Athens. An open place.
(Theseus; Hippolyta; Pirithous; Emilia; Arcite)
Theseus congratulates the disguised Arcite for his victory in the contests, and questions him about himself. Pirithous, Hippolyta and Emilia are all quite impressed by him. Asked why he has come to Athens, Arcite replies that he hopes to seek fame in Theseus’s fortune, and the Duke charges Pirithous to find Arcite a place. To Arcite’s ill-concealed delight, Pirithous assigns him to Emilia’s service. They arrange for him to choose a horse, and Theseus commands the court to be ready the next day for the May rites to Diana in the woods. Theseus comments to his sister-in-law that were he a woman, he would quite fall for; she replies that she is too wise to let that happen. (85 lines)
This short flourish of cornets, and shouts within. Enter Theseus, Hippolyta, Pirithous, Emilia, Arcite disguised, with a garland, etc.
You have done worthily. I have not seen,
Since Hercules, a man of tougher sinews.
What e’er you are, you run the best, and wrestle,
That these times can allow.
I am proud to please you.
What country bred you?
This; but far off, prince.
Are you a gentleman?
My father said so;
And to those gentle uses gave me life.
Are you his heir?
His youngest, sir.
Sure is a happy sire then. What proves you?
A little of all noble qualities:
I could have kept a hawk, and well have hollow’d
To a deep cry of dogs; I dare not praise
My feat in horsemanship, yet they that knew me
Would say it was my best piece; last, and greatest,
I would be thought a soldier.
You are perfect.
Upon my soul, a proper man!
He is so.
How do you like him, lady?
I admire him;
I have not seen so young a man so noble
(If he say true) of his sort.
His mother was a wondrous handsome woman,
His face, methinks, goes that way.
But his body
And fiery mind illustrate a brave father.
Mark how his virtue, like a hidden sun,
Breaks through his baser garments.
He’s well got sure.
What made you seek this place, sir?
To purchase name, and do my ablest service
To such a well-found wonder as thy worth,
For only in thy court, of all the world,
Dwells fair-ey’d honor.
All his words are worthy.
Sir, we are much indebted to your travel,
Nor shall you lose your wish. Pirithous,
Dispose of this fair gentleman.
What e’er you are, y’ are mine, and I shall give you
To a most noble service—to this lady,
This bright young virgin. Pray observe her goodness.
You have honor’d her fair birthday with your virtues,
And as your due y’ are hers. Kiss her fair hand, sir.
Sir, y’ are a noble giver. Dearest beauty,
Thus let me seal my vow’d faith.
Kisses Emilia’s hand.
When your servant
(Your most unworthy creature) but offends you,
Command him die, he shall.
That were too cruel.
If you deserve well, sir, I shall soon see’t.
Y’ are mine, and somewhat better than your rank I’ll use you.
I’ll see you furnish’d, and because you say
You are a horseman, I must needs entreat you
This afternoon to ride, but ’tis a rough one.
I like him better, prince, I shall not then
Freeze in my saddle.
Sweet, you must be ready,
And you, Emilia, and you, friend, and all,
Tomorrow, by the sun, to do observance
To flow’ry May, in Dian’s wood. Wait well, sir,
Upon your mistress. Emily, I hope
He shall not go afoot.
That were a shame, sir,
While I have horses.—Take your choice, and what
You want at any time, let me but know it.
If you serve faithfully, I dare assure you
You’ll find a loving mistress.
If I do not,
Let me find that my father ever hated,
Disgrace and blows.
Go lead the way; you have won it.
It shall be so; you shall receive all dues
Fit for the honor you have won; ’twere wrong else.
Sister, beshrew my heart, you have a servant
That if I were a woman, would be master,
But you are wise.
I hope too wise for that, sir.
Flourish. Exeunt omnes.