Poems & Short Stories: 4,271
Forum Members: 70,634
Forum Posts: 1,033,546
And over 2 million unique readers monthly!
SCENE I.--ARISTIONE, ERIPHYLE.
ARI. Nothing can be more gallant or better contrived. My daughter, I wished to come alone here with you, so that we may have a little quiet talk together; and I hope that you will in nothing hide the truth from me. Have you in your heart no secret inclination which you are unwilling to reveal to me?
ERI. I, Madam?
ARI. Speak openly, daughter; what I have done for you well deserves that you should be frank and open with me. To make you the sole object of all my thoughts, to prefer you above all things, to shut my ears, in the position I am in, to all the propositions that a hundred princesses might decently listen to in my place--all that ought to tell you that I am a kind mother, and that I am not likely to receive with severity the confidences your heart may have to make.
ERI. If I had so badly followed your example as to have allowed an inclination I had reason to conceal to enter my soul, I should have power enough over myself to impose silence on such a love, and to do nothing unworthy of your name.
ARI. No, no, daughter; I had rather you laid bare your feelings to me. I have not limited your choice to the two princes; you may extend it to whomsoever you please; merit stands so high in my estimation that I think it equal to any rank; and if you tell me frankly how things are, you will see me subscribe without repugnance to the choice you have made.
ERI. You are so kind and indulgent towards me that I can never be thankful enough for it; but I will not put your kindness to the test on such a subject, and all I ask of you is to allow me not to hurry a marriage about which I am not decided as yet.
ARI. Till now I have left everything to your decision; and the impatience of the princes your lovers.... But what means this noise? Ah! daughter, what spectacle is this? Some deity descends; it is the goddess Venus who seems about to speak to us.
SCENE II.--VENUS (in the air, accompanied by four CUPIDS), ARISTIONE, ERIPHYLE.
VEN. (to ARISTIONE). Princess, in you shines a glorious example, which the immortals mean to recompense; and that you may have a son-in-law both great and happy, they will guide you in the choice you should make. They announce by my voice the great and glorious fame which will come to your house by this choice. Therefore, put an end to your perplexities, and give your daughter to him who shall save your life.
SCENE III.--ARISTIONE, ERIPHYLE.
ARI. Daughter, the gods have imposed silence on all our arguments. After this, all we have to do is to wait for what they wish to give us; and we have distinctly heard what their will is. Let us go to the nearest temple to assure them of our obedience, and to render thanks to them for their goodness.
SCENE IV.--ANAXARCHUS, CLEON.
CLE. The princess is going away; do you not want to speak to her?
ANA. No; let us wait until her daughter has left her. I am afraid of her; she will never suffer herself to be led like her mother. In short, my son, as we have just been able to judge through this opening, our stratagem has succeeded. Our Venus has done wonders, and the admirable engineer, who has contrived this piece of machinery, has so well disposed everything, so cunningly cut the floor of his grotto, so well hid his wires and springs, so well adjusted his lights, and dressed his personages, that but few people could have escaped being deceived; and as the Princess Aristione is extremely superstitious, there is no, doubt that she fully believes in this piece of deception. I have been a long time preparing this machine, my son, and now I have almost reached the goal of my ambition.
CLE. But for which of the two princes have you invented this trick?
ANA. Both have courted my assistance, and I have promised to both the influence of my art. But the presents of Prince Iphicrates, and the promises which he has made, by far exceed all that the other could do. Therefore, it is Iphicrates who will profit by all I can invent, and as his ambition will owe everything to me, our future is sure. I will go and take my time to confirm the princess in her error, and, the better to prepossess her mind, skilfully show her the agreement of the words of Venus with the predictions of the celestial signs which I told her I have cast. Be it your part to go and get our six men to hide themselves carefully in their boat behind the rock, and make them wait quietly for the time when the princess comes alone in the evening for her usual walk. Then they must suddenly attack her like pirates, in order to give the opportunity to Prince Iphicrates to rush to her rescue, and lend her the help which is to put Eriphyle in his hands according to the words of Venus. I have forewarned the prince, and, acting on the belief in my prediction, he is to hold himself in readiness in that little wood that skirts the shore. But let us leave this grotto. I will tell you as we go along all that is necessary for you carefully to observe. Here is the Princess Eriphyle; let us avoid her.
