Act III, Scene 6

Enter Palamon from the bush.


PALAMON About this hour my cousin gave his faith
To visit me again, and with him bring
Two swords and two good armors; if he fail,
He's neither man nor soldier. When he left me,
I did not think a week could have restored
My lost strength to me, I was grown so low
And crest-fall'n with my wants. I thank thee, Arcite,
Thou art yet a fair foe, and I feel myself,
With this refreshing, able once again
To out-dure danger. To delay it longer ... [III.6.10]
Would make the world think, when it comes to hearing,
That I lay fatting, like a swine, to fight,
And not a soldier. Therefore this blest morning
Shall be the last; and that sword he refuses,
If it but hold, I kill him with; 'tis justice.
So, love and fortune for me!
[Enter Arcite with two armors and two swords.]
~~~ O, good morrow.
ARCITE Good morrow, noble kinsman.
PALAMON I have put you
To too much pains, sir.
ARCITE That too much, fair cousin,
Is but a debt to honor, and my duty.
PALAMON Would you were so in all, sir -- I could wish ye ... [III.6.20]
As kind a kinsman, as you force me find
A beneficial foe, that my embraces
Might thank ye, not my blows.
ARCITE I shall think either,
Well done, a noble recompense.
PALAMON Then I shall quit you.
ARCITE Defy me in these fair terms, and you show
More than a mistress to me -- no more anger,
As you love anything that's honorable.
We were not bred to talk, man. When we are armed
And both upon our guards, then let our fury,
Like meeting of two tides, fly strongly from us; ... [III.6.30]
And then to whom the birthright of this beauty
Truly pertains -- without upbraidings, scorns,
Despisings of our persons, and such poutings
Fitter for girls and schoolboys -- will be seen,
And quickly, yours or mine. Will't please you arm, sir?
Or, if you feel yourself not fitting yet,
And furnished with your old strength, I'll stay, cousin,
And every day discourse you into health,
As I am spared. Your person I am friends with,
And I could wish I had not said I loved her, ... [III.6.40]
Though I had died; but loving such a lady,
And justifying my love, I must not fly from't.
PALAMON Arcite, thou art so brave an enemy
That no man but thy cousin's fit to kill thee.
I am well and lusty -- choose your arms.
ARCITE Choose you, sir.
PALAMON Wilt thou exceed in all, or dost thou do it
To make me spare thee?
ARCITE If you think so, cousin,
You are deceived, for as I am a soldier,
I will not spare you.
PALAMON That's well said.
ARCITE You'll find it.
PALAMON Then as I am an honest man, and love ... [III.6.50]
With all the justice of affection,
I'll pay thee soundly. [He chooses one armor.] This I'll take.
ARCITE [indicating the remaining armor.] ~~~ That's mine, then.
I'll arm you first.
PALAMON Do. [Arcite arms Palamon.] Pray thee tell me, cousin,
Where gott'st thou this good Armour?
ARCITE 'Tis the Duke's,
And to say true, I stole it. Do I pinch you?
ARCITE Is't not too heavy?
PALAMON  I have worn a lighter --
But I shall make it serve.
ARCITE  I'll buckle't close.
PALAMON By any means.
ARCITE You care not for a grand guard?
PALAMON No, no, we'll use no horses. I perceive
You would fain be at that fight.
ARCITE I am indifferent.
PALAMON Faith, so am I. Good cousin, thrust the buckle
Through far enough.
ARCITE I warrant you.
PALAMON My casque now.
ARCITE Will you fight bare-armed?
PALAMON We shall be the nimbler.
ARCITE But use your gauntlets, though -- those are o'th' least.
Prithee take mine, good cousin.
PALAMON Thank you, Arcite.
How do I look, Am I fall'n much away?
ARCITE Faith, very little -- love has used you kindly.
PALAMON  I'll warrant thee, I'll strike home.
ARCITE Do, and spare not --
I'll give you cause, sweet cousin.
PALAMON Now to you, sir. [Palamon arms Arcite.]
Methinks this armor's very like that, Arcite, ... [III.6.70]
Thou wor'st that day the three kings fell, but lighter.
