Act 1, Scene I

Scene: Before the Palace.
Enter NEANTHES, SOSICLES, and ERATON.
Eraton.
The general is return'd then?
Neanthes.
With much honour.
Sosicles.
And peace concluded with the prince of Argos?
Neanthes.
To the queen's wishes: The conditions sign'd
So far beyond her hopes, to the advantage
Of Corinth, and the good of all her subjects,
That though Leonidas, our brave general,
Ever came home a fair and great example,
He never yet return'd or with less loss
Or more deserved honour.
Eraton.
Have you not heard
The motives to this general good?
Neanthes.
The main one
Was admiration first in young Agenor
(For by that name we know the prince of Argos)
Of our Leonidas' wisdom and his valour;
Which, though an eneniy, first in him bred wonder,
That liking, love succeeded that, which was
Follow'd by a desire to be a friend,
Upon what terms soever, to such goodness.
They had an interview; and, that their friendships
Might with our peace be ratified, 'twas concluded,
Agenor, yielding up all such strong places
As he held in our territories, should receive
(With a sufficient dower paid by the queen)
The fair Merione for his wife.
Eraton.
But how
Approves the queen of this? since we well know,
Nor was her highness ignorant, that her son
The prince Theanor made love to this lady,
And in the noblest way.
Neanthes.
Which she allowed of;
And I have heard from some familiar with
Her nearest secrets, she so deeply prized her,
Being from an infant train'd up in her service,
(Or, to speak better, rather her own creature)
She once did say, that if the prince should steal
A marriage without her leave or knowledge,
With this Merione, with a little suit,
She should grant both their pardons; whereas now,
To shew herself forsooth a Spartan lady,
And that 'tis in her power, now it concerns
The common good, not alone to subdue
Her own affections, but command her son's,
She has not only forced him with rough threats
To leave his mistress, but compell'd him, when
Agenor made his entrance into Corinth,
To wait upon his rival.
Sosicles.
Can it be
The prince should sit down with this wrong?
Neanthes.
I know not;
I am sure I should not.
Eraton.
Trust me, nor I:
A mother is a name; but, put in balance
With a young wench, 'tis nothing. Where did you leave him?
Neanthes.
Near Vesta's temple (for there he dismiss'd me)
And full of troubled thoughts, calling for Crates
He went with him, but whither, or to what purpose,
I am a stranger.

Enter THEANOR and CRATES.

Eraton.
They are come back, Neanthes.
Theanor.
I like the place well.
Crates.
Well, sir? it is built
As if the architect had been a prophet,
And fashion'd it alone for this night's action;
The vaults so hollow, and the walls so strong,
As Dian there might suffer violence,
And with loud shrieks in vain call Jove to help her;
Or should he hear, his thunder could not find
An entrance to it.
Theanor.
I give up myself
Wholly to thy direction, worthiest Crates
And yet the desperate cure that we must practise
Is in itself so foul, and full of danger,
That I stand doubtful whether 'twere more manly
To die not seeking help, or, that help being
So deadly, to pursue it.
Crates.
To those reasons
I have already urged, I will add these
For, but consider, Sir——
[They talk apart.
Eraton.
It is of weight
Whate'er it be, that with such vehement action
Of eye, hand, foot, nay, all his body's motion,
Crates incites the prince to.
Neanthes.
Then observe,
With what variety of passions he
Receives his reasons: Now he's pale, and shakes
For fear or anger; now his natural red
Comes back again,, and with a pleasing smile
He seeras to entertain it. 'Tis resolved on,
be it what 'twill: To his ends may it prosper,
Though the state sink for't!
Crates.
Now you are a prince,
Fit to rule others, and, in shaking off
The bonds in which your mother fetters you,
Discharge your debt to Nature: She's your guide;
Follow her boldly, Sir.
Theanor.
I am confirm'd,
Fall what may fall.
Crates.
Yet still disguise your malice
In your humility.
Theanor.
I am instructed.
Crates.
Though in your heart there rage a thousand tempests,
All calmness in your looks.
Theanor.
I shall remember.
Crates.
And at no band, though these are used as agents,
Acquaint them with your purpose, till the instant
That we employ them; 'tis not fit they have
Time to consider: When 'tis done, reward
Or fear will keep them silent. Yet you may
Grace them as you pass by; 'twill make them surer
And greedier to deserve you.
Theanor.
I'll move only
As you would have me. Good day, gentlemen!
Nay, spare this ceremonious form of duty
To him that brings love to you, equal love,
And is in nothing happier than in knowing
It is return'd by you; we are as one.
Sosicles.
I am o'erjoyed! I know not
How to reply; but&151;&151;
Eraton.
Hang all buts! —My lord,
For this your bounteous favour——
Neanthes.
Let me speak——
If to feed vultures here, after the halter
Has done his part, or if there be a hell
To take a swinge or two there, may deserve this——
Sosicles.
We are ready.
Eraton.
Try us any way.
Neanthes.
Put us to it.
Theanor.
What jewels I have in you!
Crates.
Have these souls,
[Aside.
That for a good look, and a few kind words,
Part with their essence?
Theanor.
Since you will compel me
To put that to the trial which I doubt not,
Crates, may be suddenly, will instruct you
How, and in what, to shew your loves: Obey him
As you would bind me to you.
Crates.
'Tis well grounded:
Leave me to rear the building.
Neanthes.
We will do——
Crates.
I know it.
Eraton.
Anything you'll put us to.
[Exeunt.