Sejanus His Fall by Ben Jonson - HTML preview
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ACT IISCENE I.---The Garden of EUDEMUS. Enter SEJANUS, LIVIA, and EUDEMUS.
Physician, thou art worthy of a province. For the great favours done unto our loves; And, but that greatest Livia bears a part In the requital of thy services,
I should alone despair of aught, like means, To give them worthy satisfaction.
Eudemus, I will see it, shall receive
A fit and full reward for his large merit.--- But for this potion we intend to Drusus,
No more our husband now, whom shall we choose As the most apt and able instrument,
To minister it to him?
Name not a second.
If Drusus love him, and he have that place, We cannot think a fitter.
True, my lord.
For free access and trust are two main aids.
But he must be wrought
To the undertaking, with some labour'd art.
Send him to me, I'll work him.---Royal lady,
Though I have loved you long, and with that height Of zeal and duty, like the fire, which more
It mounts it trembles, thinking nought could add Unto the fervour which your eye had kindled; Yet, now I see your wisdom, judgment, strength, Quickness, and will, to apprehend the means
To your own good and greatness, I protest
Myself through rarified, and turn'd all flame
In your affection: such a spirit as yours,
Was not created for the idle second
To a poor flash, as Drusus; but to shine
Bright as the moon among the lesser lights,
And share the sov'reignty of all the world.
Then Livia triumphs in her proper sphere,
When she and her Sejanus shall divide
The name of Caesar, and Augusta' s star
Be dimm'd with glory of a brighter beam:
When Agrippina's fires are quite extinct,
And the scarce-soon Tiberius borrows all
His little light from us, whose folded arms
Shall make one perfect orb. [Knocking within.] Who's that! Eudemus, Look. [Exit Eudemus.] 'Tis not Drusus, lady, do not fear.
Not I, my lord: my fear and love of him Left me at once.
Sej. Illustrious lady, stay---
One of your lordship's servants brings you word The emperor hath sent for you.
O! where is he?
With your fair leave, dear princess, I'll but ask A question and return. [Exit.
How are you blest in the fruition
Of this unequall'd man, the soul of Rome, The empire's life, and voice of Caesar's world!
So blessed, my Eudemus, as to know
The bliss I have, with what I ought to owe The means that wrought it. How do I look to-day?
Excellent clear, believe it. This same fucus Was well laid on.
Lend me your scarlet, lady. 'Tis the sun,
Hath giv'n some little taint unto the ceruse;
You should have used of the white oil I gave you.
Sejanus, for your love! his very name
Commandeth above Cupid or his shafts--- [Paints her cheeks.
I'll help it straight---
And but pronounced, is a sufficient charm Against all rumour; and of absolute power To satisfy for any lady's honour.
Liv. What do you now, Eudemus?
Make a light fucus,
To touch you o'er withal.---Honour'd Sejanus! What act, though ne'er so strange and insolent, But that addition will at least bear out, If't do not expiate?
I like this study to preserve the love
Of such a man, that comes not every hour To greet the world.-'Tis now well, lady, you should Use of the dentifrice I prescribed you too, To clear your teeth, and the prepared pomatum, To smooth the skin:---A lady cannot be
Too curious of her form, that still would hold The heart of such a person, made her captive, As you have his: who, to endear him more In your clear eye, hath put away his wife, The trouble of his bed, and your delights, Fair Apicata, and made spacious room
To your new pleasures.
Have not we return'd
That with our hate to Drusus, and discovery Of all his counsels?
Yes, and wisely, lady.
The ages that succeed, and stand far off
To gaze at your high prudence, shall admire, And reckon it an act without your sex:
It hath that rare appearance. Some will think Your fortune could not yield a deeper sound, Than mix'd with Drusus; but, when they shall hear That, and the thunder of Sejanus meet,
Sejanus, whose high name doth strike the stars, And rings about the concave; great Sejanus, Whose glories, style, and titles are himself, The often iterating of Sejanus:
They then will lose their thoughts, and be ashamed To take acquaintance of them.
I must make
A rude departure, lady: Caesar sends
With all his haste both of command and prayer. Be resolute in our plot; you have my soul, As certain yours as it is my body's.
And, wise physician, so prepare the poison, As you may lay the subtile operation
Upon some natural disease of his:
Your eunuch send to me. I kiss your hands, Glory of ladies, and commend my love To your best faith and memory.
I shall but change your words. Farewell.
Yet, this Remember for your heed, he loves you not; You know what I have told you: his designs Are full of grudge and danger; we must use More than a common speed.
How you do fire my blood!
Well, you must go?
The thoughts be best, are least set forth to shew.
I shall, Eudemus: but let Drusus' drug Be first prepared.
Were Lygdus made, that's done;
I have it ready. And to-morrow morning I'll send you a perfume, first to resolve And procure sweat, and then prepare a bath To cleanse and clear the cutis; against when I'll have an excellent new fucus made, Resistive 'gainst the sun, the rain, or wind, Which you shall lay on with a breath, or oil, As you best like, and last some fourteen hours. This change came timely, lady, for your health, And the restoring your complexion,
Which Drusus' choler had almost burnt up! Wherein your fortune hath prescribed you better Than art could do.
Thanks, good physician,
I'll use my fortune, you shall see, with reverence. Is my coach ready?
If this be not revenge, when I have done
And made it perfect, let Egyptian slaves,
Parthians, and bare-foot Hebrews brand my face, And print my body full of injuries.
Thou lost thyself, child Drusus, when thou thoughtst Thou couldst outskip my vengeance; or outstand The power I had to crush thee into air.
Thy follies now shall taste what kind of man They have provoked, and this thy father's house Crack in the flame of my incensed rage,
Whose fury shall admit no shame or mean.--- Adultery! it is the lightest ill
I will commit A race of wicked acts
Shall flow out of my anger, and o'erspread The world's wide face, which no posterity Shall e'er approve, nor yet keep silent: things That for their cunning, close, and cruel mark, Thy father would wish his: and shall, perhaps, Carry the empty name, but we the prize.
On, then, my soul, and start not in thy course; Though heaven drop sulphur, and hell belch out fire, Laugh at the idle terrors; tell proud Jove,
Between his power and thine there is no odds: 'Twas only fear first in the world made gods!
Sit down, my comfort. When the master prince Of all the world, Sejanus, saith he fears, Is it not fatal?
Not, if he wisely turn
That part of fate he holdeth, first on them.
The rest of poor respects, then, let go by; State is enough to make the act just, them guilty.
Whom hatred frights,
Let him not dream of sovereignty.
Of faith, love, piety, to be trod down, Forgotten, and made vain?
All for a crown.
The prince who shames a tyrant's name to bear, Shall never dare do any thing, but fear; All the command of sceptres quite doth perish, If it begin religious thoughts to cherish: Whole empires fall, sway'd by those nice respects; It is the license of dark deeds protects
Ev'n states most hated, when no laws resist The sword. but that it acteth what it list.
Yet so, we may do all things cruelly, Not safely.
Or else my thought, my sense, or both do err: 'Tis Agrippina.
Proud! dangerous, Caesar: for in them apace The father's spirit shoots up. Germanicus
Lives in their looks, their gait, their form, t' upbraid us With his close death, if not revenge the same.
Not proved: but whispering Fame
Knowledge and proof doth to the jealous give, Who, than to fail, would their own thought believe. It is not safe, the children draw long breath, That are provoked by a parent's death.
It is as dangerous to make them hence, If nothing but their birth be their offence.
Stay, till they strike at Caesar; then their crime Will be enough; but late and out of time For him to punish.
You know, sir, thunder speaks not till it hit.
Be not secure; none swiftlier are opprest,
Than they whom confidence betrays to rest.
Let not your daring make your danger such:
All power is to be fear'd, where 'tis too much. The youths are of themselves hot, violent,
Full of great thought; and that male-spirited dame, Their mother, slacks no means to put them on, By large allowance, popular presentings,
Increase of train and state, suing for titles;
Hath them commended with like prayers, like vows, To the same gods, with Caesar: days and nights She spends in banquets and ambitious feasts For the nobility; where Caius Silius,
Titius Sabinus, old Arruntius,
Asinius Gallus, Furnius, Regulus,
And others of that discontented list,
Are the prime guests. There, and to these, she tells Whose niece she was, whose daughter, and whose wife. And then must they compare her with Augusta, Ay, and prefer her too; commend her form,
Extol her fruitfulness; at which a shower
Falls for the memory of Germanicus,
Which they blow over straight with windy praise, And puffing hopes of her aspiring sons;
Who, with these hourly ticklings, grow so pleased, And wantonly conceited of themselves,
As now, they stick not to believe they're such As these do give them out; and would be thought More than competitors, immediate heirs.
