Fletcher & Shakespeare's
THE TWO NOBLE KINSMEN



THE TWO NOBLE KINSMEN
Prefented at the Blackfriers,
by the Kings Maiefties fervants,
with great applaufe:
Written by the memorable Worthies of their time;
{Mr. John Fletcher, and} Gent.
{Mr. William Shakefpeare}
Printed at London by Tho. Cotes, for Iohn Waterferfon:
and are to be fold at the figne of the Crowne
in Pauls Church-yard. 1634


Modern Spelling
Transcribed by BF. copyright © 2002
Words discussed in the glossary are underlined.
Run-ons (closing open ends) are indicated by ~~~


THE PERSONS OF THE PLAY

PROLOGUE
THESEUS , Duke of Athens.
HIPPOLYTA, Queen of the Amazons, later wife of Theseus.
EMILIA, her sister.
PIRITHOUS, friend of Theseus.
Cousins, nephews of Creon, the King of Thebes.
   PALAMON
   ARCITE
HYMEN, god of marriage.
BOY
ARTESIUS, Athenian soldier.
Three QUEENS, widows of slain kings.
VALERIUS, a Theban.
HERALD
WOMAN, attendant of Emilia.
GENTLEMAN
MESSENGERS
Six KNIGHTS, three attending Arcite and three Palamon.
SERVANT
JAILER
DAUGHTER
JAILER'S BROTHER
WOOER
Two FRIENDS
DOCTOR
Six COUNTRYMEN
SCHOOLMASTER
NELL, a country wench.
FOUR OTHER COUNTRY WENCHES
TABORER
EPILOGUE
NYMPHS, ATTENDANTS, MAIDS, EXECUTIONER, GUARD.

Scene: Athens.
Time: Mythological (ca. 1300-1200 b.c.); before the Trojan War.


CONTENTS
The Two Noble Kinsmen
Appendix I
   Glossary
   Length
   Source
   Suggested Reading
   Attribution of Scenes
Appendix II: Connections


ACT I

Prologue
[Flourish. Enter Prologue.]

PROLOGUE: New plays and maidenheads are near akin:
Much followed both, for both much money giv'n
If they stand sound and well. And a good play,
Whose modest scenes blush on his marriage day
That after holy tie and first night's stir
Yet still is modesty, and still retains
More of the maid to sight than husband's pains.
We pray our play may be so, for I am sure
It has a noble breeder and a pure, ... [Pro.10]
A learned. and a poet never went
More famous yet 'twixt Po and silver Trent.
Chaucer, of all admired, the story gives:
There constant to eternity it lives.
Of we let fall the nobleness of this
And the first sound this child hear be a hiss,
Now will it shake the bones of that good man,
And make him cry from under ground, 'O fan
From me the witless chaff of such a writer,
That blasts my bays and my famed works makes lighter ... [Pro.20]
Than Robin Hood? This is the fear we bring,
For to say truth, it were an endless thing
And too ambitious to aspire to him,
Weak as we are, and almost breathless swim
In this deep water. Do but you hold out
Your helping hands and we shall tack about
And something do to save us. You shall hear
Scenes, though below his art, may yet appear
Worth two hours' travail. To his bones, sweet sleep;
Content to you. If this play do not keep ... [Pro. 30]
A little dull time from us, we perceive
Our losses fall so thick we must needs leave. [Flourish. Exit]

Scene I. 1
Music. Enter Hymen with a torch burning, a Boy in a white robe before, singing and strewing flowers. After Hymen, a nymph encompassed in her tresses, bearing a wheaten garland. Then Theseus between two other nymphs with wheaten chaplets on their heads. Then Hippolyta, the bride, led by Pirithous and another holding a garland over her head, her tresses likewise hanging. After her, Emilia holding up her train. Then Artesius (and other attendants).

BOY: [sings during procession.]
Roses, their sharp spines being gone,
Not royal in their smells alone,
But in their hue;
Maiden pinks, of odor faint,
And sweet thyme true;
Primrose, first-born child of Ver,
Merry springtime's harbinger,
With harebells dim;
Oxlips, in their cradles growing, ... [I.1.10]
Marigolds, on deathbeds blowing,
Lark's-heels trim;
All dear nature's children sweet,
Lie fore bride and bridegroom's feet.
Blessing their sense.
Not an angel of the air,
Bird melodious, or bird fair,
Is absent hence.
The crow, the sland'rous cuckoo, nor ... [I.1.20]
Nor chatt'ring pie,
May on our bride-house perch or sing,
Or with them any discord bring,
But from it fly.
[Enter three Queens in black, with veils stained, with imperial crowns. The First Queen falls down at the foot of Theseus; the Second falls down at the foot of Hippolyta; the Third, before Emilia.]

