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- Sejanus: His Fall - 10/53 -

Their bodies lived not, now, again to serve. Men are deceived, who think there can be thrall Beneath a virtuous prince: Wish'd liberty Ne'er lovelier looks, than under such a crown. But, when his grace is merely but lip-good. And that, no longer than he airs himself Abroad in public, there, to seem to shun The strokes and stripes of flatterers, which within Are lechery unto him, and so feed His brutish sense with their afflicting sound, As, dead to virtue, he permits himself Be carried like a pitcher by the ears, To every act of vice: this is the case Deserves our fear, and doth presage the nigh And close approach of blood and tyranny. Flattery is midwife unto prince's rage: And nothing sooner doth help forth a tyrant, Than that and whisperers' grace, who have the time, The place, the power, to make all men offenders.

Arr. He should be told this; and be bid dissemble With fools and blind men: we that know the evil, Should hunt the palace-rats or give them bane; Fright hence these worse than ravens, that devour T he quick, where they but prey upon the dead: He shall be told it.

Sab. Stay, Arruntius, We must abide our opportunity; And practise what is fit, as what is needful. It is not safe t' enforce a sovereign's ear: Princes hear well, if they at all will hear.

Arr. Ha, say you so? well! In the mean time, Jove, (Say not, but I do call upon thee now,)

Sil. 'Tis well pray'd.

Tib. [having read the letters.] Return the lords this voice,--- We are their creature, And it is fit a good and honest prince, Whom they, out of their bounty, have instructed With so dilate and absolute a power, Should owe the office of it to their service. And good of all and every citizen. Nor shall it e'er repent us to have wish'd The senate just, and favouring lords unto us, Since their free loves do yield no less defence To a prince's state, than his own innocence. Say then, there can be nothing in their thought Shall want to please us, that hath pleased them; Our suffrage rather shall prevent than stay Behind their wills: 'tis empire to obey, Where such, so great, so grave, so good determine. Yet, for the suit of Spain, to erect a temple In honour of our mother and our self, We must, with pardon of the senate, not Assent thereto. Their lordships may object Our not denying the same late request Unto the Asian cities: we desire That our defence for suffering that be known In these brief reasons, with our after purpose. Since deified Augustus hindered not A temple to be built at Pergamum, In honour of himself and sacred Rome; We, that have all his deeds and words observed Ever, in place of laws, the rather follow'd That pleasing precedent, because with ours, The senate's reverence, also, there was join'd. But as, t' have once received it, may deserve The gain of pardon; so, to be adored With the continued style, and note of gods, Through all the provinces, were wild ambition. And no less pride: yea, even Augustus' name Would early vanish, should it be profaned With such promiscuous flatteries. For our part, We here protest it, and are covetous Posterity should know it. we are mortal; And can but deeds of men: 'twere glory enough, Could we be truly a prince. And, they shall add Abounding grace unto our memory, That shall report us worthy our forefathers, Careful of your affairs, constant in dangers, And not afraid of any private frown For public good. These things shall be to us Temples and statues, reared in your minds, The fairest, and most during imagery: For those of stone or brass, if they become Odious in judgment of posterity, Are more contemn'd as dying sepulchres, Than ta'en for living monuments. We then Make here our suit, alike to gods and men; The one, until the period of our race, To inspire us with a free and quiet mind, Discerning both divine and human laws; The other, to vouchsafe us after death, An honourable mention, and fair praise, To accompany our actions and our name: The rest of greatness princes may command, And, therefore, may neglect; only, a long, A lasting, high, and happy memory They should, without being satisfied, pursue: Contempt of fame begets contempt of virtue.

Nat. Rare!

Bat. Most divine!

Sej. The oracles are ceased, That only Caesar, with their tongue, might speak.

Arr. Let me be gone: most felt and open this!

Cor. Stay.

Arr. What! to hear more cunning and fine words, With their sound flatter'd ere their sense be meant?

Tib. Their choice of Antium, there to place the gift Vow'd to the goddess for our mother's health, We will the senate know, we fairly like: As also of their grant to Lepidus, For his repairing the AEmilian place, And restoration of those monuments: Their grace too in confining of Silanus To the other isle Cithera, at the suit Of his religious sister, much commends Their policy, so temper'd with their mercy. But for the honours which they have decreed To our Sejanus, to advance his statue In Pompey's theatre, (whose ruining fire His vigilance and labour kept restrain'd In that one loss,) they have therein out-gone Their own great wisdoms, by their skilful choice, And placing of their bounties on a man, Whose merit more adorns the dignity, Than that can him; and gives a benefit, In taking, greater than it can receive. Blush not, Sejanus, thou great aid of Rome, Associate of our labours, our chief helper; Let us not force thy simple modesty With offering at thy praise, for more we cannot, Since there's no voice can take it. No man here Receive our speeches as hyperboles: For we are far from flattering our friend, Let envy know, as from the need to flatter. Nor let them ask the causes of our praise: Princes have still their grounds rear'd with themselves, Above the poor low flats of common men; And who will search the reasons of their acts, Must stand on equal bases. Lead, away: Our loves unto the senate. [Exeunt Tib., Sejan., Natta, Hat., Lat., Officers, etc.

Arr. Caesar!

Sab. Peace.

Cor. Great Pompey's theatre was never ruin'd Till now, that proud Sejanus hath a statue Rear'd on his ashes.

Arr. Place the shame of soldiers, Above the best of generals? crack the world, And bruise the name of Romans into dust, Ere we behold it!

Sil. Check your passion; Lord Drusus tarries.

Dru. Is my father mad, Weary of life, and rule, lords? thus to heave An idol up with praise! make him his mate, His rival in the empire!

Arr. O, good prince.

Dru. Allow him statues, titles, honours, such As he himself refuseth!

Arr. Brave, brave Drusus!

Dru. The first ascents to sovereignty are hard; But, entered once, there never wants or means, Or ministers, to help the aspirer on.

Arr. True, gallant Drusus.


Sejanus: His Fall - 10/53

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