Whilst to their thirst of rule, they win the rout (That's still the friend of novelty) with hope
Of future freedom, which on every change
That greedily, though emptily expects.
Caesar, 'tis age in all things breeds neglects, And princes that will keep old dignity
Must not admit too youthful heirs stand by;
Not their own issue; but so darkly set
As shadows are in picture, to give height
And lustre to themselves.
We will command
Their rank thoughts down, and with a stricter hand Than we have yet put forth; their trains must bate, Their titles, feasts, and factions.
Or your state.
But how, sir, will you work!
They are too great, and that too faint a blow To give them now; it would have serv'd at first, When with the weakest touch their knot had burst. But, now, your care must be, not to detect
The smallest cord, or line of your suspect; For such, who know the weight of prince's fear, Will, when they find themselves discover'd, rear Their forces, like seen snakes, that else would lie Roll'd in their circles, close: nought is more high, Daring, or desperate, than offenders found; Where guilt is, rage and courage both abound. The course must be, to let them still swell up, Riot, and surfeit on blind fortune's cup;
Give them more place, more dignities, more style, Call them to court, to senate; in the while, Take from their strength some one or twain, or more, Of the main factors, (it will fright the store,) And, by some by-occasion. Thus, with slight You shall disarm them first; and they, in night Of their ambition, not perceive the train,
Till in the engine they are caught and slain.
We would not kill, if we knew how to save; Yet, than a throne, 'tis cheaper give a grave. Is there no way to bind them by deserts?
Sir, wolves do change their hair, but not their hearts. While thus your thought unto a mean is tied, You neither dare enough, nor do provide.
All modesty is fond: and chiefly where
The subject is no less compell'd to bear,
Than praise his sovereign's acts.
We can no longer
Keep on our mask to thee, our dear Sejanus; Thy thoughts are ours, in all, and we but proved Their voice, in our designs, which by assenting Hath more confirm'd us, than if beart'ning Jove Had, from his hundred statues, bid us strike, And at the stroke click'd all his marble thumbs. But who shall first be struck?
First Caius Silius;
He is the most of mark, and most of danger: In power and reputation equal strong,
Having commanded an imperial army
Seven years together, vanquish'd Sacrovir In Germany, and thence obtain'd to wear The ornaments triumphal. His steep fall, By how much it doth give the weightier crack, Will send more wounding terror to the rest, Command them stand aloof, and give more way To our surprising of the principal.
Let him grow a while,
His fate is not yet ripe: we must not pluck At all together, lest we catch ourselves. And there's Arruntius too, he only talks. But Sosia, Silius' wife, would be wound in Now, for she hath a fury in her breast, More than hell ever knew; and would be sent Thither in time. Then is there one Cremutius Cordus, a writing fellow, they have got To gather notes of the precedent times, And make them into Annals; a most tart And bitter spirit, I hear; who, under colour Of praising those, doth tax the present state, Censures the men, the actions, leaves no trick, No practice unexamined, parallels
The times, the governments; a profest champion For the old liberty-
A perishing wretch! As if there were that chaos bred in things, That laws and liberty would not rather choose To be quite broken, and ta'en hence by us, Than have the stain to be preserved by such. Have we the means to make these guilty first?
Trust that to me: let Caesar, by his power But cause a formal meeting of the senate, I will have matter and accusers ready.
We shall misspend
The time of action. Counsels are unfit In business, where all rest is more pernicious Than rashness can be. Acts of this close kind Thrive more by execution than advice. There is no lingering in that work begun, Which cannot praised be, until through done.
Our edicts shall forthwith command a court. While I can live, I will prevent earth's fury:
Come with my wish! What news from Agrippina's?
Faith, none. They all lock up themselves a' late, Or talk in character; I have not seen
A company so changed. Except they had Intelligence by augury of our practice.---
And yet we offer'd choice of argument. Satrius was with me.
Well: 'tis guilt enough
Their often meeting. You forgot to extol The hospitable lady?
No; that trick
Was well put home, and had succeeded too, But that Sabinus cough'd a caution out; For she began to swell.
And may she burst!
Julius, I would have you go instantly
Unto the palace of the great Augusta,
And, by your kindest friend, get swift access; Acquaint her with these meetings: tell the words You brought me the other day, of Silius, Add somewhat to them. Make her understand The danger of Sabinus, and the times,
Out of his closeness. Give Arruntius' words Of malice against Caesar; so, to Gallus: But, above all, to Agrippina. Say,
As you may truly, that her infinite pride, Propt with the hopes of her too fruitful womb, With popular studies gapes for sovereignty, And threatens Caesar. Pray Augusta then, That for her own, great Caesar's, and the public safety, she be pleased to urge these dangers. Caesar is too secure, he must be told,
And best he'll take it from a mother's tongue. Alas! what is't for us to sound, to explore, To watch, oppose, plot, practise, or prevent, If he, for whom it is so strongly labour'd, Shall, out of greatness and free spirit, be Supinely negligent? our city's now
Divided as in time o' the civil war,
And men forbear not to declare themselves Of Agrippina's party. Every day
The faction multiplies; and will do more, If not resisted: you can best enlarge it, As you find audience. Noble Posthumus, Commend me to your Prisca: and pray her, She will solicit this great business,
To earnest and most present execution, With all her utmost credit with Augusta.
This second, from his mother, will well urge Our late design, and spur on Caesar's rage;
Which else might grow remiss. The way to put A prince in blood, is to present the shapes
Of dangers, greater than they are, like late,
Or early shadows; and, sometimes, to feign
Where there are none, only to make him fear? His fear will make him cruel: and once enter'd, He doth not easily learn to stop, or spare
Where he may doubt. This have I made my rule, To thrust Tiberius into tyranny,
And make him toil, to turn aside those blocks, Which I alone could not remove with safety, Drusus once gone, Germanicus' three sons
Would clog my way; whose guards have too much faith To be corrupted: and their mother known
Of too, too unreproved a chastity,
To be attempted, as light Livia was.
Work then, my art, on Caesar's fears, as they On those they fear 'till all my lets be clear'd, And he in ruins of his house, and hate
Of all his subjects, bury his own state;
When with my peace and safety, I will rise,
By making him the public sacrifice. [Exit.
They have us in the wind: and yet Arruntius Cannot contain himself.
Tut, he's not yet
Look'd after; there are others more desired That are more silent.
How is it, that these beagles haunt the house Of Agrippina?
O, they hunt, they hunt!
There is some game here lodged, which they must rouse, To make the great ones sport.
Did you observe
How they inveigh'd 'gainst Caesar?
Ay, baits, baits,
For us to bite at: would I have my flesh Torn by the public hook, these qualified hangmen Should be my company.
Ay, there's a man, Afer the orator!
One that hath phrases, figures, and fine flowers, To strew his rhetoric with, and doth make haste, To get him note, or name, by any offer
Where blood or gain be objects; steeps his words, When he would kill, in artificial tears:
The crocodile of Tyber! him I love,
That man is mine; he hath my heart and voice When I would curse! he, he.
Contemn the slaves,
Their present lives will be their future graves. [Exeunt SCENE IV.-Another Apartment in the same.
May't please your highness not forget yourself; I dare not, with my manners, to attempt Your trouble farther.
She is your servant, and doth owe your grace An honest, but unprofitable love.
You take the moral, not the politic sense.
I meant, as she is bold, and free of speech,
Earnest to utter what her zealous thought
Travails withal, in honour of your house;
Which act, as it is simply born in her,
Partakes of love and honesty; but may,
By the over-often, and unseason'd use,
Turn to your loss and danger: for your state Is waited on by envies, as by eyes;
And every second guest your tables take
Is a fee'd spy, to observe who goes, who comes; What conference you have, with whom, where, when. What the discourse is, what the looks, the thoughts Of every person there, they do extract,
And make into a substance.
Hear me, Silius.