1 QUEEN: [to Theseus.] For pity's sake and true gentility's,
Hear and respect me.

2 QUEEN: [to Hippolyta,] For your mother's sake,
And as you wish your womb may thrive with fair ones,
Hear and respect me.

3 QUEEN: [to Emilia.] Now for the love of him whom Jove hath marked
The honor of your bed, and for the sake ... [I.1.30]
Of clear virginity, be advocate
For us and our distresses. This good deed
Shall raze you out o'th' Book of Trespasses
All you are set down there.

THESEUS: [to First Queen.] Sad lady, rise.

HIPPOLYTA: [to Second Queen.] ~~~ Stand up.

EMILIA: [to Third Queen.] ~~~ ~~~ No knees to me.
What woman I may stead that is distressed
Does bind me to her.

THESEUS: [to First Queen.] What's your request? Deliver you for all.

1 QUEEN: [kneeling still.] We are three queens whose sovereigns
fell before
The wrath of cruel Creon; who endured ... [I.1.40]
The beaks of ravens, talons of the kites,
And pecks of crows in the foul fields of Thebes.
He will not suffer us to burn their bones,
To urn their ashes, nor to take th' offense
Of mortal loathsomeness from the blest eye
Of holy Phoebus, but infects the winds
With stench of our slain lords. O pity, Duke!
Thou purger of the earth, draw thy feared sword
That does good turns to th' world; give us the bones
And of thy boundless goodness take some note ... [I.1.50]
That for our crowned heads we have no roof,
Save this, which is the lion's and the bear's,
And vault to everything.

THESEUS: ~~~ Pray you, kneel not:
I was transported with your speech, and suffered
Your knees to wrong themselves, I have heard the fortunes
Of your dead lords, which gives me such lamenting
As wakes my vengeance and revenge for 'em.
King Capeneus was your lord: the day
That he should marry you -- at such a season ... [I.1.60]
As now it is with me -- I met your groom
By Mars's altar. You were that time fair,
Not Juno's mantle fairer than your tresses,
Nor in more bounty spread her. Your wheaten wreath
Was then nor threshed nor blasted; fortune at you
Dimpled her cheek with smiles; Hercules our kinsman --
Then weaker than your eyes -- laid by his club.
He tumbled down upon his Nemean hide
And swore his sinews thawed. O grief and time,
Fearful consumers, you will all devour. ... [I.1.70]

1 QUEEN: [Kneeling still.] O, I hope some god,
Some god hath put his mercy in your manhood,
Whereto he'll infuse power and press you forth
Our undertaker.

THESEUS: ~~~ O no knees, none, widow: [The First Queen rises.]
Unto the helmeted Bellona use them
And pray for me, your soldier. Troubled I am

2 QUEEN: [kneeling still.] Honored Hippolyta,
Most dreaded Amazonian, that hast slain
The scythe-tusked boar, that with thy arm, as strong
As it is white, wast near to make the male ... [I.1.80]
To thy sex captive, but that this, thy lord --
Born to uphold creation in that honor
First nature styled it in -- shrunk thee into
The bound thou wast o'erflowing, at once subduing
Thy force and thy affection; soldieress,
That equally canst poise sternness with pity,
Whom now I know has much more power on him
Than ever he had on thee, who ow'st his strength,
And his love too, who is a servant for
The tenor of thy speech; dear glass of ladies, ... [I.1.90]
Bid him that we, whom flaming war doth scorch,
Under the shadow of his sword may cool us.
Require him he advance it o'er our heads.
Speak't in a woman's key, like such a woman
As any of us three. Weep ere you fail.
Lend us a knee:
But touch the ground for us no longer time
Than a dove's motion when the head's plucked off.
Tell him, if he i' th' blood-sized field lay swoll'n,
Showing the sun his teeth, grinning at the moon, ... [I.1.100]
What you would do.

