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Sri Aurobindo

Collected Plays and Stories

CWSA. Volume 3 and 4



A Dramatic Romance


Persons of the Drama

Act I

Scene 1

Scene 2

Scene 3

Act II

Scene 1

Scene 2

Scene 3

Scene 4

Scene 5


Scene 1

Scene 2

Scene 3

Act IV

Scene 1

Scene 2

Scene 3

Scene 4

Scene 5

Act V

Scene 1

Scene 2

Scene 3

Scene 4


Persons of the Drama

   twin-brothers, Princes of Syria, sons of Nicanor and Cleopatra.



Nicanor, of the royal house, general-in-chief of the Syrian armies.

   Greek nobles of the Kingdom of Syria, generals of its armies.



Phayllus, an official, afterwards Minister of Timocles.

Philoctetes, a young Greek noble of Egypt, friend of Antiochus.

Melitus, a Court official.

Callicrates, a young Greek noble of Syria.

Theras, a gentleman in waiting.

An Eremite.

Cleopatra, an Egyptian princess, sister of the reigning Ptolemy, Queen of Syria; widow successively of King Nicanor and his brother Antiochus.

Rodogune, a princess of Parthia, prisoner in Antioch.

Eunice, daughter of Nicanor.

Cleone, sister of Phayllus, in attendance on the Queen.

Mentho, an Egyptian woman, nurse of Antiochus.

Zo˙la, an attendant of Cleopatra.


Act I

Antioch. The Palace; a house by the sea.


Scene 1

The Palace in Antioch; Cleopatra’s antechamber.
Cleone is seated; to her enters Eunice.


Always he lives!


No, his disease, not he.

For the divinity that sits in man

From that afflicted body has withdrawn,–

Its pride, its greatness, joy, command, the Power

Unnameable that struggles with its world:

The husk, the creature only lives. But that husk

Has a heart, a mind and all accustomed wants,

And having these must be,– O, it is pitiful,–

Stripped of all real homage, forced to see

That none but Death desires him any more.


You pity?


Seems it strange to you? I pity.

I loved him not,– who did? But I am human

And feel the touch of tears. A death desired

Is still a death and man is always man

Although an enemy. If I ever slew,

I think ’twould be with pity in the blow

That it was needed.


That’s a foolish thought.


If it were weakness and delayed the stroke.


The Queen waits by him still?


No longer now.

For while officiously she served her lord,

The dying monarch cast a royal look

Of sternness on her. “Cease,” he said, “O woman,

To trouble with thy ill-dissembled joy

My passing. Call thy sons! Before they come

I shall have gone into the shadow. Yet

Too much exult not, lest the angry gods

Chastise thee with the coming of thy sons

At which thou now rejoicest.”


Where is she then

Or who waits on her?




That slave!

No nobler attendance?


I think I hear the speech

Of upstarts. Are you, Cleone, of that tribe?


I marvel at your strange attraction, Princess,

You fondle and admire a statue of chalk

In a black towel dismally arranged!


She has roses in her pallor, but they are

The memory of a blush in ivory.

She is all silent, gentle, pale and pure,

Dim-natured with a heart as soft as sleep.


She is a twilight soul, not frank, not Greek,

Some Magian’s daughter full of midnight spells.

I think she is a changeling from the dead.

I hate the sorceress!


We shall have a king

Who’s young, Cleone; Rodogune is fair.

What think you of it, you small bitter heart?


He will prefer the roses and the day,

I hope!


Yourself, you think? O, see her walk!

A floating lily in moonlight was her sister.

Rodogune enters.


His agony ends at last.


Why have you left

Your mistress and your service, Rodogune?


She will not have me near her now; she says

I look at her with eyes too wondering and too large.

So she expects alone her husband’s end

And her release. Alas, the valiant man,

The king, the trampler of the fields of death!

He called to victory and she ran to him,

He made of conquest his camp-follower. How

He lies forsaken! None regard his end;

His flatterers whisper round him, his no more;

His almost widow smiles. Better would men,

Could they foresee their ending, understand

The need of mercy.


My sandal-string is loose;

Kneel down and tie it, Parthian Rodogune.


You too may feel the need of mercy yet,


Cleopatra enters swiftly from the corridors of the Palace.


Antiochus is dead, is dead, and I

Shall see at last the faces of my sons.

O, I could cry upon the palace-tops

My exultation! Gaze not on me so,

Eunice. I have lived for eighteen years

With silence and my anguished soul within

While all the while a mother’s heart in me

Cried for her children’s eyelids, wept to touch

The little bodies that with pain I bore.

The long chill dawnings came without that joy.

Only my hateful husband and his crown,–

His crown!


To the world he was a man august,

High-thoughted, grandiose, valiant. Leave him to death,

And thou enjoy thy children.


He would not let my children come to me,

Therefore I spit upon his corpse. Eunice,

Have you not thought sometimes how strange it will feel

To see my tall strong sons come striding in

Who were two lisping babes, two pretty babes?

Sometimes I think they are not changed at all

And I shall see my small Antiochus

With those sweet sunlight curls, his father’s curls,

And eyes in which an infant royalty

Expressed itself in glances, Timocles

Holding his brother’s hand1 and toiling to me

With eyes like flowers wide-opened by the wind

And rosy lips that laugh towards my breast.

Will it not be strange, so sweet and strange?


And when

Will they arrive from Egypt?


Ah, Eunice,

From Egypt! They are here, Eunice.




Not in this room, dear fool; in Antioch, hid

Where never cruel eyes could come at them.

O, did you think a mother’s hungry heart

Could lose one fluttering moment of delight

After such empty years? Theramenes,–

The swift hawk he is,– by that good illness helped

Darted across and brought them. They’re here, Eunice!

I saw them not even then, not even then

Could clasp, but now Antiochus is dead,

Is dead, my lips shall kiss them! Messengers

Abridge the road2 with tempest in their hooves

To bring them to me!


Imperil not with memories of hate

The hour of thy new-found felicity;

For souls dislodged are dangerous and the gods

Have their caprices.


Will the Furies stir

Because I hated grim Antiochus?

When I have slain my kin, then let them wake.

The man who’s dead was nothing to my heart:

My husband was Nicanor, my beautiful

High-hearted lord with his bright auburn hair

And open face. When he died miserably

A captive in the hated Parthian’s bonds,

My heart was broken. Only for my babes

I knit the pieces strongly to each other,

My little babes whom I must send away

To Egypt far from me! But for Antiochus,

That gloomy, sullen and forbidding soul,

Harsh-featured, hard of heart, rough mud of camps

And marches,– he was never lord of me.

He was a reason of State, an act of policy;

And he exiled my children. You have not been

A mother!


I will love with you, Cleopatra,

Although to hate unwilling.


Love me and with me

As much as your pale quiet Parthian’s loved

Whom for your sake I have not slain.


She too,

The Parthian! – blames you. Was it not she who said,

Your joy will bring a curse upon your sons?


Hast thou so little terror?


Never she said it!


Fear yet; be wise! I cannot any more

Feel anger! Never again can grief be born

In this glad world that gives me back my sons.

I can think only of my children’s arms.

There is a diphony of music swells

Within me and it cries a double name,

Twin sounds, Antiochus and Timocles,

Timocles and Antiochus, the two

Changing their places sweetly like a pair

Of happy lovers in my brain.


But which

Shall be our king in Syria?


Both shall be kings,

My kings, my little royal faces made

To rule my breast. Upon a meaner throne

What matters who shall reign for both?

Zo˙la enters.



The banner floats upon that seaward tower.


O my soul, fly to perch there! Shall it not seem

My children’s robes as motherwards they run to me

Tired of their distant play?

She leaves the room followed by Zo˙la.


You, you, Cleone! gods are not in the world

If you end happily.


Do not reproach her.

I have no complaint against one human creature;

Nature and Fate do all.


Because you were born,

My Rodogune, to suffer and be sweet

As was Cleone to offend. O snake,

For all thy gold and roses!


I did not think

Her guiltless sons must pay her debt. Account

Is kept in heaven and our own offences

Too heavy a load for us to bear.

Rodogune and Eunice go out.


The doll,

The Parthian puppet whom she fondles so,

She hardly has a glance for me! I am glad

This gloomy, grand Antiochus is dead.

O now for pastime, dances, youth and flowers!

Youth, youth! for we shall have upon the throne

No grey beard longer, but some glorious boy

Made for delight with whom we shall be young

For ever.

(to Phayllus, as he enters)

Rejoice, brother; he is dead.


It was my desire and fear that killed him then;

For he was nosing into my accounts.

When shall we have these two king-cubs and which

Is the crowned lion?


That is hidden, Phayllus;

You know it.


I know; I wish I also knew

Why it was hidden. Perhaps there is no cause

Save the hiding! Women feign and lie by nature

As the snake coils, no purpose served by it.

Or was it the grim king who’ld have it so?


They are in Antioch.


That I knew.


You knew?


Before Queen Cleopatra. They do not sleep

Who govern kingdoms; they have ears and eyes.


Knew and they live!


Why should one slay in vain?

A dying man has nothing left to fear

Or hope for. He belongs to other cares.

Whichever of these Syrian cubs be crowned,

He will be hungry, young and African;

He will need caterers.


Shall they not be found?


In Egypt they have other needs than ours.

There lust’s almost as open as feasting is;

Science and poetry and learned tastes

Are not confined to books, but life’s an art.

There are faint mysteries, there are lurid pomps;

Strong philtres pass and covert drugs. Desire

Is married to fulfilment, pain’s enjoyed

And love sometimes procures his prey for death.

He’ll want those strange and vivid colours here,

Not dull diplomacies and hard rough arms.

Then who shall look to statecraft’s arid needs

If not Phayllus?


We shall rise?


It is that

I came to learn from you. I have a need for growth;

I feel a ray come nearer to my brow,

The world expands before me. Will you3 assist,–

For you have courage, falsehood, brains,– my growth?

Your own assisted,– that is understood.


Because I am near the Queen?


That helps, perhaps,

But falls below the mark at which I aim.

If you were nearer to the King,– why, then!


Depend on me.


Cleone, we shall rise.


Scene 2

The colonnade of a house in Antioch, overlooking the sea.
Antiochus, Philoctetes.


The summons comes not and my life still waits.


Patience, beloved Antiochus. Even now

He fronts the darkness.


Nothing have I spoken

As wishing for his death. His was a mould

That should have been immortal. But since all

Are voyagers to one goal and wishing’s vain

To hold one traveller back, I keep my hopes.

O Philoctetes, we who missed his life,

Should have the memory of his end! Unseen

He goes from us into the shades, unknown:

We are denied his solemn hours.


All men

Are not like thee, my monarch, and this king

Was great but dangerous as a lion is

Who lives in deserts mightily alone.

Admire him from that distance.


O fear and base suspicion, evillest part

Of Nature, how you spoil our grandiose life!

All heights are lowered, our wide embrace restrained,

God’s natural sunshine darkened by your fault.

We were not meant for darkness, plots and hatred

Reading our baseness in another’s mind,

But like good wrestlers, hearty comrades, hearty foes,

To take and give in life’s great lists together

Blows and embraces.


A mother’s love, a mother’s fears

Earn their excuse.


I care not for such love.

O Philoctetes, all this happy night

I could not sleep; for proud dreams came to me

In which I sat on Syria’s puissant throne,

Or marched through Parthia with the iron pomps

Of war resounding in my train, or swam

My charger through the Indus undulant,

Or up to Ganges and the torrid south

Restored once more the Syrian monarchy.

It is divinity on earth to be a king.


But if the weaker prove the elder born?

If Timocles were Fate’s elected king?


Dear merry Timocles! he would not wish

To wear the iron burden of a crown;

If he has joy, it is enough for him.

Sunshine and laughter and the arms of friends

Guard his fine monarchy of cheerful mind.


If always Fate were careful to fit in

The nature with the lot! But she sometimes

Loves these strange contrasts and crude ironies.


Has not nurse Mentho often sworn to me

That I, not he, saw earth the first?


And when

Did woman’s tongue except in wrath or malice

Deliver truth that’s bitter?



Do you not wish me to be king?


Why left I then

Nile in his fields and Egypt slumbering

Couchant upon her sands, but to pursue

Your gallant progress sailing through life’s seas

Shattering opponents till your flag flew high,

Sole admiral-ship of all this kingly world?

But since upon this random earth unjust

We travel stumbling to the pyre, not led

By any Power nor any law, and neither

What we desire nor what we deserve

Arrives, but unintelligible dooms

O’ertake us and the travesty of things,

It is better not to hope too much.


It is better

To lift our hopes heaven-high and to extend them

As wide as earth. Heaven did not give me in vain

This royal nature and this kingly form,

These thoughts that wear a crown. They were not meant

For mockery nor to fret a subject’s heart.

Do you not hear the ardour of those hooves?

My kingdom rides to me.

He hastens to the other end of the colonnade.


O glorious youth

Whose young heroic arms would gird the world,

I like a proud and anxious mother follow,

Desiring, fearing, drawn by cords of hope and love,

Admire and doubt, exult and quake and chide.

She is so glad of her brave, beautiful child,

But trembles lest his courage and his beauty

Alarm the fatal jealousy that watches us

From thrones unseen.