Were all Tiberius' body stuck with eyes, And every wall and hanging in my house Transparent, AS this lawn I wear, or air; Yea, had Sejanus both his ears as long As to my inmost closet, I would hate To whisper any thought, or change an act, To be made Juno's rival. Virtue's forces Shew ever noblest in conspicuous courses.
'Tis great, and bravely spoken, like the spirit Of Agrippina: yet, your highness knows, There is nor loss nor shame in providence; Few can, what all should do, beware enough. You may perceive with what officious face, Satrius, and Natta, Afer, and the rest.
Visit your house, of late, to enquire the secrets; And with what bold and privileged art, they rail Against Augusta, yea, and at Tiberius; Tell tricks of Livia, and Sejanus; all
To excite, and call your indignation on, That they might hear it at more liberty.
Pray the gods,
I be so, Agrippina; but I fear
Some subtle practice. They that durst to strike At so exampless, and unblamed a life, As that of the renowned Germanicus, Will not sit down with that exploit alone: He threatens many that hath injured one.
'Twere best rip forth their tongues, sear out their eyes. When next they come.
Sos . A fit reward for spies.
Enter Drusus, jun.
Dru. jun. Hear you the rumour?
One met Eudemus the physician,
Sent for, but now; who thinks he cannot live.
Thinks! if it be arrived at that, he knows, Or none.
Nay, nothing. There was late a certain blow Given o' the face.
Yes, private meetings,
With a great lady [sir], at a physician's, And a wife turn'd away.
Toys, mere toys:
What wisdom's now in th' streets, in the common mouth?
Dru . fun.
Fears, whisperings, tumults, noise, I know not what: They say the Senate sit.
I'll thither straight;
And see what's in the forge.
Haste you, my lords, I
To visit the sick prince; tender your loves,
And sorrows to the people. This Sejanus,
Trust my divining soul, hath plots on all:
No tree, that stops his prospect, but must fall. [Exeunt.
ACT IIISCENE I.-The Senate-House Enter Praenes, Lictores, SEJANUS, VARRO, LATIARIS, COTTA, and AFER
'Tis only you must urge against him, Varro; Nor I nor Caesar may appear therein,
Except in your defence, who are the consul; And, under colour of late enmity
Between your father and his, may better do it, As free from all suspicion of a practice. Here be your notes, what points to touch at; read: Be cunning in them. Afer has them too.
No. It was debated
By Caesar, and concluded as most fit To take him unprepared.
All under name of treason.
Var. I conceive.
Enter SABINUS, GALLUS, LEPIDUS, and ARRUNTIUS.
Sab. Drusus being dead, Caesar will not be here.
That can my subtle whisperers tell you: we That are the good-dull-noble lookers on, Are only call'd to keep the marble warm. What should we do with those deep mysteries, Proper to these fine heads? let them alone. Our ignorance may, perchance, help us be saved From whips and furies.
Ay, now their heads do travail, now they work; Their faces run like shittles; they are weaving Some curious cobweb to catch flies.
They take their places.
They must be seen to flatter Caesar's grief, Though but in sitting.
Fathers conseript, may this our present meeting, Turn fair, and fortunate to the common-wealth!
Silius, forbear thy place.
Silius, stand forth,
The consul hath to charge thee.
Sab. Silius accused! sure he will answer nobly. Enter TIBERIUS, attended.
We stand amazed, fathers, to behold
This general dejection. Wherefore sit
Rome's consuls thus dissolved, as they had lost All the remembrance both of style and place It not becomes. No woes are of fit weight, To make the honour of the empire stoop: Though I, in my peculiar self, may meet Just reprehension, that so suddenly,
And, in so fresh a grief, would greet the senate, When private tongues, of kinsmen and allies, Inspired with comforts, lothly are endured, The face of men not seen, and scarce the day, To thousands that communicate our loss. Nor can I argue these of weakness; since They take but natural ways; yet I must seek For stronger aids, and those fair helps draw out From warm embraces of the common-wealth. Our mother, great Augusta, 's struck with time, Our self imprest with aged characters,
Drusus is gone, his children young and babes; Our aims must now reflect on those that may Give timely succour to these present ills, And are our only glad-surviving hopes, The noble issue of Germanicus,
Nero and Drusus: might it please the consul Honour them in, they both attend without. I would present them to the senate's care, And raise those suns of joy that should drink up These floods of sorrow in your drowned eyes.
By Jove, I am not OEdipus enough To understand this Sphynx.
Sab . The princes come.
Enter NERO, and DRUSUS, junior.
Approach you, noble Nero, noble Drusus.
These princes, fathers, when their parent died, I gave unto their uncle, with this prayer,
That though he had proper issue of his own, He would no less bring up, and foster these, Than that self-blood; and by that act confirm Their worths to him, and to posterity.
Drusus ta'en hence, I turn my prayers to you, And 'fore our country, and our gods, beseech You take, and rule Augustus' nephew's sons, Sprung of the noblest ancestors; and so
Accomplish both my duty, and your own,
Nero, and Drusus, these shall be to you
In place of parents, these your fathers, these; And not unfitly: for you are so born,
As all your good, or ill's the common-wealth's. Receive them, you strong guardians; and blest gods, Make all their actions answer to their bloods: Let their great titles find increase by them, Not they by titles. Set them as in place,
So in example, above all the Romans:
And may they know no rivals but themselves. Let Fortune give them nothing; but attend
Upon their virtue: and that still come forth Greater than hope, and better than their fame. Relieve me, fathers, with your general voice.
May all the gods consent to Caesar's wish, And add to any honours that may crown The hopeful issue of Germanicus
If this were true now! but the space, the space Between the breast and lips---Tiberius' heart Lies a thought further than another man's. [Aside.
My comforts are so flowing in my joys,
As, in them, all my streams of grief are lost, No less than are land-waters in the sea,
Or showers in rivers; though their cause was such, As might have sprinkled ev'n the gods with tears: Yet, since the greater doth embrace the less, We covetously obey.
And now I am the happy witness made
Of your so much desired affections
To this great issue, I could wish, the
Fates Would here set peaceful period to my days; However to my labours, I entreat,
And beg it of this senate, some fit ease.
Arr . Laugh, fathers, laugh: have you no spleens about you? [Aside.
The burden is too heavy I sustain
On my unwilling shoulders; and I pray
It may be taken off, and reconferred
Upon the consuls, or some other Roman,
More able, and more worthy.
It takes away my faith to any thing, He shall hereafter speak.
Ay, to pray that,
Which would be to his head as hot as thunder, 'Gainst which he wears that charm should but the court Receive him at his word.
I know my weakness, and so little covet,
Like some gone past, the weight that will oppress me, As my ambition is the counter-point.
But Rome, whose blood,
Whose nerves, whose life, whose very frame relies On Caesar's strength, no less than heaven on Atlas, Cannot admit it but with general ruin.
No more then urge a point so contrary
To Caesar's greatness, the grieved senate's vows, Or Rome's necessity.
For the publick,
I may he drawn to shew I can neglect All private aims, though I affect my rest; But if the senate still command me serve, I must be glad to practise my obedience.
Live long and happy, great and royal Caesar; The gods preserve thee and thy modesty, Thy wisdom and thy innocence
The prayer is made before the subject. [Aside.
His meekness, Jove; his piety, his care, His bounty---
And his subtility, I'll put in:
Yet he'll keep that himself, without the gods. All prayers are vain for him.
We will not hold
Your patience, fathers, with long answer; but Shall still contend to be what you desire, And work to satisfy so great a hope. Proceed to your affairs.
Now, Silius, guard thee;
The curtain's drawing. Afer advanceth. [Aside.
The triumph that thou hadst in Germany For thy late victory on Sacrovir,
Thou hast enjoy'd so freely, Caius Silius, As no man it envied thee; nor would Caesar, Or Rome admit, that thou wert then defrauded Of any honours thy deserts could claim, In the fair service of the common-wealth: But now, if, after all their loves and graces, (Thy actions, and their courses being discover'd) It shall appear to Caesar and this senate, Thou hast defiled those glories with thy crimes---
Tell thy mule of patience;
I am a Roman. What are my crimes? proclaim them. Am I too rich, too honest for the times?
Have I or treasure, jewels, land, or houses That some informer gapes for? is my strength Too much to be admitted, or my knowledge? These now are crimes.
