The Plays of John Lyly: Sapho and Phao
Modern spelling.Transcribed by B.F. copyright © 2002
Run-on lines (closing open endings) are indicated by ~~~.
Items discussed in the glossary are underlined
Scene III.1: [Ante room of Sapho's Chamber.]
[Enter Trachinus, Pandion, Mileta, Ismena, (and later) Eugenua.]
TRACHINUS: Sapho is fallen suddenly sick, I cannot guess
MILETA: Some cold belike, or else a woman's qualm.
PANDION: A strange nature of cold, to drive one into such
MILETA: Your physic sir, I think be of the second sort; else
would you not judge it rare that hot fevers are engendered
by cold causes.
PANDION: Indeed Lady, I have no more physic than will ... [III.1.10]
purge choler; and that if it please you, I will practice upon
you. It is good for women that be waspish.
ISMENA: Faith sir, no, you are best purge your own
melancholy: belike you are a male-content.
PANDION: Is it true, and are not you a female-content?
TRACHINUS: Soft! I am not content, that a male and female
content, should go together.
MILETA: Ismena is disposed to be merry.
ISMENA: No, it is Pandion would fain seem wise.
TRACHINUS: You shall not fall out; for pigeons after biting ... [III.1.20]
fall to billing, and open jars make the closest jests.
EUGENUA: Mileta! Ismena! Mileta! Come away: my :Lady is in
MILETA: Aye me!
ISMENA: Come, let us make haste.
[Exeunt Eugenua, Mileta, Ismena.]
TRACHINUS: I am sorry for Sapho because she will take no
physic; like you Pandion, who being sick of the sullens, will
seek no friend.
PANDION: Of men we learn to speak, of Gods to hold our
peace. Silence shall dis-gest what folly hath swallowed, and
wisdom wean what fancy hath nursed. ... [III.1.30]
TRACHINUS: Is it not love?
PANDION: If it were, what then?
TRACHINUS: Nothing, but that I hope it be not.
PANDION: Why, in courts there is nothing more common.
And as to be bald: among the Micanians it was accounted no
shame, because they were all bald; so to be in love among
courtiers it is no discredit, for that they are all in love.
TRACHINUS: Why, what do you think of our Ladies?
PANDION: As of the Seres wool, which being the whitest &
softest, fretteth soonest and deepest. ... [III.1.40]
TRACHINUS: I will not tempt you in your deep melancholy,
lest you seem sour to those which are so sweet. But come, let
us walk a little into the fields: it may be the open air will
disclose your close conceits.
PANDION: I will go with you; but send our pages away. [Exeunt.]
Scene III.2: [A Street.]
[Enter Criticus, Molus, (afterward) Calypho.]
CRITICUS: What brown study art thou in, Molus? no mirth, no
MOLUS: I am in the depth of my learning driven to a muse,
how this Lent I shall scamble in the court, that was wont to
fast so oft in the University.
CRITICUS: Thy belly is thy god.
MOLUS: ~~~ Then he is a deaf god.
MOLUS: For venter non habet aures. But thy back is thy god.
CRITICUS: Then is it a blind god.
MOLUS: How prove you that?
CRITICUS. Easy. Nemo videt manticae quod in tergo est.
MOLUS: Then would the satchel that hangs at your god, ... [III.2.10]
id est, your back, were full of meat to stuff my god, hoc est,
CRITICUS: Excellent. But how canst thou study, when thy
mind is only in the kitchen?
MOLUS: Doth not the horse travel best, that sleepeth with his
head in the manger?
CRITICUS: Yes, what then?
MOLUS: Good wits will apply. But what cheer is there here
MOLUS: ~~~ I can eat none, it is wind. ... [III.2.20]
MOLUS: ~~~ I must eat none, they are fire.
MOLUS: It is against the old verse, Caseus est nequam.
CRITICUS: Yea, but it disgesteth all things except itself.
MOLUS: Yea, but if a man hath nothing else to eat, what
shall it disgest?
CRITICUS: You are disposed to jest. But if your silken throat
can swallow no packthread, you must pick your teeth and
play with your trencher.
