Act 4, Scene IV

Scene: Persia. The Royal Camp.

Enter COSROE, CASSANA, Persians; and CHARINUS, MAXIMINIAN, AURIELIA, bound, with Soldiers and Attendants.

Now, by the Persian gods, most truly welcome!
Encompass'd thus with tributary kings,
I entertain you. Lend your helping hands
To seat her by me; and, thus raised, bow all,
To do her honour.—Oh, my best Cassana,
Sister, and partner of my life and empire,
We'll teach thee to forget, with present pleasures
Thy late captivity; and this proud Roman,
That used thee as a slave, and did disdain
A princely ransom, shall, if she repine,
Be forced by various tortures to adore
What she of late contemn'd.
All greatness ever
Attend Cosroe! Though Persia be styled
The nurse of pomp and pride, we'll leave to Rome
Her native cruelty.—For know, Aurelia,
(A Roman princess, and a Cæsar's sister)
Though late, like thee, captived, I can forget
Thy barbarous usage; and though thou to me,
When I was in thy power, didst shew thyself
A most insulting tyranness, I to thee
May prove a gentle mistress.
Oh, my stars!
A mistress? Can I live, and owe that name
To flesh and blood? I was born to command,
Train'd up in sovereignty; and I, in death,
Can quit the name of slave: She, that scorns life,
May mock captivity.
Rome will be Rome
When we are nothing; and her power's the same,
Which you once quaked at.
Dioclesian lives;
(Hear it, and tremble!) lives, thou king of Persia
The master of his fortune, and his Honour:
And though by devilish arts we were surprised,
And made the prey of magic and of theft,
And not won nobly, we shall be redeem'd,
And by a Roman war; and every wrong
We suffer here, with interest be return'd
On the insulting doer!
1 Persian.
Sure these Romans
Are more than men.
2 Persian.
Their great hearts will not yield;
They cannot bend to any adverse fate,
Such is their confidence.
They then shall break!—
Why, you rebellious wretches, dare you still
Contend, when the least breath or nod of mine
Marks you out for the fire, or to be made
The prey of wolves or vultures? The vain name
Of Roman legions I slight thus, and scorn;
And for that boasted bugbear, Dioclesian,
Which you presume on, would he were the master
But of the spirit to meet me in the field!
He soon should find, that our immortal squadrons,
That with full numbers ever are supplied,
(Could it be possible they should decay)
Dare front his boldest troops, and scatter 'em,
As an high-towering falcon on her stretches
Severs the fearful fowl. And, by the sun,
The moons, the winds, the nourishers of life,
And by this sword, the instrument of death,
Since that you fly not humbly to our mercy,
But yet dare hope your liberty by force,
If Dioclesian dare not attempt
To free you with his sword, all slavery
That cruelty can find out to make you wretched,
Falls heavy on you!
If the sun keeps his course,
And the earth can bear his soldier's march, I fear not.
Or liberty, or revenge
On that I build too.
[A trumpet.
A Roman trumpet?
'Tis: Comes it not like
A pardon to a man condemn'd?

Enter NIGER.

Admit him.—
The purpose of thy coming?
My great master,
The lord of Rome, (in that all power is spoken)
Hoping that thou wilt prove a noble enemy,
And (in thy bold resistance) worth his conquest,
Defies thee, Cosroe.
There is fire in this.
And to encourage thy laborious powers
To tug for empire, dares thee to the field,
With this assurance; if thy sword can win him,
Or force his legions with thy barbed horse
But to forsake their ground, that not alone
Wing'd Victory shall take stand on thy tent,
But all the provinces and kingdoms held
By the Roman garrisons in this eastern world,
Shall be deliver'd up, and he himself
Acknowledge thee his sovereign. In return
Of this large offer, he asks only this,
That till the doubtful die of war determine
Who has most power, and should command the other,
Thou wouldst entreat thy prisoners like their births,
And not their present fortune; and to bring 'em
Guarded into thy tent, with thy best strengths,
Thy ablest men of war, and thou thyself
Sworn to make good the place. And if he fail
(Maugre all opposition can be made)
In his own person to compel his way,
And fetch them safely off, the day is thine,
And he, like these, thy prisoner.
Though I receive this
But as a Roman brave, I do embrace it,
And love the sender. Tell him, I will bring
My prisoners to the field, and, without odds,
Against his single force, alone defend 'em;
Or else with equal numbers. [Exit NIGER.]—Courage, noble princes!
And let posterity record, that we
This memorable day restored to Persia
That empire of the world great Philip's son
Ravish'd from us, and Greece gave up to Rome.
This our strong comfort, that we cannot fall
Ingloriously, since we contend for all.
[Flourish, alarms.