Nay, Silius, if the name
Of crime so touch thee, with what impotence Wilt thou endure the matter to be search'd?
I tell thee, Afer, with more scorn than fear: Employ your mercenary tongue and art. Where's my accuser?
Varro, the consul!
Is he thrust in? [Aside.
'Tis I accuse thee, Silius.
Against the majesty of Rome, and Caesar, I do pronounce thee here a guilty cause,
First of beginning and occasioning,
Next, drawing out the war in Gallia,
For which thou late triumph'st; dissembling long That Sacrovir to be an enemy,
Only to make thy entertainment more.
Whilst thou, and thy wife Sosia, poll'd the province: Wherein, with sordid, base desire of gain, Thou hast discredited thy actions' worth,
And been a traitor to the state.
If I not prove it, Caesar, but unjustly
Have call'd him into trial; here I bind
Myself to suffer, what I claim against him; And yield to have what I have spoke, confirm'd By judgment of the court, and all good men.
Caesar, I crave to have my cause deferr'd, Till this man's consulship be out.
Nor may we grant it.
Why? shall he design
My day of trial? Is he my accuser, And must he be my judge?
It hath been usual,
And is a right that custom hath allow'd The magistrate, to call forth private men; And to appoint their day: which privilege We may not in the consul see infringed, By whose deep watches, and industrious care It is so labour'd, as the common-wealth Receive no loss, by any oblique course.
Silius, mistake us not, we dare not use The credit of the consul to thy wrong; But only to preserve his place and power, So far as it concerns the dignity
And honour of the state.
I say so.
And he may choose too.
By the Capitol,
And all our gods, but that the dear republic, Our sacred laws, and just authority Are interess'd therein, I should be silent.
'Please Caesar to give way unto his trial, He shall have justice.
Nay, I shall have law; Shall I not, Afer? speak.
No, my well-spoken man, I would no more; Nor less: might I enjoy it natural, .
Not taught to speak unto your present ends, Free from thine, his, and all your unkind handling, Furious enforcing, most unjust presuming, Malicious, and manifold applying,
Foul wresting, and impossible construction.
Thou durst not tell me so,
Hadst thou not Crease's warrant. I can see Whose power condemns me.
This betrays his spirit:
This doth enough declare him what he is.
Because I am an enemy to thee,
And such corrupted ministers o' the state, That here art made a present instrument To gratify it with thine own disgrace.
This, to the consul, is most insolent, And impious.
Ay, take part. Reveal yourselves,
Alas! I scent not your confederacies, Your plots, and combinations! I not know Minion Sejanus hates me: and that all, This boast of law, and law, is but a form, A net of Vulcan's filing, a mere ingine, To take that life by a pretext of justice, Which you pursue in malice! I want brain, Or nostril to persuade me, that your ends, And purposes are made to what they are, Before my answer! O, you equal gods, Whose justice not a world of wolf-turn'd men Shall make me to accuse, howe'er provoked; Have I for this so oft engaged myself? Stood in the heat and fervour of a fight,
When Phoebus sooner hath forsook the day Than I the field, against the blue-eyed Gauls, And crisped Germans? when our Roman eagles Have fann'd the fire, with their labouring wings, And no blow dealt, that left not death behind it? When I have charged, alone, into the troops Of curl'd Sicambrians, routed them, and came Not off, with backward ensigns of a slave; But forward marks, wounds on my breast and face, Were meant to thee, O Caesar, and thy Rome? And have I this return! did I, for this,
Perform so noble and so brave defeat
On Sacrovir! O Jove, let it become me
To boast my deeds, when he whom they concern, Shall thus forget them.
These are the common customs of thy blood, When it is high with wine, as now with rage: This well agrees with that intemperate vaunt, Thou lately mad'st at Agrippina's table,
That, when all other of the troops were prone To fall into rebellion, only thine
Remain'd in their obedience. Thou wert he That saved the empire, which had then been lost Had but thy legions, there, rebell'd, or mutined; Thy virtue met, and fronted every peril.
Thou gav'st to Caesar, and to Rome their surety; Their name, their strength, their spirit, and their state, Their being was a donative from thee.
Save thy question, Caesar;
Thy spy of famous credit hath affirm'd it.
If this be so, there needs no farther cause Of crime against him.
What can more impeach
The royal dignity and state of Caesar, Than to be urged with a benefit He cannot pay?
In this, all Ceesar's fortune Is made unequal to the courtesy.
Come, do not hunt,
And labour so about for circumstance,
To make him guilty whom you have foredoom'd: Take shorter ways, I'll meet your purposes. The words were mine, and more I now will say: Since I have done thee that great service, Caesar, Thou still hast fear'd me; and in place of grace, Return'd me hatred: so soon all best turns, With doubtful princes, turn deep injuries
In estimation, when they greater rise
Than can be answer'd. Benefits, with you, Are of no longer pleasure, than you can
With ease restore them; that transcended once, Your studies are not how to thank, but kill. It is your nature, to have all men slaves
To you, but you acknowledging to none.
The means that make your greatness, must not come In mention of it; if it do, it takes
So much away, you think: and that which help'd, Shall soonest perish, if it stand in eye,
Where it may front, or but upbraid the high.
Stay, most officious senate, I shall straight
Delude thy fury. Silius hath not placed
His guards within him, against fortune's spite, So weakly, but he can escape your gripe
That are but hands of fortune: she herself,
When virtue doth oppose, must lose her threats! All that can happen in humanity,
The frown of Caesar, proud Sejanus' hatred,
Base Varro's spleen, and Afer's bloodying tongue, The senate's servile flattery, and these
Muster'd to kill, I'm fortified against;
And can look down upon: they are beneath me. It is not life whereof I stand enamour'd;
Nor shall my end make me accuse my fate.
The coward and the valiant man must fall,
Only the cause and manner how, discerns them: Which then are gladdest, when they cost us dearest. Romans, if any here be in this senate,
Would know to mock Tiberius' tyranny,
Look upon Silius, and so learn to die. [Stabs himself.
My thought did prompt him to it. Farewell. Silius. Be famous ever for thy great example.
We are not pleased in this sad accident, That thus hath stalled, and abused our mercy, Intended to preserve thee, noble Roman, And to prevent thy hopes.
Now he is full he howls. [Aside,
Caesar doth wrong
His dignity and safety thus to mourn The deserv'd end of so profest a traitor, And doth, by this his lenity, instruct Others as factious to the like offence.
The confiscation merely of his state Had been enough.
Let her be proscribed:
And for the goods, I think it fit that half Go to the treasure, half unto the children.
With leave of Caesar, I would think that fourth, The which the law doth cast on the informers, Should be enough; the rest go to the children. Wherein the prince shall shew humanity, And bounty; not to force them by their want, Which in their parents' trespass they deserv'd, To take ill courses.
Out of necessity. This Lepidus
Is grave and honest, and I have observed A moderation still in all his censures.
More blood into the banquet! Noble Cordus, I wish thee good: be as thy writings, free, And honest.
Pinnarius Natta, you are his accusers.
Two of Sejanus' blood-hounds, whom he breeds With human flesh, to bay at citizens.
I do accuse thee here, Cremutius Cordus, To be a man factious and dangerous,
A sower of sedition in the state,
A turbulent and discontented spirit,
Which I will prove from thine own writings, here, The Annals thou hast publish'd; where thou bit'st The present age, and with a viper's tooth, Being a member of it, dar'st that ill
Which never yet degenerous bastard did Upon his parent.
To this, I subscribe;
And, forth a world of more particulars, Instance in only one: comparing men, And times, thou praisest Brutus, and affirm'st That Cassius was the last of all the Romans.
My lords, this strikes at every Roman's private, In whom reigns gentry, and estate of spirit,
To have a Brutus brought in parallel,
A parricide, an enemy of his country,
Rank'd, and preferr'd to any real worth
That Rome now holds. This is most strangely invective, Most full of spite, and insolent upbraiding.
Nor is't the time alone is here disprised,
But the whole man of time, yea, Caesar's self Brought in disvalue; and he aimed at most,
By oblique glance of his licentious pen.
Caesar, if Cassius were the last of Romans,
Thou hast no name.