HIPPOLYTA: ~~~ Poor lady, say no more.
I had as lief trace this good action with you
As that whereto I am going, and never yet
Went I so willing way. My lord is taken
Heart-deep with your distress. Let him consider.
I'll speak anon. [The Second Queen rises.]

3 QUEEN: [kneeling still, to Emilia.] O, my petition was
Set down in ice, which by hot grief uncandied
Melts into drops; so sorrow, wanting form,
Is pressed with deeper matter.

EMILIA: ~~~ Pray stand up:
Your grief is written in your cheek.

3 QUEEN: ~~~ ~~~ O woe, ... [I.1.110]
You cannot read it there; there, through my tears,
Like wrinkled pebbles in a glassy stream,
You may behold 'em. [The Third Queen arises.] Lady, lady, alack --
He that will all the treasure know o'th' earth
Must know the center too; he that will fish
For my least minnow, let him lead his line
To catch one at my heart. O, pardon me:
Extremity, that sharpens sundry wits,
Makes me a fool.

EMILIA: ~~~ Pray you, say nothing, pray you.
Who cannot feel nor see the rain, being in't, ... [I.1.120]
Knows neither wet nor dry. If that you were
The ground-piece of some painter, I would buy you
T'instruct me 'gainst a capital grief, indeed
Such heart-pierced demonstration; but alas,
Being a natural sister of our sex,
Your sorrow beats so ardently upon me
That it shall make a counter-reflect 'gainst
My brother's heart, and warm it to some pity,
Though it were made of stone. Pray have good comfort.

THESEUS: Forward to th' temple. Leave not out a jot ... [I.1.130]
O'th' sacred ceremony.

1 QUEEN: ~~~ O, this celebration
Will longer last and be more costly than
Your suppliants' war. Remember that your fame
Knolls in the ear o'th' world: what you do quickly
Is not done rashly; your first thought is more
Than others' labored meditance; your premeditating
More than their actions. But, O Jove, your actions,
Soon as they move, as ospreys do the fish,
Subdue before they touch. Think, dear Duke, think
What beds our slain kings have.

2 QUEEN: ~~~ What griefs our beds, ... [I.1.140]
That our dear lords have none.

3 QUEEN: ~~~ None fit for th' dead.
Those that with cords, knives, drams, precipitance,
Weary of this world's light, have to themselves
Been death's most horrid agents, human grace
Affords them dust and shadow.

1 QUEEN: ~~~ But our lords
Lie blist'ring fore the visitating sun,
And were good kings, when living.

THESEUS: ~~~ It is true,
And I will give you comfort to give your dead lords graves,
The which to do must make some work with Creon.

1 QUEEN: And that work presents itself to th' doing ... [I.1.150]
Now 'twill take form, the heats are gone tomorrow.
Then, bootless toil must recompense itself
With its own sweat; now he's secure,
Not dreams we stand before your puissance
Rinsing our holy begging in our eyes
To make petition clear.

2 QUEEN: ~~~ Now you may take him,
Drunk with his victory.

3 QUEEN: ~~~ And his army full
Of bread and sloth.

THESEUS: ~~~ Artesius, that best knowest
How to draw out, fit to this enterprise
The prim'st for this proceeding and the number ... [I.1.160]
To carry such a business: forth and levy
Our worthiest instruments, whilst we dispatch
This grand act of our life, this daring deed
Of fate in wedlock.

1 QUEEN: [to the other two Queens.] ~~~ Dowagers, take hands;
Let us be widows to our woes; delay
Commends us to a famishing hope.

ALL THREE QUEENS: ~~~ Farewell

2 QUEEN: We come unseasonably, but when could grief
Cull forth, as unpanged judgment can, fitt'st time
For best solicitation?

THESEUS: ~~~ Why, good ladies, ... [I.1.170]
This is a service whereto I am going
Greater than any war -- it more imports me
Than all the actions that I have foregone,
Or futurely can cope.

1 QUEEN: ~~~ The more proclaiming
Our suit shall be neglected when her arms,
Able to lock Jove from a synod, shall
By warranting moonlight corslet thee! O when
Her twinning cherries shall their sweetness fall
Upon thy tasteful lips, what wilt thou think
Of rotten kings or blubbered queens? What care
For what thou feel'st not, what thou feel'st being able ... [I.1.180]
To make Mars spur his drum? O, if thou couch
But one night with her, every hour in't will
Take hostage of thee for a hundred, and
Thou shalt remember nothing more than what
That banquet bids thee to.

