hurt thee.  Speak, sweet love.



                 She's dead, my Lord.



                     Fetch her again, she shall not die.

                 I'll open the iron gates of Hell,

                 And break the imprisoned shadows of the deep,

                 And force from death this far too worthy prey.

                 She's not dead.

                 The crimson red, that like the morning shone,

                 When from her windows, (all with roses strewed,)

                 She peepeth forth, forsakes not yet her cheeks;

                 Her breath, that like a honeysuckle smelt,

                 Twining about the prickling Eglantine[90],

                 Yet moves her lips; those quick, and piercing eyes,

                 That did in beauty challenge heaven's eyes

                 Yet shine as they were wont.  O no they do not,

                 See how they grow obscure, O see, they close,

                 And cease to take, or give light to the world.

                 What stars soe'er you are assur'd to grace [91]

                 The firmament, (for lo the twinkling fires

                 Together throng, and that clear milky space

                 Of storms, and Pleiades, and thunder void,

                 Prepares your room) do not with wry aspect

                 Look on your Nero, who in blood shall mourn

                 Your luckless fate, and many a breathing soul

                 Send after you to wait upon their Queen.

                 This shall begin, the rest shall follow after,

                 And fill the streets with outcries, and with slaughter.




Scene Five.


Enter SENECA with two of his FRIENDS



                 What means your mourning, this ungrateful sorrow?

                 What are your precepts of philosophy?

                 Where our prepared resolution,

                 So many years fore-studied against danger?

                 To whom is Nero's cruelty unknown?

                 Or what remained after mother's blood,

                 But his instructor's death [92] ?  Leave, leave these tears,

                 Death from me nothing takes, but what's a burden [93] ,

                 A clog, to that free spark of Heavenly fire,

                 But that in Seneca, the which you lov'd,

                 Which you admir'd, doth, and shall still remained         

                 Secure of death, untouched of the grave.



                 We'll not belie our tears: we wail not thee,

                 It is our selves, and our own loss we grieve.

                 To thee, what loss in such a change can be,

                 Virtue is paid her due by death alone,

                 To our own losses do we give these tears,

                 That lose thy love, thy boundless knowledge lose,

                 Lose the unpatterned sample of thy virtue,

                 Lose whatsoever may praise, or sorrow move.

                 In all these losses, yet of this we glory,

                 That 'tis thy happiness that makes us sorry.



                 If there be any place for ghosts of good men,

                 If (as we have been long taught) great men's souls

                 Consume not with their bodies, thou shalt see,

                 (Looking from thy dwellings of the air)

                 True duties to thy memory perform'd;

                 Not in the outward pomp of funeral,

                 But in rememberance of thy deeds, and words,

                 The oft recalling of thy many virtues.

                 The Tomb that shall th'eternal relics keep

                 Of Seneca, shall be his hearers' hearts.



                 Be not afraid, my soul, go cheerfully

                 To thy own Heaven, from whence it first let down.

                 Thou loath by this imprisoning flesh putst on,

                 No lifted up, thou ravisht shalt behold

                 The truth of things, at which we wonder here,

                 And foolishly do wrangle on beneath,

                 And like a God shalt walk the spacious air,

                 And see what even to conceit's deni'd.

                 Great soul o'th world, that through the parts defus'd,

                 Of this vast All, guid'st what thou dost inform.

                 You blessed minds, that from the Spheres you move,

                 Look on men's actions not with idle eyes,

                 And Gods we go to, aid me in this strife

                 And combat of my flesh, that ending, I

                 May still show Seneca, and my self die.




Scene Six.





                 Sure this message of the Prince's,

                 So grievous and unlookt for, will appal

                 Petronius much.



                 Will not death any man?



                 It will, but him so much the more,

                 That having liv'd to his pleasure, shall forgo

                 So delicate a life.  I do not marvel

                 That Seneca and such sour fellows can

                 Leave that they nev'r tasted, but when we

                 That have the nectar of thy kisses felt,

                 That drinks away the troubles of this life,

                 And but one banquet make of forty years,

                 Must come to leave this: but soft, here he is.


Enter PETRONIUS and a centurion.



                 Leave me a while, Centurion.  To my friends,

                 Let me my farewell take, and thou shalt see,

                 Nero's commandment quickly obeyed in me.


Exeunt centurion.


                 Come let us drink, and dash the posts with wine[94]

                 Here, throw your flowers, fill me a swelling bowl,

                 Such as Mycenae's, or my Lucan drank

                 On Virgil's birthday.



                 What means, Petronius, this unseasonable

                 And causeless mirth?  Why, came not from the Prince

                 This man to you, a messenger of death?



                 Here, fair Enanthe, whose plump ruddy cheek

                 Exceeds the grape, it makes this, here my girl.


He drinks.


                 And thinkst thou death a matter of such harm?

                 Why, he must have this pretty dimpling chin,

                 And will peck out those eyes that now so wound.



                 Why, is it not th'extremest of all ills?



                 It is indeed the last, and end of ills.

                 The gods, before th'would let us taste death's joys,

                 Plac'd us i'th toil and sorrows of this world,

                 Because we should perceive th'amends, and thank them.

                 Death, the grim knave, but leads you to the door,

                 Where entered once, all curious pleasures come

                 To meet, and welcome you;

                 A troop of beauteous ladies from whose eyes

                 Love, thousand arrows, thousand graces shoots,

                 Puts forth their fair hands to you, and invite

                 To their green arbours, and close shadowed walls,

                 Whence banisht is the roughness of our years;

                 Only the west wind blows, i'th ever Spring,

                 And ever Summer.  There the laden boughs

                 Offer their tempting burdens[95] to your hand,

                 Doubtful your eyes, or taste inviting more.