ARCITE That was a very good one, and that day,
I well remember, you outdid me, cousin.
I never saw such valor. When you charged
Upon the left wing of the enemy,
I spurred hard to come up, and under me
I had a right good horse.
PALAMON You had indeed --
A bright bay, I remember.
ARCITE Yes, but all
Was vainly labored in me -- you outwent me, ... [III.6.80]
Nor could my wishes reach you. Yet a little
I did by imitation.
PALAMON More by virtue --
You are modest, cousin.
ARCITE When I saw you charge first,
Methought I heard a dreadful clap of thunder
Break from the troop.
PALAMON But still before that flew
The lightning of your valor. Stay a little,
Is not this piece too strait?
ARCITE No, no, 'tis well.
PALAMON I would have nothing hurt thee but my sword --
A bruise would be dishonor.
ARCITE Now I am perfect.
PALAMON Stand off, then.
ARCITE Take my sword; I hold it better.
PALAMON I thank ye. No, keep it -- your life lies on it. ... [III.6.90]
Here's one -- if it but hold, I ask no more
For all my hopes. My cause and honor guard me.
ARCITE And me, my love.
They bow several ways, then advance and stand.)
~~~ Is there aught else to say?
PALAMON This only, and no more. Thou art mine aunt's son,
And that blood we desire to shed is mutual:
In me, thine, and in thee, mine. My sword
Is in my hand, and if thou kill'st me,
The gods and I forgive thee. If there be
A place prepared for those that sleep in honor,
I wish his weary soul that falls may win it. [III.6.100]
Fight bravely, cousin. Give me thy noble hand.
ARCITE Here, Palamon. This hand shall never more
Come near thee with such friendship.
PALAMON I commend thee.
ARCITE If I fall, curse me, and say I was a coward --
For none but such dare die in these just trials.
Once more farewell, my cousin.
PALAMON Farewell, Arcite. [Fight. Horns within; they stand.]
ARCITE Lo, cousin, lo, our folly has undone us.
ARCITE This is the Duke a-hunting, as I told you.
If we be found, we are wretched. O, retire,
For honor's sake, and safely, presently, ... [III.6.110]
Into your bush again. Sir, we shall find
Too many hours to die. In, gentle cousin --
If you be seen, you perish instantly
For breaking prison, and I, if you reveal me,
for my contempt. Then all the world will scorn us,
And say we had a noble difference,
But base disposers of it.
PALAMON No, no, cousin,
I will no more be hidden, nor put off
This great adventure to a second trial.
I know your cunning and I know your cause -- ... [III.6.120]
He that faints now, shame take him! Put thyself
Upon thy present guard --
ARCITE  You are not mad?
PALAMON Or I will make th'advantage of this hour
Mine own, and what to come shall threaten me
I fear less than my fortune. Know, weak cousin,
I love Emilia, and in that I'll bury
Thee and all crosses else.
ARCITE Then come what can come,
Thou shalt know, Palamon, I dare as well
Die as discourse or sleep. Only this fears me, [III.6.130]
The law will have the honor of our ends.
Have at thy life!
PALAMON Look to thine own well, Arcite!
[They fight again. Horns, Enter Theseus, Hippolyta, Emilia, Pirithous,
and train. Theseus separates Palamon and Arcite
THESEUS What ignorant and mad malicious traitors
Are you, that 'gainst the tenor of my laws
Are making battle, thus like knights appointed,
Without my leave and officers of arms?
By Castor, both shall die.
PALAMON Hold thy word, Theseus.
We are certainly both traitors both despisers
Of thee and of thy goodness. I am Palamon,
That cannot love thee, he that broke thy prison --
Think well what that deserves. And this is Arcite; ... [III.6.140]
A bolder traitor never trod thy ground,
A falser ne'er seemed friend. This is the man
Was begged and banished; this is he contemns thee,
And what thou dar'st do; and in this disguise,
Against thine own edict, follows thy sister,
That fortunate bright star, the fair Emilia,
Whose servant -- if there be a right in seeing
And first bequeathing of the soul to -- justly
I am; and, which is more, dares think her his.