HIPPOLYTA: [to Theseus.] ~~~ Though much unlike
You should be so transported, as much sorry
I should be such a suitor -- yet I think
Did I not by th'abstaining of my joy,
Which breeds a deeper longing, cure their surfeit
That craves a present medicine, I should pluck ... [I.1.190]
All ladies' scandal on me. [Kneels.] Therefore, sir,
As I shall here make trial of my prayers,
Either presuming them to have some force,
Or sentencing for aye their vigor dumb,
Prorogue this business we are going about, and hang
Your shield afore your heart -- about that neck
Which is my fee, and which I freely lend
To do these poor queens service.

ALL THREE QUEENS: [to Emilia.] ~~~ O, help now,
Our cause cries for your knee.

EMILIA: [Kneels to Theseus.] ~~~ If you grant not
My sister her petition in that force ... [I.1.200]
With that celerity and nature which
She makes it in, from henceforth I'll not dare
To ask you anything, nor be so hardy
Ever to take a husband.

THESEUS: ~~~ Pray stand up. [They rise.]
I am entreating of myself to do
That which you kneel to have me. -- Pirithous,
Lead on the bride: get you and pray the gods
For success and return; omit not anything
In the pretended celebration. -- Queens,
Follow your soldier. [to Artesius.] As before, hence you, ... [I.1.210]
And at the banks of Aulis meet us with
The forces you can raise, where we shall find
The moiety of a number for a business
More bigger looked. [Exit Artesius.]
[to Hippolyta.] ~~~ Since that our theme is haste,
I stamp this kiss upon thy current lip --
Sweet, keep it as my token. [to the wedding party.] Set you forward,
For I will see you gone.
[to Emilia.] Farewell, my beauteous sister. -- Pirithous,
Keep the feast full: bate not an hour on't.

PIRITHOUS: ~~~ Sir,
I'll follow you at heels. The feast's solemnity ... [I.1.220]
Shall want till your return.

THESEUS: ~~~ Cousin, I charge you
Budge not from Athens. We shall be returning
Ere you can end this feast, of which, I pray you,
Make no abatement. -- Once more, farewell all.
[Exeunt Hippolyta, Emilia, Pirithous, and train towards the temple.]

1 QUEEN: Thus dost thou still make good the tongue o' th' world.

2 QUEEN: And earn'st a deity equal with Mars --

3 QUEEN: If not above him, for
Thou being but mortal mak'st affections bend
To godlike honors; they themselves, some say,
Groan under such a mast'ry.

THESEUS: ~~~ As we are men,] ... [I.1.230]
Thus should we do; being sensually subdued
We lose our human title. Good cheer, ladies.
Now turn we towards your comforts. [Flourish. Exeunt.]

Scene I. 2
Enter Palamon and Arcite

ARCITE: Dear Palamon, dearer in love than blood,
And our prime cousin, yet unhardened in
The crimes of nature, let us leave the city,
Thebes, and the temptings in't, before we further
Sully our gloss of youth.
And here to keep in abstinence we shame
As in incontinence; for not to swim
I'th' aid o'th' current were almost to sink --
At least to frustrate striving; and to follow
The common stream 'twould bring us to an eddy ... [I.2.10]
Where we should turn or drown; if labor through,
Our gain but life and weakness.

PALAMON: ~~~ Your advice
Is cried up with example. What strange ruins
Since first we went to school may we perceive
Walking in Thebes? Scars and bare weeds
The gain o'th' martialist who did propound
To his bold ends honor and golden ingots,
Which though he won, he had not; and now flirted
By peace for whom he fought. Who then shall offer
To Mars's so-scorned altar? I do bleed ... [I.2.20]
When such I meet, and wish great Juno would
Resume her ancient fit of jealousy
To get the soldier work, that peace might purge
For her repletion and retain anew
Her charitable heart, now hard and harsher
Than strife or war could be.

ARCITE: ~~~ Are you not out?
Meet you no ruin but the soldier in
The cranks and turns of Thebes? You did begin
As if you met decays of many kinds. ... [I.2.30]
Perceive you none that do arouse your pity
But th'unconsidered soldier?