                 There every man his own desires enjoys,

                 Fair Lucrece lies by lusty Tarquin's side,

                 And woos him now again to ravish her.

                 Nor us, (though Roman) Lais will refuse,

                 To Corinth any man may go; no mask,

                 No envious garment doth those beauties hide,

                 Which nature made, so moving, to be spied

                 But in bright crystal, which doth supply all,

                 And white transparent veils[96] they are attired

                 Through which the pure snow underneath doth shine,

                 (Can it be snow, from whence such flames arise?)

                 Mingled with that fair company, shall we

                 On banks of violets[97], and of hyacinths[98]

                 Of loves devising, sit, and gently sport,

                 And all the while melodious music hear,

                 And poets' songs, that music far exceed.

                 The old Anaicean crown'd with smiling flowers,

                 And amorous Sappho, on her lesbian Lute

                 Beauty's sweet scars, and Cupid's godhead sing,



                 What?  Be not ravisht with thy fancies, do not

                 Court nothing, nor make love unto our fears.



                 Is't nothing that I say?



                 But empty words.



                 Why, thou requir'st some instance of the eye,

                 Wilt thou go with me then, and see that world?

                 Which either will return thy old delights,

                 Or square thy appetite anew to theirs.



                 Nay, I had far rather believe thee here,

                 Others' ambition such discoveries seek.

                 Faith, I am satisfied with the base delights

                 Of common men.  A wench, a house I have,

                 And of my own a garden, I'll not change

                 For all your walks, and ladies, and rare fruits.



                 Your pleasures must of force resign to these,

                 In vain you shunned the sword, in vain the sea,

                 In vain is Nero fear'd, or flattered.

                 Hither you must, and leave your purchas't houses,

                 Your new made garden, your black-browed wife,

                 And of the trees thou hast so quaintly set,

                 Not one but the displeasant Cypress shall

                 Go with thee.



                 Faith, 'tis true, we must at length,

                 But yet Petronius, while we may awhile,

                 We would enjoy them; those we have, we are sure of,

                 When that you talkst of's doubtful, and to come.



                 Perhaps thou thinkst to live yet twenty years,

                 Which may unlookt for be cut off, as mine,

                 If not, to endless time compar'd, is nothing.

                 What you endure must ever endure now,

                 Nor stay not, to be last at table set.

                 Each best day of our life at first doth go,

                 To them succeeds diseased age and woe.

                 Now die your pleasures, and the days your prayer

                 Your rhymes, and loves, and jests will take away,

                 Therefore my sweet, yet thou wilt go with me,

                 And not live here, to what thou wouldst not see.



                 Would y'have me then kill myself, and die,

                 And go I know not to what places there?



                 What places dost thou fear?

                 The favoured lake they tell thee thou must pass.

                 And thy black frogs that croak about the brim?



                 O pardon Sir, though death affrights a woman

                 Whose pleasures, though you timely here divine,

                 The pains we know, and see.



                 The pain is life's, death rids that pain away.

                 Come boldy, there's no danger in this ford,

                 Children pass through it.  If it be a pain,

                 You have this comfort, that you past it are.



                 Yet all, as well as I, are loath to die.



                 Judge them by deed, you see them do't apace



                 Aye, but 'tis loathly, and against their wills.



                 Yet know you not that any being dead

                 Repent them, and would have liv'd again.

                 They then their errors saw, and foolish prayers,

                 But you are blinded in the love of life.

                 Death is but sweet to them that do approach it.

                 To me as one that, tak'n with Delphic rage,

                 When the divining God his breast doth fill,

                 He sees what others cannot, standing by.

                 It seems a beauteous, and a pleasant thing,

                 Where is my death's Physician?





                 Here, my Lord.



                 Art ready?



                 Aye, my Lord.



                 And I for thee.

                 Nero, my end shall mock thy tyranny.




Act Five.


Scene One.





                 Enough is wept, Poppća, for thy death,

                 Enough is bled.  So many tears of others

                 Wailing their losses have wept mine away.

                 Who, in the common funeral of the world,

                 Can mourn on death?



                 Besides, your Majesty this benefit

                 In their deserved punishment shall reap

                 From all attempts hereafter to be freed;

                 Conspiracy is now forever dasht,

                 Tumult supprest, rebellion out of heart.

                 In Piso's death, danger itself did die.



                 Piso, that thought to climb by bowing down,

                 By giving away to thrive, and raising others

                 To become great himself, hath now by death

                 Given quiet to your thoughts, and fear to theirs

                 That shall by treason their advancement plot.

                 Those dangerous heads, that his ambition lean'd on,

                 And they by it crept up, and from their meanness

                 Thought in this stir to rise aloft, are off.

                 Now peace and safety wait upon your throne;

                 Security hath wall'd your seat about,

                 There is no place for fear left.



                 Why, I never fear'd them.



                 That was your fault.

                 Your Majesty must give us leave to blame

                 Your dangerous courage, and that noble soul

                 Too prodigal of itself.



                 A Prince's mind knows neither fear, nor hope.

                 The beams of royal Majesty are such,

                 As all eyes are with it amaz'd and weakened,

                 But it with nothing, I at first contemn'd

                 Their weak devices, and faint enterprise:

                 Why, thought they against him to have prevail'd,

                 Whose childhood was from Messalina's spite,

                 By dragons that the earth gave up preserv'd,

                 Such guard my cradle had, for fate had then

                 Pointed me out, to be what now I am[99].