So innocent I am of fact, my lords,
As but my words are argued: yet those words Not reaching either prince or prince's parent: The which your law of treason comprehends. Brutus and Cassius I am charged to have praised; Whose deeds, when many more, besides myself, Have writ, not one hath mention'd without honour. Great Titus Livius, great for eloquence,
And faith amongst us, in his history,
With so great praises Pompey did extol, As oft Augustus call'd him a Pompeian:
Yet this not hurt their friendship. In his book He often names Scipio, Afranius,
Yea, the same Cassius, and this Brutus too, As worthiest men; not thieves and parricides, Which notes upon their fames are now imposed. Asinius Pollio's writings quite throughout Give them a noble memory; so Messala
Renown'd his general Cassius: yet both these Lived with Augustus, full of wealth and honours, To Cicero's book, where Cato was heav'd up Equal with Heaven, what else did Caesar answer, Being then dictator, but with a penn'd oration, As if before the judges? Do but see
Antonius' letters; read but Brutus' pleadings: What vile reproach they hold against Augustus, False, I confess, but with much bitterness. The epigrams of Bibaculus and Catullus Are read, full stuft with spite of both the Caesars; Yet deified Julius, and no less Augustus, Both bore them, and contemn'd them: I not know, Promptly to speak it, whether done with more Temper, or wisdom; for such obloquies
If they despised be, they die supprest;
But if with rage acknowledg'd, they are confest. The Greeks I slip, whose license not alone, But also lust did scape unpunished:
Or where some one, by chance, exception took, He words with words revenged. But, in my work, What could be aim'd more free, or farther off From the time's scandal, than to write of those, Whom death from grace or hatred had exempted? Did I, with Brutus and with Cassius,
Arm'd, and possess'd of the Philippi fields, Incense the people in the civil cause,
With dangerous speeches? Or do they, being slain Seventy years since, as by their images,
Which not the conqueror hath defaced, appears, Retain that guilty memory with writers?
Posterity pays every man his honour;
Nor shall there want, though I condemned am, That will not only Cassius well approve, And of great Brutus' honour mindful be, But that will also mention make of me.
With good temper;
I like him, that he is not moved with passion.
Take him hence;
We shall determine of him at next sitting.
Mean time, give order, that his books be burnt, To the aediles.
It fits not such licentious things should live T'upbraid the age.
Prae . The court is up; lictors, resume the fasces. [Exeunt all but Arruntius, Sabinus, and Lepidus.
Let them be burnt! O, how ridiculous
Appears the senate's brainless diligence,
Who think they can, with present power, extinguish The memory of all succeeding times!
'Tis true; when, contrary, the punishment Of wit, doth make the authority increase. Nor do they aught, that use this cruelty Of interdiction, and this rage of burning, But purchase to themselves rebuke and shame, And to the writers an eternal name.
It is an argument the times are sore, When virtue cannot safely be advanced; Nor vice reproved.
Ay, noble Lepidus;
Augustus well foresaw what we should suffer
Under Tiberius, when he did pronounce
The Roman race most wretched, that should live Between so slow jaws, and so long a bruising. [Exeunt. SCENE II.---A Room in the Palace.
This business hath succeeded well, Sejanus, And quite removed all jealousy of practice 'Gainst Agrippina, and our nephews. Now, We must bethink us how to plant our ingine, For th' other pair, Sabinus and Arruntius, And Gallus too: howe'er he flatter us, His heart we know.
Give it some respite, Caesar.
Time shall mature, and bring to perfect crown, What we, with so good vultures have begun: Sabinus shall be next.
By any means, preserve him. His frank tongue Being let the reins, would take away all thought Of malice, in your course against the rest: We must keep him to stalk with.
To thy most fortunate design I yield it.
Sir,---I have been so long train'd up in grace, First with your father, great Augustus; since, With your most happy bounties so familiar As I not sooner would commit my hopes Or wishes to the gods. than to your ears. Nor have I ever, yet, been covetous
Of over-bright and dazzling honour; rather To watch and travail in great Caesar's safety, With the most common soldier.
The only gain, and which I count most fair Of all my fortunes, is, that mighty Caesar Has thought me worthy his alliance. Hence Begin my hopes.
I have heard, Augustus,
In the bestowing of his daughter, thought But even of gentlemen of Rome: if so,--- I know not how to hope so great a favour--- But if a husband should be sought for Livia, And I be had in mind, as Caesar's friend, I would but use the glory of the kindred: It should not make me slothful, or less caring For Caesar's state: it were enough to me It did confirm, and strengthen my weak house, Against the now unequal opposition
Of Agrippina; and for dear regard
Unto my children, this I wish: myself Have no ambition farther than to end My days in service of so dear a master.
We cannot but commend thy piety,
Most loved Sejanus, in acknowledging
Those bounties; which we, faintly, such remember--- But to thy suit. The rest of mortal men,
In all their drifts and counsels, pursue profit; Princes alone are of a different sort,
Directing their main actions still to fame:
We therefore will take time to think and answer. For Livia she can best, herself, resolve
If she will marry, after Drusus, or
Continue in the family; besides,
She hath a mother, and a grandam yet,
Whose nearer counsels she may guide her by: But I will simply deal. That enmity
Thou fear'st in Agrippina, would burn more, If Livia's marriage should, as 'twere in parts, Divide the imperial house; an emulation
Between the women might break forth; and discord Ruin the sons and nephews on both hands. What if it cause some present difference?
Thou art not safe, Sejanus, if thou prove it. Canst thou believe, that Livia, first the wife To Caius Caesar, then my Drusus, now
Will be contented to grow old with thee,
Born but a private gentleman of Rome,
And raise thee with her loss, if not her shame? Or say that I should wish it, canst thou think The senate, or the people (who have seen
Her brother, father, and our ancestors,
In highest place of empire) will endure it!
The state thou hold'st already, is in talk;
Men murmur at thy greatness; and the noble! Stick not, in public, to upbraid thy climbing Above our father's favours, or thy scale:
And dare accuse me, from their hate to thee. Be wise, dear friend. We would not hide these things, For friendship's dear respect: Nor will we stand Adverse to thine, or Livia's designments.
What we have purposed to thee, in our thought, And with what near degrees of love to bind thee, And make thee equal to us; for the present, We will forbear to speak. Only thus much
Believe, our loved Sejanus, we not know
That height in blood or honour, which thy virtue And mind to us, may not aspire with merit. And this we'll publish on all watch'd occasion The senate or the people shall present.
I am restored, and to my sense again, Which I had lost in this so blinding suit. Caesar hath taught me better to refuse, Than I knew how to ask. How pleaseth Caesar T' embrace my late advice for leaving Rome!
Here are some motives more, [Gives him a paper Which I have thought on since, may more confirm.
Careful Sejanus! we will straight peruse them: Go forward in our main design, and prosper. [Exit.
If those but take, I shall. Dull, heavy Caesar! Wouldst thou tell me, thy favours were made crimes, And that my fortunes were esteem'd thy faults, That thou for me wert hated, and not think
I would with winged haste prevent that change, When thou might'st win all to thyself again,
By forfeiture of me! Did those fond words
Fly swifter from thy lips, than this my brain, This sparkling forge, created me an armour
T' encounter chance and thee? Well, read my charms, And may they lay that hold upon thy senses, As thou hadst snuft up hemlock, or ta'en down The juice of poppy and of mandrakes. Sleep, Voluptuous Caesar, and security
Seize on 'thy stupid powers, and leave them dead To public cares; awake but to thy lusts,
The strength of which makes thy libidinous soul Itch to leave Rome! and I have thrust it on;
With blaming of the city business,
The multitude of suits, the confluence
Of suitors; then their importunacies,
The manifold distractions he must suffer,
Besides ill-rumours, envies, and reproaches, All which a quiet and retired life,
Larded with ease and pleasure, did avoid:
And yet for any weighty and great affair,
The fittest place to give the soundest counsels. By this I shall remove him both from thought And knowledge of his own most dear affairs; Draw all dispatches through my private hands; Know his designments, and pursue mine own; Make mine own strengths by giving suits and places. Conferring dignities and offices;
And these that hate me now, wanting access
To him, will make their envy none, or less:
For when they see me arbiter of all,
They must observe; or else, with Caesar fall. [Exit
To marry Livia! will no less, Sejanus,
Content thy aim? no lower object? well! Thou know'st how thou art wrought into our trust; Woven in our design; and think'st we must Now use thee, whatsoe'er thy projects are: 'Tis true. But yet with caution and fit care. And, now we better think---who's there within? Enter an Officer.