PALAMON: ~~~ Yet, I pity
Decays where'er I find them, but such most
That, sweating in an honorable toil,
Are paid with ice to cool 'em.

ARCITE: ~~~ 'Tis not this
I did begin to speak of. This is virtue,
Of no respect in Thebes. I spake of Thebes,
How dangerous, if we will keep our honors,
It is for our residing where every evil
Hath a good color, where every seeming good's
A certain evil, where not to be ev'n jump ... [I.2.40]
As they are here were to be strangers, and
Such things to be, mere monsters.

PALAMON: ~~~ 'Tis in our power,
Unless we fear that apes can tutor's, to
Be masters of our manners. What need I
Affect another's gait, which is not catching
Where there is faith? Or to be fond upon
Another's way of speech, when by mine own
I may be reasonably conceived -- saved, too --
Speaking it truly? Why am I bound
By any generous bond to follow him ... [I.2.50]
Follows his tailor, haply so long until
The followed make pursuit? Or let me know
Why mine own barber is unblest -- with him
My poor chin, too -- for 'tis not scissored just
To such a favorite's glass? What canon is there
That does command my rapier from my hip
To dangle't in my hand? Or to go tiptoe
Before the street be foul? Either I am
The fore-horse in the team or I am none
That draw i' th' sequent trace. These poor slight sores ... [I.2.60]
Need not a plaintain. That which rips my bosom
Almost to th' heart's --

ARCITE: ~~~ Our uncle Creon.

PALAMON: ~~~ ~~~ He,
A most unbounded tyrant, whose successes
Makes heaven unfeared and villainy assured
Beyond its power there's nothing; almost puts
Faith in a fever, and deifies alone
Voluble chance; who only attributes
The faculties of other instruments
To his nerves and act; commands men's service,
And what they win in't, boot and glory; one ... [I.2.70]
That fears not to do harm, good dares not. Let
The blood of mine that's sib to him be sucked
From me with leeches. Let them break and fall
Off me with that corruption.

ARCITE: ~~~ Clear-spirited cousin,
Let's leave his court that we may nothing share
Of his loud infamy: for our milk
Will relish of the pasture, and we must
Be vile or disobedient; not his kinsmen
In blood unless in quality.

PALAMON: ~~~ Nothing truer.
I think the echoes of his shames have defeated ... [I.2.80]
The ears of heav'nly justice. Widow's cries
Descend again into their throats and have not [Enter Valerius.]
Due audience of the gods -- Valerius.

VALERIUS: The king calls for you; yet be leaden-footed
Till his great rage be off him. Phoebus, when
He broke his whipstock and exclaimed against
The horses of the sun, but whispered to
The loudness of his fury.

PALAMON: ~~~ Small winds shake him.
But what's the matter?

VALERIUS: Theseus, who where he threats, appalls, hath sent ... [I.2.90]
Deadly defiance to him and pronounces
Ruin to Thebes, who is at hand to seal
The promise of his wrath.

ARCITE: ~~~ Let him approach.
But that we fear the gods in him, he brings not
A jot of terror to us. Yet what man
Thirds his own worth -- the case is each of ours --
When that his action's dregged with mind assured
'Tis bad he goes about.

PALAMON: ~~~ Leave that unreasoned.
Our services stand now for Thebes, not Creon,
Yet to be neutral to him were dishonor, ... [I.2.100]
Rebellious to oppose. Therefore we must
With him stand to the mercy of our fate,
Who hath bounded our last minute.

ARCITE: ~~~ So we must.
Is't said this war's afoot? Or shall it be
On fall of some condition?

VALERIUS: ~~~ ÔTis in motion,
The intelligence of state came in the instant
With the defier.

PALAMON: ~~~ Let's to the King, who, were he
A quarter carrier of that honor which
His enemy come in, the blood we venture
Should be as for our health, which were not spent, ... [I.2.110]
Rather laid out for purchase. But, alas,
Our hands advanced before our hearts, what will
The fall o'th' stroke do damage?

ARCITE: ~~~ Let th'event --
That never-erring arbitrator -- tell us
When we know all ourselves, and let us follow
The becking of our chance. [Exeunt.]