                 Should all the Legions, and the Provinces

                 In one united, against me conspire,

                 I could disperse them with one angry eye.

                 My brow's a host of men; come, Tigellinus,

                 Lets turn this bloody banquet Piso meant us

                 Unto a merry feast, we'll drink and challenge

                 fortune.  Who's that, Neophilus?


Enter a Roman.



                 A courier from beyond the Alps, my Lord.



                 News of some German victory belike,

                 Or Briton overthrow.



                 The letters come from France.[100]



                 Why smiles your Majesty?



                 So I smile, I should be afraid there's one

                 In arms, Nymphidius.



                 What, arm'd against your Majesty? [101]



                 Our Lieutenant of the Province, Julius Vindex[102].



                 Who, that giddy French-man?



                 His Province is disarm'd, my Lord, he hath

                 No legion, not a soldier under him.



                 One by that blood, and rapine would repair

                 His state consum'd in vanities, and lust.


Enter another Roman.



                 He would not find out three to follow him.



                 More news, my Lord.



                 Is it of Vindex that thou hast to say?



                 Vindex is up, and with him France in arms.

                 The noble men, and people throng to th'cause,

                 Money, and armour, cities do confer.

                 The country doth send in provision,

                 Young men bring bodies, old men lead them forth,

                 Ladies do coin their jewels into pay,

                 The sickle now is fram'd into a sword,[103]

                 And drawing horses are to manage taught,

                 France nothing doth but war, and fury breathe.



                 All this fierce talk, but Vindex doth rebel,

                 And I will hang him.



                 How long came you forth after the former messenger?



                 Four days, but by the benefit of sea

                 And weather, am arrived with him.



                 How strong was Vindex at your coming forth?



                 He was esteem'd a hundred thousand.



                 Men enough.



                 And soldiers few enough.

                 Tumultuary troops undisciplin'd,

                 Untrain'd in service, to waste victuals good,

                 But when they come to look on war's black wounds,

                 And but afar off see the face of death...



                 It falls out for my empty coffers well,

                 The spoil of such a large and goodly Province,

                 Enrich't with trade, and long enjoyed peace.



                 What order will your Majesty have taken

                 For levying forces to suppress this stir?



                 What order should we take?  We'll laugh, and drink,

                 Thinkst thou it fit my pleasures be disturb'd

                 When any French-man list to break his neck?

                 They have not heard of Piso's fortune yet,

                 Let that talk fight with them.



                 What order needs? Your Majesty shall find

                 This French heat quickly of itself grow cold.



                 Come away.

                 Nothing shall come that this night's sport shall stay.


Exeunt Nero.


Scene Two.





                 I wonder what makes him so confident

                 In this revolt now grown unto a war,

                 And ensigns[104] in the field, when in the other,

                 Being but a plot of conspiracy,

                 He show'd himself so wretchedly dismayed.



                 Faith, the right nature of a coward, to set light

                 Dangers that seem far off.  Piso was here,

                 Ready to enter at the presence door,

                 And drag him out of his abused chair,

                 And then he trembled; Vindex is in France,

                 And many woods, and seas, and hills in between.



                 Twas strange that Piso was so soon supprest.



                 Strange, strange indeed, for had he but come up,

                 And taken the Court, in that affright and stir,

                 While unresolved for whom, or what to do.

                 Each on the other hand had jealousy

                 (While as appalled Majesty not yet

                 Had time to set the countenance) he would  

                 Have hazarded the royal seat.



                 Nay, had it without hazard; all the Court

                 Had for him been, and those disclos'd their love,

                 And favour in the cause, which now to hide,

                 And colour their good meanings ready were,

                 To show their forwardness against it most.



                 But for a stranger with a naked Province,

                 Without allies, or friends i'th state to challenge

                 A Prince upheld with thirty Legions,

                 Rooted in four descents of ancestors,

                 And fourteen years' continuance of reign,

                 Why it is---





                 Galba and Spain, what Spain and Galba too?





                 I pray thee, Tigellinus, what fury's this?

                 What strange event, what accident hath thus

                 O'er cast your countenances?



                 Down we were set at table, and began

                 With sparkling bowls to chase our fears away,

                 And mirth and pleasure lookt out of our eyes,

                 When lo, a breathless messenger comes in

                 And tells how Vindex, and the powers of France

                 Have Segius Galba chosen Emperor,

                 And what applause the Legions him receive.

                 The Spain's revolted, Portugal hath joined;

                 And much suspected in of Germany,

                 But Nero, not abiding out to the end,

                 O'erthrew the tables, dasht against the ground

                 The cup which he so much you know esteem'd,

                 Teareth his hair, and with incensed rage

                 Curseth false men, and gods the lookers on.



                 His rage, we saw, was wild and desperate.



                 O you unsecured wisdoms, which do laugh

                 At our security and fears alike!

                 And plain to show our weakness, and your power

                 Make us condemn the harms, which surest strike

                 When you our glories, and our pride undo,

                     Our overthrow you make ridiculous too.






                 Slow making counsels, and the sliding year

                 Have brought me to the long forseen destruction

                 Of this misled young man; his State is shaken,

                 And I will push it on.  Revolted France,

                 Nor the conjured Provinces of Spain,

                 Nor his own guilt shall like to me oppress him.

                 I to his easy yielding fears proclaim

                 New German mutinies, and all the world

                 Rousing itself in hate of Nero's name,

                 I his distracted counsels do disperse

                 With fresh despairs, I animate the Senate

                 And the people, to engage them past recall

                 In prejudice of Nero, and in brief,

                 Perish he must, the fates and I resolve it,

                 Which to effect, I presently will go.

