Act IV, Scene I

 
     
The countryside, high ground near the city of Cepheus.
A crowd of Syrians, men and women, running in terror, among them
Chabrias, Megas, Baltis, Pasithea, Morus, Gardas, Syrax.

BALTIS (stopping and sinking down on her knees)
    Ah, whither can we run where the offended
    Poseidon shall not reach us.

CHABRIAS
    Stop, countrymen;
    Let’s all die here together.

OTHERS
    Let’s stop and die.

MEGAS
    Run, run! Poseidon monsters howl behind.

PASITHEA
    O day of horror and of punishment!

SYRAX
    Let us stay here; it is high ground, perhaps
    The monster will not reach us.

Damoetes enters.

DAMOETES
    I have seen the terror near, and yet I live.
    It vomits fire for half a league.

SYRAX
    It is
    As long as a sea-jutting promontory.

DAMOETES
    It has six monstrous legs.

SYRAX
    Eight, eight; I saw it.

MEGAS
    Chabrias, it caught thy strong son by the foot,
    And dashed his head against a stone, that all
    The brains were scattered.

CHAMBRIAS
    Alas, my son! I will
    Go back and join you in the monster’s jaws.
    He is stopped by the others.

DAMOETES
    It seized thy daughter, O pasithea,
    And tore her limbs apart, which it devoured
    While yet the trunk lay scareaming under its foot,

PASITHEA
    Oh God!

She swoons.

ALL
    Lift her up, lift her up. Alas!

MEGAS
    These sorrows may be ours.
   
    BALTIS
    Ah! Heaven, my son!
    I did not wake him when this news of horror
    Plucked me from sleep.

GARDAS
    My wife and little daughter
    Are in my cottage where perhaps the monster
    Vomits his fiery breath against the door.
    I will go back.

MORUS
    Let us go back, Damoetes.

DAMOETES
    I’ll not go back for twenty thousand wives
    And children. Life is sweet.

MANY VOICES
    Let us not go.

They stop Gardas.

MEGAS
    What noise is that?

BALTIS
    Run, run, ’tis some new horror.
    All are beginning to run. Therops enters.

THEROPS
    Where will you run? Poseidon’s wrath is near you
    And over you and behind you and before you.
    His monsters from the ooze ravage howling
    Along our shores, and the indignant sea
    Swielled to unnatural tumultuous mountains
    Is climbing up the cliffs with spume and turmoil.

DAMOETES
    O let us run a hundred leagues and live.

THEROPS
    Before you is another death. Last night
    The Assyrians at three points came breaking in
    Across the border and the frontier forces
    Are slain. They torture, burn and violate:
    Young girls and matrons, men and boys are butchered.
    Salvation is not in your front and flight
    Casts you from angry gods to men more ruthless.
    I wonder not that you are silent, stunned
    With fear: but will you listen, countrymen,
    And I will show you a cure for these fierce evils.

VOICES
    Oh tell us, tell us, you shall be our king.

MEGAS
    We’ll set thy image by the great Poseidon’s
    And worship it.

THEROPS
    What is the unexampled cause of wrath
    Which whelms you with these horrors? Is’t not the bold
    Presumptuous line of Cepheus? Is’t not your kings
    Whose pride swollen by your love and homage, Syraian,
    Insults the gods, rescues Poseidon’s victims
    And with a sacrilegious levity
    Exposes all your lives to death woe?
    There is the fount of all your misery, Syrians,
    For this the horror eats you up, – your kings.

CIRES
    Away with them! Throw them into the sea – let Poseidon swallow them!

THEROPS
    But most I blame the fell Chaldean woman
    Who rules you. What is this Cepheus but a puppet
    Dressed up in royal seemings, pushed forth and danced
    At her caprice? Unhappy is the land
    That women rule, that country more unhappy
    That is to heartless foreigners a prey.
    But thou, O ill-starred Syria, two worst evils
    Hast harboured in a single wickedness.
    What cares the light Chaldean for your gods,
    Your lives, your sons, your daughters? She lives at ease
    Upon the revenues of your hard toil,
    Depending on favourites, yes, on paramours, -
    For why have women favourites but to ease
    Their sensual longings? – and insults your deities.
    Do you not think she rescued the Chaldeans
    Because they were her countrymen, and used
    Her daughter, young Andromeda, for tool
    That her fair childish beauty might disarm
    Wrath and suspicion? Then, the crime unearthed,
    Braved all and set her fierce Chaldeans’ heart, -
    You did not hear that? – the good Polydaon
    Who serves Poseidon with such zeal! Therefore
    The god is angry: your wives, sisters, daughters,
    Must suffer for Chaldean Cassiopea.

CIRES
    Let us seize her and kill, kill, kill, killher!

DAOMEDES
    Burn her!

MORUS
    Roast her!

