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.
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.
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.
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.