                 Proclaim a Donative in Galba's name.


Enter ANTONIUS to him.



                 Yonder's Nymphidius, our Commander now,

                 I with respect must speak, and smooth my brow,

                 Captain, all hail!



                 Antonius, well met,

                 Your place of tribune [105] in this anarchy...



                 This anarchy, my Lord?  Is Nero dead?



                 This anarchy, this yet unstyled time,

                 While Galba is unseized of the Empire

                 Which Nero hath forsook.



                 Hath Nero then resigned the Empire?



                 In effect he hath, for he's fled to Egypt.



                 My Lord, you tell strange news to me.



                 But nothing strange to me,

                 Who every moment knew of his despairs.

                 The couriers came so fast with fresh alarms

                 Of new revolts, that he unable quite

                 To bear his fears, which he had long conceal'd,

                 Is now revolted from himself, and fled.



                 Thrust with reports, and rumours from his seat!

                 My Lord, you know the Camp depends on you

                 As you determine.



                 There it lies, Antonius;

                 What should we do?  It boots[106] not to rely

                 On Nero's stinking fortunes, and to sit

                 Securely looking on.  We're to receive

                 An Emperor from Spain, which how disgraceful

                 It were to us, who if we weigh ourselves,

                 The most material accessions are

                 Of all the Roman Empire, which disgrace

                 To cover we must join ourselves betimes,

                 And thereby seem to have created Galba.

                 Therefore I'll straight proclaim a Donative,

                 Of thirty thousand sesterces a man.



                 I think so great a gift was never heard of.

                 Galba, they say, is frugally inclined;

                 Will he avow so great a gift as this?



                 Howe'er he like of it, he must avow it,

                 If by our promise he be once engaged,

                 And since the soldiers' care belongs to me,

                 I will have care of them, and of their good.

                 Let them thank me, if I through this occasion

                 Procure for them so great a Donative.





                 So you be thankt, it skills not who prevail,

                 Galba, or Nero, traitor to them both.

                 You give it out that Nero's fled to Egypt,

                 Who with the frights of your reports, amaz'd

                 By our device, doth lurk for better news,

                 Whilst you inevitably do betray him.

                 Works he all this for Galba then?  Not so;

                 I have long seen his climbing to the Empire

                 By secret practices of gracious women,

                 And other instruments of the late Court.

                 That was his love to her that me refus'd,

                 And now by this he would give the soldiers favour.

                 Now is the time to quit Poppća's scorn,

                 And his rivality[107];  I'll straight reveal

                 His treacheries to Galba's agents here.




Scene Three.


Enter TIGELLINUS with the guard.



                 You see what issue things do sort unto,

                 Yet may we hope not only impunity,

                 But with our fellows part o'th gift proclaim'd.


NERO meets them.



                 Whither go you?  Stay my friends,

                 'Tis Cćsar calls you, stay my loving friends.



                 We were his slaves, his footstools, and must crouch,

                 But now, with such observance to his feet,

                 It is his misery that calls us friends.



                 And moves you not the misery of a Prince?

                 O stay my friends, stay, harken to the voice

                 Which once yee knew.



                 Hark to the people's cries,

                 Hark to the streets, that 'Galba, Galba' ring.



                 The people may forsake me without blame.

                 I did them wrong to make you rich and great,

                 I took their houses to bestow on you:

                 Treason in them hath name of liberty,

                 Your fault hath no excuse; you are my fault,

                 And the excuse of others' treachery.



                 Shall we with staying seem his tyrannies

                 T'uphold, as if were in love with them?

                 We are excus'd unless we stay too long

                 As forced Ministers, and apart of wrong.


Exeunt preter NERO.



                 O now I see the vizard[108] from my face

                 So lovely, and so fearful is fall'n off,

                 That vizard, shadow, nothing (Majesty

                 (Which like a child acquainted with his fears,

                 But now men trembled at, and now condemn);

                 Nero forsaken is of all the world,

                 The world of truth.  O fall some vengeance down

                 Equal unto falsehoods, and my wrongs.

                 Might I accept the Chariot of the Sun,

                 And like another Phaeton, consume

                 In flames of all the world, a pile of death

                 Worthy the state, and greatness I have lost.

                 O were I now but Lord of my own fires,

                 Wherein false Rome yet once again might smoke,

                 And perish, all unpitied of her gods,

                 That all things in their last destruction might

                 Perform a funeral honour to their Lord.

                 O Jove, dissolve with Cćsar, Cćsar's world,

                 Or you whom Nero rather should invoke,

                 Black chaos, and you fearful shapes beneath,

                 That with a long, and not vain envy have

                 Sought to destroy this work of th'other gods.

                 Now let your darkness cease the spoils of the day,

                 And the world's first contention end your strife.


Enter two Romans to him.



                 Though others, bound with greater benefits

                 Have left your changed fortunes, and do run

                 Whither new hopes do call them, yet come we.



                 O welcome; come you to adversity?

                 Welcome, true friends; why there is faith on earth.

                 Of thousand servants, friends and followers,

                 Yet two are left: your countenance, methinks,

                 Gives comfort, and new hopes.



                 Do not deceive your thoughts,

                 My Lord, we bring no comfort, would we could;

                 But the first duty to perform, and best

                 We ever shall, a free death to persuade,

                 To cut off hopes to fiercer cruelty

                 And scorn, more cruel to a worthy soul.



                 The Senate have decreed you're punishable

                 After the fashion of our ancestors,

                 Which is; your neck being locked in a fork

                 You must be naked whipt, and scourg'd to death.