MOLUS: So shall I not incur the fulsome and unmannerly ... [III.2.30]
sin of surfeiting. But here cometh Calypho. [Enter Calypho.]
CRITICUS: What news?
CALYPHO: Since my being here, I have sweat like a dog to
prove my master a devil; he brought such reasons to refel
me as, I promise you, I shall like the better of his wit, as long
as I am with him?
CALYPHO: Thus, I always arguing that he had horns, and
therefore a devil; he said: fool, they are things like horns,
but no horns. For once in the Senate of Gods being hold a ... [III.2.40]
solemn session, in the midst of their talk I put in my sentence,
which was so indifferent, that they all concluded it might as
well have been left out as put in, and so placed on each side of
my head things like horns, and called me a Parenthesis. Now
my masters, this may be true, for I have seen it myself about
MOLUS: It is true, and the same did Mars make a full point,
that Vulcan's head was made a Parenthesis.
CRITICUS: This shall go with me: I trust in Syracusa to give
one or other a Parenthesis. ... [III.2.50]
MOLUS: Is Venus yet come home?
CALYPHO: No, but were I Vulcan, I would by the Gods --
CRITICUS: What wouldest thou?
CALYPHO: Nothing, but as Vulcan, halt by the Gods.
CRITICUS: I thought you would have hardly entreated Venus.
CALYPHO: Nay, Venus is easily entreated; but let that go by.
CALYPHO: That which maketh so many Parenthesis.
MOLUS: I must go by too, or else my master will not go by me:
but meet me full with his fist. Therefore, if we shall sing, give ... [III.2.60]
me my part quickly: for if I tarry long I shall cry my part woefully.
OMNES: Arm, arm, the foe comes on apace.
CALYPHO: What's that red nose and sulfury face?
MOLUS: 'Tis the hot leader.
CRITICUS: What's his name?
MOLUS: Bacchus, a captain of plump fame:
A goat the beast on which he rides,
Fat grunting swine run by his sides,
His standard-bearer fears no knocks,
For he's a drunken butter-box, ... [III.2.70]
Who when i' th' red field thus he revels,
Cries, out ten tousan Ton of Tevils!
CALYPHO: What's he so swaggers in the van?
MOLUS: Oh! that's a roaring Englishman,
Who in deep healths does so excel,
From Dutch and French he bears the bell.
CRITICUS: What victualers follow Bacchus' camps?
MOLUS: Fools, fiddlers, panders, pimps, and ramps.
CALYPHO: See, see, the battle now grows hot;
Here legs fly, here goes heads to the pot, ... [III.2.80]
Here whores and knaves toss broken glasses,
Here all the soldiers look like asses.
CRITICUS: What man e'er heard such hideous noise?
MOLUS: Oh! that's the vintner's bawling boys.
Anon, anon, the trumpets are,
Which call them to the fearful bar.
CALYPHO: Rush in, and let's our forces try.
MOLUS: Oh no, for see they fly, they fly!
CRITICUS: And so will I.
CALYPHO: And I. ... [III.2.90]
MOLUS: ~~~~~~And I.
ALL: 'Tis a hot day, in drink to die. [Exeunt.]
Scene III.3: [Sapho's Chamber.]
[Sapho in her bed,Mileta, Ismena, Canope, Eugenua, Favilla, Lamia.]
SAPHO: Hey ho: I know not which way to turn me. Ah! ah!
I faint, I die!
MILETA: Madam, I think it good you have more clothes and
sweat it out.
SAPHO: No, no, the best ease I find is to sigh it out.
ISMENA: A strange disease, that should breed such a desire.
SAPHO: A strange desire that hath brought such a disease.
CANOPE: Where Lady, do you feel your most pain?
SAPHO: Where nobody else can feel it, Canope.
CANOPE: At the heart?
SAPHO: ~~~ In the heart. ... [III.3.10]
CANOPE: Will you have any mithridate?
SAPHO: Yea, if for this disease there were any mithridate.
