The Virgin Martyr – Act 3, Scene 2

Return to the previous scene

Enter ARTEMIA, SAPRITIUS, THEOPHILUS, and HARPAX.

 ARTEMIA
Sapritius, though your son deserve no pity,
We grieve his sickness; his contempt of us
We cast behind us, and look back upon
His service done to Cæsar that weighs down
Our just displeasure.  If his malady
Have growth from his restraint, or that you think
His liberty can cure him, let him have it.
Say, we forgive him freely.

SAPRITIUS
You grace binds us
Ever your humblest vassals.

ARTEMIA
Use all means
For his recovery.  Though yet I love him,
I will not force affection.  If the Christian,
Whose beauty hath out-rival’d mine, be won
To be of our beliefs, let him enjoy her,
That all may know when the cause wills, I can
Command my own desires.

THEOPHILUS
Be happy then,
My Lord Sapritius.  I am confident
Such eloquence and sweet persuasion dwells
Upon my daughters’ tongues, that they will work her
To any thing they please.

SPARITIUS
I wish they may,
Yet ‘tis no easy task to undertake
To alter a perverse and obstinate woman.       [A shout within, loud music.

ARTEMIA
What means this shout?

Enter SEMPRONIUS.

 SAPRITIUS
‘Tis seconded with music,
Triumphant music, ha!

SEMPRONIUS
My lord, your daughters,
The pillars of our faith, having converted,
For so report gives out, the Christian lady,
The image of great Jupiter borne before them
Sue for access.

THEOPHILUS
My soul divin’d as much.
Blest be the time when first they saw this light,
Their mother when she bore them to support
My feeble age, fill’d not my longing heart
With so much joy, a they in this good work
Have thrown upon me.

Enter Priest with the image of Jupiter, incense and censors, followed by CALISTE and CRISTETA, leading DOROTHEA.

                                      Welcome, or thrice welcome
Daughters, both of my body and my mind,
Let me embrace in you my bliss, my comfort,
And Dorothea, now more welcome too,
Then if you had never had fall’n off.  I am ravish’d
With the excess of joy!  Speak, happy daughters,
The blest event.

CALISTE
We never gain’d so much
By any undertaking.

THEOPHILUS
Oh, my dear girl,
Our gods reward thee!

DOROTHEA
Nor was ever time
On my part better spent.

CHRISTETA
We are all now
Of one opinion.

THEOPHILUS
My best Christeta!
Madam, if ever you did grace to worth,
Vouchsafe your princely hands.

ARTEMIA
Most willingly.
Do you refuse it?

CALISTE
Let us first deserve it.

THEOPHILUS
My own child still, here set our god, prepare
The incense quickly.  Come, fair Dorothea,
I will myself support you.  Now kneel down
And pay your vows to Jupiter.

DOROTHEA
I shall do it
Better by their example.

THEOPHILUS
They shall guide you.
They are familiar with the sacrifice.
Forward, my twins of comfort, and to teach her,
Make a joint offering.

CHRISTETA
Thus.

CALISTE
And thus.   [They both spit at the image, throw it down, and spurn it.

HARPAX
Profane
And impious!  Stand you now like a statue?
Are you the champion of the gods?  Where is
Your holy zeal, your anger?

THEOPHILUS
I am blasted,
And, as my feet were rooted here, I find
I have no motion; I would I had no sight too,
Or if my eyes can serve to any use,
Give me, thou injur’d power, a sear of tears
To expiate this madness in my daughters;
For, being themselves, they would have trembled at
So blasphemous a deed in any other.
For my sake, hold awhile thy dreadful thunder,
And give me patience to demand a reason
For this accursed act.

DOROTHEA
‘Twas bravely done!

THEOPHILUS
Peace, damn’d enchantress, peace.  I should look on you
With eyes made red with fury, and my hand,
That shakes with rage, should much outstrip my tongue
And seal my vengeance on your hearts, but nature
To you that have fall’n once bids me again
To be a father.  O, how durst you tempt
The anger of great Jove?

DOROTHEA
Alack, poor Jove!
He is no swaggerer; how smug he stands!
He’ll take a kick, or any thing.

SAPRITIUS
Stop her mouth!

DOROTHEA
It is the patientest godling; do not fear him.
He would not hurt the thief that stole away
Two of his golden locks; indeed he could not,
And still ‘tis the same quiet thing.

THEOPHILUS
Blasphemer!
Ingenious cruelty shall punish this.
Thou art past hope, but for you yet, dear daughters,
Again bewitch’d, the dew of mild forgiveness
May gently fall, provided you deserve it
With true contrition.  Be your selves again.
Sue to the offended deity.

CHRISTETA
Not to be
The mistress of the earth.

CALISTE
I will not offer
A grain of incense to it, much less kneel;
Not look on it but with contempt and scorn,
To have a thousand years conferr’d upon me
Or worldly blessings.  We profess ourselves
To be like Dorothea, Christians,
And owe her for that happiness.

THEOPHILUS
My ears
Receive in hearing this, all deadly charms
Powerful to make man wretched.

ARTEMIA
Are these they
You bragg’d could convert others?

SAPRITIUS
That were strength
To stand themselves?

HARPAX
Your honour is engag’d
The credit of our cause depends upon it,
Something you must do suddenly.

THEOPHILUS
And I will.

HARPAX
They merit death, but falling by your hand
It will be recorded for a just revenge
And holy fury in you.

THEOPHILUS
Do not blow
The furnace of a wrath thrice hot already.
Ætna is in my breast; wildfire burns here
Which only blood must quench; incensed power,
Which from my infancy I have ador’d,
Look down with favourable beams upon
The sacrifice, though not allow’d thy priest,
Which I will offer to thee, and be pleased,
My fiery zeal inciting me to act it,
To call that justice, others may style murder.
Come, you accurs’d, thus by the hair I drag you
Before this holy alter; thus look on you
Less pitiful then tigers to their prey,
And thus with mine own hand I take that life
Which I gave to you.                                                                [Kills them.

DOROTHEA
O, most cruel butcher!

THEOPHILUS
My anger ends not here.  Hell’s dreadful power
Receive into thy ever open gates
Their damn’d souls, and let the furies whips
On them alone be wasted; and when death
Closes these eyes, ‘twill be Elysium to me
To hear their shrieks and howlings; make me, Pluto,
Thy instrument to furnish thee with souls
Of this accursed sect, not let me fall
Till my fell vengeance hath consum’d them all.

[Exit with HARPAX, hugging him, laughing.

Enter ANGELO.

 ARTEMIA
‘Tis a brave zeal!

DOROTHEA
O, call him back again;
Call back your hangman.  Here’s one prisoner left
To be the subject of his knife.

ARTEMIA
Not so.
We are not so near reconcil’d unto thee;
Thou shalt not perish such an easy way.
Be she your charge, Sapritius, now, and suffer
None to come near her till we have found out
Some torments worthy of her.

ANGELO
Courage, mistress.
These martyrs but prepare your glorious fate;
You shall exceed them, and not imitate.                                       [Exeunt.

Proceed to the next scene

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