Scene I. 3
Enter Pirithous, Hippolyta, and Emilia

PIRITHOUS: No further.

HIPPOLYTA: ~~~ Sir, farewell. Repeat my wishes
To our great lord, of whose success I dare not
Make any timorous question; yet I wish him
Excess and overflow of power, an't might be,
To dure ill-dealing fortune. Speed to him;
Store never hurts good governors.

PIRITHOUS: ~~~ Though I know
His ocean needs not my poor drops, yet they
Must yield their tribute there. [to Emilia] My precious maid,
Those best affections that the heavens infuse
In their best-tempered pieces keep enthroned ... [I.3.10]
In your dear heart.

EMILIA: ~~~ Thanks, sir. Remember me
To our all-royal brother, for whose speed
The great Bellona I'll solicit; and
Since in our terrene state petitions are not
Without gifts understood, I'll offer to her
What I shall be advised she likes. Our hearts
Are in his army, in his tent.

HIPPOLYTA: ~~~ In's bosom.
We have been soldiers, and we cannot weep
When our friends don their helms, or put to sea,
Or tell of babes broached on the lance, or women ... [I.3.20]
That have sod their infants in-and after eat them --
The brine they wept at killing 'em: then if
You stay to see of us such spinsters, we
Should hold you here forever.

PIRITHOUS: ~~~ Peace be to you
As I pursue this war, which shall be then
Beyond further requiring. [Exit Pirithous.]

EMILIA: ~~~ How his longing
Follows his friend! Since his depart, his sports,
Though craving seriousness and skill, passed slightly
His careless execution, where nor gain
Made him regard or loss consider, but ... [I.3.30
Playing one business in his hand, another
Directing in his head, his mind nurse equal
To these so diff'ring twins. Have you observed him
Since our great lord departed?

HIPPOLYTA: ~~~ With much labor;
And I did love him for't. They two have cabined
In many as dangerous as poor a corner,
Peril and want contending; they have skiffed
Torrents whose roaring tyranny and power
I'th' least of these was dreadful, and they have
Fought out together where death's self was lodged; ... [I.3.40]
Yet fate hath brought them off. Their knot of love,
Tied, weaved, entangled with so true, so long,
And with a finger of so deep a cunning,
May be outworn, never undone. I think
Theseus cannot be umpire to himself,
Cleaving his conscience into twain and doing
Each side like justice, which he loves best.

EMILIA: ~~~ Doubtless
There is a best, and reason has no manners
So say it is not you. I was acquainted
Once with a time when I enjoyed a playfellow; ... [I.3.50]
You were at wars when she the grave enriched,
Who made too proud the bed; took leave o'th' moon --
Which then looked pale at parting -- when our count
Was each eleven.

HIPPOLYTA: ~~~ 'Twas Flavina.

EMILIA: ~~~ Yes.
You talk of Pirithous' and Theseus' love:
Theirs has more ground, is more maturely seasoned,
More buckled with strong judgment, and their needs
The one of th'other may be said to water
Their intertangled roots of love; but I
And she I sigh and spoke of were things innocent, ... [I.3.60]
Loved for what we did, and like the elements,
That know not what, nor why, yet do effect
Rare issues by their operance, our souls
Did so to one another. What she liked
Was then of me approved; what not, condemned --
No more arraignment. The flower that I would pluck
And put between my breasts -- O then but beginning
To swell about the blossom -- she would long
Till she had such another, and commit it
To the like innocent cradle, where phoenix-like, ... [I.3.70]
They died in perfume. On my head no toy
But was her pattern. Her affections -- pretty,
Though happily her careless wear -- I followed
For my most serious decking. Had mine ear
Stol'n some new air, or at adventure hummed one,
From musical coinage, why, it was a note
Whereon her spirits would sojourn -- rather dwell on --
And sing it in her slumbers. This rehearsal --
Which, seely innocence wots well, comes in
Like old 8emportment's bastard -- has this end: ... [I.3.80]
That the true love 'tween maid and maid may be
More than in sex dividual.

HIPPOLYTA: ~~~ You're out of breath,
And this high-speeded pace is but to say
That you shall never, like the maid Flavina,
Love any that's called man.

EMILIA: I am sure I shall not.