MILETA: Why? what disease is it, Madam, that physic cannot
SAPHO: Only the disease, Mileta, that I have.
MILETA: Is it a burning ague?
SAPHO: I think so, or a burning agony.
EUGENUA: Will you have any of this syrup to moisture
SAPHO: Would I had some local things to dry my brain. ... [III.3.20]
FAVILLA: Madam, will you see if you can sleep?
SAPHO: Sleep, Favilla? I shall then dream.
LAMIA: As good dream sleeping, as sigh waking.
EUGENUA: Phao is cunning in all kind of simples, and it is
hard if there be none to procure sleep.
SAPHO: Yea, Phao! Phao! -- Ah Phao, let him come presently.
MILETA: Shall we draw the curtains whilest you give yourself
to slumber? ... [III.3.30]
SAPHO: Do, but depart not: I have such starts in my sleep,
disquieted I know not how. [In a slumber.] Phao! Phao!
ISMENA: What say you, Madam?
SAPHO: Nothing, but if I sleep not now, you send for Phao.
Ah Gods! [She falleth asleep. The curtains drawn.]
MILETA: There is a fish called Garus, that healeth all sickness,
so as whilest it is applied one name not Garus.
EUGENUA: An evil medicine for us women: for if we should be
forbidden to name Garus, we should chat nothing but Garus.
CANOPE: Well said, Eugenua, you know yourself. ... [III.3.40]
EUGENUA: Yea Canope, and that I am one of your sex.
ISMENA: I have heard of an herb called Lunary, that being
bound to the pulses of the sick, causeth nothing but dreams of
weddings and dances.
FAVILLA: I think Ismena, that herb be at thy pulses now;
for thou art ever talking of matches and merriments.
CANOPE: It is an unlucky sign in the chamber of the sick to talk
of marriages, for my mother said it foreshoweth death.
MILETA: It is very evil too, Canope, to sit at the bed's feet, and
foretelleth danger: therefore remove your stool and sit by me. ... [III.3.50]
LAMIA: Sure it is some cold she hath taken.
ISMENA: If one were burnt, I think we women would say, he
died of a cold.
FAVILLA: It may be some conceit.
MILETA: Then is there no fear, for yet did I never hear of a
woman that died of a conceit.
EUGENUA: I mistrust her not; for that the owl hath not
shrieked at the window, or the night raven croaked, both
FAVILLA: You are all superstitious: for these be but fancies of ... [III.3.60]
doting age: who by chance observing it in some, have set it
down as a religion for all.
MILETA: Favilla, thou art but a girl: I would not have a weasel
cry, nor desire to see a glass, nor an old wife come into my
chamber; for then though I lingered in my disease, I should
never escape it.
SAPHO: Ah, who is there? [The curtains again drawn back.] What
sudden affrights be these? Methought Phao came with simples to
make me sleep. Did nobody name Phao before I began to slumber?
MILETA: Yes, we told you of him. ... [III.3.70]
SAPHO: Let him be here tomorrow.
MILETA: He shall: will you have a little broth to comfort you?
SAPHO: I can relish nothing.
MILETA: Yet a little you must take to sustain nature.
SAPHO: I cannot Mileta, I will not. Oh, which way shall I lie:
what shall I do? Heigh ho! Oh Mileta, help to rear me up, my
head, my head lies too low. You pester me with too many clothes.
Fie, you keep the chamber too hot -- avoid it! It may be I shall
steal a nap when all are gone.