Thoas and Melitus enter from the gates.


Are these the Syrian twins?


The elder of them only, Antiochus

Of Syria.


Son of Nicanor! Antiochus

The high Seleucid travels the dull stream

And Syria’s throne is empty for his heir.


A glorious sun has fallen then from heaven

Saddening the nations, even those he smote.

It is the rule of Nature makes us rise

Despite our hearts replacing what we love,

And I am happy who am called so soon

To rule a nation of such princely men.

Are you not Thoas?


Thoas of Macedon.


Thoas, we shall be friends. Will it be long

Before we march together through the world

To stable our horses in Persepolis?

He turns to speak to Timocles who has just entered and goes into the house.


This is a royal style and kingly brow.


The man is royal. What a face looks forth

From under that bright aureole of hair!


I greet you, Syrians. Shall I know your names?


Melitus. This is Thoas.



Oh yes, of Macedon.


No, Antioch.


It is the same.

We talked of you in Alexandria and in Thebes,

All of you famous captains. Your great names

Are known to us, as now yourselves must be

Known and admired and loved.


Your courtesy

Overwhelms me; but I am no captain, only

The King’s poor chamberlain, your servant come

To greet you.


Not therefore less a cherished friend

Whose duty helps our daily happiness.

Thoas, your name is in our country’s book

Inscribed too deeply to demand poor praise

From one who never yet has drawn his sword

In anger.


I am honoured, Prince. Do not forget

Your mother is waiting for you after eighteen years.


My mother! O, I have a mother at last.

You lords shall tell me as we go, how fair

She is or dark like our Egyptian dames,

Noble and tall or else a brevity

Of queenhood. And her face – but that, be sure,

Is the sweet loving face I have seen so often

In Egypt when I lay awake at night

And heard the breezes whispering outside

With many voices in the moonlit hours.

It is late, Thoas, is it not, a child to see

His mother when eighteen years have made him big?

This, this is Paradise, a mother, friends

And Syria. In our swart Egypt ’twas no life,–

Although I liked it well when I was there;

But O, your Syria! I have spent whole hours

Watching your gracile Syrian women pass

With their bright splendid faces. And your flowers,

What flowers! and best of all, your sun, not like

That burning Egypt, but a warmth, a joy

And a kind brightness. It will be all pleasure

To reign in such a country.

Antiochus (returning from the house)

Let us ride

Into our kingdom.


Antioch in sweet Syria,

The realm for gods, and Daphne’s golden groves,

And swift4 Orontes hastening to the sea!

Ride by me, Melitus, tell me everything.


Scene 3

Cleopatra’s antechamber in the Palace.
Cleopatra, seated; Rodogune.


It is their horsehooves ride into my heart.

It shall be done. What have I any more

To do with hatred? Parthian Rodogune,

Have you forgotten now your former pomps

And princely thoughts in high Persepolis,

Or do your dreams still linger near a throne?


I think all fallen beings needs must keep

Some dream out of their happier past,– or else

How hard it would be to live!


O, if some hope survive

In the black midst of care, however small,

We can live, then only, O then only.



I have forgotten how men hope.


Is your life hard

In Syrian Antioch, Rodogune, a slave

To your most bitter foemen?


Not when you speak

So gently. Always I strive to make it sweet

By outward harmony with circumstance

And a calm soul within that is above

My fortunes5.


Parthian, you have borne the hate

My husband’s murder bred in me towards all

Your nation. When I felt you with my heel,

I trampled Tigris and Euphrates then

And Parthia suffered. Therefore I let you live

Half-loving in your body my revenge.

But these are cruel and unhappy thoughts

I hope to slay and bury with the past

Which gave them birth. Will you assist me, girl?

Will you begin with me another life

And other feelings?


If our fates allow

Which are not gentle.


My life begins again,

My life begins again in my dear sons

And my dead husband lives. All’s sweetly mended.

I do not wish for hatred any more.

The horrible and perilous hands of war

Appal me. O, let our peoples sit at ease

In Grecian Antioch and Persepolis,

Mothers and children, clasping those golden heads

Deep, deep within our bosoms, never allow

Their going forth again to bonds and death.

Peace, peace, let us have peace for ever more.


And will peace take me to my father’s arms?


Or else detain you on a kingly throne.

There are happier fetters.


If it must be so!


Art thou insensible or fearst to rise?

I cannot think that even in barbarous lands

Any called human are so made that they prefer

Serfhood and scourge to an imperial throne.

Or is there such a soul?


Shall I not know

My husband first?


I did not ask your choice,

But gave you a command to be obeyed

Like any other that each day I give.


Shall I be given him as a slave, not wife?


You rise, I think, too quickly with your fate.

Or art thou other than I saw or thou

Feignedst to be? Hast thou been wearing all6 this while

Only a mask of smooth servility,

Thou subtle barbarian?


Speak not so harshly to me

Who spoke so gently now. I will obey.


Hop’st thou by reigning to reign over me

Restoring on a throne thy Parthian soul?


What shall I be upon the Syrian throne

Except your first of slaves who am now the last,

The least considered? I hope not to reign,

Nor ever have desired ambitious joys,

Only the love that I have lacked so long

Since I left Parthia.


Obey me then. Remember,

The hand that seats thee can again unthrone.


I shall remember and I shall obey.

She retires to her station.


Her flashes of quick pride are quickly past.

After so many cruel, black and pitiless years

Shall not the days to come conspire for joy?

The Queen shall be my slave, a mind that’s trained

To watch for orders, one without a party

In Syria, with no will to take my son from me

Or steal my sovereign station. O, they come!

Slowly, my heart! break not with too much bliss.

Eunice comes in swiftly.


Am I the first to tell you they have come?


O girl, thy tongue rain joy upon the world,

That speaks to me of heaven!

Cleone enters.

Cleone (to Eunice)

They are more beautiful than heaven and earth.

(to Cleopatra)

Thy children’s feet are on the palace stairs.


O no! not of the palace but my heart;

I feel their tread ascending. Be still, be still,

Thou flutterer in my breast: I am a queen

And must not hear thee.

Thoas and Melitus enter bringing in Antiochus and Timocles.


Queen, we bring her sons

To Cleopatra.


I thank you both. Approach.

Why dost thou beat so hard within to choke me?

She motions to them to stop and gazes on them in silence.


This is my mother. She is what I dreamed!


O high inhabitants of Greek Olympus,

Which of you all comes flashing down from heaven

To snare us mortals with this earthly gaze,

These simulations of humanity?


Say to the Syrians they shall know their king

In the gods’ time and hour. But these first days

Are for a mother.


None shall grudge them to thee,

Remembering the gods’ debt to thee, Cleopatra.

Thoas and Melitus leave the chamber.


My children, O my children, my sweet children!

Come to me, come to me, come into my arms.

You beautiful, you bright, you tall heart-snarers,

You are all your father.


Mother, my sweet mother!

I have been dreaming of you all these years,



And was the dream too fair, my child?

O strange, sweet bitterness that I must ask

My child his name!


I am your Timocles.


You first within my arms! O right, ’tis right!

It is your privilege, my sweet one. Kiss me.

O yet again, my young son Timocles.

O bliss, to feel the limbs that I have borne

Within me! O my young radiant Timocles,

You have outgrown to lie upon my lap:

I have not had that mother’s happiness.


Mother, I am still your little Timocles

Playing at bigness. You shall not refuse me

The sweet dependent state which I have lost

In that far motherless Egypt where I pined.


And like a child too, little one, you’ld have

All of your mother to yourself. Must I

Then thrust you from me? Let Antiochus,

My tall Antiochus have now his share.


He is all high and beautiful like heaven

From which he came. I have not seen before

A thing so mighty.


Madam, I seek your blessing; let me kneel

To have it.


Kneel! O, in my bosom, son!

Have you too dreamed of me, Antiochus?


Of great Nicanor’s widow and the Queen

Of Syria and my sacred fount of life.


These are cold haughty names, Antiochus.

Not of your mother, not of your dear mother?


You were for me the thought of motherhood,

A noble thing and sacred. This I loved.


No more? Are you so cold in speech, my son?

O son Antiochus, you have received

Your father’s face; I hope you have his heart.

Do you not love me?


Surely I hope to love.


You hope!


O madam, do not press my words.


I do press them. Your words, your lips, your heart,

Your radiant body noble as a god’s

I, I made in my womb, to give them light

Bore agony. I have a claim upon them all.

You do not love me?


The thought of you I have loved,

Honoured and cherished. By your own decree

We have been to each other only thoughts;

But now we meet. I trust I shall not fail

In duty, love and reverence to my mother.


His look is royal, but his speech is cold.


Should he debase his godhead with a lie?

She is to blame and her unjust demand.


It is well. My heart half slew me for only this!

O Timocles, my little Timocles,

Let me again embrace you, let me feel

My child who dreamed of me for eighteen years

In Egypt. Sit down here against my knee

And tell me of Egypt,– Egypt where I was born,

Egypt where my sweet sons were kept from me,

Dear Egypt, hateful Egypt!


I loved it well because it bore my mother,

But not so well, my mother far from me.


What was your life there? Your mornings and your evenings,

Your dreams at night, I must possess them all,

All the sweet years my arms have lost. Did you

Rising in those clear mornings see the Nile,

Our father Nile, flow through the solemn azure

Past the great temples in the sands of Egypt?

You have seen hundred-gated Thebes, my Thebes,

And my high tower where I would sit at eve

Watching your kindred sun? And Alexandria

With the white multitude of sails! My brother,

The royal Ptolemy, did he not love

To clasp his sister in your little limbs?

There is so much to talk of; but not now!

Eunice, take them from me for a while.

Take Rodogune and call the other slaves.

Let them array my sons like the great kings

They should have been so long. Go, son Antiochus;

Go, Timocles, my little Timocles.


We are the future’s greatness, therefore owe

Some duty to the grandeurs of the past.

The great Antiochus lies hardly cold,

Garbed for his journey. I would kneel by him

And draw his mightiness into my soul

Before the gloomy shades have taken away

What earth could hardly value.


This was a stab.

Is there some cold ironic god at work?


The great Antiochus! Of him you dreamed?

You are his nephew! Parthian, take the prince

To the dead King’s death-chamber, then to his own.


She was the Parthian! Great Antiochus,

Syria thou leav’st me and her and Persia afterwards

To be my lovely captive.

He goes out with Rodogune.

Timocles (as he follows Eunice)

Tell me, cousin,–

I knew not I had such sweet cousins here,–

Was this the Parthian princess Rodogune?


Phraates’ daughter, Prince, your mother’s slave.


There are lovelier faces then than Syria owns.

He goes out with Eunice.


You gods, you gods in heaven, you give us hearts

For life to trample on! I am sick, Cleone.


Why, Madam, what a son you have in him,

The joyous fair-faced Timocles, yet you are sick!


But the other, oh7, the other! Antiochus!

He has the face that gives my husband back to me,

But does not love me.


Yet he will be king.

You said he was the elder.


Did I say it?

I was perplexed.


He will be king, a man

With a cold joyless heart and thrust you back

Into some distant corner of your house

And rule instead and fill with clamorous war

Syria and Parthia and the banks of Indus

Taking our lovers and our sons to death!

Our sons! Perhaps he will take Timocles

And offer him, a lovely sacrifice,

To the grim god of battles.


My Timocles! my only joy! Oh, no!

We will have peace henceforth and bloodless dawns.

My envoys ride today.


He will recall them.

This is no man to rest in peaceful ease

While other sceptres sway the neighbouring realms.

War and Ambition from his eyes look forth;

His hand was made to grasp a sword-hilt. Queen,

Prevent it; let our Timocles be king.


What did you say? Have you gone mad, Cleone?

The gods would never bless such vile deceit.

O, if it could have been! but it cannot.


It must.

Timocles dead, you a neglected mother,

A queen dethroned, with one unloving child,–

Childless were better,– and your age as lonely

As these long nineteen years have been. Then you had hope,

You will have none hereafter.


If I thought that,

I would transgress all laws yet known or made

And dare Heaven’s utmost anger. Gods who mock me,

I will not suffer to all time your wrongs.

Hush, hush, Cleone! It shall not be so.

I thought my heart would break with joy, but now

What different passion tugs at my heart-strings,

Cleone, O Cleone! O my sweet dreams,

Where have you gone yielding to pangs and fears

Your happy empire? Am I she who left

Laughing the death-bed of Antiochus?

She goes into her chamber.


We must have roses, sunlight, laughter, Prince,

Not cold, harsh light of arms. Your laurels, laurels!

We’ll blast them quickly with a good Greek lie.

Where he has gone, admire Antiochus,

Not here repeat him.


Act II

The Palace in Antioch.


Scene 1

A hall in the Palace.
Cleone, Phayllus.


Worry the conscience of the Queen to death

Like the good bitch thou art. If this goes well,

I may sit unobserved on Syria’s throne.


Do not forget me.


Do not forget thyself,

Then how shall I forget thee?


I shall remember.


If for a game you were8 the queen, Cleone,

And I your minister, how would you start

Your play of reigning?


I would have many perfect tortures made

To hurt the Parthian with, for every nerve

A torture. I would lie in flowers the while

Drinking sweet Cyprian wine and hear her moan.


