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 V.1: [The same.]
VENUS: Come Cupid, receive with thy father's instruments
thy mother's instructions, for thou must be wise in conceit if
thou wilt be fortunate in execution. This arrow is feathered
with the wings of Aegitus, which never sleepeth for fear of his
hen; the head touched with the stone Perillus, which causeth
mistrust and jealousy. Shoot this, Cupid, at men that have
fair wives, which will make them rub the brows when they
swell in the brains. This shaft is headed with Lydian steel,
which striketh a deep disdain of that which we most desire;
the feathers are of turtle, but dipped in the blood of a tigress. ... [V.1.10]
Draw this up close to the head at Sapho, that she may despise
where now she dotes. Good my boy, gall her on the side, that
for Phao's love she may never sigh. This arrow is feathered
with the Phoenix' wing and headed with the Eagle's bill: it
maketh men passionate in desires, in love constant, and wise
in convey-ance, melting as it were, their fancies into faith.
This arrow, sweet child, and with as great aim as thou canst,
must Phao be stricken withal; and cry softly to thyself in the
very loose, 'Venus'! Sweet Cupid, mistake me not; I will make a
quiver for that by itself. The fourth hath feathers of the ... [V.1.20]
Peacock, but glued with the gum of the Myrtle tree, headed
with fine gold and fastened with brittle Chrysocoll. This shoot
at dainty and coy ladies, at amiable and young nymphs.
Choose no other white but women, for this will work liking in
their minds but not love; affability in speech but no faith;
courtly favors to be mistresses over many but constant to
none; sighs to be fetched from the lungs, not the heart; and
tears to be wrung out with their fingers, not their eyes; secret
laughing at men's pale looks and neat attire; open rejoicing at
their own comeliness and men's courting. Shoot this arrow ... [V.1.30]
among the thickest of them, whose bosoms lie open because
they would be stricken with it. And seeing men term women
Jupiter's fools, women shall make men Venus' fools. This shaft
is lead in the head and whose feathers are of the night raven;
a deadly and poisoned shaft which breedeth hate only against
those which sue for love. Take heed Cupid, thou hit not Phao
with this shaft, for then shall Venus perish. This last is an old
arrow but newly mended, the arrow which hit both Sapho
and Phao, working only in mean minds an aspiring to
superiors, & in high estates a stooping to inferiors. With ... [V.1.40]
this, Cupid, I am galled myself, till thou have galled Phao
with the other.
CUPID: I warrant you I will cause Phao to languish in your
love and Sapho to disdain his. [Exit Cupid.]
VENUS: Go. Loiter not nor mistake your shaft. [Exit Cupid.] Now
Venus, hast thou played a cunning part, thou not current. But why
should Venus dispute of unlawfulness in love or faith in affection
(being both the goddess of love and affection), knowing there is
as little truth to be used in love as there is reason? No, sweet
Phao, Venus will obtain because she is Venus. Not thou Jove, ... [V.1.50]
with thunder in thy hand, shalt take him out of my hands. I
have new arrows now for my boy and fresh flames at which
the gods shall tremble if they begin to trouble me. But I will
expect the event and tarry for Cupid at the forge. [Exit.]
Scene V.2: [A room in Sapho's Palace.]
[Enter Sapho, Cupid, Mileta, Venus.]
SAPHO: What hast thou done, Cupid?
CUPID: That my mother commanded, Sapho.
SAPHO: Methinks I feel an alteration in mind and, as it
were, a withdrawing in myself of mine own affections.
CUPID: Then hath mine arrow his effect.
SAPHO: I pray thee, tell me the cause.
CUPID: I dare not.
SAPHO: Fear nothing; for if Venus fret, Sapho can frown.
Thou shalt be my son -- Mileta, give him some sweetmeats.
Speak, good Cupid, and I will give thee many pretty things. ... [V.2.10]
CUPID: My mother is in love with Phao. She willed me to strike
you with disdain of him and him with desire of her.
SAPHO: Oh spiteful Venus! Mileta, give him some of that.
What else, Cupid?
CUPID: I could be even with my mother, and so I will if I shall
call you mother.
SAPHO: Yea Cupid, call me anything so I may be even with
CUPID: I have an arrow with which if I strike Phao, it will
cause him to loathe only Venus. ... [V.2.20]
SAPHO: Sweet Cupid, strike Phao with it. Thou shalt sit in my
lap: I will rock thee asleep and feed thee with all these fine
CUPID: I will about it. [Exit Cupid.]
SAPHO: But come quickly again. Ah unkind Venus, is this
thy promise to Sapho? But if I get Cupid from thee, I myself
will be the Queen of love. I will direct these arrows with better
aim and conquer mine own affections with greater modesty.
Venus' heart shall flame and her love be as common as her
craft. Oh Mileta, time hath disclosed that which my ... [V.2.30]
temperance hath kept in; but sith I am rid of the disease, I
will not be ashamed to confess the cause. I loved Phao, Mileta,
a thing unfit for my degree but forced by my desire.
SAPHO: Phao, Mileta, of whom now Venus is enamored.
MILETA: And do you love him still?
SAPHO: No, I feel relenting thoughts and reason not yielding
to appetite. Let Venus have him -- no, she shall not have him.
But here comes Cupid. [Reenter Cupid.] How now my boy, hast
thou done it? ... [V.2.40]
CUPID: Yea, and left Phao railing on Venus and cursing her
name, yet still sighing for Sapho and blazing her virtues.
SAPHO: Alas, poor Phao, thy extreme love should not be
requited with so mean a fortune. Thy fair face deserved greater
favors. I cannot love -- Venus hath hardened my heart.
VENUS: I marvel Cupid cometh not all this while. How now:
in Sapho's lap?