                 The Senate thus decreed?  They that so oft

                 My virtues flattered have, and gifts of mine;

                 My government preferr'd to ancient times,

                 And challenge Numa to compare with me;

                 Have they so horrible an end sought out?

                 No, here I bear which shall prevent such shame,

                 This hand shall yet from that deliver me,

                 And faithful be alone unto his Lord.

                 Alas how sharp, and terrible is death.

                 O must I die, must now my senses close,

                 For ever die, and ne'er return again,

                 Never more to see the Sun, nor Heaven, nor Earth?

                 Whither go I?  What shall I be anon?

                 What horrid journey wand'rest thou, my soul,

                 Under th'earth, in dark, damp, dusky vaults,

                 Or shall I now to nothing be resolv'd?

                 My fears become my hopes, O would I might.

                 Methinks I seek the boiling Phlegeton,

                 And the dull pool, feared of them we fear,

                 The dread, and terror of the Gods themselves,

                 The Furies armed with links, with whips, with snakes,

                 And my own Furies far more mad than they.

                 My mother, and those troops of slaughtered friends,

                 And now the judge is brought unto the throne,

                 That will not leave unto authority,

                 Nor favour the oppressions of the great.



                 These are idle terrors of the night,

                 Which wise men (though they teach, do not believe)

                 To curb our pleasures feign, and aid the weak.



                 Death's wrongful defamation, which would make

                 Us shun this happy haven of our rest,

                 This end of evils, as some fearful harm.



                 Shadows, and fond imaginations,

                 Which now you see on earth, but children fear.



                 Why should our faults fear punishment from them?

                 What do the actions of this life concern?

                 The t'other world, with which is no commerce?



                 Would Heaven, and Stars, necessity compel

                 Us to do that, which after it would punish?



                 Let us not after our lives' end believe

                 More than you felt before it.



                 If any words have made me confident,

                 And boldly do, for hearing others speak

                 Boldly this night - but will you by example

                 Teach me the truth of your opinion,

                 And make me see that you believe yourselves:

                 Will you by dying, teach me to bear death

                 With courage?



                 No necessity of death

                 Hang o'er our head, no danger threatens us,

                 Nor Senate's sharp decree, nor Galba's arms.



                 Is this the thanks then thou dost pay our love?

                 Die basely as such a life deserv'd,

                 Reserve thyself to punishment and scorn

                 Of Rome, and of thy laughing enemies.




Manet NERO.



                 They hate me, 'cause I would but live, what was't

                 You lov'd kind friends, and came to see my death.

                 Let me endure all torture, and reproach

                 That earth, or Galba's anger can inflict,

                 Yet Hell, and Radamanth are more pitiless.


Enter the first Roman to him.



                 Though not deserv'd, yet once again I come,

                 To warn thee to take pity on thyself.

                 The troops by the Senate sent, descend the hill

                 And come.



                 To take me, and whip me unto death!

                 O whither shall I fly?



                 Thou hast no choice.



                 O hither I must fly, hard is his hap

                 Who from death only must by death escape,

                 Where are they yet?  O may I not a little

                 Bethink myself?



                 They are at hand; hark, thou mayest hear the noise.



                 O Rome farewell, farewell you Theatres,

                 Where I so oft, with popular applause

                 In song, and action...  O they come.  I die.


He falls on his sword.



                 So base an end to all just commiseration

                 Doth take away, yet what we do now spurn,

                 The morning Sun saw fearful to the world.


Scene Four.


Enter some of GALBA'S friends, ANTONIUS and others, with NYMPHIDIUS bound.



                 You both shall die together, traitors both,

                 He to the common- wealth, and thou to him,

                 And worse, to a good Prince; what, is he dead?

                 Hath fear encourag'd him, and made him thus

                 Prevent our punishment?  Then die with him,

                 Fall thy aspiring at thy Master's feet.





                 Who, though he justly perisht, yet by thee

                 Deserv'd it not, nor ended there thy treason,

                 But even thought the Empire: thou conceiv'st

                 Galba's disgrace in receiving that

                 Which the son of Nimphidia could hope.



                 Thus great bad men above them find a rod [109] ;

                 People, depart, and say there is a God.























[1]Petronius Arbiter, author of the Satyricon, a book of tales of satire.  We must bear this in mind when reading this play, as some of the characters maybe likely to mimic dignitaries in the early 1620's, when we must assume Tragedy of Nero to have been written.

[2]First word of William Shakespeare's Othello.  In both instances, tush is employed as a dismissive prequel to the sentence.  Nowadays, we see a similar use in the word shush, which may well be a contemporary adaptation. 

[3]Crystal, B & Crystal, D. Shakespeare's Words: A Glossary and Language Companion, Penguin Books (2002.) 'Anger, rage, wrath.'  In Shakespeare alone we see this word used in Henry VI Part II, Henry V, Julius Caesar, Loves Labours Lost, The Merry Wives of Windsor and Richard II.

[4]The word transcribed on Chadwyck-Healey is vnforst but when spoken we are presented with two possible yet different meanings.  The most obvious word is unforced, meaning that the world submits willingly to Nero's rule, but another word which sounds similar is enforced.  This carries connotations which suggests that the world does not submit to Nero's rule without domination. 

[5]In Shakespeare's King John () both Queen Eleanor and Chatillon provoke John with his “borrow'd majesty.” (  This is both interesting and appropriate because historically, John and Nero are both the same genre of monarch in terms of their monarchical Absolutism.  In Nero, the previous line intimates that these 'borrow'd beauties' are stolen, like John's monarchy.  However, this theft of beauty could be analagous to stealing other things.

