Act I, Scene 2

Enter Palamon and Arcite

ARCITE Dear Palamon, dearer in love than blood,
And our prime cousin, yet unhardened in
The crimes of nature, let us leave the city,
Thebes, and the temptings in't, before we further
Sully our gloss of youth.
And here to keep in abstinence we shame
As in incontinence; for not to swim
I'th' aid o'th' current were almost to sink --
At least to frustrate striving; and to follow
The common stream 'twould bring us to an eddy ... [I.2.10]
Where we should turn or drown; if labor through,
Our gain but life and weakness.
PALAMON Your advice
Is cried up with example. What strange ruins
Since first we went to school may we perceive
Walking in Thebes? Scars and bare weeds
The gain o'th' martialist who did propound
To his bold ends honor and golden ingots,
Which though he won, he had not; and now flirted
By peace for whom he fought. Who then shall offer
To Mars's so-scorned altar? I do bleed ... [I.2.20]
When such I meet, and wish great Juno would
Resume her ancient fit of jealousy
To get the soldier work, that peace might purge
For her repletion and retain anew
Her charitable heart, now hard and harsher
Than strife or war could be.
ARCITE Are you not out?
Meet you no ruin but the soldier in
The cranks and turns of Thebes? You did begin
As if you met decays of many kinds. ... [I.2.30]
Perceive you none that do arouse your pity
But th'unconsidered soldier?
PALAMON Yet, I pity
Decays where'er I find them, but such most
That, sweating in an honorable toil,
Are paid with ice to cool 'em.
ARCITE 'Tis not this
I did begin to speak of. This is virtue,
Of no respect in Thebes. I spake of Thebes,
How dangerous, if we will keep our honors,
It is for our residing where every evil
Hath a good color, where every seeming good's
A certain evil, where not to be ev'n jump ... [I.2.40]
As they are here were to be strangers, and
Such things to be, mere monsters.
PALAMON 'Tis in our power,
Unless we fear that apes can tutor's, to
Be masters of our manners. What need I
Affect another's gait, which is not catching
Where there is faith? Or to be fond upon
Another's way of speech, when by mine own
I may be reasonably conceived -- saved, too --
Speaking it truly? Why am I bound
By any generous bond to follow him ... [I.2.50]
Follows his tailor, haply so long until
The followed make pursuit? Or let me know
Why mine own barber is unblest -- with him
My poor chin, too -- for 'tis not scissored just
To such a favorite's glass? What canon is there
That does command my rapier from my hip
To dangle't in my hand? Or to go tiptoe
Before the street be foul? Either I am
The fore-horse in the team or I am none
That draw i' th' sequent trace. These poor slight sores ... [I.2.60]
Need not a plaintain. That which rips my bosom
Almost to th' heart's --
ARCITE Our uncle Creon
A most unbounded tyrant, whose successes
Makes heaven unfeared and villainy assured
Beyond its power there's nothing; almost puts
Faith in a fever, and deifies alone
Voluble chance; who only attributes
The faculties of other instruments
To his nerves and act; commands men's service,
And what they win in't, boot and glory; one ... [I.2.70]
That fears not to do harm, good dares not. Let
The blood of mine that's sib to him be sucked
From me with leeches. Let them break and fall
Off me with that corruption.
ARCITE Clear-spirited cousin,
Let's leave his court that we may nothing share
Of his loud infamy: for our milk
Will relish of the pasture, and we must
Be vile or disobedient; not his kinsmen
In blood unless in quality.
PALAMON Nothing truer.
I think the echoes of his shames have defeated ... [I.2.80]
The ears of heav'nly justice. Widow's cries
Descend again into their throats and have not [Enter Valerius.]
Due audience of the gods -- Valerius.
VALERIUS The king calls for you; yet be leaden-footed
Till his great rage be off him. Phoebus, when
He broke his whipstock and exclaimed against
The horses of the sun, but whispered to
The loudness of his fury.
PALAMON Small winds shake him.
But what's the matter?
VALERIUS Theseus, who where he threats, appalls, hath sent ... [I.2.90]
Deadly defiance to him and pronounces
Ruin to Thebes, who is at hand to seal
The promise of his wrath.
ARCITE Let him approach.
But that we fear the gods in him, he brings not
A jot of terror to us. Yet what man
Thirds his own worth -- the case is each of ours --
When that his action's dregged with mind assured
'Tis bad he goes about.
PALAMON Leave that unreasoned.
Our services stand now for Thebes, not Creon,
Yet to be neutral to him were dishonor, ... [I.2.100]
Rebellious to oppose. Therefore we must
With him stand to the mercy of our fate,
Who hath bounded our last minute.
ARCITE So we must.
Is't said this war's afoot? Or shall it be
On fall of some condition?
VALERIUS ÔTis in motion,
The intelligence of state came in the instant
With the defier.
PALAMON Let's to the King, who, were he
A quarter carrier of that honor which
His enemy come in, the blood we venture
Should be as for our health, which were not spent, ... [I.2.110]
Rather laid out for purchase. But, alas,
Our hands advanced before our hearts, what will
The fall o'th' stroke do damage?
ARCITE Let th'event --
That never-erring arbitrator -- tell us
When we know all ourselves, and let us follow
The becking of our chance. [Exeunt.]


To see other scenes from the show: 

Full Text Act III, Scene 3/Act III, Scene 4
Act I, Scene 1 Act III, Scene 5
Act I, Scene 2 Act III, Scene 6
Act I, Scene 3 Act IV, Scene 1
Act I, Scene 4/Act I, Scene 5 Act IV, Scene 2
Act II, Scene 1 Act IV, Scene 3
Act II, Scene 2 Act V, Scene 1
Act II, Scene 3/Act II, Scene 4 Act V, Scene 2/Act V, Scene 3
Act II, Scene 5/Act II, Scene 6 Act V, Scene 4
Act III, Scene 1/Act III, Scene 2 Act V, Scene 5/Act V, Scene 6


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