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- Early Plays - 10/50 -


I felt in me a mystic transformation;-- Away flowed hate, revenge, my very soul; Each memory vanished and each earthly longing;-- Only the name of "Catiline" remains Written in fiery letters on my heart.

CATILINE. Ah, wonderful! No matter who you are,-- A human form, a shadow from the dead,-- There lies withal a dreadful fascination In your dark eyes, in every word you speak.

FURIA. Your mind is strong as mine; yet you give up, Disheartened and irresolute, each hope Of triumph and dominion. You forsake The battlefield, where all your inmost plans Could grow and blossom forth into achievement.

CATILINE. I must! Inexorable fate decrees it!

FURIA. Your fate? Why were you given a hero's strength,-- If not to struggle with what you call fate?

CATILINE. Oh, I have fought enough! Was not my life A constant battle? What are my rewards? Disgrace and scorn--!

FURIA. Ah, you are fallen low! You struggle towards a high and daring goal, Are eager to attain it; yet you fear Each trifling hindrance.

CATILINE. Fear is not the reason. The goal I sought is unattainable;-- The whole was but a fleeting dream of youth.

FURIA. Now you deceive yourself, my Catiline! You hover still about that single project;-- Your soul is noble,--worthy of a ruler,-- And you have friends--. Ah, wherefore hesitate?

CATILINE. [Meditating.] I shall--? What do you mean--? With civil blood--?

FURIA. Are you a man,--yet lack a woman's courage? Have you forgot that nimble dame of Rome, Who sought the throne straight over a father's corpse? I feel myself a Tullia now; but you--? Scorn and despise yourself, O Catiline!

CATILINE. Must I despise myself because my soul No longer harbors selfish aspirations?

FURIA. You stand here at a cross-road in your life; Yonder a dull, inactive course awaits you,-- A half-way something, neither sleep nor death;-- Before you, on the other hand, you see A sovereign's throne. Then choose, my Catiline!

CATILINE. You tempt me and allure me to destruction.

FURIA. Cast but the die,--and in your hand is placed Forevermore the welfare of proud Rome. Glory and might your silent fate conceals, And yet you falter,--dare not lift a hand! You journey yonder to the forests, where Each longing that you cherished will be quenched. Ah, tell me, Catiline, is there no trace Of thirst for glory left within your heart? And must this princely soul, for triumphs born, Vanish unknown in yonder nameless desert? Hence, then! But know that thus you lose forever What here you could by daring deeds attain.

CATILINE. Go on, go on!

FURIA. With trembling and with fear The future generations will recall Your fate. Your life was all a daring game;-- Yet in the lustre of atonement it would shine, Known to all men, if with a mighty hand You fought your way straight through this surging throng,-- If the dark night of thraldom through your rule Gave way before a new-born day of freedom,-- If at some time you--

CATILINE. Hold! Ah, you have touched The string that quivers deepest in my soul. Your every word sounds like a ringing echo Of what my heart has whispered day and night.

FURIA. Now, Catiline, I know you once again!

CATILINE. I shall not go! You have recalled to life My youthful zeal, my manhood's full-grown longings. Yes, I shall be a light to fallen Rome,-- Daze them with fear like some erratic star! You haughty wretches,--you shall soon discover You have not humbled me, though for a time I weakened in the heat of battle!

FURIA. Listen! Whatever be the will of fate,--whatever The mighty gods decree, we must obey. Just so! My hate is gone;--fate thus decreed, And so it had to be! Give me your hand In solemn compact!--Ah, you hesitate? You will not?

CATILINE. Will--? I gaze upon your eyes: They flash,--like lightning in the gloom of night. Now did you smile! Just so I've often pictured Nemesis--

FURIA. What? Herself you wish to see,-- Then look within. Have you forgot your oath?

CATILINE. No, I remember;--yet you seem to me A Nemesis--

FURIA. I am an image born From your own soul.

CATILINE. [Meditating.] What is all this you say? I sense but vaguely what I fail to grasp; I glimpse mysterious, strangely clouded visions,-- But can not understand. I grope in darkness!

FURIA. It must be dark here. Darkness is our realm;-- In darkness is our rule. Give me your hand In solemn pledge!

CATILINE. [Wildly.] O lovely Nemesis,-- My shadow,--image of my very soul,-- Here is my hand in everlasting compact.

[He seizes her hand violently; she looks at him with a stern smile.]

FURIA. Now we can never part!

CATILINE. Ah, like a stream Of fire your touch went coursing through my veins! 'Tis blood no more that flows, but fiery flames;-- My breast now cabins and confines my heart; My sight grows dull. Soon shall a flaming sea Illumine with its light the Roman state!

[He draws his sword and brandishes it.]

CATILINE. My sword! My sword! Do you see how it flashes? Soon will it redden in their tepid blood!-- What change is this in me? My brow burns hot; A multitude of visions flit before me.-- Vengeance it is,--triumph for all those dreams Of greatness, regal power, and lasting fame. My watch-word shall be: livid flames and death! The capitol! Now first I am myself!

[He rushes out; FURIA follows him.]

* * * * *

[The inside of a dimly illumined tavern.]

[STATILIUS, GABINIUS, COEPARIUS, and other young ROMANS enter.]

STATILIUS. Here, comrades, we can while away the night; Here we are safe; no one will overhear us.

GABINIUS. Ah, yes; now let us drink, carouse, enjoy! Who knows how long it will be granted us?

STATILIUS. No, let us first await whatever tidings Lentulus and Cethegus have for us.

GABINIUS. Bah, let them bring whatever news they will! Meanwhile the wine is here; come, let us taste. Quick, brothers, quick,--let's have a merry song!

[SERVANTS bring in wine and glasses.]

THE ASSEMBLED FRIENDS. (Sing.)

Bacchus, all praise to thee! Joyful we raise to thee Brimful the beaker! Hail to thee, hail! Wine, red and glowing, Merrily flowing, Drink of the wine-god,-- This be our song.

Gracious and friendly Smiles father Liber; Drunkenness waits us; Clear is the wine. Come, do not tarry! Wine will make merry,


Early Plays - 10/50

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