This treachery, like a most trusty lover, ... [III.6.150]
I called him now to answer. If thou be'st
As thou art spoken, great and virtuous,
The true decider of all injuries,
Say, 'Fight again', and thou shalt see me, Theseus,
Do such a justice thou thyself wilt envy.
Then take my life -- I'll woo thee to't.
What more than man is this!
THESEUS I have sworn.
ARCITE We seek not
Thy breath of mercy, Theseus. 'Tis to me
A thing as soon to die as thee to say it,
And no more moved. Where this man calls me traitor ... [III.6.160]
Let me say this much -- if in love be treason,
In service of so excellent a beauty,
As I love most, and in that faith will perish,
As I have brought my life here to confirm it,
As I have served her truest, worthiest,
As I dare kill this cousin that denies it,
So let me be most traitor and ye please me.
For scorning thy edict, Duke, ask that lady
Why she is fair, and why her eyes command me
Stay here to love her, and if she say, 'Traitor', ... [III.6.170]
I am a villain fit to lie unburied.
PALAMON Thou shalt have pity of us both, O Theseus,
If unto neither thou show mercy. Stop,
As thou art just, thy noble ear against us;
As thou art valiant, for thy cousin's soul,
Whose twelve strong labors crown his memory,
Let's die together, at one instant, Duke.
Only a little let him fall before me.
That I may tell my soul he shall not have her.
THESEUS I grant your wish; for to say true, your cousin ... [III.6.180]
Has ten times more offended, for I gave him
More mercy than you found, sir, your offenses
Being no more than his. None here speak for 'em,
For ere the sun set both shall sleep for ever.
HIPPOLYTA [to Emilia.] Alas, the pity! Now or never, sister,
Speak, not to be denied. That face of yours
Will bear the curses else of after ages
For these lost cousins.
EMILIA In my face, dear sister,
I find no anger to 'em, nor no ruin.
The misadventure of their own eyes kill 'em. ... [III.6.190]
Yet that I will be woman and have pity, [She kneels.]
My kneels shall grow to th' ground, but I'll get mercy.
Help me, dear sister -- in a deed so virtuous
The powers of all women will be with us.
[Hippolyta kneels.] Most royal brother --
HIPPOLYTA Sir, by our tie of marriage --
EMILIA By your own spotless honor --
HIPPOLYTA By that faith,
That fair hand, and that honest heart you gave me --
EMILIA By that you would have pity in another,
By your own virtues infinite --
By all the chaste nights I have ever pleased you -
THESEUS These are strange conjurings.
PIRITHOUS Nay, then, I'll in too.
[He kneels.] By all our friendship, sir, by all our dangers,
By all you love most: wars, and this sweet lady --
EMILIA By that you would have trembled to deny
A blushing maid --
HIPPOLYTA By your own eyes, by strength --
In which you swore I went beyond all women,
Almost all men -- and yet I yielded, Theseus --
PIRITHOUS To crown all this, by your most noble soul,
Which cannot want due mercy, I beg first --
HIPPOLYTA Next hear my prayers --
EMILIA Last let me entreat, sir --
PIRITHOUS For mercy.
EMILIA Mercy on these princes.
THESEUS Ye make my faith reel. Say I felt
Compassion to 'em both, how would you place it? [They rise.]
EMILIA Upon their lives -- but with their banishments.
THESEUS You are a right woman, sister: you have pity,
But want the understanding where to use it.
If you desire their lives, invent a way
Safer than banishment. Can these two live,
And have the agony of love about 'em,
And not kill one another? Every day ... [III.6.220]
They'd fight about you, hourly bring your honor
In public question with their swords. Be wise, then,
And her forget 'em. It concerns your credit
And my oath equally. I have said -- they die.
Better they fall by th' law than one another.
Bow not my honor.
EMILIA O my noble brother,
That oath was rashly made, and in your anger.
Your reason will not hold it. If such vows
Stand for express will, all the world must perish.
Beside, I have another oath 'gainst yours, ... [III.6.230]
Of more authority, I am sure more love --
Not made in passion, neither, but good heed.