I do not like your thought; have better ones.


Shall I not satisfy my love, my hate?

Then just as well I might not reign at all.


O hatred, love and wrath, you instruments

By which we are driven! Cleone, the gods use these

For their own purposes, not we for ours.


I’ll do my will, Phayllus; you do yours.


Our kingdom being won! It is not, yet.

(turning away)

She’s too violent for my calmer ends;

Lust drives her, not ambition. I wait on you,

You gods who choose. If Fate intends my rise,

She will provide the instruments and cause.

Timocles enters from the inner palace.


I think I am afraid to speak to her.

I never felt so with the Egyptian girls

In Thebes or Alexandria. Are you not



You remember faces well

And have the trick for names, the monarch’s trick.


Antiochus, all say, will be the king.


But I say otherwise and what I say

Has a strange gift of happening.


You’re my friend!


My own and therefore yours.


This is your sister?




A name that in its sound agrees

With Syria’s roses. Are you too my friend,



Your subject, prince.


And why not both?


To serve is better.


Shall I try your will?

(embracing her)

Thou art warm fire against the lips, thou rose



May I test in turn?


Oh, do!


A rose examines by her thorns,– as thus.

She strikes him lightly on the cheek and goes out.

Timocles (looking uncertainly at Phayllus who is stroking his chin)

It was a courtesy,– our Egyptian way.


Hers was the Syrian. Do not excuse yourself;

I am her brother.

Timocles (turns as if to go, hesitates, then comes back)

Oh, have you met, Phayllus,

A Parthian lady here named Rodogune?


Blows the wind east? But if it brings me good,

Let it blow where it will. I know the child.

She’s fair. You’ld have her?


Fie on you, Phayllus!


Prince, I have a plain tongue which, when I hunger,

Owns that there is a belly. Speak in your language!

I understand men’s phrases though I use them not.


Think not that evil! She is not like those,

The common flowers which have a fair outside

Of beauty, but the common hand can pluck.

We wear such lightly, smell and throw away.

She is not like them.


No? Yet were9 they all

Born from one mother Nature. What if she wears

The quick barbarian’s robe called modesty?

There is a woman always in the end

Behind that shimmering. Pluck the robe, ’twill fall;

Then is she Nature’s still.


I have seen her eyes; they are a liquid purity.


And yet a fish swims there which men call love,

But truth names lust or passion. Fear not, prince;

The fish will rise to such an angler’s cast.


Mistake me not, nor her. These things are done,

But not with such as she; she is heaven-pure

And must like heaven be by worship won.


What is it then that you desire of her

Or ask of me? I can do always much.


O nothing else but this, only to kneel,

Look up at her and touch the little hand

That fluttered like a moonlit butterfly

Above10 my mother’s hair. If she consenting smiled

A little, I might even dare so much.


Why, she’s your slave-girl!


I shall kneel to her

Some day and feel her hand upon my brow.


What animal this is, I hardly know,

But know it is the animal for me:

My genius tells me. Prince, I need a bribe

Before I’ll stir in this.


What bribe, Phayllus?


A name,– your friend.


O more than merely friend!

Bring me into the temple dim and pure

Whence my own hopes and fears now bar me out,

Then I am yours, Phayllus, you myself

For all things.


Remember me when you have any need.

He goes out.


I have a friend! He is the very first

Who was not conquered by Antiochus.

How11 has this love like lightning leaped at me!


Scene 2

The same.
Eunice, Rodogune.


Heaven had a purpose in my servitude!

I will believe it.


One sees not now such men.

What a calm royalty his glances wield!

We are their subjects. And he treads the earth

As if it were already his.


All must be.

I have lived a slave, yet always held myself

A nobler spirit than my Grecian lords;

But when he spoke, O, when he looked at me,

I felt indeed the touch of servitude

And this time loved it.


O, you too, Rodogune!


I too! What do you mean? Are you, Eunice –


I mean, our thorny rose Cleone too

Has fallen in love with pretty Timocles.


You slanderer! But I thought a nearer thing

That ran like terror through my heart.


And so

You love him?


What have I said, Eunice? what have I said?

I did not say it.


You did not say it, no!

You lovely fool, hide love with blushes then

And lower over your liquid love-filled eyes

Their frightened lashes! Quake, my antelope!

I’ll have revenge at least. O sweet, sweet heart,

My delicate Parthian! I shall never have

Another love, but only Rodogune,

My beautiful barbarian Rodogune

With the tall dainty grace and the large eyes

And vague faint pallor just like twilit ivory.


My own Eunice!

They embrace. Phayllus enters.

Phayllus (stroking his chin)

I always hated waste.


Your steps too steal, Phayllus?


I have a message.


I do not like the envoy. Find another

And I will hear it.


Come, you put me out.


Of your accounts? They say there is too much

You have put out already for your credit.


You’re called. The Queen’s in haste, Cleone said.

Eunice goes.

Parthian, will you be Syria’s queen or no?

I startle you. The royal Timocles

By your beauty strives ensnared. Don not your mask

Of modesty, keep that for Timocles.

I offer you a treaty. By my help

You can advance your foot to Syria’s throne:

His bed’s the staircase and you shall ascend,

Nor will I rest till you are seated there.

Come, have I helped you? Shall we be allies?


You speak a language that I will not hear.


Oh, language! you’re for language, all of you.

Are you not Parthia’s daughter? do you not wish

To sit upon a throne?


Not by your help,

Nor as the bride of Syrian Timocles.

What are these things you speak?


Weigh not my speech,

But only my sincerity. I have a tongue

Displeasing to all women. Heed not that!

My heart is good, my meaning better still.


Perhaps! But know I yearn not for a throne.

And if I did, Antiochus is king

And not this younger radiance.


That’s your reason?

You are deceived. Besides he loves you not

Nor ever will put on a female yoke.

Prefer this woman’s clay, this Timocles

And by my help you shall have empire, joy,

All the heart needs, the pleasures bodies use.


I need no empire save my high-throned heart,

I seek no power save that of sceptred love,

I ask no help beyond what Ormuzd gives.

Enough. I thank you.


You’re subtler than these Greeks.

Must he then pine? Shall he not plead his cause?


I would not have him waste his heart in pain

If what you say is true. Let him then know

This cannot be.


He will not take from me

An answer you yourself alone can give.

I think you parry to be more attacked.


Think what you will, but leave me.


If you mean that,

The way to show it is to let him come.

You feign and do not mean this, or else you would

Deny him to his face.

Rodogune (flushing angrily)

I will; tell him to come.


I thought so. Come he shall. Remember me.

He goes out.


I did not well to bid him come to me.

It is some passing fancy of the blood.

I do not hear that he was ever hurt

But danced a radiant and inconstant moth

Above the Egyptian blossoms.

Timocles enters hastily, hesitates, then rushes and throws himself at the feet of Rodogune.



I love thee, princess; thou hast made me mad.

I know not what I do nor what I speak.

What dreadful god has seized upon my heart?

I am not Timocles and not my own,

But am a fire and am a raging wind

To seize on thee and am a driven leaf.

O Rodogune, turn not away from me.

Forgive me, O, forgive me. I cannot help it

If thou hast made me love thee. Tremble not,

Nor grow so pale and look with panic glances

As if a fire had clutched thee by the robe.

I am thy menial, thy poor trembling slave

And thou canst slay me with a passing frown.


Touch not my hand! ’tis sacred from thy touch!


It is most sacred; even the roseate nail

Of thee, O thou pale goddess, is a mystery

And a strange holiness. Scorched be his hand

Who dares with lightest sacrilegious12 touch

Profane thee, O deep-hearted miracle,

Unless thy glorious eyes condone the fault

By growing tender. O thou wondrous Parthian,

Fear not my love; it grows a cloistered worship.

See, I can leave thee! see, I can retire.

Look once on me, one look is food enough

For many twelvemonths.

Eunice returns.


You wrong your mother, cousin.

Her moments linger when you are not there;

Always she asks for you.


My mother! You gods,

Forbid it, lest I weary of her love.

He goes.


What was this? Speak.


Was Fate not satisfied

With my captivity? Waits worse behind?

It was a grey and clouded sky before

And bleak enough but quiet. Now I see

Fresh clouds come stored with thunder toiling up

From a black-piled horizon.


Tell me all.

What said Phayllus to you, the dire knave

Who speaks to poison?


He spoke of love and thrones and Timocles;

He spoke as selfish cunning men may speak

Who mean some evil they call good.


And how

Came Timocles behind him?


Called by him,

With such wild passion burning under his lids

I never thought to see in human eyes.

What are these movements?


We move as we must,

Not as we choose, whatever we may think.

Your beauty is a torch you needs must carry

About the world with you. You cannot help it

If it burns kingdoms.


I pray it may not. God who only rulest,

Let not the evil spirit use my love

To bring misfortune on Antiochus.

Mentho enters.


Which is the Parthian?





Desires you in his chamber with a bowl

Of Lesbian vintage.


Does he desire? The gods then choose their hour

For intervention. Move, you Parthian piece.


Send someone else. I cannot go.


I think

You have forgotten that you are a slave.

You are my piece and I will have you move.

Move quickly.


Surely he did not speak my name?


Why do you fear, my child? He’s good and noble

And kind in speech and gentle to his servants.

Rodogune (low, to herself)

It is not him I fear, it is myself.


Fear me instead. You shall be cruelly whipped

Unless you move this instant.


Oh, Eunice!


Whipped savagely! I’ll sacrifice so much

For a shy pawn who will not move? Go, go,

And come not back unkissed if you are wise.

She pushes Rodogune to the door and she goes, followed by Mentho.

His heart’s not free, nor hers, or else I’ld try

My hand at reigning. As the gods choose. Through her

I may rule Syria.


Scene 3

Antiochus’ chamber.
Antiochus, with a map before him.


Ecbatana, Susa and Sogdiana,

The Aryan country which the Indus bounds,

Euphrates’ stream and Tigris’ golden sands,

The Oxus and Jaxartes and these mountains

Vague and enormous shouldering the moon

With all their dim beyond of nations huge;

This were an empire! What are Syria, Greece

And the blue littoral to Gades? They are

Too narrow to contain my soul, too petty

To satisfy its hunger and its vastness.

O pale, sweet Parthian face with liquid eyes

Mid darkest masses and O gracious limbs

Obscuring this epitome of earth,

You will not let me fix my eyes on Susa.

I never yearned for any woman yet.

While Timocles with the light Theban dames

Amused his careless heart, I walked aside;

Parthia and Greece became my mistresses.

But now my heart is filled with one pale girl.

Exult not, archer. I will quiet thee

With sudden and assured possession first,

Then keep thee beating an eternal strain.

I have loved her through past lives and many ages.

The Parthian princess, lovely Rodogune!

O name of sweetness! Renowned Phraates’ daughter,

A bud of kings,– my glorious prisoner

With those beseeching eyes. O high Antiochus,

Who snatched her from among her guardian spears,

Thou hast gone past but left this prophecy

Of beautiful conquered Persia grown my slave

To love me. It is thou, my Rodogune!

Rodogune enters.

Rodogune (with lowered eyes)

I have brought the wine.


Thou art the only wine,

O Parthian! Wine to flush Olympian souls

Is in this glorious flask. Set down the bowl.

Lift up instead thy long and liquid eyes;

I grudge them to the marble, Rodogune.

Thou knowest well why I have sent for thee.

Have we not gazed into each other’s eyes

And thine confessed their knowledge?


Prince, I am

Thy mother’s slave.


Mine, mine, O Rodogune,

For I am Syria.




O, thou hast spoken!


Touch me not, touch me not, Antiochus!

Son of Nicanor, spare me, spare thyself.

O me! I know the gods prepare some death;

I am a living misfortune.


Wert thou my fate

Of death itself, delightful Rodogune,

Not, as thou art, heaven’s pledge of bliss, I’ld not abstain

From thy delight, but have my joy of thee

The short while it is possible on earth.

O, play not with the hours, my Rodogune.

Why should brief man defer his joys and wait

As if life were eternal? Time does not pause,

Death does not tarry.




Thou lingerest yet.

Wilt thou deny the beating of our hearts

That call to us to bridge these sundering paces?

O, then I will command thee as a slave.

Thou wouldst not let me draw thee, come thyself

Into my arms, O perfect Rodogune,

My Parthian captive!


Antiochus, my king!


So heave against me like a wave for ever.

Melt warmly into my bosom like the Spring,

O honied breathing tumult!


O release me!


Thou sudden sorceress, die upon my breast!

My arms are cords to bind thee to this stake,

Slowly to burn away in crimson fire.


Release me, O release me!


Not till our lips have joined

Eternal wedlock. With this stamp and this

And many more I’ll seal thee to myself.

Eternal Time’s too short for all the kisses

I yearn for from thee, O pale loveliness,

Dim mystery! Press thy lips to mine. Obey.

Again! and so again and even for ever

Chant love, O marvel, let thy lips’ wild music

Come faltering from thy heart into my bosom.

Rodogune sinks at his feet and embraces his knees.


I am thine, thine, thine, thine for ever.

She rises and hides her face in her hands.

Antiochus (uncovering her face)


Hide not thy face from love. The gods in heaven

Look down on us; let us look up at them

With fearless eyes of candid joy and tell them

Not Time nor any of their dooms can move us now.