MEGAS
    Tear her into a million fragments.

CHABRIAS
    But are they not our kings? We must obey them.

THEROPS
    Wherefore must we obey them? Kings are men,
    And they are set above their fellow-mortals
    To serve us, friends, – not, surely, for our hurt!
    Why should our sons and daughters bleed for them,
    Syrians? Is not our blood as dear, as precious,
    As human? Why should these kings, these men, go clad
    In purple and in velvet while you toil
    For little and are hungry and are naked.

CRIES
    True, true, true!

GARDAS
    This is a wonderful man, this Therops. He has a brain, countrymen.

DAMOETES
    A brain! He is no clever than you or I, Morus.

MORUS
    I should think not, Damoetes!

DAMOETES
    We knew these things long ago and did not need wind-bag
    Therops to tell us!

MORUS
    We have talked them over often, Damoetes.

MEGAS
    We’ll have no more kings, countrymen.

CRIES
    No kings, no kings!

GARDAS
    Or Therops shall be king.

CRIES
    Yes. Therops king! Therops king!

DAMOETES
    Good king Lungs!
    Oh, let us make him king. Morus. – he will
    Not pass wind in the market-place so often.

THEROPS
    Poseidon is our king; we are his people.
    Gods we must a worship; why should we worship men
    And set a heavenly crown on mortal weakness?
    They have offended against great Poseidon,
    They are guilty of a fearful sacilege.
    Let them perish.

CRIES
    Kill them! Let us appease Poseidon.

CHAMBRIAS
    Worship Heaven’s power, but bow before the king.

THEROPS
    What need have we of king? What are these kings?

CHAMBRIAS
    They are the seed of gods.

THEROPS
    Then, let them settle
    Themselves their quarrel with their Olympian kindred.
    Why should we suffer? Let Andromeda
    Be exposed and Iolaus sacrified;
    Then shall Poseidon’s wrath retire again
    Into the continent of his vast billows,

CHAMBRIAS
    If it must be so, let it come by award
    Of quiet justice.

THEROPS
    Justice! They are the judges
    Who did the crime. Wherefore dost thou defend them?
    Thou favourest then Poseidon’s enemies?

CRIES
    Kill him too, kill Chabrias. Poseidon, great Poseidon! we are Poseidon’s people.

DAMOETES
    Let him join his son and by the same road,

MORUS
    Beat his brains out – to see if he has any. Ho! Ho! Ho!

THEROPS
    Let him alone: he is a fool. Here comes
    Our zealous good kind priest, our Polydaon.

Polydaon enters.

CRIES
    Polydaon! Polydaon! The good Polydaon! Save us, Polydaon!

POLYDAON
    Ah, do you call me now to save you? Last night
    You did not save me when the foreign swords
    Were near my heart.

MEGAS
    Forgive us and protect.

DAMOETES
    You, lead us to the palace, be our chief.

MORUS
    We’ll have no kings: lead, you: on to the palace!

MEGAS
    Poseidon shall be king, thou his vicegerent.

GARDAS
    Therops at thy right hand!

CRIES
    Yes, Therops! Therops!

POLYDAON
    Oh, you are sane now, being let blood by scourgings!
    Unhurt had been much better. But Poseidon
    Pardons and I will save.

CRIES
    Polydaon for ever, the good Polydaon, Poseidon’s Viceroy!

POLYDAON
    Swear then to do Poseidon’s will.

CRIES
    We swear!

DAMOETES
    Command and watch the effect!

POLYDAON
    Will not the tongue
    Of Cassiopea once more change you, people?

DAMOETES
    We’ll cut it out and feed her dogs with it.

POLYDAON
    Shall Iolaus bleed? Andromeda.
    Be trailed through the city and upon the rocks,
    As the god will, flung naked to his monsters?
    Cepheus and Cassiopea die?

CRIES
    They shall!

MEGAS
    Not one of them shall live.

POLYDAON
    Then come, my children.

DAMOETES
    But the beast? Will it not tear us on the road?

POLYDAON
    It will not hurt you who do Poseidon’s will,
    I am your safeguard; I will march in front.

CRIES
    To the palace, to the palace! We’ll kill the Chaldeans, strangle Cepheus, tear the Queen to pieces.

POLYDAON
    In order, in good order, my sweet children.

The mob surges out following Polydaon and Therops:
only Damoetes, Chabrias, Baltis and Pasithea are left.

DAMOETES
    Come, Chabrias, we’ll have sport.

CHAMBRIAS
    My dead son call me.
    He goes out in another direction.

BALTIS
    Pasithea, rise and come: you’ll see her killed
    Who is the murderess of your daughter.

PASITHEA
    Let me
    Stay here and die.

DAMOETES
    Lift her up. Come, fool.

They go out, leading Pasithea.