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.

Act 4


Scene IV.1: [The same. The curtains are drawn back.]
[Venus, Sapho, Cupid.]

VENUS: Sapho, I have heard thy complaints, and pitied thine

SAPHO: Oh Venus, my cares are only known to thee, and by
thee only came the cause. Cupid, why didst thou wound me
so deep?

CUPID: My mother bade me draw mine arrow to the head.

SAPHO: Venus, why didst thou prove so hateful?

VENUS: Cupid took a wrong shaft.

SAPHO: Oh Cupid, too unkind, to make me so kind, that almost
I transgress the modesty of my kind. ... [IV.1.10]

CUPID: I was blind, and could not see mine arrow.

SAPHO: How came it to pass, thou didst hit my heart?

CUPID: That came by the nature of the head, which being
once let out of the bow, can find none other lighting place but
the heart.

VENUS: Be not dismayed, Phao shall yield.

SAPHO: If he yield, then shall I shame to embrace one so mean;
if not, die because I cannot embrace one so mean. Thus do I find
no mean.

VENUS: Well, I will work for thee. Farewell. ... [IV.1.20]

SAPHO: Farewell sweet Venus, and thou Cupid, which art
sweetest in thy sharpness. [Exit Sapho.]

Scene IV.2: [The same].
[Venus, Cupid.]

VENUS: Cupid, what hast thou done: put thine arrows in
Phao's eyes, and wounded thy mother's heart?

CUPID: You gave him a face to allure, then why should not I
give him eyes to pierce?

VENUS: Oh Venus! unhappy Venus! who in bestowing a benefit
upon a man, hast brought a bane unto a Goddess. What
perplexities dost thou feel? Oh fair Phao! And therefore made
fair to breed in me a frenzy! Oh would that when I gave thee
golden locks to curl thy head, I had shackled thee with iron
locks on thy feet! And when I nursed thee, Sapho, with lettuce, ... [IV.2.10]
would it had turned to hemlock! Have I brought a smooth skin
over thy face to make a rough scar in my heart, and given
thee a fresh color like the damask rose, to make mine pale like
the stained turquie? Oh Cupid, thy flames with Psyche's were
but sparks, and my desires with Adonis but dreams, in respect
of these unacquainted torments. Laugh, Juno! Venus is in love;
but Juno shall not see with whom, lest she be in love. Venus
belike is become stale. Sapho forsooth because she has many
virtues, therefore she must have all the favors. Venus waxeth
old; and then she was a pretty wench, when Juno was a young ... [IV.2.20]
wife: now crow's foot is on her eye, and the black ox hath trod
on her foot. But were Sapho never so virtuous, doth she think
to contend with Venus to be as amorous? Yield Phao; but yield
to me Phao; I entreat where I may command; command thou,
where thou shouldest entreat. In this case, Cupid, what is thy
counsel? Venus must both play the lover & the dissembler,
& therefore the dissembler, because the lover.

CUPID: You will ever be playing with arrows, like children
with knives, & then when you bleed, you cry: go to Vulcan,
entreat by prayers, threaten with blows, woo with kisses, ... [IV.2.30]
ban with curses, try all means to rid these extremities.

VENUS: To what end?

CUPID: That he might make me new arrows, for nothing can
root out the desires of Phao but a new shaft of inconstancy, nor
anything turn Sapho's heart but a new arrow of disdain. And
then they, disliking one the other, who shall enjoy Phao but Venus?

VENUS: I will follow thy counsel. For Venus, though she be in
her latter age for years: yet is she in her nonage for affections.
When Venus ceaseth to love, let Jove cease to rule. But come,
let us to Vulcan. [Exeunt.] ... [IV.2.40]

Scene IV.3: [The same. The curtains again drawn back.]
[Sapho, Mileta, Ismena, Eugenua, Lamya, Favilla, Canope.]