[6]'plain, simple, ordinary, unattractive, humble, ordinary.'  Seen in Second and Third Part of Henry VI, Cymbeline, Two Gentlemen of Verona, Alls Well That Ends Well, A Winters Tale, and the Comedy of Errors.  David & Ben Crystal, (2002) Shakespeare's Words, A Glossary and Language Companion, (London:Penguin)

[7]According to myth and history, there were two Cleopatra's.  One was the daughter of Boreas and Oreithya, and wife of Phineas, and the other is the Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt, that we associate with Mark Anthony, which we must assume to be the correct one.  Cleopatra was the last of the House of Ptolemy, and ruled between 68 and 30 B.C.  She was first the mistress of Julius Cćsar, and then of Mark Anthony.  Her reference in this play might be explained by the fact that she, like Nero, was the last patron of her dynasty and also their joint relation to Julius Cćsar, who was the first member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty which ended with Nero's demise.  Another link is that one of the Gnaeus Ahenobarbus' briefly joined Mark Anthony's staff shortly before his death, and after the murder of Julius Cćsar, which he was also charged with abetting. 

[8]Lucres, or Lucretia, is yet another individual who signified the end of monarchy.  She is most notorious for being raped by Sextus, son of King Tarquinnus, and then committing suicide to prove her virtue.  Lucretia is an extremely popular topic for Elizabethan and Jacobean playwrights, Heywood, Shakespeare, and the anonymous 'Second Lucretia' to name but a couple.  What is debatably most relevant here, especially with Cleopatra mentioned in the same sentence, is that in the 6th Century B.C. Her action also caused the end of a Roman monarchy.

[9]Some time after A.D.55, when Cn. Domitius Corbulo became governer of Cappadocia, Nero began negotiations through a representative, for Vologeses I to openly accept his crown from Nero.  In receipt of this submission, Nero would be seen to openly accept Tiridates, Vologeses' brother, and King of Armenia.  Should Vologeses not accede to Nero's demands, then Nero planned to attack.  According to Suetonius' The Twelve Cćsar's, Nero lured Tiridates to Rome under false pretenses, and forced Tiridates to 'prostrate himself in supplication' (p.220) while he sat in triumphal attire.

[10]The war between Parthians and the Romans was a lengthy and expensive one, between A.D.54-63. 

[11]'Because of his singing, he [Nero] had been compared to Phoebus Apollo', Suetonius, The Twelve Cćsar's, p. 246.

[12]Nero was compared to Hercules because of his charioteering.  He fancied himself a 'Sun-God', (Ibid, p. 246) and allegedly had had a lion trained for the public arena so that he could tackle it in the amphitheatre and either strangle it or bludgeon it to death with his club.

[14]Vespasian, when he had rebuilt the stage of the Theatre of Marcellus, is reputed to have rewarded both Diodorus and Terpnus with 2,000 gold pieces each.  Both were reputed to be very fine lyre-players, which was Nero's favourite musical instrument.

[15]On return from a trip to Greece, one of many that Nero made in his reign, he chose to enter Rome in Augustus' old chariot, swathed in a 'Greek mantle spangled with gold stars over a purple robe.  The Olympic wreath was on his head, the Pythian wreath in his right hand.'  Suetonius, The Twelve Cćsar's, p. 226.

[16]A region on the north coast of the Peloponnesus, and also a region in south-east Thessaly.  In Homer, and later poetry, Achaia is used to mean Greece in total. 

[17]The eagle is consistently portrayed as the symbol of Rome, and was often used in pageantry.  Also, eagles have often been seen to herald prophecies, for example, an eagle dropped a wolf-cub at the feet of Claudius, whom Nero succeeded, which was supposed to represent Claudius' unlikely ascension to the throne.

[19]Also spelt 'Alis' in Plautus' Captives, Elis is a district in the north-western regions of the Peloponnesus.  Olympia was the largest city in Elis and is reknowned for being sacred for Zeus, and the originator of the Olympic Games.

[20]Pisa is yet another city in Elis.

[21]A city in Argolis, in the Second Millenium B.C. Mycenae was regarded to be one of the strongest and richest places in Greece.  The Mycenaen city walls were also reputed to have been constructed by the Cyclops.

[22]'Prominent city of the north-eastern Peloponnesus.  Argos was noted for its cult of the goddess Hera.  In myth it alternated with Mycenae as the city of Agamemmnon and his family.' The name Argos was actually synonymous with the entire region, also known as Argolis, and in English, Argolia.  Richard Y. Hathorn () Handbook of Classical Drama, p. 46. 

[23]Sparta was a major Greek tourist destination for the Romans.  Although described as having a 'museum-like atmosphere,' it is perhaps better known for its flogging contests, held in the Spartan theatre's, where young men contested to see who could be flogged for the longest, in proof of strength.

[24]Athens, by comparison, was reknown for its University.  Young men (and also women) from prestigious families could study Greek philosophy and classics there for either one or two years.

[25]  A Spartan delicacy also known as 'black-broth' and 'zomos', this soup consisted of 'a conglomeration of pork, blood and vinegar, and, according to Plutarch's Moralia, Dionysus, 'the tyrant of Italy' spat it out when his Spartan cook made it for him. 

[26]Solon was celebrated as a law-maker in Athens.  Living between circa 640 B.C. and 560 B.C., his name was linked with legislature for many years after.

[27]Phlegra was a plain in Macedonia where the Gods, according to folklore, fought the giants.