HIPPOLYTA: Now alack, weak sister,
I must no more believe thee in this point --
Though in't I know thou dost believe thyself --
Than I will trust a sickly appetite ... [I.3.90]
That loathes even as it longs. But sure, my sister,
If I were ripe for your persuasion, you
Have said enough to shake me from the arm
Of the all-noble Theseus, for whose fortunes
I will now in and kneel, with great assurance
That we more than his Pirithous possess
The high throne in his heart.

EMILIA: ~~~ I am not
Against your faith, yet I continue mine. [Exeunt.]

Scene I. 4
Cornets. A battle struck within. Then a retreat. Flourish. Then enter Theseus, victor. The three Queens meet him and fall on their faces before him. Also enter a Herald, and attendants bearing Palamon and Arcite on two hearses.

1 QUEEN: [to Theseus.] To thee no star be dark.

2 QUEEN: [to Theseus.] Both heaven and earth
Friend thee for ever.

3 QUEEN: [to Theseus.] All the good that may
Be wished upon thy head, I cry 'Amen' to't.

THESEUS: Th'impartial gods, who from the mounted heavens
View us their mortal herd, behold who err
And in their time chastise. Go and find out
The bones of your dead lords and honor them
With treble ceremony: rather than a gap
Should be in their dear rites we would supply't.
But those we will depute which shall invest ... [I.4.10]
You in your dignities, and even each thing
Our haste does leave imperfect. So adieu,
And heaven's good eyes look on you. [Exeunt the Queen.]
~~~ What are those?

HERALD: Men of great quality, as may be judged
By their appointment. Some of Thebes have told's
They are sisters' children, nephews to the King.

THESEUS: By th' helm of Mars I saw them in the war,
Like to a pair of lions smeared with prey,
Make lanes in troops aghast. I fixed my note
Constantly on them, for they were a mark ... [I.4.20]
Worth a god's view. What prisoner was't that told me
When I enquired their names?

HERALD: ~~~ Wi' leave, they're called
Arcite and Palamon.

THESEUS: ~~~ 'Tis right: those, those.
They are not dead?

HERALD: Nor in a state of life. Had they been taken
When their last hurts were given, 'twas possible
They might have been recovered. Yet they breathe,
And have the name of men.

THESEUS: ~~~ Then like men use 'em.
The very lees of such, millions of rates
Exceed the wine of others. All our surgeons ... [I.4.30]
Convent in their behoof; our richest balms,
Rather than niggard, waste. Their lives concern us
Much more than Thebes is worth. Rather than have 'em
Freed of this plight and in their morning state --
Sound and at liberty -- I would 'em dead;
But forty-thousandfold we had rather have 'em
Prisoners to us, than death. Bear 'em speedily
From our kind air, to them unkind, and minister
What man to man may do -- for our sake, more,
Since I have known frights, fury, friends' behests, ... [I.4.40]
Love's provocations, zeal, a mistress' task,
Desire of liberty, a fever, madness,
Hath set a mark which nature could not reach to
Without some imposition, sickness in will
O'er-wrestling strength in reason. For our love
And great Apollo's mercy, all our best
Their best skill tender. -- Lead into the city
Where, having bound things scattered, we will post
To Athens fore our army. [Flourish. Exeunt.]

Scene I. 5
Music. Enter the three Queens with the hearses of their
lords in a funeral solemnity, with attendants.

Song

Urns and odors, bring away,
Vapors, sighs, darken the day;
Our dole more deadly looks than dying.
Balms and gums and heavy cheers,
Sacred vials filled with tears,
And clamors through the wild air flying:
Come all sad and solemn shows,
That are quick-eyed pleasure's foes.
We convent naught else but woes,
We convent naught else but woes. ... [I.5.10]

3 QUEEN: This funeral path brings to your household's grave --
Joy seize on you again, peace sleep with him.

2 QUEEN: And this to yours.

1 QUEEN: ~~~ Yours this way. Heavens lend
A thousand differing ways to one sure end.

3 QUEEN: This world's a city full of straying streets,
And death's the market-place where each one meets. [Exeunt severally.]



Go to Two Noble Kinsmen Act 2

Go to Two Noble Kinsmen Act 3

Go to Two Noble Kinsmen Act 4

Go to Two Noble Kinsmen Act 5

Go to Two Noble Kinsmen GLOSSARY

Back to Elizabethan Authors HOME PAGE