THESEUS What is it, sister?
PIRITHOUS [to Emilia] ~~~ Urge it home, brave lady.
EMILIA That you would ne'er deny me anything
Fit for my modest suit and your free granting.
I tie you to your word now; if ye fail in't,
Think how you maim your honor --
For now I am set a-begging, sir. I am deaf
To all but your compassion -- how their lives
Might breed the ruin of my name, opinion. ... [III.6.240]
Shall anything that loves me perish for me?
That were a cruel wisdom: do men prune
The straight young boughs that blush with thousand blossoms
Because they may be rotten? O, Duke Theseus,
The goodly mothers that have groaned for these,
And all the longing maids that ever loved,
If your vow stand, shall curse me and my beauty,
And in their funeral songs for these two cousins
Despise my cruelty and cry woe worth me,
Till I am nothing but the scorn of women. ... [III.6.250]
For heaven's sake, save their lives and banish 'em.
THESEUS On what conditions?
EMILIA Swear 'em never more
To make me their contention, or to know me,
To tread upon thy dukedom; and to be,
Wherever they shall travel, ever strangers
To one another.
PALAMON I'll be cut a-pieces
Before I take this oath -- forget I love her?
O all ye gods, despise me, then. Thy banishment
I not mislike, so we may fairly carry
Our swords and cause along -- else, never trifle, ... [III.6.260]
But take our lives, Duke. I must love, and will;
And for that love must and dare kill this cousin
On any piece the earth has.
THESEUS Will you, Arcite,
Take these conditions?
PALAMON He's a villain then.
PIRITHOUS These are men!
ARCITE No, never, Duke. 'Tis worse to me than begging,
To take my life so basely. Though I think
I never shall enjoy her, yet I'll preserve
The honor of affection and die for her,
Make death a devil.
THESEUS What may be done? For now I feel compassion.
PIRITHOUS Let it not fall again, sir.
THESEUS Say, Emilia,
If one of them were dead -- as one must -- are you
Content to take the other to your husband?
They cannot both enjoy you. They are princes
As goodly as your own eyes, and as noble
As ever fame yet spoke of. Look upon 'em,
And if you can love, end this difference.
I give consent. [to Palamon and Arcite.] Are you content too, princes?
PALAMON and ARCITE With all our souls.
THESEUS He that she refuses
Must die, then.
PALAMON and ARCITE Any death thou canst invent, Duke.
PALAMON If I fall from that mouth, I fall with favor,
And lovers yet unborn shall bless my ashes.
ARCITE  If she refuse me, yet my grave will wed me,
And soldiers sing my epitaph.
THESEUS [to Emilia.] ~~~ Make choice, then.
EMILIA I cannot, sir. They are both too excellent
For me, a hair shall never fall of these men.
HIPPOLYTA [to Theseus.] What will become of 'em?
THESEUS Thus I ordain it,
And by mine honor once again it stands,
Or both shall die. [to Palamon and Arcite.] You shall both to your country,
And each within this month, accompanied ... [III.6.290]
With three fair knights, appear again in this place,
In which I'll plant a pyramid; and whether,
Before us that are here, can force his cousin,
By fair and knightly strength, to touch the pillar,
He shall enjoy her; the other lose his head,
And all his friends; nor shall he grudge to fall,
Nor think he dies with interest in this lady.
Will this content ye?
PALAMON Yes. Here, cousin Arcite,
I am friends again till that hour.
ARCITE  I embrace ye.
THESEUS [to Emilia.] Are you content, sister?
EMILIA Yes, I must, sir. ... [III.6.300]
Else both miscarry.
THESEUS [to Palamon and Arcite.] Come, shake hands again, then,
And take heed, as you are gentlemen, this quarrel
Sleep till the hour prefixed, and hold your course.
PALAMON We dare not fail thee, Theseus.
THESEUS Come, I'll give ye
Now usage like to princes and to friends.
When ye return, who wins I'll settle here,
Who loses, yet I'll weep upon his bier.
[Exeunt. The bush is removed.]


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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