To leave our journey off, were sin
'Gainst our decreed delights; and would appear Doubt; or, what less becomes a prince, low fear. Yet doubt hath law, and fears have their excuse. Where princes' states plead necessary use;
As ours doth now: more in Sejanus' pride,
Than all fell Agrippina's hates beside.
Those are the dreadful enemies we raise
With favours, and make dangerous with praise; The injured by us may have will alike,
But 'tis the favourite hath the power to strike; And fury ever boils more high and strong,
Heat with ambition, than revenge of wrong. 'Tis then a part of supreme skill, to grace
No man too much; but hold a certain space Between the ascender's rise, and thine own flat, Lest, when all rounds be reach'd, his aim be that. 'Tis thought. [Aside.] Is Macro in the palace? see:
If not, go seek him, to come to us.--- [Exit Offi.] He must be the organ we must work by now; Though none less apt for trust: need doth allow What choice would not. I have heard that aconite, Being timely taken, hath a healing might
Against the scorpion's stroke: the proof we'll give: That, while two poisons wrestle, we may live. He hath a spirit too working to be used
But to the encounter of his like; excused
Are wiser sov'reigns then, that raise one ill Against another, and both safely kill:
The prince that feeds great natures, they will slay him; Who nourisheth a lion must obey him.---
Leave us awhile.--- [Exit Officer.] When you shall know. good Macro,
The causes of our sending, and the ends, You will then hearken nearer; and be pleas'd You stand so high both in our choice and trust.
The humblest place in Caesar's choice or trust, May make glad Macro proud; without ambition. Save to do Caesar service.
Leave your courtings.
We are in purpose, Macro, to depart
The city for a time, and see Campania;
Not for our pleasures, but to dedicate
A pair of temples, one to Jupiter
At Capua; th' other at Nola, to Augustus:
In which great work, perhaps our stay will be Beyond our will produced. . .Now since we are Not ignorant what danger may be born
Out of our shortest absence in a state
So subject unto envy, and embroil'd
With hate and faction; we have thought on thee, Amongst a field of Romans, worthiest Macro, To be our eye and ear: to keep strict watch On Agrippina, Nero, Drusus; ay,
And on Sejanus: not that we distrust
His loyalty, or do repent one grace
Of all that heap we have conferred on him; For that were to disparage our election,
And call that judgment now in doubt, which then Seem'd as unquestion'd as an oracle-
But, greatness hath his cankers. Worms and moths Breed out of too much humour, in the things Which after they consume, transferring quite The substance of their makers into themselves. Macro is sharp, and apprehends: besides,
I know him subtle, close, wise, and well-read In man, and his large nature; he hath studied Affections, passions, knows their springs, their ends, Which way, and whether they will work: 'tis proof Enough of his great merit, that we trust him. Then to a point, because our conference
Cannot be long without suspicion---
Here, Macro, we assign thee, both to spy,
Inform, and chastise; think, and use thy means, Thy ministers, what, where, on whom thou wilt; Explore, plot, practise: all thou dost in this Shall be, as if the Senate, or the laws
Had given it privilege, and thou thence styled The saviour both of Caesar and of Rome. We will not take thy answer but in act:
Whereto, as thou proceed'st, we hope to hear By trusted messengers. If't be inquired, Wherefore we call'd you, say you have in charge To see our chariots ready, and our horse.--- Be still our loved and, shortly, honour'd Macro.
I will not ask, why Caesar bids do this;
But joy that he bids me. It is the bliss
Of courts to be employ'd, no matter how; A prince's power makes all his actions virtue. We, whom he works by, are dumb instruments, To do, but not inquire: his great intents
Are to be served, not search'd. Yet, as that bow Is most in hand, whose owner best doth know To affect his aims; so let that statesman hope Most use, most price, can hit his prince's scope. Nor must he look at what, or whom to strike, But loose at all; each mark must be alike. Were it to plot against the fame, the life Of one, with whom I twinn'd; remove a wife From my warm side, as loved as is the air; Practise sway each parent; draw mine heir In compass, though but one; work all my kin To swift perdition; leave no untrain'd engine, For friendship, or for innocence; nay, make The gods all guilty; I would undertake
This, being imposed me, both with gain and ease: The way to rise is to obey and please.
He that will thrive in state, he must neglect The trodden paths that truth and right respect; And prove new, wilder ways: for virtue there Is not that narrow thing, she is elsewhere; Men's fortune there is virtue; reason their will; Their license, law; and their observance, skill. Occasion is their foil; conscience, their stain; Profit their lustre; and what else is, vain. If then it be the lust of Caesar's power,
To have raised Sejanus up, and in an hour O'erturn him, tumbling down, from height of all; We are his ready engine: and his fall
May be our rise. It is no uncouth thing
To see fresh buildings from old ruins spring. [Exit.
ACT IVSCENE I.-An Apartment in AGRIPPINA'S House. Enter GALLUS and AGRIPPINA. Gal. You must have patience, royal Agrippina.
I must have vengeance, first; and that were nectar Unto my famish'd spirits. O, my fortune, Let it be sudden thou prepar'st against me; Strike all my powers of understanding blind. And ignorant of destiny to come!
Let me not fear that cannot hope.
These tyrannies on yourself, are worse than Caesar's.
Is this the happiness of being born great? Still to be aim'd at? still to be suspected? To live the subject of all jealousies?
At least the colour made, if not the ground To every painted danger? who would not Choose once to fall, than thus to hang for ever?
What, my Gallus!
Be lewd Sejanus' strumpet, or the bawd To Caesar's lusts, he now is gone to practise? Not these are safe, where nothing is. Yourself, While thus you stand but by me, are not safe. Was Silius safe? or the good Sosia safe? Or was my niece, dear Claudia Pulchra, safe, Or innocent Furnius? they that latest have (By being made guilty) added reputation To Afer's eloquence? O, foolish friends, Could not so fresh example warn your loves, But you must buy my favours with that loss Unto yourselves; and when you might perceive That Caesar's cause of raging must forsake him, Before his will! Away, good Gallus, leave me. Here to be seen, is danger; to speak, treason: To do me least observance, is call'd faction. You are unhappy in me, and I in all.
Where are my sons, Nero and Drusus? We Are they be shot at; let us fall apart;
Not in our ruins, sepulchre our friends.
Or shall we do some action like offence, To mock their studies that would make us faulty, And frustrate practice by preventing it?
The danger's like: for what they can contrive, They will make good. No innocence is safe, When power contests: nor can they trespass more, Whose only being was all crime before.
A fortune like enough Once to be bad.
Tiberius sitting at his meat,
In a farm-house they call Spelunca, sited By the sea-side, among the Fundane hills, Within a natural cave; part of the grot, About the entry, fen, and overwhelm'd Some of the waiters; others ran away: Only Sejanus with his knees, hands, face, O'erhanging Caesar, did oppose himself To the remaining ruins, and was found
In that so labouring posture by the soldiers That came to succour him. With which adventure, He hath so fix'd himself in Caesar's trust, As thunder cannot move him, and is come With all the height of Caesar's praise to Rome.
And power, to turn those ruins all on us;
And bury whole posterities beneath them.
Nero, and Drusus, and Caligula,
Your places are the next, and therefore most
In their offence. Think on your birth and blood.
Awake your spirits, meet their violence;
'Tis princely when a tyrant doth oppose,
And is a fortune sent to exercise
Your virtue, as the wind doth try strong trees,
Who by vexation grow more sound and firm.
After your father's fall, and uncle's fate,
What can you hope, but all the change of stroke
That force or sleight can give? then stand upright; And though you do not act, yet suffer nobly:
Be worthy of my womb, and take strong chear;
What we do know will come, we should not fear. [Exeunt.
Return'd so soon! renew'd in trust and grace! Is Caesar then so weak, or hath the place But wrought this alteration with the air;
And he, on next remove, will all repair?
Macro, thou art engaged: and what before Was public; now, must be thy private, more. The weal of Caesar, fitness did imply;
But thine own fate confers necessity
On thy employment; and the thoughts born nearest Unto ourselves, move swiftest still, and dearest. If he recover, thou art lost; yea, all
The weight of preparation to his fall
Will turn on thee, and crush thee: therefore strike Before he settle, to prevent the like
Upon thyself. He doth his vantage know,
That makes it home, and gives the foremost blow. [Exit.