SAPHO: What dreams are these, Mileta; and can there be no
truth in dreams? Yea, dreams have their truth. Methought I
saw a stockdove or woodquist {I know not how to term it) that
brought short straws to build his nest in a tall cedar, where,
whiles with his bill he was framing his building, he lost as
many feathers from his wings as he laid straws in his nest:
yet scambling to catch hold to harbor in the house he had
made, he suddenly fell from the bough where he stood. And
then pitifully casting up his eyes, he cried in such terms (as I
imagined) as might either condemn the nature of such a tree, ... [IV.3.10]
or the daring of such a mind. Whilest he lay quaking upon the
ground, & I gazing on the cedar, I might perceive ants to
breed in the rind, coveting only to hoard, and caterpillars to
cleave to the leaves, laboring only to suck, which caused
more leaves to fall from the tree than there did feathers before
from the dove. Methought, Mileta, I sighed in my sleep,
pitying both the fortune of the bird & the misfortune of the
tree; but in this time quills began to bud again in the bird,
which made him look as though he would fly up; and then
wished I that the body of the tree would bow, that he might ... [IV.3.20]
but creep up the tree; then -- and so -- Hey ho!

MILETA: And so what?

SAPHO: Nothing Mileta: but, and so I waked. But did nobody
dream but I?

MILETA: I dreamed last night, but I hope dreams are contrary,
that holding my head over a sweet smoke, all my hair blazed
on a bright flame. Methought Ismena cast water to quench it:
yet the sparks fell on my bosom, and wiping them away with
my hand, I was all in gore blood, till one with a few fresh
flowers staunched it. And so stretching myself as stiff, I started: ... [IV.3.30]
it was but a dream.

ISMENA: It is a sign you shall fall in love with hearing fair
words. Water signifieth counsel, flowers death. And nothing
can purge your loving humor but death.

MILETA: You are no interpreter: but an inter-prater, harping
always upon love, till you be as blind as a harper.

ISMENA: I remember last night but one, I dreamed mine
eyetooth was loose, & that I thrust it out with my tongue.

MILETA: It foretelleth the loss of a friend; and I ever thought
thee so full of prattle that thou wouldest thrust out the best ... [IV.3.40]
friend with thy tattling.

ISMENA: Yea Mileta, but it was loose before; and if my friend
be loose, as good thrust out with plain words, as kept in with

EUGENUA: Dreams are but dotings, which come either by
things we see in the day, or meats that we eat, and so [flatter]
the common sense, preferring it to be the imaginative.

ISMENA: Soft, Philosophatrix: well seen in the secrets of
art, and not seduced with the superstitions of nature.

SAPHO: Ismena's tongue never lieth still: I think all her teeth ... [IV.3.50]
will be loose, they are so often jogged against her tongue. But
say on, Eugenua.

EUGENUA: There is all.

SAPHO: What did you dream, Canope?

CANOPE: I seldom dream, Madam: but sithence your sick-
ness, I cannot tell whether with overwatching, but I have
had many fantastical visions; for even now slumb'ring by
your bed's side, methought I was shadowed with a cloud,
where laboring to unwrap myself, I was more entangled. But
in the midst of my striving, it seemed to myself gold, with fair ... [IV.3.60]
drops; I filled my lap, and running to show it my fellows, it
turned to dust, I blushed, they laughed; and then I waked,
being glad it was but a dream.

ISMENA: Take heed Canope, that gold tempt not your lap,
and then you blush for shame.

CANOPE: It is good luck to dream of gold.

ISMENA: Yea, if it had continued gold.

LAMIA: I dream every night, and the last night this: me
thought that walking in the sun, I was stung with the fly
Tarantula, whose venom nothing can expel but the sweet ... [IV.3.70]
consent of music. I tried all kind of instruments, but found no
ease, till at the last two lutes tuned in one key so glutted my
thirsting ears, that my grief presently ceased, for joy whereof
as I was clapping my hands, your Ladyship called.

MILETA: It is a sign that nothing shall assuage your love but
marriage; for such is the tying of two in wedlock, as is the
tuning of two lutes in one key. For striking the strings of the
one, straws will stir upon the strings of the other; and in two
minds linked in love, one cannot be delighted but the other ... [IV.3.80]

FAVILLA: Methought going by the seaside among pebbles, I
saw one playing with a round stone, ever throwing it into the
water, when the sun shined: I asked the name, he said, it was
called 'Asbeston,' which being once hot would never be cold.
He gave it me, and vanished. I, forgetting myself, delighted
with the fair show, would always show it by candlelight, pull
it out in the sun, and see how bright it would look in the fire,
where catching heat, nothing could cool it: for anger I threw
it against the wall, and with the heaving up of mine arm I waked.