The passion of oneness two hearts are this moment

Denies the steps of death for ever.


My heart

Stops in me. I can bear no more of bliss.

Oh14, leave me now that I may live for thee.


Stay where thou art. Or go, for thou art mine

And I can send thee from me when I will

And call thee when I will. Go, Rodogune

Who yet remain with me.

Rodogune leaves the chamber with faltering steps.

O Love, thou art

Diviner in the enjoying. Can I now

Unblinded scan this map? No, she is there;

It is her eyes I see and not Ecbatana.


Scene 4

The hall in the Palace.
Timocles, Phayllus.


O, all the sweetness and the glory gathered

Into one smiling life, the other’s left

Barren, unbearable, bleak, desolate,

A hell of silence and of emptiness

Impossible for mortal souls to imagine,

Much less to suffer. My mother does this wrong to me!

Why should not we, kind brothers all our lives,–

O, how we loved each other there in Egypt! –

Divide this prize? Let his be Syria’s crown,–

Oh, let him take it! I have Rodogune.


He will consent?


Oh, yes, and with a smile.

He is all loftiness and warlike thoughts.

My high Antiochus! how could I dream

Of taking from him what he’ld wear so well?

Let me have love and joy and Rodogune.

The sunlight is enough for me.


It may be,

Yet not enough for both. Look! there he comes

Carrying himself as if he were the sun

Brilliant alone in heaven. Oh, that to darken!

Antiochus enters.


Brother, it is the kind gods send you here.


Dear Timocles, we meet not all the day.

It was not so in Egypt. Tell me now,

What were you doing all these busy hours?

How many laughing girls of this fair land

Have you lured on to love you?


Have you not heard?


What, Timocles?


Our mother gives the crown

And with the crown apportions Rodogune.


Our royal mother? Are they hers to give?

I do not marry by another’s will.


O brother, no; our hearts at least are ours.

You have not marked, I think, Antiochus,

This pale sweet Parthian Rodogune?

Antiochus (smiling)

No, brother?

I have not marked, you say?


You are so blind

To woman’s beauty. You only woo great deeds

And arms imperial. It is well for me

You rather chose to wed the grandiose earth.

I am ashamed to tell you, dear Antiochus,

I grudged the noble crown that soon will rest

So gloriously upon you. Take it, brother,

But leave me my dim goddess Rodogune.


Thy goddess! thine!


It is not possible

That you too love her!


What is it to thee whom or what I love?

Say that I love her not?


Then is my offer

Just, brotherly, not like this causeless wrath.


Thy wondrous offer! Of two things that are15 mine

To fling me one16 with “There! I want it not,

I’ll take the other”!

Timocles (in a suffocated voice)

Has she made thee king?


I need no human voice to make me anything

Who am king by birth and nature. Who else should reign

In Syria? Thoughtst thou thy light and shallow head

Was meant to wear a crown?


In Egypt you were not like this, Antiochus.


See not the Parthian even in dreams at night!

Remember not her name!


She is my mother’s slave:

I’ll ask for her and have her.


Thou shalt have

My sword across thy heart-strings first. She is

The kingdom’s prize and with the kingdom mine.


My dream, my goddess with those wondrous eyes!

My sweet veiled star cloistered in her own charm!

I will not yield her to thee, nor the crown,

Not wert thou twenty times my brother.



Delightful! O my fortune! my kind fortune!


Thou lov’st her not who dar’st to think of her

As if she were a prize for any arms,

Thy slave, thy chattel.


Speak not another word.


More! more! My star, thou risest o’er this storm.


I pardon thee, my brother Timocles;

Thy light passions are thy excuse. Henceforth

Offend not. For the Parthian, she is mine

And I would keep her though a god desired.

Exalt not thy presumptuous eyes henceforth

Higher than are her17 sandals.

He goes out.


This is your brother!

Shall he not have the crown?


Nor her, nor Syria.

Rodogune and Eunice enter passing through the hall. Timocles rushes to her18.

My Rodogune, my star! Thou knowest the trade

Which others seek to make of thee. Resist it,

Prevent the insult of this cold award!

Say that thou lov’st me.


Prince, I pity thee,

But cannot love.

She passes out.


My cousin Timocles,

All flowers are not for your plucking. Roses

Enough that crave to satisfy your want,

Are grown in Syria; take them. Here be wise;

Touch not my Parthian blossom.

She passes out.


How am I smitten as with a thunderbolt!


Will you be dashed by this? They make her think

Antiochus will reign in Syria.



She loves him.


Is love so quickly born? Oh, then,

It will as quickly die. Eunice works here

To thwart you; she is for Antiochus.


All, all are for Antiochus, the crown,

And Syria and men’s homage, women’s hearts

And life and sweetness and my love.


Young prince,

Be more a man. Besiege the girl with gifts

And graces; woo her like a queen or force her

Like what she is, a slave. Be strong, be sudden,

Forestalling this proud brother.


I would not wrong her pure and shrouded soul

Though all the gods in heaven should give me leave.


The graceful, handsome fool! Then from your mother

Demand her as a gift.

Timocles (going)

My soul once more

Is hunted by the tempest.


Scene 5

Cleopatra’s chamber.
Cleopatra, Cleone.


I am resolved; but Mentho the Egyptian knows

The true precedence of the twins. Send her to me.

Cleone goes out.

O you, high-seated cold divinities,

You sleep sometimes, they say you sleep. Sleep now!

I only loosen what your careless wills

Have tangled.

Mentho enters.

Mentho, sit by me. Mentho,

You have not breathed our secret? Keep it, Mentho,

Dead in your bosom, buy a queen for slave.


Dead! Can truth die?


Ah, Mentho, truth! But truth

Is often terrible. Justice! but was ever

Justice yet seen upon the earth? Man lives

Because he is not just and real right

Dwells not with law and custom but for him

It grows by whose arriving our brief happiness

Is best assured and grief prohibited

For a while to mortals.


This is the thing I feared.

O wickedness! Well, Queen, I understand.


Not less than you I love Antiochus;

But Timocles seeks Parthian Rodogune.

O, if these brother-loves should turn to hate

And slay us all! Then rather let thy nursling stand,–

Will he not rule whoever fills the throne? –

Approved of heaven and earth, indeed a king,

Protector of the weaker Timocles,

His right hand in his wars, his pillar, guard

And sword of action, grand in loyalty,

Kingly in great subjection, famed for love.

Then there shall be no grief for anyone

And everything consent to our desires.


Queen Cleopatra, shall I speak? shall I

Forget respect? The god demands my voice.

I tell thee then that thy rash brain has hatched

A wickedness beyond all parallel,

A cold, unmotherly and cruel plot

Thou striv’st in vain to alter with thy words.

O nature self-deceived! O blinded heart!

It is the husband of thy boasted love,

Woman, thou wrongest in thy son.



Mentho, my nurse, thou knowest not the cause.


I do not need to know. Art thou Olympian Zeus?

Has he given thee his sceptre and his charge

To guide the tangled world? Wilt thou upset

His rulings? wilt thou improve his providence?

Are thy light woman’s brain and shallow love

A better guide than his all-seeing eye?

O wondrous arrogance of finite men

Who would know better than omniscient God!

Beware his thunders and observe his will.

What he has made, strive not to unmake, but shun

The tragical responsibility

Of such dire error. If from thy act spring death

And horror, are thy human shoulders fit

To bear that heavy load? Observe his will,

Do right and leave the rest to God above.


Thy words have moved me.


Let thy husband move thee.

How wilt thou meet him in the solemn shades?

Will he not turn his royal face from thee

Saying, “Murderess of my children, come not near me!”


O Mentho, curse me not. My husband’s eyes

Shall meet me with a smile. Mentho, my nurse,

You will not tell this to Antiochus?


I am not mad nor wicked. Remain fixed

In this resolve. Dream not that happiness

Can spring from wicked roots. God overrules

And Right denied is mighty.



The Palace in Antioch. Under the hills19.


Scene 1

The Audience-Chamber in the Palace.
Nicanor, Phayllus and others seated; Eunice, Philoctetes, Thoas apart near the dais.


Is it patent? Is he the elder? do we know?


Should he not rule?


If Fate were wise, he should.


Will Timocles sack great Persepolis?

Sooner I think Phraates will couch here,

The mighty, steadfast, patient, subtle man,

And from the loiterer take, the sensualist

Antioch of the Seleucidae.



But shall I rise against the country’s laws

That harbours me? The sword I draw, is hers.


Are law and justice always one? Reflect.


If justice is offended, I will strike.

He withdraws to another part of the hall.


The man is wise, but when ambition’s heaped

In a great bosom, Fate takes quickly fire.

It only needs the spark.


Is it only that

That’s needed? there shall be the spark.

He withdraws.


Fate or else Chance

Work out the rest. I have given your powers a lead.

Nicanor, who has drawn near, stops before her.


Your council’s finished then?


What council, father?


I have seen, though I have not spoken. Meddle not

In things too great for you. This realm and nation

Are not a skein for weaving fine intrigues

In your shut chambers.


We have other sports.

What do you mean?


See less Antiochus.

Carry not there your daring spirit and free rein

To passion and ambition nor your bright scorn

Of every law that checks your headstrong will.

Or must I find a curb that shall restrain you?

He withdraws.


My prudent father! These men think that wisdom

Is tied up to beards20. We too have heads

And finer brains within them, as I think!

She goes up on the dais. Leosthenes, Callicrates and others enter together.


Leosthenes from Parthia! Speeds the war?


It waits a captain.


It shall have today

A king of captains.


I have seen the boy.

But there’s a mystery? Shall he be the king?


If Fate agrees with Nature.


Neither can err

So utterly, I think; for, if they could,

Man’s will would have a claim to unseat Fate,

Which cannot be.

Cleopatra enters with Antiochus and Timocles; Cleone, Rodogune in attendance, the latter richly robed.


See where she places him!


’Tis on her right!


It is a woman’s ruse.

Or must I at disadvantage play the game

With this strong piece against?


The strong Antiochus has gone too early

Down the dim gorges to that silent world

Where we must one day follow him. A younger hand

Takes up his sceptre and controls his sword.

These are the Syrian twins, Nicanor’s sons,

These are Antiochus and Timocles.

Why so long buried, why their right oppressed,

Why their precedence tyrannously concealed,

Forget. Forget old griefs, old hatreds; let them rest

Inurned, nor from their night recover them.


We need not raise the curtains that conceal

Things long inurned, but lest by this one doubt

The dead past lay a dark and heavy hand

Upon our fairer future, let us swear

The Queen shall be obeyed as if she spoke

For Heaven. Betwixt the all-seeing gods and her

Confine all cause of quarrel.


Let the princes swear;

For how can subjects jar if they agree?


O not with oaths compel the Syrian blood!

My sons, do you consent?


Your sovereign will must rule,

Mother, your children and our fraternal kindness

Will drown the loser’s natural chagrin

In joy at the other’s joy.


Antiochus, my son!


Your question, Madam, was for Timocles;

From me it needs no answer.


You accept

Your mother’s choice?


God’s choice. My mother speaks

A thing concealed, not one unsettled.



Syria demands a plainer answer here.


Who art thou? Art thou of Seleucus’ blood

Who questionest Syria’s kings?


Enough. My sons

Will know how to respect their kingly birth.

Today begins another era. Rise,

Princess of Parthia; sit upon this throne,

Phraates’ daughter; thou art peace and love

And must today be crowned. Marvel not, Syrians;

For it is peace my envoys bear by now

Upon their saddles to Persepolis.


This was a secret haste!


Is it possible?

We had our heel upon the Parthian’s throat.


Since Parthia swept through the Iranian East

Wrecking the mighty Macedonian’s toil,

War sways for ever like a darkened sea

In turmoil twixt our realms. How many heart-strings

Have broken, what tears of anguish have been wept

And eyes sought eastward unreturning eyes!

Joy has been buried in the blood-drenched sands.

Vain blood, vain weeping! Earth was made so wide

That many might have majesty and joy

Upon one mother’s equal breast. But we

Arresting others’ portions lose our own.

Nations that conquer widest, perish first,

Sapped by the hate of an uneasy world.

Then they are wisest victors who in time

Knowing the limits of their prosperous fate

Avoid the violence of Heaven. Syrians,

After loud battles I have founded glorious peace.

That fair work I began as Syria’s queen;

To seal it Syria’s king must not refuse.


I do refuse it. There shall be no peace.


My son!


Peace! Are the Parthians at our gates21?

Has not alarm besieged Ecbatana?

When was it ever seen or heard till now

That victors sued for peace? And this the reason,

A woman’s reason, because many have bled

And more have wept. It is the tears, the blood

Prodigally spent that build a nation’s greatness.

I here annul this peace, this woman’s peace,

I will proclaim with noise of victories

Its revocation.




Thou speakest, King!


You are not crowned as yet, Antiochus.


Syria forbids it, Syria’s destiny

Sends forth her lion voices from the hills22

Where trumpets blare towards Persepolis,

Forbidding peace.


We do not sue for peace,

My son, but give peace, taking provinces

And taking Rodogune.


Who twenty times

Outweighs all hero’s actions and exceeds

Earth’s widest conquests.


For her and provinces!