It is a service lord Sejanus will
See well requited, and accept of nobly.
Here place yourself between the roof and ceiling; And when I bring him to his words of danger, Reveal yourselves, and take him.
With good speed.-I long
To merit from the state in such an action.
I hope, it will obtain the consulship For one of us. . .
We cannot think of less,
To bring in one so dangerous as Sabinus.
He was follower of Germanicus,
And still is an observer of his wife
And children, though they be declined in grace A daily visitant, keeps them company In private and in public, and is noted
To be the only client of the house:
Pray Jove. he will be free to Latiaris.
He's allied to him, and doth trust him well. Ruf: And he'll requite his trust!
To do an office
So grateful to the state, I know no man But would strain nearer bands, than kindred----
I hear them come.
Re-enter LATIARIS and SABINUS. Lat.
It is a noble constancy you shew
To this afflicted house; that not like others,
The friends of season, you do follow fortune, And, in the winter of their fate, forsake
The place whose glories warm'd you. You are just, And worthy such a princely patron's love,
As was the world's renown'd Germanicus:
Whose ample merit when I call to thought,
And see his wife and issue, objects made
To so much envy, jealousy, and hate;
It makes me ready to accuse the gods
Of negligence, as men of tyranny.
What will become of us or of the times,
When, to be high or noble, are made crimes, When land and treasure are most dangerous faults!
Nay, when our table, yea our bed, assaults Our peace and safety? when our writings are, By any envious instruments, that dare
Apply them to the guilty, made to speak What they will have to fit their tyrannous wreak? When ignorance is scarcely innocence; And knowledge made a capital offence! When not so much, but the bare empty shade Of liberty is raft us; and we made
The prey to greedy vultures and vile spies, That first transfix us with their murdering eyes. Methinks the genius of the Roman race
Should not be so extinct, but that bright flame Of liberty might be revived again,
(Which no good man but. with his life should lose) And we not sit like spent and patient fools,
Still puffing in the dark at one poor coal,
Held on by hope till the last spark is out.
The cause is public, and the honour, name,
The immortality of every soul,
That is not bastard or a slave in Rome,
Therein concern'd: whereto, if men would change The wearied arm, and for the weighty shield So long sustain'd, employ the facile sword,
We might soon have assurance of our vows. This ass's fortitude doth tire us all:
It must be active valour must redeem
Our loss, or none. The rock and 'our hard steel Should meet to enforce those glorious fires again, Whose splendour cheer'd the world, and heat gave life, No less than doth the sun's. Sab. 'Twere better stay In lasting darkness, and despair of day.
No ill should force the subject undertake
Against the sovereign, more than hell should make The gods do wrong. A good man should and must Sit rather down with loss, than rise unjust.
Though, when the Romans first did yield themselves To one man's power, they did not mean their lives, Their fortunes and their liberties, should be
His absolute spoil, as purchased by the sword.
Why we are worse, if to be slaves, and bond To Caesar's slave be such, the proud Sejanus! He that is all, does all, gives Caesar leave To hide his ulcerous and anointed face,
With his bald crown at Rhodes, while he here stalks Upon the heads of Romans, and their princes, Familiarly to empire.
Now you touch
A point indeed, wherein he shews his art, As well as power.
And villainy in both.
Do you observe where Livia lodges? how Drusus came dead? what men have been cut off?
Yes, those are things removed: I nearer look'd Into his later practice, where he stands
Declared a master in his mystery.
First, ere Tiberius went, he wrought his fear To think that Agrippina sought his death.
Then put those doubts in her; sent her oft word. Under the show of friendship, to beware
Of Caesar, for he laid to poison her:
Drave them to frowns, to mutual jealousies, Which, now, in visible hatred are burst out. Since, he hath had his hired instruments
To work on Nero, and to heave him up;
To tell him Caesar's old, that all the people, Yea, all the army have their eyes on him;
That both do long to have him undertake
Something of worth, to give the world a hope; Bids him to court their grace: the easy youth Perhaps gives ear, which straight he writes to Caesar; And with this comment: See yon dangerous boy; Note but the practice of the mother, there;
She's tying him for purposes at hand,
With men of sword. Here's Caesar put in fright 'Gainst son and mother. Yet, he leaves not thus. The second brother, Drusus, a fierce nature, And fitter for his snares, because ambitious And full of envy, him he clasps and hugs,
Poisons with praise, tells him what hearts he wears, How bright he stands in popular expectance; That Rome doth suffer with him in the wrong His mother does him, by preferring Nero:
Thus sets he them asunder, each 'gainst other, Projects the course that serves him to condemn, Keeps in opinion of a friend to all,
And all drives on to ruin.
Would he might ever sleep,
Bogg'd in his filthy lusts! [Opsius and Rufus rush in. Ops. Treason to Caesar!
Lay hands upon the traitor, Latiaris, Or take the name thyself.
Spies of this head, so white, so full of years! Well, my most reverend monsters, you may live To see yourselves thus snared.
To be a spy for traitors, Is honourable vigilance.
You do well,
My most officious instruments of state; Men of all uses: drag me hence, away. The year is well begun, and I fall fit To be an offering to Sejanus. Go!
It shall not need. Forbear your rude assault.
The fault's not shameful, villainy makes a fault. [Exeunt.
Sir, but observe how thick your dangers meet In his clear drifts! your mother and your brothers, Now cited to the senate; their friend Gallus, Feasted to-day by Caesar, since committed! Sabinus here we met, hurried to fetters:
The senators all strook with fear and silence, Save those whose hopes depend not on good means, But force their private prey from public spoil. And you must know, if here you stay, your state Is sure to be the subject of his hate, As now the object.
To go for Capreae presently; and there Give up yourself entirely to your uncle. Tell Caesar (since your mother is accused To fly for succours to Augustus' statue, And to the army with your brethren) you Have rather chose to place your aids in him, Than live suspected; or in hourly fear To be thrust out, by bold Sejanus' plots: Which, you shall confidently urge to be Most full of peril to the state, and Caesar, As being laid to his peculiar ends,
And not to be let run with common safety. All which, upon the second, I'll make plain, So both shall love and trust with Caesar gain.
Still dost thou suffer, heaven! will no flame, No heat of sin, make thy just wrath to boil In thy distemper'd bosom, and o'erflow
The pitchy blazes of impiety,
Kindled beneath thy throne! Still canst thou sleep, Patient, while vice doth make an antick face At thy dread power, and blow dust and smoke Into thy nostrils! Jove! will nothing wake thee? Must vile Sejanus pull thee by the beard,
Ere thou wilt open thy black-lidded eye,
And look him dead? Well! snore on, dreaming gods, And let this last of that proud giant-race
Heave mountain upon mountain, 'gainst your state--- Be good unto me, Fortune and you powers, Whom I, expostulating, have profaned; I see what's equal with a prodigy,
A great, a noble Roman, and an honest, Live an old man!---
Enter LEPIDUS. O Marcus Lepidus,
When is our turn to bleed? Thyself and I, Without our boast, are almost all the few Left to be honest in these impious times.
What we are left to be, we will be, Lucius; Though tyranny did stare as wide as death, To fright us from it.
I saw him now drawn from the Gemonies, And, what increased the direness of the fact, His faithful dog, upbraiding all us Romans, Never forsook the corps, but, seeing it thrown Into the stream, leap'd in, and drown'd with it.
O act, to be envied him of us men!
We are the next the hook lays hold on, Marcus: What are thy arts, good patriot, teach them me, That have preserved thy hairs to this white dye, And kept so reverend and so dear a head Safe on his comely shoulders?
None, but the plain and passive fortitude, To suffer and be silent; never stretch
These arms against the torrent; live at home, With my own thoughts, and innocence about me, Not tempting the wolves' jaws: these are my arts.