[28]Nero's father Gnaeus Ahenobarbus was reputed to be nearly as much of a tyrant as Nero himself.  Before he died in Pyrgi of dropsy when Nero was three.  He killed a young boy, gouged out a knights eye in the Senate, and killed one of his freedmen be cause he didn't drink as much as he was told to.  He once allegedly told friends that any child of his union with Agrippina was doomed to become hellish and a 'public danger.'  Suetonius, The Twelve Cćsars, pp. 214-5.

[29]Thanks to Suetonius and others, it is known that Nero repeatedly attempted the poisoning of Britannicus, son of Messalina and Claudius, and regally although not genetically his brother.  He eventually succeeded in A.D.55. 

[30]We must assume the reference to wife to mean Octavia, as she was the wife prior to Poppća.  Ironically, prior to her death, she had dreams of being stabbed in the side.  Although Suetonius and Seneca disagree between the number of days between Octavia's death and Nero's next marriage, (Suetonius says twelve, Seneca simply says 'a few'), it was certainly abrupt, but not uncommon.

[31]Agrippina's murder was actually something of a farce, compared to the immediacy of Octavia's, and others.  In A.D.59, the year that she eventually died, Nero, allegedly aided by Seneca, fabricated that Agrippina was trying to replace him.  Previous to this he had attempted to poison her three times, attempted to crush her once and drown her once.  After this, he disposed of her by arranged killing.

[32]Lucius Mummius was one of the first to race horses at the Games, some two centuries before Nero.

[34]Son of Danaë, grandson of Acrisius, Perseus was sent by King Polydectes to kill Medusa the Gorgon, which he did with the help of the Stygian nymphs and the Phorcides.    It was the Stygian nymphs which gave him the winged sandals, wallet, and Hade's Cape of Invisibility which we associate him with.  Like Nero, Perseus also killed a member of his family, but his manslaughter of Acrisius was not premeditated, and Acrisius had already forseen it.

[35]  Son of Peleus and Thetis.  Like Agrippina, Achilles mother, the Nereid Thetis also wanted her son to achieve immortality, death being something that Nero particularly feared.  It was at Troy that Achilles realised his potential as a fearsome warrior.

[36]Minerva was the Roman goddess of war, wisdom and crafts.  She known otherwise in Greek mythology as Athena.

[37]Unfortunately, we are not told which Philip our author was refering to, but contextually it is most likely to be  Philip V of Macedonia (237-179 B.C.)  Allegedly, Philip attempted to overthrow Rome.

[38]Antiochus III of Syria (242-187 B.C.) ruled approximately the same time as Philip of Macedonia, and they are seemingly linked only by their routs with Rome.  Antiochus was defeated when he attacked Greece.  This also explains he reference to 'Syrian power' in the previous line.

[39]  A Macedonian General under King Philip of Macedonia, mentioned earlier.

[40]This is also mentioned in Seneca's Octavia.

[41] 'When the Greeks had lain siege to Troy for ten years, without results, they pretended to retreat. They left behind a huge wooden horse, in which a number of Greek heroes, among whom Odysseus, had hidden themselves.  The spy Sinon convinced the Trojans, despite the warnings of Laocoon, to move the horse inside the city as a war trophy. In the following night, the Greeks left the wooden horse and attacked the unsuspecting and celebrating Trojans, and finally conquered Troy.'

[42]David Crystal and Ben Crystal, Shakespeare's Words, A Glossary and Language Companion, p.479.  Ine each instance of application, the word vaunt is associated with exultation and boastfulness over others.  In Shakespeare only it is employed in The Rape of Lucrece, the sonnets, Richard III

[43]There was a healthy Roman interest in Germany between 55 B.C. And A.D. 106, and seven Emperors attempted to tame the Eastern Provinces.  Emperor Claudius eventually consolidated the Rhine-Danube Provinces by declaring the river Rhine as part of the boundaries of the Empire.  This act also brought about the formation of two new Provinces, Moesia and Thrace.

[44]There is no reference to Bodinca, but the name Bouddica makes more sense, and also correlates with Julius Vindex's rebellion mentioned towards the close of the play.  Vindex rebelled in Gaul in A.D. 68, only 8 years after Bouddica's revolt in Eastern Britain for similar reasons.  Both Vindex and Bouddica disagreed with Roman rule, despite the fact that Vindex was handed governance of Gaul by Nero.  The different spellings of Bouddica are also not unheard of.  Book 62 of Dio Cassius' History sees Bouddica spelt Buduica, and, more contemporaneously, Beaumont and Fletcher's 'Tragedy of Bonduca' (1613) is also about Bouddica.

[45]David Crystal and Ben Crystal, Shakespeare's Words, A Glossary and Language Companion, p.420.  We are given fifteen different meaning for the word stay, The intimation here from Lucan is that Sceuinus should be quiet, or else endure his thoughts.

[46]David Crystal and Ben Crystal, Shakespeare's Words, A Glossary and Language Companion, p.56.  In this context, bearing in mind Nero's previous history, we know that he ordered the murder of Octavia, his first wife prior to Poppća.  In this book, broached is described in two contexts; bringing up a subject in conversation and to set flowing in terms of piercing, the obvious translation of our lexical use being the latter explanation.

[47]Richard D. Hathorn, Handbook of Classical Drama (2000) p.302.  Scythia stretched from the northern tip of Thrace, along the northern shore of the Black Sea, and inhabited by nomadic tribes.  The Scythians was used as the Greek equivalent of a police force in Athens.  Reference to them is made in Sophocles' The Scythian Woman.

[48]The River Tiber runs through Rome to the port of Ostia.  Since Roman times, it has been largely associated with death, and in recent times has achieved notoriety in Enoch Powell's 'Rivers of Blood' speech in 1968.