O worse disgrace! The sword had23 won us these.

We wrong the mighty dead who conquered. Provinces!

Whose soil are they that we must sue for them?

The princess! She’s my prisoner, is she not?

Must I entreat the baffled Parthian then

What I shall do with my own slave-girl here

In Antioch, in my palace? Queen of Syria,

This was ignobly done.


I know you do not love me; in your cold heart

Love finds no home; but still I am your mother.

You will respect me thus when you are king?


I will respect you in your place, enshrined

In your apartments, governing your women,

Not Syria.


Leave it. You will not think of peace?


Yes, when our armies reach Persepolis.


How desperate looks the Queen! What comes of this?

Nicanor (who has been watching Eunice)

End this debate; let Syria know her king.

Cleopatra rises and stands silent for a moment.




Behold your king!


She has done it, gods!

There is an astonished silence.


Speak once more, daughter of high Ptolemy,

Remembering God. Speak, have we understood?

Is Timocles our king?

Cleopatra (with a mechanical and rigid gesture)

Behold your king!

Nicanor makes a motion of assent as to the accomplished fact.


Let then the King ascend his throne.

Leosthenes (half-rising)



Speak, King Antiochus, God’s chosen king

Who art, not Cleopatra’s.


Speak, Antiochus.


Why didst thou give to me alone the name

Of Syria’s princes? why upon thy right

Hast seated me? or wherefore mad’st thou terms

For that near time when I should be the king,

Chaffering for my consent with arguments

Unneeded if the younger were preferred?

Wilt thou invoke the gods to seal this lie?


Dost thou insult me thus before my world?

Ascend the throne, my son.


Stay, Timocles.

Make not such haste, my brother, to supplant

Thy elder.


My elder?

He looks at Cleopatra.


I have spoken the truth.


Thou hast not; thou art delivered of a lie,

A monstrous lie.


Silence, thou swarthy slave!


I’ll not be silent. She offends the gods.

I am Mentho the Egyptian, she who saw

The royal children born. She lies to you,

O Syrians. Royal young Antiochus

Was first on earth.


The truth breaks out at last.


This is a slave the surplus mud of Nile

Engendered. Shall we wrong the Queen by hearing her?


I was a noble Egyptian’s wife in Memphis,

No slave, thou Syrian mongrel, and my word

May stand against a perjured queen’s.

Eunice (leaning forward)

Is’t done?

Nicanor who has been hesitating, observes her action and stands forward to speak.


The royal blood of Egypt cannot lie.

Shall Syria’s queen be questioned? Shall common words

Of common men be weighed against the breath of kings?

Let not wild strife arise, O princes, let it not.

Antiochus, renounce unfilial pride;

Wound not thy mother and thy motherland,

Son of Nicanor.


Shall a lie prevail?

Nicanor (looking again at Eunice)

It was settled then among you! Be it so.

My sword is bare. I stand for Syria’s king.

Philoctetes (in the midst of a general hesitation)

Egyptian Philoctetes takes thy challenge,



Who is for me in Syria?


I set my sword

Against Nicanor’s.


I am Leosthenes.

I draw my victor steel for King Antiochus.


Who else for me?


I! I! and I! and I!

Callicrates and others

We for King Timocles.


Slay them, cut down

The party of the liars.

There is a shouting and tumult with drawing and movement of swords.


Protect the King.

Let insolent revolt at once be quenched

And sink in its own blood.


I slay all strife

With the usurper.


Stay, stay, Leosthenes.


Forbear! forbear, I say! let all be still!

The great Seleucus’ house shall not be made

A shambles. Not by vulgar riot, not

By fratricidal murder will I climb

Into my throne, but up the heroic steps

Of ordered battle. Brother Timocles,

That oft-kissed head is sacred from my sword.

Nicanor, thou hast thrown the challenge down;

I lift it up.


O, hear me, son Antiochus.


I have renounced thee for my mother.




O wretched woman!

She hurries out followed by Rodogune,
Eunice and Cleone.


Thou shalt not do this evil,

Though millions help thee.

He goes out with Timocles, Phayllus,
Callicrates and the others24 of his party.


Can we hold the house

And seize the city? We are many here.


Nicanor’s troops hold Antioch.


Not here, not here.

Out to the army on the marches! There

Is Syria’s throne, not here in Antioch.



Go with us. Gather swiftly all our strength,

Then out to Parthia!


Scene 2

A hall in the Palace.
Rodogune, Eunice.


God gave my heart and mind; they are not hers

To force into this vile adultery.

I am a Parthian princess, of a race

Who choose one lord and cleave to him for ever

Through death, through fire, through swords, in hell, in heaven.


The Queen’s too broken. It was Phayllus said it.

He has leaped into the saddle of affairs

And is already master. What can we hope for

Left captive in such hands? Not Syria’s throne

Shall you ascend beside your chosen lord,

But as a slave the bed of Timocles.


If we remain! But who remains to die?

In Parthian deserts, in Antiochus’ tents!

There we can smile at danger.


Yes, oh, yes!

Deserts for us are safe, not Antioch. Come.

Antiochus and Philoctetes enter from without.


I sought for you, Eunice, Rodogune.

To saddle! for our bridal pomp and torches

Are other than we looked for.

Phayllus enters from within with Theras.


Today, no later.

The Egyptian rebel ravishes our queen!

Help! help!


Off, Syrian weasel!

He flings off Phayllus and goes out with Eunice, Rodogune, Philoctetes.


Theras, pursue them!

Theras hastens out; Phayllus rushes to the window.

Antiochus escapes! Oppose him, sentinels.

A thousand pieces for his head! He’s through.

O for a speedy arrow!

Timocles enters with Cleone.


Who escapes?


Thy brother, forcing with him Rodogune,

And with them fled Eunice.




By force he carried her.


O no, she went

Smiling and glad. O thou unwise Phayllus,

Why dost thou stay with me, a man that’s doomed?

He will come back and mount his father’s throne

And rule the nations. Why wouldst thou be slain?

All, all’s for him and ever was. I have had

Light loves, light friends, but no one ever loved me

Whom I desired. So was it in our boyhood’s days,

So it persists. He is preferred in heaven

And earth is his and his humanity.

Even my own mother is a Niobe

Because he has renounced her.


I understand,

Seeing this, the reason.


Why should he always have the things I prize?

What is his friendship but a selfish need

Of souls to unbosom himself to, who will share,

Mirror and serve his greatness? Yet it was he

The clear discerning Philoctetes chose;

Upon his shoulder leaned my royal uncle

Preferring him to admonish and to love;

On me he only smiled as one too light

For praise or censure. What’s his kingliness

But a lust of grandiose slaughter, an ambition

Almost inhuman and a haughty mind

That lifts itself above the highest heads

As if his mortal body held a god

And all were mean to him? Yet proudest men,

Thoas, Theramenes, Leosthenes,

Become unasked his servants. What’s his love?

A despot’s sensual longing for a slave,

Carnal, imperious25, harsh, without respect,

The hunger of the vital self, not raised,

Refined, uplifted to the yearning heart.

Yet Rodogune, my Rodogune to him

Has offered up her moonlit purity,

Her secret need of sweetness. O she has

Unveiled to him her sweet proud heart of love.

She would not look at me who worshipped her.

You too, Phayllus, go, Cleone, go

And serve him in his tents: the future’s there,

Not on this brittle throne with which the gods

In idle sport have mocked me.


There must be a man

Somewhere within26 this!


You shall not speak so to him.

Look round, King Timocles, and see how many

Prefer you to your brother. I am yours,

Phayllus works for you, princely Nicanor

Protects you, famed Callicrates supports.

Your mother only weeps in fear for you,

Not passion for your brother.



Has left me.


We will have her back. Today

Began, today shall end this rash revolt.

Rise up, King Timocles, and be thyself,

Possess thy throne, recover Rodogune.


I cannot live unless you bring her back.


That is already seen to. My couriers ride

Before them to Thrasyllus on the hills.

Their flight will founder there.


O subtle, quick

And provident Phayllus! Thou, thou, deviser,

Art the sole minister for me. Cleone,

The gods have made thee wholly beautiful

That thou mightst love me.

He goes out with Cleone.


Minister! That’s something,

Not all I work for.

(to Theras who enters)



He has escaped.

Your throw this time was bungled, Chancellor.


I saw his27 rapid flight; but afterwards?


The band of Syrian Phliaps kept the gates.

We shouted loud, but he more quick, more high,

Like some clear-voiced Tyrrhenian trumpet cried,

“Syrians, I am your king,” and they at once,

“Hail, glorious King!” and followed at his word,

Galloping, till on the Orient road they seemed

Like specks on a white ribbon.


Let them go.

There’s yet Thrasyllus. Or if he returns,

Though gods should help, though victory march his friend,

I am here to meet him.


Scene 3

Under the Syrian hills.
Antiochus, his generals, soldiers; Eunice, Rodogune, Mentho.


What god has moved them from their passes sheer

Where they were safe from me?


They have had word,

No doubt, to take us living.




They are

Three thousand, we six hundred armčd men.

Shall we go forward?


Onward, still, I say!


Yes, on! I turn not back lest my proud Fate

Avert her eyes from me. A hundred guard

The princesses.

He goes, followed by Thoas, Leosthenes, Philoctetes.


He’ll break them like sea-spray;

They shall not stand before him.


You missioned angels, guard Antiochus.

As she speaks, the Eremite enters and regards her.


He is through them, he is through them! How they scatter

Before his sword! My warrior!


Who is this man,

Eunice? He is terrible to me.


Who art thou rather, born to be a torch

To kingdoms? Is not thy beauty, rightly seen,

More terrible to men than monstrous forms

Which only frighten?


What if kingdoms burn,

So they burn grandly?


Spirits like thine think so.

Princess of Antioch, hast thou left thy father

To follow younger eyes? Alas, thou knowst not

Where they shall lead thee! It is to gates accursed

And by a dolorous journey.


Beyond all portals

I’ld follow! I am a woman of the Greeks

Who fear not death nor hell.

Antiochus returns.


Our swords have hewn

A road for us. Who is this flamen?



“Rejoice” I cannot say, but greet Antiochus

Who never shall be king.


Who art thou, speak,

Who barst28 with such ill-omened words my way

Discouraging new-born victory? What thou knowest,

Declare! Curb not thy speech. I have a mind

Stronger than omens.


I am the appointed voice

Who come to tell thee thou shalt not be king,

But at thy end shall yield to destiny

For all thy greatness, genius, pride and force

Even as the tree that falls. March then no farther,

For in thy path Fate hostile stands.


If Fate

Would have me yield, let her first break me. On!


The guardians of the path then wait for thee

Vigilant lest the world’s destiny be foiled

By human greatness. March on to thy doom.


I will. Straight on, whatever doom it be!


Farewell, thou mighty Syrian, soul misled,

Strength born untimely! We shall meet again

When death shall lead thee into Antioch.

He goes.




Act IV

The Palace in Antioch. Before the hills.


Scene 1

Cleopatra’s chamber.
Cleopatra, Zo˙la.


Will he not come this morning? How my head aches!

Zo˙la, smooth the pain out of it, my girl,

With your deft fingers. Oh, he lingers, lingers!

Cleone keeps him still, the rosy harlot

Who rules him now. She is grown a queen and reigns

Insulting me in my own palace. Yes,

He’s happy in her arms; why should he care for me

Who am only his mother?


Is the pain less at all?


O, it goes deeper, deeper. Ever new revels,

While still the clang of fratricidal war

Treads nearer to his palace. Zo˙la,

You saw him with Cleone in the groves

That night of revel?


So I told you, madam.

It is long since Daphne’s groves have gleamed so bright

Or trembled to such music.


They were together?


Oh, constantly. One does not see such lovers.

Cleopatra (shaking her off)





Thy touch is not like Rodogune’s

Nor did her gentle voice offend me. Eunice,

Zo˙la retires.

Why hast thou left me, cruel cold Eunice?

She walks to the window and returns swiftly.

God’s spaces frighten me. I am so lonely

In this great crowded palace.

Timocles enters the room reading a despatch.


He rushes onward like a god of war.

Mountains and streams and deserts waterless

Are grown our foes, his helpers. The gods give ground

Before his horse-hooves.

Millions of men arrayed in complete steel

Cannot restrain him. Almost we hear in Antioch

His trumpets now. Only Nicanor and the hills

Hardly protect my crown, my brittle crown!


Antiochus comes!


The Macedonian legions

Linger somewhere upon the wide Aegean. Sea

And land contend against my monarchy.

Your brother sends no certain word.


It will come.

Could not the Armenian helpers stay his course?

They came like locusts.


But are swept away

As with a wind. O mother, fatal mother,

Why did you keep me from the battle then?

My presence might have spurred men’s courage on

And turned this swallowing fate. It is alone

Your fault if I lose crown and life.


My son!


There, mother, I have made you weep. I love you,

Dear mother, though I make you often weep.


I have not blamed you, my sweet Timocles.

I did the wrong. Go to the field, dear son,

And show yourself to Syria. Timocles,

I mean no hurt, but now, only just now,

Would not a worthier presence at your side

Assist you? My royal brother of Macedon

Would give his child to you at my desire,

Or you might have your fair Egyptian cousin

Berenice. Syria would honour you, my son.


