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The Two Noble Kinsmen Scenes

Scene 3

Before the gates of Athens.

(Pirithous; Hippolyta; Emilia)

Pirithous is leaving Athens to join Theseus. Hippolyta and Emilia bid him farewell, sending their thoughts with him. Left alone, the two sisters remark on Pirithous’s great attachment to Theseus and the past they share, and Emilia remembers her friend Flavina, now dead, who was as close to her in childhood as Pirithous to Theseus. Emilia is convinced she will never love a man, unable to believe that people could grow closer than she and Flavina were; Hippolyta is skeptical. They go in to pray for Theseus’s success. (110 lines)

Enter Pirithous, Hippolyta, Emilia.


No further.


Sir, farewell. Repeat my wishes

To our great lord, of whose success I dare not

Make any timorous question; yet I wish him

Excess and overflow of power, and’t might be,

To dure ill-dealing fortune. Speed to him,

Store never hurts good governors.


Though I know

His ocean needs not my poor drops, yet they

Must yield their tribute there. My precious maid,

Those best affections that the heavens infuse

In their best-temper’d pieces, keep enthron’d

In your dear heart!


Thanks, sir. Remember me

To our all-royal brother, for whose speed

The great Bellona I’ll solicit; and

Since in our terrene state petitions are not

Without gifts understood, I’ll offer to her

What I shall be advis’d she likes. Our hearts

Are in his army, in his tent.


In ’s bosom.

We have been soldiers, and we cannot weep

When our friends don their helms, or put to sea,

Or tell of babes broach’d on the lance, or women

That have sod their infants in (and after eat them)

The brine they wept at killing ’em. Then if

You stay to see of us such spinsters, we

Should hold you here forever.


Peace be to you

As I pursue this war, which shall be then

Beyond further requiring.

Exit Pirithous.


How his longing

Follows his friend: since his depart, his sports,

Though craving seriousness and skill, pass’d slightly

His careless execution, where nor gain

Made him regard, or loss consider, but

Playing o’er business in his hand, another

Directing in his head, his mind nurse equal

To these so diff’ring twins. Have you observ’d him

Since our great lord departed?


With much labor;

And I did love him for’t. They two have cabin’d

In many as dangerous as poor a corner,

Peril and want contending, they have skiff’d

Torrents whose roaring tyranny and power

I’ th’ least of these was dreadful, and they have

Fought out together where death’s self was lodg’d;

Yet fate hath brought them off. Their knot of love

Tied, weav’d, entangled, with so true, so long,

And with a finger of so deep a cunning,

May be outworn, never undone. I think

Theseus cannot be umpire to himself,

Cleaving his conscience into twain and doing

Each side like justice, which he loves best.



There is a best, and reason has no manners

To say it is not you. I was acquainted

Once with a time when I enjoy’d a playfellow;

You were at wars when she the grave enrich’d,

Who made too proud the bed, took leave o’ th’ moon

(Which then look’d pale at parting) when our count

Was each eleven.


’Twas Flavina.



You talk of Pirithous’ and Theseus’ love:

Theirs has more ground, is more maturely season’d,

More buckled with strong judgment, and their needs

The one of th’ other may be said to water

Their intertangled roots of love, but I

And she (I sigh and spoke of) were things innocent,

Lov’d for we did, and like the elements

That know not what nor why, yet do effect

Rare issues by their operance, our souls

Did so to one another. What she lik’d

Was then of me approv’d, what not, condemn’d,

No more arraignment. The flow’r that I would pluck

And put between my breasts (O then but beginning

To swell about the blossom), she would long

Till she had such another, and commit it

To the like innocent cradle, where phoenix-like

They died in perfume. On my head no toy

But was her pattern, her affections (pretty,

Though happily her careless wear) I followed

For my most serious decking. Had mine ear

Stol’n some new air, or at adventure humm’d one

From musical coinage, why, it was a note

Whereon her spirits would sojourn (rather dwell on)

And sing it in her slumbers. This rehearsal

(Which, ev’ry innocent wots well, comes in

Like old importment’s bastard) has this end,

That the true love ’tween maid and maid may be

More than in sex dividual.


Y’ are out of breath,

And this high-speeded pace is but to say

That you shall never (like the maid Flavina)

Love any that’s call’d man.


I am sure I shall not.


Now alack, weak sister,

I must no more believe thee in this point

(Though in’t I know thou dost believe thyself)

Than I will trust a sickly appetite,

That loathes even as it longs. But sure, my sister,

If I were ripe for your persuasion, you

Have said enough to shake me from the arm

Of the all-noble Theseus, for whose fortunes

I will now in and kneel, with great assurance

That we, more than his Pirithous, possess

The high throne in his heart.


I am not

Against your faith, yet I continue mine.



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