MILETA: We will. [Exeunt all the Ladies.] ... [III.3.80]
SAPHO: Ah! impatient disease of love, and Goddess of love
thrice unpitiful. The eagle is never stricken with thunder, nor
the olive with lightning; and may great Ladies be plagued with
love? Oh Venus, have I not strewed thine altars with sweet
roses; kept thy swans in clear rivers; fed thy sparrows with
ripe corn; & harbored thy doves in fair houses? Thy Tortoise
have I nourished under my fig tree, my chamber have I ceiled
with thy cockleshells, & dipped thy sponge into the freshest
waters. Didst thou nurse me in my swaddling clouts with
wholesome herbs, that I might perish in my flowering years ... [III.3.90]
by fancy? I perceive, but too late I perceive, and yet not too
late, be-cause at last, that strains are caught as well by stooping
too low, as reaching too high: that eyes are bleared as soon with
vapors that come from the earth, as with beams that proceed
from the sun. Love lodgeth sometimes in caves: & thou
Phoebus, that in the pride of thy heart shinest all day in our
horizon, at night dippest thy head in the ocean. Resist it, Sapho,
whilest it is yet tender. Of acorns comes oaks, of drops floods,
of sparks flames, of atomies elements. But alas it fareth with me
as with wasps, who feeding on serpents, make their stings ... [III.3.100]
more venomous: for glutting myself on the face of Phao, I have
made my desire more desperate. Into the nest of an halcyon,
no bird can enter but the halcyon; and into the heart of so
great a lady can any creep but a great lord? There is an herb
(not unlike unto my love) which the further it groweth from
the sea, the salter it is; and my desires the more they swerve
from reason, the more seem they reasonable. When Phao
cometh, what then: wilt thou open thy love? Yea. No! Sapho:
but staring in his face till thine eyes dazzle, and thy spirits
faint, die before his face: then this shall be written on thy tomb, ... [III.3.110]
that though thy love were greater than wisdom could endure,
yet thine honor was such as love could not violate. -- Mileta!
MILETA: I come.
SAPHO: It will not be, I can take no rest, which way soever I turn.
MILETA: A strange malady!
SAPHO: Mileta, if thou wilt, a martyrdom. But give me my
lute, and I will see if in song I can beguile mine own eyes.
MILETA: Here Madam.
SAPHO: Have you sent for Phao?
MILETA: ~~~ Yea.
SAPHO: And to bring simples that will procure sleep?
MILETA: ~~~ No. ... [III.3.120]
SAPHO: Foolish wench, what should the boy do here, if he
bring not remedies with him? you think belike I could sleep if
I did but see him. Let him not come at all: yes, let him come: no,
it is no matter: yet will I try, let him come: do you hear?
MILETA: Yea Madam, it shall be done. [She comes from the recess.]
Peace, no noise: she beginneth to fall asleep. I will go to Phao.
ISMENA: Go speedily: for if she wake and find you not here,
she will be angry. Sick folks are testy, who though they eat
nothing, yet they feed on gall. [Exit Mileta while Ismena retires.]
SAPHO: Oh cruel love! on thee I lay ... [III.3.130]
My curse which shall strike blind the day:
Never may sleep with velvet hand
Charm thine eyes with sacred wand;
Thy jailers shall be hopes and fears;
Thy prison-mates: groans, sighs, and tears;
Thy play to wear out weary times:
Fantastic passions, vows, and rhymes;
Thy bread be frowns, thy drink be gall.
Such as when you Phao call
The bed thou liest on be despair; ... [III.3.140]
Thy sleep, fond dreams; thy dreams long care;
Hope (like thy fool) at thy bed's head,
Mock thee, till madness strike thee dead;
As Phao, thou dost me with thy proud eyes
In thee poor Sapho lives; for thee she dies.
[The curtains close.]
Scene III.4: [The same.]
[Enter Mileta and Phao.]
MILETA: I would either your cunning, Phao, or your fortune
might by simples provoke my Lady to some slumber.
PHAO: My simples are in operation as my simplicity is,
which if they do little good, assuredly they can do no harm.
MILETA: Were I sick, the very sight of thy fair face would
drive me into a sound sleep.
PHAO: Indeed gentlewomen are so drowsy in their desires,
that they can scarce hold up their eyes for love.
MILETA: I mean the delights of beauty would so blind my senses,
as I should be quickly rocked into a deep rest. ... [III.4.10]
PHAO: You women have an excuse for an advantage, which
must be allowed because only to you women it was allotted.
MILETA: Phao, thou art passing fair, & able to draw a chaste
eye, not only to glance but to gaze on thee. Thy young years,
thy quick wit, thy stayed desires are of force to control those
which should command.
