Act 4, Scene II

Scene: Before the Capitol.

Enter DIOCLESIAN, NIGER, Senators, and Guard.

Talk not of comfort! I have broke my faith,
And the gods fight against me: And proud man,
However magnified, is but as dust
Before the raging whirlwind of their justice.
What is it to be great, adored on earth,
When the immortal powers that are above us
Turn all our blessings into horrid curses,
And laugh at our resistance, or prevention,
Of what they purpose! Oh, the furies that
I feel within me! whipp'd on, by their angers,
For my tormentors! Could it else have been
In nature, that a few poor fugitive Persians,
Unfriended, and unarm'd too, could have robb'd me
(In Rome, the world's metropolis, and her glory;
In Rome, where I command, environ'd round
With such invincible troops that know no fear,
But want of noble enemies) of those jewels
I prized above my life, and I want power
To free them, if those gods I have provoked
Had not given spirit to the undertakers,
And in their deed protected 'em?
Great Cæsar,
Your safety does confirm you are their care;
And that, howe'er their practices reach others,
You stand above their malice.
1 Senator.
Rome in us
Offers (as means to further your revenge)
The lives of her best citizens, and all
They stand possess'd of.
1 Guard.
Do but lead us on
With that invincible and undaunted courage
Which waited bravely on you, when you appear'd
The minion of Conquest, married rather
To glorious Victory, and we will drag
(Though all the enemies of life conspire
Against our undertakings) the proud Persian
Out of his strongest hold.
2 Guard.
Be but yourself,
And do not talk, but do.
3 Guard.
You have hands and swords,
Limbs to make up a well-proportion'd army,
That only want in you an head to lead us.
The gods reward your goodness! and believe,
Howe'er (for some great sin) I am mark'd out
The object of their hate, though Jove stood ready
To dart his threefold thunder on this head,
It could not fright me from a fierce pursuit
Of my revenge. I will redeem my friends,
And, with my friends, mine honour; at least, fall
Like to myself, a soldier.
Now we hear
Great Dioclesian speak.
Draw up our legions:
And let it be your care, my much loved Niger,
To hasten the remove. And, fellow-soldiers,
Your love to me will teach you to endure
Both long and tedious marches.
1 Guard.
Die he accursed,
That thinks of rest or sleep before he sets
His foot on Persian earth!
We know our glory,
The dignity of Rome, and, what's above
All can be urged, the quiet of your mind,
Depends upon our haste.
Remove tonight;
Five days shall bring me to you.
To Cæsar, and glorious victory!
The cheerfulness of my soldiers gives assurance
Of good success abroad, if first I make
My peace at home here. There is something chides me,
And sharply tells me, that my breach of faith
To Delphia and Drusilla is the ground
Of my misfortunes: And I must remember
While I was loved, and in great Delphia's grace,
She was as my good angel, and bound Fortune
To prosper my designs: I must appease her.
Let others pay their knees, their vows, their prayers,
To weak iniagined powers; she is my all,
And thus I do invoke her.—Knowing Delphia,
Thou more than woman! and, though thou vouchsafest
To grace the earth with thy celestial steps,
And taste this grosser air, thy heavenly spirit
Hath free access to all the secret counsels
Which a full senate of the gods determine
When they consider man; the brass-leaved book
Of fate lies open to thee, where thou read'st,
And fashionest the destinies of men
At thy wish'd pleasure; look upon thy creature,
And, as thou twice hast pleased to appear
To reprehend my falsehood, now vouchsafe
To see my low submission!


What's thy will?
False, and unthankful, (and in that deserving
All human sorrows) dar'st thou hope from me
Relief or comfort?
Penitence does appease
The incensed powers, and sacrifice takes off
Their heavy angers: Thus I tender both;
The master of great Rome, and, in that, lord
Of all the sun gives heat and being to,
Thus sues for mercy. Be but as thou wert,
The pilot to the bark of my good fortunes,
And once more steer my actions to the port
Of glorious Honour, and if I fall off
Hereafter from my faith to this sweet virgin,
Join with those powers that punish perjury
To make me an example, to deter
Others from being false!
Upon my soul,
You may believe him! Nor did he e'er purpose
To me but nobly; he made trial how
I could endure unkindness; I see truth
Triumphant in his sorrow. Dearest aunt,
Both credit him, and help him! and, on assurance
That what I plead for you cannot deny,
I raise him thus, and with this willing kiss
I seal his pardon.
Oh, that I e'er look'd
Beyond this abstract of all woman's goodness!
I am thine again; thus I confirm our league.
I know thy wishes, and how much thou suffer'st
In honour for thy friends; thou shalt repair all,
For to thy fleet I'll give a fore-right wind
To pass the Persian Gulf; remove all lets
That may molest thy soldiers in their march
That pass by land; and Destiny is false,
If thou prove not victorious. Yet remember,
When thou art raised up to the highest point
Of human happiness, such as move beyond it
Must of necessity descend. Think on't;
And use those blessings that the gods pour on you
With moderation!
As their oracle,
I hear you and obey you, and will follow
Your grave directions.
You will not repent it.