Act 4, Scene III

Scene: Before the Castle

Enter THEANOR, AGENNOR, and LEONIDAS, on the battlements.

Make good that fortification, and the watch
Keep still upon the battlements. Royal sir,
Weigh but our injuries: we have told you fully
The manner and the matter hales us thus;
Nor shall this upstart mushroom, bred i' th' night,
Sit brooding underneath your mother's wings
His damn'd impieties.
For yourself, brave prince,
Fear nothing that this face of arms presents;
We ask the ravisher, and have no means
To win him from your most indulgent mother
But by this practice.
Stout Leonidas,
Princely Agenor, your wrongs cry so loud,
That whoso would condemn you is not heard;
I blame you not; who but Euphanes durst
Make stories like to this? My wrongs, as strong,
Ask my revengeful arm to strengthen yours;
As for my fear, know you, and Greece throughout,
Our mother was a Spartan princess born,
That never taught me to spell such a word.

Enter EUPHANES and CONON below, with Soldiers.

Sir, you do tempt your life.
Conon, no more.
Do thus, as thou wouldst save it.
[Sound trumpet within.
What trumpet's this?
Beneath I do perceive
Two armed men single, that give us summons
As they would treat.
Let us descend.
[Exeunt from above.
My lord,
I would you would excuse me, and proceed
According to the queen's directions.
As thou wouldst wear that title after death,
Perform my charge.—

Enter below, THEANOR, AGENOR, LEONIDAS, and Soldiers.

Perform my charge.— No soldier, on his life,
Approach us nearer.
Safety to both the princes; loyalty
To you, lord general. The queen, your mistress
As well as ours, though not through fear, to cut
Civil dissention from her land, and save
Much guiltless blood, that uproar ever thirsts,
And for the safeguard of her son, by me
(As you demand) hath sent the lord Euphanes
To plead his own cause, or to suffer death,
As you shall find him worthy; so, delivering
The prince back, I shall leave him to your guard.
The queen is good and gracious: Kiss her hand.
And seal our duties. Sir, depart in peace.
Oh, sir, you now perceive, when in the scales
Nature and fond affection weigh together,
One poises like a feather: and you know, my lords,
What's to be done.
Your highness is unarm'd;
Please you to use mine, and to lead the army
Back to your mother.—Conon, march you with 'em.
I will, my lord.—[Aside.] But not so far as not
To bring you help, if danger look upon you.
[Exeunt THEANOR, CONON, and Soldiers.
Why do you look so strangely, fearfully,
Or stay your deathful hand? Be not so wise
To stop your rage. Look how unmovedly here
I give myself my co,intry's sacrifice,
An innocent sacrifice: Truth laughs at death,
And terrifies the killer more than kill'd;
Integrity thus armless seeks her foes,
And never needs the target nor the sword,
Bow, nor envenom'd shafts.
We are amazed,
Not at your eloquence, but impudence,
That dare thus front us.
Kill him! Who knows not
The iron forehead that bold Mischief weals?
Forbear awhile, Agenor; I do tremble,
And something sits like virtue in his face,
Which the gods keep.
Agenor, strike; Leonidas,
You that have purchased fame on certain grounds,
Lose it on supposition: Smear your hands
In guiltless blood, laugh at my martyrdom
But yet remember, when posterity
Shall read your volumes fill'd with virtuous acts,
And shall arrive at this black bloody leaf,
Noting your foolish barbarism, and my wrong,
(As time shall make it plain) what follows this
Decyphering any noble deed of yours
Shall be quite lost, for men will read no more.
Why, dare you say you are innocent?
By all the gods, as they, of this foul crime.
Why, gentlemen, pry clean thorough my life,
Then weigh these circumstances. Think you that he
Which made day night, and men to furies turn'd,
Durst not trust silence, vizors, nor her sense
That sufferd; but with charms and potions
Cast her asleep, (for all this I've enquired)
Acted the fable of Proserpine's rape,
The place (by all description) like to hell;
And all to perpetrate, unknown, his lust;
Would fondly in his person bring a ring,
And give it a betroth'd wife; i' th' same house
Where the poor injured lady lived and groan'd?
Hell gives us art to reach the depth of sin,
But leaves us wretched fools, when we are in.
Had it given me that art, and left me so,
I would not thus into the lion's jaws
Have thrust myself defenceless, for your good,
The prince's safety, or the commonweal's.
'You know the Queen denied me, and sent us
Commanders to surprise you, and to raze
This tower down; we had power enough to do it,
Or starve you, as you saw, and not to tender
My person to your wrath, which I have done,
Knowing my heart as pure as infants' sleep,
What think you, sir?
No harm, I am sure; I weep.
The gods are just, and mighty. But to give you
Further assurance, and to make yourselves
Judges and witnesses of my innocency,
Let me demand this question; on what night
Was this foul deed committed?
On the eve
Before our marriage meant.
(Your rage being off, that still drowns memory)
Where was yourself and I that very night,
And what our conference?
By the gods, 'tis true
Both in her highness' chamber, conferring
Even of this match until an hour of day,
And then came I to call you. We are shamed!
Utterly lost, and shamed!
Neither: be chear'd;
He, that could find this out, can pardon it.
And know, this ring was sent me from the Queen;
How she came by it, yet is not enquired:
Deeper occurrents hang on't, and pray Heaven
That my suspicions prove as false as yours!
Which for the world (till I have greater proof)
I dare not utter what, nor whom they touch
Only this build upon, with all my nerves
I'll labour with ye, till Time waken Truth.
There are our swords, Sir; turn the points on us.
[They kneel.
Punish rebellion, and revenge your wrong.
Sir, my revenge shall be to make your peace:
Neither was this rebellion, but rash love.

Enter CONON.

How's this? Unarm'd left, now found doubly arm'd?
And those, that would have slain him, at his feet?
Oh, Truth, thou art a miglity conqueress.—
The Queen, my lord, perplex'd in care of you,
That, cross to her command, hazard yourself
In person here is come into the field,
And, like a leader, marches in the head
Of all her troops; vows that she will demolish
Each stone of this proud tower, be you not safe;
She chafes like storms in groves, now sighs, now weeps,
And both sometimes, like rain and wind commix'd;
Abjures her son for ever, 'less himself
Do fetch you off in person, that did give
Yourself to save him of your own free will,
And swears he must not, nor is fit to live.
Oh, she's a mistress for the gods!
And thou
A godlike servant, fit for her.
Wide Greece
May boast, because she cannot boast thy like.
Thus, Conon, tell her highness.
My joy flies!
Let's toward her march. Stern drum, speak gentle peace.
We are prisoners; lead us. Ne'er was known
A precedent like this; one unarm'd man,
Suspected, to captive with golden words
(Truth being his shield) so many arm'dwith swords.