PHAO: Lady, I forgot to commend you first; and lest I should
have overslipped to praise you at all, you have brought in my
beauty, which is simple, that in courtesy I might remember
yours, which is singular. ... [III.4.20]
MILETA: You mistake of purpose, or misconster of malice.
PHAO: I am as far from malice as you from love, & to
mistake of purpose were to mislike of peevishness.
MILETA: As far as I from love? Why, think you me so dull I
cannot love, or so spiteful I will not?
PHAO: Neither, Lady: but how should men imagine women
can love, when in their mouths there is nothing rifer, than
'in faith I do not love.'
MILETA: Why, will you have women's love in their tongues?
PHAO: Yea, else do I think there is none in their hearts. ... [III.4.30]
PHAO: Because there was never anything in the bottom of a
woman's heart that cometh not to her tongue's end.
MILETA: You are too young to cheapen love.
PHAO: Yet old enough to talk with market folks.
MILETA: Well, let us in. [The curtains are drawn back.]
ISMENA: Phao is come.
SAPHO: Who? Phao? Phao, let him come near. But who sent
MILETA: You, Madam. ... [III.4.40]
SAPHO: I am loath to take any medicines: yet must I rather
than pine in these maladies. Phao, you may make me sleep, if
PHAO: If I can I must, if you will.
SAPHO: What herbs have you brought Phao?
PHAO: Such as will make you sleep, Madam, though they
cannot make me slumber.
SAPHO: Why, how can you cure me, when you cannot
PHAO: Yes Madam, the causes are contrary, for it is only a ... [III.4.50]
dryness in your brains that keepeth you from rest; but --
SAPHO: But what?
PHAO: Nothing, but mine is not so.
SAPHO: Nay, then I despair of help if our disease be not all one.
PHAO: I would our diseases were all one.
SAPHO: It goes hard with the patient when the physician is
PHAO: Yet Medea made the ever-waking Dragon to snort, when
she poor soul could not wink.
SAPHO: Medea was in love, & nothing could cause her rest
but Jason. ... [III.4.60]
PHAO: Indeed I know no herb to make lovers sleep but hearts-
ease, which because it groweth so high, I cannot reach: for --
SAPHO: ~~~ For whom?
PHAO: For such as love.
SAPHO: It groweth very low, and I can never stoop to it, that --
PHAO: ~~~ That what?
SAPHO: That I may gather it: but why do you sigh so, Phao?
PHAO: It is mine use Madam.
SAPHO: It will do you harm, and me too: for I never hear one
sigh, but I must sigh't also.
PHAO: It were best then that your Ladyship give me leave to ... [III.4.70]
be gone, for I can but sigh.
SAPHO: Nay: stay: for now I begin to sigh, I shall not leave
though you be gone. But what do you think best for your
sighing: to take it away?
PHAO: Yew, Madam.
SAPHO: ~~~ Me?
PHAO: ~~~ No Madam, yew of the tree.
SAPHO: Then will I love yew the better. And indeed I think
it would make me sleep too; therefore, all other simples set
aside, I will simply use only yew.
PHAO: Do, Madam, for I think nothing in the world so good
as yew. ... [III.4.80]
SAPHO: Farewell for this time.
[He comes from the recess, the curtains closing behind him.
Enter Venus and Cupid.]
VENUS: Is not your name Phao?
PHAO: Phao, fair Venus, whom you made so fair.
VENUS: So passing fair! Oh fair Phao, oh sweet Phao: what
wilt thou do for Venus?
PHAO: Anything that cometh in the compass of my poor fortune.
VENUS: Cupid shall teach thee to shoot, & I will instruct thee
PHAO: I will learn anything but dissembling.
VENUS: Why, my boy? ... [III.4.90]
PHAO: Because then I must learn to be a woman.
VENUS: Thou heardest that of a man.
PHAO: Men speak truth.
VENUS: But truth is a she, and so always painted.
PHAO: I think a painted truth.
VENUS: Well, farewell for this time: for I must visit Sapho.
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