Act III, Scene I

    The women’s apartments of the Palace.
    Andromeda, Diomede

    All’s ready, let us go.

    My little mistress whom I love, let me
    Beseech you by that love, do not attempt it.
    Oh, this is no such pretty wilfulness
    As all men love to smile at and to punish
    With tenderness and chidings. It is a crime
    Full of impiety, a deed of danger
    That venturous and iron spirits would be aghast
    To dream of. You think because you are a child,
    You will be pardoned, because you are a princess
    No hand will dare to punish you. You do not know
    Men’s hearts. They will not pause to pity you,
    They will not spare. The people in its rage
    Will tear us both to pieces, limb from limb,
    With blows and fury, roaring round like tigers,
    Will you expose yourself to that grim handling
    Who cry out at the smallest touch pain?

    Do not delay me on the brink of action.
    You have said these things before.

    You shall not do it.
    I will not go with you.

    So you expose me
    To danger merely and break the oath you swore;
    For I must do it then unhelped.

    I’ll tell
    Your mother, child, and then you cannot go.

    I shall die then on the third day from this.

    What! you will kill yourself, and for two strangers
    You never saw? You are no human maiden
    But something far outside mortality,
    Princess, if you do this.

    I shall not need.
    You threaten me with the fierce people’s tearings,
    And shall I not be torn when I behold
    My fellows’ piteous hearts plucked from their bosoms
    Between their anguished shrieks? I shall fall dead
    Then you’ll repent this cruelty.

She weeps.

    -child, child!
    Hush, I will go with you. If I must die,
    I’ll die.

    Have I not loved you, Diomede?
    Have I not taken your stripes upon myself,
    Claiming your dear offences? Have I not lain
    Upon your breast, stealing from my own bed
    At night, and kissed your bosom and your hands
    For very love of you? And I had thought
    You loved me: but you do not care at last
    Whether I live or die.

    Oh hush! I love you,
    I’ll go with you. You shall not die alone,
    If you are bent on dying. I’ll put on
    My sandals and be with you in a moment.
    Go, little princess. I am with you; go.

She goes.

    O you poor shuddering men, my human fellows,
    Horribly bound beneath the grisly knife
    You feel already groping for your hearts,
    Pardon me each long moment that you wrestle
    With grim anticipation. O, and you,
    If there is any god in the deaf skies
    That pities men or helps them. O protect me!
    But if you are inexorably unmoved
    And punish pity, I, Andromeda,
    Who am a woman on this earth, will help
    My brothers. Then, if you must punish me,
    Strike home. You should have given me no heart;
    It is too late now to forbid it feeling.
    She is going out. Athene appears.
    What is this light, this glory? Who art thou,
    O beautiful marble face amid the lightnings?
    My heart faints with delight, my body trembles,
    Intolerable ecstasy beats in my veins;
    I am oppressed and tortured with thy beauty.

    I am Athene.

    Art thou a goddess? Thy name
    We hear far off in Syria.

    I am she
    Who helps and has compassion on struggling mortals.

ANDROMEDA (falling prostrate)
    Do not deceive me! I will kiss thy feet.
    O joy! Thou art! Thou art!

    Lift up thy head,
    My servant.

    I help myself,
    When I help these.

    To thee alone I gave
    This knowledge. O virgin, O Andromeda,
    It reached thee through that large and noble heart
    Of woman beating in a little child.
    But dost thou know that thy reward shall be
    Betrayal and fierce hatred? God and man
    Shall league in wrath to kill and torture thee
    M id dire revilings.

    My reward shall be
    To cool this anguish of pity in my heart
    And be at peace: if dead, o still at peace!

    Thou fear’st not then? They will expose thee, child,
    To slaughter by the monsters of the deep
    Who shall come forth to tear thy limbs.

    Beyond too
    Shall I be hated, in that other world?


    Wilt thou love me?

    Thou art my child.

    O mother, O Athene, let me go.
    They linger in anticipated pangs.

    Go, child. I shall be near invisibly.

She disappears. Andromeda stands with clasped
    Hands straining her eyes as if into infinity.

Diomede returns.

    You are not gone as yet? What is this, princess?
    What is this light around you! How you are altered,

    Diomede, let us go.

They go out.