Act 2, Scene II

Scene: The Camp of Aper.

Enter APER, CAMURIUS, Guard, with a Litter covered.

Aper.  
Your care of your sick emperor, fellow-soldiers,
In colours to the life doth shew your love,
And zealous duty: Oh, continue in it!
And though I know you long to see and hear him,
Impute it not to pride or melancholy,
That keeps you from your wishes; such state-vices
(Too, too familiar with great princes) are
Strangers to all the actions of the life
Of good Numerianus. Let your patience
Be the physician to his wounded eyes,
(Wounded with pious sorrow for his father)
Which time and your strong patience will recover,
Provided it prove constant.
[Goes to the Litter.
1 Guard.
If he counterfeit,
[Apart to the other guards.
I will hereafter trust a prodigal heir,
When he weeps at his father's funeral.
2 Guard.
Or a young widow, following a bedrid husband
(After a three years' groaning) to the fire.
3 Guard.
Note his humility, and with what soft murmurs
He does inquire his pleasures.
1 Guard.
And how soon
He is instructed.
2 Guard.
How he bows again too.
Aper.  
All your commands, dread Cæsar, I'll impart
To your most ready soldier, to obey them;
So take your rest in peace. [Turning from the litter to the Guards.]—It is the pleasure
Of mighty Cæsar (his thanks still remember'd
For your long patience, which a donative,
Fitting his state to give, shall quickly follow)
That you continue a strict guard upon
His sacrcd person, and admit no stranger
Of any other legion to come near him;
You being most trusted by him. I receive
Your answer in your silence.—Now, Camurius,
[Apart to him.
Speak without flattery: Hath thy Aper acted
This passion to the life?
Camurius.
I would applaud him,
Were he saluted Cæsar: But I fear
These long-protracted counsels will undo us
And 'tis beyond my reason, he being dead,
You should conceal yourself, or hope it can
Continue undiscovered.
Aper.  
That I have kill'd him,
Yet feed these ignorant fools with hopes he lives,
Has a main end in't. The Pannonian cohorts
(That are my own, and sure) are not come up
The German legions waver; anl Charinus,
Brother to this dead dog, (hell's plagues on Niger!)
Is jealous of the murder, and, I hear,
Is marching up against me. 'Tis not safe,
Till I have power to justify the act,
To shew myself the author: Be therefore careful
For an hour or two (till I have fully sounded
How the tribunes and centurions stand affected)
That none come near the litter. If I find them
Firm on my part, I dare profess myself;
And then, live Aper's equal!
Camurius.
Does not the body
Begin to putrify?
Aper.  
That exacts my haste
When, but even now, I feign'd obedience to it,
As I had some great business to impart,
The scent had almost choak'd me; be therefore curious,
All keep at distance.
Camurius.
I am taught my parts;
Haste you, to perfect yours.
[Enter APER.
1 Guard.
I had rather meet
An enemy i' th'field, than stand thus nodding
Like to a rug-gown'd watchman.

Enter DIOCLES, MAXIMINIAN, and GETA.

Maximinian.
The watch at noon?
This is a new device.
Camurius.
Stand!
Diocles.
I am arm'd
Against all danger.
Maximinian.
If I fear to follow,
A coward's name pursue me!
Diocles.
Now, my fate,
Guide and direct me!
Camurius.
You are rude and saucy,
With your forbidden feet to touch this ground,
Sacred to Cæsar only, and to these
That do attend his person! Speak, what are you?
Diocles.
What thou, nor any of thy faction are,
Nor ever were; soldiers, and honest men.
Camurius.
So blunt?
Geta.  
Nay, you shall find he's good at the sharp too.
Diocles.
No instruments of craft, engines of murder,
That serve the emperor only with oil'd tongues,
Sooth and applaud his vices, play the bawds
To all his appetites; and when you have wrought
So far upon his weakness, that he's grown
Odious to the subject and himself.
And can no further help your wicked ends,
You rid him out o' th' way.
Camurius.
Treason!
Diocles.
'Tis truth,
And I will make it good.
Camurius.
Lay hands upon 'em;
Or kill them suddenly!
Geta.  
I am out at that;
I do not like the sport.
Diocles.
What's he that is
Owner of any virtue worth a Roman,
Or does retain the memory of the oath
He made to Cæsar, that dares lift his sword
Against the man that (careless of his life
Comes to discover such a horrid treason,
As, when you bear't, and understand how long
You have been abused, will run you mad with fury?
I am no stranger, but (like you) a soldier,
Train'd up one from my youth: And there are some
With whom I have served, and (not to praise myself)
Must needs confess they have seen Diocles,
In the late Britain wars, both dare and do
Beyond a common man.
1 Guard.
Diocles?
2 Guard.
I know him
The bravest soldier of the empire.
Camurius.
Stand!
If thou advance an inch, thou art dead.
Diocles.
Die thou,
[Kills CAMURIUS.
That durst oppose thyself against a truth
That will break out, though mountains cover it!
Geta.  
I fear this is a sucking pig, no boar,
He falls so easy.
Diocles.
Hear me, fellow-soldiers;
And if I make it not apparent to you
This is an act of justice, and no murder,
Cut me in pieces. I'll disperse the cloud
That hath so long obscured a bloody act
Ne'er equall'd yet. You all know with what favours
The good Numerianus ever graced
The provost Aper?
Guard.  
True.
Diocles.
And that those bounties
Should have contain'd him (if he e'er had learn'd
The elements of honesty and truth)
In loyal duty: But Ambition never
Looks backward on Desert, but with blind haste
Boldly runs on: But I lose time. You are here
Commanded by this Aper to attend
The emperor's person, to admit no stranger
To have access to him, or come near his litter,
Under pretence, forsooth, his eyes are sore,
And his mind troubled: No, my friends, you are cozen'd
The good Numerianus now is past
The sense of wrong or injury.
[Opens the litter, and discovers the dead body of NUMERIANUS.
Guard.  
How! dead!
Diocles.
Let your own eyes inform you.
Geta.  
An emperor's cabinet?
Fough! I have known a charnel-house smell sweeter.
If emperor's flesh have this savour, what will mine do
When I am rotten?
1 Guard.
Most unheard-of villainy!
2 Guard.
And with all cruelty to be revenged.
3 Guard.
Who is the murderer? Name him, that we may
Punish it in his family.
Diocles.
Who but Aper?
The barbarous and most ingrateful Aper?
His desperate poniard printed on his breast
This deadly wound. Hate to vow'd enemies
Finds a full satisfaction in death,
And tyrants seek no further: He, a subject,
And bound by all the ties of love and duty,
Ended not so; but does deny his prince
(Whose ghost, forbade a passage to his rest,
Mourns by the Stygian shore) his funeral-rites.
Nay, weep not; let your loves speak in your anger
And, to confirm you gave no suffrage to
The damned plot, lend me your helping hands,
To wreak the parricide; and if you find
That there is worth in Diocles to deserve it,
Make him your leader.
Guard.  
A Diocles, a Diocles!
Diocles.
We'll force him from his guards.—And now, my stars,
If you have any good for me in store,
Shew it, when I have slain this fatal Boar!
[Exeunt.