I know your meaning. You are so jealous, mother.

Why do you hate Cleone, grudging me

The solace of her love? I shall lose Syria

And I have lost already Rodogune:

Cleone clings to me. Nor is her heart

Like yours, selfish and jealous.



Timocles (walking to the window)

O Rodogune, where hast thou taken those eyes,

My moonlit midnight, where that wondrous hair

In which I thought to live as in a cloud

Of secret sweetness? Under the Syrian stars

Somewhere thou liest in my brother’s arms,

Thy pale sweet happy face upon his breast

Smiling up to be kissed. O, it is hell,

The thought is hell! At midnight in the silence

I wake in warm Cleone’s rosy clasp

To think of thee embraced; then in my blood

A fratricidal horror works. Let it not be,

You gods! Let me die first, let him be king.

O mother, do not let us quarrel any more:

Forgive me and forget.


You go from me?


My heart is heavy. I will drink awhile

And hear sweet harmonies.


There in the hall

And with Cleone?


Let it not anger you.

Yes, with Cleone.

He goes.


I am alone, so terribly alone!


Scene 2

A hall in the Palace.
Phayllus, Theras.


His fortune holds.


He has won great victories

And stridden exultant like a god of death

Over Grecian, Syrian and Armenian slain;

But being mortal at each step has lost

A little blood. His veins are empty now.

Where will he get new armies? His small force

May beat Nicanor’s large one, even reach Antioch,

To find the Macedonian there. They have landed.

He is ours, Theras, this great god of tempest,

Our captive whom he threatens, doomed to death

While he yet conquers.

Timocles enters with Cleone, then the musicians and dancing-girls.


Bring in the wine and flowers; sit down, sit down.

Call in the dancers. Through the Coan robes

Let their bright flashing limbs assault my eyes

Capturing the hours, imprisoning my heart

In a white whirl of movement. Sit, Cleone.

Here on my breast, against my shoulder! You rose

Petalled and armed, you burden of white limbs

Made to be kissed and handled, you Cleone!

Yes, let the world be flowers and flowers our crown

With rosy linkings red as our own hearts

Of passion. O wasp soft-settling, poignant, sting,

Sting me with bliss until I die of it.


I do not like this violence. Theras, go.

Theras leaves the hall.


Drink, brother Phayllus. Your webs will glitter more brightly,

You male Arachne.

More wine! I’ll float my heart out in the wine

And pour all on the ground to naked Eros

As a libation. I will hide my heart

In roses, I will smother thought with jonquils.

Sing, someone to me! sing of flowers, sing mere

Delight to me far from this troubled world.


Will you bring cold gems to crown me,

Child of light?

Rather quick from breathing closes

Bring me sunlight, myrtles29, roses,

Robe me in delight.

Give me rapture for my dress,

For its girdle happiness.


Closer, Cleone; pack honey into a kiss.

Another song! you dark-browed Syrian there!


Wilt thou snare Love with rosy brightness

To make him stay with thee?

The petulant child of a fair, cruel mother,

He flees from me to crown another.

O misery!

Love cannot be snared, love cannot be shared;

Light love ends wretchedly.


Remove these wine-cups! tear these roses down!

Who snared me with these bonds? Take hence, thou harlot,

Thy rose-faced beauty! Thou art not Rodogune.


What is this madness30?


Hence! leave me! I am sick

Of thy gold and roses.


Go, women, from the room;

The King is ill. Go, girl, leave him to me.

All go, Cleone reluctantly,
leaving Phayllus with Timocles.


I will not bear it any more. Give me my love

Or let me die.


In a few nights from this

Thou shalt embrace her.


Silence! It was not I.

What have I said? It was the wine that spoke.

Look not upon me with those eyes of thine.


The wine or some more deep insurgent spirit

Burns in thy blood. Thou shalt clasp Rodogune.


Thy words, thy looks appal me. She’s my brother’s wife

Sacred to me.


His wife? Who wedded them?

For not in camps and deserts Syria’s kings

Accomplish wedlock. She’s his concubine.

Slave-girl she is and bed-mate of thy brother

And may be thine. Or if she were his soul-close wife,

Death rends all ties.


I will not shed his blood.

Silence, thou tempter! he is sacred to me.


Thou needst not stain thy hands, King Timocles.

Be he live flesh or carrion, she is thine.


Yet has she lain between my brother’s arms.


What if she were thy sister, should that bar thee

From satisfaction of thy heart and body?


Do you not tremble when you say such things?


We have outgrown these thoughts of children, king:

Nor gods nor ghosts can frighten us. You shake

At phantoms of opinion or you feign

To start at such, forgetting what you are.

The royal house of Egypt heeds them not,

Where you were31 nursed. Your mother sprang from incest.

If in this life you lose your Rodogune,

Are others left where you may have her bliss?

Your brother thought not so, but took her here.


I’ll not be tempted by thee.


No, by thyself

Be tempted and the thought of Rodogune.

Or shall we leave her to her present joys?

Perhaps she sleeps yet by Antiochus

Or held by him to sweeter vigilance –

Timocles (furiously)

Accursčd ruffian, give her to my arms.

Use fair means or use foul, use steel, use poison,

But free me from these inner torments.


From more

Than passion’s injuries. Trust thy fate to me

Who am its guardian.

He goes out.


I am afraid, afraid!

What furies out of hell have I aroused

Within, without me? Let them do their will.

For I must have her once between my arms,

Though Heaven leap down in lightnings.


Scene 3

Before the Syrian hills. Antiochus’ tent.
Antiochus, Thoas, Leosthenes, Philoctetes.


This is Phayllus’ work, the Syrian mongrel.

Who could have thought he’ld raise against us Greece

And half this Asia?


He has a brain.


We feel it.

This fight’s our latest and one desperate chance

Still smiles upon our fate.


Nicanor yields it us

Scattering his armies; for if we can seize

Before he gathers in his distant strengths

This middle pass, Antioch comes with it. So

I find it best and think the gods do well

Who put before us one decisive choice

Not lingering out their vote in balanced urns,

Not tediously delaying strenuous fate,–

Either to conquer with one lion leap

Or end in glorious battle.


We ask no better;

With you to triumph or die beside you taking

The din of joyous battle in our ears,

Following your steps into whatever world.


Have we not strength enough to enforce retreat

Like our forefathers through the Asian vasts

To Susa or the desert or the sea

Or Ptolemy in Egypt,– thence returning

With force of foreign levies, if Phayllus

Draw even the distant Roman over here,

Dispute with him the world?


No, Philoctetes.

With native swords I sought my native crown,

Which if I win not upon Syria’s hills

A hero’s death is mine. Make battle ready.

Our bodies are the dice we throw again

On the gods’ table.


Scene 4

The same.
Antiochus, Eunice, Rodogune.


I put my hand on Antioch. Thou hast done well,

O admirable quick Theramenes.

This fight was lionlike.


And like the lion

Thou art, my warrior, thou canst now descend

Upon Seleucus’ city. How new ’twill seem

After the mountains and the starlit skies

To sleep once more in Antioch!


I trust the stars

And mountains better. They were kind to me.

My blood within me chills when I look forward

And think of Antioch.


These are the shadows from a clouded past

Which shall not be repeated, Rodogune.

This is not Antioch that thou knewst, the prison

Of thy captivity, thou enterest now,

Not Antioch of thy foes, but a new city

And thy own kingdom.


Are the gods so good?


The gods are strong; they love to test our strength

Like armourers hammering steel. Therefore ’twas said

That they are jealous. No, but high and stern

Demanding greatness from the great; they strike

At every fault they see, perfect themselves

Labour at our perfection. What rumour increases

Approaching from the mountains? Thoas, thou?

Thoas enters.

Thy brow is dark. Is it Theramenes?

Returns our fortune broken?


Broken and fallen.

We who are left bring back Theramenes

Upon whose body twenty glorious wounds

Smile at defeat.


Theramenes before me!

How have you kept me lying in my tent32!

I thought our road was clear of foemen.


The gods

Had other resources that we knew not of.

Within the passes, on the summit couch

The spears of Macedon. They have arrived

From the sea, from Antioch.


The Macedonians! Then

Our day is ended; we must think of night.

We reach our limit, Thoas.


That’s if we choose;

For there are other tidings.


They should be welcome.


Phraates, thy imperial father, comes

With myriad hosts behind him thunder-hooved,

Not for invasion armed as Syria’s foe,

But for the husband of his Rodogune.

Shall we recoil upon these helpers? Death

Can always wait.


Perhaps. Leave me awhile,

Thoas; for we must sit alone tonight,

My soul and I together. Rodogune,

Thoas goes.

Wouldst thou go back to Parthia, to thy country?


I have no country, I have only thee.

I shall be where thou art; it is all I know

And all I wish for.


Eunice, wilt thou go

To Antioch safe? My mother loves thee well.


I follow her and thee. What talk is this?

I shall grow angry.


Am I other, Eunice,

Than once I was? Is there a change in me

Since first I came into your lives from Egypt?


You are my god, my warrior and the same

You ever were.


To her and thee I am.

Sleep well, my Rodogune, for thou and I,

Not sure of Fate, are of each other sure.

To thee what else can matter?


Nothing else.

Rodogune and Eunice enter the interior of the tent.


A god! Yes, I have godlike stirrings in me.

Shall they be bounded by this petty world

The sea can span? If Rome, Greece, Africa,

Asia and all the undiscovered globe

Were given me for my garden, all glory mine,

All men my friends, all women’s hearts my own,

Would there not still be bounds, still continents

Unvanquished? O thou glorious Macedonian,

Thou too must seek at last more worlds to conquer.

Hast thou discovered them?

This earth is but a hillock when all’s said,

The sea an azure puddle. All tonight

Seems strange to me; my wars, ambition, fate

And what I am and what I might have been,

Float round me vaguely and withdraw from me

Like grandiose phantoms in a mist. Who am I?

Whence come I? Whither go, or wherefore now?

Who gave me these gigantic appetites

That make a banquet of the world? who set

These narrow, scornful and exiguous bounds

To my achievement? O, to die, to pass,

Nothing achieved but this, “He tried great things,

Accomplished small ones.” If this life alone

Be given us to fail or to succeed,

Then ’tis worth keeping.

The Parthian treads our land!

Phraates’ hooves dig Grecian soil once more!

The subtle Parthian! He has smiled and waited

Till we were weak with mutual wounds and now

Stretches his foot towards Syria. Have I then

Achieved this only, my country’s servitude?

Shall that be said of me? It galls, it stabs.

My fame! “Destroyer of Syria, he undid33

The great Seleucus’ work.” Whatever else

O’ertake me, in this the strong gods shall not win.

I will give up my body and sword to Timocles,

Repel the Parthian, save from this new death,

These dangerous allies from Macedon

Syria, then die.

But wherefore die? Should I not rather go

With my sole sword into the changeful world,

Create an empire, not inherit one?

Are there not other realms? has not the East

Great spaces? In huge torrid Africa

Beyond the mystic sources of the Nile

There must be empires. Or if with a ship

One sailed for ever through the infinite West,

Through Ocean and still Ocean for three years,

Might not one find the old Atlantic realms

No fable? Thy narrow lovely littoral,

O blue Mediterranean, India, Parthia,

Is this the world? I thirst for mightier things

Than earth has.

But for what I dreamed, to bound

Upon Nicanor through the deep-bellied passes

Or fall upon the Macedonian spears,

It were glorious, yet a glorious cowardice,

Too like self-slaughter. Is it not more heroic

To battle with than to accept calamity?

Unless indeed all thinking-out is vain

And Fate our only mover. Seek it out, my soul,

And make no error here; for on this hour

The future of the man Antiochus,

What future he may have upon the earth

In name or body lies. Reveal it to me, Zeus!

In Antioch or upon the Grecian spears,

Where lies my fate?

While he is speaking, the Eremite enters.


Before thee always.



Cam’st thou or whence? I know thy ominous look.


The how inquire not nor the whence, but learn

The end is near which I then promised thee.


So then, defeat and death were from the first

My portion! Wherefore were these thoughts34 gigantical

With which I came into my mother ready-shaped

If they must end in the inglorious tomb?


Despise not proud defeat, scorn not high death.

The gods accept them sternly.


Yes, as I shall,

But not submissively.


Break then, thou hill

Unsatisfied with thy own height. The gods

Care not if thou resist or if thou yield;

They do their work with mortals. To the Vast

Whence thou, O ravening, strong and hungry lion,

Overleaping cam’st the iron bars of Time,

Return! thou hast thy tamers. God of battles!

Son of Nicanor! strong Antiochus!

Depart and be as if thou wert not born.

The gods await thee in Antioch.

He departs.


I will meet them there.

Break me. I see you can, O gods. But you break

A body, not this soul; for that belongs, I feel,

To other masters. It is settled then.

Tomorrow sets in Antioch.


Scene 5

The same.
Philoctetes, Thoas, Leosthenes, Eunice.


Surely this is the change that comes on men

Who are to die.


O me! it is, it is.


Princess Eunice, what think you of it?


Thoas, what matters what we think? We follow

Our king; it is his to choose our paths for us.

Lead they to death? Then we can die with him.


That’s nobly spoken.


But too like a woman.