I would begin to study 'em, if I thought They would secure me. May I pray to Jove In secret and be safe? ay, or aloud, With open wishes, so I do not mention Tiberius or Sejanus? yes, I must,
If I speak out. 'Tis hard that. May I think,
And not be rack'd? What danger is't to dream, Talk in one's sleep, or cough? Who knows the law? May I shake my head without a comment? say It rains, or it holds up, and not be thrown
Upon the Gemonies? These now are things,
Whereon men's fortune, yea, their faith depends. Nothing hath privilege 'gainst the violent ear. No place, no day, no hour, we see, is free,
Not our religious and most sacred times,
From some one kind of cruelty: all matter
Nay, all occasion pleaseth. Madmen's rage,
The idleness of drunkards, women's nothing, Jester's simplicity, all, all is good
That can be catcht at. . .Nor is now the event Of any person, or for any crime,
To be expected; for 'tis always one:
Death, with some little difference of place,
Or time----What's this? Prince Nero, guarded!
Enter LACO and NERO, with Guards. Lac.
On, lictors, keep your way. My lords, forbear. On pain of Caesar's wrath, no man attempt
Speech with the prisoner.
Noble friends, be safe;
To lose yourselves for words, were as vain hazard, As unto me small comfort: fare you well. Would all Rome's sufferings in my fate did dwell!
He's banish'd into Pontia by the senate.
Do I see, hear, and feel? May I trust sense, Or doth my phant'sie form it?
Bolts, Vulcan; bolts for Jove! Phoebus, thy bow; Stern Mars, thy sword: and, blue-ey'd maid, thy spear; Thy club, Alcides: all the armoury
Of heaven is too little!---Ha!---to guard
The gods, I meant. Fine, rare dispatch I this same Was swiftly born! Confined, imprison'd, banish'd? Most tripartite! the cause, sir?
The complement of all accusings! that Will hit, when all else fails.
This turn is strange!
But yesterday the people would not hear,
Far less objected, but cried Caesar's letters
Were false and forged; that all these plots were malice; And that the ruin of the prince's house
Was practised' gainst his knowledge. Where are now Their voices, now, that they behold his heirs Lock'd up, disgraced, led into exile?
Drown'd in their bellies. Wild Sejanus' breath Hath, like a whirlwind, scatter'd that poor dust, With this rude blast---We'll talk no treason, sir,
[Turns to Laco and the rest If that be it you stand for. Fare you well.
We have no need of horse-leeches. Good spy, Now you are spied, be gone.
I fear you wrong him:
He has the voice to be an honest Roman.
And trusted to this office! Lepidus,
I'd sooner trust Greek Sinon, than a man Our state employs. He's gone: and being gone, I dare tell you, whom I dare better trust, That our night-eyed Tiberius doth not see His minion's drifts; or, if he do, he's not So arrant subtile, as we fools do take him; To breed a mungrel up, in his own house, With his own blood, and, if the good gods please, At his own throat, flesh him, to take a leap. I do not beg it, heaven; but if the fates
Grant it these eyes, they must not wink.
Not see it, Lucius.
And duty: with the thought he is our prince.
He is our monster: forfeited to vice
So far, as no rack'd virtue can redeem him. His loathed person fouler than all crimes: An emperor, only in his lusts. Retired,
From all regard of his own fame, or Rome's, Into an obscure island; where he lives
Acting his tragedies with a comic face,
Amidst his route of Chaldees: spending hours, Days, weeks, and months, in the unkind abuse Of grave astrology, to the bane of men,
Casting the scope of men's nativities,
And having found aught worthy in their fortune, Kill, or precipitate them in the sea,
And boast, he can mock fate. Nay, muse not: these Are far from ends of evil, scarce degrees. He hath his slaughter-house at Capreae;
Where he doth study murder, as an art;
And they are dearest in his grace, that can Devise the deepest tortures. Thither, too, He hath his boys, and beauteous girls ta'en up Out of our noblest houses, the best form'd, Best nurtured, and most modest; what's their good, Serves to provoke his bad. Some are allured, Some threaten'd; others, by their friends detained, Are ravish'd hence, like captives, and, in sight Of their most grieved parents, dealt away Unto his spintries, sellaries, and slaves,
Masters of strange and new commented lusts, For which wise nature hath not left a name. To this (what most strikes us, and bleeding Rome) He is, with all his craft, become the ward To his own vassal, a stale catamite:
Whom he, upon our low and suffering necks, Hath raised from excrement to side the gods, And have his proper sacrifice in Rome:
Which Jove beholds, and yet will sooner rive A senseless oak with thunder than his trunk!---
Re-enter LACO with POMPONIUS and MINUTIUS. Lac.
These letters make men doubtful what t' expect,
Whether his coming, or his death.
And which comes soonest, thank the gods for.
Their talk is Caesar; I would hear all voices.
One day, he's well; and will return to Rome; The next day, sick; and knows not when to hope it.
True; and to-day, one of Sejanus' friends Honour'd by special writ; and on the morrow Another punish'd---
This man receives his praises of Sejanus, A second but slight mention, a third none, A fourth rebukes: and thus he leaves the senate Divided and suspended, all uncertain.
These forked tricks, I understand them not: Would he would tell us whom he loves or hates, That we might follow, without fear or doubt.
Good Heliotrope! Is this your honest man? Let him be yours so still; he is my knave.
I cannot tell, Sejanus still goes on,
And mounts, we see; new statues are advanced, Fresh leaves of titles, large inscriptions read, His fortune sworn by, himself new gone out Caesar's colleague in the fifth consulship; More altars smoke to him than all the gods: What would we more?
That the dear smoke would choke him, That would I more.
But there are letters come, they say, ev'n now, Which do forbid that last.
I did not like the sign, when Regulus, Whom all we know no friend unto Sejanus, Did, by Tiberius' so precise command, Succeed a fellow in the consulship: It boded somewhat.
Not a mote. His partner,
Fulcinius Trio, is his own, and sure.--- Here comes Terentius.
I'll ne'er believe, but Caesar hath some scent Of bold Sejanus' footing. These cross points Of varying letters, and opposing consuls, Mingling his honours and his punishments, Feigning now ill, now well, raising Sejanus, And then depressing him, as now of late In all reports we have it, cannot be
Empty of practice: 'tis Tiberius' art.
For having found his favourite grown too great, And with his greatness strong; that all the soldiers Are, with their leaders, made a his devotion; That almost all the senate are his creatures, Or hold on him their main dependencies, Either for benefit, or hope, or fear;
And that himself hath lost much of his own, By parting unto him; and, by th' increase Of his rank lusts and rages, quite disarm'd Himself of love, or other public means,
To dare an open contestation;
His subtilty hath chose this doubling line, To hold him even in: not so to fear him, As wholly put him out, and yet give check Unto his farther boldness. In mean time, By his employments, makes him odious Unto the staggering rout, whose aid, in fine, He hopes to use, as sure, who, when they sway. Bear down, o'erturn all objects in their way.
You may be a Lynceus, Lepidus: yet I See no such cause, but that a politic tyrant, Who can so well disguise it, should have ta'en A nearer way: feign'd honest, and come home To cut his throat, by law.
Ay, but his fear
Would ne'er be mask'd, allbe his vices were. Pom. His lordship then is still in grace?
Never in more, either of grace or power.
The fiends they are, To suffer thee belie 'em.
I have here
His last and present letters, where he writes him, The partner of his cares, and his Sejanus.---
But is that true? it is prohibited To sacrifice unto him?
Some such thing
Caesar makes scruple of, but forbids it not; No more than to himself: says he could wish It were forborn to all.
No other, on my trust. For your more surety, Here is that letter too.
Do wretched men believe, what they would have! Looks this like plot?
That's but haste
In him that writes: here he gives large amends.
Believe it, gentlemen, Sejanus' breast Never received more full contentments in, Than at this present.
Takes he well the escape
Of young Caligula, with Macro?
At the first air it somewhat troubled him.
Nothing; riddles. Till I see
Sejanus struck, no sound thereof strikes me.
I like it not. I muse he would not attempt Somewhat against him in the consulship, Seeing the people 'gin to favour him.
He doth repent it now; but he has employ'd Pagonianus after him: and he holds
That correspondence there, with all that are Near about Caesar, as no thought can pass Without his knowledge, thence in act to front him. Pom. I gratulate the news.
But how comes Macro
So in trust and favour with Caligula?
O, sir, he has a wife; and the young prince An appetite: he can look up, and spy
Flies in the roof, when there are fleas i' the bed; And hath a learned nose to assure his sleeps. Who to be favour'd of the rising sun,
Would not lend little of his waning moon? It is the saf'st ambition. Noble Terentius!