SAPHO: Yea Venus, what say you to it? In Sapho's lap.
VENUS: Sir boy, come hither.
CUPID: ~~~ I will not.
VENUS: What now? Will you not! Hath Sapho made you so ... [V.2.50]
CUPID: I will be Sapho's son. I have, as you commanded,
stricken her with a deep disdain of Phao; and Phao, as she
entreated me, with a great despite of you.
VENUS: Unhappy wag, what hast thou done? I will make thee
repent it [in[ every vein in thy heart.
SAPHO: Venus, be not choleric. Cupid is mine. He hath
given me his arrows, and I will give him a new bow to shoot in.
You are not worthy to be the lady of love, that yield so often
to the impressions of love. Immodest Venus, that to satisfy ... [V.2.60]
the unbridled thoughts of thy heart, transgressest so far from
the stay of thine honor. How sayest thou, Cupid: wilt thou be
SAPHO: Shall not I be on earth the goddess of affections?
SAPHO: Shall not I rule the fancies of men and lead Venus in
chains like a captive?
SAPHO: It is a good boy! ... [V.2.70]
VENUS: What have we here? You the goddess of love? And you
her son, Cupid? I will tame that proud heart, else shall the
gods say they are not Venus' friends. And as for you, sir boy, I
will teach you how to run away. You shall be stripped from
top to toe and whipped with nettles, not roses. I will set you
to blow Vulcan's coals, not to bear Venus' quiver. I will handle
you for this gear. Well, I say no more. But as for the new
mistress of love (or lady I cry you mercy, I think you would
be called a goddess} you shall know what it is to usurp the
name of Venus! I will pull those plumes and cause you to cast ... [V.2.80]
your eyes on your feet, not your feathers. Your soft hair will
I turn to hard bristles, your tongue to a sting, and those
alluring eyes to unluckiness. In which, if the gods aid me not,
I will curse the gods!
SAPHO: Venus, you are in a vein answerable to your vanity,
whose high words neither become you nor fear me. But let this
suffice: I will keep Cupid in despite of you and yet with the
content of the gods.
VENUS: Will you? Why then, we shall have pretty gods in
heaven, when you take gods prisoners on earth. Before I sleep, ... [V.2.90]
you shall both repent and find what it is but to think
unreverently of Venus. Come Cupid: she knows not how to
use thee. Come with me, you know what I have for you: will
CUPID: Not I!
VENUS: Well, I will be even with you both, & that shortly.
SAPHO: Cupid, fear not. I will direct thine arrows better.
Every rude ass shall not say he is in love. It is a toy made for
ladies, and I will keep it only for ladies.
CUPID: But what will you do for Phao? ... [V.2.100]
SAPHO: I will wish him fortunate. This will I do for Phao
because I once loved Phao; for never shall it be said that
Sapho loved to hate, or that out of love she could not be as
courteous as she was in love passionate. Come Mileta, shut
the door. [Exeunt.]
Scene V.3: [Before Sybilla's Cave.]
[Enter Phao to Sybilla in the cave.]
PHAO: Go to, Sybilla. Tell the beginning of thy love and the
end of thy fortune. And lo, how happily she sitteth in her cave.
SYBILLA: Phao, welcome. What news?
PHAO: Venus, the goddess of love, I loathe: Cupid caused it
with a new shaft. Sapho disdaineth me: Venus caused it for a
new spite. Oh Sybilla, if Venus be unfaithful in love, where
shall one fly for truth? She useth deceit; is it not then likely
she will dispense with subtlety? And being careful to commit
injuries, will she not be careless to revenge them? I must now ... [V.3.10]
fall from love to labor and endeavor with mine oar to get a
fare, not with my pen to write a fancy. Loves are but smokes,
which vanish in the seeing and yet hurt whilest they are seen.
A ferry, Phao. No, the stars cannot call it a worser fortune.
Range rather over the world, for-swear affections; entreat for
death. Oh Sapho, thou hast Cupid in thine arms, I in my heart;
thou kissest him for sport, I must curse him for spite. Yet will
I not curse him, Sapho, whom thou kissest. This shall be my
resolution: wherever I wander, to be as I were ever kneeling
before Sapho, my loyalty unspotted though unrewarded. ... [V.3.20]
With as little malice will I go to my grave as I did lie withal
in my cradle. My life shall be spent in sighing and wishing, the
one for my bad fortune, the other for Sapho's good.
SYBILLA: Do so Phao, for destiny calleth thee as well from Sicily
as from love. Other things hang over thy head, which I must
neither tell nor thou inquire. And so farewell.
PHAO: Farewell Sybilla, and farewell Sicily. Thoughts shall be
thy food, and in thy steps shall be printed behind thee that
there was none so loyal left behind thee. Farewell Syracusa,
unworthy to harbor faith; and when I am gone, unless Sapho ... [V.3.30]
be here, unlikely to harbor any. [Exeunt.]
They that tread in a maze walk oftentimes in one path, & at the last come out where they entered in. We fear we have led you all this while in a labyrinth of conceits, divers times hearing one device; & have now brought you to an end where we first began. Which wearisome travail you must impute to the neces-sity of the history, as Theseus did his labor to the art of the labyrinth. There is nothing causeth such giddiness as going in a wheel. Neither can there anything breed such tediousness as hearing many words uttered in a small compass. But if you accept this dance of a fairy in a circle, we will hereafter at your wills frame our fingers to all forms. And so we wish every one of you a thread to lead you out of the doubts wherewith we leave you entangled: that nothing be mistaken by our rash oversights nor misconstrued by your deep insights.
Imprinted at London by Thomas
Dawson for Thomas Cadman.
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