Antiochus enters with Rodogune.


To Antioch! Is all ready for our march?


Antiochus, my king, I think in Egypt

We loved each other.


Less here, my Philoctetes?


Then by that love, dear friend, go not to Antioch.

Let us await the Parthian in his march.

What do you seek at Antioch? A mother angry?

A jealous brother at whose ear a fatal knave

Sits always whispering? lords inimical?

What can you hope from these? Go not to Antioch.

I see Death smiling, waving you to go,

But do not.


Dearest comrade, Philoctetes,

Fate calls to me and shall I shrink from her?

I know my little brother Timocles,

I feel his clasp already, see his smile.

But there’s Phayllus! Shall I fall so low

As to fear him? Forgive me, friend; I go to Antioch.


It was decreed!


But you, my friends, who have no love

To shield you and perhaps great enemies,

Will you fall back until I make your peace,

To Egypt or Phraates?


Not a man

Will leave your side who followed your victorious sword.

We follow always.


Beat then the drums and march.

But let an envoy ride in front to Timocles

And tell him that Antiochus comes to lay

His victor sword between a brother’s knees

And fight for him with Parthia. Let us march.

All go except Philoctetes.

Philoctetes (looking after him)

O sun, thou goest rushing to the night

Which shall engulf thee!


Act V

The Palace in Antioch.


Scene 1

A hall in the Palace.
Phayllus, alone.


My brain has loosened harder knots than this.

Timocles gets by this his Rodogune;

That’s one thing gained. Tonight or else tomorrow

I’ll have her in his bed though I have to hale her

Stumbling to it through her own husband’s blood.

For he must die. He is too great a man

To be a subject: nor is that his intention

Who hides some subtler purpose. Exile would free him

For more stupendous mischief. Death! But how?

There is this Syrian people, there is Timocles

Whose light unstable mind like a pale leaf

Trembles, desires, resolves, renounces.

Timocles enters.



It is the high gods bring about this good.

My great high brother, strong Antiochus

To come and kneel to me! No hatred more!

He is the brother whom I loved in Egypt.


Oh, wilt thou always be, thou shapeless soul,

Clay for each passing circumstance to alter?


Do you not think I have only now to ask

And he will give me Rodogune? She’s not his wife!

Cast always together in the lonely desert,

Long nearness must have wearied him of her;

For he was never a lover. O Phayllus,

When so much has been brought about, will you tell me

This will not happen too? I am sure the gods

Intend this.


So you think Antiochus comes

To lay his lofty head below your foot?

You can believe it! Truly, if you think that,

There’s nothing left that cannot be believed.

This soul that dreamed of conquests at its birth,

This strong overweening swift ambitious man

Whom victory disappoints, to whom continents

Seem narrow, will submit, you say,– to you?

You’ll keep him for your servant?


What is it you hint?

Stroke not your chin! Speak plainly. Do you know,

I sometimes hate you!


I care not, if you hear me

And let me guard you from your enemies.


I know you love me, but your thoughts are evil

To every other and your ways are worse.

Yet speak; what is it you fear?


How should I know?

Yet this seems probable that having failed

By violent battle he is creeping in

To slay you silently. You smile at that?

It is the commonest rule of statesmanship

And History’s strewn with instances. Believe it not;

Believe your wishes, not mankind’s record;

Slumber till with the sword in you you wake

And he assumes your purple.

Timocles (indifferently)

I hear, Phayllus. Let him give me Rodogune

And all’s excused he has ever done to me.


He will keep her and take all hearts besides

That ever loved you.

Timocles (still indifferently)

I will see that first.

Cleopatra enters quickly.


It is true, Timocles? It is even true!

Antiochus my son is coming to me,

Is coming to me!


Thus you love him still!


He is my child, he has his father’s face.

And I shall have my Parthian Rodogune

With her sweet voice and gentle touch, and her,

My darling, my clear-eyed delight, Eunice,

And I shall not be lonely any more.

I have not been so happy since you came

From Egypt. But, O heaven! what followed that?

Will now no stark calamity arise

With Gorgon head to turn us into stone

Venging this glimpse of joy? Torn by your scourges

I fear you, gods, too much to trust your smile.

Nicanor enters.


Antiochus comes.


Hail, thou victorious captain,

Syria’s strong rescuer!


Syria’s rescuer comes,

Thy brother Antiochus who makes himself

A sword to smite thy dangerous enemies.


You used not once to praise him so, Nicanor.


Because I knew not then his nobleness

Who had only seen his might.


Yet had you promised

That if he entered Antioch, it would be chained

And naked, travelling to the pit or sword,



He comes not as a prisoner,

But royally disdaining to enslave

For private ends his country to the Parthian.


Comes my dear brother soon?


Even at this moment

He enters.


Summon our court. Let all men’s eyes behold

This reconciliation. I shall see

Next moment Rodogune!

There enter from one side Callicrates, Melitus, Cleone, courtiers; from the other Antiochus, Eunice, Rodogune, Thoas, Leosthenes, Philoctetes.

O brother, in my arms! Let this firm clasp

Be sign of the recovered amity

That binds once more for joy Nicanor’s sons.


This is like thee, my brother Timocles.

Let all vain strife be banished from our souls.

My sword is thine, and I am thine and all

I have and love is thine, O Syrian Timocles,

Devoted to thy throne for Syria.



Brother! O clasp me once again, Antiochus.


The Syrian land once cleansed of foemen35, rescued

From these fierce perils, I shall have thy leave,

Brother, to voyage into distant lands;

But not till I have seen your Antioch joys

Of which they told us, I and my dear wife,

The Parthian princess Rodogune. See, brother,

How all things work out by a higher will.

Thou hast the Syrian kingdom, I have her

And my own soul for monarchy.


His wife!


The King is pale and gnaws his nether lip.


Mother, I kneel to you; raise me this time

And I will not be froward36.


My child! my child!


He will not give me Rodogune! And now he’ll steal

My mother’s heart. Captains, I welcome you:

You are my soldiers now.


We thank thee, King.

We are thy brother’s soldiers, therefore thine.


Yes! Philoctetes, old Egyptian friend,

You go not yet to Egypt?


I know not where.

I have forgotten why I came from thence.

I hope that you will love your brother.



Oh yes, I’ll love him.


Brother Timocles,

We have come far today; will you appoint us

Our chambers37 here?


I’ll take you to them, brother.

All leave the hall except Cleone and Phayllus.


Is this their peace? But he’ll have Rodogune

And I shall like a common flower be thrown

Into the dust-heap.




I have eyes; I see.

Even then I knew I would be nothing to you

Once you were seated. I’ll not be flung away!

Beware, Phayllus; for Antiochus lives.


Make change of lovers then with Rodogune

While yet he lives.


I might do even38 that.

He has a beautiful body like a god’s.

I will not have him slain.


You may be his widow

If you make haste in marrying him; for soon

He will be carrion.

Timocles returns.


I’ld have a word with you,


Cleone withdraws out of hearing.

Where will they put the Parthian Rodogune?


Put her?


To sleep, dull ruffian! Her chamber! Where?


Why, in one bed with Prince Antiochus.


Thou bitter traitor, dar’st thou say it too?

Art thou too leagued to slay me? Shall I bear it?

In my own palace! In one bed! O God!

I will go now and stab him through the heart

And drag her, drag her –

Cleone (running to him)

The foam is on his lips!


Restrain thy passions, King! He is transformed.

This is that curious devil, jealousy.

As if it mattered! He will have her soon.


Cleone, I thank you. When I think of this,

Something revolts within to strangle me

And tears my life out of my bosom. Phayllus,

You spoke of plots; where are they? Let me see them.


That’s hard. Are they not hidden in his breast?


Can you not tear them out?


Torture your brother!


Torture his generals; let them howl their love for him!

Torture Eunice. Let truth come out twixt shrieks!

Number her words with gouts of blood!


You’ll hurt yourself.

Be calmer. Torture! To what purpose that?

It is not profitable.


I will have proofs.

Wilt thou thwart me, thou traitor, even thou?

Arrange his trial instantly, arrange

His exile.


Exile! You might as well arrange

At once your ruin.


There shall be justice, justice.

Thou shalt be fairly judged, Antiochus.

I will not slay him. Exile! And Rodogune

With me in Antioch.


Listen! the passing people sing his name.

They’ll rise to rescue him and slay us all

As dogs are killed in summer. Command his death:

No man will rise for a dead carcase. Death,

Not exile! He’ll return with Ptolemy

Or great Phraates, take your Syria from you,

Take Rodogune.


I give my power to you.

Try him and sentence him. But execution,

Let it be execution. I will have

No murder done. Arrange it.

He goes out followed by Cleone.


While he’s in the mood,

It must be quickly done. But that’s to venture

With no support in Syria when it’s done

Except this brittle king. It matters not.

Fortune will bear me out; she’s grown my slave-girl.

What liberties have I not taken with her

Which she has suffered amorously, kinder grown

After each handling. Watch me, my only lover!

Sudden and swift shall be Phayllus’ stroke.


Scene 2

Antiochus’ chamber.
Cleopatra, Antiochus, Eunice, Rodogune.


Eunice, cruel, heartless, sweet Eunice,

How could you leave me?


Pardon me, dear lady.


Mine was the error, mother.


O my son,

If you had said that “mother” to me then,

All this had never happened.


I have been hard

To you, my mother, you to me your son.

We have both erred and it may be the gods

Will punish our offences even yet.


O, say not that, my child. We must be happy;

I will have just a little happiness.


O, answer her with kisses, dear Antiochus.


Do you too plead for me, sweet Parthian?





My heart is chastened and I love,

Mother, though even now I will not lie

And say I love you as a child might love

Who from his infancy had felt your clasp.

But, mother, give me time and if the gods

Will give it too, who knows? we may be happy.

Philoctetes enters.


Pardon me, Madam, but my soul is harried

With fierce anxieties. You do not well

To linger with your son Antiochus.

A jealous anger works in Timocles

When he hears of it.


Is’t possible?


Fear it!

Believe it!

Cleopatra (shuddering)

I will not give the gods a handle.

But I may take Eunice and your wife

To comfort me a little?


Go with her,

Eunice. Leave me for an hour, my Rodogune.

All go from the chamber except Antiochus.

When, when will the gods strike? I feel the steps

Of Doom about me. Open thy barriers, Death;

I would not linger underneath the stroke.

Phayllus enters with soldiers.


Seize him! This is the prince Antiochus.


So soon! I said not farewell to my love.

Well, Syrian, dost thou carry only warrants

Or keeps the death-doom pace with thy arrest?


Thy plots have been discovered, plotter.



Vain subtle fool, I will not answer thee.

What matters the poor pretext? Guards, conduct me.

He goes out, guarded.


Must thou be royal even in thy fall?


Scene 3

The same.
Eunice, Rodogune.


Will they not let me go and see him even?


We’ll make our way to him and out for him

To Egypt, Egypt.


There’s only one joy left,

To be with him whether we live or die.


You are too meek. Cleone helps us here

Whatever be the spring of her strange pity.

When we come back, Phayllus, we shall find out

Whether the ingenuity of men

Holds tortures huge enough for your deserts.


Why do you pace about with flaming eyes?

Be still and sit and put your hand in mine.


My Parthian sweetness! O, the gods are cruel

Who torture such a heart as thine.


Where is

My mother?


She is lying in her room

Dry-eyed and voiceless, gazing upon Fate

With eyes I dare not look at. Till tomorrow.

At dawn we’ll have him out. Cleone bribes

The sentries; Thoas has horses and a ship

Wide-winged for Egypt, Egypt.


O yes, let us leave

Syria and cruel Antioch.


For a while.

I would have had him out tonight, my king,

But ruffian Theras keeps the watch till dawn.

How long will walls immure so huge a prisoner?

Trial! When he returns in arms from Egypt,

Try him, Phayllus. We must wait till dawn.


I shall behold him once again at dawn.


Scene 4

A guard-room in the Palace.
Antiochus, alone.


What were Death then but wider life than earth

Can give us in her clayey limits bound?

Darkness perhaps! There must be light behind.

As he speaks, Phayllus enters.

Who is it?


Phayllus and thy conqueror.


In some strange warfare then!


I came to see

Before thy end the greatness that thou wast39;

For thou wert great as mortals measure. Thou hast

An hour to live.


Shorter were better.


An hour!

It is strange. The beautiful strong Antiochus

In one brief hour and by a little stroke

Shall be mere rotten carrion for the flies

To buzz about.


Thinkest thou so, Phayllus?


I know it, and in thy fall, because thou wert great,

I feel my greatness who am thy o’erthrower.

I long to probe the mightiness thou art

And know the thoughts that fill thee at this hour;

For it must come to me some day. The things

We are, do and are done to! Let it be.

Dost thou not ask to kiss thy wife? She’ld come,

Though she must leave thy brother’s bed for it.


What a poor lie, Phayllus, for the great man

Thou thinkst thyself!


Thou knowst not then for her

Thou diest, that his hungry arms may clasp

Her warm sweet body thou hast loved to kiss?


So didst thou work it? Thou art a rare study,

Thou Graeco40-Syrian.


I am what my clay

Has made me. It does not hurt thee then to know

That while thou art dying, they are hard at work

Even now before thy kingly corpse is cold?