MILETA: Beware of love, Favilla; for women's hearts are such ... [IV.3.90]
stones, which warmed by affection, cannot be cooled by wisdom.

FAVILLA: I warrant you, for I never credit men's words.

ISMENA: Yet be wary, for women are scorched sometimes with
men's eyes, though they had rather consume than confess.

SAPHO: Cease your talking; for I would fain sleep, to see if I can
dream whether the bird hath feathers or the ants wings. Draw
the curtain. [The curtains close.]

Scene IV.4: [Vulcan's Forge].
[Enter Venus and Cupid.]

VENUS: Come, Cupid: Vulcan's flames must quench Venus'
fires. Vulcan? [Vulcan looks out of the Forge.]


VENUS: ~~~ Venus.

VULCAN: ~~~~~~ Ho ho: Venus.

VENUS: Come, sweet Vulcan. Thou knowest how sweet thou
hast found Venus, who being of all goddesses the most fair,
hath chosen thee, of all gods the most foul. Thou must needs
then con-fess I was most loving. Inquire not the cause of my
suit by questions, but prevent the effects by courtesy. Make
me six arrowheads. It is given thee of the gods by permission
to frame them to any purpose: I shall request them by prayer. ... [IV.4.10]
Why lowerest thou, Vulcan? Wilt thou have a kiss? Hold up
thy head: Venus hath young thoughts and fresh affections.
Roots have strings when boughs have no leaves. But hearken
in thine ear, Vulcan: how sayest thou?

VULCAN: Vulcan is a god with you when you are disposed to
flatter. A right woman, whose tongue is like a bee's sting,
which pricketh deepest when it is fullest of honey. Because you
have made mine eyes drunk with fair looks, you will set mine
ears on edge with sweet words. You were wont to say that the
beating of hammers made your head ache, and the smoke of ... [IV.4.20]
the forge your eyes water, and every coal was a block in your
way. You weep rose water when you ask, and spit vinegar
when you have obtained. What would you now with new
arrows? Belike Mars hath a tougher skin on his heart, or Cupid
a weaker arm, or Venus a better courage. Well Venus, there
is never a smile in your face but hath made a wrinkle in my
forehead. Ganymedes must fill your cup, and you will pledge
none but Jupiter. But I will not chide Venus. Come, Cyclops,
my wife must have her will: let us do that in earth which
the gods cannot undo in heaven. ... [IV.4.30]

VENUS: Gramercy sweet Vulcan: to your work.

[The Song, in making of the Arrows.]

VULCAN: My shag-hair Cyclops, come let's ply
Our Lemnian hammers lustily.
By my wife's sparrows
I swear these arrows
Shall singing fly
Through many a wanton's eye.
These headed are with golden blisses,
These silver ones feathered with kisses,
But this of lead ... [IV.4.40]
Strikes a clown dead,
When in a dance
He falls in a trance.
To see his black-brow lass not buss him,
And then whines out for death t' untruss him.
So, so, our work being done, let's play,
Holiday boys: cry holiday!

VULCAN: Here Venus, I have finished these arrows by art,
bestow them you by wit; for as great advice must he use that
hath them, as he cunning that made them. ... [IV.4.50]

VENUS: Vulcan, now you have done with your forge, let us
alone with the fancy. You are as the Fletcher, not the Archer:
to meddle with the arrow, not the aim.

VULCAN: I thought so. When I have done working, you have
done wooing. Where is now sweet Vulcan? Well, I can say no
more but this, which is enough and as much as any can say:
Venus is a woman.

VENUS: Be not angry, Vulcan; I will love thee again when I
have either business or nothing else to do.

VULCAN: My mother will make much of you, when there ... [IV.4.60]
are no more men than Vulcan.

[Vulcan retires into the Forge.]

Continue to Sapho and Phao Act 5

Go to Sapho and Phao Glossary and Appendices

Go back to Sapho and Phao Act 1
Go back to Sapho and Phao Act 2
Go back to Sapho and Phao Act 3

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