[49]Richard D. Hathorn, Handbook of Classical Drama (2000) p.157.  A mountain in Western Boetia, south-east of Delphi and near the Corinthian Gulf, Mount Hellicon was then associated with Apollo and the Muses.

[50]  'The Roman patron god of gardens, viniculture, sailors and fishermen. He is portrayed wearing a long dress that leaves the genitals uncovered. The Romans placed a satyr-like statue of him, painted red and with an enormous phallus, in gardens as some kind of scarecrow, but also to ensure fruitfulness. The fruits of the fields, honey and milk were offered to him, and occasionally donkeys. He was very popular and in his honor the Priapea was written--a collection of 85 perfectly written poems, sometimes funny but usually obscene.

      Originally, Priapus was a fertility god from Asia Minor, and his attribute is the pruning knife.'


[51]Once again we have the problem inherent in so many Roman plays, the confusion with names.  There was a Tacitus mentions a Cervarius Proculus who was a knight known to Piso and other rebellers, and didn't like Nero, there is also a Volusius Proculus who aided the murder of Agrippina and was resentful because he didn't feel he had been duly rewarded (Annals, Book XV, p.169).  There was also a Cocceius and a Barbius Proculus who worked in Nero's bodyguard (Ibid, Book I, pp. 195-6)  These are the only people named Proculus known to Nero in his reign yet none are mentioned for this grave error.

[52](p.262)  The Romans generally used to import spices and rare woods from India.

[53]  There were five Roman coins in circulation at the time of the sesterci.  There was one gold coin (the aureus), three silver coins (the sestercius, quinarius and denarius) and one bronze coin (the as.)


"Oresteia"  The Concise Oxford Companion to Classical Literature. Ed. M.C. Howatson and Ian Chilvers. Oxford University Press, 1996. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press.  7 December 2003.  'Oresteia, the collective name given to the three Greek tragedies (trilogy) by Aeschylus on the story of Agamemnon, Clytemnestra, and Orestes, was produced at Athens in 458 BC when it won the dramatic competition.'  In Choephoroe, a story of parricide which forms a direct link to Nero, Orestes returns to find that Agamemnon his father has died, killed by his mother Clytemnestra and her lover Aegisthus.  Orestes subsequently kills her, after some debate, then flees when the Furies emerge to punish him.  Nero actually complained of dreams of this content where the Furies followed him with 'whips and burning torches' (Suetonius, The Twelve Caesar's, p.233  

[55]  'Many craftsmen of mold-carved glass decoration active in the first century A.D. distinguished themselves by putting their names on the molds and identifying the source of the object's manufacture. The most famous and gifted of these craftsmen is Ennion, who came from the coastal city of Sidon in modern Lebanon, and whose workshop is thought to have been situated there. However, Ennion vessels have also been found in Greece, Spain, and Gaul, as well as at numerous sites in Italy, and so it is very likely that his molds, as well as finished glasses, were traded throughout the Mediterranean.'

[56]  Chrysippus lived circa 280 to 207 B.C. And was a  'Stoic philosopher of Soli in Cilicia Campestris. He moved to Athens, and became a disciple of Cleanthes, the successor of Zeno. He was equally distinguished for his natural abilities and industry and rarely went a day without writing 500 lines. He wrote several hundred volumes, of which three hundred were on logical subjects, borrowing largely from others. With the Stoics in general, he maintained that the world was God, or a universal effusion of his spirit, and that the superior part of this spirit, which consisted in mind and reason, was the common nature of things, containing the whole and every part of it. Sometimes he speaks of God as the power of fate and the necessary chain of events. Sometimes he calls him fire.'  This play uses Fate and Fortune rather alot, but that is not exclusive to Nero alone, however, the link between Chrysippus, fire and Nero cannot be disregarded and just coincidence.

[57]According to both Suetonius and Tacitus, Piso had a villa at Baiae.  'The city is located in the Campania region of southern Italy, on a hillside, towards the western end of the Bay of Naples.  Once, it was one of the most luxurious and fashionable resort areas in the Roman Empire. Prominent members of the Roman aristocracy, such as Julius Caesar, Nero and Gaius, had villas built there.  (

[58]Domus Aurea.

[59]Suetonius isn't very forthcoming as regards Rufus, but thanks to Tacitus, our author appears to have been referring to Fćnius Rufus, who along with Sofonius Tigellinus (seen in Nero) were made joint heads of the Prćtorian Guard.  According to Tacitus, Rufus 'enjoyed the favour of the people and of the soldiers.' (Annals, Book XIV, p.153.)

[60]Nero: sodaine.  At, 'sodaine' is mentioned in a similar context to the word 'sudden' in a translation by John Florio in 1620.  The excerpt is 'Nonna de Pulci, by a sodaine answere, did put to silence a Byshop of Florence' which makes adequately clear that sudden was the word intended.

[61]Nero is part of the Julio-Claudian dynasty named after Julius Caesar, hence why all their names are followed by Caesar, like Domitius Ahenobarbus.  Relate Julius' death...

[62]Huffman, Carl, "Alcmaeon", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2003 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <>.  Alcmaeon of Croton was an early Greek medical writer and philosopher-scientist.  He is likely to have written his book sometime between 500 and 450 BC. The surviving fragments and testimonia focus primarily on issues of psychology and epistemology and reveal Alcmaeon to be a thinker of considerable originality. He was the first to identify the brain as the seat of understanding and to distinguish understanding from perception. Alcmaeon thought that the sensory organs were connected to the brain by channels (poroi) and may have discovered the poroi connecting the eyes to the brain (i.e. the optic nerve)