What a blind owl thou art that seest the sun

And thinkst it darkness! Hence! I weary of thee.

Thou art too shallow after all. Outside

Is it the dawn?


The dawn. Thou wak’st too early

For one who shall not sleep again.


Yes, sleep

I have done with; now for an immortal waking.


That dream of fools! Thou art another man

Than any I have seen and to my eyes

Thou seemst a grandiose lack-wit. Yet in defeat

I could not move thee. I have limits then?


Yes, didst thou think thyself a god in evil

And souls of men thy subjects? Leave me, send

Thy executioner. Let him be quick.

I wait!

Phayllus goes.

I fear he still will loiter. Waiting

Was ever tedious to me: I will sleep.

(he lies down; after a pause)

Is this that other country? Theramenes

Before me smiling with his twenty wounds

And Mentho with the breasts that suckled me!

Who are these crowding after me so fast?

My mother follows me and cousin Eunice

Treads in her footsteps. Thou too, Timocles?

Thoas, Leosthenes and Philoctetes,

Good friends, will you stay long? The world grows empty.

Why, all that’s great in Syria staggers after me

Into blind Hades; I am royally


Theras enters.


Phayllus’ will compels me to it,

Or else I do not like the thing I do.


Who is it? Thou art the instrument. Strike in.

Keep me not waiting. I ever loved proud swiftness

And thorough spirits.


I must strike suddenly or never strike.

He strikes.


I pass the barrier.


Will not this blood stop flowing?


The blood? Let the gods have it; ’tis their portion.


A red libation, O thou royal sacrifice!

I have done evil. Will sly Phayllus help me?

He was a trickster ever. I have done evil.


Tell Parthian Rodogune I wait for her

Behind Death’s barrier.


The world’s too still. Will he not speak again

Upon this other side of nothingness?

O sounds, sounds, sounds! The sentries change, I think.

I’ll draw thy curtains, O thou mighty sleeper.

He draws the curtains, extinguishes the light and goes out. All is still for a while, then the door opens again and Eunice and Rodogune enter.


Tread lightly, for he sleeps. The curtain’s drawn.


O my Antiochus, on thy hard bed

In the rude camp with horses neighing round

Thou well mightst41 slumber nor the undistant trumpet

Startling unseal thy war-accustomed ears

From the sweet lethargy of earned repose.

But in the horrible silence of this prison

How canst thou sleep? It clamours in my brain

More than could any sound, with terror laden

And voices.


I’ll wake him.


Do not. He is tired

And you will spoil his rest.


He moves no more

Than the dead might.


Speak not of death, Eunice;

We are too near to death to speak of him.


He must be waked. Cousin Antiochus,

You sleep too soundly for a prisoner. Wake!


There is some awful presence in this room.


I partly feel it. Wake, wake, Antiochus.

She draws apart the curtain and puts in her arm, then hastily withdraws it.

O God, what is this dabbles so my hand,

That feels almost like blood?

(tearing down the curtain)


She falls half-swooned against the wall. There is a silence, then noise is heard in the corridors and the voice of Nicanor at the door.


Guard carefully the doors; let no evasion

Deceive you.


Antiochus! Antiochus!



Call him not; he will wake

And Heaven be angry. O my Rodogune,

Let us too sleep.


Antiochus! Antiochus!

Nicanor enters armed with soldiers and lights42.


Am I in time? Thou? thou? How cam’st thou here?

Who is this woman with the dreadful face?

Can this be Rodogune? Eunice, speak.

What is this blood upon thy hands and dress?

Thou dost not speak! Oh, speak!


I am going, I am going to my chamber

To sleep.


Arrest her, guards.

He approaches the bed and recoils.

Awake the house!

Sound the alarm! O palace of Nicanor,

Thou canst stand yet upon thy stony base

Untroubled! The warlike prince Antiochus

Lies on this bed most treacherously murdered.

Cries and commotion outside.

Speak, wretched girl. What villain’s secret hand

Profaned with death this royal sanctuary?

How cam’st thou here or hast this blood on thee?

There enter in haste Callicrates, Melitus, Cleone; afterwards Phayllus and others.

Cleone (to Nicanor)

Thou couldst not save him then for all my warning?

In vain didst thou mistrust me!

Phayllus (entering)

It is done. Yet Theras came not! Do I fail?

Fortune, my kindly goddess, help me still

In the storm I have yet to weather.


Thou hast come!

This is thy work, thou ominous counsellor.


In all the land who dare impugn me, if it be?


Thou art a villain! Thou shalt die for this.


One day I shall, for this or something else.

But here’s the King.


No more a king for me

Or Syria.

Timocles enters, followed by Cleopatra.


The Queen comes cold and white and shuddering.

Cleopatra (speaking with an unnatural calmness)

Why do these cries of terror shake the house

Repeating Murder and Antiochus?

Nicanor, lives my son?


Behold, O woman,

The frame you fashioned for Antiochus,

Cast from your love before, now cast from life,

By whose unnatural contrivance, let them say

Who did it.


It is not true, it is not true!

There can be no such horror. O, for this,

For this you gave him back!


O gods! Phayllus,

I did not think that he would look like this.


Cover this death. It troubles the good King.

Timocles (recovering himself)

This is a piteous sight, beloved mother;

Would that he lived and wore the Syrian crown



Timocles, I will not credit

What yet a horror in my blood believes.

The eyes of all men charge you with this act;

Deny it!




Deny it!


Alas, mother!


Deny it!


O mother, what shall I deny?

It had to be. Blame only the dire gods

And bronze Necessity.


Call me not mother!

I have no children. I am punished, gods,

Who dared outlive my great unhappy husband

For this!

She rushes out.


Is this thy end, O great Seleucus?

What Fury rules thy house? The Queen is gone

With desperate eyes. Who next?

There enter in haste Philoctetes, Thoas, Leosthenes and others of Antiochus’ party.


It is true then,

It is most true! O high Antiochus,

How are thy royal vast imaginations

All spilt into a meagre stream of blood!

And yet thy eyes seem to gaze royally

Into death’s vaster realms as if they viewed

More conquests there and mightier monarchies.

When we were boys and slumber came with noon,

Often you’ld lay your head upon my knee

Even thus. O little friend Antiochus,

We are again in hundred-gated Thebes

And life is all before us.


O insupportable!

Thou styled by men a king, no king of mine,

Acquit thyself of this too kindred blood.

No murderer sits in great Seleucus’ chair

Longer than takes the movement of my sword

Out of its scabbard. I live to ask this question.


Nor think thy royal title nor thy guards

Shall fence thy life, thou crownčd fratricide,

Nor many ranks of triple-plated iron

Shut out swift vengeance.


His eyes look up and seem to smile at me.


Thoas, thy anger ranges far too wide.

Respect the blood of kings, Leosthenes.


See dabbled on this couch the blood of kings

Thus by a kindred blood respected.


The hearts

Of kings are not their own, nor yet their acts.

This was an execution, not a murder.

In better time and place you shall have proofs:

Phayllus knows it all. Be satisfied.

Lift up this royal dead. All hatred now

Forgotten, I will royally inter

His ashes guarding still his diadem

And sword and armour. All that most he loved

Shall go with him into the silent world.


I come.


The voice of Rodogune! That woman’s form

The shadowy anguished robe concealed! She here

Beside my brother!


We had forgotten how piteous was this scene.

O you who loved the dead, forbear a while;

All shall be sternly judged.


O Rodogune,

The dead demands thy grief, since he too loved thee,

But not in this red chamber pay thy debt,

Not in this square of horror. In thy calm room

Gently bedew his memory with tears

And I will help them with my own. Me too

He loved once.


Shall our swords yet sleep? He wooes

His brother’s wife beside his brother’s corpse

Whom he has murdered.


Yet, Leosthenes.

For Heaven has borne enough from him. At last

The gods lift up their secret thunderbolts

Above us.


She totters and can hardly move.

Assist her or she falls.

Philoctetes (raising his head)

O Rodogune,

What wilt thou with my dead?


Shall it be allowed?


I do not grudge this corpse her sad farewell.

O Rodogune, embrace the unresponsive dead;

But afterwards remember life and love

Are still on earth.


Afterwards, Timocles.

Give death a moment.

There is a silence while Rodogune bends swaying over the dead Antiochus.


O my Rodogune,

Leave now the dead man’s side whose debt is paid.

Return to life, to love.

Rodogune (stretching out her arms)

My king! my king!

Leave me not, leave me not! I am behind thee.

She falls dead at the feet of Antiochus.


O, take me also!

She rushes to Rodogune and throws herself on the dead bodies.


Raise the princess up;

She has swooned.


Her heart has failed her: she is dead.


Rise up, my Rodogune.


She is dead, Timocles;

She’s safe from thee. Thou goest not alone,

My king, into the darkness.


Look to the King!

Timocles (speaking with difficulty)

Lives she?


No, she is dead, King Timocles.


Brother, the King!

Timocles has been tearing at the robe round his neck. Phayllus, Melitus and others crowd round to support him as he falls.


It is a fit at worst

Which anger and despair have forced him to.


It is not death? I live then.


Death, thou intriguer!

Art thou not Death who with thy wicked promptings

And poisonous whispers worked to dangerous rage

The kindly moods of Timocles? Seize him,

He shall atone this murder.


You build too soon

Your throne upon these prostrate bodies. Your king

Lives still, Nicanor.


Not to save thee from death,

Nor any murderer. Drag him hence.


The King revives.

Save thyself, brother.


Ten kings should not avail

To save him.


Drag hence that subtle Satan.


I live

And I remember!


Sleepest thou, Phayllus?


My king, they drag me hence to murder me.

Timocles (vaguely at first)

Who art thou? Thou abhorred and crooked devil,

Thou art the cause that she is lost to me.

Slay him! And that shrewd-lipped, rose-tinted43 harlot,

Let her be banished somewhere from men’s sight

Where she can be forgotten. O brother, brother,

I have sent thee into the darkling shades,

Myself am barred the way.


What I have done,

I did for this poor king and thankless man.

But there’s no use in talking. I am ready.

Timocles (half-rising, furiously)

Slay him with tortures! let him feel his death

As he has made me feel my living.


Take him

And see this sentence ruthlessly performed

Upon this frame of evil. May the gods

In their just wrath with this be satisfied.


And yet I loved thee, Timocles.

He is taken out, guarded.



Eunice, rise.


I did not know till now

Life was so difficult a thing to leave.

Her going was so easy!


Ah, girl, this tragic drama owns in part

Thy authorship! Henceforth be wise and humble.

To her chamber lead her.


Do with me what you will.

My heart has gone to journey with my dead.

O father, for a few days bear with me;

I do not think that I shall long displease you


She goes, attended by Melitus.


Follow her, Callicrates,

And let no dangerous edge or lethal drink

Be near to her despair.

Callicrates follows.


This cannot keep us

From those we loved.


Syrians, what yet remains

Of this storm-visited, bolt-shattered house

Let us rebuild, joining our strength to save

The threatened kingdom. For when this deed is known,

The Parthian lion leaps raging for blood

And Ptolemy’s dangerous grief for the boy he cherished

Darkens on us from Egypt. Syria beset

And we all broken!


Something has snapped in me

Physicians cannot bind. Thou, Prince Nicanor,

Art from the royal blood of Syria sprung

And in thy line Seleucus may descend

Untainted from his source. Brother, brother,

We did not dream that all would end like this,

When in the dawn or set we roamed at will

Playing together in Egyptian gardens,

Or in the orchards of great Ptolemy

Walked with our arms around each other’s necks

Twin-hearted. But now unto eternity

We are divided. I must live for ever

Unfriended, solitary in the shades;

But thou and she will lie at ease inarmed

Deep in the quiet happy asphodel

And hear the murmur of Elysian winds

While I walk lonely.


We too without thee now

Breath-haunted corpses move, Antiochus.

Thou goest attended to a quiet air;

Doomed still to live we for a while remain

Expecting what the gods have yet in store.


Earlier edition of this work: Sri Aurobindo Birth Century Library: Set in 30 volumes.- Volume 6.- Collected Plays and Short Stories: Part One.- Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Asram, 1972.- 561 p.

1 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 6: hands


2 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 6: roads


3 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 6: Wilt thou


4 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 6: sweet


5 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 6: fortune


6 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 6: been all


7 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 6: O


8 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 6: are


9 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 6: are


10 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 6: About


11 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 6: Now


12 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 6: sacrilegeous


13 In 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 6 this word is absent


14 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 6: O


15 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 6: were


16 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 6: over


17 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 6: than her


18 In 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 6 this sentence is absent


19 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 6: "Under the hills" is absent


20 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 6: to their beards


21 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 6: gate


22 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 6: halls


23 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 6: has


24 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 6: others


25 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 6: imperial


26 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 6: with


27 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 6: this


28 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 6: barr’st


29 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 6: myrtle


30 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 6: meanness


31 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 6: are


32 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 6: tents


33 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 6: ended


34 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 6: were thoughts


35 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 6: perils


36 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 6: forward


37 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 6: chamber


38 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 6: even do


39 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 6: wert


40 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 6: Greco


41 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 6: mightest


42 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 6: light


43 1972 ed. SABCL, volume 6: tainted