SCENE V.--ERIPHYLE (alone).
Alas! how hard is my destiny! What have I done to the gods that they should interest themselves in what happens to me?
SCENE VI.--ERIPHYLE, CLEONICE.
CLEON. Here he is, Madam; he followed me the moment he heard your commands.
ERI. Let him come hither, Cleonice, and leave us alone for one moment.
SCENE VII.--ERIPHYLE, SOSTRATUS.
ERI. Sostratus, you love me.
SOS. I, Madam?
ERI. Yes, Sostratus, I know it, I approve of it, and allow you to tell me so. Your love appeared to me accompanied by all the merit which could render it valuable to me. Were it not for the rank in which heaven has placed me, I might tell you that your love would not have been an unhappy one, and I have often wished for a position in which I might fully show the secret feelings of my heart. It is not, Sostratus, that merit fails to have for me all the value which it should have, and because, in my inmost soul, I do not prefer the virtues which you possess to all the magnificent titles which adorn others. The princess my mother has also, it is true, left me free in my choice, and I have no doubt that I could have obtained her consent according to my wish. But, Sostratus, there are stations in life where it is not right to wish that what pleases us should come to pass. It is painful to be above all others, and the burning light of fame often makes us pay too severely for having yielded to our inclination. I never could, therefore, expose myself to it, and I thought I would simply put off the bonds I was solicited to enter. But, at last, the gods themselves will give me a husband, and all these long delays with which I have postponed my marriage, and which the kindness of the princess my mother made possible, are no longer permitted to me. I must resign myself to the will of heaven. You may rest assured, Sostratus, that it is with the greatest repugnance that I consent to this marriage, and that, were I mistress of myself, either I should have been yours or should have belonged to no one. This is, Sostratus, what I had to tell you; what I felt I owed to your merit, and the only consolation which my tenderness can show to your love.
SOS. Ah! Madam, it is too much for one so undeserving as I am! I was not prepared to die with such glory, and from this moment I shall cease to complain of my destiny. If it caused me to be born in a rank below what I could have desired, it has made me to be born happy enough to attract some pity from the heart of a great princess, and this glorious pity is worth sceptres and crowns; is worth the power of the greatest princes of the earth. Yes, Madam, from the moment I dared to love you--it is you, Madam, who allow me to use this bold word--from the moment I dared to love you, I condemned the pride of my aspirations, and determined upon the fate I ought to expect. Death will not surprise me, for I am prepared for it, but your kindness has thrown upon it an honour which my love never dared to hope; I shall now die the happiest and most fortunate of men. If I may yet hope for anything, I on my knees will ask two favours of you: to be willing to endure my presence till that happy marriage which is to put an end to my life takes place; and amidst the glory and long prosperities which heaven promises to your union, to remember sometimes Sostratus, who loved you. May I hope for those favours, O divine princess?
ERI. Go, Sostratus; leave me. You little care for my peace of mind if you ask me to remember you.
SOS. Ah, Madam, if your peace of mind....
ERI. Leave me, Sostratus; spare my weakness; do not expose me to do more than I have resolved upon.
SCENE VIII.--ERIPHYLE, CLEONICE.
CLE. Madam, I see you quite melancholy; will you allow your dancers, who express so well all the passions of the soul, to come and give you a sample of their skill?
ERI. Yes, Cleonice; let them do what they like, provided they leave me to my thoughts.
Four pantomimists, as a sample of their skill, adapt their movements and steps to the signs of uneasiness of the young PRINCESS ERIPHYLE.
|Art of Worldly Wisdom Daily|
In the 1600s, Balthasar Gracian, a jesuit priest wrote 300 aphorisms on living life called "The Art of Worldly Wisdom." Join our newsletter below and read them all, one at a time.
Shakespeare wrote over 150 sonnets! Join our Sonnet-A-Day Newsletter and read them all, one at a time.